Monday, March 28, 2011

Green Acres Weekend Update

Don't let the weather fool you; things are heating up around here.  Byron is working on a bigger portable chicken tractor.  Seeds for the garden have been started.  Mr. Woodward, a local farmer and dear friend, stopped by the other day to tell us that he's been in touch with someone who raises cattle and would sell us a couple calves to raise for beef.  We packed up Other House this past weekend despite Byron's unsettled stomach and The Worst Cold I've Had Since College (could it be stress???).  And twenty-three fruit trees are slated to arrive sometime tomorrow.  Apparently they can be stored, and I'd say that's a good thing.

In all this, I'm thankful that things are moving forward in our lives.  Maybe you've gathered this from other posts, and I'm hesitant to announce this since closing is still a couple weeks away, but we have a contract on Other House!  We'll be officially moving next weekend, which is why we had to rush to refinish some of the floors at the farmhouse.  Because of our unexpected renovations, for almost a year our belongings have been divided between the two homes, with just the essentials at the farmhouse. 

A peek at Other House.  It's one of those cool nook-and-cranny, they-don't-build-'em-like-they-used-to sort of places.  We enjoyed our years there!

Byron working on the new chicken tractor.  Hold on a sec - is that my olive oil???  Well, if you don't have WD40 in the house, it seems to work pretty well when you have to drill through metal!
If I fail to post much in the next week or two, you'll know why, and thank you for bearing with me as we enter into a very busy season!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Waterlox Refinishing Guide - My Version

Four lambswool pads, three stomach viruses, and four nights later, the floors in the hall, parlor, and dining room (soon-to-be study) are DONE.  For the first time in four days, we slept in our house again last night.  Whew!

I learned lots from my first DIY Waterlox experience.  If you should ever venture to use this product, here's what I found out:

1. Follow the guide - which includes a video from their website - to the letter.  When they say use one gallon per 500 square feet, they mean it - for every coat.  Even the coats that don't seem to need as much.  Apply liberally.  I think I unwittingly skimped a bit on the third coat, and the study floors are not as smooth as a result.

2. I had a little lint problem, and to this I fault both myself for not calling technical support sooner and the guide for being cryptic.  The video is very clear about tacking the floor with a lint-free rag soaked in mineral spirits before you begin, but the guide is not clear that you need to soak the rag in between coats as well.  So I just went over the floor with a dry rag between coats.  So don't bring a magnifying glass when you come visit, okay?

3. Ventilation is crucial for curing, because the Waterlox needs to bond with fresh oxygen in order to harden.  H2OLOX + O2 = hard floors...or something like that.  Anyway, it may be more time-efficient to use Waterlox when the weather tends to be more temperate, since high humidity or cold weather can slow the curing process.  Did I mention the curing process takes seven days?  Yup, that part is a drag.

Dining room (future study), with new heart pine flooring.
4. Waterlox really is pretty easy to apply.  It took me about 45 minutes to do almost 500 square feet, though prep time the first day took about an hour (vacuuming, tacking the floor).  It's also self-levelling, so I didn't end up with any splotches. 
Old heart pine on the left, new heart pine on the right.  Click here to see the "before" photo.
5.  There is an upfront cost to Waterlox.  It is much more expensive than polyurethane, but there's a silver lining.  In the long run, Waterlox may save you money because when your floors need to be refinished many years from now, they will not need to be stripped down again.  And if you have very old floors that have been stripped in the past, you may not have much wood to work with.  This was the case with us:
We don't know how many times these floors have been refinished, but as you can see from this cross-section, this will have to be the last time!
In my research, I also found that since the main ingredient in Waterlox is Tung oil, it's actually fairly environmentally friendly.  Made from the nut of the Tung tree, it's essentially organic and renewable.  So although we couldn't afford reclaimed flooring, maybe we made up for it in a way by using Waterlox. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Green Acres Weekend Update

Lots going on this week, and the next few.  We're trying to get the house ready to receive the rest of our furniture, which is currently at Other House.  Outdoor projects galore.  Wrapping up our Classical Conversations year.  But a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Byron installed a fence to keep out predators - er - four wheelers.

Three fruit trees down, twenty-three to go!  Yes, I said twenty-three!

I'm trying to start plants from seeds this year.  Click here to see how to make these very cheap starter pots! I'm using these for tomatoes, since they won't be planted right away and will (hopefully) get BIG.

I'm also trying one of these inflatable peat moss doo-hickies.

This is me being organized - using those labels that have been floating around instead of a random sheet of paper that will get lost in one of my piles.  I was very proud of myself.

We took time to smell the, um, orchids.  Thanks, Dawn, for the guest pass to the botanical gardens.

Hi.  I'm Charlie.  My name starts with "C" and I'm four.  I like to cooperate for pictures.  Sometimes. 


Have a great week!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Floors: Round One

Last night I began refinishing the floors in the front of the house!  We have a bit to go (3 more coats on these, more heart pine to install, and then about 1500 square feet to refinish one of these days), but it feels great to be taking the first step.  Here are the photos:

The hallway, before sanding.  We hired someone to do this since we don't trust ourselves with heavy sanding equipment.  We've heard horror stories of wavy floors.

Our floor guy told us that when you finish floors, the stain and finish need to be compatible.  Not the case here; what we believe is polyurethane has bubbled up in many places over the old stain.

Sanded hallway.

I applied the first coat of Waterlox last night.  Heart pine needs four coats, with 24 hours to dry in between, and lots of ventilation.  We are not using a stain; the tongue oil in the Waterlox deepens the color a bit and we love it!  The first coat or two might look a bit spotty in places, which is to be expected.

Parlor, before sanding.

Parlor, after sanding (different view - sorry)!

Parlor, after first coat of Waterlox.

Old heart pine on the left, new heart pine on the right.  There is a slight color difference because of the age of the wood, but we're okay with that.  Our floor guy told us that we could put a stain down on the new stuff to match it up with the old, but we're opting not to.  This is just bare wood...I'm not allowed to walk over here again until later this afternoon!

Dining room after the first coat of Waterlox.  These are the new heart pine floors.
Although it's pricey, Waterlox is aptly named because it truly does keep water spills from penetrating the floors, and refinishing is simple because these floors most likely will never need to be sanded down again!  We'll be using a satin sheen for the final coat, and one coat of that is all we'll need to apply if the floors ever get worn down too much.  And we don't expect that to happen for many, many years.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pining Rewarded

Before Christmas, Byron found a cool, shabby-chic type of hutch in an antique store downtown.  Unfortunately, it was over our budget, though that was no surprise given the serious antique-seekers our downtown attracts.  So when I saw it, I kind of turned my nose up at it and decided I could find something cheaper and better on craigslist.  Months went by with no such luck, and I couldn't stop pining over the darn thing!

So a few weeks ago I decided to see if said hutch was still available.  Not only was it still there, but the price had been reduced to something we could afford!  So after some measuring and mulling, we decided to offer it a new home. 

Our hutch's temporary home.  To clear out some cabinet space in the kitchen, I filled it with stuff I'd canned last summer.  To my surprise, I packed the two lower shelves hiding behind the bottom doors!  Anyway, we think the hutch was once a built-in (notice the lack of crown molding on the top right), but we have a perfect place for it.
Old hardware = lots of character
Beadboard backing
The shelf and back are made of tongue-and-groove boards.  Solid stuff.
So am I excited to have another project?  Sort of.  Although much is unfinished around here, the hutch is something we needed and something we knew would fit the character of the home.  Funny I say that, because I used to be into ultra-modern furniture and decor.  Though I still appreciate modern done well, my tastes have evolved to the point that I appreciate pieces that are timeless more.  Be it the character, the workmanship, or the fact that I'm somehow saving a tiny bit of our natural resources by buying something used, I can honestly say that in ten years I won't be tired of looking at this.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Green Acres Weekend Update

Byron has spent a lot of time the past couple weeks clearing out an old fence row that had become very overgrown over the past couple decades or so.  His reasons were to try to eliminate the copious amounts of poison ivy growing there, open up the land to the back of the property so it can eventually be used for pasture, create fence posts from cedar trees, and obtain more firewood.  Here's some of what he did, in photos:

Poison ivy root.  I helped Byron pull these up because I supposedly had this superpower that made me immune to poison ivy.  Seriously, I spent the whole summer steeped in to while I was picking blackberries.  But the roots have become my kryptonite.  I'll spare you a photo of my leg.
Here's a photo of what the poison ivy did to Byron's arm.  Our advice?  AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE!
Amazingly enough, Byron's Great-Granddaddy's fence is still somewhat intact in places (including the cedar posts he used). 
Byron would like to build a fence using cedar, and began stockpiling posts by cutting cedar trees from the overgrown fence row. 
Cedar is very rot-resistant, sustainable, and for us, free!
Right now we supplement our heat with the woodstove in the winter, though we'd like to heat only with wood in the future.  Here are maples that were cluttering the fence row. 
When stockpiling firewood, you have to think ahead.  Firewood needs at least a year to dry out (am I right, Byron?)...otherwise the moisture content makes your woodstove less efficient.
Byron has since cleared out the maples, but this gives you an idea of what he's been up to.  He cleared out the whole area from the huge pin oak on the right all the way over to the woodpiles .
A small bite of all we need to do, but a bite nonetheless.

I'm linking this post to Homestead Revival's Barn Hop #4.  Click on the button below to visit some other homesteads!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Renovation Update

This weekend I was thinking I didn't have much of an update, but after downloading photos from my camera, I saw how wrong I was.  Many photos of many little projects to come...and I ordered seeds for the garden last week!

In the meantime, Byron has been working on installing new heart pine flooring in the room that originally was  the kitchen/dining room, but what we will use as the study.  I'd like to say that we installed reclaimed flooring, but let's just say sometimes it's not easy being green unless you have pretty deep pockets.  So although we salvaged the flooring that wasn't damaged by termites and reinstalled that, we will have to use newer growth wood in the rest of the house.  Only about 1,000 s.f. to go, but here's an exciting start:

When we first got the wood, it seeemed a little damp.  Weird, since hardwood flooring is typically kiln-dried, but Byron decided to sticker (builder speak for stacking flooring)  it for a few days to let it acclimate to the temperature of the house.  A good idea anyway, since wood expands and contracts.

The hardest part is getting the first row straight.  From there it's not bad, especially if the boards are wide.  Although the original flooring is about 3", the new flooring will be a bit over 5".  We chose to get a different width to differentiate between old and new.
Thanks to Byron's dad for letting us borrow the saw!
Byron installs the last board.  Kinda like the golden spike in the Transcontinental Railroad...or not.
We have a long way to go, but this looks great to us given that less than a year ago we could step right into the crawlspace here!  And oh yeah, I painted.
An updated photo of the fireplace in the parlor.  This is a reclaimed mantel I painted from an 1840s house...and it has a twin that will go in the study!  More pics and details to come, but since we got a great deal on these, maybe I need to take back that bit about being green = deep pockets? 
After a lot of research on polyurethane versus tung oil versus Waterlox, we decided to go with Waterlox to finish our floors.  The downside of poly is evidenced by the bubbled-up plastic coating on the older floors in the house, and while pure tung oil is old school, the price was comparable to Waterlox and it may need to be "freshened" every couple years (no, thanks).  I'll be finishing the floors myself, and Waterlox is supposed to be easy to apply, self-leveling, and easy to repair...with no sanding between coats.  I'll let you know how it goes!
We have lots more indoor and outdoor projects to tackle this spring, and frankly not enough bear with me if this blog gets a bit schizophrenic in topics in the very near future!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Four-Year-Old Metal Detector

Last summer, Byron borrowed my brother's metal detector to do some relic hunting on our property, and he's definitely found a few interesting things.  But truth be told, he's unearthed more nails and random scraps of metal than anything else, which has been frustrating.  Because this land has been picked over, he's been thinking that he needs a newer metal detector that can sense the presence of Civil War belt buckles - and the like - just waiting to be unearthed but buried too deeply at the moment.  Until we discovered that we had a four-year-old metal detector right under our noses.

Charlie, like most boys, loves to dig and is always asking to dig holes in the yard.  As a female, I don't exactly understand this urge, but that's okay.  So this weekend Byron found a place for Charlie to dig, and dig he did.  Though he didn't find the coveted Civil War belt buckle, he unearthed this:

We're not sure if this horseshoe is Civil War era or Great-Granddaddy Green era.  But one thing's for sure: it's old!

Just to give you an idea of how deep Charlie's holes are!  Needless to say, the pants he was wearing are soaking in the sink as I write this.
And you'll be the first to know Charlie's next discovery!