Where perfection has to settle for practical: Ready, Set, …no??

Evening all,

       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:

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The easement along the side of our barn. Please note: My glorious throne still remained at this point in time. Let us have a moment of silence for its relocation.

The to-do list: (does anyone else make like a zillion of these a year? #guilty)

  1. Determine primary material for stall walls / front.
  2. Determine stall size.
  3. Reinforce existing wooden beam structures.
  4. Determine preferential material for proper footing and drainage.
  5. Level out area for new footing.
  6. Assemble!

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.

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Exhibit A. Meet Gambit, he looks so deceptively calm and yet he is the “contain me if you can” gelding of nightmares.

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.

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The round pen.
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Ironically it originally served as a temporary enclosure for Lilah and her foal until Ember was old enough to be weaned.

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:

(Psst, here’s where perfect meets practical)

Back row of stalls: 12′ panel – 10′ panel & 4′ gate – 12′ panel
Sides / Dividers of stalls: 12′ panel – 12′ panel – 12′ panel – 12′ panel
Front row of stalls: 10′ panel & 4′ gate – 10′ panel & 4′ gate – 4′ gate & 10′ panel

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.

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.

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Final layer completed and half of the stall mats laid out.
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The one and only stall mat that refused to lay flat…though to be fair, this was due to the fact it is resting atop the edge of the concrete block the existing wooden beam was cemented into.
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All 18 stall mats finally laid out and ready for stalls to go up!

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.

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.

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.

Cheers!

~Christy

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Spackle & Sand 2.0

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.

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So much drywall mud!

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.

Sexy right?

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.

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One more coat should do it!

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 Joys of Corner Beading

Okay ladies and gents, this week’s lesson is on corner beads! While it sounds like a super fun craft activity, corner beads are a staple in home building. Apparently they are used to protect the outside corners of your drywall. Now I grew up in the 80’s where people used plastic exterior corner guards so I didn’t even know that these existed until this year.

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Vinyl corner beads seem to be the way to go nowadays so we jumped on board the trend train and a-wayyyy we went!

They’re actually quite easy to install, messy but easy. Whereas metal corner beads need to be nailed or screwed into the wall, vinyl ones can be set with spray adhesive. And the adhesive is nicely colored so you can see where to apply the corner beads after you spray. I think this goes without saying, but just in case, make sure you lay something down on the ground before you spray or do it outside so you don’t get sticky crap all over.

As you can tell, I’m absolutely winning at this spray thing. So proud of how awesomely terrible I am with aiming and spraying it on evenly.

Next on the list is to mud over the corner beads to hide them and then it’ll (hopefully) be time to paint.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wash my hands again for the umpteenth time. Stupid sticky spray adhesive.

Until next time!

Wall Skimming 2.0: More lessons to learn

So 20 YouTube videos and 2 skimmed walls later, the hubby and I are total pros at this now. If only.
At this point, I’d say we’re semi-capable DIY-ers who are having lots of fun with our hands-on learning.

Here’s a list of things we’ve learned so far:

1. Consistency matters. There doesn’t seem to be a set formula for determining how much water to mix into the drywall mud i.e. 1/2 c. water to 1 g. of drywall joint compound. YouTube and DIY blogs have recommended the thickness be somewhere between mayonnaise and creamy peanut butter. Real talk here: I love that people are using condiments as a reference for mud thickness. I mean, how else are we supposed to gauge it right?

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Looks about right.

 

The first time I think we made it a little too thick and it coated well but it made for difficult rolling. Round 2, I thinned out the mud more and while it rolled on quite easily, it did not coat well. Now they say you’re your own worst critic, but after all was said and done, it was quite obvious that it was an uneven coat with certain spots of the wall being more visible through the skim than others.

2. The second coat should be skimmed at 90 degrees to the first one. So since coat one was pulled vertically, coat two had to be done horizontally. Something we didn’t know to do the first time around. I guess it’s to fill in the gaps better or to get it more even? I’m still learning here!

3. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. The other thing we didn’t know our first time through is that the magic trowel should be wet. We used the spray bottle to keep the squeegee/trowel wet and for keeping the wall damp during pan refills.

Some sites recommend that a quick set compound is used rather than a pre-mixed one since it has a faster drying time but both the hubby and I felt like that was just an extra hassle and the time frame for the quick set compound was too tight to work in.

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Dried skim-coat. Pre-sanding

Quite honestly, I’m still not 100% certain we’re doing it correctly. There seems to be quite a bit of texture on the walls even after a light sanding. The question now is, do we sand it down further, do a third skim-coat, or just paint it and hope for the best. With it taking approximately 2-2.5 hours for each coat, I’m not a particular fan of the third coat option, which leaves us with more sanding or throwing the towel in in favor of painting.

So many decisions and so little time!

The Ugly…Bites Back: A/C Unit 2.0

It comes in threes. Isn’t that the old wives tale? Regardless, our adventure takes yet another turn…this time for the crazy unexpected.

Duct-work installation went off like clock work yesterday morning. I can’t begin to describe just how much torn and crumbling material was torn out from our crawl space but I hear a picture is worth 1,000 words.

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After an hour of demolition in the crawl space. Fare thee well, old duct work!

To be blunt, I’m amazed that some of this was ever considered ‘up to code’. The vents themselves looked to be nothing more than pieces of plywood …if not just cardboard… that were then covered in a thin coating/sheet that has done little to offer protection, as the pictures illustrate below:

I admit, seeing all of this cover the entirety of my driveway…I couldn’t help but go and peek at what all supplies they had in their truck. To be fair they showed up with a crew of six technicians and three trucks.

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It’s like an arts and crafts fair gone wild! The love child of Michael’s and Home Depot?

And look! Shiny new METAL duct-work to prevent future critters and basic wear n’ tear from becoming an issue…at least for the next decade or so!

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Oh right, I did mention the ugly didn’t I? About that… so last night I received a call from the Mr. Work on the duct-work had come to an abrupt halt as they discovered not one but two snakes lounging about in our crawlspace. Suffice it to say, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person, aside from Indiana Jones, that runs in terror at the sight of a snake.

So this morning I hunted around for someone that could come out and remove the two newest tenants of our home. In doing so I discovered we are an unfortunate loophole in our particular location. …as in, we are within a city yet zoned county for all purposes related to animal control. SO- even though our city has an actual technician that handles snake removal specifically, we are “outside his jurisdiction”.

Next step…I called the county animal control to have someone out to gather up our tenants and another brick wall was found. They service our area BUT they do not cover the removal and relocation of snakes.

This is just getting better and better. Time to roll up the sleeves!

After exhausting the yellow pages, I received a referral from a pest company we’ve used in the past that covers the removal of ‘dangerous’ wildlife -including- da da da daaaaaa…SNAKES!

So now the waiting game begins or rather I summon forth the patience somewhere in me, we have a technician coming out to safely and humanely catch and relocate these two slithery tenants this afternoon.

I cannot wait to see if they’re still under there or if they’ve found their way into our attic.

Until next time,

~Christy

The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly: A/C Unit 2.0

Now then, I admit that five days without our A/C was horrible, as in…the humidity and heat blended together in such a fantastical way one could feel the brain melting. Over-dramatic? Mmm likely though sitting through 87 degrees in your house on a whopping 92 degree day is the polar opposite of fun.

I am pleased to say that Freedom Air did arrive Saturday, albeit behind schedule, but the fact they were willing to work through the worst thunderstorm we’ve had, since moving into our new farmhouse, was both appreciated and wonderful. I mentioned before that they’ve a fantastic attitude and sense of customer service, well… I wasn’t exaggerating that. Those fellows stayed from 2pm until 10pm to ensure we had everything installed and air flowing cooly throughout the house.

As for the good, we have air. I repeat, Houston, we have AIR! So simple yet so crucial, it was the first night we’d slept well in days.

Onto the bad… upon tearing away the interior and exterior A/C units we were informed that our duct work was in less than stellar condition. I put it gently. The reality is more pockets of insulation laying on the floor of the crawl space that have fallen from tears and gaps found in the duct work. The likeliest culprit, critters and simple wear n’ tear. …though considering where we live, critters are most likely.

And of course, the ugly – when they came back out the following day to ensure that everything was working correctly, since they were forced to install during a horrible storm, they found that the crawlspace was chilled akin to an ice box, that the 73-75 degrees we were maintaining inside the house was at the expense of cooling off our crawlspace. The duct work was simply that torn apart. To add insult to injury, when inspecting our returns inside the home, they found multiple that were damaged to an extent that air could not properly flow through them, rendering them useless.

Reality took another turn as it dawned on us, we weren’t simply replacing an ancient air conditioning unit but now the entirety of the duct work in the crawl space and all of the main level returns in the house. And that folks, -that- is ugly. To their credit, I appreciate that the technicians with Freedom Air took the initiative to tell us about the problem otherwise our new energy efficient machine would’ve simply run endlessly and our power bills would’ve likely doubled.

“When things do not go your way, remember that every challenge — every adversity — contains within it the seeds of opportunity and growth.” – Roy T. Bennett

Dwindling passion for the long road ahead rekindled, doubts about what new surprises tomorrow might hold quelled, and determination to forge ahead and shape our forever home together restored.

Each ‘surprise’ carries with it its own unique challenges, more often than not – expense, but the Mr. and I can forego likes and wants in favor of needs for the time being. So we are on our way to new metal duct work in the crawlspace for improved performance and life expectancy and from there…well, getting that darn pasture fence finished once the rain lets up will feel mighty good.

Here’s to another day in paradise!

~Christy

Floor Money, Floor Life – Part 2

So. Floors. More specifically the carpeting. I apologize for the 4 million pictures on my last post but it was necessary to show exactly how things were.

It took us an extra week but we finally have gorgeous new flooring and carpeting. It was supposed to be a back to back install. Vinyl one day and carpet the second. Instead there was a slight weather-related hiccup with getting the carpet installed. 

Plans. Heh. Why do we even bother sometimes?

Carpet install day arrived, pouring rain and all. The installer team was concerned about delivering in the rain and us not having a space available (at the time) to cut the carpet indoors. We rescheduled for Saturday. 

Day three arrived with the prospect of carpet installation but sadly it ended with a no-show no-call. We were expecting a late afternoon/early evening arrival but apparently they got tied up on another job and it put them quite a bit behind schedule. Whatever happened to delay them so much during that day, we will never know. I will say that the company’s handling of the situation was professional and prompt, filing a ticket and calling us back quickly to reschedule with priority status for our new install day.

As promised, we were the first appointment for the following Saturday. The install team showed up at 9 and they were quick and efficient, even being kind enough to haul away all the old carpeting as well as leaving the extras for us at our request. (There will be cat tower building in our future. Hopefully sooner rather than later due to the hubby is threatening to turn the cats into Chinese food if they tear up the new carpet.)

Now we have beautiful, soft, new carpeting in both hallways and up the stairs. Another big upgrade from the dingy, worn down carpeting that came with the house.

(Yes the old stuff is quite dirty from the remodel but since they were going to yank it up and haul it away, we figured why bother vacuuming.)

The worst part of this whole flooring experience wasn’t the cancellation and install pushed back or even having my hardwood and laminate dreams dashed once we found out how bad the subfloor really was or the fact that the cost was at least 2.5x’s more than we had hoped for. The hardest part was getting everything prepped and ready for the installers to come out. Pulling up the carpeting itself was easy enough. Getting it rolled and stored out of the way, slightly more work but still not terrible. No. The worst part of this whole process – removing the tack strip and staples after the carpet was up. If you’ve never had to do this, I pray that you never will because staple pulling can be quite hellish.

I felt like one of those characters from Greek mythology who were forced to spend eternity doing labor. Specifically, the guy whose punishment consisted of rolling a huge boulder up a rather steep hill only to have it roll back down before he could reach the top and he’d have to start all over again. An eternity of useless effort and endless frustration. Except for me, it was every time I thought I cleared an area, I’d find more staples, as if they had magically reappeared just to torment me. Okay so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit. It’s not really quite as much of a soul sucking torment as all that but it was incredibly tedious and it most certainly made my knees and back ache. In the end though, the labor, the pain, the cost was worth it all. 

This is the kind of renovation I love, the kind I live for. Pretty new floors and carpet, picking out paint and trim which is next on our list. Not the crap of dry-walling uneven ceilings or the hazards of replacing light switches and outlets. If only things were always this way. One can dream right?