Every once in a while the phrase “It’s like Grand Central Station around here” passes my lips. There was a while, back when the economy crashed, when it was more like a crossroads in the middle of nowhere, but those times have passed.
Last week really seemed to epitomize the sort of busy-ness that brings that feeling to the fore. As fearless readers of this blog are aware, we are in the midst of getting our place prepared for installation of a solar array. There is a seemingly infinite regression in jobs like this. The very first thing we had to do was move the big rocks out of the terraces on the root cellar. That was so we could have the mountain range dirt pile placed on it. Before the dirt could be moved, we had to buy and install landscape retaining bricks so the dirt would stay where we wanted it to. And so forth and so on.
The next part of the job is to get Jim’s shop arranged in such a way that the inverters (and ultimately our back-up batteries) will have a safe, secure and weather proof spot to live. Over the years, the barn has begun to severely show its age, and Jim’s shop was far from being any of those things. In point of fact, last year the door of the shop devolved into such decrepitude that it could not even be closed, much less bear any resemblance to an actual door. At any rate, we have people working to remedy the situation.
The shop has been radically changed. This is how it looked before Jim started cleaning it out.
Outside the barn, once the clearing up was begun, looked like this. Notice the “door”.
After all the gear and detritus was cleared out, the workers came it and removed the sheetrock and 1/2″ styrofoam board insulation from the outside walls and ceiling. At that point it became obvious that the previous owners’ idea that cardboard and 1/2″ masonite would be adequate barriers to keep varmints out of the space between the floor of the barn loft and the ceiling of the shop area was ridiculous. As our poor workmen began to tear down the interior, they were showered with sticks, nuts, sunflower seeds, straw, and sundry bird and rodent leavings. The squirrels and starlings and rats and who knows what else had found that six inch space to be a delightful place to live.
At any rate, after deconstruction and cleaning, the space looks like this.
Outside, the barn looks like this now.
Right now we are waiting for the electrician to come and do his magic. When he is done, there will be proper wiring in the shop, including 220V and several circuits WITH circuit breakers. Additionally, the origin of the electrical service to the barn out by the meter pole will also have a circuit breaker box and a couple of proper outlets so we can run our pool and concrete mixer in more safety. Granted, that box “does” have fuses, but we would like something more updated. After the electrician, the insulation contractor will do his thing. Then the actual windows, doors and sheetrock can be installed.
So, in addition to having workers in and out of the yard and barn, we have electricians and insulation contractors knocking at the front door so they can make their measurements and estimates. Of course, my regular procession of clients proceeds through as well.
Did I mention that we have a young man working for us two days a week? We do. He is the epitome of youthful strength and enthusiasm, and was instrumental in the moving of rocks listed above. He has also helped us split wood, move dirt, build rock wall, and I don’t know what all else. Observe the transformation in the back area of the property.
To add to the list of jobs going on, our lovely tenant was taking his wife and family to Walmart when his spouse informed him that she had forgotten her list and they needed to go back and get it. For some reason, this infuriated him; not that Walmart is that far from here (less than 2 miles), and not that they had gotten that far (to the end of the block). He drove around the block and pulled into their carport, yelling and carrying on. She hopped out of their van and ran into the house to get her list while he sat impatiently in the van with his foot on the brake, muttering imprecations. She got back in the vehicle, at which point, still yelling at her, he stepped on the gas and promptly drove the van into the side of the house, since he had neglected to put the thing in park while he waited and had forgotten he was in “Drive” rather than “Reverse”.
So we have had the insurance people ringing the doorbell and the phone, as well as the contractor who repaired the damage: one exterior door and 7 studs in the wall with all the associated demolition to siding and interior that that entails.
Are you surprised to know that on Saturday morning, when things were all quiet, I was not all that polite to the hapless Jehovah’s Witness who rang my doorbell, disturbing my peace?
However, things are getting along. The wood fired oven platform/barbecue pit area is now walled. We finished that yesterday, except for the coping stones around the top. I think it looks rather splendid, actually. When there is actually an oven it will be really cool.
For the first time in years, the path along the back of the house is a path, rather than a repository for rock designated for the wall.
Lest you think all is perfection here, there is a project at the end of the path that has been put on indeterminate hold. The sewer line at that corner was dug up and then promptly reburied when winter arrived. There is a need for the entire line along the back of the house to be dug and replaced without the dip in the middle and with a proper drop so that the drains will remain clear. I have no idea when that will get done.
We have a couple of other projects going on. The fence line marking the north border of the Stroll Garden will be changed. We are rotating it 90 degrees to extend towards the vegetable garden. That will make the pond area part of the Stroll Garden. Tomorrow, our worker will dig the post holes for the new line, and the fence will be built shortly thereafter.
Just to the north of that is the garden fence, with the raspberry bed in front of it. In short order, I am going to dig out a path next to that raspberry bed, and then Jim is going to build a bird cage over the raspberry patch. At the far end I will install a small blueberry patch. The cage will also keep out the rabbits and the squirrels and the groundhogs, so I believe that we will be the benefactors of the berry bushes rather than all the wildlife.
Another project that will be completed PDQ is the pouring of a concrete slab on which to keep the compost piles. Here again you can see a transformation in the area.
It was while I was trying to find a good picture of the mess sort of indicated in the first picture above that I discovered how very very good I am at framing photographs in such a way the big messy areas of the yard do not show up!
Meanwhile, the Petite Prairie is absolutely beautiful. The culmination of the Stroll Garden proves how very worth while all the improvements around here really are.
For those of you who have been following the saga of the mouse in the house, I can report that all the attempts Impy was making to catch that mouse that fell from the attic were unfruitful. She, however, was. And so now we have her and her litter of progeny disporting themselves about the house. The young mice are about an inch long and very very cute. Also, they are very very fast and very very light, so the cats are not catching them and neither are the mouse traps.
Now. I have a few hours before my first client, so I intend to go work on the rain garden, which needs some severe curbing on its enthusiasm.
And rain. We need rain.
Talk to you later.
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