Monthly Archives: May 2015

Baby Squires Interrupt a Day of Barn Wood Building: Home remodel #3

We have been working like mad to finish up the floors and get a good start on the barn wood walls that are part of a remodel that we are doing with the T.V. Show titled “The Barnwood Builders.” Then all of our work just slowed to a stop on Monday. As Tom and I removed some of the larger boards from the lumber pile to see if we could find one that was wider then our fuse box door, we came across a nest built-in our barn wood. The babies are Gray Squirrels that normally would nest in a hard wood tree. It seems the mother felt that our huge pile of wood was a safe place to raise her young. She made a beautiful and warm nest out of the large amounts of green grass that is growing under the lumber piles. The little guys never even opened an eye while we banged around. Tom and I had no idea that they were sleeping under where we worked. By that afternoon we named the little ones and had a conversation about moving them in the house ( my vote was”NO”to squirrels in the house ) so here are Chipper and Splinter. The fearless squirrels that slowed the entire construction of my family room for a day.

Opening up the nest in the barn wood

Opening up the nest in the barn wood

Two baby gray squirrels in the nest sleep through all of our activity

Two baby gray squirrels in the nest sleep through all of our activity

meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood builder Babies

Meet Chipper and Splinter the Barnwood Babies

Tom and I just did not have the heart to really move the little guys even though they are resting on the very board that we need to make a door out of. So we are working on another portion of the family room for now. I hope within the next two weeks they will be ready to head into the trees with their Mom, we see her regularly going in and out of the nest.

As of Friday I had finished grouting the tile floors and sealed them. They turned out really nice with a muted color pattern of gray, sand stone red, gold and rusty orange. The same basic colors in our barn wood. I spent about 30 hours of time putting in the grout and cleaning it back off. It was a long week of feeling like Cinderella scrubbing floors on my hands and knees but the results are wonderful. The one trick I did learn over my week of scrubbing is that it saves you large amounts of time to seal the slate before you install it or grout it. The extra couple of hours I spent washing the tile and sealing it meant that I could trust that the grout would not stick to the slate when I put them together. So I could actually sweep most of the extra grout off with a broom. Making the cleaning up of the floor go extremely fast with one good washing getting all the extra grout off with no residue to worry about.

After using a grout bag I am able to sweep up a lot of the lose grout before washing

After using a grout bag I am able to sweep up a lot of the loose grout before washing

 

Slate tile floors with grout and sealer

Slate tile floors with grout and sealer

We also got almost half the wall boards up over the holiday weekend, even with the squirrel delay. Tom and I decided that we both really wanted a room with a barn feeling, so we chose to keep the boards running in the vertical pattern as they were hung on the old barn. It gives the room the feeling of a general store or cabin from the old west that we both love.

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

This photo shows a late afternoon sun shining on the walls so the floor colors appear shadowed and darker than they really are. The wood on the other hand is really that bold and different in color. We chose not to plain the wood and only lightly sand the rough finish off the boards. We are trying to give the room a true rustic barn feel and I think we really are getting that feeling so far.

The work is going faster than I though, mainly because we are using an Air Nail Gun to attach the boards to the walls. The nails we are using are 2 1/2 inches long and we nail the board at the top of the walls frame and then at any stud that we can find and at the bottom frame of the wall. Some of the boards are very warped and need cut to straighten them for use and others are fine off the wood pile. So each piece is an individual in a larger puzzle. We have chosen to keep the imperfections and natural coloring because that is what people really do when building a barn. You don’t toss out a good board due to a knothole  or split in the grain,  you just use it and move on, so we have saved and used the knots and splits as part of our over all design plan. Not every one is comfortable with the imperfections of the barn wood like we are, but this application is simple and less time-consuming then other wood treatments.

The remaining walls should be pretty easy to cover up until Tom needs to cover the fuse box. He will need to make a door with country hinges and an old fashion lock for decoration. Then 4 inch molding will go across the base of the wall and 2 inch molding around the top. Again this will be nothing fancy just simple cut boards and nails to finish off the look.

So if you want to read more about how we got the boards for this project or have interest in reclaiming barn wood check out some of my other posts about working with The Barnwood Builder TV show and Our House Remodel #2

In the future I hope I am able to post more photos of the family room and our new little friends I just wonder if I can get more photos of them before they leave the nest forever? We will see!

Categories: Baby Animals, Barns, Barnwood Builders, hobbies, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, nostalgic, slate tile, Squirrles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Tips to Avoid Getting Poison Ivy From a Girl Who Has It!

Ok lets just say that my husband told me so…. and I did it anyway. I have never really had a bad case of Poison Ivy up until this mothers day weekend. I wanted to clear away a vine that was clearly poison ivy off a tree we use as shade in the back yard. I wanted to put a sand box and pick-nick table under the Dogwood tree for the kids to play on. So without any thought I had Tom who gets terrible poison ivy to trim the vine off the tree and I would drag the pieces to the burn pile. I took no precautions other than a pair of gloves and that was my first mistake. I should have at least put on a long sleeve shirt, but no, I can handle this, I never get it, were my last comfortable words for a while.

Now that I have an out break, and a pretty good one, I want to share some ideas on how to prevent getting Poison Ivy and Oak. The Appalachian Mountains are home to many poisons plants but the most terrible of all is Poison Ivy. Here are a couple of photos I took after removing the vine last week.We have tons of sprouts that still can cause problems and still need removed before the littl’ens  can play safely under this tree.

Spring shoots of Poison Ivy on tree near children's sand box

Spring shoots of Poison Ivy on tree near children’s sand box

poison ivy new leaves in spring and 3 leaf pattern

poison ivy new leaves in spring and 3 leaf pattern

To identify Poison Ivy you will see three leaves in a group, usually the stems of the leaves grow red or pink. Each leaf that is mature in size has a notch on one side. In the case of these baby leaves they start red and slowly turn green. They have a vine stem of brown with what looks like brown hairs growing around the stem. This is actually the way the vine attach to things to climb.

So now that you know that you have poison ivy how can you prepare yourself to deal with it.

#1 First wear the correct clothing. Yes, I am sitting here wishing I had taken my advice. Long sleeves, long pants, gloves and shoes all need  worn if you know you are going to battle this monster of a vine. Even the slightest touch from a leaf can lead to out break.

#2 Use some of the pre-contact products out on the market both of which we have in our homes medicine cabinet and I still did not stop to think to use. First is the pre-contact towelettes.

Ivy-x towelettes for pre contact and cleanser for after contact

Ivy-x towelettes for pre contact and cleanser for after contact

Simple easy to use and cheap they form a barrier on the skin to stop the plants oil from getting into contact with the skin. Then they also have a Ivy-X product to use after you get exposed and think the skin needs cleaned. My husband is always getting exposed to poison something and gets these at work. He works outdoors year round and cutting trees cleaning up under bridges is just part of the job.He uses these often with great results.

#3 We also have what the family calls the secret weapon for poison ivy. It is a life saver for my husband and son who get terrible cases of poison ivy.  They use Poison Ivy Pills, a Homeopathic Remedy for pre-treatment and exposure to Poison Ivy and /or Oak.

poison ivy pills and homeopathic way to control an outbreak

poison ivy pills and homeopathic way to control an outbreak

The pills contain a micro amount of the oil from the poison ivy plant and by taking very small doses of the aggravating oil your body has time to build up a resistance to it. I have friends and family who once exposed to the plant end up going to the hospital for shots of allergy medications.This little pill can prevent and or reduce the reaction to the oil that humans find so irritating. Each spring my husband and son usually take a preventative dose for the summer and a few again when exposure was possible. It seems to really help if you remember that you have some in the medicine cabinet. Which I did not remember until Tom reminded me and I took the starter dose of about 6 of the tiny pills over 6 hours. They are working to calm the pain, swelling and itching but I should have started earlier.

#4 The best all a round way to reduce the reaction to poison ivy is washing off. With the use of a good dish soap(one for grease cutting) you can almost eliminate a break out altogether. I my case we were working out side for several hours and then got company and I just forgot until a few hours had already passed. I still washed off but the damage was already done.

Then if all of these ideas fail you like they did me, use over the counter medications. I take a allergy medication already and it helps to reduce the itching but the rash needs specific treatments and there are lots of creams to use. I like Ivydry, it is a mixture of drying agents and soothing creams to help get you through Hell Week!

So my friends spring has sprung and the Ivy is growing wild everywhere so take care not to end up like me and think ahead so you do not have to live with this rash for 14 days or more. Now I just have to get a gallon of vinegar and some hot water to kill the rest of those baby Ivy vines without having to touch them.

Poison Ivy on the inside of my forearm

Poison Ivy on the inside of my forearm

information on how to get the Poison Ivy Pills :

Washington Homeopathic Products Inc.

260 J.R. Hawvermale Way

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia 25411

1-800-336-1695

or the website   www.homeopathyworks.com.

Categories: Farm work, gardening, Healing, health, home remedies, wellness | Tags: , , , , , , | 12 Comments

West Virginia “Mountain Time” Life Style

A fellow blogger,  Dan Wall at Northeirthanthou.com  and his Alaska blog, has gotten me thinking that maybe I have become a true native of West Virginia if only for the fact that I have fallen deeply line with what he calls “Native Time”. He recently brought up the topic in a post about how the native people of Alaska have a slower, less formal passage of time. I have had this same experience when I moved to West Virginia. I lived on Boulder/Denver time and was always on the look out for some thing different and exciting to do. I was rushing from work to the next party or shopping trip or concert. Then I moved and experienced  what I will call “Mountain Time” I know there are other places all over the country that fall into this “Mountain Time” description. It seems that here in the “Mountain State” the feeling does not end when you head to town.

New River Gorge Bridge fall folage 2002

New River Gorge Bridge fall foliage 2002

Things here just make you slow down. I think much like other mountain communities is starts with the terrain and lack of basic services. You must understand that when I moved here in the early 1992 I had neighbors who did not have in door pluming. My husband did not have cell service while driving major interstate highways. We lived with out power for two weeks almost every winter and no one really complained or ran to town looking for a hotel. We drank well water and melted snow for washing dishes when the pump went out. These living conditions are typical for thousands and thousands of people who live in the rural areas of our state. When you live out of cell service and you internet is still dial-up in 2015. You just live to far from town to not live slower.When getting out of your driveway in winter takes two or three days, you are on “Mountain Time”.

The people of West Virginia  have learned by living in this rough environment that just a simple task can become a monumental challenge. For example, my experience with the BarnWood Builders lost the production company money. In the end, the barn wood that I now have at my house was to hard to truck out of the hollow where the barn sat. The producers tried in vain to hire a tractor-trailer to haul the wood out and not a single company would take a truck with in 8 miles of the barn. There was no where a truck that size could turn around, there was no place to park a truck unless blocking the gravel road.

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

Kenchelo road north of Jane Lew barn

So unless the wood got sold to, or given to, families like mine who have pick up trucks and strong backs, the wood was out of reach. In the end the majority of the wood from the barn burned on site, it was just too much work getting it out.  It just takes more time to do everything when you are living in terrain like this. Nothing is flat, everything grows some kind of poisons vine or is topped with a huge tree. The creeks flood and rivers are too deep to drive through.

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

Sunrays and Steamy fog of the West Fork River Weston, West Virginia

I also think that part of  “Mountain Time” is that people who generally live a hunter/ gather/ agrarian life styles have a broader picture of time. They look at their  lives as part of the a seasonal plan rather than a monthly or day-to-day plan. When you are look at how crops are grow…(really think about how slow plants grow) your mind is not focused on today or tomorrow but what will happen in three weeks. If you are a hunter or trapper it could take months to harvests your game and you are look forward in 3 month jumps of time. Then when the work needs done you still have to fallow what the seasons allow you to do. It is a system that works very in tune with the weather and seasons. In the heat of an August day you would never expect a West Virginia farmer to attend an afternoon meeting… He is busy getting his hay or corn in. He will work his fields until 7 or 8 at night. You would never expect my husband home for a mid day meal during deer season. He has spent hours hiking into his favorite hunting spot and spent hours planing and tracking a buck. If I am lucky he will be home about an hour after dark around 6, if not later if a nice buck needs dragged home. I am never surprised any more when school is cancelled because of rain. I have had feet of water in my barns and driven through water that ran on the floor boards of our truck just to make sure my family and farm was safe.Tom and I have given aide to ATV riders who crash into trees or rolled over in the woods. Making a short horse trimming trip into an afternoon adventure as we waited for emergency responders to arrive for total strangers. It is all part of the experience and it all takes time… and usually it is not about the clock but being in the moment.

Twisted grape vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

Twisted grape-vine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia

So, if you are lucky to live on “Mountain Time” you will see Tom and I up at 4:30 tomorrow morning dressing for a morning of turkey hunting. We will then head home around 1 to a midday meal that we share once a week with my older sons family.Then if the weather allows we will be tiling and planting the garden until about 3 pm.Then naps and up again for dinner and tile work until 10 pm.This all depends on the turkey tomorrow… so who knows if my schedule will work out at all and if I will even be on time for any of it because I live on “Mountain Time”.

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

Tom and Christopher with2013 years first wild turkey

 

Categories: back woods, Barnwood Builders, Country life, deer hunting, Hardwood forest, Hunting, rural life, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Slate Tile Floor and Ceiling Work Almost Finished

The floor is almost finished, yahoo! If you have been following along you already know about our remodel and the adventure we are having working with the Barnwood Builders and their TV show.  If not take a look at where this mess all started and here is the idea we have for the future. The slate tile floor is about finished and the repaired ceiling is looking better than ever. It has taken about a month of weekends to get this far and we need about two more real good days to finish up the last couple boxes of tile and get about 10 cut and set in the hard to reach areas. Then grout will be the final step. I  am not looking forward to spending 8 hours on my hands and knees trying to get grout to set up in between all this tile.

Family room floor with slate tile in place

Family room floor with slate tile in place

Slate tile missing from entry area and stairwell

Slate tile missing from entry area and stairwell

One of  the unexpected things we have learned is that you need a tile saw, even if you do not buy one and only rent one they are wonderful and save you hours of work and worry when dealing with slate. Slate is layers and layers of sediment pressed together over thousands of years making it flaky and brittle and it is not as stable as ceramic tile. We tried several ways to cut the tile before finding that with delicate stone a tile saw saves you hours of headaches. Tom and I bought this portable one from E-Bay. This is what the company does best, selling used equipment that is still in great shape but not new! Tom and I found this same saw at Home Depot listed for $ 235.00 we bought this used one that was complete in the box with all the paper work and blade for $ 106.00 including shipping. We will use the saw at least 10 times this coming week and again when we redo our bathroom and kitchen making this a wise 100 dollar investment. Tom just set the saw on a piece of plywood over two saw horses as our work area. As shown the saw did a wonderful job of cutting a hard to fit piece of tile for the cross over between the family room and entry areas.

Used tile saw

Used tile saw

Then while Tom was at work my oldest son Cody came over to help with finishing up the mud and tape that we added to the old ceiling. The old ceiling looked like this and was in rough shape. The 4 x 4 trim across the ceiling was loose and pulling away from the drywall in places and the lag bolts that you see are not hooked to anything and are not holding the ceiling up. The trim around the room was 2 x 2’s and did not fit well at the corners. All the trim just needed removed and the ceiling just needed a traditional finish.

ceiling was decorated with 4x4's and 2x2's and lag bolts.

ceiling with 4×4’s and 2×2’s and lag bolts.

So in the process of removing all of this from the ceiling we also removed a sheet of paneling from one wall. The paneling made the wall surface uneven and lumpy. It was white so you would not have noticed it until the barn wood was up and the boards were uneven. So here is what we found under the paneling.

Paneling removed and ceiling exposed

Paneling removed and ceiling exposed

For a couple of days Cody and I worked on taping the ceiling, sanding and painting. The amount of glue you see on the wall is not bad so the paneling came down without ripping any huge holes in the walls. We did fill in some nail holes but over all the wall would just be painted white again and covered with barn wood to give it a uniform appearance.

Cody Powers doing mud and tap repairs to the ceiling

Cody Powers doing mud and tap repairs to the ceiling

Then a fun photo of Christopher and I after sanding the ceiling and getting ready for paint.

Christopher and I after sanding the tape on the ceiling.

Christopher and I after sanding the tape on the ceiling.

The with two coats of paint on the wall and ceiling we are only left with removing the single board that holds my light fixture/fan up. This board has my only light source attached to it so I am guessing that it will be in place for a long time.

 

Ceiling repair finished for now and wall painted white

Ceiling repair finished for now and wall painted white

Tom and I are so happy with the over all appearance of the floor that I am sure we will be doing this flooring in the kitchen in the future. It may take a little more time then rolling out linoleum but the results will last a life time and are so much nicer in quality. I just can’t wait to see it polished.

In the next couple of days  I will likely  be moaning that my hands and knees hurt from crawling around getting the grout cleaned off and the floors polished. I will complain that my mother’s day is at a restaurant instead of at our house because the kids can not play on wet grout. I will fall in to bed that night knowing I have just created not only a lovely home but wonderful memories for my kids.

Categories: Barnwood Builders, Home, Home Decor, home improvement, Memories, Mothers Day, slate tile | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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