It’s been a busy few months for us at Parkside. Life just keeps rolling by (brakes anyone?) and we’ve been hard-pressed to keep up with everything going on. At least now that the holidays in full swing, I have a moment, albeit a very brief one, to stop and play a bit of catch up on all these projects.
Our biggest update to the house in recent weeks has been painting. It’s only taken 3 years to get to this point but it’s finally happening! That’s right – we PAINTED. I’ll let you have a moment to let that news sink in. (Technically we did paint a couple years ago but since that wall had to be skimmed over, I’m going to say it doesn’t really count so shhhh! Also, there’s the fact that the color we had previously used turned out much darker than I had originally thought and I ended up not really loving it.)
Priming the walls
My husband did a good bit of the painting with help from my stepson who was all gung-ho about it, jumping and practically chest bumping the walls to maximize his limited reach. It was quite entertaining to watch.
But back on track now – with the walls of our side (main) entryway painted a lovely soft gray, all that’s left to do in there is hang trim and our closet organizer. It’ll be our first fully completed room project since we started. There aren’t enough words to express how excited I am! Stay tuned for more excitement to come!
Apologies for the absence in posting but as we all know, life just keeps on happening. Darnedest thing, that. So…the short of it is that we’ve done quite a great many projects over the past months and I am at least three months behind in writing this.
Moving on! …or is it forward? Let’s settle for onward!
(See…I just -knew- there had to be a compromise there.)
For those of you that may have forgotten my rough canvas, and I use that word very very very …very literally, here it is once more, what I had to work with:
The to-do list: (does anyone else make like a zillion of these a year? #guilty)
Determine primary material for stall walls / front.
Determine stall size.
Reinforce existing wooden beam structures.
Determine preferential material for proper footing and drainage.
Level out area for new footing.
Man, …why is it to-do lists make it seem so bloody simple? I ALWAYS think it’ll be just that simple. I delude myself every time. #characterflaw And yet, …we press onward!
As you may recall, one gelding that absolutely requires being stalled during the day throughout the Spring and Summer seasons is Gambit. Gambit is also the same gelding that hates being stalled. Hate being an entirely appropriate word in this situation as he once thrashed about in a steel frame stall lined with oak beams until it broke. Case and point, he hates stalls.
SO THEN, how to keep him in one? And that was it, that was the moment when that glorious light bulb goes off in your head, when you know it may all go sideways but hey, it’s something, so you just go with it! That’s what I did.
For example, I’ve noticed that he’s never held any hesitation, discomfort, or issue of any kind with the round pen I use to ride him in whenever he needs a refresher under saddle. With that, I had my starting point. So I left him in the round pen all day / night and fed him there / moved a water trough inside. So far, so good, aside from him whinnying back and forth at our other paint, Finnegan, of which the pair are a touch inseparable. The following day I added Finnegan to the round pen with him. (It’s 60′ in diameter so plenty of room for the two chaps for one day.) The whinnying came to an abrupt halt and the two hung out leisurely for the remainder of the day.
Task one completed. Gambit was willing to respect the lightweight corral panels that comprise our round pen. My best guess is that due to how open they are, that he can still see everything around him, is still outdoors, and not cooped up inside he accepts that the shade is quite lovely.
Next up was figuring out how to fit stalls into our very unique space. Ideally I wanted to create three 12’x12′ stalls which would require an overall 12′ (D) x 36′ (L) space to work with. Instead, what I had was 12′ (D) x 38′ (L). You would be amazed at just what a pain those silly little two feet can be…
Corral panels come in three sizes at our local TSC store. Either 10′, 12′, or 16′ options. Already, my extra 2′ were becoming a nuisance. Better yet, corral panels are not produced as ‘stall fronts’ so in order to have corral ‘gates’ to use as mock stall fronts, I had the option of 4′ or 6′ wide gates. I cannot even begin to tell you how many different strange shapes and configurations we jotted down trying to be the most efficient with materials from both a cost standpoint and a means of making everything fit beneath that shabby little easement but at last we decided on the following:
I’ll be honest, the only stall that is a perfect square is the center stall measuring at 14’x14′. I had to waste a 4′ corral gate on the back row of stalls to accomplish this…but, while not as cosmetically appealing as I’d like I try to remember the bigger picture here: these are temporary stalls while I rebuild the inside of the barn and fix the ventilation issues next spring and I need to be able to reuse all of the materials I’ve purchased so far. So all in all, a 14’x12′ – 14’x14′ – 14’x12′ setup.
Next task on the agenda, repairing the existing wooden beam structures. Ironically enough, as they look pretty darn pitiful in that photo above. Structurally, they were sound, no wood rot, no insect damage, I literally only had to scrub away years of cobwebs, re-hammer in one nail, and knock down a few vacant wasp nests. HUZZAH! Sometimes it really is the little things…like not having to tear down the barn easement and rebuild a new one. Phew!
So where does that leave us? Right, footing. Here in the south we have this very pretty but essentially useless red clay soil. With our stalls being kept just alongside the barn we wanted to ensure we had solid footing to avoid any lameness issues as well as proper drainage for the all too common flash flood type rain we get here. To this end, it was quite easy as we pulled a few notes from one fencing post adventure.
The clay dug out from where our stalls were to go. Waste not, want not. I can’t tell you how many holes I’ve filled across the acreage from this pile.
Smoothing out the 80% sand / 20% fine gravel top layer.
One of our neighbors, who is an exceptionally kind and incredibly generous human being, found out about our predicament and offered his assistance. He drove over, in his Bobcat no less, and promptly began digging out the 12′ x 38′ rectangular space 1′ deep.
Once we’d evened out the freshly dug out pit, we spread out 6″ of large “drainage” gravel to help with heavy rain. This layer was then topped with a mixture of 80% sand and 20% finely broken up gravel which we then packed down tightly and smoothed out.
Once the ground was prepped and ready, we carefully laid out our rubber stall mats across the entirety of the space to help keep the sand from shifting as well as prevent sand from mixing in amongst cedar shavings. It should be noted, never ever…ever underestimate just how painfully awkward it is to carry a 4’x6′ rubber stall mat, let alone how HEAVY they are! We used 18 total, 6 per stall, and it was sheer agony trying to carry those suckers approximately 40′ from where we’d had the pallet stored to where the stalls were being built.
No one who has not laid rubber stall mats before can understand the struggle. The struggle is real folks.
Slow-feed hay bags hung and filled with Bermuda Grass hay.
Rubber water troughs scrubbed and filled.
Cedar shavings laid out in each of the three stalls.
First to test the stalls, Baby Ember. I think she’s loving it!
Finally the moment had come, assembly of the stalls. This truly was the unspoken champion of the material we selected for when I say lightweight, I mean it. We could easily lift and put each panel in place in a matter of minutes by ourselves. The flourishing touches were merely added after which included: slow-feed hay bags for each stall, cedar shavings to coat the mats, black rubber water troughs, and a fly trap hung amongst the rafters between each stall.
It should be noted, they worked like a charm too! I was able to go the remainder of summer without masks on any of the stalled horses.
Finnegan, our resident ‘big n’ tall’ enjoying the shade.
That’s right, GAMBIT is content in the shade and out of the sun. #success
Even Lilah enjoys a stall on a rainy day.
Sundance, our resident senior, appreciates being out of the sun and rain.
In conclusion, do they look beautiful, the way I envisioned the stalls would be when I got ’round to designing them? Sure don’t. Not even a lick. However, they function beautifully for what I needed. Our two sunburn prone paints had healthy unblemished skin in just a week’s time of being stalled during the day, we had no further issues with overheating, and while Gambit and Finnegan in particular tend to get overweight in the summer, their weight was maintained easily while kept stalled during the days.
Practical isn’t always the perfection we hope for or expect to see, but seeing how much more comfortable our boys were…how much happier they were? Worth it.
Afternoon everyone! For those that aren’t aware, here at our farm we have somewhat of a menagerie of horses.
When it comes to horses, I look for a sound mind, good legs, dependable track record, and seasoned under saddle. Unusual coloration (grullo, buckskin, palomino, oh my!) and coveted bloodlines (I’ve always been a sucker for Poco Bueno and Hancock bred horses personally) are always a nice bonus, but picking your companions on looks alone has…let’s face it, never really worked out for anyone, am I right or am I right?
As such, we’ve wound up with a Standardbred, AQHA (American Quarter Horse), as well as a couple paint crosses and the like. Now I will admit, while I am a bit partial, despite picking personality over appearance, we lucked out with some absolutely gorgeous horses. Now I say this now so that you will remember it because as I get into the nitty gritty of this post, you may question my love for paint horses…if only just a lil’ bit.
Enter our two overo paints, Gambit and Finnegan. Key word: OVERO.
By APHA (American Paint Horse Association) standards, an overo is classified by the following:
The white usually will not cross the back of the horse between its withers and its tail.
Generally, at least one and often all four legs are dark.
Generally, the white is irregular, and is rather scattered or splashy.
Head markings are distinctive, often bald-faced, apron-faced or bonnet-faced.
An overo may be either predominately dark or white.
The tail is usually one color.
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Now then, what does it all really mean? It’s just one particular type of coat pattern found in paint horses right? Let me #realtalk you for a moment and re-phrase a few of those key points…
All white sections of your horse’s coat will be subject to easily sunburn, bordering from mild to severe.
White legs in overos are uncommon but when they occur they bring with them the increased likelihood of other skin ailments such as Mud Fever, Scratches, and the like. Thhhhhhat’s right, your horse is just that much more genetically pre-disposed to catching “all the things” as I’ve fondly (or not so fondly) nicknamed it.
Bald-faced with light eyes and a pale muzzle are 50% striking features and 50% endless headache. Why? The sad reality is that these features typically require fly masks with higher rated UV protection up to 9 months out of the year to prevent chronic conjunctivitis, blistering, and first to second degree sunburns to name a few. (Yes…there’s more, oh so much more…)
(Note: They do sell legitimate sunblock for horses. I purchase mine in a powdered form that you moisten and wipe on comprised of Zinc Oxide. It was created by an equine veterinarian in Arizona, you know, the state of endless heat and torment. So while I’m just speculating, I feel like she knows what she’s about, you know? SO! To any fellow sufferers, “My Pony Sunblock” changes lives! You can find it on Facebook.)
Now then, despite Kensington fly masks with high UV reduction ratings, that my Standardbred likes to pull off of his siblings …and then proceed to drown said fly masks in the pasture water trough, sunblock applied daily to their muzzles and around their faces, and having access to two large walnut trees to stand beneath for shade, I was still finding new blood blisters along their skin and even peeling about their necks and over their backs near daily.
You really start to hate yourself and feel the guilt just wash over you as you walk out to the pasture each morning and see that your horses are uncomfortable / suffering, knowing that you’re doing all you can, or at least, for what we had available, I certainly felt I was.
But that was it, that was my breaking point – that gut wrenching feeling morning after morning. I simply couldn’t stand it anymore. #thisiswherethebudgetgoesoutthewindow
After a month of fighting against the painstaking heat and relentless summer sun I decided to nix my current project of creating cross-ties beneath the easement of our barn to instead create three temporary 12×12 stalls.
It seemed easy enough, I mean…I’ve built stalls at a previous ranch before and I’m not feint-hearted when it comes to a new vision on the fly but there were a few key factors that I realized immediately were going to make this a struggle and a half:
Gambit absolutely, positively, HATES being stalled. He’s near broken down a stall front made of oak in the past, to say it “isn’t his thing” is the understatement of the year.
The space available to build stalls beneath wasn’t going to produce 12×12′ stalls but more of an awkward 13×15′ stall size.
The positioning of the barn on our property doesn’t allow for much air-flow to the extent that the easement on the eastern side gets little in the way of a passing breeze. In the south with 95+ degree days and 85%+ humidity daily…that’s a big problemo.
It’s day #22,147,895 of remodeling here at Parkside. As of late, it’s been a seemingly never-ending repetition of spackle and sanding. We’ve just started in on our 4th? 5th? 5-gallon bucket of drywall mud. The drop cloths are being washed for the second time in a week and my floors are covered in a fine white dust from sanding which makes me wonder if they’ll ever be clean again.
The hubby and I spent a good portion of our weekend working in the hopes that we’ll get one step closer to painting (the paint that’s been sitting in our someday-rec room/current storage of whatever room since Memorial Day weekend.) And while what we’re doing is not terribly difficult work, it is slow and tedious. But still, we press on! Using the good old divide and conquer method, I went to work sanding while he spackled over the corner beads in the other room.
I thought my short little self would be super clever and use the pole sander on the ceiling negating the necessity of a step-stool, but that quickly turned out to be a clusterf*** of a nightmare so the pole sander was relegated to the corner of shame to think about why it wasn’t being helpful. Step stool and sanding blocks it was.
I’m hoping that sanding still counts as arm day so I won’t have to work out double.
All jokes and sarcasm aside, it’s been hard. And it’s been slow. There are many days when neither of us has the motivation to work, days when the progress seems so slow and the work yet to be done is cripplingly overwhelming. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ve had a good cry or three about this house and desperate prayers whispered in the middle of the night for continued perseverance and patience.
Then I look at how far we’ve come, in spite of how much work there is left to do. We had beautiful new floors and carpet installed this spring, the corner beads are mounted and we’re nearing the end of the mudding that needs to be done on those.
I think of how much I’ve learned here, and while I would never consider myself or the husband experts by any means, we have learned skills that will make the next remodel project just a little bit easier. And so we continue to work, and we laugh and cry, and maybe have another glass of wine to help cope with the stress.
The super fun part about owning an older home is that you never really quite know what to expect with the wiring. Since the house is 80+ years old, it predates modern wiring and instead has quite a bit of good ol’ knob & tube (UGH!) No lovely color-coded wires and all the other good stuff. Now the previous owner had done some updating and we’ve had electricians out to do work as well trying to get some of it up to code. Still, it’s usually an adventure when we try to update things.
Now the previous owner had done some updating and we’ve had electricians out to do work as well trying to get some of it up to code. We are slowly but surely replacing switches, outlets, and of course the *cough* lighting fixtures.
With most of it being decently straightforward, my handy hubby has done quite a bit of it. As for me, I know less than zilch about electrical work despite being painstakingly explained to me multiple times. Beyond knowing there’s a hot wire and a neutral wire, the rest is Greek to me so I usually just smile, nod and pretend to understand. And since I’m not much help, I stand by encouraging my hubby as he does his thing. Sometimes I even get to hold the flashlight for him which means I do things like:
Now we finally have a decent light fixture in our mircofoyerspacethingy. (It’s really small.)
Would you just look at that. When I tell you it’s a sight for sore eyes… Darlin’, I ain’t kiddin’!
With only an electric push mower at my disposal, it was simply inconceivable to attempt tackling this 3.5 acre parcel of grass/thistle/weeds that was nearing 4′ in height. Had the mulching kit on my mower even been capable of cutting it down…I would’ve likely bogged down the blades every 5-10′.
(I may know this because at one point earlier on in summer, I tried. I will summarize it briefly: It did not go well.)
On a happier note, by mere chance one day, I happened to be home and you guessed it, mowing the lawn…again…when a neighbor popped by to say hello. They had hired a crew with a few impressive looking dozers and tractors to clear out their acreage to the west of us in order to reclaim the trails that run across them.
The only problem was that the job would take them several days and our neighbor felt uncomfortable leaving the rented equipment just randomly out amongst their acreage. So they proposed, seeing me dripping with sweat and my signature push mower in tow, to have their crew mow down our secondary pasture field for us if we’d allow them to park their vehicles near the barn each night.
I attempted to gracefully accept but I have a feeling my expression gave me away for the “YES YES YES YES YES YES” that was going through my head on repeat. The result was 4′ masterfully cut down and a lovely 6″ left in its place. It’s no longer a ‘jungle out there’ and I can actually stake out the location for our T-Posts we’ll be driving into the soil in preparation of hanging our next pasture fence.
Yes, yes, I know. It’s just a picture of a field. But let me remind you, it’s a field now, not a frightening jungle with anacondas, leopards, …and probably your handful of armadillos.
Though today is a might bit dreary outside, as the last lingering remnants of Hurricane Irma pass over our little farm, the past month has been anything but!
When we first happened upon our home, it had been greatly reclaimed by nature with shrubs and vines covering half of the exterior windows…even those near 10′ up from the ground. Now, while we’re still a constant work in progress when it comes to exterior maintenance of the lawn we have made some progress!
(‘Progress!’I always hear that in my head like Bill Nye the Science Guy when he yells out “SCIENCE!”, how about you?)
As you can see above on the right, the mudroom’s singular window is all but blocked by a ginormous shrub that may hold plans for world domination. I’ve zero factual basis to back that aside from the fact I said it and that we’ve hacked it down and rounded the surface to a reasonable 4′ and yet it sprouts up as though possessed.
Matter of fact, all of the shrubs are the exact same and yet some grow ridiculously faster than others. Be gentle in your judgement that not a one is of the same shape nor size but A HA! we can see out of nearly all of the front windows now. #takingthesuccesseswhenandwhereican
Once more, what seems like a mere photo of grass is to me a STUNNING victory of non-enviable sweat equity as I fought down two feet of tangled weeds, thistle, and the occasional bit of Bermuda grass! Take that Home & Garden, my lawn is finally beginning to look like a photo you hocked before going to print but we’re still a runner up Gosh Daniel!
On the other hand, …perhaps that doesn’t seem all that impressive? BUT WHAT IF I told you that it was achieved with only an electric push mower that isn’t even self propelled? See, see! Now you’re likely cringing at the thought. And why you ask? Because that “small” front side yard is 1/2 an acre. That’s right! Two foot tall jungle of a beast, 1/2 an acre in size, mowed into submission with sheer will power and approximately 11 charges of our mower’s batteries. #endurancewinithout
The driveway headed back to the road from our home.
The world’s longest driveway…for walking out your garbage bins…
One thing I both love and hate equally about our property – the near 500′ driveway. The scenic drive in from a long day at work: Priceless. The walk with the varied sounds of nature in the darkness as I walk our waste bins back up from the street: Terrifying.
It should be noted that the 5′ tall grass/weed fiasco bordering our new pasture fence and right side of our drive has been tamed. I’d like to thank the academy, and by that I mean Academy, for selling wonderful workout clothes for all the “hikes” I’ve gotten from this driveway.
Cheers to mastering the lawn…somewhat, heck, I’ll drink to that!
P.S. No shrubs were harmed in the “taming” of this lawn.