Farmhouse Project – Porch Roof

When we bought the old farmhouse, we decided to coat the roof because it was the original tin roof, and it was not leaking or damaged underneath, but needed protection since it was 100 years old at that time, and by now, 112 years old. Tin was the metal used back then, sturdy and durable, less pliable as well. Modern metal roofs are easier to bend and work with, and they come in a variety of styles, colors, and grades. They are more expensive than regular asphalt shingles, and they last a bit longer. We decided that when it was time to replace the roof, we would select a metal roof because the house was originally built for a metal roof. Shingles weigh about four times more, and being that the house is 112 years old, it makes sense not to add more weight to the top. However, that would mean for us to save the money for a new roof because it is a cash project, as it has been the rest of the house renovation, hence why it has taken longer to do. In the meantime, we decided to paint the porch roof because it was showing signs of deterioration and rust. It has been 6 years since the coating.

This project presented an opportunity to play with a favorite color and see if that color would work when it is time to purchase a new roof. I discarded the color black although it is the one that will make more sense if we decide to change the siding color in the future. Black looks more traditional, elegant, and put together, but it also attracts a lot of heat, and the upstairs ceilings are very low, so that would make the upstairs unbearably hot in the summer and not energy efficient. I also like copper or light brown, much lighter than black, and also neutrals, which would go very well with my favorite blue accents and the white siding. In the end, we decided to paint the porch roof the color that we liked more but were not sure how it would look in the long run or if we would become tired of looking at it. It is a test. After all, you cannot change a pricey roof once it is installed. We chose Glidden Premium French Country Blue for exterior applications and metal. We are happy with the results, and the porch looks a lot cleaner now, until it is time for a new roof. We decided to paint the side entrance awning and the steps as well, for continuity and balance. Here are some pictures of the project.

The new paint will also protect the coating that was applied six years ago. Notice the old way of installing tin.
Closer look of the color – Glidden Premium French Country Blue
We painted the side entrance steps and awning. Originally, the house did not have an awning, and the door entrance was completely rotted. My husband built the awning and now water does not cause any damage. Here’s a picture of the rotten door.
This was the side entrance before. Damage was extensive.
The old porch ceiling will be painted the same color. The bag filled with water and a few shiny pennies is something that is done in the South to get rid of flies and other flying insects. Restaurants do it to detract flies from coming inside. Someone told me about it, and I did not believe it at first but decided to give it a try. For some reason that I cannot explain, it works. I placed another bag at the opposite side, and one by the kitchen entrance. Flies and other critters are gone, but wasps do not seem to care.
Side view of the job done. This is a test, and later on we will decide if we will paint the rest of the roof, depending on how that particular paint performs.

We estimate the total cost of this project, including the entire roof of the house to be around $400.00. It presents a simple solution to protect the existing roof until it is replaced. After all, it is about simple living and simple solutions. It’s been a long way home.

Love and light.

Restoring an Old Farmhouse Garden – New Areas

The work continues in trying to bring back the garden. When we bought the old farmhouse, it was covered in weeds, grass, and a morass of trees growing intertwined altogether. The driveway was covered in tall grass up to our knees and bushes. The house had been abandoned for many years and in disrepair, hidden by the same overgrown trees and bushes. We knew it would be a ton of work, but we were up for it. One by one, we started to remove bushes, weeds, grass, garbage … and we cleaned up the garden. Next, we tried to save any plant we could and revive others. The next step was to create new garden areas. This is a process that will take longer, and some simple planning. We try to add a new area every year. Adding areas one at a time seems a bit more manageable for us. This year, we added two areas. One was created using recycled plants and materials. It is located at the front entrance to the property, close to the year-round lighted pine tree which we have ended up calling The Hope Tree.

I started this area a few weeks ago and completed it yesterday. I had to wait until some of the plants were ready to be divided in order to be planted. So far, they took well in the ground, and hopefully, will grow and become fuller. This area is a mix of shade and sun and should be easy to manage. Red mulch is my favorite.

The next area was my husband’s pet project. It is next to the small patio area and the faerie garden. This area has been covered by overgrown mixed bushes and tons of weeds. Last December, he took them all out and decided to do a small garden. Most of the area is in the shade with only a few hours of sun, so we had to select plants that required minimal sun exposure. He made the borders out of recycled pallets, and we still have to find and dig a few stones around the property to place them. This area needed a ground cover, after we took out all the weeds. These plants will grow and expand, so we had to leave enough space in between them. We planted bulbs inside the stone circle. Two garden sculptures and a potted plant were recycled from the garden and won’t be missed in the previous area. We added two new solar lights and red mulch. The small cedar tree in the back was already there and will be trimmed so it does not fully grow. This area resulted in a mix of new and recycled materials. It is a very low-cost improvement to this area.

The veggie garden was spruced up a bit, and we decided to use two recycled large containers cut in half for the new plantings instead of building a new box. Eventually, we will change these to a more permanent material like cinderblocks or metal boxes. We started the veggie garden a couple of years after we fixed the interior of the farmhouse. All the materials used on building and setting up the veggie garden are recycled, except for mulch, but sometimes, we use red pine needles from the property when these are available.

The veggie garden has been evolving over time.
And after all that work, it is always good to eat something hearty.

If you would like to read more on the process of fixing this old place, please visit a series of posts under Restoring an Old Farmhouse or Restoring an Old Garden. I hope you enjoyed this post.

Love and light.

Garden Bliss

I love this time of the year. The beginning of Spring, when bugs are still half asleep, and the garden is awakening. The temperatures are a bit cool enough to enjoy preparing the garden for the rest of the year. That is what we have been working on, setting up the garden. Cleaning up winter’s memories and hoping for a good gardening year. Last year we had a drought, and everything looked sad and dry. I am hoping for plenty of rain.

We cleaned up around the garden and added a new flag. Heavy winds and ice destroyed the other one. The first blooms are here.

We cleaned up the veggie garden. Had to discard one of the large boxes; it broke on the sides. A layer of fresh mulch was applied, and containers were moved around to make room for new planting boxes. My husband made veggie markers, and I am hoping to plant much more. Despite the ice and crazy weather, lettuce came back from last year. Two full containers, so I will not have to plant lettuce this year. It survived the frost.

I started two new areas in the garden this year. These are a work in progress right now. One is at the very front of the property, and the other area is next to the faerie garden. This area is covered by lush green moss in the spring, which I love, and the only thing I have been able to plant here are hostas; it is a shady area. We try to add to the garden something new every year. Little by little this garden has been transformed from the original mess of weeds and overgrown bushes to something more delightful. You can see the progress on the Restoring a Farmhouse series of posts.

The garden as it was. This was the entrance to the property.
What we started with when we purchased the old farmhouse. First time working on the garden. What a lovely mess!

I am very happy because a small garden center opened in our area, and now we will not have to drive that far to purchase plants or gardening material. After all that hard work, our reward was my delicious version of Fiesta Rice.

I hope you enjoy this post. Love and light.

Farmhouse Project – The Large Tree

In a previous post – Twelve Future Farmhouse Projects – I mentioned the need to tackle the very old and large tree that is dangerously close to the side entrance of the house. I loved this tree, but it was not looking good (sick), and with the strong winds and storms that sometimes make their way around here, it posed a risk, so we decided to eliminate the danger. I was sad to see most of it gone, and truly felt sorry for it; I guess I had developed an attachment to the tree, “feelings” for it. Due to the cost of cutting down a very large tree, we decided to go for a complete trim of the branches. It looks like at one-point, previous owners might have done the same. The company we hired (Southside Stump Grinding, with the crew of Cut It Rite), did a great job and left everything clean. We will be calling them back for the next tree project. It was nice to experience again good old customer service. They were punctual, fair in pricing, neat, careful, friendly, respectful of property, did what they promised, and had excellent communication throughout the process. Caleb Milam, owner, was on top of everything from the beginning. But going back to the old tree, I have to say that I miss it. One of the crew members said that it was a very old tree. The trunk is very thick, maybe like two and a half of me, and it remains, along with very thick branches, that eventually, we will cut down. For now, we have peace of mind, and that was the goal. I will enjoy what is left of this old giant, and who knows, maybe will cover it in pretty solar lights. It looks like a giant hand coming out of the ground.

The tree before. These branches did not look so thin once they were on the ground. The crew arrived at around 9 am. and worked straight through until around past 2 pm. It was a lot of work, especially because they had to be mindful of the house, the well, and the electricity cables on two sides.
You can actually peel off the bark, and there is moss growing in many areas.
Many branches starting to rot and break in some areas. Here you can see where the previous cuts were done on this tree.
This area at the bottom of the trunk (left) was what let me know it was now the time to do something. I have been watching that part of the tree separate more and more until it broke off. I guess it is part of a root.
And now it doesn’t pose any risk. I can see ivy fairy lights adorning it.

Another project crossed off the list. I hope you enjoyed this post.

A Few Culprits

There have been a few rainy days, two good soakers, and cool weather seems to be settling down. It seems that the veggie garden is done, not a good year; most plants died or did not produce. While collecting the last of the veggies, I spotted a few caterpillars that have made the garden their home. We cut the stems and relocated them to another part of the property, not wanting to harm them.

The end of the tomato plants. The caterpillars had a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
We counted four large ones. I have no idea what the white egg-like things in their backs are.
A closer look at one almost cute caterpillar.
The last of the cucumbers and carrots.
Believe it or not, some of these are supposed to be full size tomatoes that did not grow to their full potential, and a few grape ones.
And turning the page, I move on to welcoming Autumn, in its dance of light and shade, one of my favorite things.

And as one season ends another starts, and for me, the end of a dry spell. The other day, while sitting, I had an urge to write, almost as an urgent call, so I grabbed pen and paper and was able to write an entire chapter; it has been quite a long time, but the dry spell is broken.

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.