Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kinda Moving In

I'm a kitchen woman, myself. I want the kitchen looking cozy and homey before any other room.
Today I put things on the counter -- stand mixer, food processor, canisters, coffee fixin's, etc. I put a couple of cutie things on the windowsill over the sink.
That was about the happiest moment of my day, setting that vase and that pitcher there. For weeks, we have gone from doing one urgent thing to the next, with almost no time for fun. I want to nest, you know? Deconstructing a house is ugly work. The rooms echo. There's nowhere to sit, nothing to eat. And we've deconstructed without reconstructing -- our boxes and stuff are in the out-building; our furniture is in the garage.
But this morning ... the piano arrived! It will stay in an odd corner of the dining room, covered with a rug, until the time when its wall is ready for it. But it's in the house!
We finally ran out of room in the garage. And honestly, since the contractor is done in several of the rooms (except they were a frightful mess and the floor was deep in drywall dust) -- I didn't see why we couldn't move some furniture into the house, instead of moving it twice. He's had the entire house as his work room for two and a half weeks, but it's not necessary. He was very obliging, and I helped clean up the living room a little. There's still plenty of that insidious white dust to clean up ... another day.
So Adam and I hauled two couches, two tables, and two chairs into the living room. I covered them.
The dogs came along this afternoon. They've been nervy and clingy. They leap in the van and won't get out. They hate being left alone. I tried to get a photo of them in the house, but this is the best I could do - haha! You get a view of the horrible floor though.
Tomorrow is church and then a 5th Sunday Sing at our church with other neighborhood churches from Oriental in the evening, so we'll be busy all day.
Adam is frustrated with moving his other three bee hives. Hasn't happened yet. The hives are very heavy, and he'll need help to lift them. He tried again this morning and tonight. Tonight one of the hives slipped a little and the bees went crazy -- attacking the tail lights of the truck like it was the Great Honey Monster. He's been stung more this weekend that he had in a while. So he's a bit discouraged by the failure to move these last bees. I tell him ... it'll happen. Eventually.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Husband, The Grim Reaper

Today, this came in the mail:
Yes, it is. It's a scythe. Most farmers would pay a pretty penny for a tractor or some other gas-guzzling machine. But not my man. I'm married to Adam, and he always chooses some interesting way to do things. (No offense intended to the tractor owners out there! I think they're fine machines.)
He ordered this  scythe from The Marugg Company, a 130-year old company started by a Swiss immigrant.

We ordered a brush scythe. We picked up the long package at the post office, and Adam ripped it open like a kid on Christmas.
Yes, he did read the instructions before assembling.
This is a belt holder for the whetstone. You put some water in it to keep the stone moist.
And here's the stone:

One of two handles:
A hammer ...
... and an anvil. These are used together to thin the blade on its edge. This is done before the sharpening with the stone and is called peening the blade.
You wedge the anvil into a big block of wood, rest the blade on the anvil, and beat on the blade edge with the hammer, slowly moving it along. It tapers the edge.
Adam is excited. While I was at work for the afternoon he went to the farm and did a little mowing. He says it works great, and then gave me a brief demonstration in the front yard. It does! He also cut his finger.
He likes the scythe because it will give him physical labor, which he wants. He also cannot mow wheat; he needs to cut it by hand, and this is a perfect tool. It's also much, much cheaper than buying a riding mower or tractor, and it doesn't use fuel. Plus, we'd like to "go natural" if we can.
This evening Adam will cover up his bees with mesh to keep them all in the hives.
At the end of summer we've got six healthy, active, full hives. Very nice! He'll move them to the farm tomorrow in a truck loaned to us by some very kind friends.
A couple of hives always seem to be bearding, like this red hive. They change and switch around in this regard through the summer. The Warre hive on the right end is to tall, and Adam will be taking a couple of boxes off the top of that one soon. It'll be so nice to have the bees on the farm! Yippee!
AND ... Adam got the Jaguar running today, so he will be able to move it there soon.
AND ... I have a mover to take my piano to the farm on Saturday, which is a huge relief to my mind. We have moved it before ourselves, but Adam's bad knee doesn't permit him to lift half of a piano anymore. I feel safer hiring someone to move it this time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Here's to Better Ceilings!

What's happening on the farm? Inside the house, our contractor is trying to make progress. He cut out the damaged sheetrock in the living room ceiling.
The next day (Tuesday) he put up new sheetrock and mudded it in.
He did the same to an even worse portion of ceiling in the corner of the dining room as you go into the kitchen. It's a relief to have those two ugly spots looking so nice
The roofer still has not come. It's not a big roofing job -- just repair work to a few spots up there that leak. Our contractor says he may just do it himself, rather than waiting. It's been raining on and off, and I wonder if that lovely ceiling work could be damaged. I hope he's put something into the attic to protect his work.
He's also finished scraping off all the popcorn texture on the living and dining room ceilings, and I'm pleased about that.
This afternoon he's working under the house to reroute the vent return in the dining room. Its new spot will be on the only interior wall long enough for my piano.
This is a dark photo. It's the kitchen cabinet where the new vent return will come from under the house. The hole on the right goes into the dining room. A portion of the cabinet will remain on the left, just enough to hold my cookie sheets and baking pans.
Speaking of my piano, I'm still waiting to hear back from the mover who called me back yesterday and promised me that he would move the piano this weekend. He couldn't yet give me a quote. (ugh) Not sure how much that will set me back. They will drive from New Bern, and that will be pricier than if I could find a local mover. There just aren't any in the county. And really, we mostly know elderly people with bad knees. Or even not-so-elderly people with bad knees. We've often just found a friend or two capable of moving it. Don't really know any 25 year old young men who can heft their end of a piano, and Adam says unequivocally that he cannot lift half of a piano anymore. His knees can't do it either! Here's hoping that the piano actually gets moved.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Someday Oven

Someday ... in a few years ... we will have a large, outdoor, wood-fired bread oven.
Adam has built one before, in our backyard in Stateville, NC. So I'm gonna share a few posts here that will give you an idea of what an oven like that is like. Click on any of the sentences below (in red) to find a post on that topic.

Build a foundation first
Building the fire-brick arch the wrong way
Building the fire-brick arch the right way
Finishing the facade
The first fire in the box
Finishing the facade and the pretty arch
3-minute pizza, and then some bread

four loaves of rye bread
A roof on the ovenMore roof work
How do you make a door for an 800-degree oven? Not from wood!
A door solution
If you're just desperate to read every single post about that oven, just click on any link above, scroll down until you see the list of "labels" on the right sidebar, and click on the first label, "Adam's Bread Oven." There are 19 posts.
We were sad to leave that oven behind in Statesville. But Adam hopes to build a new oven here on our farm. This time he plans to build a cob bread oven. This image from Google gives an idea of what it might look like:
For nightly entertainment right now, Adam and I are watching episodes of "An American Homestead," youtube videos about a family of six off-gridders in the Ozarks. This is the episode where they show the process of building their brick outdoor oven:

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Look what I found on the farm!
We knew there was some sort of orchard (we hoped) behind the garage, tremendously overgrown and full of poison ivy. But along the fence, pruned as an espalier, is an apple tree, and on that tree hung two lovely apples. Isn't it a good size?
Are there more apple trees in that wild orchard area? Grape vines? Other fruit trees? We'll wait until this winter to clear the brush, after the poison ivy has subdued a bit. The orchard is full of privet and pine too.
Adam and I worked hard today. He hauled load after load to the farm, borrowing a friend's truck. Much of it was from our garage -- tools, old lumber, big items, even the red dinghy Adam and Julia made a couple of years ago. It all went into the barn.
He's putting our furniture into the garage at the farm until the house is ready this Friday.
The garage has lots and lots of shelving; Adam is in hog heaven! A garage all his own with space for all his tools! He's never had that before -- the shelving, I mean. The old Frenchman who lived here had many saws. He was a handy man, I think.
The new door is hung in the little hallway.
And the sheetrock is up. Did I already show you that? My brain is so foggy I can't recall.
Our contractor has begun scraping the popcorn texture off the living room ceiling. I'm so glad; I loathe that bumpy popcorn look - ugh! I know it was all the rage there for a while, but I prefer a smooth finish. Dust and grease cling to those textured ceilings. Apparently it's scraping off very nicely, and he won't have to hang a new ceiling below the old one.
Some sections must be cut out and replaced though. This one in the dining room. (It leaked on the floor this week during a heavy rain.)
And this section in the living room which looks really horrible.
But as a friend pointed out today, the work left to do is really cosmetic. The bathroom floor will be replaced. The air return vent in the dining room is being moved. But nothing formidable. Even the roof repair, which happens on Tuesday, is no huge deal . I'm so thankful for purchasing a property with so much potential, which was not difficult to repair but was just bad enough to scare the other buyers off and keep the price low.
We're moving away from Oriental, which has its own sadness. The sunset views on the river and creeks are stunning, night after night. I'll miss them.
But I believe we're moving to a place with its own beauty, and I'm very excited to stroll around beneath our behemoth pecan trees in the evening, listening to bees buzz and chickens cluck and knowing we are not renting anymore. We are home.

Friday, August 21, 2015

At Last! A Storage Building!

I can't tell you how very proud I am of my hard-working husband. He has single-handedly taken a derelict, vine-clad, termite-damaged building, and made it into a livable, usable space. He finished the roof, the floor, and (almost) the ceiling. Anna scrubbed and painted the walls.
You can't see the color, but it's called Pineapple Upside Down Cake -- a pale yummy yellow.
Back inside the main house, our contractor has been working on that little hallway to the office. Today he put sheetrock on it, after framing it in yesterday.
And here's the door that will go in that opening. It will open into the hall, against the right wall.
Now we won't need to use this door from the bath into the office. I'll put a dresser there for bathroom storage. I like having a spare dresser in a bathroom.
The bathroom floor is in bad shape. You can feel it give and sag as you walk there. Our contractor also put down plastic vapor barrier under the house today.
What does that little L-shaped hallway look like, from the other side? It's kind of odd. It took out most of the closet in the middle bedroom, leaving only a slice of closet, about enough space to hang 8 dresses.
It'll look a bit better when he's done, but it is what it is. At least it gives good access to the corner office, which was necessary.
All this happened on Wednesday. I have a backlog of posts, so I end up posting them a few days after the fact. Now it's Friday night, and we've begun moving lots of stuff up to the property. More to come, folks!

Up-On-A-Roof and other Scary Sights

Adam had his head in the clouds Monday afternoon.
After wrangling with the out-building floor and ceiling for a few days, he decided he needed a distraction, and worked on the roof instead.
Repair work is messy! Look at all that stuff in the yard.
He used a product to seal the gaps where the water was blowing in when the wind was from the wrong quarter. One long strip of metal roofing runs along the ridgeline from front to back. Its edge was curled up in some places, and that's where the rain would blow in.
I couldn't stay outside when he was up on that metal roof ... so back inside, I was gradually shelving books in the office. And the first piece of our furniture went into the house!!! A rickety bookshelf - haha :)
Now this is cool, for those of us who know nothing about being a contractor. Lookit what he does with a 5-gallon bucket!
On Monday a great ripping-out occurred. Here's another shot from the dining room, looking through the bath, into the office (where Adam is standing). See that wall with ripped wallpaper and the square vent return opening? A new door will go there. A small L-shaped hall will access the office.
The current door from bath to office. These are big doors. I love the panels.
In the middle bedroom, the new door/hall will have to pass through this closet and will cut it down to a very tiny, itty-bitty closet. The hall will come from the dining room (behind that metal vent box) and will go into the office via the side wall of the closet.
That side wall:
This wall in the office will be busted open for the access. This box -- maybe a security alarm box? - will have to go too.
Later ... I came back to find this in the living room!
The great ripping-out! Our contractor cut out the opening from the dining room, took out the vent box, and cut out a new doorway into the office.
Now we can close that bathroom door and have some privacy in there :)
On Tuesday, the contractor should frame in the hallway. Making progress!
And Adam hopes to finish the out-building ceiling and roof repair on Tuesday too. Then he can give his aching muscles a rest.