Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wow over a year!

I have decided to start blogging again. Retirement sure has kept me busy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

This ones for Toasty!

I have been a bad bad blogger again! Just so busy I don't keep up with the blogging world. Today I was reading one of my favorites and the fine lady writer reminded me it was time to do an update! So Toasty here it is, this one's for you.

As many of you know we are in the middle of a very long, cold, snowy winter here in the northeast. My hill farm has gotten 234 inches of snow since Nov.20th. Down here at the homestead we have had 209 inches. So a lot of my energy has gone into snow related tasks.

Three weeks ago after a massive bout of cabin fever I decided the time has come to finish up my plan to move the layout around on the second floor of the homestead. The job started out with final removal of the kitchen that was there when this was a two family house. Three old walls got tore out and the new ones built. The area has become a new master bedroom. 15x20 feet with an 8 foot closet.

At the top of the staircase I left a large landing with a pocket door to be able to close of the upstairs. We have the heat zoned and turn it way way down during the day. This alone has already cut our consumption of gas. Across the front of the house I created a wide, bright hallway. We have a nice antique glass door cabinet that will display some of the that will display there along with some of the art.

On all three upstairs bedrooms and the bathroom I have replaced the swing doors with pocket doors. For a 36" door it saves 9 square feet of space and I love the look. The doors I used are all recycle from several sources. Half the fun is in the hunt. I used a beveled glass, 15 lite, very old, hardwood door at the top of the stairs. For the bedrooms and bath I used 6 panel doors , all very nice and look like they belong in this 200 year old house. Two in three to go in.

When the house was made into a two family some 60 or 70 years ago, whoever did the wood butchering must have been lazy. They just built over what ever was there. Thank God for that.
The most work was saving the old plaster ceilings. Came out better then I could have expected. I had to fill gaps wherever the wall were. I lathed and plastered the ceilings and outside walls. The new interior walls I dry walled.

As of right now the new bedroom and closet is primed. The new floors in those two rooms are finished. Today I went over to the flat farm and planed some beautiful white ash that tomorrow I will turn into 7" baseboard and wide colonial casings for my trim. My plan was to finish it today, but I ran out of gas! Still have find the doors I want to use for the closet.

Also updated all the electrical and added cable to the new bedroom. Three way switched the staircase and hall way lighting. Installed plugs every 6 feet in the rooms and hall. I have the wall opened up to do the pocket doors on the other two bedrooms. Have to do the demo work for the bath room door, but I have purchased all the hardware.

All my lumber is my own. Started out as trees and sawed by yours truly. Once this is complete so is this house! Who am I kidding? There is that mud room to put on and I have an idea for a back deck that is pretty cool. I have to keep at it because when the weather breaks I go back to the "Hill Farm" and get back at that labor of love. My best guess two more weeks.

I will post some pictures I have taken but not downloaded yet! Compared to the broom closet we use for a bedroom now this thing is massive!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

If I could have potty trained him

I have been living the life . Spending a lot of time up at the "hill Farm" hunting the elusive white tail buck! So far I have filled three of my tags, all processed and stored away in the freezer or made into jerky.

Over the summer a lot of work has gone into the cabin to make it weather tight and easy to heat. Also to keep out the riff raff , such as mice! All except for one. This guy managed to get in and live the good life. He ran the purloins around the walls and was spotted several times. As I watched he climbed on top of the door and went outside through the smallest of holes. Aha! So as a temporary fix I stuffed the hole with cardboard with a more permanent fix to come when I got time.

Went to bed confidant that my "Mouse Problem" was behind me. Next morning I got up and found my cardboard on the floor and as I cooked breakfast he showed his little head from behind the stove.

Game on! Get out the traps, put down the poison packs gonna get him! Well he was a real sly mouse, would not eat the poison and cleaned the traps off without setting them off. This has gone on since the start of bow season! I was using peanut butter.

One night just after I had gone to bed I hear SNAP! Excitedly I get up only to find a bit of tail in my trap. Now he has a name, we called him stubby. Stubby managed to elude capture for almost a month.

The trouble with mice is that they leave a turd trail wherever they go. On the table, the stove, and on the rails around the building. If he would have used a litter box maybe he could have stayed.

We are not slobs, the place is clean. All extra bedding, clothes and such are kept in covered plastic storage units. My firewood is kept in a rack and off the floor. We sweep and vacuum daily, leave no dirty dishes, use a secure bread box, and the cupboards never were breached!

Friday night we got him! After baiting the traps with venison jerky and using pliers to secure the tab around it he finally met his maker. It was strangely quiet around the cabin last night, no shouts of "there he is!" No turd trails, no pitter patter of little mouse feet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Last Wednesday my youngest son and myself went to the farmers auction. He is 32 and remembers when his grandpa used to take him, his brother, and a pack of cousins and friends in his big old van. One time they all came back home with 5 sheep, two goats, six kids, and grandpa! None of the animals were potty trained. The kids had a ball and still bring it up twenty years later.

It is the same auction house, it has been there for 75 years! Starts at 9:00am, on the "hill" . People bring their trash and treasures and unload in rows outside. We picked a good day to go, the weather was iffy and we were bidder #82. We found some real bargains. I bought professional wallpaper table for $3. It is complete with the cutter, brass 8' straight edge, square and hold downs. Nice unit folds into its self neatly. Also bought 4 house jacks for $4 apiece, that is like giving them away! Also bought a painters pick for $3, it is a 13 footer and hardly used, thing costs 200 bucks new! Bid on an old grape squeezer, but someone wanted it more then I did. Jon bought 10 balls for $8, including 2 footballs, soccer balls basketballs, all new.

Along with the auction there is a flea market running. Lots of veggie stands. We bought cabbage for $1 a head, some weighed over 10 pounds! Brown eggs, cauliflower,Brussels sprouts, egg plant, and cheese curds. We did not stick around for the animals.

It was a great day overall and I got to enjoy my son's company.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Retirement update!

It has been a little over 6 months since I retired. Funny but I don't feel retired. Since that time I have decided that the first year will be mine to do some of the things that never seemed to get done while I was working. When I was employed I also ran my small business, farmed, and never seemed to have an extra moment to myself.

Now I am busier then ever and liking it. Just busy in different ways. I have this vision for my hill farm and I am striving toward making it happen. It is an evolutionary plan that gets modified daily as I learn more about my goals and my desire to be off the grid, of the map, and slowly lapse into a lifestyle of non consumer. In the last 6 months I have not made any major purchases and have worked hard at a simplified existence. It is working. I am happier and do not feel as much pressure.

Does anyone know where this country is going? Can we land on our feet as a nation or are we in for a long journey into the darkness? Greed is what I see as the cause and I think it has to get worse before it gets better. The Dow is going to continue to drop and in some ways I think that is a good thing. People will have to learn to live with less, focus on family, and get back to the things we do just to survive.

Since retirement my income has dropped approximately $1500 a month. Some of that drop is due to the fact that I am not running my business. My expenditures have dropped even more then my income. I have money left at the end of the month and I have not gone into any of my savings.

Let me update my activities:
The flat farm is clean! When I got the place it was covered with all sorts of stuff, from straight garbage to scrap cars. I have made 75 runs to the scrap yard. My dump truck pulling my equipment trailer, loaded each time, with as much as I could cram on without leaving a trail. The money was good, my timing was right, as scrap was at its highest level in years. This money I have not spent except for expenses, fuel etc.

The lumber for the hill farm housing project is cut and sticker stacked in in my newly completed barn at the flat farm. I will leave most of it to cure until spring. Drainage plan on the hill is coming along. I followed most of the old ditches, some were put in a century ago and silted in causing swampy spot. This has taken a lot more work then I thought it would, but the end result will be worth it!

Here at home I have finished trimming several windows that I replaced. The drywall is in, the taping and seaming needs done. Also need to do the fine finish work. i.e.set, nails, fill the holes, fine sand, and put the finish on. The plumbing rough is almost complete for the new master bath that I have planned. All the fixtures are recycle including a wonderful old Whores tub that my nephew has refinished. The kid does it for a living. The bathroom is going to be a black and white checkered pattern and the tub will free stand in the corner. Room to walk around it. All the plumbing that show will be brass, including a sunflower shower head that is about 12 inches across, and the rod to hold the curtain. We have a hard time even talking about selling this house. It is a love affair, we raised our boys here, lived life here, and have so many memories.

My wife is close to her family and her parents are getting old. Mom is 86, dad is 87. We are 20 minutes away living here and would be 2 hours away on the hill. So for now we live here. The hill will have a guest cottage that has an eye towards easy access. This is a necessary thing as we have a very large extended family on both sides and many of them have come to love the hill. The one thing I do not want to deal with is house guests. They are like fish, after three days you should throw them out!

I have been looking for a small boat, a very small boat. I have found a few, but everyone wants more then I will spend. The boat is for my beaver pond, I want to fish and not donate fishing tackle to the bushes and roots in the pond. So I am building one. It will be 12 feet long, with two seats, oar locks, and no will be muscle powered.

It is deer season and all bets on me doing any work until it is over are off! I have seen 16 deer so far but no shots. I am bow hunting and will not take a shot unless I am sure of a kill. My mouth is watering just thinking about fresh venison. Tonight I leave for the hill and I have to get my grocery list together.

Do you see her?

Friday, October 03, 2008

It's been a while!

What a shitty blogger I have become! Since I retired my farms and living has sure taken up my time. The hill farm is coming along I have 40 acres ready to plant. It involved removing the brush that has taken over in the last several years and getting the golden rod under control. Some drainage problems that I have rectified with my back-hoe. Plus I have been sawing lumber and a break neck pace! I want to have it all sawed at my flat farm so I can move the saw to the hill.40 or so logs to go! Also made progress on my solar out house. I have the concrete box done. But for now we use the old one. I still do not have indoor plumbing so we live very Amish when we are on the hill.
This is not the time to be selling houses unless you have a piece of property that is unique. That I have and I am entertaining an offer for my home stead. It seems the downturn is not hurting the market around here too much yet, as property is undervalued in this area. Western New York is a bargain for the upscale shopper.
I am here to tell you retirement is highly underrated. I am enjoying myself. Now it is the cusp of winter and I am thinking deer hunting. I had a dream about venison steaks! Now that is sad. If the bed was wet it was from drool.
We are picking apples today. My youngest want to make a big batch of cider to try out his invention,an apple smasher.Going to fill my dump truck.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Festival!

What a busy little camper I have been. Yesterday we held out 7th Music festival at my flat farm. Jerry Garcia was smiling down from the heavens and sent perfect weather!

The last three weeks were spent getting the place ready for the fun. The new pole barn got all of its skin finished up and windows installed. The stage was repaired and the video screen was hung. With a small army of helpers, pushing and riding mowers, swinging weed whackers, and myself on the John Deere pulling the brush hog the grounds looked beautiful. The place is a natural for music. Pole barn is the back drop and the land gently drops away towards the property. When a band is playing you can not hear it at the street.

My youngest son Jon started this festival in 2000 and called it "Pig Jam." Back then we roasted a pig as part of the party. We have evolved and no longer do that, but serve a more sophisticated menu. This year included Corn, hot dogs, hamburgers, clams, corn bread, baked beans, salt potatoes, stuffed hot peppers, sausage, squash steaks, many desserts, snack trays including cheeses, crackers, grapes, mango slices, apples, and bean dip, plus desserts, and stuff I have forgotten. Dick and Manny did a chicken bar-b-b-q.All beverages are B.Y.O.B to reduce liability even though this has not been a problem as of yet. Also put on breakfast Saturday and Sunday morning, no one went hungry!

We encourage those attending to car pool, allow no street parking at all. and invite everyone to spend the week-end at the farm. This year we had motor homes, pop-ups, and tent villages sprawled in all corners of the 27 acres we use. Only rules are no fires and no dogs! Campers started setting up their homes away from home on Wednesday and some are still there as I type. Some set-ups looked quite comfy, some even had solar walkway lights, we do allow torch lanterns and grilles. Common sense being the guiding light. I visited every site several times and met some very nice people!

So you do not think I am some dirty filthy Hippie let me assure you this event is family friendly. We had folks from 9 months to 84 years old. The kids are the best thing and all had a great time. I do not judge anyones lifestyle nor care how they handle stress, but I do demand respect for all my guests so all those doing their thing did it discretely.

Friday was the kick off party and we served kettle cooked walleye and got the stage dressed up for the big show on Saturday. Music was everywhere from drum circles , to the full blown production on Saturday. 11 bands played until 6:30 am Sunday morning. No mishaps, fights, or complaints from neighbors. This is truly about the music!

The only thing I feel bad about is the cost. We have not totaled everything this year, but close to even is good. The first two we did not charge to get in and it got too costly. We decided not to have anymore. Our guests changed our minds and even set up presale tickets. So since year three we have charged $25.00 prepaid and $30.00 the day of the show. We also do a very long V.I.P list for those that dig in and help. Those that join the clean-up crew on Sunday get a free ride the following year!