Saturday, August 10, 2013

The kitchen sink

I'm too far behind to ever realistically catch up with my intended blog posts. So I am going to do one big catch-all post and call it good.

Summer is winding down. The twelve-year-old goes back to school in 10 days and my work load cranks up to full speed a day or two after that. Whatever farm goals have been accomplished by the day school starts will pretty much have to hold us til next spring. Not much time left, but we have been cranking through the tasks.

exterior of patched wall of barn
The guys who came to tear down the lean-to on the old barn finished in less than two days. Since my goal was only to stabilize the building until some future date, all they had to do was cover up the hole left by the shed. They used the old roofing from the shed itself, plus some clear roofing panels left over from the new barn, to patch the wall. It looks better than I expected and will hold the barn until I am ready to renovate some year down the line. I'm thinking studio space at the moment...

interior of mow looking out the clear panel patches

date discovered inside mow 

Once I realized the barn repair crew could build or fix pretty much anything, I turned them loose on  a couple of other jobs. The biggest was a loft for the new barn. Earlier this summer I got a quote from a builder in the city who churns out suburban decks. A loft is basically a deck right? Yeah. He wanted nearly $10,000 to build a loft. I decided I'd wait. Then these guys came along. They did decent work and they were fast. It took them two days to build the loft. Cost a fraction of what the deck guy wanted. A small fraction. I'm looking forward to moving most of the house cats out to the barn now. They will live in the new loft. We will get our house back. Yay. 
the new loft in the new barn
While we waited for the lumberyard to deliver the loft materials, the guys painted the upstairs bedrooms in the house. What a relief. I had promised the 12-year-old new paint last winter, but hadn't found the time or energy to do it. Nobody should have to live with bubblegum pink. Really. The other choice upstairs was dark green. Now they are white and honey-yellow respectively. Thank you barn guys.

I myself finished the patio. I had planned a more detailed post on this labor of sweat and tears love, but here's the summary. We needed a place to set out a bench and chairs for the summer. We didn't have one. I decided to take advantage of all the surplus building materials laying around the place and build one myself. For free. No cost. Old antique bricks, check. Limestone screenings, check. Unskilled labor, check. I spent hours and hours and hours moving bricks from piles across the property, digging up bricks from unused walkways, and hauling wheelbarrows of screenings to my chosen corner of the house. I scraped off the topsoil and grass. I spread out several inches of screenings left over from the barn, and then I arranged every single brick recovered from the property into a pattern that exactly fit the space without a brick to spare. I filled the gaps with screenings and built a flower bed across the edge of the patio next to the drive. I abandoned my plan for roses once I finally bothered to time the sun one afternoon -- too much shade. I'm going to plant some rhododendrons in the fall instead. In the meantime, I filled it with cut price annuals. They were the only thing I spent money on. I'm pleased with that.

The patio itself is bumpy and lumpy and the screenings are in need of some nice fine sand on top. But, in general I'm ok with how it turned out. The old bricks are lovely and the patio does look a bit like it's always been there.


 No good deed goes unpunished though. While I waited on myself to get the patio done, I moved our garden bench out to a patch of grass between the house and barn so we'd have a place to sit. It's on a little knoll under a maple tree in the island of the circular drive. The ground falls off to the street and views of the horse farm across the way peak through the trees. Turns out this spot is pretty much ground zero for the barnyard. When I feel the need to sit down outside, I go there first. Would have been a lovely spot for a patio.
Never even crossed my mind.  Sigh, guess I shoulda tried out spots with the bench BEFORE I decided where to put the patio.

View from new patio across the grass with the garden bench where the patio should have gone. Even with all the construction debris laying around its a better spot for sitting than the actual patio! 

And finally, the concrete guys came and put a floor in the cleaned out shed in the hay/garage barn. The concrete floor is surprisingly fetching. :)  My barn guys also installed three clear panels in the roof, like skylights. It just needs walls now to be ready to go. Funny thing though, some other stuff happened and now I'm not sure what to do with this space, so it's on hold. It's late now, so I'll have to save the other stuff for tomorrow.


  1. Ah, put an arbor over where the bench should have gone, put the bench there, and call it good. Your patio is wonderful (go you!), and your loft is amazing. Those guys did a wonderful job on all of it. I am looking forward to how you move the cats into it. That's got to be interesting.

  2. Wow you are going hog wild......I love what you're doing....and love both of your barns, old and new.

  3. Wow, 1889!! I love the use of the clear roofing panels as windows, really brightens things up. I like how your patio turned out too. Jocelyn has a great idea with the arbor. You might even have enough lumber lying around to build it for free. What a fun update! :)