Saturday, December 31, 2011

How to spend a whole afternoon building a SIMPLE chicken roost.

I live on a farm with about 75 chickens or so. Not really sure. When I see a chicken I like I usually bring it home. One of the joys of not being married: Nobody to answer to!

I have an assortment of birds for the standard layers like Rhode Island Reds and White Leghorns to the more exotic like Polish and Sultans. Half  of these chickens are suppose to go to my daughters farm but more on the later.

Hey Matilda! Did you hear we are getting a new roosting rack???

While I was out collecting eggs I noticed that the "roosting rack" that was in the coop was in pretty bad shape. It was an old picket fence panel I found on the farm turned sideways and put in the coop for the chickens. In case you are not from a farm, chickens like to get up off the floor at night and roost, thus a roosting rack.

So I went to Lowes and picked up the material that I was going to need. That was 6 weeks ago. Earlier this week I started to build the roosting rack and this is how far I got:

That is 2) 2x4 pieces of lumber that I cut to the wrong length when I was framing the wall to put the windows (oops!) So I guess  they were not a waste. They are sitting in my Rockwell Jawhorse. I L-O-V-E this thing! I am usually doing things b myself and it is like having a 3rd person around. At this moment I realized I did not have a big enough Speed Bore bit. Crap. I finally pick up a 1 1/4 inch Speed Bore because I am using 1 1/4 inch dowel rods. Makes sense, huh?

So here is were I started today:

See the brand new bit in the CORDLESS drill?  Wellllll.......When I got first hole drilled I realized that I needed a bigger drill bit so off to Farm and Fleet I go! I go to the store and then I stopped by my daughters farm on the way home. Round trip time: 90 minutes

I get home with the spanky new bit which was 1 3/8 inch by the way only to find out:

My cordless drill, even with two batteries, could not drill 12 holes.  I needed a drill with a power cord and some torque. I sent Big L in town to pick up a drill at my work. (I own the company so it is technically not stealing if I get it back before the shop manager, Gar-bear, comes in) Round trip time: 45 minutes.

So now I am off and running! You drill the holes in the 2x4's:

See to nice big whole clean hole that the Speed Boar does?

 and put the dowel rods in so it looks like a ladder  I did use some wood glue and pinned them with some 2 inch finishing nails.

Before and After- Old roost on the left! New roost on the right!

And here are some of the chickens enjoying their new roost!

The chicken in the middle hates having her picture taken!

The bottom chickens are saying you can kiss my..........tail feathers.

Happy New Years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Waiting and reading some kick ass blogs.

I am in the Midwest. It is the last week of December. It is cold and snowy warm and sunny. It is going to be 53 degrees here on New Years Eve day.  NO SNOW IN SIGHT. I know patience is a virtue but it's not my virtue so I called the Gitter Done boys and asked them if the step thing was going to happen. Here is how the conversation went:

GITTER DONE: Yep! some time next year.  (HA.     HA.      HA. Very funny). 

ME:  No, seriously, when can you guys come out. 

GITTER DONE: Welllllll it is suppose to 45 degrees today and more good weather next week so we are putting up a pole barn.

ME: How long is that going to take?

GITTER DONE: Oh..... I don't know. Around 10 days or so.

ME: Ummmm Okay. Well "we" are still going to do this moving the staircase thing aren't "we"??? (There is almost begging tone to this)

GITTER DONE: Sure, as soon as it gets a little colder out.

So I am at a stand still. Do I have crap to do around the farm? Yep. So I will probably fill my blog with mini projects and I am going to work around my me and daughters new farm. (More to come on that) But in the meantime check out these super cool blogs from Lady DIY'ers.

The name says it all! This blog is ran by Kit Stansley. She is now a licensed contractor so she has graduated from a DIY'er. She is also a guest writer for Bob Villa. I love her writing style and her sense of humor shines through. It is a great read and I think my BFF is secretly in love with Kit!

This blog is ran by a gal named Kristen and she lives in the Midwest. I love the fact that SHE CAN MAKE FURNITURE!!! So cool! I mean really cool. It is a dream of mine to make furniture someday.  I love her "step-by-step" style and simplicity of explaining things to the less fortunate skilled such as me. And she does beautiful work to boot! I recently email Kristen and she was kind enough to respond and I quote, "She has farm envy" LOL I laughed so hard I had tears running down my leg! After a week on the old goat farm she would have "I want to go back to my super cool house envy"

This is what Sandra says about herself:

I'm a crafter, DIY'er, home renovator and builder of "STUFF". We move frequently so I get lots of chances to buy a house and then tear it up so I can put my mark on it before we sell it and move again. I hope you'll join me on my DIY adventure as I start all over again.

Like Kit and Kristen, Sandra Blog is funny and informative. I haven't even touched the surface of this blog and I love it!

I love all three of the blogs and I am in awe when you can see what we, not only as women but people, are capable of if we only apply ourselves. (Yes I know that I totally sounded like my 6th grade teacher here) So indulge yourself today and check out these way awesome blogs and wait with me for old man winter to show up!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Discardia and a simpler life.

A while ago I stumbled upon a website called, "Discardia". I must admit that I fell in love with the name. But what is Discardia you might ask and how does it fit in a home improvement blog?

Well a brief description of Discardia is:

With its three key principles and numerous practical tips, Discardia—a new holiday—helps you carve away the nonsense of physical objects, habits, or emotional baggage, and uncover what brings you joy. You can find the website here.

How does it relate to home improvement?

I believe that ridding your home of excess clutter (i.e. JUNK) is type of home improvement. It may not involve lumber, hammers, a drill and screws but you are improving your home. When you live in a home that is neat and free of clutter it just makes you feel better.

It is like when you go to an open house of a new construction home. It is staged so beautifully and there is no evidence of real life there. (Like my teenage sons underwear on the bathroom floor) It is neat and clean so invokes really good feelings. So do we really want a new house or do we want what we have to be neat and clean. Have you ever cleaned your house super good and you didn't even want to leave because you just wanted to stay home and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Same goes with cars.

I have an obsession with the Amish. What I love about the Amish is their simplistic life. I do not want to be Amish because living without electricity would suck. I mean like really suck. Bad. But when you look at the Amish as whole they have only have the possession that they need. No more-no less.
Amish Bedroom

Amish kitchen

I am sure as much as much as I believe that this would be the best way to live I am also sure I would have a HUGE culture shock without the modern comforts of home and my "stuff'. This get me thinking about how much of my stuff I could get rid of and do without.

It is not like my place is a candidate for the show Hoarders and if you ask my friends they probably would not call my place cluttered but I could stand to eliminate some "stuff" out of my house.

Can you see the difference? I am not making light of the hoarders. They have a real problem, but when our closets are bulging with "stuff" I think we have the same problem on a smaller scale.
So while I wait on our first major show storm to get the stairs moved in my house, I will be practicing a little Discardia and trying to achieve a simpler life. I think it is a great New Years resolution.
If you are looking for more inspiration check out my buddy Miss Effie who had the same revelation the same day as me! Great minds think alike I swear.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I H-A-T-E my stairs!

If someone were ask me what I don't like about my farm house I could have a list as long as my arm. It could be the 70's paneling or the carpeting. Maybe it could be what I call the "George Jetson kitchen cabinets" (Not all custom is good.) Old wallpaper, plaster falling down, lack of electrical outlets, wet basement, no heating/cooling upstairs, every window but the new ones I just put in are broke.............. okay I am going to stop here because this is getting kind of depressing and you get the idea. All the things that I just listed are just a mild annoyance compared to the stairs that run up through the middle of the house separating the living room and dining room with beautiful 70's paneling. So maybe I don't hate the stairs as much as I hate the chopped up floor plan.

I was talking to my BFF about this and he assured me that I could move the steps. He also assured me that I could do anything I wanted if I throw enough money at it. Nice. Now I am all about doing things myself but knocking down an interior wall that used to be the original exterior wall of the house is a little beyond my skill level. The thought of the second story crashing down on the main floor causes apprehension.

So enter a couple of local boys that own a company called "Gitter Done" (no joke) I have known the Gitter Done boys for a long time and they do good work. They are fair and fast. A good combo. They came out and looked at the stairs and they also assured me that they could move the stairs for about $2500.00. I just sat there dumbfounded. Wow. $2500.00. Wow. That is A LOT of money. Wow. Sticker shock. More wow........crap. The fact that there was beer involved made it a little easier but wow.

But moving the stairs also opens up another possibility. I can put the access to the basement directly under those stairs for a stacked stair set up which is the most efficient use of space when it comes to steps. Then I can take out the existing the basement steps and add another 4 ft to the new laundry room. Now that has some WOW factor!!! Now I was on board with the Gitter Done boys!!!!! Hell yeah! Lets do this thing now!

Since the Gitter Done boys are so good they are in big demand. Right now they are finishing up with outside work and have promised me that they were going to the stair project when we get our "first major snow storm" That sounds great but we are having one of the nicest winters that I can remember.

I know waiting on the Gitter Done boys is going to delay my upstairs laundry room project but I think it is worth it . Right now there is not enough room to set the washer and dryer side by side. My daughter has graciously agreed to have Christmas at her house since mine is a little tore up right now.

So I shall patiently wait but as much as I want the stairs done I will NOT pray for snow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Part 2- I can see clearly now because I have windows!

Okay, On Sunday night we left off with, the frame is up and I have OSB covering the whole wall.

Monday I cut the OSB to fit the wall and I needed to cut out the openings for the windows. I have to say that their is a lot of "armchair carpenters" in my life and they always start off with, "Here is what you need to do, (fill in the blank). One of the brilliant suggestions was:

GAR BEAR: Here is what you need to do, put up the OSB and take your reciprocal saw and cut out the openings for the windows. Just run it around frame and to should be good.

ME: I am not that good with the recip-saw. I think I should temporary put them up and trace around them and then put them on saw horses and cut them with a circular saw.

GAR BEAR: Oh hell! You will be fine!! Just use the recip-saw!

ME: Uhhhhh............ Well............ I guess I could try that............ but really I am not................

GAR BEAR: Trust me!

So I put up the OSB with a million 2 1/2 inch screws and get out the reciprocal saw and.... EPIC FAILURE. I am not strong enough obviously. DUH.

Take out the million screws, put the sheet of OSB on the saw horses and cut it with a circular saw.

*NOTE* What I learned from this little escapade was, trust my instincts and if someone is not willing to help then I have little regard for their opinion.

So this how Monday ended, Yeah I know I am missing something! like maybe windows????

Now fast forward to Tuesday afternoon with a BIG threat of rain coming in December of all things. I got home at 12:30 and got the windows unpacked from the packaging. Test fitted them. Big L started to silicone the flanges. I sent Cheeo to the garage to get some 2" roofing nail that I am sure I have. So sure that I didn't even check to make sure. I don't even need to tell that next I was going to town to pick up some nails do I? Yepper.  There is really not much more we need to say about that.

Here is how Tuesday ended and yes it was raining:

And here it is from the inside:

Ta-da!!!!!! So I know it is not done but I am supper happy with just getting the windows in!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Part 1- Window framing and no installation.

All the moon and stars lined up on Saturday to tear out the original windows, frame up the wall, and finally get the new windows installed. The weather called for a sunny 25 degrees and no wind. Perfect for opening up a big whole in the wall and exposing your house to the elements. I also had Plan B. Sunday was suppose to be nice also. Okay so I have 2 whole days to get this project done. More than enough time even if I have never done any of this before.

So here is what the storm windows looked like before:

All these are windows are basically single pane storm windows. The bottom left window is Plexiglas that was broken by this:

Finn (a.k.a. Tasmanian Devil, Marley in Marley and Me, Hooch from Turner and Hooch) While he looks innocent enough here,  you can trust me when I say he is NOT! See the zipper on the cushion on the right side? Well that cusion is turned around because Finn ate the couch.

Once we got out the storm windows and a the rest of the aluminium framing that was put in with 492 pounds of silicon. No shit. No less than 492 pounds. This is what it looked like:

What you cannot see in this picture is, The bottom sill was 4 1/2 inches so I had bought a bunch of 2x6's to rip down to meet the size of the bottom sill. I also picked up a few 2x4's just because you never know when you are going to need a few 2x4's. Well once I got the old windows cleaned out I could see that the bottom sill was rotted on both ends and I didn't feel comfortable using it. Soooooooo here is what the it looks like when you tear out the whole wall:

And here is what it looks like when you run out of daylight:

Remember Plan B? Well I was in full Plan B mode. It is now Sunday morning and I am going to start framing up "the hole" but now I want use 2x4's not the 2x6's I already have so it is off to Lowes I go and they don't open until 8am. It is 9 by the time I get back home and start working. I did get the framing done as you could see here:

And here is how my day ended. Not with windows but with more OSB:

I am still pretty happy with my progress and I know it always seems like "two steps forward and one step back" but I have no expectation of time frame and it is all a learning experience. Oh yeah! My helpers were my 19yo daughter, Cheeo and Big L the 15yo son. All of us with zero experience! :-)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Washers and Dryers and Softeners..............................OH MY!

It was Black Friday Weekend, Big L and I was at Lowes on Saturday just doing some general shopping for nothing in specific. While we were there I thought it would be a good idea to look at washer and dryers just to see which way the doors open so I could plan the placing of the mechanics of the room. I know I want Whirlpool because it is the leading MADE IN THE USA appliance manufacturer. It was inducted in the MADE IN THE USA Foundation Hall fame and you can see the full article  But here is a excerpt:

About Whirlpool Corporation
Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of more than $18 billion in 2010, 71,000 employees, and 66 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world.  The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world.  Additional information about the company can be found at

While we were there I seen a pair of Whirlpool Cabrio's on sale for $998.00!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That is $600.00 off!! But wait! These were not my "dream washer and dryer" This was a top load washer! WT????? NOOOOO!!!!!! I want to be new and modern and cool and hip and happening! I can't be all that with a top load washer! Everyone know that you need to a pair of front loads to be a part of the in crowd. The front load Whirlpool Duets (which is rated #1 by Consumer Report) were in the neighborhood of $2200.00 for the pair. Way more than I wanted to spend on a couple of boxes to wash and dry my clothes. Crap! So I bought the Cabrio's and top load washers are actually better at scrubbing clothes and you can also wash comforters.  As far as the dryer goes, I hang out laundry more days than I use the dryer. They were on back order so Lowes will be delivering them on Dec. 21, 2011. I smell a deadline here........................................ 

A while back my water softener took a dump. I haven't bothered replacing yet but living in the country with a 35 foot hand dug well there is a need for a softener and/or a water conditioning unit. I figured it was something I better call an expert about. I called to companies and here is how it went:

Company A: You have A LOT of rust (duh) in your water. You will NEVER get all of that rust out with just a softener. And you are going to need a reverse osmosis unit for drinking, blah........ blah.......blah...

 Here is what I recommend:

Water Softener-                $1595.00 to buy OR $15.95 a month to rent
Water Conditioner:           $2095.00 to buy OR $29.95 a month to rent
Reverse Osmosis:              (somewhere around $15.00 a month, not sure because I had quit listening by this point)

Company B: You have A LOT of rust (duh). Let's take a look at what you got and see what we can do.

After looking at the plumbing here is what we came up with:

Fix old softener and set it up with a different resin base for rust and clean up all of the old plumbing and make it work better. (Pics to come!)

Labor:   Approx- $1500.00 dollars and reusing (recycling) what I have.

Went with Company B and by the way these were both locally owned companies.