Friday, June 24, 2011


As you know from my previous posts things have slowed to a crawl at the homestead.  We have been fortunate to have been getting just enough rain at just the right times so we haven't been forced to haul water to irrigate all the berry plants.  We thank our God in heaven for providing for our needs.

While not much has occurred at the homestead we have made progress on our house as we are preparing to place it on the market.  When we bought the home some ten years ago out plan the whole time was for us to live in, make improvements to increase its value and when we had enough equity to sell and purchase land somewhere in Missouri to build our forever home.  We have reached the point whereas we should have the equity to build and finish if out enough to make it livable.  We will pay as we go to complete the finishing touches.  We have a couple of exterior walls remaining to scrape and paint and a few touch ups inside. Once we finish the cosmetics and complete the projects we have started but not completed the for sale sign will go up. We did some yard sales over the weekend and scored a deal on windows for two sides of the cabin for five dollars each. We also bought an old chest type cabinet made of solid wood for $15. We can use it as a pantry and food prep area in the cabin. My strength is slowly coming back and although I still have to take the occasional breathing treatment I will soon be back out working on the cabin. We have our work cut out for us this week catching up on mowing and weeding the berry patches.

Friday, June 10, 2011


No other way to describe it.  The weather, demands, tasks needing completed, hot.  Just no other way to describe it.  With my work schedule, the girls birthdays this month, and all the work needing done on the cars, house, land, and everything else it is a little overwhelming.

My plans for the week and reality did not quite mesh.  The week started with me being broke down on the side of the road while on my way to work.  The tornado taking out one of our major hospitals has thrown us for a loop.  The other major hospital in Joplin is full.  This means anyone needing specialized care must be transported twice as far which has resulted in a lot of time on the road and great loss of sleep and time to accomplish anything else needing done.

We haven't figured out everything we need for our drip irrigation for the berries so we had to get some water on them.  In the past we would fill our water tank at home and drive the nearly 30 miles to our land.  This was not ideal.  Our city charges sewer fees for every drop of water we use no matter how we use it.  We also use more fuel to pull the tank that far.  We set up an account to buy bulk water in a town much closer to our land and we will save a lot of money.  The last time we watered we used 250 gallons of water and it cost less than $5.00. When the irrigation system is installed we will save even more as we plan on using rain barrels and creek water to irrigate.

 We planned on having a pre-birthday party for the girls today since I may have to work late Thursday which is my oldest girls thirteenth.  We were planning to eat dinner together, eat some ice cream and give the girls their big combined gift, and then go do some fishing at dusk.  When we walked into the house after being gone all day it was 86 degrees inside.  Upon checking we found the central air unit frozen up.  We just had the freon topped off so we checked to ensure all of the air vents inside were clear and then checked the outside unit.  The vents were covered with filth.  I had sprayed it down a couple of weeks ago but apparently not good enough.  After about two hours with tooth brushes and the water hose it was finally clean and blowing cold air.

Needless to say this ended our fishing plans we accomplished our other goals.  I still don't know what to think about this weather.  I have no idea if global warming is real or just an unproven theory but this has been a year of weird weather.  Record snows, a late spring, tornadoes hitting everywhere, and now record heat.  God help us.

Until next time....

Friday, June 3, 2011

Framing The Walls

Well the time has come.  I am getting my strength back and things are slowing down enough that we are beginning to frame the walls to the cabin.  We had not been out to our land for almost 3 weeks with me being in the hospital and all the rain we had been having.  I had planned on spending most of the day framing, however once we saw how much the grass had grown the mowing took most of it.

The plan was for the family too get up early and be out at the land so that when I got off work I could join them and we could get everything done.  Well that did not work out, my girls are not the most punctual in the world so I had some time to kill. I am not supposed to be mowing or be around too much dust until I am fully recovered from the pneumonia and I needed to pick up some dust masks from our local discount store prior to going out.  As I was driving toward the store I noticed a large crowd of cars in a local hardware/farm type store that is going out of business.  Well the last time I had been in a few days earlier everything was 25% off.  I pulled in and noticed the sign on the door that now everything was 45% off.  Wow.  I sure wish I had gotten there earlier.  If only I had ESP I could have made out a list of all the electrical, plumbing, paint, stain, you name it that we will be needing when we build our big house.  As it was the crowd had picked through and gotten alot of the items I could use now for the cabin.  I managed to score on a few items as well as my dust masks and saved some money in the meantime.

My family finally made it and I followed them to the land.  The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and it was going to be a great day.  The girls started off picking up limbs that must have been blown down during one of the many storms to pass through our area.  We are fortunate that the big F5 tornado that devastated Joplin was a good 50 miles to our south so we really had no damage.  I was most worried about someone stealing the lumber I had left or vandalizing some of the things we leave at the land.  The only thing out of order was that someone tore down our no trespassing signs.  I have heard there is a local who is mad about losing "his" hunting ground and is holding a grudge against the people who have purchased these parcels of land.  He had the same opportunity to purchase the land as I so I guess he can get glad in his same pants he got mad in.  I have not met him.  I would like to.  I would not mind someone hunting the land responsibly to manage the deer population.  I just want to know and control who has access to my property.

Jenn got busy on the mower and my apprentices and I got busy preparing to frame the walls.  We had to start by cutting down the studs for the back wall to the proper length.  The plans were not real clear on if the total length was from inside or outside the bottom plate and top plate.  Hope we read them right because the boards are cut.

Selecting the best boards

I started out by teaching them how to select a board that is straight and not bowed.  We are framing a stud every two feet on center.  I showed the girls how to mark the top and bottom plates for the location of the studs and they preceded to do that while I cut all the studs to the proper length.

Marking the location for the studs

 You can use a clamp to secure the two plates together to make marking them easier as I have shown the girls.

We previously learned that it is always better to measure twice and cut or nail once!

As I began to build the wall the girls started laying out the stud location for one of the side walls.

Once we had nailed all the studs in place we squared the wall.  I was fairly surprised that after nailing it all together it was within 1/8th" of being square.

I had not bought the sheathing yet so my day of building was done.

The remainder of the day I spent supervising as the girls finished the mowing and cutting trails through the woods.  We finally have a trail from one end of our property to the other through the woods.  You can not see it from the road which is alright with me.  We will have to widen it a bit and build a bridge over our wet weather creeks.  I pulled some weeds from around the blue berry bushes and checked the raspberry bushes.  We lost four of the Duke blueberry plants we just planted.  I will have to contact the nursery about replacements.  The raspberries are doing great.  I was surprised to see grass starting to grow around the raspberry plants so I got the preen down, remember the no till experiment we tried for the raspberries, so hopefully the Preen will take care of any future weeds but we will have to get the mulch down as soon as our irrigation supplies arrive.

We hope to make it out this next week to put in our gravity fed drip irrigation and get all the berry plants mulched.  It is getting hot already and it will be dry before we know it.  I noticed the drought map has expanded, most of Texas is in exceptional if not severe drought along with Oklahoma and it is starting to spread into western and central Kansas.  If only we could tame mother nature and plan out the rains to get them when we need them.....

Once we take care of ensuring our berries will survive the hot summer we will continue on the framing of the cabin walls.  One stud at a time.