A New Porch, A Garden Downscale, and A Kitchen On The Way

Last year Andy cut down cedar on his mom’s property for the porch we needed to finish. We then brought the cedar home, milled it out, stacked it, and turned it into decking. I’m of course using the marital “we” because it was 99.99% all Andy.

Here’s the kicker, I took photos of Andy turning the lumber into random width, plantation grown, decking. I cannot for the life of me find them though. So what you get are finished photos instead.

June 2015 House Updates (3)June 2015 House Updates (5)It’s a pretty great view, and the porch creates a little wind tunnel from the field to the road. It’s perfect for sitting on because the almost perpetual light breeze helps keep the black flies and mosquitoes away. We’d call it intentional, but it definitely wasn’t. We’ve already had a few “porch parties” with small family gatherings on it, as well as dinners outside etc.

Andy really wasn’t sure if he was going to start the kitchen first or finish the porch, and I have to say that I at first pushed for the kitchen. Once again, Andy had it right. Having this porch is SO nice, and it’s going to make a nice retreat when the kitchen and everything else is completely torn apart.

Speaking of “completely torn apart” we are getting there on the other side of the house. The windows have come in, and the siding…well, it looks like this:

June 2015 House Updates (2)Propped up is the new door that is going to the right of the current door, which will lead into the new mudroom. I don’t really have much else to say beyond that, so let’s awkwardly segway into the last big to do here…

..we’re not growing a garden this year.

I know, I know. This is hard to even wrap ones head around, let alone mine. Essentially it came down to three factors, first and most important, the soil needs to rest because it became too weedy so it’s now covered in black plastic for the summer; two, we’re renovating; three, I’m in graduate classes until August. Between the soil needs, and our schedules, it was one of the hardest calls ever not to grow the majority of our own food this summer.

Thankfully, we live in Maine where CSA’s (community supported agriculture) are rampant. We’ll be getting one this year through Winter Hill Farm in Freeport, Maine. We’re looking forward to see what comes our way, and we’re hoping it will help keep our diets on track while the house is ripped apart. We have a new grill (you can sort of see it on the deck in the photo above) that has a side burner as well. The plan right now is to cook up big batches of rice and beans at the beginning of the week, and then grill veggies all week long. This will allow us to have quick, delicious and healthy dinners which will help both our budget and our waistlines.

If you thought we weren’t growing ANY food however, you would be wrong.

June 2015 House Updates (1)Troy did indeed come out this year once again. We tilled a small patch behind our blueberries and planted some butternut squash, summer squash, zucchinis, and cucumbers. Then, behind another stone wall we planted basil. In the garden area we do have about 100 feet of garlic, as well as our asparagus. That’s all we’re doing for vegetables, but we have more fruit going this year. We expanded our blueberry and strawberry beds because they are getting large and spreading fast. It’s perfect! We even added some more blueberries this year, two more grape plants, and six elderberry plants.

Then there are the herbs. Like I’m going go go through a summer without a sufficient planting of herbs. Knowing we didn’t have anymore planting space, I bought a huge planter and now my herbs are right on my deck.

June 2015 House Updates (6)Overall it’s been a good spring and summer, now if I can only remember to keep my camera on me. If I ever find the photos of Andy turning the lumber into decking, I’ll post it here. As you can imagine, it was a load of work (understatement), and I’d love to be able to show you all how it went!

All for now,

Heather

Oscar and the Cedar’s

“Oscar and the Cedar’s” sounds like a band that might open for Mumford and Son’s, but I am much more literal that that. I’m heading back to this blog after a month hiatus, with an update on the cedar we sawed from my mother-in-laws property this winter, which you can read more about here. Oscar, our sawmill, is making an appearance this round.

DSC_0992I should start by saying that on the day we skid the trees out of the woods, I not only forgot my good camera, but I had neither my long-gone-missing point and shoot (found on the Fourth of July in my tackle box from the previous year) or my cellphone camera since my phone had long since lost all battery power. This is not a complaint in the least, more just to let you know that I have absolutely zero photos of the skidding process (getting the trees out of the woods) with our logging winch and tractor, loading the logs onto the trailer to bring home, or driving the logs over two hours home. I indeed totally failed on this front, but I had a great weekend so that counts for something.

That aside, this cedar is going to be the planks for our porch. It’s pretty fun being able to take a tree from standing to finished decking without any third party, or second party. Each board is five-quarter by six rough. The finished size will be approximately one by five for each deck plank. Here are some shots of Andy processing the cedar we brought back home.

DSC_1103 DSC_0979 DSC_0988 DSC_0993 DSC_0995 DSC_0998 DSC_1010 DSC_1019 DSC_1021 DSC_1095 DSC_1093 DSC_1062 DSC_1097 DSC_1108 DSC_1100 DSC_1024 DSC_1023 DSC_0986 DSC_1110Andy has laughed and told me I haven’t covered this nearly as intensively as I should be, and he’s totally right. I may never live down completely not getting any footage of the initial skidding.  We will likely be cutting, winching and skidding a few more out though so I should be able to redeem myself.

Until I have that chance, maybe I can distract you with photos of cute dogs in a field. Here’s to hoping.

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xo,

Heather

 

From Forest to Floor

I’ve mentioned before that in the past we’ve  sawed our own lumber, but I’ve never really walked through an entire project soup to nuts…er, cedar to lumber. Since we’re planning on building out our porch this summer I thought this was a great opportunity to show the entire process. This is a short post, but it’s the first of many about the porch (though proceeding posts about it may not be until later this summer).

DSC_9551Sustainable forestry is very important to us. Cutting just to cut is not something we do. It’s a very purposeful process, in both for the wood we need and being conscious of all the surrounding trees. Andy’s mom happened to have a thick cedar stand on her property which worked to our advantage. Not only do we need cedar for our decking, but it was also beneficial to free up some of the trees for the overall benefit of the cedar stand. While Andy chose the best trees, his mom tallied up the board feet.

DSC_9475DSC_9489Andy cut the logs into 8, 10, & 12 feet which we’ll be able to haul home on our trailer later this summer. The easiest way to measure everything out was simply to use his tape which is attached to his wedge pouch. Note: I am positive the technical term is not “wedge pouch” but it was better than calling it a “reverse wedge fanny pack” which sounds like “reverse wedgie” which while I have no idea what that would be but it sounds ultimately horrible.

DSC_9546Overall it was a very successful day, and we not only freed up some smaller trees but now also have enough board feet for our porch. Later this summer we’ll be winching it out of the woods, loading it on a trailer and bringing it home to saw on a sawmill.

DSC_9518As always the dogs were with us (and under my eagle eye watch). We can always count on them for cleanup with a smile.

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So while we wait for the logs to dry I wanted to share some other news in equipment acquisition land—we 99% likely getting a sawmill very soon!

While it might not be entirely relatable, I have wanted a sawmill for a number of years now and the idea of finally getting one is absolutely thrilling to me. We have a lead on a great deal. While it’s not the original sawmill I wanted, I couldn’t be happier that we’ll finally have one and at an awesome price. I’m keeping my hopes in check, but crossing my fingers! I will be SURE to update when/if this happens!

xo,

Heather

The Deck Is Back On The Roster

I’m hesitant to definitively state what we’ll be working on this summer because we’re still figuring that all out, but over the last week or so I decided the deck was making it back on the roster. When we built our deck a few summers ago (here, here, here, here and here) we knew we would eventually have to refinish the railings. All wood requires upkeep and our mahogany rail is no different.

So while the deck railing looked like this when we finished:

DSC_6941-01It now looks a little more like this:

DSC_9004-01DSC_9005-01I am officially throwing the gauntlet down against myself to get this project done by the fall. Now I’m putting in on my blog too.

At least the deck doesn’t still look like the photo below. I think we can all agree even a worn rail is indescribably better than the previous hazard. That makes me feel better at least.

Deck_BeforeHere we go! Now stop grumbling me, you did this to myself. Wait, what?

xo,

Heather

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s A Porch!

The dumpster and lumber for our addition showed up in the driveway today, so excuse me while I squeal with delight but also because I know it’s catch up time on the blog. There are going to be a lot of different projects going on at once so I’ll be updating them as they get worked on. I am absolutely positive tomorrow is going to be crazy. Why? Andy told his brother to go to bed because he has to be up early tomorrow. Before the mayhem happens let’s play catch up!

Last weekend while Casey and I were ripping boards off the walls in the living room I happened to glance out the window, and I caught my husband standing in our dirt driveway and looking at the house. Except, I knew he wasn’t looking at the house, he was picturing the porch. Meanwhile, I was just excited our living room looked a little more like this.

The next morning Andy told me he needed the cement mixer from the farm to pour the footings for the porch, and before I knew it I heard the tractor coming down the street with a loud clacking noise behind it. The cement mixer is very old, and looks like it should be at a fair. In other words—it’s pretty cool.

Before anything could be mixed though, it was time to mark out the spots for the sonotubes which are used for the footers. Sonotubes are concrete forms used to make the footers. After the concrete is dry, the forms are removed.

After taking some careful measurements, Andy started stringing up his points just to make sure he dug in the correct spots.

There was some geometry involved in the measurements, and I didn’t want to forget what number he told me so I grabbed the nearest marker and wrote it down. On my hand. Paper? Over rated.

Once all of the measurements were taken, Andy placed the base to the sonotubes down and marked the dig line around them. I asked Andy if the bases were necessary and he said no, but that they helped a lot.

After he completed marking the footings, it was time to dig! You never know what you’ll find around here, including a rusty heavy duty cable.

Time for a test fit.

After spending a while measuring, digging, etc. he finally placing them all in. I didn’t get a photo of the sonotube bases in there before he back filled the holes with dirt. I know, I’m really on top of things. Sidebar: Can you spot the dogs? Can you also spot that they are sneakily eating the rest of the popcorn we left on the steps? Trouble makers.

If you look close in the photo above, you’ll notice there’s a gap in the center where there should be a fifth sonotube. After laying them out, Andy realized he needed another base and sonotube. Because the bases weren’t necessary we decided to use a large square piece of concrete we already had left over from another project. To make the sonotube, and I am not kidding, he cut the extra off the tops of all the other tubes (which I’ll show in a moment) and then adhered and braced them together. That might sound wonky, but I swear it will not compromise the structural integrity of our porch in anyway. Mainer ingenuity at work.

Guilty popcorn eating dog at work.

“Who, me?”

After we shooed the dogs inside, it was time to start mixing the cement into concrete.

Casey pulled out only his best for this activity, including his risky business sunglasses—hence his nickname of Tom Cruise.

The boys tried pouring the concrete from the mixer into the sonotubes, which should have worked. However, it didn’t. They just couldn’t tip it far enough to get all of the concrete out. Instead they put it in the wheel barrel and hand shoveled each tube.

Once they were all complete, Andy finally took a break after hours and hours of working straight. These might look all over the place in terms of height, but I promise they are exactly dead on and correct.

After a short break, Andy graded out around the sonotubes so everything was more or less flat again.

I’ll be back soon with another post on the progress of the actual addition itself, since you can tell in the post above part of the siding is missing!

xo,

Heather