Monday, January 30, 2006

Framing and insulating

To insulate the house (which currently has precious little) Ian builds a frame from 2 x 4 (inch) pine studs and then nails that frame to the original wall. This frame is built on to the exterior walls of the house only because it holds the insulation in place.

Ian drills holes in the pine studs (some at about knee height and others higher in the wall or centered on the ceiling) and runs electric cabling through and attaches blue plastic electrical boxes that will eventually hold the sockets, switches and ceiling light fixtures.

After the insulation is put in place the wall is covered ceiling to floor with a heavy gauge clear plastic known as a vapor barrier. The next step will be to install drywall. We did this in one of the upstairs bedrooms and it is not my favorite job. The upstairs rooms have lots of eaves and cutting the drywall is like cutting one's own puzzle pieces. I could not hang drywall and get paid for it. Ian however just gets after it and really loves doing this stuff. He's very precise and patient. For me it's fun to watch him take such pride in his handywork. He's so cool.

Tomorrow we begin framing the kitchen, which has only two external walls. The colder weather is heading this way and we want to be cozy. We heat with propane and plan to switch to corn stoves in the spring. The living room floor needs to be insulated from below, which means going into the scary basement and cutting styrofoam-like insulation into right-sized panels that are then glued to the basement ceiling, thus blocking the drafts. For the moment, slippers are in order!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cat and dog

Yesterday, Tiger the cat met Lady the lab. Tiger wasn't too impressed and he's still giving Lady a lot of space. Lady does not chase or bark at Tiger (thank goodness). She wants to make friends, as she has with cats that live with her former owner. I think it will just take time. We continue to assure Tiger and hope that the socialization works for all concerned.

Lady is a two year old female black lab mix ... we think mixed with a Chesapeake Bay Spaniel (a popular local breed) because her coat has dark brown threads and she has a curly strip a hair along her back. Lady rarely barks and is very friendly to everyone, but this morning when the neighbor's dogs strolled toward to yard (as they regularly do) the hair on her back stood up and she let out a series of deep and serious sounding barks informing them there's a new dog in town!

In the coming weeks we'll take Lady to the vet for shots and to be spay.

Friday, January 27, 2006

On the farm

Yesterday we moved to the farm. Ian and Richard did the lion’s share of the moving furniture and boxes work at the Minneapolis apartment while I cleaned. It took us five hours from start to turning in the keys and garage door clicker to the management office. Ian drove the large U-Haul truck and I was in the Mazda, which my mom calls the yellow sunbeam. We were too pooped to begin unpacking last night, so the truck sits in the driveway waiting to be emptied. Luckily we are enjoying a spring-like warm spell with temperatures in the sunny mid and upper 40s F (low teens Celsius). Temperatures normally hover around zero or lower.

The renovation continues and we’re working on continuing to improve the exterior wall insulation. We also found a wallpaper remover gel that actually works to dissolve the paper and glue bits left on the wooden bead board ceilings in the living room and kitchen, which we hope to preserve. It’s nice to have something that lessens the overhead scraping work. I think now that we are truly here full time things will progress and come together more rapidly. I hope future postings bear this out.

Our high-speed wireless Internet will be connected today (YES), as will the second telephone line that will serve the office and its fax.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The vet comes to call

This morning we had a little excitement when I went to let Cairo and Bentley out to the pasture Bentley the 17-year-old Thoroughbred mare was laying down in her box stall and wouldn't get up. She looked tired and sweaty and was rolling in her stall. I put Cairo out fast and then ran to the house to call Donna. Bentley is our neighbor Donna's horse and she's keeping Cairo company as a stable mate. Donna came over and together we coaxed Bentley up and began to walk her in the barn's hallway. It is windy here today and she was sweating. Donna called the vet - a woman - who got here in 45 minutes from nearby North Branch. Ian brought a 5 gallon bucket of warm water so the vet could flush mineral oil and water through a tube in her hose into her gut to loosen things up. Bentley wasn't passing gas or pooping ... and we KNOW from cleaning her stall that she can poop .... so the vet said she had colic and also gave her two drugs via intravenous needle into her neck artery. The vet also performed a rectal exam that required her to wear a glove that went from fingertips to her shoulder. Bentley stood for all of it like a trooper. Bentley is a retired money-winning racehorse and has no doubt been through these types of exams before. I don't think I would have been so nice had I been the patient. Cairo was VERY concerned and in fact I brought him in while we waited for the vet to arrive. He was quiet and she wasn't so concerned about him neighing and running around outside like a nutball.

The vet said no grain for 24 hours and after trotting her for a good 20 minutes on a lunge line to "get things moving", she was to be kept inside. Cairo is in too and is being very solicitous.

Donna asked the vet to exam Bonnie, her chubby quarter horse mare too. Bonnie is 17 too and is next door in Donna's pasture along with a three-year-old Thoroughbred gelding named Beau. Like Bentley, Bonnie too got the long plastic glove treatment. Guess what? Bonnie is nine months pregnant. The gestation period for horses is 11 months and 10 days, so we could well have a foal in March. When Bonnie begins to have milk in her teats (it's called "bagging up") we will bring her to our barn and put her in our third box stall -- especially at night, because that's usually when horses give birth. We don't know what kind of stud Bonnie was bred to, so it will all be a lot of fun! Donna is a bit depressed, as she didn't realize that she had bought a pregnant mare last July and wasn't counting on more horses.

The vet will return to geld Cairo in the spring ... probably around the time Bonnie has her foal or maybe in early April.

Oh, and we're probably going to get a black labrador female dog this week. Her name is Lady and she's 2 years old. She's very sweet and likes to fetch and be petted. Luckily for Tiger Lady gets along with cats. I hope Tiger returns the courtesy. Lady belongs to Donna's daughter Katy, but there's no room for Lady in Katy's apartment anymore.

We will go to Minneapolis tomorrow afternoon with the moving truck and the Mazda. We will spend the night at the apartment and load the truck Thursday morning. Richard is coming to help. I will clean the place and then turn in the keys and return to the farm in the car. It will be nice to be here 24/7!

This afternoon, after all of the excitement this morning, I am scraping remnants of wallpaper from the bead board ceiling in the living room. It's kind of a pain, but it will be worth it when its all finished.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Every farm needs a truck, right?

This Thursday morning (January 26) we move from the apartment in Minneapolis. We have been spending nights at the farm since last Thursday (January 19) after enjoying a week at neighbor Donna's feeding her horses and cat while she was in Hawaii attending her son's wedding.

There's more work to do in the living room area (eventually the master bedroom) but we've made it as comfy as possible. Tiger approves and is glad we are here with him full time. While we finish the renovation we'll store most of our stuff in the garage. It will be nice to be here and not have to run two households physically or financially.

We also bought a truck to go along with our little yellow Mazda! A blue 1997 Chevrolet Cheyenne extended cab pick up, it's an automatic with 4-wheel drive. It's full bed is nice for hauling hay, drywall and stuff. It rides nice too. Ian says that's due to the long wheel base. It has a trailer hitch too and has enough power to pull a horse trailer, although we don't have one of those (yet).

Speaking of horses, we went to the monthly horse auction last night, the same one where we bought Cairo. We did bid on a couple of horses, but did not come home with any new ones. We'll try again next month. :-)

The high speed wireless Internet should be connect later this week, as will the office phone and fax line. We already have a house telephone line and are staying in touch via dial-up connection (painfully s-l-o-w).

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Getting ready to move

We're spending more and more time at the farm. Thanks to Alexandra & Peter we were able to get an excellent start in doing the kitchen floor. It now has all of the sub-floor down with new joists and supports underneath .... and it is level!

Thanks to girlfriend Sandy who spent two days helping me, the Minneapolis apartment is all packed into boxes and ready for moving on January 26.

Tiger our orange tabby cat has already relocated to the farmhouse. He goes between watching us work and looking out the windows at his new domain. We haven't told him that we're planning on getting a dog! LOL