Saturday, January 26, 2013


I thought I would update you on our chickens (aforementioned in the critters section).  These little ladies are absolutely wonderful and such a part of our lives.  I never appreciated them so much when I was growing up, except when my mother would make her DELICIOUS fried chicken or chicken and dumplings.  We always had eggs, but watching those birds run around our farm chasing June bugs, well... just wasn't quite as endearing to me then as it does now.  As a child, I still remember the horrors of having to reach under a nesting hen to pull out the eggs.  I was petrified that she would peck me!  Also, you never knew when a snake might be hiding under there, just waiting to devour an egg or better yet, a baby chick.  That in itself is enough to scar even a young Freddy Kruger!  However, i think the worst part was finding a nest of eggs that some rogue hen had hidden beneath weeds, and finding out (sometimes the hard way) that they were all rotted.  UGH!  I will never forget that sulfur smell.

But... times has passed and I am older and now I am thoroughly enjoying my own little biddies.

If you remember, we originally purchased a dozen little 3 day old chicks from our local farm store.

We kept them in a box in the camper, under a heat lamp and the watchful eyes of our dogs...

Maya especially was intrigued with the little ones, but Bella thought them interesting as well.  The below photo shows us tucking them in before bed one night.

Now it is well and good for baby chicks to enjoy being in the camper while little.  However, our camper is only 34' long and space is limited.  We knew it was time to move them when we were awakened in the middle of the night by Maya as she tried to herd an escapee back into the flock.  So... Karl made a screen door of sorts and moved the chicks into the bathtub in the house until we could finish a chicken house and yard for them.  We simply put the screened door over the tub.

This worked out perfectly.  It was warm and safe and even our two cats had entertainment, sitting on top and watching the little birds chirp and move around.  We knew we couldn't keep them in there for long though, as they were getting bigger and would poke their little heads out of the holes in the screen.

Now the building we selected to house our little girls (and at that time... 2 little boys), was an old corn crib that sat in back of the house with some other outbuildings. It was the right size and we had room to make a yard off of it so they could enjoy the outside world, and still be safe.

Karl had to haul more than 30 loads of corn out of the crib (which is the right side of the building pictured above).  We then had to repair the flooring, and took OSB (oriented strand board) and lined the entire crib with it, as well as lowered the ceiling (helps keep the heat in).  We built a door for the little ones to walk out, as well as used an old door we had removed when garnering materials from the old store that was torn down.  I drew a little rooster for the screen door that we added (only because we decided we didn't need a rooster), and Karl cut out the design.  Additionally, we put in a window with screen, so that the little girls would have light and air.  

We moved the little girls in and they set up housekeeping.  Since they were too young to go out yet, it gave us plenty of time to build a fence for them.   We put the posts into the ground with concrete, and then secured the chicken wire.  Atop each post we put a blue bird house.

Our chicks love their home.  They have gotten bigger and we enjoy the eggs they give.  We gave 3 of the hens to Karl's brother and his wife, and as before, our two roosters no longer reside here.  But the 8 little girls we have are just fabulous.  They love to talk to you and enjoy you holding them.

We get nice, large, brown eggs every day, at first just 4, but now all 8 of the girls do their best to keep us supplied with fresh eggs. We have so many, my neighbors are also enjoying the fruits of "their" labor.

Since the middle of the shed tends to hold water and created a mud pit, we decided to build a porch to connect both parts of the shed, as well as to be a place to keep the lawn mower.
 It also has the added benefit of being a great place to sit and have a cup of coffee on a warm day.  We put in a small table with chairs, and decided to "doll it up" a little.  The large, round yellow object that looks like the sun, is a large saw blade that we painted and hung up.

I made a sign that reads "Rise and Shine" and we hung it overhead.  It is quite the place to sit a spell on a warm summer day.

This summer the blue-bird houses got 3 tenants.  We decided to spruce up the yard a little and so we planted blue Morning Glory vines around each post, as well as climbing green beans.  It turned out to be not only beautiful...


but we also had the bonus of getting to enjoy (and freeze) lots of fresh green beans.  

We planted 4 blueberry bushes at the end of the fence.  These were dug up from Karl's old house in Wrentham, MA, and produce an excellent fruit. Additionally, we planted heirloom hollyhocks in front of the building, as well as a snowball bush.

Eventually the LEFT side of the building will become my pottery studio.  This is a project for "down the road", but I look forward to spending days at the wheel again.  But let's get this farmhouse finished first!!!


Sorry I have been away for a while.  We had visitors and I took a break. THEN my laptop went on the blink!  UGH!  SO... let me try to do some more catching up with this.

So... now I will try in this post to finish detailing the work Karl and I did to finish the library wall in the Dining area, as well as the finishing touches to the walls.

The photos below show the walls of the dining area from different perspectives, showing first the "bare bones" of just the studs and outside siding, and then the transformation (not totally completed in these photos, but you get a fairly good idea at what the finished product will be).  The first set of photos were taken from the kitchen, looking towards the dining area.

The below photos shows the dining area from the living room.  Again, showing first the "bare bones" of just the studs and outside siding, and then the transformation (Note the old fireplace in one photo, the new fireplace in the second).

NOTE:  I will discuss the table later.

The new walls cover the new wiring and insulation we put in.  

Now... how about showing the process.

These photos show Karl tearing apart solid oak partitions that were brought from his shop in MA.  These too came from and old library in Boston that he renovated (throw nothing away). He carefully pulled them apart, and then cut each of the boards to the size needed to make our bookcases that would be the showcase of our dining area.

He then sanded each of them and so began the construction part.

We laying out the bookcases and credenzas.

The area underneath the window house window seats and the two leaded glass cabinet doors go in a small cabinet in the center of the bookcases.

During this part of the construction, our friends Lisa and Ray came to visit.  Karl welcomed the chance to have some help with some of the heavier construction (Lisa and I found other ways to entertain ourselves... I was grateful for the chance to have a break!).  Karl again recycled some materials to make the center cabinet for our bookcases, Including some cool columns.

Lots of sanding and "tweaking".  The credenza tops are also made from the same oak boards as the sides of the bookcases.

Karl used his "magic" and made some small apothecary-type drawers for the cabinet above the credenza, allowing me a space to store candles, napkins and placemats.

I primed everything and then painted everything (except the counter tops) with a semi-gloss ultra-white paint,

and Karl put polyurethane over the counter tops, followed by his "special" Swedish Polish", which resulted in beautiful smooth tops and clean shelves.

I will make cushions for the window seats, and we will order the doors for the cabinets below the bookshelves later.  Also, still have to finish the floors.

And what goes better in a Dining/Library room than a 12' table from the old Boston Public Latin School in Boston, MA

Karl has two of these and we brought one down to put in our home.  They still have the original holes (plugged on the top, still open on the stretchers) where a couple hundred years ago, gas lights were used to help with reading.  We refinished the table and plan to use it as our dining table.

The way I see it, with my large family, we can always throw a couple of sleeping bags on top and use it for extra sleeping space!!!  I think it will also make a great space for putting together puzzles, one of my favorite winter pastimes.

Now that that was done, it was time for the final touches:  like adding accessories to an outfit. 

The photos below shows the what we did with the space where the walls were torn down and LAM support beams put up between the living room and dining room, as well as the kitchen and dining room.  Karl had removed these during a re-modelling project years before, and they had been in his workshop for years.  A great time and place to use them.

Me staining and finishing while talking on the phone.  Hey... who says I cannot multi-task?

The photos above shows the finished column, before being added to the wall.  
The below photos show the finished product,  complete with the fretwork and detailing.

... and now how they finish out the dining/living area.

I think it most attractive.  We still have a ways to go... but it is getting there.
Hope you enjoy.