Farmhouse Project – The Hydrant

This project came about unexpected and out of necessity. Unbeknownst to us, the yard hydrant had been leaking underground, and it wasn’t until we noticed a permanent wet ground that we realized something was not right. This project had to be done in several attempts, and this is why. The hydrant is an old Woodford hydrant, one of the best in the market, that will last long, over 50 years, and this one seems like it has been pumping water for a long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it dates back over 50 years. First, we had to learn how to do the job. YouTube was a huge help. Then, my husband had to dig to find out if the problem was the hydrant or below it, the water line. Once he figured out it was the hydrant, we were able to proceed. This project was very interesting to learn. Here are pictures of the project. The first thing he had to do was shut the water off.

FIRST ATTEMPT

The hydrant was constantly leaking water through the weeping hole/valve. It is supposed to let water out after the hydrant is shut off to prevent freezing during winter.
After realizing that the culprit was an old plunger, my husband proceeded with the job. The plunger is what prevents the constant leak, and allows the release of water through the weeping hole as needed.

It was very had to get anything loose due to the many years of rust, and paint. Oil had to be used to loosen parts, and even heat. My job was to assist with tools and to hold the pipe well so it would not crack.

The plunger would not come out. It was stuck. We had to pour water through the pipe to see if it would loosen. It finally did.
This is the condition of the plunger, worn and cracked. The pipe is very rusty, but still strong, so we took care when handling it.

We bought an Universal Kit, but after dismantling everything it did not fit the old model.

The Universal Kit brings the parts for a Red or a Blue hydrant. Ours is red. Cost was $21 and change.

After realizing that the Universal Kit was not a fit, my husband had to put everything back together, and try to adjust the top of the hydrant so the leak would at least stop when not in use. A proper kit was not found in the area stores, so we had to order one online. In order to do that we had to figure out what kind of hydrant (model type) it was. It is done by looking at the number stamped at the bottom of the hydrant.

106 D hydrant model requires a Y34 kit. We ordered genuine Woodford repair parts this time. It took four days to arrive. In time for the weekend.

SECOND ATTEMPT

The right kit for a Woodford 106D model. Cost was about $18, cheaper than the Universal kit.

This time parts were a bit easier to take out; however, installing the new plunger was not. Heat and a lot of force was required to loosen up the rusty part.

New plunger installed.
New Rod Stem installed.
Replacing the Packing was not easy. It was dried up inside, worn, and came out in pieces.
Here you can see the old Packing next to the new one (top), and the old support washer next to the new shiny one (bottom).
The new Packing Nut installed; the old one next to it.
All the old parts that were replaced.

Next, my husband put everything back together. It was a process as well; this time in reverse order. He turned on the water back, tested the hydrant after adjusting the top, and once everything looked alright, it was time to cover everything back the way it should be.

The stone helps so soil and dirt don’t go into the weeping hole.
Stones add extra support and drainage.
Soil is replaced, plus another layer of stones on top. Project completed.

This process saved money, about $400.00, maybe more. It would have been simpler if we had ordered the genuine parts from the start, and forego the Universal kit. Old farmhouses come with tons of surprises. I hope you enjoyed this project.

A Few Garden Projects

Sometimes, ideas come to mind unexpectedly, and that is how a project is born. I saw a few pieces of wood that my husband had destined for the garbage and I decided to do something with those pieces. I had all the necessary materials at hand, so why not? One thing that came to mind was the UPS/FedEx truck passing our house, and turning back, and sometimes, back and forth, trying to find the address. For some reason, the navigation system does not point to the exact location; always further away. The house is set far back, so it is easy to miss. So I decided to help them a bit by making a house number sign with the leftover wood. I wanted a bit of a yesteryear look. This is what I came up with.

Materials – leftover wood, nails, and paint. The horse is one of my husband’s rejects ( he makes wooden toys …), and I thought it was the perfect thing to add.
I decided to spruce up the veggie garden. I made a cross with the rest of the wood, and added a homemade banner made from vintage fabrics and antique clothespins.

In the meantime, my husband was reconsidering his previous trail sign, scrapping it, and making another sign.

He likes this style better, and so do I.

What happened to the other sign? I placed it on the veggie garden. Unfortunately, the plants are not growing as fast this year because of the heat and lack of rain, even when alternating watering. Even the lettuce is not producing as well as last year. The peas dried up and died.

The red box is in need of painting already; probably next year.
This onion plant is like a piece of art – a sculpture.

These projects gave me the time to reminisce, and enjoy the work.

BEFORE – Sometimes one has to look way beyond the scrapping wood.
AFTER – We have come a long way from when we started; small steps make a difference.

I hope you enjoy this farmhouse project. Next project will be the rebellious hydrant. Parts are on order; who knew that Universal fit is not really Universal?

Of Critters and Paint

Nature never disappoints. I was able to capture a few images of some visitors. It has been hot and dry around here, the garden is growing slowly, even lettuce is taking its time. I do what I can to provide these visitors with some comfort, a birdbath always filled, small plates of water for ground critters, and areas in the garden for them to enjoy shade. Here are a few of the visitors.

I am not sure what kind of bird it is, but the colors are beautiful, and it is a larger size, larger than a Robin. The first time I see this bird around.
Bunnies have not been around as much as other years, neither do turtles, or snakes. I am not sure why.
Crows, Ravens, are a plenty around here.
BEFORE -The wood around the garden was in need of painting. I had leftover paint, so it was a quick an easy job, under an hour. We have been painting what needs to be, keeping up with time.
AFTER – The wood is shiny and bright again, at least for a couple of years. $$$Tip – If you want to save on garden wood/logs look at discounted wood, usually found on pallets around the garden section in home improvement stores, or the rough cuts in mills. This is how we did the entire perimeter of the house. Once you paint or stain it, the wood will look great and will last long.

Next project will have to be one that just popped up – fixing the hydrant, which has been leaking, unbeknownst to us. It requires digging, so it will be a learn as you go project. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Happy 4th of July to all who celebrate it!

Pledge of Allegiance

Around a Homemade Garden – Farmhouse Project

There is plenty to do around here; never a dull moment. We armed ourselves with motivation to tackle a short list, mostly things that have been waiting – installing a window a/c for when the heat becomes unbearably dangerous, weeding out the garden, trimming bushes, planting corn again (something plucked all my corn plants, one by one), caulk porch columns, and do some minor painting retouches. The caulking and the painting had to wait because of rain that never showed up during the day, but poured at night. We will tackle those later on. However, I was able to do a quick and easy project with left over materials – a bird/critter feeder, and my husband was able to work on something for his trail project.

The bird/critter feeder was something that I thought of buying but instead I decided to give it a try by using some recycled items – old metal cookie plate, leftover 2×4 wood, and foam planter bottom. It was quick and easy, and it works – zero cost. We gave the wood a coat of paint. The planter bottom serves to prevent weeds and to keep it clean around the base. My husband drilled small holes on the metal plate for draining the water when it rains. Eventually, I might plant some flowers at the base. Could not have been easier.

Homemade bird and critter feeder.

My husband decided to make a sign for the lighted trail entrance. This is a project that he started last year, will be time consuming and hard work, but he is obsessed with it, and will work on a small part of it when he gets a chance. My vision for it was two 4×4 poles with a wood beam across and a burnt wood sign in the middle, but he wanted to go the more natural and less expensive route, and use the trees already there; after all, it is his project, not mine.

This time he added a simple homemade sign. He plans on having two more entrances and an exit.

There is always time to admire favorite plants, and this garden has come a long way from the morass of abandoned overgrown vegetation it was.

Can you guess which Calla Lily is not real?
Love the color of this one. I leave the bulbs throughout the winter; they come back, and the plant comes back stronger and fuller. This is the third year.
Another lovely color.
My favorite shade of blue.

We will continue to add to this garden; it has been a labor of love. I hope you enjoyed this project.

Farmhouse Project – The Pumpkin Area

We had plenty of rain over the past two days, so in the interim, we were able to tackle one of the projects from the immediate list – opening up an area in the back part of the property for pumpkins or other veggies . Last year, we tested a small patch of grass where we were able to grow a few pumpkins and cantaloupe, not many. We realized we had to move the planting a bit to the front, where there is a bit more sun, so we finally settled on the area. We took advantage of the very wet and soft ground after the rain, and we finished the job quickly. The seeds are planted. Only a few rows, just for a second test to see how it goes. This year we planted a few seeds – pumpkins, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and a bit of corn. Not too much because we are still testing. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Clearing up this section was easier than we thought because of all the previous rain.
While digging out grass, we found all of these interesting objects. Mostly, old electrical parts and tools, bolts … I wish I could have a window to the past and see the story attached to each one.
Of course, these will end up in my collection. Why? Just because.
And here they are; in their rightful place. It has become an obsession that doesn’t require an explanation.

After testing this area, if it works out it will be expanded a bit to be able to plant more, and added to over time. I am sure that we will find more interesting things buried in the soil. I hope you enjoyed this project; I surely did.

The Weathered Made Anew

It started last week when we restored a couple of old garden statues on a rainy day, and we decided to continue with a task that has been put aside for a while. While my husband tackled the remaining garden statues to be painted, I decided to restore the old porch chairs that needed a little TLC. The weather has taken a toll on the finished wood, but the chairs were still sturdy and solid. We already had the paint and materials around, so all we needed was time and effort. It is easy to discard something when it starts looking weathered and old, but it is not necessary at all.

These were a gift from a good friend for our first house, which makes them over 20 years old or so. When we moved, these came with us.
After my husband cleaned and painted these, the garden statues look great again. I think these can withstand a few more years in the garden.
This tired old chair is in need of some love.
All it needed was a light sanding, dusting, and a coat of stain.
This chair needs some attention before heading to the dumpster. I ask myself the more than one life question – is there still life left on it? If the answer is yes or maybe, then it gets the attention it deserves.
These chairs cost over $500 if bought new. Because we already had at hand the materials we needed to restored them (leftover stain, sanding paper, rag) the cost is $0.00.

Before discarding something as not useful anymore, ask yourself the “more than one life” question. If the answer is yes or maybe, go for it, and give it that life, restore it to beauty and good use once more. In the end, your pocket is happier/fuller, and Earth will thank you.

Restoring Old Garden Sculptures

It was a rainy day, nothing to be done outside. It was the perfect day to tackle a chore that had been put aside for some time – bringing back to life old garden sculptures. People tend to discard garden sculptures because paint has faded over time or the elements have taken a toll on these; however, with a little effort these can be brought back to life. We purchased a few garden sculptures over 15 years ago for our previous home, and when we moved we took them with us to the farmhouse. Although I love the weathered look of garden sculptures my husband likes a more clean and painted look, so he took on the task on a rainy day, and I joined in the effort. We sat on the porch, enjoyed the sound of the rain in the old tin roof, and painted away. A cup of hot chocolate made the task more enjoyable.

It doesn’t take much effort, other than dust them off and make sure the sculptures are not wet, or at least almost dry, but we had put the job aside for years, and because I like the weathered old look there was no rush; however I have to say that these really look good painted. After painting them, we sprayed a light layer of clear coat to protect the paint. The paint and clear coat will help the sculptures last longer, and also prevent the concrete from eroding faster. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Before – In the process of painting these two bunny sculptures.
After – The bunnies look beautiful now. The pots in the back are filled with two tiny evergreens I found around the property. On the opposite side, there are two more. They will grow to resemble Christmas trees.
This one has grown fast; it was barely three inches when planted.
I liked the old patina on this cement pot, but the birds were not noticeable anymore, so we decided to bring back the original color of these birds and leave the old patina just be.

We have a few more sculptures to restore to beauty. Old things are lovely, and can be made lovelier with a bit of effort.

Farmhouse Garden Project

I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.

It is the bush on the far left.

After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.

The small boxwood by the bird fountain is still recovering from the large branch that fell on top of it during the ice storm.

Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.

Here is my other half working on his idea.
The solar lights are hanging from the branch he attached between two young trees.
We had to wait until twilight to see the result. The mason jar lights twinkle so it was hard to take a picture. I can see them through the kitchen window as I do dishes. Eventually all three entrances will have solar lights.

From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.

The idea is for the ivy to cover the entire structure and for garden critters to use it as a home.

As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.

More irises have grown. Once the irises die, pink flowers come up, and after those, white ones, followed by tiny yellow ones. There is something blooming always. Originally, this area was an old trunk under grass and overgrown bushes. It has come a long way.

All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.

Impromptu Farmhouse Project

This project was not in our radar, but we spotted a lovely tree with gorgeous white flowers, which seemed to be thriving in the back area of the house. My husband decided to try and free it from the bushes, grass, and other small trees that were suffocating it. That was all it took for us to continue the effort along a small area, working on freeing other evergreens, mostly cedar that are growing close together. So we did. Some smaller trees that were growing next to one another had to be eliminated, but this freed up growing space for the ones we kept. It was a joint effort; while my husband cut the trees, I removed the debris and piled it up with the rest of the dead branches that need removing, and I cleared the area with a rake. The area looks much better now. We are planning on hanging solar lights on the two entrances. We also think that it would be nice to add a bench and some flower pots in the future. For now, we will continue to work on the remainder part of the area. Here are some pictures of this unscheduled project.

One of the little cedars we decided to save. The back area is full of overgrown vegetation.
Most of it looks like this, one tree on top of another.
The white-flower tree has been freed, and a few cedars as well.
Other cedars and another white-flower tree are asking for help, and we’ll freed them too.

After that, we have been preparing the garden for planting, and cleaning up winter’s vestige. As soon as the weather permits and the temperature remains a bit warmer, work on the veggie garden will begin. We are still having some nights in the low 30F.

The veggie garden got a refresh, and the pots/boxes were filled with extra soil. It is ready for planting.
I worked on setting up this area last year, and I am seeing the results now; unfortunately, this is one of the giant cedars that will have to be cut down, after the ice storm damage.
Spring Moth Worms are starting to show up.
The shed got a light layer of mulch as well. Because we use pine needles from the property in the winter, it cuts down on how much mulch we need to use when it needs it. The plants in the pots keep coming back every year, so this area is almost effortless now. Eventually, much of the area will become almost effortless.
While cleaning up the back area we found part of a chimney top that was split in two parts. I decided to place these in the faerie garden as shelter for critters, whether frogs or whatever decides to visit.

Despite our ongoing project list, we never know what new project will show up on the side. It is always fun and never boring. Our goal is to get to a point were most areas are set up and become almost effortless to maintain, that is, considering the mess we started with when we bought the place (see Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts). I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project.

This Old Farmhouse – My Take on the Journey So Far

About ten years ago, my husband and I bought an abandoned old farmhouse that was dilapidated and almost buried under a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and trees. It wasn’t until five years ago that we moved into it. It took some money, time, and a lot of work to make it livable, and there are many areas that still need to be addressed, mainly exterior work. It has been hard work, and I mean, real hard work. Because we did not count with a large budget, we had to do most of the work ourselves (about 95%), just the two of us. We continue to work together in some outdoor projects, slowly, as the budget allows.

Will we do it again? Although a simple question that requires a yes or no answer, I find myself unable to answer it in such way simply because it has been quite a journey. A journey full of bittersweet moments – great moments, exhausting moments, unnerving moments, proud moments, and moments of faith as well. We both have learned so much – about ourselves, about working together and our working styles, about new skills, about the house, about appreciation and gratefulness, about our limits and disposition, and much more; but mostly, about trusting the Lord in our everyday lives. This is why a simple yes or no answer does not suffice.

In the practical sense, a bigger budget would have made things easier and faster – hiring people, easier/better materials and tools, and overall contracting out the hard work areas, and only dealing with the fun tasks. Ideally. However, we would have not experienced and learned as much, grown with the project, and appreciate it as much. It was hard work, but also fun. We would have done some things in a different way, but other things in the same way we did. Overall, I think the experience built up character, but also faith. In that sense, it is a step up from where we started. The long and hard working hours improved our physical stamina but also our mind; the overall experience, our souls. We will continue to work together on this old farmhouse and will share some projects here.

So going back to the yes or no question – will we do it again? I will answer the question for myself, but I think my husband feels the same way about it. The hard work was physically taxing but the overall experience was worth it. If you would like to take a look at the progress so far, please check out the “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series of posts on this blog.

Yes.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.