June 16, 2009

[Mockingbird Acres] The Saga Continues

Trixie the dog has been away for 5 or 6 days and we miss her. She has provided many laughs, as well as 3 rescued guinea keets. When the keets would manage to escape their fenced-in area, they would screech loudly as they tried to figure out how to get back in. If I would approach one to try to help, sometimes they would run off into the woods. If Trixie was nearby (which was almost always) she would pursue the bird and eventually either hold it down or gently bring it back to near where I would be standing.
Speaking of guinea keets, only 4 remain in our control. We started raising 21 of them in a large Rubbermaid bin, but when they outgrew that we had to set them up in a fenced enclosure within the garden confines. Many of them either squeezed their way through the fencing or they flew over the top. I also know that the predatory birds were thinning the flock, as well. One morning I heard the keets squawking, and saw a large hawk flying low over the garden. I ran down to chase it off, and found one keet in distress. The hawk had made a grab for this keet, but didn't get it good enough. The keet had claw marks on his head, but seemed to be alright. He is one of the four that remain.

Our "rough-in" electrical inspection was rejected because of a couple minor issues:
1. There is an outdoor recepticle wire that was supposed to be on a circuit that is separate from any indoor circuits.
2. Power run into the guest bath was supposed to be on its own circuit, but it was sharing a circuit with two dining room outlets.

Unfortunately, the inspector only works in this county on Wednesdays and Fridays, so we will have to wait 5 days for re-inspection. Once we are approved we can move forward with these projects:

insulation - walls
Kenny McAfee is a local contractor who does both insulation and heating/air conditioning. He has offered to let me help with the insulation of the walls for a reduced price. He is a really energetic character and I look forward to working with him.

The plumber who was recommended will be available to start on Monday, June 22. He is currently in Montana plumbing on a mission with his church. We have to acquire a tub and ADA-compliant sink before he starts.

We are waiting for an estimate from a guy who hired JoAnna to serve breakfast to a group of drywall delivery drivers as a way to thank them for their good work. I'd like to save some money by doing the walls myself, but there's no way I would attempt the ceiling work.

electric - finish
The electrician will return to install fixtures once the drywall is finished. I am hoping the siding is done at that time so the outside light fixtures can be finished then.

insulation - attic
Kenny McAfee will probably be back to blow cellulose fibers up into the attic space.

The full installation of a heat pump system will have to wait until we have more money. Until then, we will use window units for AC and propane for heat if it gets cold before we can afford the big system. Regardless, a woodstove will be installed before we reach the coldest months.

siding and soffit
The price quote I got from the building contractor was higher than we can afford, so I'll be attempting this work on my own. I plan to hire the builder for a few hours to try to learn the best way to do the work.

June is the first month in 15 years that no monthly rent payment was required. For 15 years we have been doing this, but no more. If I had bought a house when I was 12, the 30-year mortgage would be paid off now. But I didn't. I built forts back then. I am typing this from my most recent fort. It has been a rewarding challenge thus far, but easier than I thought it would be. I didn't expect to depend on outside contractors so much, but when it was time to add the roof trusses, it had to be. I'll learn as much as I can from these guys, and examine their techniques and such so when the time comes to build a cottage or other building, my work may only require a review by the pros.

The greenhouse roof plastic finally gave way under the weight of the recent rainwater. The plastic was never intended to be permanent, and the roof was poorly designed, too. Not enough slope. I'll add some height to the ridge with another 2x8 for next season, or maybe we'll use hard plastic corrugated sheets instead. The greenhouse did its job this year, so I guess it wasn't so bad.

We have been staying in our "house" for two weeks now, and we are both greatly looking forward to the upcoming improvements. What we have is like a shell of a house. Without soffits or ceilings, any type of flying or crawling creature could join us on the inside without too much trouble. This was not desired, so I cut 44 pieces from scrap foam insulation and jammed them into the openings. So far, only a couple needed to be reset in place after stormy weather or a careless bird. I think the incidents of bugs have been reduced, too.

Speaking of bugs, the ticks have been relentless. A local commented that they are especially bad this year, so there's hope for next year. I also heard that they usually subside after July, so let's hope again. Next year we'll start with 80 guinea keets. They eat ticks.

Back on moving day, we had a grand ol' adventure. I had spent the night in Murfreesboro with the full 26 foot truck and Render. In the morning, i returned our cable modem and headed home to Prospect. All was going well until I passed the last gas station and then remembered to check the gas gauge on the truck. Empty. But those gauges always give you some leeway, right? So I made it to our place, but had to pass our driveway to turn around for the eastbound approach. There is a sharp left at the start of our driveway, so it's best to swing in from the west. It is also quite steep at the start of the drive, so I approached with some speed to get up the slope. My biggest concern was managing to get the back wheels to not run off the pavement as I made the turn in, but I actually handled that part well. It was the overhang behind the truck wheels that got me. The back bumper and hitch scraped and dug into the pavement to the point where the back tires were nearly off the ground.

No traction to move forward or back. I was stuck. And blocking half of the road. We tried jamming rocks and wood under the drive tires, but to no avail. I started releasing air from the front driver's side tire which lessened the pinch of the back end to just the trailer hitch being on the road surface.

The U-Haul emergency road service phone guy told me that it wasn't an emergency, but he did find the number of a towing company for me. Luckily, a kind neighbor was passing by and offered to head home and return with his tractor. When he did return, we hooked some chain between us and he popped the truck loose in a jiffy.

Then he drove off before I could thank him. We had a busy day after that, unloading the truck - load by load - onto my car trailer, then hauling it uphill to the house. Later, the unloading was a shorter distance as the first stuff on the truck was destined for the shed which is just 20 steps from the road.

Posted By Kelly to Mockingbird Acres at 6/16/2009 01:52:00 PM

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