Monday, April 30, 2012

The weather radar lied

I checked the weather radar and it showed that the rained had passed by and we were in the clear for about 5 hours.  The flowerbed by the driveway was today's project.  It was filled with leaves, twigs from the dead ash tree, and dried up lavender plants.  It's a complete eye sore and needs to be rethought because all the plants are overgrown.

But first we cut several dead limbs out of the large yews in the back.  That took about 30 minutes so now on to the flower bed.

We haul out the rakes, trash cans, and shovels.  We started to rake and it started to rain.  We stuck out it during the drizzle and at least we were able to pick up all the leaves just in time for the trash pick up tomorrow.  But then it started to pour and we decided that it was time to call it quits.

Sorry, no photos.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Will the fence line clean up ever end?

Probably not?

We were able to clean out two more sections of fence today and along the way harvested a large rock and more thick pieces of slate.
R had the tedious job of pulling out all the riverbank grape vine that is growing along the fence row.  I was busy raking and tripping over vines that were buried in leaves, twigs, and broken walnut shells.
Here is a photo of the cleaned out area.
Here is a photo of a kind of cleaned out area.
And finally a photo of what we have left to clean out.  Notice the leaning box elder tree?  It is huge and is cracked right down the center.  Oh what fun lies ahead when that comes down.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Clean Up

Spring clean up was delayed for the last 5 days due to wind.  Now would have been the perfect time to have a wind turbine.  The wind was a constant 20-25 mph with gusts to 35-40 mph.  That would be enough to spin the electric meter right off the side of the house.

We were able to get in a good 3 days of raking before the winds picked up again.  Luckily this time the wind didn't stop us from our plan of attack.

Yesterday was chainsaw day.  Here in Michigan, we are losing our ash trees to the emerald ash borer.  Despite treating the trees with Bayer Systemic, we still lost several more ash trees.  These were iffy trees from the time we purchased the house so we were not completely shocked that they died.  We cut the three trees into firewood length and added that wood to the wood pile.  The brush was thrown into the fire pit.

Today we decided to continue with cleaning out the back fence line.  It is tedious work.  The most difficult part is working on the side of a hill and then having to bend over to pick up branches and vines.

During the clean up last year we found a large drainage tile that was without a cover.  Yesterday, I found a bright green frog just sitting in the bottom looking up.  He had this look on his little green face that said....."oh crap, how am I going to get out of here?"  R to the rescue.  He crawled down into the tile and brought him out and into the WIND.

We felt that we needed to cover the tile with something to keep future froggies and children from falling in and then not be able to get out.  I scoured the plywood pile and found a piece just big enough to cut a circle out of it.

It's not pretty, but until R can find a piece of thick steel or a stray man hole cover, it will have to do.

There was also several stumps that needed to be removed.  R used the chainsaw to score the top and then used wedges and a large sledgehammer to drive the wedges deep into the stump.  Since the stump was rotted, the wood split and we were able to remove most of the stump.
I also dug up several more pieces of slate and tried to level the dirt to eliminate some large holes and ruts.

Here is the before photo.

And the after photo.

It still looks bad, just not AS bad.

Next on the list.  Removing that large box elder stump directly behind the tile in the photo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

All Decked Out

Yesterday was so brutally cold that we were only able to install the first board on the last railing installation. We called it quits after the first board.  But in our defense....the first board had a very difficult angle on each end.

We picked it up today with the second board and we completed the handrail in about two hours.
This finishes up the deck work until mid summer when we complete the long stairway on the backside of the deck.  Of course we were 4 screws short but we will pick up a box tomorrow.  Running out of screws has been an ongoing battle during this project. Do we buy a large box or a small box?  Word of the big box.  You will use more screws than you think and nothing is worse than being 4 screws short.
It was satisfying to complete (or nearly complete) this huge project.  We learned a lot along the way and basically would not have done it differently.

What's next?  The flower beds need raking and tidying up.  Then of course we need to mow the lawn AGAIN!  But I would say our next big project is to reshingle the front of the house.  We need to do this so I can paint later in the summer.

The shingles are too far gone.  The are dry, cupped, cracked, and covered in 70+ years worth of paint. It is far easier to replace with new shingles than to try and fix and scrap old shingles when in the end all you have are old shingles that have been scraped.  Once the shingles are removed we can correct any problems underneath the shingles.  Fingers crossed that we find none but missing tar paper.

But in the meantime we will savor this small deck victory.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Big Progress on Deck

We had a very busy day today.  The sun was getting low in the sky before we could get started on the deck but we made the most of the time that we had available.

We finished the top boards on the rear portion of the deck.  Of course we have to do a little sanding and install the little L braces that we put under all of our angle cuts.  But basically it is DONE.
The ladder is under the deck because R was getting ready to make sure the carriage bolts are tight.  We think that since the wood has had a chance to dry out over the winter that the bolts might be a little loose.  But before he had a chance to check them, we called 'no mas'.  We were tired and decided to continue tomorrow.
I think we could be on schedule if we dodge the rain that they are predicting for tomorrow.  
We anticipate that it will take us two days to finish the top boards on the front of the deck, even though it is only 5 boards that we need to install.  There are several tricky cuts that need to be made and we need the cuts to be perfect because it is in a high visibility area.
After this week the only part of the deck left that needs to be rebuilt is this set of steps.  I've already removed the balusters and the hand rail is only held on with one screw so the demo part is nearly complete.  The posts need replacing and we need to install risers.  Then there is the tedious baluster installation followed by a new hand rail.  But we have decided that this particular project should wait until summer when we will desperately be looking for a project in the shade.  This is on the north side and is in the shade for the better part of the day.

Yea for shade when it's 90 degrees.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

On Deck

We're getting there.

One more day and we will have the back part of the deck complete.  I think we might have finished the back today but we ran out of lumber.  We need two more 2 X 8's.  Well, actually we need one more and we need to exchange a 2 X 8 that we already have in our possession.

All the boards today were purchased from the same batch.  They were all fairly close in size but one board was thinner and 1/4 of an inch wider.  These boards needs to be very very close in size because they form the top of the railing.  It's a long run and will be very visible if the boards do not match up.  There is only so much sanding you can do to make the boards seem seamless. 
The boards are joined together but we haven't screw them down yet....just in case we need to make a slight adjustment.  Better safe than sorry.
R and I are getting to the point where we want to move on to another project.  We were trying to decide when we started this deck redo and all we could come up with was that it was HOT outside and almost 100 degrees.  I could look back in the blog and check but I think it's a good chance it was the last of June or beginning of July.
I am still bringing out wrought iron furniture.  I completely forgot about these little nesting tables that I bought on eBay many moons ago.  They came sans their tops.  Good for less shipping costs, bad for now I have to figure out what I am going to put in there.  I'm thinking that possibly I can purchase two very large 16 X 16 inch ceramic tile and then cut them down to fit.  Originally, I believe there was glass in these tables because whatever was there was thin.  So that leaves out buying granite, slate, etc. I also do not want glass and tempered glass is also expensive.  I am looking for a cheap inexpensive solution.
As you can see, the furniture does not match.  I have white, black, avocado, tan, and even red.  This is what happens when you assemble the set over 5 years and from various points on the map. It is all Woodard except for a few items like these tables and another small table.  We are still debating whether we will paint the furniture black or white.  I like white but it shows every little paint chip and rust spot.  Black is more forgiving plus it would match the other black iron ornamentation on the house.

We are holding steady to our projected last deck board installation (on the main deck) coming on Thursday.  But don't hold your breath. Then there is the long stairway on the back of the deck that needs to be rebuilt.  Will we ever get done?

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Cold Afternoon of Deck Building

The sunshine today hid the fact that it was COLD and WINDY.  But we stuck it out and finished the steps to the barn loft.  I swear it took me two hours to warm up once I went inside.
First we had to finish installing balusters on the right side of the steps.
Then we moved on to installing the hand rail on both sides.

Yeah!!!  We're back to the wide top board installation but first we might have to mow again.  The weather has returned to normal temps but yet the grass continues to grow and grow and grow.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dartitup...Pinterest for guys

Guys, you no longer have to feel left out.  You've now got your own version of Pinterest and it is call Dartitup.

Lucky get darting.

More Deck

It's not raining and it's above 50 degrees so that means MORE DECK.

We installed several more sections of top rail. Same procedure of gluing and biscuiting. It takes longer than you would think to install a 2 X 8 top board.  It is very important to get the boards straight because it would be very embarrassing to have someone look straight down the railing and have it look as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

We averaged two boards a day.  That includes cutting, biscuiting, gluing, and sanding.

Of course, we occasionally get side tracked.  I have been busy bringing out all the vintage wrought iron furniture that I have been buying over the last several years.  I have one set that I know I am not going to need so I have that for sale on Craigslist.  The 1950-1960 era set includes sofa with cushions, arm chair with cushions, and table with glass top and 4 chairs.  The set is all the same pattern but in several different colors because this is a assembled set.  I am selling the set for $350.00.  It will require painting but isn't that the fun part.  I love vintage wrought iron painted in a bold color like rusty orange or even navy.

Today we started on the railing on the steps that go to the barn loft.  We completed one side today.  Tomorrow I am going to be busy and R needs to mow the lawn so it will be a couple of days before we get to the other side.