Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cedars Called into Duty

In addition to the bar Scott and Pat are building for the upcoming wedding, the boys need to create an arch to serve as the altar. They were planning on using three of the pine logs we saved from clearing out dead trees last year. Those were eliminated from use, however, when the bark fell off as the boys tried to move them. Turns out that the logs had dried out over the past year! So - into the forest to find suitable trees.
In his never-ending quest to eliminate cedars from the west slope, Scott had discovered three large trees, each about 25 feet tall. Before the chainsaw brought them down, the boys worked on trimming off all the branches.
The first few loads of branches were eliminated the fun way . . . with a little bonfire! noTTafarm was visited by the Polar Vortex this past week, so the cool temperatures and low humidity created perfect fire weather.
The majority of the branches were loaded onto the trailer and transported to the big dump pile east of the barn. Pat says he's having fun - but he sure is working hard! The three cedar logs are now ready for the next step . . . so you know what to do:
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July is . . .

. . . nearly a third over and I haven't posted anything! Let's see what the camera has captured over the past few days:
Pat and Kathleen continue to spend a few evenings a week with us, working on wedding prep. The bar is coming together nicely!
The bar is being constructed in the basement but sections are bolted together for ease in transporting upstairs and outside.
Meanwhile, outside, Scott continues working on his brick project along the driveway. He has mapped out a curve to bring a walkway toward the barn. Bibbers helped him, of course!
The pavers are now "in" all the way down the driveway. We worked pretty hard on outside projects during our extended 4th of July weekend.
Scott's learned that hopping onto the shovel, it does a great job of slicing through the turf.  
He cut out little slices of sod to transfer to grass-impaired areas. 
He even rolled up the slices like a pro! 
While Scott worked on his pavers-grass project, I spent a day clearing the north end of the cottonwood garden. After four years of thinking I should clean this up, I finally got it done. Next step:  plants!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Bricks Begin (Another) New Life

Remember this?
I can't believe it's been 3 1/2 years since I found, dug-up, and stacked all of these bricks. We've known all along that we wanted to use them for a variety of landscaping projects - and we are finally underway! Last week during our mini vacation, Scott had 4 yards (translation:  a big ol' pile) of sand delivered then he began his a long-awaited project: adding two rows of pavers to extend the apron of the concrete driveway. Check out the progress!
Extending the driveway like this will make it easier to back out of the north garage stalls. The process began by digging out the dirt with a hoe, then layering in about 2 inches of sand.
Scott is using the heavier pavers for this project, leaving the lighter-weight bricks for a different use. The bricks were brought to noTTafarm from their former home in Omaha's Jobbers Canyon, a warehouse district torn out of downtown in the 1980s to make room for ConAgra's headquarters. These pavers would have interesting stories to tell about the early development of Omaha!
It took a little time to get started but once a few bricks were placed, it became easier to add more and keep them straight and flat.
Many of the pavers are stamped "Purington Paver," or "Purington Block" but we did discover one brick that is stamped "Des Moines" and another stamped "Buffalo."
After the bricks went down, Scott tamped down the soil on the outer edge. The leftover dirt is being used to fill some holes and trenches made from recent rain.
A dusting of sand fills the spaces between the bricks. After the rain we had Saturday night, we'll need to repeat this step.
To keep the curve neat, Scott used a more narrow paver - stamped "Capitol." Looking good so far!
Stay Tuned for More Progress!

Field Trip: Scrap Central

My folks' trip to Napa Valley afforded us a rare treat. No, not a complimentary case of California wine but the chance to use my dad's F-150 pick-up! We took advantage of the truck's availability, and loaded it up for a trip to the scrap yard. Since construction began two years ago, Scott had squirreled away wasted metal and ductwork destined for the landfill in the barn. 
Bits and pieces of the old HVAC system, unused conduit, bits of copper wire, and other odds-and-ends were loaded up.
Scott briefly considered taking this old propane tank but decided that they wouldn't take it so he would find a proper disposal site.  (For the next few years, you can find this tank back in the barn. Feel free to take it home!)
Omaha's Scrap Central is a magical place! Where else could you find outdated ATMs stacked next to cubes of crushed pop cans and air conditioner parts?
This is where old appliances come to die - but only until the Scrap Central elves disassemble them and recycle the parts.
A small dumpster was delivered to the truck . . .
. . . and we emptied the truck's contents into the bin. The forklift then took it to the scale while we anxiously awaited the outcome. Would we earn enough money to retire? Could we buy a new patio set? Not quite . . .
. . . but, hey, $51 for an hour of work isn't bad!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Monday, June 23, 2014

"How I Spent My Summer Vacation"

The vacation days I took last week were devoted to the flower bed near the 1972 portion of the house. As you recall, the evergreen bushes that formerly occupied this area were victims of the severe winter so we had to take them out this spring. Their loss left me with a 26' x 19' x 5' space to fill.
Here's the "before." The beds were outlined and segmented by railroad ties. One bed was full of vinca which I have since relocated.
Each of the segments contained a different type of decorative rock. I found enough river rock on the east side to make a nice bed of it on the south side of the barn. The lava rock and the tiny white rocks that were in the south side were removed and taken by the wheelbarrow-full to their new home on the north side of the barn. I should have counted how many hours I spent pulling this rock out! Exhausting!
Poor barn! We hope to turn some attention to this side sometime this summer. We need to do a better job of arranging the odds-n-ends that act as weather-proofing.
Scott thought it would be a struggle to lift out the railroad ties but their age was in our favor and they crumbled when nudged.
The Ranger hauled the old ties down to the brush pile behind the barn.
Once the beds were cleared of timbers and rocks (mostly,) Scott spent a lot of time grading the soil. It is now properly sloped away from the house.
I made two trips to Home Depot Saturday to get plants. Most of these are perennials so should produce colorful flowers each year. I also kept the colors in mind so that Kathleen can use them for the wedding.
The plants include: Wand Flower, Cosmos, Coreopsis, and Cat Mint in addition to Star Aster and Angelonia. That little picture of my legs lets you know that I wasn't messing around . . . I was working hard - and I've got the cuts, scrapes, bites, and bruises to prove it!
Finally, by 7 Sunday night, all the plants were in and a nice layer of brown mulch was in place. I'm pretty proud of all the work and I think the result will be fabulous (as long as I remember to water and the deer read the plant tags that clearly state, "deer resistant."
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

West Side Story

Who needs a trip to the beach or mountains when you can spend a few vacation days at noTTafarm? Not us! We spent last Thursday and Friday at home, working outside on several projects. Scott's first task was the creation of a new flower bed on the west side of the barn. 
Like any good project at noTTafarm, you must begin by getting out the Ranger. It also helps to have kitties nearby (in this case, Wilson and Bibbers filled the need.)
After removing the grass and weeds, and temporarily relocating the solar lights, Scott indicated the final shape of the bed.
Scott pulled the bricks from our big stockpile. It's nice to finally have some of them in use!
Kathleen and I relocated the big pots from the cottonwood garden, and she planted them with geraniums and vinca. Good job, Kathleen! I plan on relocating some of the plants from the garden under the big cottonwood to this spot soon. I have also added some purple cone flowers which were "on sale" at Home Depot.
The final chapter of this West Side Story was the addition of a brick driveway for the lean-to portion of the barn. It began with excavation-by-hoe, and was smoothed and graded and smoothed and graded until the architect was satisfied that the bricks would sit level and any water would drain away from the barn.
The graded area was covered by a couple of inches of sand, then the bricks were laid in a herringbone pattern. Scott pulled out only the "Coffeyville"-stamped bricks, and arranged them in a specific way (of course.)
Ta Da!
After a dusting of sand to fill the joints, the mower now has a snazzy new driveway. Great job, Scotty!
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

CWS Brings Overnight Guests

Omaha's most popular summer tradition, the College World Series, kicked off on Friday, June 13th. Since hotel rooms are few and far between this time of year, niece Lauren asked noTTafarm to accommodate her and a few friends for a night. Who are we to turn away visitors from foreign lands (in this case maybe only as foreign as Kearney, Nebraska and Mitchell, South Dakota)? The five of them attended two games on Saturday (the 14th) and arrived at noTTafarm at midnight, sunburned and tired. 
Lauren's guests included Vanessa (her sorority little sis), Logan, and Kyle. The boys are big baseball fans and play on the team for Dakota Wesleyan. They were also fascinated by the number of turkeys in the west yard Sunday morning, and were itching for some hunting time. (*Side note:  hunting is not allowed at noTTafarm.)
Lauren also brought along her boyfriend, Dalton! Though they've been dating for several months, this is the first time Scott and I have met him.  We were impressed by his good manners and his willingness to put up with our niece. (Ha!) Dalton plays football at UNK and is a political science major.

They were all out of the house by about 10:30 Sunday morning, heading downtown for two more games. It was fun to have the house full of twenty-somethings, even if for just 12 hours. 
We Love Visitors!