If you remember correctly, you will recall that Ted and April had a huge pantry that we didn't have a need for. We are not doomsday preppers, nor do we feel the need for a year's worth of food storage, so we instead decided to expand the main bathroom into the pantry space and use the remaining portion of the pantry for an eat-in craftsman style table. This left us with a corner of "dead space" that we would turn into a small closet pantry.
We were lucky enough to have my step sister and brother in law come over and drywall the pantry for us a few weeks ago, which gave us a great start.
After a bit of discussion and some thoughtful reflection, we decided to have wire shelves that go across the full span of the pantry instead of shelves on each side. While down the road we might change the orientation of the closet shelves, this allowed us to get the pantry in quickly and start actually making food at our house instead of eating out all the time.
I happened to look at an aerial photo of our property on Google this week and noticed how much change there has been in this land over the last three months. The random fenced areas are gone, the knotweed infested drain field is looking more manageable, and the grass is growing in nicely. There is still a ton of work to do, but it was incredible to see the progress!
It is starting to feel like their "8 weeks total" for construction was a bit of a lie...
On the plus side, the envelope is almost finished! Siding is now also on the front of the house and the roofers are dropping off flashing so the rest can be installed today. The trim makes SUCH a big difference in how this house looks. We are so pleased we decided to splurge and add it. We also picked exterior lights, which you can see in the picture below. We really liked that these were galvanized so they wouldn't rust, were farmy, and would look great on a barn as well. Now we are just waiting to paint the house!
Our main bath is plumbed for the new vanities that Chris installed and we are pretty sure about placement for them by now. We just had to clear out the contractors' mess to figure out how much space we had.
The main bath is also getting a tub enclosure this week, and while it isn't the one we picked (due to a miscommunication?) it does match the one upstairs and will look really nice. My only requirement was that it be easy to clean and the tub be deep so I can take baths. I think this will do!
The roof is fully insulated! Our yard is a HUGE mess! But probably we won't have quite so many leaks when it rains!
This week saw our insulation of the roof finished, siding on the front of the house get started, and trim being installed around all the sides. We also replaced the front door because the molding was rotting. Overall effect: big progress visually.
Chris, on the other hand, spent a weekend building IKEA vanities and finishing the horse pasture fence. He is a pretty great guy.
We had planned all summer to go to a cabin in the Entiat in mid-September with Connie and Jerry and our horses. We thought this would be a good time weather-wise, and that we would be able to unwind after the house was mostly finished. Well... the house is not finished (or really even halfway done) and most of the Entiat was burned down in the fires this summer. So the cabin we rented in the forest service land was not an option and a last minute google search for a cabin to rent with horse amenities landed us at the Chewach River Ranch a few miles outside of Winthrop.
The online reviews were pretty funny - people complaining about a lack of hot tub, burnt out light bulbs, and general lack of host/hostess attentiveness. None of those bothered us because they (a) had rooms available on almost no notice, (b) let us bring our own horses and didn't charge a stabling fee, and (c) were located in a gorgeous area of the North Cascades.
This week, like many of the past weeks, felt like not much was accomplished. Most of our laborers were sick this week, meaning that Steve was at the house by himself, working on siding. He got a pretty decent amount done given that he was working by himself and having to do a fair number of trips to the hardware store to get supplies as well.
One minor clarification came this week as we watched siding go up... we had agreed with the contractor to install trim around all the windows to really finish off the look of the house. We also had planned on adding soffit materials under the eaves to make the finished house look a lot smoother. When the siding started to go in neither of these was happening.
A few calls later we were back on track, but the siding has to be retroactively cut to fit the trim, so that is a pain.
Chris spent the weekend doing demolition of our MC Escher steps. Sad to see them go, but very excited to be one step closer to having a lovely flower bed in this location. We also reused the risers and rebar in the steps in our garden step project you see below!
The roofers also delivered a lot of roofing materials to the house on Friday of last weekend and finally got started on insulation this week. The roofers, if possible, are the slowest people we have had working on the house. We had a promise of getting the house water tight and ready for the metal roof today, but that clearly didn't happen as they are not even done with 1/3 of the roof. This is a HUGE problem as the insulation absolutely cannot get wet or we are faced with serious mold issues down the road.
The contractors told us to get started on painting the trim if we were able this weekend, as it will be way easier to paint before all the flashing for the metal roof goes in. We (and by that I clearly mean Chris) got up on ladders and hit as much as we could reach!
While messing around and waiting for the trim to dry, I attacked a small section of our side yard and created a walkway from the back of the house to the front. I quite like how it turned out, and will like it even more when the roofing materials don't cover everything up any more.
As a side note, our property tax assessment came back and while the value of the land went up 30K, the value of the house was put at less than 25% of its last assessed value, which is actually pretty funny. We will enjoy the lower taxes for this year, though, as we know next year they will go up as the place starts to look better and better.
The whole reason we bought this farm was so that we could look out our windows and see our horses grazing in a field nearby. That dream, however, was a little hampered by the state of the only pasturable land looking like a war zone when we first moved in.
While Ted did clean up most of his junk, he did leave numerous burn piles filled with nails, glass, and debris, miscellaneous car parts in the woods, and a generally unkempt and unsafe area for our horses. We knew that we had some serious work to do on the field to get it to a horse-ready condition.
I gave notice to our boarding barn in the middle of August, intending to bring Yukon home in mid-September, but due to the barn manager's very different interpretation of the boarding contract than my contract lawyer husband, we ended up paying for board until October 1st. Not a huge deal, and in the end, I think this actually worked in our favor. Though I can't wait to see this sweet face every day.
Danny is also finishing up his show lease, and will be coming home in the next month or so. We are really excited to have him home again too, so it means Chris and I will be able to ride together on our own horses for the first time. I will miss seeing Dan being so successful at shows and teaching his kid the ropes in the Pre-Childrens, but will have a good time bopping around on him in a lesson or two and giving him some time off this winter.
Back to the field... one of our first tasks was to identify where we wanted the fence line to go. We started by talking to King Conservation District and signing up for a farm plan, which will help us in the long run with planning and cost sharing of farm features. The farm plan takes two months to develop, so during that time Chris and I walked the proposed fence lines and got a feel for how simple some areas would be to clear over others. In the end, we decided to cut a fence that ran on the west property line, took a roundabout turn to the east, and followed an access road back to the big cleared area. We would also follow the road on the south, and the wetland on the east. This gave us approximately two acres for our field, though only about one of it is currently grass.
Chris bought a circular saw on a weedeater and attacked the low lying brush with that to get us started. We also had a chainsaw on a pole for limbing up trees, and a chainsaw for taking out the big stuff. In the end, we had a pretty good line through the trees!
We had a work party over Labor Day weekend and with the help of some good friends and family, we got a TON accomplished. We used the new farm truck (1991 International with a hydraulic dump bed) to transport branches to the ever growing burn pile and drag a huge burned stump into a flowerbed. Chris and Terry worked tirelessly to dig post holes, coming up with a pretty good system along the way. In the end, the whole place started to look a lot like a field (minus the actual hot tape fence). We were even able to create a garden around the old well casing that stuck out like a sore thumb.
The final step was a tractor date with a good friend to work at leveling out some of the "leg breaker" holes that were residual from the hog pen. A little work moving some fill dirt and these were starting to look pretty good too! Our magnet worked double time to get the nails out of the burn piles, but even those got cleaned up and covered over.
I dare say, we are ALMOST ready for horses!
This week, like most of the weeks, involved a lot of small steps forward while not seeming like any progress was made. The one exception to this was that the beam that goes through the bedroom and the blue room (future guest bedroom) was replaced. This involved lots of guys all maneuvering a huge beam into place, a huge hole in the roofing, and us living on the floor of a different unfinished space for a few nights.
We also saw siding added to a few of the sides of the house (which prompted some questions about whether or not we had agreed to do trim, more on that later). We found dry rot in one last beam, but this was able to be treated and supported without full replacement or a boom truck, so we call that a victory!
The electrician came this week and we worked to figure out where all our lights/switches/heaters were going to go. We ended up going with a cadet heater system instead of a heat pump, which is saving us a huge amount of money upfront, allowing us to replace the beams and other more pressing issues.