Browsing Tag

farm

Farm

Junk Car

May 11, 2018

We were finally able to get the old car off of the farm. After many, many attempts at getting the junk slip we needed notarized, the person we called in Bonney Lake was actually in Buckley at the time and said he could stop by and get it in 20 minutes. It was good to see that drive away! Aaron and I were talking on the way home about how crazy it is that the process for having this junk car removed was more difficult (by a long shot) than purchasing a gun. We’ve talked about having a hunting rifle or pistol at the farm as we’ve had several bear break-ins, etc. and it would be easy for us to get one – just walk into a store and pay (there are no restrictions in WA for gun purchase, with a few exceptions for handguns and concealed weapons) Pretty different than the process we’ve gone through with the car – having the police come out to the property to do an assessment, getting a junk slip notarized, having a two-week wait period, and then having someone come haul it away.

I’m attaching a few pictures of the rest of the farm. I should’ve taken some better “before’s,” but so much of the farm was absolutely covered in a decade worth of blackberry bushes, weeds, trash, etc. Aaron’s been mowing and trimming several times a week, and it’s really making a difference.

I am so glad it’s Friday. This week has felt really draining. Work has been more stressful than usual, and I just feel like curling up on the couch and Netflixing a whole season of something. There’s an antique fair in nearby Enumclaw this weekend, and Aaron said he’d go with me so I’m looking forward to that.

Farm

May Flowers

May 4, 2018

The weather is starting to turn here, and it’s feeling like spring. We’ve had several days of 75+ weather, followed by rainy days, which is making everything grow like crazy. I especially love the periwinkle bluebells that’ve been sprouting up around the big trees. Aaron’s been working hard at the farm, putting in a couple hours each day before or after work. It’s amazing how much better things look around the yard with the grass mowed and trees getting trimmed. The farm had been vacant for 10 years before we bought it, so everything was in pretty run down condition. We’ve been able to chip away at it, bit by bit, and have probably taken 50+ tractor loads to the dump. One of the most frustrating things has been an old car that was abandoned and left on the property. It has all the windows punched out, mold inside, etc., and is worthless. We saw a number posted that said they take junk cars, so we called the number. They said we had to have a police person come out and sign a junk slip and then they would come remove it. So we called the non-emergency police line, and they said they’d have someone come out. That never happened, so we called again and finally were able to schedule someone to visit. They signed the slip, and we found out it had to be notarized. So we went to a UPS store that was listed online as having a notary; they said they didn’t have one but to go to any bank and they would do it for us. We went to a bank in Bonney Lake, but they said they only do that for their customers. They referred us to a nearby auto center. The auto center said they had a notary, but that because this was related to a vehicle, it was a conflict of interest (what?). So finally we had to drive all the way up to Auburn, where our nearest bank is, and then they said we had to bring an original copy of our marriage license – the photocopied one we had wasn’t enough. This is the kind of runaround that’s driving us nuts! It seems like nothing is simple in this process.

In other news, we had a fun recent trip to Washington DC for a work event. I volunteer with the Washington Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, and they asked me to go DC to help lobby for inclusion of MFTs on several bills expanding Medicare providers. They had a lobbyist that accompanied me to visit Patty Murray and Dave Reichert’s offices. It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it might be – the lobbyist helped with the details, and I shared more of the “on the ground” knowledge of how not being covered by Medicare impacts our community here. We spent several days after the lobbying touring DC. My favorite museums were the Museum of American History and the Museum of African-American History.

Museum of American History Favorites:

  • A centuries-old house that they transplanted into the museum and told detailed stories of the families who lived there.
  • The women’s rights movement memerobilia
  • Julia Child’s cooking school certificate
  • Mr. Roger’s sweater
  • Mary Todd Lincoln’s dress
  • Michelle Obama’s inauguration gown
  • Abraham Lincoln’s hat

Museum of African American History Favorites:

  • Harriet Tubman’s shawl
  • Emmett Till memorial
  • Rosa Park’s dress
  • Rucksack poem
  • Nat Turner’s Bible
  • Point of Pines cabin

I’m so glad it’s the weekend, and am looking forward to relaxing some with Aaron. We made a rhubarb-strawberry crisp yesterday with some fresh rhubarb we bought at a new farmer’s market near the farm. Can’t wait until we get our own produce up and going! Also, I had to include a picture of the most amazing omelette Aaron made – he makes these regularly from our chickens’ eggs and includes fresh spinach, tomatoes, quinoa, and a bunch of other good stuff!

We are coming up on our one-year wedding anniversary later this month, and I have a list going of some of the fun things I’d like to do together in the area:

  • Visit my favorite brunch restaurant, Portage Bay Cafe in Seattle for their migas and French toast.
  • Visit the new Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle.
  • Drive up to see the flowers at Floret, a family farm specializing in unique and heirloom flowers.

Happy May to you all!

Farm

March Homestead Update

March 18, 2018

Now that we are moved into our new apartment (see February Freeze post), we have had a little bit more time to devote to working on the farm. We received a wonderful boost when Lindsey’s parents came up for a few days and we hauled another 5,000 lbs of trash and recycling to the local dump. The mountains of trash and debris seem to be never ending by it feels like we are finally making headway. We also burned several piles of old wood and downed limbs and we are finally starting to see patches of earth that have been covered for the past several years.

Despite all the progress, homesteading is often taking two steps forward and one step back. Our RV (which served as a nice retreat for the in-laws and dogs) wouldn’t start when we needed to move it, and after jumping it a few times, I decided to just replace the battery completely. A couple hours and a $100+ later, we have a nice new working battery for an RV we now very seldom use. The next obstacle was the bus, our original project that got pushed to the back burner due to time and budget. Even gutted, the bus weighs over 18,000 lbs and after a couple of days of heavy rain we discovered that it sunk into the soft mud when we tried to move it. We tried to free it for a couple hours while Lindsey’s parents were here but it only seemed to slide further down the hill and put a couple of our outbuildings (and the bus) at risk. Luckily it dried out a bit this week and after another couple of hours digging out around all the tires and putting some gravel down, I managed to free the beast from its muddy tomb. We are hoping to clean the bus up a bit in the coming weeks and then try to sell it. While it would make an amazing mobile off-grid home, we have too many vehicles and too many projects at the moment.

In all of the trash and debris, occasionally you find a gem. We found an rusty old flatbed trailer buried in the blackberry bushes, but upon closer inspection it seems to be in decent condition. It needs a new deck and maybe some new tires at some point, but I was able to yank it out of the weeds with my truck and it seems to work fine. Can’t wait to see what else we find as we continue to clean and dig through the weeds and brambles on the farm. The chickens are loving all the cleaning as well as there is lots of fresh loose dirt, yummy bugs, and young green shoots to nibble. We are already talking about more chickens and Lindsey wants to get some Ameraucanas or Easter Egger mixes. While the chickens are mostly free range, we are setting up a large enclosed outdoor area for them to roam in safety that will also double as the apiary when we get bees in May. With bears, raccoons, feral cats, opossums, and who knows what else, we want to make sure our animals are safe. We also hope to get some goats as soon as we can get some temporary boundary fencing in place.

The house project continues to move forward (see Creating a Solid Foundation post) and we are hopeful to be able to start on major construction/remodeling this summer. Until then we will have plenty of work to do clearing blackberries, cutting down old damaged trees, continuing to clean and repair outbuildings, and prepping for new additions to the farm. Our goal this year is to finish the house and set the foundation for a self sustaining homestead. We will have well water (plus spring water backup or for irrigation) and septic on site and may look at solar in the future but for now we are lucky that there is grid power. And we would like to produce most of our food from our chickens, garden, and bees. Lindsey has been vegetarian her entire life and I have tried to embrace this as much as possible during the past year. Because of this, we will probably never have animals for meat and instead might utilize the pastures for rescue animals and/or field crops. I want to develop a large garden and greenhouse and we want to get into canning to keep us fed throughout the year. Eventually we hope to make a small supplemental income with the homestead through specialty crops such as garlic or herbs, or through crafts, woodworking, etc. A lot of ideas and possibilities!

Farm

Creating a Solid Foundation

March 11, 2018

One of the challenges in our remodel project has been what to do with the existing foundation. The house has a post and pier foundation with some massive beams but the house isn’t completely level and some of the posts are sitting on bare dirt. Several of the contractors we have talked to and our engineer have expressed concerns about the long term viability of the foundation. This week we talked with a company in Seattle that can add additional galvanized posts to support the beams and level the house. This could be a huge step forward in the project and we finally have a good path forward to keep the existing house vs tearing it down or building elsewhere on the property.

We have also been looking at ways to remodel the carport and incorporate it into the house redesign. One of the steps in doing this is decommissioning the underground oil tank and adding a new poured foundation, but this would give us an additional 480 square foot to work with. Currently we are thinking about moving the kitchen and mudroom/utility room to this spot. We are hopeful to have the foundation work finished and the framing and roof started by early summer. It has been an incredibly long process but we are still very excited about making this our forever home!

 

Family, Farm

Photos by Bethany

April 29, 2017

Our sweet friend Bethany drove down from Seattle (braving Friday traffic – with her two month old, Ireland!) yesterday evening to take some pictures of Aaron and me at the farm! Bethany is one of the most creative, talented people I know – do you know anyone else who is piecing together a new quilt two weeks after having a baby? She throws floral arranging classes, does all kinds of sewing projects for her kiddos, bakes fancy things, photographs people, etc. – all while having a three year old and an infant! She is amazing.

For any of you looking for a florist or photographer for your wedding or special event, feel free to contact me for Bethany’s contact info!

Here are some of the beautiful photographs she took – ones we will love forever. Thank you, Bethany!

Family, Farm

Connie’s Photos

April 18, 2017

Connie and Dave came up to visit us several weeks ago, and were helpful with things at our house (next steps in repairing the bathroom ceiling that fell through during the winter storms) and at the farm (trimming back branches around electrical cables). Connie took these beautiful macro photos around the property and I thought we had to share them!

Family, Farm

Books, Books, Books

March 18, 2017

One of the things I’m learning about Aaron is that once his interest in something is piqued, he goes 110% into research mode! In our efforts to get things going with the farm, he ordered about 40 used books on all aspects of home renovation and “green” living. He dreams of living completely off the land, wearing home-sewn clothes, canning, dehydrating pickling, and having as close to a zero impact footprint as possible! He now has a host of Excel documents detailing things like “planning out raised beds for gardening and researching companion planting techniques to maximize yield and repel pests and disease as naturally as possible.” (I just asked him to summarize this for me). 🙂

He surprised me with some books he picked out just for me as well – most on farmhouse style. He knows me well! One of my favorites is a book called “A Touch of Farmhouse Charm” by Liz Fourez – author of the blog Love Grows Wild. With all of the decor books out there, this one stands out to me because of the fun DIY projects inside! She has a whole list of things to make – from farmhouse signs, to pillow covers, to cake stands. Most of the projects are fairly simple, which I like – they can be done in a few hours! And the instructions are clear and easy to follow. Between work, farm, and wedding planning, there isn’t much time for additional things, so I’m looking forward to summer when life will be lighter and we can do some fun projects together.

Farm

Second Use

February 18, 2017

Happy Sabbath! We are enjoying a quiet, rainy day here in Tacoma.

Progress on the farm seems to be slow… there are so many questions that are constantly popping up, and they all seem to depend on answers we don’t yet have. The farmhouse is originally a two bed, one bath home – so, tiny! We’ve been working on drawing up plans for several months now (many, many versions of plans) that add several more bedrooms and bathrooms to make it more of a family home. We are fine with the rooms being small – that’s part of what we like about the original home. But the additions we want need approval from an engineer because they would significantly change the layout and weight of the home.

Aaron scheduled a meeting with an engineer in Lakewood for yesterday morning. We asked Aaron’s dad, Dave, and my mom to come up to be at the meeting with us, as both of them have a lot of experience in different areas of home building and design. We couldn’t believe it when Dave called us on Thursday night and said there was a huge landslide on I-5 and he would be delayed by several hours. He waited, and waited, and waited in traffic to get off of the freeway and try to find another way around… and after many hours finally decided to turn back home. We were disappointed that he couldn’t make it up, but understood that it didn’t make sense for him to keep pushing north when there were so many delays. Then we got another phone call about an hour later – Dave was in a car accident that totaled his car! We felt so badly that this happened, especially as he was making such an effort to come help us at the appointment. Thankfully, Dave is ok and doesn’t have any physical injuries from the crash, even though it shattered his windshield and deployed his airbag!

The three of us – Aaron, my mom, and I – met with the engineer yesterday morning to talk about the options for the house. It was a helpful appointment, but like the ones before, left us with more questions than answers! There are all sorts of things we have to consider now – if you change more than 50% of a house in WA, you have to update the whole house to current standards/codes. Of course we want the house to be safe – but that means a lot of things, like changing the staircase to be a bit wider on each step and less steep… something that could cost several thousand dollars with moving walls, etc. to accommodate the new  set-up. As Aaron says, “it’s one of those spiraling things…” Each change leads to more changes we have to make!

So our next steps mean that we need to assess for several things before deciding what changes to make on the house. Even though the original foundation to the house is in solid condition, we would have to supplement it to do the additions we hope for. This means having a crew come in and lift the house, pour additional concrete foundation around the post and pier, and then set the house back down. This is an expensive process, and can run between $10,000 – $20,000! So we need a quote on exactly what that would cost. We also need to have someone come out to assess the septic to see if we need to replace that with the new bedroom additions, and we need someone to check our spring water to see if it’s usable as is or if we’ll need to dig a well.

In the meantime, we are enjoying driving out each weekend to check on things… a few weeks ago, we planted several hundred daffodil bulbs that my dad gave us. It will be fun to see those spring up sometime soon. One of my students who knows we are working on the farm suggested we visit a store in Seattle called “Second Use Building Supplies” – we went last weekend and had so much fun! We will have. definitely be checking back regularly to see what they have. Some of the things that caught our eye were:

  • Fir flooring that would match the original fir floors in the farm
  • An old Crane sink – similar to the original one at the farm – for a hefty price! Makes us sure we want to clean ours up and use it!
  • An old, 42-inch front door salvaged from a 1906 Capitol Hill house in Seattle
  • Several multi-faucet trough sinks
  • A clawfoot tub
  • A gorgeous Viking range – it had already sold when we saw it, and had three “waitlist” tags on it!

The best news is that they just put a Second Use store in Tacoma – just a few miles away! So we’ll be checking in there regularly as well. I’m realizing that I’m kind of a “bargain bragger…” If someone likes something I paid full price for, I usually respond with a quiet “thank you.” But if someone compliments something I got a great deal on, it’s like “THANKS!!! You’ll never guess how much I paid for this?! It was such an amazing deal!!! Let me tell you about it!!!” I’m looking forward to what will be the most fun of this whole process for me – finding great deals on home things that I love! 🙂

Farm

Sorting & Recycling

September 24, 2016

Lindsey here! We don’t have too many new pictures to put up, as we are deep in the process of paperwork – many visits to county offices and phone calls to insurance companies and city services. My mom and dad came up to visit for a few days this week and spent hours working at the farm while I was at work at school! We appreciate them.

Some of the ongoing projects while we get all of the permits we need include sorting through the piles and piles of old things on the property. We are quickly learning that the family who lived there kept EVERYTHING! We’re up to a count of about 18 broken-down lawnmowers now, and in every cupboard and corner, we find new “treasures.” There is a landfill about three miles from the farm that takes most materials and doesn’t charge for recycling, so we are trying to sort old and unusable things into piles of metal, plastic, rubber, etc. We have a new (to us) trailer to haul things back and forth, which is helpful.

While walking around the property a few days ago, we came across five different LARGE piles of bear scat! We are obviously not in downtown Tacoma anymore! The fruit trees are dropping loads of dead-ripe summer/fall fruit, so I’m sure the bears are gorging themselves at night. We’ll be keeping a close eye on Fen as she roams around the property! One of the best parts of being at the farm is watching her barrel race around, full-speed, going as fast as her chubby puppy-body can take her. She loves it there.

Farm

Demo Day!

September 18, 2016

There are few things that bring more excitement than demolition day. The start of a new project and the cleansing of the old trappings of a house long past its prime. For us, demo day started with tearing back a bit of the wall and ceiling shortly after getting keys to the house. To our surprise, the 1960’s pink sheetrock and old ceiling panels hid beautiful original cedar planks. This was on top of the fact that the ugly linoleum was covering gorgeous old fir flooring. A great find for a short day.

A longer full demo day was planned and we were overjoyed when several family members made the trek to Buckley to see our budding farm and help us tear down the mid-century façade. We tore off the rest of the downstairs sheetrock to expose the cedar siding, and made quick work of the dusty ceiling panels. We started the process of removing the old bathroom wall and a kitchen wall that will eventually add much needed square footage to an open concept kitchen, dining room, and living room. And finally we took down the old cabinets in the kitchen, making sure to salvage the antique Crane Kitchen Pride sink.

The demo exposed some potential new problems and challenges for the project, but also gave us tremendous hope and excitement for the beautiful old woodwork we hope to restore and feature in the final renovation. After filling 35 contractor bags and cleaning up the debris we called it a day and headed back to Tacoma. Demo day wouldn’t have been possible (or as fun) without the great support from our family and we look forward to the next step in this farm restoration project.