Friday, July 27, 2012

Meadowlark Cabin

It has been a little over two months since my last Meadowlark update (click here to read it).  We are creeping along ever so slowly and surely.  And since we have chosen to do everything ourselves, we have to be careful with our resources. These sorts of things take a lot of time, energy, supplies, time, money, and time!  We are lacking in all departments!! ha!

I love the color of the stain!  the front and back are finished, but I haven't tackled the sides yet because the roof peak is MUCH HIGHER than it looks and the ground is MUCH STEEPER than it looks!  I need a heavy duty extension ladder, a helper, and a plan.  I have two out of the three.

I was raised to be frugal, resourceful, careful, and creative.  It just goes against my every fiber to hire things done that I can do myself.  To date, I have the front and back of the cabin completely stained, including the eaves.  The porch knee wall has been built.  This involved framing the wall, planing and ripping lumber that we already had, installing about 50 small sections of board, capping the board with a 1x6, and staining.  We will have to caulk and add a trim piece once the entire porch is finished.  We've also had to invest hours of "think-time" to figure out how to install the screen.  The top of the porch is over 20 feet in the air, and neither Phil nor I want to climb an extension ladder that has no strong support wall to brad-nail screen.  Sooo... we had to come up with an alternative plan.  The screen is being installed from inside the porch (rather than from the outside), but it has to be pushed back to the edge of the 2x4 frame and folded inward like wrapping the inside of a box.... THEN we pull tight, fire up the air compressor, and brad-nail... hoping for the best!

All of this sound confusing??  yeah, tell me about it!  Construction requires creativity and skill.  Although Dad is an expert contractor, he is extremely busy and I've tried to be a "big girl" and do as much as I can without nagging him with questions.  Phil and I make an excellent team.  He has more skill than I, but I have more vision.  We get along beautifully and work well together.... and most importantly, we always have a rip-roarin' good time when we are "on the job"!

this is a "before" and "now" of the same view from the back porch.  you can see that we had to add a 2x4 stud in between each original pillar support.  also, notice the knee wall with the upper cap and stringer about six inches above that.  I had to stain everything at least 4 times.  the ceiling required THREE GALLONS of stain... talk about under-budgeting! I never dreamed that I would have to apply three gallons to that ceiling... BUT the ceiling is T1-11 (the rest of the cabin is pine board and batten) and it is very difficult to get an even coat.  I have learned that I do not care for T1-11 at all. I also do not care for a stiff neck, sore back, and paint running down my arms on a 100-degree day.  HOWEVER, it is hard work that is greatly satisfying and I can look at it and say, "I did that MYSELF!"

What else have we accomplished in the past two months?
Well, the interior stud walls are all up.  We framed Julia's bedroom, our bedroom, and the bathroom... which means that the kitchen and living room have been framed by default.  We purchased a stand-up shower unit and delivered it to the cabin.  Even though taking a shower at the cabin seems eons away. The shower was too big to fit through the small doorways we've created, so it has to be physically IN the bathroom before the walls could be built around it.  Thanks Dad for that genius tip!

the bathroom and utility/clothes closet is located at the back right (the big black thing is the shower). our bedroom is back left, and Julia's bedroom is front left.  the kitchen is the open space and I am standing in the living room. 

  Actually getting the shower in the cabin proved to be a bit more difficult than we expected.  As it turned out, our front door was not of standard size.  It was exactly ONE INCH too small to fit the shower through the door opening.  We were completely stumped as to how to get the shower in the cabin.  Phil had the idea of hoisting it up over the back porch railing (about 12 feet up) and then taking it through the back slider.... well, the back slider was ALSO TOO SMALL!!!  Would you believe, the big honkin' window that I insisted on having was how we actually got the shower in the cabin.  Oh, it was a sight to behold.  Since, they are double-hung windows with tilt capabilities, I had to lower the upper window clear to the bottom sash, tilt both windows in, hold them in place with my hips (which got very bruised).... and heave a shower over my head!  OH. MY.   it cracks me up just thinking about it!

Did I mention that the shower juggling happened about 20 minutes before the worst wind storm of my life?  Actually, Phil had said, "we better try and get that shower in the cabin before the rain hits".... yeah!  had we not, the shower might have been blown clear to Nelsonville!

What's next on the short list?
finishing the screen
running electricity
trenching for electric wires

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Great Tally Competition

It is no secret that we are serious about tomatoes here at The Brick Lady!  Yes, we raise all sorts of vegetables and herbs, but the tomatoes always steal the show.

We've got a fairly fierce competition going on -- with ourselves!  Each year, since 2008, we've been tallying our tomatoes.  I don't know why we do this really, but it's a heck of alotta fun! (which I guess, is why we do it!)  The Great Tally Competition is very willy-nilly and definitely less-than-scientific.  We decided to take the easy route and not get too detailed with things like: how many tomato plants were raised, plant varieties, and weather.  Instead, we've cut to the chase and just recorded the real important data: THE NUMBER!

So, this competition is not fair, valid, or reliable ....but, who cares!? it's FUN!

Here's our competition:
2006 - (my first year at The Brick Lady - massive interior gut renovations - gardens not yet built)
2007 - (first year of garden, but no record or tally kept)
2008 - 245 tomatoes harvested
2009 - 314 tomatoes harvested
2010 - 381 tomatoes harvested
2011 - 192 tomatoes harvested - what an embarrassment!
2012 - ?

In the spirit of the Summer Olympics, I told Phil, that we are gold medalists in the sport of tomatoes.  Yeah, there's nothing quite like giving yourself a fake title in which to brag.  I'm humble, really. 

this is the new annex for the year. I call it "front annex" while Phil refers to it as "annex B".  there are 9 plants growing in that tangled mess, Orange and Chocolate Cherry

this variety is called "cavern".  they are hollow tomatoes with a thick outer skin (like a pepper).  they are grown with the purpose of stuffing.  very interesting indeed.  I can't wait to try out some recipes on these beauts!

on deck

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The 40

Garden Update: July 10, 2012

  click here to read the previous garden update

So far, this year's garden has been a happy spot.  No serious complaints amongst any of the inhabitants, although we have lost two tomatoes thus far to bloom-end rot.  ...And that, my friends, can be a very dicey situation.  We are keeping a close eye on it.  I've researched the problem and have found that our soil may be lacking in calcium.  ....but so far, we've taken the lazy wait-and-see approach.

Five tomatoes have been harvested to date.  We have set our goals high for the year and hope to blow the previous tomato tally records out of the water.  I will report on the previous year's tallies in another post.  The numbers are downstairs and I am too lazy to go fetch them.  

Almost all of the cabbages have been harvested.  I believe we have 4 left.  The heat wave nearly did them in... they are cold weather veggies and just can't survive the heat.  Usually, the heads will crack open and rot will set in.  The "stonehead" variety that we grow is the absolute best at surviving the heat.

The salad barrels are kaput, as the lettuce is also a cold weather crop that can't survive these hot days.

I took out most of the broccoli plants just this evening.  They weren't completely done yet... still sending off little shoots here and there, but they were huge and taking up a lot of space... and crowding the brussel sprouts and tomatoes.

And so I've got empty vacancies in the garden.  I've never been good at the second round of planting.  We tried a few years back to do a second round of sugar snaps, but it didn't go well.  We also did a late planting of green beans one year... that too, was a fail.  Hmmm.... I'm not sure what I'll do with the vacancies.  I have to admit, that it feels strange to have vacancies on July 10.  The summer is at mid-point (on the school calendar anyway).  ....time keeps on ticking.

when harvesting cabbage, cut just the head and leave the stalk and the larger leaves.  Baby cabbages will form from the cut stalk. 
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