Category Archives: House

Backyard Entry and other Improvements

Yesterday I worked on the backyard entryway, laying down paving stones that we had picked up a while back but hadn’t used yet. I used fill dirt from the septic project to set them in place. It was a quick project. It’ll probably need some more dirt as things settle into place and it gets rained on.

We also recently took a load of trash off to the dump. Previous owners left us with a legacy of trash to get rid of, and now that we have help (thanks to my folks and their truck) it’s easier getting rid of that stuff. We’ll still have more trips to make, but it’s been a start.

In a few days we’re tackling a new exciting project. That’ll be fun. Stay tuned!

Septic Maintenance

This is a chore I’ve put off for quite a while but finally broke down today and started digging up the septic. Unbelievably it’s already been five years since we moved onto our property. The as-built drawings from the county show a rough circle with the word “Septic?” in the general area where the septic is located. Past inspections filed with the county revealed information about the tank and the type of system, but didn’t give clear details about the exact location.

Judging based on where the pipes leave the house, and where there was a depression that I thought was where it had to be, I started digging. Around 20″ down I hit the tank. From that point I widened the hole. It was tough digging. The dirt is full of rocks but I really couldn’t believe it when I found very large rocks placed right on top of the manhole cover.

Crazy rocks!
Crazy rocks!

Given that you’d have to dig up the tank to pump it or inspect it, making the job harder by dropping big rocks into the hole hardly made sense. The ground was rocky enough already with plenty of good sized rocks!

I removed the rocks and kept working, eventually uncovering the first cover. Then I consulted with my Dad about probably locations of the other covers. With his advice and help the work went faster and we uncovered the whole tank.

Tank revealed
Tank revealed

After a lot of work, the tank was uncovered! I’ve scheduled the pumping and so that’ll be another task done once they get out and pump it. The rocks are going to be used for decorative edging different places on the property — but won’t be going back in the hole! It’ll get filled with dirt that is easier to dig, without the rocks. I’ll probably just fill it and plant new grass on the top. I’ve measured the whole tank, the distance from the house and all of that, so next time it’ll be a lot easier to locate and deal with the whole thing.

List of Projects

Projects abound here at Woolly Dragon Farm. The writing business takes up much of my time but I try to find time to get in work on the place too. And I want to post more regularly to this blog. If I could only pack in a few more hours into each day it’d be easier, but I haven’t found a way to compress the local time stream yet.

At the moment there are several projects occupying my mind.

  • Organization — it’s a constant problem, but I’d like to get things more organized in the house. A two-year-old toddler makes that a difficult task, but I’d like to work on it and clean out some of the clutter. Some of it we brought with us when we moved and it is still sitting around. If it’s still in a box I can’t imagine that it’s anything that we need, but it takes time to get through it all.
  • Concrete demolition — when we moved in one of the first things we saw that we wanted to change was the concrete slab alongside the house. I’d prefer to have that be an extension of the front yard instead. I’ve actually started on the cutting of the slab along the house but that takes time too. Dusty hard work. After cutting I’ll have a go at it with the sledgehammer and see if I can break it up. The rubble might be used in drainage ditches, or beneath new animal housing for drainage. Or we could use it to create raised beds or flagstones, we’ll just see.
  • Animal Housing — speaking of animal housing that’s another task. We’ve got an old shed that half is the chicken coop but I’d like to replace that with a better coop for the birds. And then I’ll look at building housing for some Nigerian goats one of these days.
  • Office Shed — I’d like to build a little office shed building up on the hill, maybe earth-sheltered, but that’s more long term.
  • Garden — I want to do a lot more work on our garden too. Last year was not our best year for plants, I’m hopeful that this next year we’ll do a better job. Plus more ornamental beds.
  • Fencing — Along the side with the slab, I’d like to put a taller wood fence and then do a picket sort of fence around the front yard.
  • Flooring — We’ve actually started on our flooring replacement, taking up the old carpet in the living room. Now we’ve got to get the concrete cleaned, patched, coated and then we’ll do a colored stain.

That’s only a few of the projects that I’d like to tackle. Time and money, those are the biggest constraints. We work on things as we can.

Gated

Baby-proofing the house has been a challenge. I’m sure everyone deals with this in their own way. When we first moved in we put things where it made sense. Then Alexander started crawling, and sitting up, and suddenly books and DVDs needed to move. The television needed to move. We ended up pulling a lot of stuff out of the living room but that wasn’t enough. He could get into the kitchen, dining room and down the hall and none of those areas were safe. The wood stove is in the dining room. So we barricaded the entrance to the dining room and kitchen with large plastic tubs that we could step over but it would keep him confined.

But that proved to be a pain. Particularly for Poppy as the jumping over the tubs aggravated her bad knee. Plus there has been plenty of stumbling and tripping. Not good.

We tried purchasing a gate that could span the wide entrance to the dining room but it arrived broken. We sent it back and the replacement came broken too. We gave up on that option and talked about building something ourselves. Then before we knew it Alexander wasn’t only crawling but standing up and cruising around. For awhile the barricades still held but he’s started using his strength to simply shove the tubs out of his way. Poppy helped, she showed him that they could be pushed by squeezing between them. So we had to move fast and get something up.

Gate Access Only

The new wood gate runs along the front of Kate’s table/desk area and then has a gate across the entrance. It’s easy to operate with one hand and can keep the dogs in the dining room and Alexander safe in the other room. Because it is past the front door it gave Alexander a new area, about 3′ x 6′ with a different floor to explore. He spent a lot of time last night playing in that new area. He also walked around the gate/barrier testing it for any weaknesses, trying to squeeze between the slats (too small), and generally checking to see if there was any way he could get through. It held against the baby onslaught!

The gate and barricade along the table is made from our old futon frame that we hauled along from the apartment because we figured that we’d find a use for it. We picked up the hinges, latch, nails and a spare board that I used to mount the hinges. Using the frame made it much easier to put up quickly. It’s functional at least. Another piece will be used to block off the hallway. Once I get the repainted kitchen cupboard doors up and secured then Alexander will be able to go into the kitchen too. I’m sure he’ll be excited.

Our Homestead

We lived in our last apartment for eleven years. Eleven years thinking about what we’d do when we got our own place with room for gardens, animals and everything else. Now we have the place and are slowly figuring out what to do first. I’ve posted a bunch of project posts as we’ve started working on things but I’m going to try and remember to post more frequently on the site about our progress.

Lately, with the arrival of cold weather (21 ° F this morning) we’ve been using the woodstove more frequently. That’s been interesting.

Woodstove
Woodstove

Finally!

We got the keys later than we’d thought. We’d expected since we signed early in the day we’d get the keys early. That didn’t happen. It was nearly 7:00 PM before we got the keys. Since the water was off in the house (and it was late) we couldn’t do everything we wanted. I did get the place vacuumed at least. Today we’re getting the truck and moving!

Closing!

Yesterday we signed the papers on our new home. It’s pretty exciting. We’ll have a lot to do to get our homestead the way we want but it starts today. Later today we should get recording numbers and then the keys are going to be dropped off with me at work. I’m doing a half day and heading over to the house once I have the keys. I’ll meet Kate there to clean the place before we move in everything. The work starts right off the bat. Tomorrow we’ll come back and I’ll go get the truck and begin loading up everything to move. Plants first and a few other awkward items, as much as I can fit and then the next trip will be big stuff. Furniture, bookcases, and as many boxes as I can fit. I’m sure it’ll take longer than I expect but I want to get all the larger stuff moved before I return the truck.

Delays

Yesterday was supposed to be our closing date. That didn’t happen. Things are moving forward but not as quick as we’d hoped. I discovered yesterday that the pool which we’d been told was down was in fact still up. I drove past the place on my way to work to just look at it and noticed. That’s a problem. I called our real estate agent and he’s supposed to follow up on it. No idea how that’s going because we haven’t heard from him since. We’d also like to do a walk through before we sign but I don’t know if that’ll happen or not. We hope to sign tomorrow but it might not be until Tuesday. Assuming that the pool is taken care of and there are no other delays. We also want to know that the electrical panel has actually be replaced.

So we wait. At least we didn’t have to be out this weekend. If things had gone the way I wanted we would be moving stuff today. Instead we wait.

House and Land

Next week we should be closing escrow on our new property. This is a huge move for us to finally get out of an apartment and into a place of our own where we can raise animals, garden and do all of the things we’ve been dreaming about for years. We’ve been getting all sorts of books in anticipation of everything we want to do. Clearly we can’t do it all at once so we’ll have to prioritize what comes first.

Right now we need to get through the buying process. If everything continues to go well we could be looking at having the keys in our hand within a week. As we get closer certain tasks are rising to the top of the list. We want to give the carpets and everything a good cleaning before we put in a bunch of furniture. I’m sure we’ll go through the place after that and identify those things we want to address first. Some outlets need to be fixed, I already know. There are other things like painting colors we want. Or even big projects like relocating the washer/dryer and remodeling the kitchen. Installing Solatubes in the hallway and maybe a couple other locations. Fixing the fireplace. Redoing the flooring. Solar hot water. Solar power. There’s lots of ideas limited only by funding and time. And that’s just the house.

Moving outside the house there are also tons of possibilities. Gardens! That’s a given. After being restricted to a small container garden on a shady porch this is going to be fantastic. Lots of ideas there. Fruit trees are already on the property but we’ll be working on making those better. Bee hives. Animals, including chickens, rabbits and goats. Again, only time and money limit what we might do.

So this is very exciting. We can’t wait.