Monday, June 27, 2011

Shed/Sidewalk Removal and Escape Artists

Much of this week was spent working in the garden – the weeds were taking over! Now we have rabbits trying to eat all of our beans – darn rabbits!

My parents came down for the weekend to help us remove the shed and sidewalks. The shed has been a thorn in our side for awhile. The construction was so poor that there are enormous cracks in the block that let all the rain into the sunroom. There were two doors – one to the sunroom and one to the outside. Both of them were “dwarf” doors since they were only about 4 feet tall. The only good part about having this space was that we used it for storage of our many toilets, sinks, and a bathtub from the condo.

The guys started Saturday morning by removing the shed roof. I’m not sure what happened, but I know that we now have a blade for the circular saw that is coated in black tar.

While the boys were working on removing the roof, Mom and I loaded up the truck for our first trip to the dump. We had been collecting a large pile of debris on the side of the house and I think our neighbors were starting to hate us again. We ended up taking 3 truckloads to the dump and have a lot less debris at the house.

When we all got back from the dump, we removed the cinder block walls from the shed. Fortunately, the walls came down pretty quickly.

Once this was done, we got slightly cleaned up to go to our church picnic. We didn’t spend much time there but had a very good, filling lunch.

Once we got back, after a little nap, we started removing the sidewalks. I don’t know how familiar you are with the crazy sidewalks at our house so I’ll try to explain. There are three sidewalks. One goes parallel to the house about 4 feet away from the driveway to the porch steps. Another one goes at a weird angle from the driveway to the porch steps. The third (and weirdest) sidewalk veers off of the angled walk and goes down the hill in front of the house. This third one ends in the middle of nowhere near the bottom of the hill. Apparently they put in this sidewalk when there was a daycare in the scary, moldy basement.

We’ve never been happy with the placement of the sidewalks or the style of them. We started by removing the very weird one that goes to the middle of nowhere. Fortunately this one came out rather painlessly (of course Chris wouldn’t say that since he was the one swinging the sledgehammer!). We were able to pry the sections up from the ground and place bricks under them to make it easier to break.

Having this sidewalk gone is a very big improvement! We started trying to remove the other sidewalks but of course they were nowhere near as easy to remove – they used wire mesh in the other two. This week, we’re now searching for someone to help us dig them up with a Bobcat. Hopefully we can get the help before they have to take the dumpster back in a couple weeks.

On Sunday, before church, I let the dogs out into the yard. I sat down to read my book when I heard yelling in the street "Get away!!" I jumped up and saw the dogs in the street trying to play with another dog that was on a walk. I ran outside with no shoes on to try to get the dogs back inside. Fortunately, Hunter came right away but Tucker was bad and ran the other direction. We got in the cars to get him back and Chris found him trotting along the road in the neighborhood. What a bad dog! We definitely need to work on the security of those gates!

After church, we had a very nice brunch with Steve, Diane, and Jared. The rest of the day was spent cleaning up the area by the other mudroom that we removed back in February.

We also had a few encounters with snakes this weekend – they really like the cinder block piles we’ve had lying around. On one final note, we’ve had a lot of owls in the backyard lately. Maybe they’ll keep away some of the rabbits!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Woodland Creatures 0, Skociks 7

So, as a family, we’re getting pretty good at removing woodland creatures from our backyard. This week we caught another groundhog and another possum. Neither will be back to bother our garden again!

And speaking of the garden, we worked a lot in there this week. It’s amazing how fast plants grow when there are no animals to feast on them all day! We already have some tomatoes growing and have blossoms on some other plants. The one tell tale sign of success I’ve been using is the corn height. Back home the corn is supposed to be “knee high by the 4th of July” in order for it to be a good crop. Our corn is already thigh high and it’s still June!

In big news this week, we have a roommate. The co-op student from work is staying in our medium bedroom for a couple months. It’ll be nice to have a little extra income and it also gave us the motivation to completely finish two rooms – her bedroom and the half bathroom.

There were a couple small things to complete in each room for them to be considered “completely finished.” The medium bedroom had some trim work involved (installing some, filling holes and gaps, touching up some paint). The half bathroom needed door stop and the threshold installed to make the transition from the tile in the bathroom to the hardwood floor in the hallway. Chris made the threshold using an old piece of flooring we ripped out of another room and very carefully used the table saw to make the cuts. Fortunately he got it just right – and he didn’t even cut off any fingers in the process!

This coming week is supposed to rain just about every day so we will hopefully work some more on the bedroom furniture (maybe one day we won’t have to keep our clothes in boxes!).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Our Non-House-Related Trip to the ER

This week was extremely hot and humid – in the high 90s for a few days in a row – so we didn’t get a whole lot done outside. The two things we did work on were the garden fence and installing another large section of soffit vents.

The garden fence is not yet complete and we found out that we have another groundhog. We set the trap 4 times already and he just keeps stealing the apple slices. One time he even stole the apple, tripped the door, and still made it out of the trap – he’s like Houdini! We made some adjustments to the release mechanism so hopefully we’ll have him in the cage when we get home tonight.

The soffit vent cutting went a lot faster this time because we were able to use the circular saw. Because of the heat we weren’t able to finish as much as we wanted but it was still successful. For some reason I forgot to take a picture of it with the vents actually in place…oops!

On Saturday afternoon, Chris started brewing beer. He was outside using his turkey fryer burner to boil some water. When he went to pick it up the handles were hot and he dropped it on the ground. The boiling water spilled all over his foot. He was in a lot of pain but we still had to “save the beer” so before we went to the hospital, I had to boil more water and add it to the grain – you know, priorities.

We went to Urgent Care first but they wouldn’t see us because they “just saw their last patient.” So instead, we had to go to the emergency room. After about an hour, we were out with some burn cream and socks to put on the burned foot. After a day, this is how his foot looks – yucky and painful!

The only other work we’ve been doing has been to get the medium bedroom and half bathroom ready for the co-op student that will be staying with us this summer. She arrives this coming Saturday and we only have a short list of small tasks that we would like to complete.

On Sunday, after church, we drove up to Altoona to go to my friend Brigitte’s 5 year cancer free party. It was great getting to see them and meeting their newest addition to the family.

Hopefully this week we can finish the small tasks and clean the house!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Maybe We Should Change His Name to Killer…

I wrote about Tucker killing an innocent little baby bunny this weekend. Well, last night he struck again – this poor baby bunny didn’t stand a chance.

Of course you probably remember the deer incident from last fall. Technically he didn’t kill the deer but he did chase it to its death.

We’re starting to wonder where we went wrong…

Monday, June 6, 2011

House Gets a Face Lift

This week started out really hot and humid but ended up quite nice. We worked outside for the most part. On Wednesday, Chris trimmed up a tree in the backyard – its branches were getting very low to the ground.

We borrowed a large auger from a friend at work to dig holes for the garden fence. We had some issues at first trying to get it started but we were finally able to dig all the holes on Friday. It was tough work but it was worth it – it beats using a post hole digger. We put the posts in the ground but we didn’t have enough time to put up the fence yet – hopefully early this week!

A couple weekends ago we got a rain barrel from the county dump. We installed the hardware and put it in place this week. We know that it stands out a little bit but we’d rather start catching the rain for the garden than having it look pretty! Maybe over winter we can paint it a more natural color.

This weekend, we cleaned, painted, and hung the shutters that we got from our next door neighbors. They had been sitting in our garage for many months because they weren’t very high priority. We also painted the front porch railing – we had to wait a year for the pressure treated lumber to season. We think these two jobs make the house look very different. We obviously still have a lot to do in terms of landscaping but it’s getting better!

We had a few animal encounters this weekend. The first was a turtle that fell into one of our fence post holes. The second was a group of baby rabbits. Tucker was the one that found the rabbits hiding spot. Every time he went outside he headed straight for the spot. We were able to control him for the most part but one time he was incredibly determined. He wouldn’t listen to Chris and stirred up the nest and killed one of the babies. It was so awful – we’ll have to start walking him until the rabbits are big enough to run away from him. I know we can’t really blame him but it’s just heartbreaking.

We have known for a long time that we needed better ventilation in our attic. Our contractors put 2” vents between every third or fourth rafter – definitely not enough! On one of the 90+°F days Chris measured the temperature in the attic of 130°F!

We purchased 4” x 16” vents to put in every rafter cavity. This weekend we started installing them and its tough work. The hardest part is working above your head the entire time – Chris neck was getting really sore. We installed 7 of them before calling it a day – we’ll keep working on them a little at a time and hopefully our attic will not be so ridiculously hot!

I am always annoyed when screw heads stand out so I took some peg board, covered it with newspaper, pushed all the screws into the paper, and spray painted them all. It didn’t take long and now I won’t be annoyed every time I look up at the soffits!

Something we did this weekend had nothing to do with the house. Friends of ours had a lot of cherries frozen from last year that they offered to us a couple weeks ago. Chris wanted to make some cherry wine so we picked them up last week. Of course before he could start the wine making, we had to pit all the cherries. We only used 2/3 of the cherries we got but it took over an hour to pit them all – 27 pounds! The pits from the cherries came close to filling our colander. I just hope that this is good wine!

We only have two more weeks before we get a summer student staying with us – hopefully we can get a lot accomplished in the house by then!