Farmhouse Construction Update #2

There have been setbacks and there have been some gloomy days.  It took a new project manager to really get this little farmhouse back on track and I am now the number one priority of the company, or so they say.  It’s about time!

IMG_0007See the dusting of snow?  Believe it or not, the weather has not been the cause of the delays.  After the concrete foundation was poured and the framers showed up and began framing, it was clear that the subcontractor who was hired to put in the concrete foundation did such a poor job that the homebuilder actually said they couldn’t continue and had to bulldoze the whole thing.  Yep, the house and barn were completely bulldozed and hauled off to the dump.  It was a terrible setback.  Even though I would not have to pay for the re-do, I was pretty upset.  The build was already extremely far behind for a variety of reasons and excuses.  Let’s just say that it took five months to get to this point.  Ugh.

IMG_0015Much better.  This was a solid, level pour.  The forms came off and the lumber arrived and ready for the framers.  In the mix, the excavators had to come back and clean up what the bulldozers took out and had to re-do all of the excavation and drainage around the house and barn.  All of this work has expanded the footprint and created a muddy mess.

IMG_0015 2The framers began to frame in the house.

IMG_0011Truss day! This is an exciting day because the trusses allow one to really start to see the shape of the house.

IMG_6234The roofers completed the entire roof in one morning.  Amazing!

IMG_0018It figures that this barn/shop gets the most attention.  Most of the male visitors want this barn.  I don’t blame them.  It’s one heck of a barn and super tall for drying all that lavender.

So, windows are in, plumbing is done (with showers/baths installed), gas is done, electrical is partially roughed in, cabinet maker has measured for cabinets and fireplace has been installed.  I had to refuse the exterior doors, twice.  The first time they came unwrapped and were completely covered in mud.  The second time they delivered in an enclosed truck.  However, two of the French doors fell over inside the truck onto the other two French doors in transit.  Glass everywhere and I had to refuse the doors, again.

IMG_0020In the meantime, I have been working on the property.  This slice of heaven was once pasture and has extremely furtile soil and no rocks.  Seriously, I have not found a single rock.  Lots of digging and prepping for the lavender fields.  I also decided to add a little kidney-shaped hill for some interest.  I had 16 yards of soil brought in and Blueberry Hill was born.  Three crabapple trees (above) and four blueberry bushes call it home so far.  Along the street and outside of the white fence, 16 cherry trees (8 Rainier and 8 Bing) were planted and 48 lavender bushes (Royal Velvet Lavender) were planted.  Cubby (Cadet) has been mowing, limbing up trees near the creek and moving lots of dirt.

IMG_0012  It’s a sunny and beautiful morning and my job today is to finish cleaning up the street and start to hack out brush toward some hidden and neglected mature fruit trees along the creek.  When I first moved here, I found two cherry (one tart and one sweet), a pear, an unknown, and two apples completely covered in blackberry bushes.  When everything went dormant for the winter, I discovered a plum and a few other unmarked fruit trees that I need to clear from the pesky blackberries.  I’ll have to share with you all the 10-foot crazy and invasive blackberries overgrown along the creek.  Debbie vs. Blackberries.  It should be interesting.

Happy Sunday, y’all!


Farmhouse Construction Update

Construction is finally starting to rev up.  There’s nothing more satisfying than hearing the trucks pull up in the early morning hours and men drinking coffee while discussing the day’s work in my driveway.

It all starts with the excavator.  This is part of the project that I am in charge of and luckily I found a great excavator.  He does a lot of the prep work.  He clears the footprint of the house and moves a lot of dirt around.  Like a lot of dirt!  (He’s also the trench digger so think septic, electricity, cable, telephone, water from well.)

 

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Footprint cleared and ready for foundation.

Maybe it’s me, but there could be worse places to work while moving dirt around.  Check out the scenery!

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I find it funny that rain doesn’t stop the work up here.  I have seen the rain halt all work in California on many occasions.  These guys are like the postal service.  Not rain, sleet, snow or frozen ground will keep these guys from working.  Out there in freezing temperatures like it’s no big deal.  You’ve got to admire that.

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Rain + Sun  = Lots of Rainbows!

Next, the septic tanks went in and the pipes were connected to the drain field.  (I was lucky to find a property that already had a drain field that was put in by the previous owner.)  In my rural area, there is no city/county sewer or water system which is why I have a water well and my own septic/drain field.

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Concrete septic tanks perfectly placed.

A huge crane had to place these concrete septic tanks.  If you don’t know how a septic system works, a pump will deliver waste from the house to the septic tanks.  The solids settle in one tank and the liquids spill over into the second tank, which in turn is pumped with fresh water to the drain field.  By the time the liquids get to the drain field through sand etc., it is absorbed and processed with microbes and Mother Nature.

On the other side of the house are these dry wells.  All of the rain downspouts will deliver the rain to the dry wells which are giant holes filled with river rock.  This prevents flooding.

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Dry wells to prevent flooding.  These are much larger than they appear in this photo.

Then the foundation guys arrive.  These guys form up the foundation for the house and concrete is poured from a pumper.

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After a couple of days, the concrete sets and it’s time for the “walls.”  My house will be built on top of these walls with a subfloor.

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When they kept telling me the walls are going up, I thought, you know, real walls.  I finally figured out that these were not the walls I was thinking.

Yay!  Lumber delivery day, part one.

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Offloading lumber.  You can see the concrete walls.

French drains going in around the house to deliver rainwater to the dry wells.

fullsizerender-37-copyMy construction zone.

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Framing guys were here working on Saturday and they will return this week to begin putting up real walls.  Next load of lumber for the second story will be delivered on Thursday so expect to see an update with something that looks like a real house.

After all the delays I’m finally going to see my farmhouse take shape!  Stay tuned.


Fences

I couldn’t take it anymore!  I had to do something.  Anything.  So I built a fence.

I moved to Washington in May of this year and I had this crazy idea that I would be sleeping in my new farmhouse by Christmas.  Ha!  What I didn’t know is that nothing is done quickly on the Olympic Peninsula.  As I looked out the window of my 5th wheel and dreamed of what Lavender Mills Farm will one day look like, I felt discouraged.  Nothing had happened yet.

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Yep, that’s my temporary home!

Well, something had happened: Apparently, I am the only one in Sequim that works quickly!  Within weeks of moving to Sequim, I had my new Washington state driver’s license, registered my car, applied for and received my new address, had temporary power installed and run to the 5th wheel, had the water lines run from the well to the 5th wheel, had internet and Dish tv installed.  Not long after that, I had the plans for my house and barn approved by the County and even had the excavators out to prepare the site for the house.  I completed all of this on my own and waited for the home builder to begin.  And waited.  And waited.

Back to daydreaming while looking out the window; I had that ah-ha moment.  It occurred to me that I don’t have to wait for the house, I can start on the farm right now.  Yes!  I am a woman of action and I am not waiting any longer.  What will be the first and easiest task?  A beautiful white fence.  After receiving a few estimates I had the fence installed within a couple of weeks.

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What I didn’t expect was the psychological boost of a white fence.  I feel like I actually live SOMEPLACE.  That I’m not just squatting in a humongous open field.  This fence marks a location.  I have a driveway and pillars that welcome all to my place.  I have outlined my farm and now I can start to color it in.

So today I planted 200 yellow daffodil bulbs and that is another story…


Haying vs. Mowing

IMG_2998.PNGOne of the first things I noticed when I arrived to Lavender Mills is how tall the grass had grown. How on earth do I get this stuff mowed? I can’t purchase a mower yet because I don’t have anywhere to store it. I made a phone call to the only person I know in Sequim and she gave me a referral number. She also told me that it is not “mowing,” but “haying.” Good to know.

I made the phone call and the guy on the other end said he would be over in the next couple of days to “hay” it. Feeling pretty good about myself because I was using the correct terminology, I showed my ignorance when I asked how he is paid. I never imagined that he hays it for free and in return keeps the hay. I’m pretty sure this would never happen in California; I imagine I would be charged for hauling away my perfect hay.

Sure enough a man that I call Hay Guy showed up in a tractor and started haying. I saw this same guy all over the valley the next week working on various lots. He keeps everyone’s land cleared and keeps the hay. Win / Win.FullSizeRender 3 copy 4.jpg
I never actually met Hay Guy. He just shows up and waves at me as he drives by. He even leaves some of his big ol’ tractor equipment behind. After the hay is cut, he lets it dry out for a few days.

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A few days later he arrives with a different piece of equipment that flips the hay over to dry the other side in the sun.
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Another few days Hay Guy arrived with with Hay Guy Two and together they baled it. Very cool watching these guys work. One tractor takes the dried and spread out hay and puts it back into neat rows and the other Hay Guy drives over the neat rows and picks it up and spits out a perfect bale of hay.

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I never thought in a million years that I would have bales of hay. I have bales of hay!

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It was the next week that I noticed everybody, and I mean everybody, on their mowers mowing. Well, apparently after all of this work one must mow because the hay is still about four inches tall. I stopped a guy down the street who was mowing and he said he would come over and mow mine the next day.

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He showed up with a friend and this time I had to pay for mowing service. However, the guys were great and both work on a large organic farm on the weekdays. They even agreed to help plant my lavender and hook up irrigation when the time comes. Yes!


Surprising Results in Pumpkin Purée Blind Taste

Pumpkin in the house!
We had a blind taste of pumpkin purée this evening with very surprising results.

Pumpkins1) Grocery store Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin purée
2) Libby’s canned pumpkin purée – 100% pumpkin with no additives
3) Homegrown Sugar Pie pumpkin purée

All three purées were similarly prepared. I baked both the homegrown and grocery store pumpkins and then processed and used an immersion blender for a smooth consistency. I did not add anything to the purées so it was just 100% pumpkin. Pumpkin is not a sweet squash, but a great addition to recipes.

RESULTS

First Place: Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin was the sweetest of the three and our favorite.

Second Place: Sugar Pie pumpkin. It was a close second behind the Jack-o-Lantern. This pumpkin was grown last year, processed and frozen until yesterday. It was good, but not quite as sweet as the Jack-o-Lantern pumpkin.

Third Place: Libby’s canned pumpkin. Bleh! Not nearly as good as the fresh pumpkin. Tasted a little like the can.

We did not try this year’s fresh homegrown Sugar Pie as I had already processed and froze it all.

I was sure the canned pumpkin was going to be the one to beat.  Fresh pumpkin purée is easy to make and a favorite to use in recipes, but I was very surprised at the noticeable difference in taste. Easy to grow, but just as easy to use your Jack-o-Lantern after you’ve carved it for Halloween. We used a battery-powered candle inside the Jack-o-Lantern instead of a flamed candle. This keeps the pumpkin from “cooking” before I’m ready to process the whole thing. When carving your pumpkin, make sure you are thorough in removing the inside seeds and pulp and bake the next day because you don’t want fuzz to start to grow.

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