Category Archives: WORKMANSHIP

Creative Husband (Another catch up post)

My husband always asked me around Thanksgiving what I want for Christmas or he’ll ask our daughter to find out what I want for Christmas, my birthday, anniversary!  He won’t forget but he hates figure out what to give me on his own.  I think a lot of men are like this!  It’s just too hard to listen or use their imagination or worse than that, they’re afraid we won’t like it.  I love ALL gifts I receive, I promise, but especially if it’s handmade or took a little thought about what I’m about!!

I November 2014 I was asked the question once again.  I was ready!!!  I told him I wanted a new bookshelf beside my “spot” in the living room to replace the cheapy I bought from WalMart which was falling apart and I’d only had it about a year.  Pressed wood sucks!!!   Or, I would like for him to make me a new spice rack for my kitchen and I wanted them made from barnwood or any kind of lumber taken from the farm.

Well, I didn’t get them for Christmas but since then he has made them both and just in time for our anniversary which was in February!  Both are made from boards lumbered from the farm.  He did such a great job!!  Here they are:

Three spice racks made from oak, cedar and pine and now full and hanging in my country kitchen!

Three spice racks made from oak, cedar and pine and now full and hanging in my country kitchen!

Closer look.

Closer look.

My new bookcase and full of the things I love to work on at night while watching TV together.

My new bookcase and full of the things I love to work on at night while watching TV together.

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While he was working so hard on my wishes he also made our daughter a gift for her new house and made out of wormy chestnut sawed on the farm by her great uncle Holl.

Made from wormy chestnut from the farm.

Made from wormy chestnut from the farm.

Hangers on the top and two coats of polyurethane to make it easy to clean.

Hangers on the top and two coats of polyurethane to make it easy to clean.

She can use it for spices in her kitchen or in another room for anything she wants to display.

She can use it for spices in her kitchen or in another room for anything she wants to display.

From Dad to daughter.

From Dad to daughter.

He is so very clever and had no pattern to go by, just my explanation of what I wanted.

Now I have to decide what I want for 2015!!

Weather vanes and barns

A story without words!weathervane

 

 

Big Red Barn

Big Red Barn

 

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One of two very large barns on the farm.

One of two very large barns on the farm.

 

Inside of the larger barn close to the house.

Inside of the larger barn close to the house.

 

Feed stalls for the cattle

Feed stalls for the cattle 

 

Bull barn

Bull barn

 

Stable in bad need of repair.  We will get to it eventually.

Stable in bad need of repair. We will get to it eventually.

 

SASSY GUARDING THE BARN

 

The upkeep on a farm like on a home is never-ending but a labor of love!!  Expensive but needed.  Historic in all manner of the word!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade Knives

My kitchen has every kind of knife you could possibly ever need or use and a lot of them are handmade by my husbands Uncle Holl.  The knives stay sharp but most of them are larger knives so I have to buy smaller paring knives.  I usually buy them online at LEM’s and they are a very good quality knife.  Here are some photos of the knives that Uncle Holl made:

Knives made by Uncle Holl

Knives made by Uncle Holl

The handles are made from wood he cut at the farm.  The blades were made from steel he had on the farm as well.

The handles are made from wood he cut at the farm. The blades were made from steel he had on the farm as well.

This is a handmade knife holder that was made at the farm as well.

This is a handmade knife holder that was made at the farm as well.

I have three of the cases hanging in my kitchen.

I have three of the cases hanging in my kitchen.

Close up of the knife I use the most.

Close up of the knife I use the most.

Bigger butcher knife

Bigger butcher knife

We have two knives that a friend of ours made and the handle is made from a deer antler and the jaw bone of a black bear.  The paring knife fits my hand perfectly and the one from the bear jar will be place in the living room on an easel for everyone to see.

Paring knife with a deer antler used for the handle.

Paring knife with a deer antler used for the handle and made by Mike Duncan.

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Knife with a bear jaw handle.

Knife with a bear jaw handle made by Mike Duncan.

Handmade case for the knife

Handmade case for the knife

The bear jaw had lost two teeth and the knife maker made teeth to complete the jaw.

The bear jaw had lost two teeth and the knife maker made teeth to complete the jaw.

Just goes to show you can re-purpose almost anything.

Repairs to my double seater rocker

My kids bought me a gorgeous wooden rocker for Mother’s day a couple years back.  It’s had a rough couple of years and the one of the rockers was broke off last year when someone rared back in it.  I convinced hubby it could be saved!!  I’M A MAJOR REFURBISHER!!!   Is there such a word? 😉

Anyway, I had him take the rockers off and make it a pretty bench for the porch or yard.  As you know from previous posts, we’re big porch sitters and entertain on our porch a lot.   It looked great!

Shannon and Lisa meet Christine for the first time, I think!

Sometime during the big birthday party it was sat in again,  rared back in again and more repairs were definitely needed before using it safely again for entertaining.  Hubby used some ingenuity and placed some braces in strategic places and here’s what it looks like before it gets a new paint job.

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And here’s the final project.

Hubby has decided that if this doesn’t keep it upright and strong enough for ANYONE to sit in it will be used for kindling in the winter.  Here’s the finished product have a new paint job.

Freshly painted.

Freshly painted.

I love wooden rockers but this will make a pretty bench for the porch.  Time to make cushions now.

I love wooden rockers but this will make a pretty bench for the porch. Time to make cushions now.

Avoid this washer

 

New Samsung Washer

New Samsung Washer

New Samsung Washer 2013 (8)I finally wore out my Maytag washer a couple months ago and we went in search of a new one.  I really liked the old one but after 8-10 loads of laundry every Saturday it finally died.   We went to Lowes one night and looked through them and there were several on sale which we thought was great.

After about 45 minutes of reading, comparing and talking we decided on this Samsung 440.  It had a huge washing bin, several settings, energy efficient and more.  It DID NOT have an agitator.  Here’s what she looks like:

New Samsung Washer 2013 (4)

 

10 Year Warranty

huge washing bin

 

New Samsung Washer 2013 (9)

 

Separate dispenser for bleachNew Samsung Washer 2013 (7)

New Samsung Washer 2013 (5)

New Samsung Washer 2013 (3)

New Samsung Washer 2013 (2)

New Samsung Washer 2013 (1)

 

No missing the chance to add fabric soften, just fill the little drawer with two sections.  One section for softener and another for detergent.  No overloading with soap.

 

WELL. let me tell you, I hate this thing!!!!  Farmers get dirty and when you have to wash their clothes two or three times to get them clean you’re wasting time, money, and precious water.  There’s nothing in there to move the clothes around and get the dirt out.  The water shoots in from the side but that does NOT get your clothes clean.  The fabric softener lands on what’s under the little drawer and I have had to rewash my dress clothes so many times because the softener stains the clothes.  Once they’re dry it’s almost impossible to get the softener out of it.

Please heed my warning, DON”T buy this machine.  We were told by the salesman that the agitator is a thing of the past, well guess who’s checking CraigsList to find an old washer and possibly a wringer washer!!

 

Sugar house repairs

When we moved to the farm almost 12 years ago we  were way too busy taking care of  my husbands uncle who had Alzheimer.  What a horrible disease but that’s another post!!  My husband inherited our farm from his uncle which has been in the family 200+ years.  It once was the farm of at least five different links of the Caldwell family.  Some parcels were sold off and some of what we know was in a journal of one of my husbands great uncle, OFWC.  There are at this time two apple houses, two cellars, two smoke houses, numerous  grain bins, storage building, barns, barns and more barns and currently four houses.  We live in one, our daughter is building another, the other two are family homes or build somewhere in between.  We have bull barns, cattle barns, hay barns, equipment barns, bee house, and did I mention a “sugar house”??

A sugar house was built for just making wonderful maple syrup.  Our farm is loaded with all sorts of fruit and nut trees, pines, and more than anything else, sugar maple trees.  One on the property we are sure was about thirty years old when a family picture was made on the farm and that was in the mid 1800’s.  It’s starting to look pretty bad and in need of pruning or taking down but it sure pours the maple sap in the spring.  I digress again and on with the story of the sugar house.  This is what it looked like when we moved here 12 years ago and hadn’t been used since our kids were small and they’re 36 and 39 years old at the moment.

2004  and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

2001 and the sugar house fire pit is full of trash.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

The brick and mortar are falling out.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Some bricks have fallen out of the chimney.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

Brick and mortar around the pan spout hole are completely gone.

 

Time to take some measurements and start over.

Time to take some measurements and start over.

My son-in-law is a brick mason and loves restoring old building and the fixtures within.  Even though he’s my kin, I have to say he used to do awesome work.  Economy and no work has changed that way of life in our neck of the woods.

Anyway, hubby, Joel and my brother broke it down, cleaned it out and started over as you will see from the following photos.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

Brother, Junior , helps with recontruction.

 

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Backhoe is perfect tool for hauling off old brick to fill up ruts or wash outs.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

Syrup pan in good working order, just needs a good cleaning.

 

Now, I wasn’t around to take pictures when Joel was rebuilding but I think these beauties will show you what a beautiful job he did and I’m so proud of the beautiful “sugar house”!!

Bandit Ann checks for varmints Now to clean out around the pit and put down small gravel Nice pit, clean pan and tools time to make syrup Need to fix the chimney flashing Side view Sugar House Tools ready_pan full_fire heating upWe’ve used it several times since the renovations and everyone enjoys the time together!  We usually have friends and neighbors into for the day or two that it takes to cook the sap off and everyone enjoys the french toast and waffles when the first batch comes out of the pans.

The main reason I did this post is the time is upon us to tap the trees again if Mother Nature will cooperate and everyone is well.  I’ve posted in the past on the process but plan to do that again sometime next week with some new photos of last years event.  Until then, THINK SWEET THOUGHTS!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

New fencing in2013

A new year of fencing has begun.  Hubby pulled out the old fence over a month ago and then the weather got bad and then hunting season got in full swing.  This area of fencing is at the bull lot and had originally been made of chestnut railing.  Over fifty years ago it was used a lot and was a very useful tool for short spances of fencing.  Weather and bulls being bulls had worn it down and it’s just one more area completed.  The bulls seem to know that they won’t be pushing this fence around.    Boards were essential at both ends of this stretch due to the bracing of the heavy gate and at the other end was a short wet area where the mountain spring fed the pond.  We thought sitting the end post with quickrete would fix the problem but it was never dry enough to set up so good oak boards stretched across  a couple lenths worked fine and made for a sturdy fence. Four strands of  high tinsel electric wiring is between the boarded sections.

 

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This will be just a small section of the fencing to be done this year but it’s a good start.  Dad and daughter did a fine days work and enjoyed each others company while I was at work.

Hyder Baby Afghan

 Soft chenille yarn

Soft chenille yarn

We’ve had three babies born in the past year in my office.  Two girls and one boy and the first two received a baby quilt and I just finished the baby afghan for the last one born.  I thought I would share how I made the afghan.  I chose a chenille yarn by Bernat yarn in pastel colors,  size F crochet hook and four skeins of the yarn.  It’s a very simple pattern using a single crochet stitch throughout and I think the chenille yarn will make a really warm blanket for the baby.

1/4 complete

1/4 complete

I got it almost done and decided to check it for being squared and had to pull 1/2 of it out and start again.  It’s going to be such a warm blanket for the baby and just in time for cold weather.

 

Single Crochet - four skeins

Single Crochet – four skeins

 

Finally done - 32 x 45

Finally done – 32 x 45

The second time around went much quicker and I hope the baby enjoys it for a long time.  She’s four months old but I think it should still cover her on long winter nights.

How to make a ladybug for your garden

I love finding new things to add to my flower gardens.  This year I found the cutest new addition on Pinterest and decided to make one for myself and my buddies, Jackie and Margaret!  I also saw these in a friends flowerbed but hers were smaller and   a entire family of them crossing the flowerbed.  Hope you like these!

First, you need an ordinary bowling ball.  Jackie found four  of them for me at the local Goodwill stores for a couple bucks.  I took them home and hubby cut them in half for me.   He said this was no easy chore because he wasn’t sure he was cutting them exactly in half.

Bowling balls cut in half

Bowling balls cut in half

 

 

 

 

Next, clean the bowling balls making sure that all dust and residue are gone before the first coat of paint is put on.  I used a spray enamel for the interior and exterior.  Let the first coat of paint dry completely.  I let it dry overnight.  A mistake I made with the first venture was not painting the bottom.  I sprayed the bottom of each half with black enamel (two coats, dry completely between coats) and then spray the red, orange, yellow, whatever color you want.

First coat of red paint.

First coat of red paint.

After the third coat of red had dried, I turned the crafting over to my granddaughter to paint their faces and bodies.  She’s pretty good and has a flair for the dramatic.  I was afraid she would get a little carried away and decided she needed a template to go by.  After all her hard work we decided they would look better with a whimsical flair.

Victoria helping Nana with the artwork.  We started with serious ladybug faces.

Victoria helping Nana with the artwork. We started with serious ladybug faces.

We sat them out in the sun to dry and that's when we decided we needed to make some changes.

We sat them out in the sun to dry and that’s when we decided we needed to make some changes.

This is the point where we decided they needed  a touch of whimsy!  After all her hard work, Nana decided to paint over their faces and add some legs.  The legs were designed by hubby and his workshop.  They consisted of some dowel rods about three inches long and tiny little boots made from scrap lumber.  Once put together, I painted their sneakers white or black with contrasting laces.    What do you think of the end result??

Big eyes & eyelashes.

Big eyes & eyelashes.

Cute red tennis shoes.

Cute red tennis shoes.

Crafting is so much fun and I promise more projects in the very near future!!  Thanks Victoria for helping Nana!!

Pride in your work

What ever happened to taking pride in doing something and doing it right?   Has the almighty dollar  turned all contractors into crooks?  Does quality and workmanship count anymore?  I previously posted about the problems our daughter has had with EVERYONE that has done work on her house.  Everyone wants to do their work the fastest way possible for the most money regardless of how the job was done.  My point??

Two years ago we put a new metal roof on our house not because it leaked but because it was over 50 years old ahd had been painted so much that it flaked off badly and looked horrible.  BUT it didn’t leak!!!  Well, after one year the new roof has leaked really bad on the enclosed porch on the east side of the house.  Hubby figured it was useless to call the contractor that put the roof on and we’re not even sure he is still in business.  We had one contractor on the roof twice and today had another that found the problem on the main roof of the house.  The first one found several problems and fixed them but the worst leak that poured like a sieve was directly over the main breaker box in the house.  My husband had put caulk all over the addition and overhang to the addition but it didn’t stop the rain.  Today he ran into the friend of a friend that is a contractor and he was glad to come up and take a look.  Once he got here he went to the main roof that over top the addition roof.  He found the problem within minutes and has completed the task and now we wait!

 

You know, when you pay thousands of dollars for a job you expect it to be right!  You expect to get quality and pride in something well done!  OR at LEAST WE DO!!!  If it doesn’t happen this time around you’ll probably see another post about our roof.  If it’s fixed, you’ll see a thank you to those that did their job and did it well!!