Thursday, June 30, 2011

Roof Inspection

My Mentor’s eagle-eyes pointed out to me that the roof is not properly flashed, and upon closer inspection, it makes perfect sense. That guy is my hero. I thought it was fine, and all I had to do was put some trim on it and be done. However, that doesn’t address the water problem. Think like a drop of water. For most of the roof, it seems like it might be okay because the roof hangs over and the water will drip straight down, but sections will clearly let water in, and that’s bad news.

One approach would be to increase the length of the clapboards so they overlap the flashing, but that would be a bear of a job, not to mention incredibly expensive. What I’ll do is slide some flashing up along the pre-existing flashing, making sure I get it under the clapboards. Like everything I do, it sounds brilliantly simple, but will most definitely end up being harder than I anticipated.

Oh well, that’s why I have my Mentor to call in my time of dying. This should be interesting.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All Hands On Deck

Our deck is in serious disrepair. I have no experience with these matters, but what else is new? Looking at it, I think I can pull this off. I just need to decide what material to use, and then break out the miter saw and get to work. The wood that the Gs used was high end red cedar, which would cost a fortune to replace. I am inclined to use synthetic boards, which are more expensive, but last a lifetime. It’s nice not to have to worry about rotting.

This project is fairly low on the totem pole, so it won’t be happening any time soon. Plus, it gives me some time to consult with assorted experts so I can obsess over it for awhile.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finishing the Blocking

I can’t let the barn project slip too much because before I know it, HH will be back, BL will come calling, and if no progress is made, it will only confirm what a complete loser I am. Wanting to avoid this, I need to get some things done, but man is it hard to find the time. Throw in some lousy weather, and I’m more than happy to sit back and work on my tan.

This past weekend, there was a break in the weather, though using rain as an excuse if for sissies, and a lot of the work can be done under the shelter of the barn. Either way, I was determined to get some stuff done, so I cut the blocks and nailed them in. I am about 95% done with it, except that I ran out of wood. The question then becomes, should I go to the time and trouble to get rough cut wood, which is cheaper but more of a hassle, or just go with dried pine which would be easier though more expensive? I only need about 10 feet, so the difference in the end would not be huge.

My big problem here is one of transportation. I can’t haul a 10ft board in the car, and would need them to cut the board, at least in half. They don’t do this at the mill, though maybe if I begged them, they would. However, they would gladly cut it at the lumber yard. I’ll have to think about this one.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Ready for the Next Round

I can’t get too complacent, because we want dry and crispy wood for our stove. I have been slowing hauling the cut up wood blocks over to the splitting area, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I would say I’m about 75% done, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at the pile. It still looks huge, though nothing like it was a month ago.

I’ve even started splitting. Like I said, the goal is to move 10 loads each day and split for an hour. I never manage to get even this done, but as long as I’m chipping away at the stone. I want to take advantage of the Summer heat to dry the pieces, so I’d like to get started on the stacking. Besides, stacking is the easiest and most enjoyable part, and something the kids can help me with. Also, I can do it in the early morning because it doesn’t make too much noise, and even under the searing hot sun because it’s not too strenuous.

My hope is to get the pile complete before the August, but like all things, that might be getting too ambitious. Then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Plumbing Progress

I finally met up with BL and we hashed out some details about the plumbing. It wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be, and I came away from it wondering why I put it off for so long. Most importantly, I finally learned BL’s last name. I thought he wanted us to come up with a blueprint for the design, and then we could begin, but all he really needed was a general idea of where the two bathrooms would be, and then he made a list of parts that we’ll need, which should be an adventure in and of itself, but let’s not get ahead ourselves.

He even mentioned choosing a bathtub and then letting him know so he can do some calculations, which should be interesting because that means that R and I have to make a decision, which is never an easy proposition. We’ll work on that one.

BL even offered to meet me and help pick up the supplies, which I thought was really cool, but I think I can manage. If things get too crazy, I can always ask my Mentor for help, but I don’t think I’ll need to bother him. I can always rent the truck from Home Depot.

I’m still waiting for the CL the electrician to show his face, but I told him it wasn’t urgent, yet, so I can’t make an issue out of it. Even still, the unreliability is always a bit of a bother, but what else is new in the world of contracting?

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Marcelo Terraza for the pic.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Making Contact

You have to take what you can get. I finally got in touch with the plumber, and even arranged a time to meet, but the electrician, CL, flaked out on me. CL is a friend of ours, so we have to understand these situations, but it’s still a bit frustrating. He’s been somewhat unreliable about doing logging stuff, but he did, in the end, come through and mill the maple boards for us, and for free, no less. I can’t complain, but I still do.

Either way, things are crawling along on that front. It’s hard to imagine that one day the electrical and plumbing will get done, but that’s what house building is all about, right? In the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away at that soffit, my current challenge of the month.

As a side note, I saw HH before her big trip, and told her I was going to get as much done it as possible while she was away, and I detected a distinct scoffing on her part. What exactly is she trying to say?

Sometimes, you just can’t win when you’re a real-man in training. Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Yamamoto Ortiz for the pic.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This past weekend was going to be a busy one with the Balloon Fest and dumpling making, so I figured that with whatever free time I had, I was going to have to squeeze in some barn time, and I managed to get about an hour in trying to finish the blocking. We finished the front side and needed to address the backside, the story of my life. I had most of the wood, and decided to use whatever scraps of 2X6 or 2X8 wood I had, and there was a fair amount. We use 2X6 for framing all over the place.

I ended up a few blocks short, however, and will need to go and pick up some more wood. This, of course, is a bummer and a pain when you’re driving small import cars, but I think I can manage. I only need about 10 feet, and if I can somehow manage to get the board cut in half, I’m in business. The guys at the lumber mill must look at me and laugh. I can’t say I blame them.

I’m hoping that this week I’ll have time to nail those blocks in, but something always seems to stand in my way. I’ll be optimistic. Until then, thanks for reading.


Of all the bad luck, we caught a skunk in the Have a Heart Trap.

I’d like to whine and say that this sort of thing only happens to me, but this event has precedence. In fact, it happened to DH, who lent us the trap in the first. place. As you may have guessed, we have had a woodchuck problem, which people up here often deal with up here with a rifle or shotgun. Being the peaceful animal lovers that we are, we don’t want to kill the thing since he’s not really hurting our livelihood, he’s just a pest.

Last year, we had a woodchuck problem, as well, and we somehow, by some miracle of fate, caught the bugger with DH’s trap. Well, we’ve spotted yet another one in our yard, so we borrowed the trap and feeling confident and self assured, set it up once again. This new one hasn’t gotten into the garden, yet, so we figured we’d be proactive and catch it before it found its way in.

I set the trap up beside the garden fence, and waited. While we didn’t catch the groundhog, we did manage to catch our cat, Misty, who must have been curious enough to climb inside. She wasn’t upset, and we got a big laugh out of it, but just yesterday morning, I looked down at the garden and saw something black and white inside. My heart sank as it was clear what it was - a skunk.

I called my karate teacher, CH, who is a master hunter and trapper, and in between chuckles he said to just make sure you protect yourself with a big sheet or tarp, then release the thing. He had never caught a skunk before, but he said he got a porcupine once. DH, on the other hand, had caught a skunk, and had firsthand knowledge. He confirmed CH’s advice. He said he used an old blanket and slowly approached the thing before covering it up. Once it was covered, he could transport it. However, he said he had a smaller trap, and the thing couldn’t move around inside. The trap we had was much bigger, and the skunk could move freely inside and spray me at will.

I didn’t have time to deal with it right away, and took N to his hockey practice and then to W. Leb to run an errand, but it was on my mind the whole time. Finally, around early afternoon, I decided the time had come to be a man and deal with Nature’s wrath. I put on disposable gloves and clothes that were expendable, took a 9X12 clear plastic tarp, and slowly approached. I thought the tarp would allow me to view the skunk as I approached, and even see the spray hitting the plastic, but it wasn’t actually clear. I ended up having to peak over the top, thus exposing myself.

Anyway, I was anxious as heck, and assumed the beast was going to blast me. He was clearly scared, and I could see that he was extremely wary of me. Skunks are kind of cute animals, if not for their defensive mechanism. As I got closer, however, he never once turned his rear end to me. I got the tarp over the trap, and then covered that with a sheet, figuring that darkness might be more comforting. Getting the trap open was a bit of a chore because the mechanism that keeps it closed also makes it tricky to open, at least when you’re concerned about a skunk spraying you. I used some hooks and rocks to undo the latch, and after about five minutes (the skunk must have been freaking out), finally got the darn thing opened.

And, of course, once freedom was looking him in the eye, the skunk didn’t want to leave. I think I made it too cozy for him, and he had plenty to eat inside. Also, since the cage was covered, I couldn’t see if he was still there, and didn’t have time to sit and wait for him to leave. I went up to the house and made the kids lunch, then checked the trap, and the guy was still there! I was tempted to lift the thing up and dump him out, but that would have pissed him off.

Finally, I went over and pulled the sheet off, thus making it bright inside the trap. I could see him nestled in the corner. I went away again for a bit, and when I returned this time, he had finally left. Boy was I relieved. I’m not going to set that thing up outside the garden again.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Torli Roberts for the pic.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crawling Along

Moving right along, albeit at a snail’s pace, we made some progress on the barn. HH came over and we finished putting the blocking in, and then installed the strapping to hold the soffit. The more we do it, the more I’m convinced that I could do it myself, if I only had the time.

We worked for about two hours, and then it started to rain. HH said she couldn’t make it on Tue, so that meant I am once again on my own, just the way I like it. I need to install the strapping on the fascia and then nail in the soffit, which is cut and painted. It needs vent holes and then a protective screen, then we’re ready to rock and roll.

It would be nice if the weather cleared up on a consistent basis, but you can’t have it all. HH is going on vacation for two weeks, so my goal is to get as much of the soffit done while she is away as possible. Nothing a little Elmer’s Glue and duct tape won’t take care of.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Levi Szekeres for the pic.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Heck of a Day

With the weather being so poor, you really have to seize the moment when the sun finally shines. Unfortunately, just such a day fell on market day, but you have to take what you can get. It has been raining non-stop for the past month, and it makes taking care of the yard, chopping firewood, and working on the barn a bit of a chore. Not impossible, but kind of a bummer in the rain.

Yesterday, we finally woke up to a beautiful day, though it was market day, which meant that we had to be in Hanover after lunch. Anything that needed to be done on the home front needed to done in the AM. I had no time to lose. R had to be at work, but could hold down the fort for a few hours while I jumped into the work around the house.

First thing was the wood. I changed my plan and am hoping to move five loads per day rather than ten (not enough time). I also spent about 45 minutes splitting in order to get year two stacked, but that can wait until the Fall if need be. The main thing is to move the un-split wood before our next truck load arrives, which should be some time this Summer.

After the wood, it was time to do some yard work. I broke out the weed whacker and cleared the weeds in several areas. The place was the greatest need is paths where I need to travel, namely around the wood pile and garden, but also behind the barn, where I’ll need to do more soffit work, and in the back so I can get to the garden compost pile. I also had to cut down some serious invasive plants in the garden, one of which actually called for the use of the chainsaw. This was good, because it gave me a chance to run the saw dry, which is recommended for long term storage, i.e., over 60 days.

I then mowed the grass on the back hill, which is my least favorite part of cutting the grass because it entails pushing the mower up a hill. I tend to neglect it, and it becomes a disaster at some point, but nothing our Toro can’t handle.

I had to keep my eye on the clock because we had to be in the big city by 2:00, and that meant stopping the yard work by 11:30, making the kids lunch, cleaning up the kitchen, then loading the car up and heading out by 1:00. Then we spent the next four and half hours at the market.

Boy, there sure is a lot going on in this world that we’ve created, but that’s the price you pay when you’re trying to inherit the earth.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Lonnie Bradley for the pic.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ready to Stack

No time like the present, as the saying goes. I still have about 7 cords of wood that need to be dealt with, and though it’s not a priority with the market, yard, barn and house to deal with, at least it’s something I know how to do, which at times can make all the difference. As I’ve mentioned in the past, just chip away at the stone, and before you know it, you’ve got a woodpile.

With this in mind, I’ve started splitting, and I’ve got the pallets almost ready to roll. Once they’re all set up, I can keep relocating/splitting and then start stacking. I can’t wait.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Still Alive

I’m not sure if I managed to kill the blueberries, but it seems like they’re still alive, several week after the fact. I’m assuming that if I did manage to ruin them, they won’t let me know for a bit, so we’re not out of the woods just yet. However, they look okay, though one of our Patriots is looking a little skimpy.

One thing we’re doing differently this time around is watering them regularly. In the past, I figured they were shrubs and would take care of themselves. Then I learned that they need ample water, especially in hot weather. We’d never watered them in the past, and I think they suffered accordingly. There might very well have been other factors at play, but I think this time around we did things correctly, and hopefully we’re on the road to recovery.

If so, one day soon we may have blueberries of our own, which will then open up a world of new opportunities to do battle with the birds, critters, and bugs, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Squeezing It In

With all that we have to do, coupled with the lousy weather, it isn’t easy finding the time to work on the barn, but I felt like I had to do something. Just the other day, the kids had a friend over and were playing upstairs in the house, so I managed to run out and get some work done. Sure, it was only about 45 minutes of work, because we had to be somewhere, and I had to make lunch before we left, but at least it was something. It’s looking like that’s about as good as it’s going to get.

I cut more of the blocking and ripped it on the table saw, which for the record scares me almost as much as the chainsaw. I have all the pieces cut for one side of the barn, so hopefully nailing them in won’t take months. I’d like to get simple things like this done on my own time, rather than when HH is here and on the time clock. I.e., I’d rather do it myself than pay her to help me do it. Now if I just had more time...

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to Gavin Wood for the pic.

Getting Nothing Done on the Barn

I had this grand vision that on the days that HH was not here, I’d get everything that needed to be done finished, but as it turns out, I’ve gotten nothing done. What a bummer.

It’s not much, either, just intalling the blocking and putting up the strapping for the soffit. Granted, I still have 3 days until she comes back, but if past history is a guide, I’ll still get nothing done. Part of the problem, and I’m not making excuses here (yeah, right), is that we’re so busy. There’s the market to prepare for and execute, and then the myriad of activities for the kids throughout each day, it’s enough to bring a grown man to his knees. Plus, the weather has been very strange, alternating between extreme heat and hurricane like rain. Then, of course, there are the millions of other projects that are ongoing, including the firewood, which sitll beckons me.

Just the other day, R and I were commenting on how much is going on in our lives, and on the one hand, it’s a little crazy, if not masochistic, but on the other, sometimes things don’t happen in your life unless you bury yourself in it and see how things turn out on the other side. Sure, there’s a little pain and suffering in the process, but the alternative is to simply maintain the status quo and never even try, and then at some point later in life regret your inaction. Believe me, I know all about this, and there is nothing worse in life than asking yourself the age old question, “What if... ?” or saying with remorse, “I wished I would have... “

You get the point. Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yard Gone Wild

Our grass is growing at an amazing clip, no pun intended, and I have lawn OCD, so it should make for quite a neurotic Summer. I had resolved to be on top of the lawn, especially since I’ve been seeding it every Spring and Fall in an effort to rejuvenate it. Wow, rejuvenation sure seems to be a theme in my life. Why is that?

The seeding aspect seems to be working, and I have even gotten the seal of approval from the kids, who are the most discriminating of critics, not holding back on their thoughts. They are always commenting on “other people’s” lawn and how green and lush they look, as opposed to our lawn. I always tell them, be patient, our grass just grows slower, and sure enough, it’s looking pretty green these days. A far cry from years past when the voles decimated it and brown and dusty.

Of course, with greener lawns come a greater need to mow the darn thing, and I’m guessing due to the excessive amounts of rain we’ve gotten, it’s growing fast. Getting a good workout from our mower, which I’m grateful started up this Spring. Yard machine maintenance is a whole other issue which I won’t get into at this moment.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Barn Storming

HH came over and we officially re-started the work on the barn. There are several storylines to this project, all of which are sources of drama and consternation. Then again, a day without drama is like a day without sunshine over here.

First off, there has been an inordinate amount of moisture on the floor of the barn. This worried me to no end because water is your worst enemy when it comes to houses. The question was, where the heck was that water coming from? Concrete is porous, and my first thought was that it was soaking up from the ground. After consulting with my Mentor, who for the record is a fountain of wisdom, he said it was possible that the water was soaking from the ground, but he said if the water table was that high, there would be moisture in the basement of the main house, which there isn’t (thankfully). The second point was that the moisture was not constant, only happening after a heavy rain or cooler weather. When it was dry and sunny, the moisture dried up.

With this in mind, he said it was more than likely precipitation, an idea seconded by my friend GS, who also knows a lot about building. They both said the situation should be amended once the building is insulated, which relieved me to no end.

Our plumber also seems to be blowing us off, but why does this surprise me? It was us that first dropped the ball. He was waiting for us all Winter, and we never called him, so once we re-established contact in the Spring, we couldn’t expect him to drop everything and come over. Either way, it would be nice to know if he was still interested, because we sure as heck are.

Finally, there was the big question of whether HH wanted to work with us in the first place. As I’ve mentioned, she’s a former professional contractor who is in transition in life. Not only is she looking for work in her new profession (which I believe she’s found), but we weren’t sure if it was even worth her time. When we asked her, she hedged a bit, which seemed to indicate that she wasn’t interested, but then out of nowhere, she mentioned that she said let’s begin. We were glad, but also surprised.

Now we’re moving ahead. With better planning, things will work out more smoothly, but for now, we’re still working out the timing. We managed to cut the soffit pieces out, using our fabulous new table saw for the first time (HH thought it was nice, if only for the fact that it has wheels, and she's a pro). We also cut out the blocking pieces, and will work out how to install the soffit once the blocking is all in.

The biggest thing is that we’ve started, and that’s often the hardest part. HH will only be coming two days a week, so that gives me ample opportunity to tie up loose ends until the next time she comes, or at least think about them and not necessarily doing them, which is sometimes as good as it gets around here. Also, HH brought along her new puppy, and the kids got to take him for a walk in the woods, so everyone was happy.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tackling the Soffit

As per the advice of my Mentor, I went out and got the materials to install the soffit on the barn. One small step for real-man in training... of course, there were complications. I originally thought the wood I’d use would be pine boards, but my Mentor informed me that plywood would do the trick. This made it more economical, though I have to rip the boards, and I have issues cutting things in straight lines. I may have to break out the table saw.

He also informed me of something called strapping, which is basically cheap strips of wood used for various odd jobs that is standard for most lumber yards. I contacted Brittons, and they and what I needed (I was amazed how cheap strapping was). The only question was, how was I supposed to transport the stuff without the use of my Mentor’s vehicles? Simple, contact a friend. I don’t think I have a single male friend, at least one who is competent with a hammer and saw, in Vermont who doesn’t own a truck. The problem is, they are all working men, and don’t have time to waste hauling my junk.

I do have one good friend (GS) whom I could ask, partly because he’s one of my best friends, but also because in addition to being an extremely competent builder, he’s a lawyer in private practice, so he has some leeway in setting his hours. With proper notice, we might be able to arrange something.

Sure enough, he said he could help after he dropped his daughter off at school. We met at Brittons, loaded the stuff, and got it home. The thing is, now that I have the wood, I need to do something with it. Every moment of success seems to bring with it the need to do more. Why exactly is that?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Planting Blueberries

Now you know I wouldn’t be able to plant the blueberries without creating some sort of disaster. Best of all, I had N there to give me play by play commentary on all the things I was doing wrong. You have to love kids for doing that so well.

I had decided to finally plant the blueberries we obtained from JM and CS, thus creating our fabulous blueberry orchard. This time I was going to do it right. Now being the type of person who has difficulty following directions, I did it all wrong last time, and I think the plants suffered for it. This time, CS gave me a lot of advice, and I soon realized that much of what she said was on the directions for the blueberry fertilizer, which is for acid-loving plants, i.e., blueberries.

The first step was to obtain some peat moss, which we just so happened to have in the barn, left over from the previous owners. You’re supposed to mix it in with the soil, along with the fertilizer, to make the plants happier. I didn’t do any of this the first time. Then you supplement the soil with sulfur pellets once a year, and then cover with mulch.

We wrestled with the location, mainly because we want them within vicinity of the house, but also because they need direct sunlight. The spot we chose we soon learned was right above the leach field, which I learned from asking SG, the previous owner. He recommended the same spot where the previous two plants were planted. We were concerned about this because those plants aren’t doing so great.

However, it could be because I planted them incorrectly, and truth be told, since I started taking better care of them, they seem to look a little better. Wishful thinking, perhaps? Sure, why not.

Either way, me and N jumped in. We dug the holes, cleared the rocks, and put the plants in. Blueberries have shallow roots, so the holes don’t have to be deep. The blunder I made was that I put one of them in, and decided to adjust it’s position and tried to lift it out, and proceeded to break the dirt clod that houses that roots. In other words, I tore the roots, which are thin as hairs. Big bummer, I hope the thing survives. On the next one, disaster struck again when I pulled the plant out and the half of the root clod stayed in the pot. Another big bummer. We’ll see how those two plants do.

The other four went in without too much trouble, and now we’re done. I just need to get more pine mulch. I hope these work out, because blueberry plants are not only cool, but they’re cool looking plants, as well. Plus, the more stuff you plant, the less grass there is to mow.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Search for the Perfect Hose

As you may have figured out by now, I’m cheap (or frugal, depending on how you describe it) and tend to opt for the less expensive item, or do without. This works out all right for the most part. Being the weekend warrior that I am, I don’t need the best of every tool, especially since many of them I use only sparingly. For the important stuff, like chainsaws and mowers, I went higher quality because not only are they used with greater frequency, but some of them scare me.

Either way, buying cheap also comes back to haunt me. Recently I decided to buy a good quality hose because the two I’ve purchased cheap are just pieces of junk. Sure, they work, but the kinks and knots drive me nuts. I finally decided to get a good hose. The question then became, what kind?

I don’t know much about buying hoses, but as many of you will know, I wasn’t going to make it easy. I saw some rubber hoses at Sears and thought that would be a good solution, but they were a bit pricey (more than the $9.99 I paid for ours). Then again, I was tired of wrestling with out piece of junk (though it is a Martha Stewart hose), and the time had come. So I bit the bullet and went to Home Depot, thinking it would be cheaper there. Surprisingly enough, they didn’t have what I really wanted (I hate when that happens), but they had alternatives.

I ended up getting a no-kink hose, which was vinyl, but reinforced to last. I really wanted the rubber, but thought this would do. It was about the same price. Even still, it was bugging me that I had compromised and got something good, but not exactly what I wanted, so went to Sears and got the rubber hose, as well. They were the same price.

Then the question became, which do I keep? As you well know, I wasn’t going to let this go without doing some exhaustive research, and I learned a few things. First off, the hose I got at HD was actually highly rated. It’s an Apex No-Kink hose, and the reviews were favorable, though some indicated that it still kinked despite the fact that it was guaranteed not to. The issue I have with the hose is that it is stiff and rigid due to the reinforcing, so it’s hard to wind up, especially on a hose caddy.

The rubber hose gave me pause because it does not indicate anywhere that it is no-kink. However, the reviews indicate that because it is rubber, the kinks are easily resolved, and are not permanent. With vinyl hoses, once you kink it, it’s kinked for life, which is a total pain. Something else you don’t give much though to in the modern era of high tech tools is the fact that Craftsman is a good brand, and Sears stands by their products and will readily replace any broken goods. You sure as heck won’t get that from HD.

So in the end, I’m going with the rubber hose. I’m done with vinyl. We’ll see how this goes. Until then, thanks for reading.

Almost Done with the FEBP

We’re almost done with the installation part of the FEBP. Of course, there is still the issue of painting it, and for that matter, choosing a color, but before all of that, I have to install the last pieces of trim in between the trim. This won’t be easy, because the space is narrow and long, so ripping a piece that will fight snugly will be a challenge. Then again, what do real-men in training long for but a challenge? If I had planned this properly, which is as unlikely as snow in July, I would have installed the internal piece before nailing the trim, but now I have to do it after the fact. Who thinks of these things beforehand?

Either way, it won’t necessarily be difficult, just tedious, and those are the kinds of things that can be a chore when you’re a framer and not a cabinet maker.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Barn Work Begins

The other day at the library, our contractor friend HH came up to me and asked if I was ready to start working on the barn. I said yes, but it really came as a surprise, because we had been hounding her for weeks to see if she could commit or even indicate when she was interested, and got nothing. Then again, when you’re working with contractors, you’re lucky to get a phone call back. They seem to show up whenever they feel like it.

I figured I could start on things when I had some free time, which is never. The current plan is to work on it, and then see how it goes. There was no talk about a regular schedule or when we will work on it again. We figured she wasn’t interested or had other jobs lined up, and were in the process of finding someone else to help out on the barn, but for now, we’ll go with it.

The question is, where do we begin? I know that will be the first question, for which, of course, I don’t have an answer, but you can’t let that stop you, right?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Scoring on Clapboards

I’ve been bemoaning the fact that clapboards are so expensive, but the truth is, I could save some money by buying unprimed boards. It’s just nice to have them ready to install, it saves time and effort, but you pay the price. I got primed hemlock over at Briton’s and it works out to about $1.10 a linear foot, which really adds up when you consider I bought 60 feet, it wasn’t enough. To do just the front door area would probably require about 180 feet, and that’s just a small section.

Anyway, I was at Home Depot to get some trim boards and more, you guessed it, clapboards, and they didn’t have what I wanted. I was looking for primed boards, and all they had were 16 foot boards. Now I’m constrained to getting boards in 6 foot lenghts because that’s all I can fit in the car, especially with the kids, whereby I have to somehow fit the wood between the two front seats and two children sitting in the back. It’s rather comical, actually, what we have to go through.

They did, however, have unprimed pine clapboards, and they were cheap. $0.30 a linear foot, and in 6 foot bundles. I was ready to buy the stuff up, just for the heck of it, but restrained my consumer ways and just got what I needed. I was stoked, though now I have to prime these things before putting them on, which adds a lot of time because they have to primed and then allowed to dry, and the weather has not been stellar drying weather, but what are you going to do? At $0.30 a foot, I’ll suffer a little.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, June 3, 2011

More Barn

No sense in waiting around for help to arrive, we have to take the bull by the horns and finish this darn barn. Hey, that rhymes. While we search for the elusive helping hand that comes reliably but cheap, yours truly will have to jump in with both feet.

The first order of business is thinking of that soffit, along with blocking the joists. I’ve heard mixed opinions regarding this. Some say it’s necessary, others say don’t bother. I know I’d rather listen to the naysayers, because it’s less work for me, but I also want to do this right. One friend said we could probably get away with doing every other joist. I just need to do it, and get it done before I put up the soffit.

The soffit is going to be a pain, because I have to put in a fastening strip to nail it in all along the perimeter of the roof. This means getting it in level, which will require some creative thinking, which I’m still engaged in. Once the strip is in, I need to cut the boards, and then cut holes or strips to let the air flow. My mentor said to use 3/8 inch plywood, which was confirmed by my good friend KM, builder extraordinaire (I love when that happens), and then either drill holes at a regular distance, or cut out strips. Whichever way I choose, I need to avoid the mistake that the previous owners of our house made, which was they did not cover the holes with screen to prevent critters from going inside and establishing a residence. We have wasps and bumblebees living in our soffit, and I have to retrofit it with covering.

HH mentioned that she would lend me her nail gun, and I think I’ll take her up on that one. Plus, it would delight the kids to no end to see me try to use it.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Blueberries

We are all set to create our own blueberry orchard. The only question is, where to put it? They need a fair amount of sun, and we are surrounded by huge pines and hemlocks. Some people say we should thin them out and cut some of them down, but the fact that we are nestled in the woods makes the house a lot cooler in the Summer time, and I don’t want to lose that.

We had purchased four plants from JM, but I ended up getting two that were redundant because of a mis-communication. I figured it was fine, I just needed more of the other variety, Bluecrop I believe they are called. There is a whole science to growing that is way over my head.

I wanted a couple more plants, so I went to the source, CS. She is one of many amazing growers in town, and has plants for sale. We got two more 3 year-old Bluecrops, and we are in business. I think R and I agreed on a place near the garden. It gets lots of sun, and there is plenty of space. Plus, that area is a complete pain in the you know what to mow, so maybe if we have a little orchard there, life will be easier.

The biggest problem may be with critters, but what else is new when you live in the wild frontiers of Vermont?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.