Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fancy New Winders...

I have to start this post by wondering what people are thinking. Let me clarify, how could a house be 50+ years old and there be no insulation? Or new windows, or new electrical? I guess I'm the kind of person that tries to make some improvements when I live somewhere. Even if it's just one thing a year.

So now that I'm off my soap box, I did not want to go through another winter without new windows. Here's how things look to start off with.

New Windows Part 1 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Ok, I need to get back on my soap box for a minute. The genius that designed the ol' farm house put two EXTERIOR storm windows back to back to cobble together the window in the kitchen. Seriously? How do things like that even happen?

New Windows 2 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I think there was one room that had windows from the 1970's, and it was actually in worse shape than the original windows.

New Windows 3 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Lucky for me, I just signed a deal to work with Champion Windows here in the Puget Sound. I went down and met the guys. It's a really impressive company. They are one of the few that actually have a factory that manufactures the windows.

The install guys started by ripping out the old front picture window. It wasn't insulated, and it was not able to be opened in the summer. The new window will actually be a slider on the bottom and a picture window on top... nice!

Windows 4 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I thought there would be a sophisticated way to pull out the old windows. I figured that they would have some custom tool that would work like a charm. Not so...

Windows part 5 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

He just broke the glass and pulled it out piece by piece.

While the foreman was working on the big window, the other guys on the crew were making quick work of the more standard bedroom windows.

New Windows Part 6 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Just to show how much of an improvement the new windows are, check this out. There was a slight measurement error on one of the bedroom windows. So they are making a new one for that opening. But here's a side by side comparison... amazing!

New Windows Part 7 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

And here's the dramatic reveal, as they say on Extreme Home Makeover...

Windows part 8 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Let's just say it's an understatement to say I'm thrilled with the results. Not just in terms of looks, but also I've noticed a big difference with our heat bill.

So basically, I'm on course to replace this entire house piece by piece.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Makes It Worth All The Effort...

As the top of my blog says, "What Happens When A City Boy Buys Some Land And Moves To The Country..." To be honest, a lot of the time, the city boy wishes he was back in the city going to breakfast in Freemont or cruising downtown to go shopping or to the library. I can't lie, I'm not a huge fan of chores, never have been. My mom spoiled me by mowing the lawn when I was a kid.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not allergic to hard work. I knew living in the country would be a lot of hard work, but I guess I didn't know how much hard work there would be.

But as many times as I wake up in the morning and would give anything just to stay in bed for 20 more minutes rather than muck the horse stalls, there are moments that make it all worth while.

Horses In Pasture from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I'll take that view over living 10 feet from a neighbor almost every time.

See You Next Time...

Hard Cider? Proves to be TOO hard... for me.

We've got four apple trees in the back yard. Last year we were so busy getting the property horse ready, that most of the apples just fell to the ground. So this year I thought I'd try to make some hard apple cider.

I borrowed a grape press from my buddy Charles, of blackberry liqueur fame. I had everything all set. My amateur wine making kit, all the supplies, and my champagne yeast ready to go. A few friends from work even came out to see how it was done - Libby and Jane.

This first part we actually did right. I made a 10% meta solution in a spray bottle to clean all the gear. Meta is available at all wine making stores.

Cleaning The Cider Gear from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Now here's where we made the fatal mistake. We just cut the apples into chunks, when what we really needed to do was to grind them into a pulp. Evidently, there is a special piece of gear for this that looks like a big sausage grinder.

Cutting Apples from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I'll put our results up so you can see what not to do. After the fact, some people told me that if I had made a pulp, we probably would have got at least 5 gallons of juice.

Filling The Press from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Pressing The Apples from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

We were very excited at this point, thinking the juice would just flow out. Um, not so much.

Did We Get Any? from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

So we just added some more apples thinking we just needed more pressure for the juice to pop out.

Apple Pressing - Take 2 from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

I will say that the actual set up and operation of the press was done correctly. Just use pulp or grapes, and you'll get tons of juice.

I did get a cool tool out of the deal. I got this fruit picker at Home Depot. It works great.

Harveting The Apples from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

We did end up with enough juice for a great pork loin that Jane made later. And we had a few glasses of cider left over to drink. But over all, very disappointing.

Fail to make cider from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Live and learn I guess. Next year, we can try again, but make sure we have the grinder.

We did have a great time after with some food and a bonfire.

See You Next Time...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Trenching + Rain = Mud

Well, it's been a while since I posted a blog. I've been super busy with some extra hours at work. I haven't blogged, but that doesn't mean there's been no chores.

One of the really big projects that's been on the list is to get water and power out to the horse shelter that I built last year. We found that one of the major drags about winter chores was when the water hose would freeze.

Pre-Dig Power Line from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Lucky for us, the Cowgirl's dad is an electrician. He ran the electrical wires out to the horse shelter and had one of his guys wire the place. He did a nice job and put in a sub breaker box and new light fixtures. It makes a huge difference to have lights all the way around the shelter. He also brought out a trencher that he rented to make things go faster.

One thing we had to figure out is where the water line came into the house. So I was nominated to crawl under the house.

How'd I get This Job? from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Theoretically, it should be a pretty straight forward job: make a trench, put the pipe and wires in, then fill it back up with the dirt you took out. We, however, subscribe to the "let's make things more difficult" school of thought. We dug our trench over a stone walkway, our water line, our septic line, and a fence. Nice work Cletus.

So here's how the trencher works.

The rain finally let up for a while, and after a trip to a few hardware stores, we had the plastic water pipe, and frost free water spigot to put by the horse shelter.

Trench project from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

At this point I stopped shooting video because I became entirely covered in mud. We had to dig a little tunnel under the septic line to accept the water pipe, and let's just say, it was a Mud-a-polooza.

I did this stuff about a week later...

Trenching, when will I be done? from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

Trenching - Fill from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

We had a to wait a week or so to get all the parts we needed, and The Cowgirl's dad had to bring out his pipe threader, but we finally got it done. Just need to bring in some more fill dirt, and button up the ground. It's not pretty now, but it works great. I'll put some grass seed down next spring in the trench scar, and I'm sure in a year or so, you'll never know the difference.

Worst Project... EVER! from ron upshaw on Vimeo.

See you next time