Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Chain Gang

Lots of pictures this week. Time goes by all too quickly, and a lot has transpired since the last post. We have had an unusual number of cool, wet days here in New England this June. The silver lining is that we haven't had to worry about watering the garden for awhile. The lawn gets a little long in between the dry days, so we have been able to rake up some clippings for next year's garden. I suppose if you really want to stretch the concept, that's a blessing, too.
Benson has had a good time learning to use the lawnmower. He would prefer a model with powered wheels, but this is what we have for now. It's light enough that he can start it, run it, and haul it up most of the slopes all on his own.
This is what Benson would rather be doing instead of mowing! We have been scraping away some material from the front of the house as we prepare for a stone wall and some flower beds. The rear blade is great for snow, but it doesn't push down into hardpacked sand and dirt very well without some additional weight. Andy and Chris are providing ballast in this picture. Some things you just can't ask your wives to do. :)
Andy and Chris were both translated a few weeks ago. Feet first, apparently. They came back when they remembered that the house wasn't finished yet.
Happiness is a pile of rocks on a Saturday afternoon.
Working on the chain gang. It took some cajoling to get all three boys to agree to pose for this one, and in the end I think only Eli really pulled off a somewhat convincing scowl. Chris can hardly do anything without a smile, so he's not one to quibble.
A different view of the garden than usual. This also shows a new turn-around spot that we built at the edge of the lawn. We have only used it a few times, but when the parking spots in the back are full, this will be handy.
This stone is now part of the retaining wall at the edge of the garden. The hole is one of the bore holes from the blasting for the foundation. We still have detonation cord all around the house, and we keep digging up more as we build the stone wall in front.
Piles of material. Straw/grass clippings on the left, semi-composted grass and moss in the middle, and branches/brush on the right. Eventually these will be mixed and composted, and will all be spread around the garden area.
The first layer of stones is just visible here in front of the house.
Progress on the wall. We used a water level and a long string between stakes to keep things level from the house.
Further along on the wall.
Chris and Benson put up some towel hooks in Chris and Karen's bathroom.
Mindy scraped away some more dirt from the front of the house. Within about 8' of the house, it's all sand that was backfilled after the foundation was poured. Any farther away than that and we get into untouched dirt. The dirt has roots and rocks (I know, in western Mass, can you believe it?), so we have had to make multiple passes with the tractor blade to keep pulling away material. The rototiller has been handy here, too. The tines really churn up the hard packed dirt, and then we can pull it away with the tractor.
Benson used the bucket to backfill the stone wall with dirt for the planting bed.
With Andy, Mindy and the boys out to UT for three weeks on vacation, Chris and Karen are busy on the inside. While they are gone, we will sand, oil, and seal the floors on the main floor. First step? Move all the furniture somewhere else. We don't have all that much, but it sure seemed to fill up the loft.
Sanding party! Some friends came over to help us work on the floor, so we put all the willing hands to work. The railing and stairs to the downstairs are sanded, and by the end of the night, all of the walls and ballisters were taped in preparation for the tung oil.
Karen sanded the floor in our bedroom, and moved into the living room. The floors were fully sanded before we moved in, but have built up a burnished feel as we have lived here for a few months. We want to take off that hard protection so the tung oil soaks into the wood evenly and thoroughly.
Janice worked some of the kitchen area. Her dad did most of the work here, but you only get to see his shoes here.
The sanders. From left to right: Karen, Chris, Cori, Jenny, Janice, Emma, Dave, Brian, Jenn, and Carol. Whew! Never a dull moment when you're friends of the Wests.
Chris and Brian formed a transition piece to fit between the kitchen floor and the mudroom tile. A router might have worked well to curve the wood properly. Or perhaps the tablesaw. Maybe a plane and some elbow grease. In the end, though, the tool of choice was a belt sander and 36 grit paper. This will be oiled and sealed to match the floor. Meanwhile, the fridge was being struck by lightning.
One more shot of the garden. We have eaten some swiss chard and some peas so far this year. From the hillside, we have had 9 raspberries. More peas will be ready soon, and we look forward to finding ways to eat everything we have grown.


Andy said...

It is so good to see what you guys have been up to while we're away. I think we'll leave more often! Thanks everybody for all the help...
By the way, I still want you to post the chain gang video, anyone else?

OUR CLAN said...

Your 1st picture is like a peaceful meadow! How beautiful. I bet it is such a nice thing to step out your front door!

The Wests. said...

Thank you, Amber. :)

Yes, it is a great place to live. We are very blessed to be here.

Thanks, "Andy". It is so quiet with you and the boys gone for a few weeks!