DIY

Adventures of Pruning an Old Grape Vine.

Over the last 25 years trying to live close to the land in West Virginia, I have had several adventures with grape vines. I love the vines for their wildness. I sometimes wonder if the wild muscadine vines here are kin to roaches or coyotes because of their staying power. I think one day they will take over the world after some crazy annihilation of the human race. They are truly the winding, twirling, fast growing vines of folktales and do real destruction if left on their own.

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

Twisted grapevine hanging in tree. Webster County, West Virginia.

Tom in front of broken tree covered in grape vine, Lewis County West Virginia

Tom in front of broken tree covered in grapevine. Lewis County, West Virginia

Grapevine taking over ball catch at Jane Lew Park 2013

Grapevine taking over ball catch at Jane Lew Park,West Virginia  2013.

They also produce an easy to grow fruit that almost everyone likes, grapes. Grapes make so many wonderful tasting things that is almost impossible for me to picture my country life with out them. So when we bought the “new to us house” last year, one of the things I wanted to grow was concord grapes. We had been able to take care of the family farm for several years and Tom’s dad had several concord grape vines established when we moved in. I quickly learned how to make grape jelly and concord grape juice from the old vines. So, some kind of grape vines were on my wish list when we were looking for a new home. The exciting part for me is that this house had a grapevine… what kind of grapes no one knew. The vine was over grown and not well staked. So I had part of my wish answered but a lot of work to get it into shape.

A Single tangled grapevine at the house in Buckhannon

A single tangled grapevine at the house in Buckhannon,West Virginia.

I started my pruning at the recommended time ( late fall to late winter) after the vine had gone dormant. The temperature outside was around 50 degrees when I started working on getting the single vine back in shape. The vine had been let go so long that I found several vine tendrils had re-rooted on their own over the years.These sprouts needed to stay attached to the ground if I wanted over half the vine to remain alive. This complicates things, none of the gardening guides or books said anything about this problem.It often happens and is natures way to reproduce another grapevine. I did the best I could with the off shoot and attempted what the guides offered for advice(not much on old vines by the way). I followed the main vine and marked off with tape three main branches from the original root-stock and tried to keep them and remove the rest. One of the re-rooted shoots was from the main three branches so I really needed to keep it. That shoot was going to make trellising the vine almost impossible.

The vine had grown so long that it was actually attacking a small ornamental tree in the yard. When we moved in I had cut all of the vine from the little tree in the early spring to stop it from covering it and knew I would need to do more work this winter. In the course of 6 months the tree was under attack again. Tendrils had reached to top of the 10 foot tree and covered half of the trees branches.In a matter of 3 years the tree would die from lack of light reaching the leaves and the choking action of the vine. Even domestic grapevines can be destructive if not maintained.

Knowing grapevines only fruit on year old stems, I had to keep some the young shoots if I wanted any fruit at all next year. I literally pulled, tugged and untwisted most of the vine on to the ground to find were each branch went. Most of the vine had no outside support so this made pruning easy. I started to cut back everything that was old, dead or just to long. I removed about 3/4 of the old growth off the vine. The photo below shows the freed end of the arbor, ready for new growth.

Pruned concord grapevine

Pruned concord grapevine.

I will likely only get five or six bunches of grapes this year because I removed so much of the vine this winter. Then the following year ( year 2) I should have 20 bunches of grapes if the weather allows.  After the third year I will be back to prune the vine again. My local extension office suggests pruning  almost every year on wine grapes or grapes that have been well-tended. I think in my case every two or three years should keep the vine healthy and looking full.

I plan to add another vine to the other end of the arbor this summer. A grape that could be used for fresh eating and wine making. Concord grapes are hardy in the cold but grow small and sour fruit. Just try eating the beautiful purple fruit raw…ooo… it takes a heck of a person to chew the tart skin and chew up the large seeds. I am hoping that adding a pink or red grape will add to what I can do with them.

In the future I hope to write a post about my home-made concord grape jelly made from the fruit of this very vine. I will be working hard to remove all the weeds and briers that moved in under the vines.I will be using our bunnies for fertilizer to help them grow stronger.I just hope the summer proves my pruning was a successful, that the vine is now healthy and providing my family with fresh fruit and juices.

Categories: Country life, DIY, Grapevines, Homestead, Jelly, pruning, rabbits | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Sunday is the Airing of My Barnwood Builder Episode.

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

 

I am sorry that I did not share this information sooner, but here is your reminder. Sunday night on the DIY network at 9:00 pm will be the airing of my episode of our family room remodel. It has been a very long and very busy year. As some may already know we lost Grandma Powers to Cancer on Sunday( Oct 25 2015). Making a long story short the funeral was yesterday and we are moving Grandma out of her apartment today and I am sick… So I plan to enjoy a weekend of rest and relaxation. I have even given up the idea of taking Christopher Trick or Treating myself and plan to let his older brother Cody and his wife have all the fun this year. I just hope to not sleep through the episode and hope you all enjoy the story.

Mark Bowe hanging in the living room after shooting with the Barnwood builders

Mark Bowe hanging in the living room after shooting with the Barnwood builders

Categories: Barns, Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, Buckhannon West Virginia, DIY, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, Lewis County | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

#4 The Finished Remodel and Final Filming with the BarnWood Builders

The spring remodeling project with the Barnwood Builders has finally been finished. It is the most surprising and wonderful experience I have ever be part of. It is a gift to work on this project, be included in this T.V. show and be able to promote some of the wonderful things about my West Virginia. The filming crew will return on Aug. 28th 2015 to do the final filming with a small crew and star Mark Bowe. After time to edit and do all the “Hollywood” magic I will receive a rough cut of the Jane Lew Barn show around Thanksgiving and then around April of next year the show will air.  I am proud of the work that Tom, I and the kids have done but in some way I am a little sad to see it end. So here is a photo over view of where we started and where we finally ended with this project that started with this blog and my love for my home in Wild Wonderful West Virginia.

Just a quick over view, The Barnwood Builders are an antique building, cabin and restoration company in Lewisburg, West Virginia. They travel all over the east coast collecting, removing and restoring 1800’s buildings and cabins for reuse.Many of their projects take old barns and turn them into new modern homes or finding old barns that can be salvaged to use in other projects. My home is one of the salvage projects of a barn in my husband’s home town of Jane Lew, West Virginia. The production company found my blog while doing web research on Jane Lew and the surrounding area. The project just grew from the contact they made with me and my family. Now 5 months later the project that started as just an idea over a phone call from New York city turned into a wonderful family room that fits my families taste and style. Who knew that writing a blog would take me on this journey.

We start at the old barn and my before photos. You can read more at the first link above but this is a couple of my photos from the day before the barn got torn down.

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down

Kenchelo road barn before being torn down

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

Tom walking to barn on Kenchelo

The before photos of my family room before the work started. We had just bought our house in Dec and received a wonderful blog message from Barnwood Builders about a the end of April. We had just started to get things unpacked and we were just starting to think about what we wanted to do to update the house when we jumped in to take part in this project.

Family room from the laundry room door

Family room from the laundry room door

Famliy room from the front door

Family room from the front door

office portion of the family room

office portion of the family room

The Family Room is clean and neat, but noting out standing. As the photo shows the floor was divided carpet and linoleum and the walls painted white. We started by hauling lumber from the above barn to our home Buckhannon. Then removing the old flooring and replacing it with slate tile. You can read more about the remodel here

Family room floor with slate tile in place

Family room floor with slate tile in place

Then started to remove and repair the ceiling.

Cody Powers doing mud and tap repairs to the ceiling

Cody Powers doing mud and tap repairs to the ceiling

Then the wall got covered in the 120 year old oak boards. During the build we got delayed for a few days with some of the cutest baby squires hidden in the barn wood, and you can see them here.

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

Barn wood about finished on wall with windows

Covering the wall process went pretty fast compared to doing the tile floor. We trimmed each board to length and to straighten them, then applied the boards with an airnailer with 2 1/2 inch nails. Then added molding and base board and updated our lighting. We made our own chandeliers and you can see that project here. 

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

two mason jar light fixtures installed and working ... yea!

two mason jar light fixtures installed and working … yea!

So last week we finished up the cleaning, added curtain rods with drapes and finally the photos and stuffed animals back into the room.

finished family room from laundry room

finished family room from laundry room

Finished Family room from kitchen door way with desk in new place

Finished Family room from kitchen door way with desk in new place

 

Finished office space moved from one wall to the other

Finished office space moved from one wall to the other

Here are side by side photos

finished family room from laundry room

finished family room from laundry room

 

Family room from the laundry room door

Family room from the laundry room door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Famliy room from the front door

Family room from the front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished Family room from kitchen door way with desk in new place

Finished Family room from kitchen door way with desk in new place.

office portion of the family room

office portion of the family room

Finished office space moved from one wall to the other

Finished office space moved from one wall to the other.

 

I know that this style of room and decor is not what everyone is looking for but with our families out-door life style and my love of art and photography it works for us. This room will inspire the rest of the house to slowly be remodeled in a similar way. With the use of hardwoods, stone and lots of warm colors. We are taking a break until next year when we need to do some work on the windows in these photos and hope replace the front doors. So as I get excited to see the Crew again I am also feeling a little sad that it will be a couple of years before Tom and I will have the time to head down to Lewisburg,West Virginia to see the guys again as we continue to add some of West Virginia history to our home.

Thank you to every one from the Production crew, to the friends, family, the guys ( Brain Buckner, Johnny Jett, Tim Rose,Sherman Thompson,Graham Ferguson) and Mark Bowe for his love and passion for West Virginia to make this all possible. It has been the funnest hard work we have done in a long time.

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham

Barnwood Builders promotional photo. right to left is Tim, Sherman, Bryan, Mark,Johnny, Graham.

 

Categories: Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, DIY, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, slate tile, Squirrles | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Mason Jar Chandelier a DIY project: With Our Barn Wood Update

To add a real personal touch to the family room remodel Tom and I added two Mason Jar chandeliers. We removed an older ceiling fan/light fixture that did not properly light the large room and replaced them with 2 light boxes, with 6 bulbs of soft colored pendant lights. We got the idea from a looking at web pages that had barn wood and county rooms that had used Mason Jars as shades for light fixtures. Tom and I worked out what we wanted and the did some experimenting before settling on two lights instead of just one large one. This is what we ended up making out of the scrap wood left over from the walls. This is just one of the two light boxes we made.

Mason Jar chandalier made from old barn wood

Mason Jar chandelier made from old barn wood

Each box houses three lights (like the one above) and each light has a 40 watt clear appliance bulb inside a pint mason jar. Using the ring and seal as our bracket to support the jar. Each jar is removable can change in color or size, up to a quart jar with many decorative colors… This is my first combination Green, Clear and Blue. At some time in the future I will stain a few clear jars a warm yellow if Ball does not produce them soon!

The room looks like this with both light fixtures, you can see in the photo where the ceiling fan/light used to mount. These lights are about 8 feet apart and mount to ceiling rafters with brackets in our attic. The brackets attached to wooden blocks on the drywall part of the ceiling that slide into the wood boxes and attach with double-sided blots that have wood screws on one side and machine screws on the other, topped with acorn nuts and washers.

two  mason jar light fixtures installed and working ... yea!

two mason jar light fixtures installed and working … yea!

 

The lights are pretty easy to make and there are a lot of ideas on the internet, some have “how to” videos and others are just photos. So to explain what we did here I have added some photos and descriptions that may help if you to make these  yourself.

First, Tom and I had to decide three things, how much light we wanted, how many fixtures we wanted and finally how big should the shades be. So with a little test light that Tom wired up we started with clear quart jars and the idea of having 8 lights on one fixture using 90 watt clear bulbs. Wow that was just toooo bright.Unless we wanted to buy Edison light bulbs ( they appear sepia in color) at 9 dollars a bulb we had to come up with something less bright.

So we started to scale down what we wanted to make. The one big box idea changed to a two box light set up so that the light would fill the entire room and not blind people watching  the T.V.  Then we needed to rethink the amount of light we needed. I could have used the Edison bulbs at 60 watts they are still a less bright light than clear bulbs but the cost of the bulbs was just silly about ($100.00 ). The bulbs would cost more than the whole fixture.I still wanted clear bulbs so we went smaller and lower wattage. The standard 40 watt clear bulbs cost me 4 dollars for 4 bulbs, so the price was good and we could use a smaller shade and I had many jars to use.I have some clear jars and some colored already. I like the colored ones to use for drinking glasses,vases and candle holders. So I had no money in the colored pint jars and had lids and rings in my collection of canning supplies.

We then decided that 4 lights was really more than we needed wattage wise and the look of three pendants looks better than 4. So the two light boxes with three small jar covers with 40 watt bulbs became the plan. Tom made the boxes out of scrap wood we had left over from the Barnwood Builders remodel and drilled three holes for the light cord wiring. The wire was the most expensive portion of the fixture and we bought a 25 foot roll and had about 4 feet left over. Tom wanted the wire to match the socket and fill it completely so we kind over did what we needed to produce a 40 watt light but it looks great so the extra money was worth it in the long run.

light box with three holes the box face is 36 inches with a 1 inch frame on all sides

light box with three holes the box face is 36 inches with a 1 inch frame on all sides

Tom wiring in light cords into shallow wiring box

Tom wiring in light cords into shallow wiring

wiring for Manson Jar chandelier

wiring for Manson Jar chandelier

From here you can see how we could wire up more than one light to a single fixture. We mounted two Grounding Bars ( found in the fuse box section) to the side of a shallow blue wiring box. Each bar has room for several connections we would only use three on each bar. One bar is the ground and one bar is the hot,then the wiring box  mounted to the center of the light box with wood screws. The cords were then cut to length on the other side and a zip ties  applied to the cord so there was a stop on the cord. This prevents the weight of the shade and bulb from pulling on the cord and possibly pulling the cord out of the grounding bar. Then sockets attach to the cords. We used two-part sockets so that we could add the lid to the socket as the bracket to hold on the jar.

Adding sockets to cords of three Mason Jar light fixture

Adding sockets to cords of three Mason Jar light fixture

Chandelier light test

Chandelier light test

After adding the sockets to the cords it was time to make sure the wiring worked and add bulbs to see how bright the lights were. Tom just stripped an old extension cord down and wired it into the power bars on the inside of the box, plugged the other end into the wall outlet to see if what he had made worked properly; this is what I saw. Now we just needed to get the lids cut for the shades and add them to see if they were going to look good.

Cutting the lids was pretty easy if you leave the lids on the jars and tighten up the rings. Otherwise it is almost impossible to hold the lids in place with either your fingers or small clamps. Tom used a 32 mm hole cutter to cut the holes … the cutters hole is just shy of what we needed and the fit was rough from the cutter.

Standard 32 mm hole cutter to cut holes in canning jar lids

Standard 32 mm hole cutter to cut holes in canning jar lids

cutting hole in lid of Mason Jar for light fixture

cutting hole in lid of Mason Jar for light fixture

ruff hole cut in canning jar lid

rough hole cut in canning jar lid

To make the edges smooth and increase the size of the hole Tom used a small grinding stone bit in his drill. He ground off the edge until the socket fit into each hole and the edges are not super sharp. Then he fits each socket into the lid and drills ventilation  holes 4 each in the lid.

Tom grinding down the lid and enlarging hole for socket

Tom grinding down the lid and enlarging hole for socket

drilling 4 vent hole into lid of Mason Jar light shade

drilling 4 vent hole into lid of Mason Jar light shade

When complete the lids and rings were added to the sockets, then we screwed on the jars and tested again.

Mason Jar light shades... blue green and clear ready to add to light fixtuer

Mason Jar light shades… blue, green and clear ready to add to light fixture

Testing Mason Jar Lights these are ready to install

Testing Mason Jar Lights these are ready to install

The installation was a two person job as the boxes are heavy. The barn wood box with wiring is held in place while the wires connect at the ceiling for a long time. I would suggest using two ladders it makes installation much easier. Be prepared to use a strong set of arms as you push the fixture on to the screws hanging down from the blocks attached to the ceiling. Once in place we were so excited to see that they both worked and the light filled the entire room instead of only in the middle that we just stopped working for a couple of days to enjoy what it looked like.

View from back of room to front with both Mason Jar Chandeliers

View from back of room to front with both Mason Jar Chandeliers

 

We have also added a small sconce light to the back wall over my computer desk so that we can see at the desk without turning on all the lights. Again it needed rewired because I did not want to open up the wall to install it. Tom added a switch cord and we stuffed the cord between the boars on the wall. It works great and in the future I will get a brown cord and tack the cord in place.

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

New light sconce light fixture and some of the base board and ceiling molding

So I am slowly getting the furniture back in place, photos hung and rugs put down. It will be next week before we have every thing back in place and I can take after photos but this gives you an idea of how far we have come. It has been more work then I imagined and took about a month longer then I hoped. But we did this ourselves no contractor was really needed.We did call on lots of friends and family to help out over the last 4 months and it was all worth it in the end. Can’t wait to share the after photos.

Categories: Barnwood, Barnwood Builders, DIY, Home Decor, home improvement, home remodeling, light fixtures, Mason Jars | Tags: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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