Farm update

I love our little “farmlette,” but it is definitely an ongoing project. We’ve been here six years, and we’ve tackled projects a bit at a time as we can afford them. Most of the projects have been outside, not so much “making it pretty” as improving the form and function with mud control, fencing, clearing, etc.

When we first bought the place, I took photos. Last year, shortly after our fifth anniversary here, I took the same pictures over and compared them. We’ve done a lot! You can see those pictures (originals compared to five years later) here:

We just wrapped up our projects for 2010. In previous years we’ve focused on improving the property. This year we worked on the house itself. The biggest project of the year was work on the sunroom.

When we tore out the side deck last year our contractor found a fair amount of rot at one outside corner of the sunroom. This year we asked him to fix that and to replace the cheap, horribly energy-inefficient windows. While doing that work, he found the room — an addition on the home — was built on a… subpar… foundation, so he had to add that to the scope. Since the source of our basement leak was in that area — and exposed because of the foundation work — we also had him fix the leak and install french drains underground on that side of the house. Oh — and we discovered during the project that the room had no insulation underneath, so our contractor added that plus a vapor barrier.

Here’s a picture of the sunroom now. The paint isn’t even because it isn’t paint — it’s primer. I’m not going to paint the sunroom until I paint the whole house, and I’m hoping not to do that until we replace the roof. (It’s a hideous green color, which limits my choice of exterior paint colors.)

We’re ecstatic about how it turned out. The room used to be unbearably hot in the summer, but this year it was the same temperature as the rest of the house! Hope that’s true this winter too. We’re also thrilled to have gotten the leak fixed, the foundation sealed, and the drainage installed. We also replaced the gutters on the house this year, and the contractor thinks that plus the drainage work should have completely resolved any flooding in the basement. We’re supposed to have a bad winter this year, so I guess we’ll put that to the test!

Another project we did was rebuild the deck off the back of the sunroom. The old deck was a nightmare. It wasn’t even with the door, so you had to step down a non-standard, too-high distance from the house to the deck. It had no railings, and the stairs were just temporary, non-standard steps we added when we trashed the side deck.

Here’s a picture of the new deck. It’s medium sized — just right to add a couple of chairs and a small table.

It has a lovely view of our pastures.

Oh, in those last two pictures you can see some new gravel we put down this year. That area was heavily trafficked by the horses, and the drainage was bad, so it got terribly muddy. That was probably the last of the mud control we’re going to have to do.

The last big thing we did this year was work on the front porch. When we took out the side deck we found rot — a lot of rot — in the support posts under the front porch. The more our contractor got into it, the more rot he found. Just about the only thing that wasn’t rotted was the floor itself. He replaced the support posts and built central stairs, but as you can see from this photo, we haven’t come close to finishing it.

Part of the reason it’s unfinished is because I’m not sure what I want to do. Finishing the porch will be part of a complete redo of the front of the home, so until I have an idea what the front should look like, I don’t want to do major finish work on the porch.

So that’s pretty much all we did on the house this year. Next April we’re planning to FINALLY gut the basement. The goal is to take it down to the studs so we can see exactly what’s in the walls. Then we’ll prioritize what needs to be done. Things to do include:

  • Bring in propane.
  • Rewire so it’s capable of handing 21st century power demands AND hardwire in a large generator.
  • Move the hot water heater.
  • Install duct work and a heat pump.
  • Change the layout.
  • Change the stairs.

And that’s all in addition to sheetrocking, painting, decorating, and furnishing!  Yeah. We’re going to be working on that project for several years.

Finally, here are some River photos. He turned 16 weeks old yesterday. Still isn’t housebroken. We put the dogs outside for a couple of hours this evening so we could go to dinner. When we got home I went in the back and opened the dog door. While back there, I asked River if he needed to pee, and sent him into the grass. He declined, and we came inside. He walked to my desk and peed on the floor.

I am at my wits end. I have NEVER had a dog like this. I don’t know what I’m going to do. He is a dream dog — perfect — other than this, but that’s like saying Ted Bundy was a great guy except for the little serial killer issue.

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