Sunday, September 29, 2013

Second Tree Down

The second dead ash tree came down without anyone getting poked in the eye.

This is the area where we needed to drop the tree.  Right between the plum tree and a smaller black walnut.


R already has the trunk of the tree cut up but the small branches and twigs still need to be picked up.  I moved to the back yard to continue painting on the shed once the tree was down on the ground.

I needed to finish priming the shingles.  The shingles in the very tip of the peak and around the louver vent still needs some more sanding and scraping.  I'll probably haul out the oscillating saw and use the sander attachment to get into the small spots that R's large sander couldn't reach.

But in an effort to get something done today, I decided to prime what I could and then start painting the grey color.
Before I started painting I picked up the tarp that caught all the paint chips.  Underneath the trap was a little black salamander. I ran to get the camera but the little scalawag was gone by the time I returned.  So I found a photo online and sure enough he or she is a blue spotted black salamander who's habitat includes Michigan.

Rain is in the forecast for tomorrow (Sunday) so I probably won't paint but we will try and get the small branches and twigs picked up.  If it is actively raining, I will continue to strip paint off the walls in the recessed bookshelf areas of the living room.

According to the extended forecast and we know that they are always correct.......the next week is suppose to be very nice.  I know those good days are few and far between so we are trying our best to get as much outside work completed before the snow falls.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

If a tree falls in your yard.....

will it make a mess?  

Yes, a huge mess.  Twigs and branches everywhere.

Unfortunately our yard had a lot of huge ash trees which died because of that little green beetle, the emerald ash borer.

Several years ago we hired someone to cut down two trees and trim some branches that were hanging over the house.  This lightened our wallet by 1K but it had to be done.  The trees were too close to the house or by power lines for us to even consider cutting down ourselves.

BUT......the trees we needed to cut down are close to power lines or so we gave it a go.


Tree number one was a dead ash tree, kind of close to the house. It was leaning away from the house so we felt safe.  We removed as many of the limbs that we could reach.  This makes the tree lighter and makes the tree narrower when it falls.

We then stood back and tried to figure out the center of gravity (COG) so that we knew where to cut out our wedge.  Once we agreed on where to cut, we flung a rope up in the tree.  Flung is exactly what we did. Casting aside all sense, we tied a hammer to the end of the rope and flung it up into the remaining limbs. The first throw went right over a limb just like we had hoped.  We lowered the hammer a little, then spun the rope around the hammer and rope.  Then we tightened the rope by removing the slack.  Once the slack was gone we wrapped the rope twice around the tree.

Now time to cut.  First R cut the wedge out (about 1/3 of the diameter) and then moved to the back side of the tree and cut almost all the way through the tree.  While R cut, I kept the rope tight and watched the top of the tree for movement.  When R was through cutting, he came over and grabbed the rope, too. We went 1, 2, 3, pull, 1, 2, 3, pull and it cracked and slowly fell EXACTLY where we wanted it to.

The tree fell between our puny red pear tree and a pile of wood from the cut off limbs.

Isn't it a shame that this tree lived all those years only to die within two years of being infested with emerald ash borers.

We cut up this tree and then cut down an almost dead Japanese Lilac tree and trimmed out dead branches in another Japanese Lilac tree.  It's amazing how each tree has it's own smell.  The Japanese Lilac tree smelled wonderful when it was cut.  Black walnut stinks, ash is so so, magnolias have a peppery smell, and that nasty Tree of Heaven smells horrible.


We cut some of the limbs off another dead ash tree.  We used the electric chainsaw on a stick for this part.  This ash tree is located in a heavily treed area and some of the trees had either low branches or dead branches.  Our plan was to prep the big tree and trim all the other trees today and then drop the ash tree on Saturday.

First we cut some low hanging black walnut branches off of two trees.  We decided to cut up the pieces as we proceeded so we wouldn't trip over branches as we worked.  The next tree that needed trimming was an oak tree.  First branch to go was a live low hanging branch about 5 inches in diameter.  No problem.  Cut it up and moved on to two dead branches 3 and 2 inches in diameter.  The 3 inch problem.  2 inch branch BIG problem.  When it broke loose it swung back and hit R right in the forehead and then knocked his safety glasses off and poked him in the face about 1/2 inch below his eye.  Instantly it swelled up like he had been in a bar fight.  He put some ice on it and we picked up our mess and called it a day.

The swelling was instant but later on in the day it started bruising.  The ladies at the coffee shop asked him if I hit him.  He told them that I said he "wasn't working fast enough."  What a guy.

So the plan is to drop the dead tree and cut it up tomorrow.  I also hope that I can finish priming the third side of the shed.  I have about 2/3 of it primed.  Priming actually takes longer than the final coat.  I think it is because it is thin and the final coat is thick and covers better.

Rain is predicted for Sunday so we have to make the best of Saturday's good weather.

Monday, September 23, 2013

We hit the lottery

.......well, the home restoration lottery not the $$$$ lottery.

Anyone who has ever restored an older home knows that the ability to speak to a person familiar with the home is invaluable.  I knew that one day, someone would drop by who either lived in the house or had intimate knowledge of the home.  That day for us was on Thursday.

I was just returning home from yet ANOTHER hardware store run when a car pulled in behind me. My first thought was it was someone asking for directions but instead it was Kim, from Texas, asking if she could take a photo of the barn. Kim used to live on the property in the caretaker house with her parents.

Oh my....I had so many questions and Kim, if you are reading this....I'm making a list of more questions....LOL.

We walked around the property and she filled us in on so many things.  Then we went inside where we found out that there might be another niche hidden in the wall.  Kim thought maybe in the stairway but I checked yesterday and it is all original plaster BUT I did find another square cracked area next to the fireplace in the living room.  We will know for sure when I strip the paint off the walls in the living room.  I'm currently working on the two arched recessed areas with the built in cabinets.  I have one side completely stripped and will move to the other side later this week.

Kim said she would look for photos when she returns back home to Texas.  I will be thrilled to actually see what the house looked like back in the day.  She said she thought the house was older than the 1937 that we were told when we purchased the house.  Our neighbor's house is 1926-27 and he was told that our house was built at the same time as his, by the son of the person who built his house.

She also told us that our house was called, Top of the Hill.  We had heard that name once before but now we have verification.  We will add an additional plaque to our driveway pillar once we know the exact age of our house.  At that time we will change our name to Gear Acres at Top of the Hill.

In the meantime......we have continued to paint the garden shed.  Two sides painted and one side sanded and half way primed.

 The fourth side, which happens to be the front, looks like this.....
More later on what is happening here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Concrete Potty and Concrete Path

Yes, you read that correctly.

First, let talk about the concrete path.  Remember the concrete steps that we uncovered?  Well, it seems they are attached to a concrete path.  I found the end of the path about 5 feet from the steps heading to the south.  This path may very well extend north of the steps but that area is under at least a foot of dirt and vegetation.  I'll have to wait until next spring to excavate the area because we are up to our eyeballs in projects right now.

OK...that leaves the concrete potty.....

Isn't she a beauty??  LOL  Of course it is only 5 inches tall but R and I decided we just had to have it when we spotted it at the garden shop in town.  Of course, we did not any idea what we were going to do with i,t but we figured we would find a use for it somewhere.  And we did.......

under the steps and landing for the kitchen door.

This past week has been very eventful for us here at Gear Acres.  We've made progress on our garden shed reno and we had a surprise visitor on Thursday......more later.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

We're painting!!!!!!

Believe me it seems weird to actually paint something even if it is only the garden shed.  

This was our first chance to see how the grey color, that we chose, would read when painted on to a large area.  Grey is a color that can read blue and we were trying very very hard to not have that happen.  We are very happy with how it looks but it took a lot of prep work before we could lay any paint on those cedar shingles.

Earlier this summer we removed the old roof and reshingled with the same green asphalt shingles that are on the house and barn.  That alone was a MAJOR improvement but before we could paint I needed to scrape, sand, and prime the shingles.

I started scraping the south side after laying down a tarp to catch the paint chips.  It wasn't just a matter of scraping the face of the shingle but also I needed to take a utility knife and scrape the paint from in between the shingles and along the bottom.  By removing the paint between the shingles I was able to bring back the original look of individual shingles.  Over the years so much paint had been layered on the shingles that it filled in the gap between each shingle.

After I scraped the entire south side I used a flexible putty knife to slightly lift each shingle and then used the air compressor with a blow gun attached to blow air under each shingle.  This may sound like a needless step but I found that it blew out a lot of paint chips, dust, and crud so that the shingles laid flat.

I then moved to the east side and R proceeded to used the pneumatic orbit sander on the south side.  After he finished sanding, he also used the air gun to blow off any remaining dust.  He moved on to the east side.

I moved back to the south side and primed with Zinsser exterior primer.  I made sure not to fill the space between each shingle with primer.  My method was to work on one shingle at a time.  I filled my brush with paint and laid that paint on the center of the shingle and work to the edges.  This insured that by the time I got to the space between the shingle the brush was fairly dry.  I finished by brushing the bottom of the shingle above and then brushing downward across the entire shingle.

The window trim was painted with exterior high gloss and I also painted the window screen frame at the same time.  I used Behr Ultra White.  I love this white and have also used it on the window boxes and the shutters that my Dad and I made for the front of the house.

After the window trim was painted, I started painting the grey.  I was surprised at how fast the finish coat went on and how well it covered. The grey color is called Anonymous by Behr in exterior satin.

We were making great progress, when all of a sudden the sky got dark and we were hit by a huge storm.  I've been busy picking up twigs and small branches for the last two days.  R has been cutting up the large branches with a chain saw and we now have more fire wood to give away.

I have been able to reassemble two of the window screens for the garden shed.  We have 4 windows in the shed but there were only three screens.  R will need to make one more frame and I need to buy more black metal screen to do the two remaining screens.  I purchased new screen window holders? clasps? thing a mabobs?  You know the little metal flipper thingies that hold the screens in place.  The old ones were metal and rusty.  I purchased new ones are made out of zinc so hopefully they will not immediately rust.

Tomorrow we will be back to priming and sanding.