Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Construction Continues...

We are finally approaching the "finishing touches" of the finishing phase.  As might be expected, there are a myriad number of details and minor things that need to be fixed, but in general we are very pleased with the way things are coming together.  The final frustration remains the slowness of the septic system installation, but all we can do about that is pray that the dry weather continues until the inspection gets done (I can't imagine trenches full of water would impress the inspector much!).
As of our last visit, the wood stove has been installed, the tile is grouted, and the trim is up.  They should be laying carpet as I type, as well as installing plumbing fixtures and hanging doors.  We are well on schedule for the work to be done by Nov 9, which is rapidly approaching!  With that in mind, we are now hauling a trailer-full of belongings with us each time we head to the farm.  It is depressing how small of a dent we have made so far, but things should start moving faster once we get to the interior of the house.  It is amazing how full AdventureDad's new shop is getting just with the stuff from the garage.  How did we get it all in there?  We made a little progress on the chicken coop, but were unable to finish it because we had to take time to winterize the trailer.  Yup, freezing weather is here, which makes living out of the camper a little more troublesome.  If it was going to be longer we would go ahead and put skirts around it and run a heater to try to keep the pipes warm, but hopefully it will only be a couple more weeks before we can move in to the house, so instead we are blowing the water out of the pipes with the compressor and pouring antifreeze in the sink traps before we leave.  It is a pain, but less painful than frozen pipes!
I am a bit behind on photos, so there are a few from last week as well.

The Great Chicken Coop... in progress still

Wood Floors Are In

Exterior Almost Complete

Kitchen Taking Shape

Just Add Fire

Did you ever count how many doors are in your house?!?

It's Really Coming Together! (From Last week... forgot to post!)

Another crazy weekend, another big leap forward in progress on the house.  The wood floors, tiles, and counter tops went in this week, not to mention the stone on the exterior, as well as all of the exterior concrete; front porch, back porch, sidewalk, and parking pad.  The house looks completely transformed, and we can really start to see what it is going to look like.  We love it more every time we go out there.  If AdventureDad didn't have to work every morning, I think we would just move permanently into the camper until the house was done, because it is also that much harder to leave every Sunday.  Thankfully, we can really start counting down the number of weekends left for making this crazy journey.  Toward that end, we are hauling full loads of stuff out there every time we go, and we reserved our moving van for mid-November.  We will be moved in before Thanksgiving, so that is a relief!  This weekend AdventureDad and I used part of the old horse shed to make a chicken coop (the rest is becoming a machine shed).  We will hang the wire on the chicken yard next weekend, and then the chickens will be joining the horses out there.  Pretty cool!  It also means that I can really start getting the grounds cleaned up here in Gig Harbor...something I definitely need to do before the rain settles in for the winter and the job becomes much more miserable.  I also started the ball rolling for M to switch schools in November.  That really feels like progress toward the move!
While we were working last weekend, a family from down the road stopped by during a stroll to welcome us to the neighborhood (quite a stroll considering it is about 1.5 miles to their house!).  It was a really nice gesture, and made me so anxious to settle into the community.  We have been strangely isolated here in Gig Harbor.   Our house is isolated on 7 acres, and although friendly, our neighbors are elderly and we don't have too much in common.  We have been so busy on the farm (and thus not home virtually every weekend), that I just haven't had the time or energy to "get out there".   Of course the farm is even more isolated in many ways, but at the same time there is a whole community on the county road that shares that isolation.  It  seems to draw people together judging by the number of people we have already met.  I really miss the sense of neighborhood we had in Germany, and I hope to fill that gap.  Time will tell :-)

Fruitful Fall

As I may have mentioned before, it has been killing me to not have a veggie garden this year.  Granted, I have not regretted my decision, as it has been crazy enough trying to get the house built and finish all of our other projects 300 miles away on the farm while simultaneously keeping the household at least somewhat functional.  However, the lack of a garden did certainly leave a part of me unfulfilled, so I had no choice but to take advantage of the plentiful fruits here on our rental in Gig Harbor.  I picked 5 lbs each of plums and blackberries and tried my hand at wine-making. 
I am hooked!  It is certainly a hobby that fosters patience, as the fermenting, racking, settling, bottling, and aging takes around 6 months before you have a finished product.  I just got to bottle the wines that I started this summer.  I am happy to say that they are drinkable, although they definitely need to age some more.  We will probably try them at Christmas time, although they won't be at their best until Feb or March.  Next year I plan on trying some of the wild fruits on Nine Trees, including elderberry, chokecherry, plum, and rose hip.  I think I will be starting a new blog specifically for farm doings... Nine Trees News.  Anyone interested in the farming aspect of our lives, stay tuned!  It will be everything from starting the market garden from "the ground up", to chicken husbandry and my preparations for selling eggs, hay making, canning/preserving, etc.   I will post a link once I get it started (probably with the New Year, so don't hold your breath yet!)
In the meantime, here is a little wine :-)

Bottles washed and ready to go...

Corks are sanitized...

...and Voila!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marathon Week

Marathon week of driving, that is!  This week we returned from the farm late Monday night, then on Wednesday I loaded up the adult horses and took them to the farm (Yay!!!).  While I was away AdventureDad's brother came and helped him disassemble and load the horse shed onto our flatbed trailer, then after I returned from the farm they took of on Thursday for another round trip.  They got back late Thurs night, and the whole AdventureFamily promptly loaded up for another weekend on the farm after M got out of school Friday eve, with a return Sun night.  At 300 miles each direction, that means our hard-working truck covered 2100 miles this week.  No wonder we're tired!  It finally feels like we are making progress towards the move though... the horse shed is beginning its third life as an equipment shed and chicken coop.  The horses are all moved to the farm and tucked away in their nice green pasture and newly-outfitted barn, and the chickens will be following soon.  The shed was our biggest and hardest thing to move (boundless thanks to Michael for his help!), and now we can take a full trailer load each time we go and really start emptying this place out.
While on the farm this past weekend, we got the last of the siding scrap cleaned up out of the yard (It is AMAZING how much waste material is produced during the construction proces!), as well as getting the house scoured out in preparation for the flooring contractors.  The lights are mostly installed, the cabinets are roughed in, and the trim is going up on the doors and windows.  On the exterior, we are just waiting for the rock work on the front, gutters, and the cement pads and porches.  We are still looking at a mid-November move-in, but it is very exciting to see the finish work taking place!
As far as non-farm-related news, AdventureDad has failed to improve as we had hoped following his back surgery.  A follow-up MRI revealed a piece of disc remaining in the spinal canal.  They are trying a 2-week medical-management trial, although it looks like more surgery is likely.  Sigh.  Poor AdventureDad!
Happier news comes with O's 4th Birthday.  We kept it small and family-centric due to the turmoil in our lives right now, but we sure our proud of our little bug and how fast she is growing up.  She is such a happy little kid, and both she and M have been such troupers through this crazy process.  They take it all in stride and find the adventure and fun in every trip we take.  They are such good reminders that although we are so focused on the move and our future at the farm,  we also need to enjoy every day life brings us and stop to smell the roses.
Light Fixtures...

Hickory Cabinets...

... and Cement Forms

Four Big Candles Out in a Puff!

New Dress-up Jewelry.  Thanks Great Grandma T!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Already ?!?

The AdventureFamily is home once again, following a cold, rainy, WINDY weekend on Nine Trees, followed by a putrid drive home over the pass in a downpour and severe wind hauling a horse trailer full of hay.  The up side?  This is likely the VERY LAST load of hay that we will have to haul from one side of the state to the other!  Why?  Because this weekend, AdventureDad  set the last few fence posts needed to enclose the horse pasture.  Next weekend we will stretch a little more horse wire (temporary fix until we can move our horse pen from here to there), hang a few gates, and the farm will be horse worthy.  Yay!  Considering that we have had record rainfalls this month on the "wet side", it will be a blessing indeed to be able to move the horses out of their current quagmire into a nice green pasture. 
Speaking of record rainfalls, the weather this month really has me down.  September and early October has historically been lovely on the farm... clear crisp mornings, the canyons full of reds, yellows, and oranges as the huge variety of trees and shrubs turn for the season, followed by sunny warm afternoons with just enough breeze to make the leaves dance.  This year it has been chilly, rainy, and windy.  It feels like the end of October, not the end of September.  The construction site is already a mud fest... not what we were hoping for at all!  We have been unable to work on the outside of the house until they were done with the siding (which has now been accomplished!) due to the materials stacked around, and simply being in the way.  That means we have a lot of dirt work left to do... finish grading, drainage, and septic systems, not to mention the parking pad, front and back porches, and sidewalk.  The last thing we need is mud!  We are all crossing our fingers that this current spate of rotten weather blows through and the October that we all know and love will return.
Well, enough ranting about the weather.  That is certainly one factor that is out of our control, and we just have to deal with whatever comes, just like so many other factors in this endeavor.  Take, for instance, the giant leak that developed at our well head.  We arrived Fri night to a saturated building site, complete with a stream of water running down the hill.  Obviously a downpour had just occurred.  We went to bed, but when we got up the next morning, the stream was still running. I became concerned when I found that the origin of the stream was our well head, and my fears were confirmed when turning off the well pump dried up the stream.  Sigh.  Luckily our dirt work guy (who also hooked up the water) was already aware of the problem and showed up the same day to dig up the water line and fix the broken pipe.  Hopefully that is the last of those problems for awhile!  Now we just need the lakes of water to dry out of the excavation holes so that they can be filled in.
Back to the construction... so what was I doing while AdventureDad was fencing?  Cleaning up of course!  We had to move piles of construction materials out of the garage in preparation for the cement floor to go in, as well as cleaning up siding and lumber scraps from the yard so that they won't be in the way of the painters.  Yes, the painters are coming!!!  The wall board is up and plastered on the interior of the house, the texture people are doing their thing today, and the painters should show up on Wednesday to do both the interior and exterior.  Pictures coming soon!   This current spate of progress also means that we had to order our appliances so that they will be ready when needed.  Very exciting!  It is killing us to see it so close to done, yet knowing that it is still over 6 weeks before we can move in.  Of course then I think about having only 6 weeks (read 6 weekends) to move our household and farm (horse sheds, chickens coops, etc.) and it is suddenly overwhelming from the opposite perspective.  One weekend at a time :-).
The last bit of family "adventure" is of course AdventureDad's back.  He did end up having back surgery to remove fragments of disc out of his spinal canal.  He is recovering from the surgery well, his back pain has improved dramatically, but both he and the surgeon are frustrated that his leg pain and weakness have not improved more.  Another MRI is coming today, he will see the surgeon again in a couple weeks, and we will go from there.
Siding is going on...

Interior in progress... insulated interior walls to add a little peace and quiet to our lives :-)

Siding is Done!

M in her latest "design" sporting her first lost tooth

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Slow Spot

Well, the rush of progress on the house has slowed a little bit as we wait for the inspectors to catch up with where we are at.  Currently, the roof has shingles, the exterior walls are mostly covered in Tyvek (house wrap), and the plumbing and wiring are roughed in.  The siding should be going up this week, and the insulation should also be going in.  Once the siding is on, AdventureDad and I can start working on the outside, getting the patios put in, the finish grading done in the yard, and even start landscaping, etc.  Even bigger, once the exterior of the house is done, the septic system can go in... our last big piece of dirt work  remaining.   This last weekend we finished the vast majority of the fencing as well.  We just have a few more bits and pieces to complete, and the horse pasture will hold horses.  Lovely!
The rainy season has returned here on the "wet side".  It only took a few days of heavy down-pour to completely revive the muck in the horse pen.  I am so anxious to move the horses to a place that has been designed for them, where we can do what we need to for drainage and mud control so that they no longer have to live (and I no longer have to work!) in a mud pit.  The rain did force me to be inside, which revived my desire to learn more about wine making.  As a result, I now have a small batch of plum wine and a small batch of blackberry wine in the works.  We'll find out how this experiment turns out sometime near Christmas! 
Catching up with the family, my Aunt, Uncle, and Grandma (the girl's Great-Grandma) came for quick but enjoyable visit.  Hopefully once the construction/moving craziness is over we will have more time for that sort of thing.  We have so many close friends and family members to catch up with!  In addition M started First Grade today.  She is officially a "grader", as she called them last year, and she couldn't be more thrilled.  A couple of her close friends ended up in class with her, and her teacher seems wonderful.  Of course all of this will come to an end when we move in a couple months, but it is a nice way for her to start, and I know she will settle right in at her new school when the time comes.  Last but not least in the family category, sadly we just got confirmation that AdventureDad herniated a disc in his back.  Not good!  He is in a lot of pain and can't walk more than a few steps at the moment.  He will have a surgical consult soon, and we will know more about what his options are, and what the near future will hold, but obviously we will have to take things slow around the construction site and farm until he heals. Hopefully things go more expeditiously than they typically do with military health care and he will be on the road to recovery soon!

A Lightening-Strike wild fire a few ridges over... kept a close eye on this for awhile!

First-Day Greeting with Mrs. Jensen

Sheathing is on

Now Shingles and Tyvek

A Forest of Studs
Let There Be Fence

Hello First-Grader!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Summer Sizzle

It finally feels like things are sizzling along with the house!  Of course there have been the inevitable headaches (like the electricians not bringing enough cable to reach the house, the inspector not showing up when we needed, and permits found blowing around in the wind), but no huge disasters have happened, and every day brings us closer to a weather-proof structure.
Last weekend, we had a grand time choosing our flooring, counter tops, tiles, carpets, etc., which really makes the reality set in that we will be living here before winter (trying not to count chickens before they're hatched though!!!).  This weekend we are meeting with the painters to decide on both the exterior and interior colors.  Thrilling! 
I am in a rush, as we are heading out the door for another weekend at NineTrees, so let me finish by posting pics.  Notice the completed shop :-)

The Building Blocks

Trusses Away!

Completed Shop (Ignore the Electrical Trench!)

AdventureDad in his Man Cave

Forest of Interior Walls

Taking Shape!

Guess what our next project is?