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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Project Files - West Wall (1)

With wintertime upon us and my (painfully) open schedule, I decided to tackle a project that my mom has been requesting for years. We have this west wall that was as drafty as an open window with a fake rock facade and a fireplace that made the whole house cold when you lit it up.

Here's a picture from a few years ago with my brother and Spike, the Christmas chicken in front of the wall in question. He was wearing long sleeves because of the draft coming off that wall.

Anyway, we replaced the windows thinking that single pain glass was the problem, but in doing so, we found that the wall had no insulation. So energy star windows installed in an open wall was kinda pointless. The fireplace was another issue and after being in a tshirt at my boss's house in the dead of winter and admiring his big, beautiful woodstove, I had hopes we could rip out the oddly constructed brick fireplace and inefficient insert.

With crowbar in hand and asbestos protective masks on just in case, we tackled the wall, carefully saving the stones for grandma in case the need ever arose to have fake stone again.

With the wall down and the (crappy pine) mantel off, the fireplace seemed even more puzzling. An efficient fireplace is open to the room and shallow. This one was constructed to jut out into the room and be very deep and narrow. It made no sense and I swore they were hiding their family treasures in the mortar... but we moved on to the insulation as we debated keeping the fireplace.

Then with a few shims and a lot of great stuff, the drywall went up.

And with a lot of discussion, a couple of crowbars and a jack, the fireplace came down.

While I was mudding the drywall with Pepper's help, dad found an old wood stove he had stored the basement for years and hauled it up to see if it would fit. With two cook top surfaces and the promise to kick out a lot of heat, we decided to refinish it and give it a new home in the living room.

Next up, we had to remake the fireplace to surround the new woodstove. We got some reflective foam insulation and starting building a rock fireplace from rocks we found around the park. It was like tetris, only really heavy and painful for pinched fingers

I really like playing with mud... even it it is mortar. And lifting rocks really helped exercise away the winter blues a bit and exfoliated my hands. Ow.

Next on the list, an electric paint choice inspired by our peacock and the beauty of woodworking cherry from the park.... check back for pictures on our progress.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

sheep are snow mountains

The snow has hit. The sheep walk around with piles of it on their backs, pushing away the snow on the ground to nibble at the grass. It is coming down in little whisps and today we are finishing off the last of the meat birds, which means....

If anyone wants fresh, pasture raised, no GMO fed roaster chickens, just email me. $10 a piece, pickup tomorrow or they are going in the freezer and let me know if you'd like them later.

I am staring at a wood burner we just installed with a new fireplace made out of stone we found on the property. The next step is the cherry trim that was milled from when a tornado hit and took down a nice tree. My uncle saw the potential in the fallen trees and sent it off along with some nice black walnuts that also fell in the storm to be milled into plank boards. He died before he could really help me install it, but some of the walnut is now my beautiful bathroom floor and this cherry is going up as trim at my parents house on a brilliant blue wall, inspired by Max, the peacock. Every time I work this wood or go out to his old woodshop, there is a hollow echo of his laughter like a phantom limb that is no longer there, but you still can feel all the same.

Well, anyways, now I'm doing the normal winter thing... er, well I guess it's normal for me: scouting high and low for more sheep, modifying the garen plans, reworking the CSA, scouring seed catalogs for what people really want, pulling excellent meals out of the freezer and filling the whole house with the smell of roasting chicken, pinto beans, dried herbs rehydrating, tomato chunks, and sweet corn. Well, that's today. Last night it was pork chops, onions, rice (not mine), and broccoli.
I don't think that i've ever thought - man, I wish I wouldn't have frozen so much food. I am so happy this year that we still have peppers and sweet corn to pull from. And the pig this year was great.

Oh, and winter is when I get a bunch of crazy ideas and throw them out there to see if anyone is interested.
My new idea this year is to offer pork, lamb, and beef not by the whole or half, but more like the CSA. Anyone who wants delicious meat can join our Meat Share program, where for a flat rate, you get a portion of our pork, lamb or goat, roaster chickens, and new this year - beef. You can have a say as to how it's raised and butchered.

Well, I guess it's back to chicken plucking for me. Hope everyone is enjoying the holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009


The snow is falling in dreamy whisps this morning, just floating down aimlessly as my boots crunch on the newly frozen crust on the ground. The ducks and geese hang out right in front of my door, noisily yelling at me while keeping their bills tucked under their wings in the soft down.

I have been keeping busy with small winter projects and rationing out my money with meticulous care. We have collected bags of leaves for help with feeding the goats and sheep this winter. They also eat old corn stalks, branches, brambles, and non-treated cut christmas trees (any of which if you have, we will happily come and pick up, gratefully.)
I'm trying to post some of mom's jewelry online... if I could only spell bracelet right. Agh! Oh well.

The countdown to Dec 21st continues as the daylight keeps slipping. This year doesn't seem too bad so far as the weather has been fairly mild. The past two days have been a little slap in the face... or a little hint of what's to come. The days have been flying by at a crazy pace so far.