...notes from Brewer's Pond, a mid-life homesteading experience.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Day 5 - Here Comes The Sun

Monday... my first student of the day called me last night to cancel. I was fine with that, it gave me time to drive by Brewer's Pond instead of driving straight to work after dropping off the younger at his school.

I was hoping that I would catch the work crew to let them know what we did to the wainscoting, and why.

Again, it was silent and cold, and I was alone listening to the place. As I stood in the great room, I took in the energy flow through the space. There is plenty of room for free movement in the open layout, especially since the decor plan is functional minimalist.

As I made mental notes and placed imaginary furniture, I became aware that a brilliant shaft of sunlight was pouring in from the back rooms.

My back was tense from all of the demolition we did over the weekend, so I took the opportunity to do several sun salutations right then and there. Stretching towards the ceiling with wide arms and sweeping down towards the floor in the morning sunlight worked out the stiffness, and the new knowledge that our future home has such great energy flow made me eager to get to the business of living in this space.

I had to leave for work before anyone from the construction crew showed up, so I didn't get a chance until later in the afternoon to meet Louis, the crew foreman.

He was the one who put Eddie in the closet.

PS... he had moved Eddie to another closet, and lighting can strike twice.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 4 - Demolition Day

Last night I got to talking about what may be behind the wainscoting on the other side of the black mold wall. I was certain that if it was on the kitchen side of the wall, it was probably on the great room side of the wall also.

Bug liked the wainscoting, and was planning on leaving it up, yet decided we should pull it off of that one spot and see. Sure enough, there it was.

With crowbar, hammer, a flat-head screwdriver, and our back bones, we tore it out of the entire great room, and the dining room. We found a couple of soft spots due to the poor roof,  and were very happy we decided to tear it out. Those places will be cut out completely, and fresh materials will be brought in anywhere there is a question to the integrity of the house.

We knew this was going to be the case going in. This place needed help. It was built in the mid-70's in the middle of the Virginia swamp. Moisture control is imperative if a house is going to last. It hadn't been controlled in the last 10 years or so.

We well could have built a new home, certainly, but we both agreed that there were so many houses already out there, building a new one would be wasteful.

We well could have chosen an elegant modern home in a well-to-do neighborhood, but we shivered at the thought of living on a postage stamp sharing a hedge row with The Joneses.

The property was the key. Neither of us wanted to live in a suburban development. Neither of us wanted people living within hose-squirting distance. We like our privacy, peace, and quiet. We also have the same desire to grow our own food, and be as self-sufficient as possible.

Brewer's Pond is the perfect set-up and location. None of us are going out of our way for work or school. So what if it needs a complete overhaul? The foundation is solid, and it has everything else we were looking for.

I feel we will enjoy the place much more knowing how hard we worked to bring it back to life. Having let it waste away would have been an awful shame. We want to live a life of recycling and ecological thoughtfulness, Recycling the dwelling itself just seems like the right thing to do.

  • three broken cane poles in the deep, dead grass behind the barn. One was hooked in the nearest tree.
  • revealed the anchors for the windmill we know used to stand by the barn. The foot-tall anchors were hidden by the deep grass and were an impalement danger.
  • a neat little beach for fishing on the banks of the pond.
  • many feet of chair railings, wainscot panelling, baseboards, and shoe molding.
  • 2 trillion panelling nails

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day 3 - Redneck Jackass

We went to work early, knowing the construction crew wouldn't be working on the weekend. I'm doing all of the painting anyway, and thought I'd get a jump on KILZing something in the place.

We ended up moving the old cabinets out, saving the good ones for reuse in the barn, and breaking down the ones we deemed "too-far-gone" and spending a good deal of time cleaning trash from all over the property.

It was a nice day for outdoor activity. I saw a hawk and a cardinal come close as I worked in the sunshine.

Dr. Bug called a friend over to offer him the old oil tank if he wanted it for a pig cooker, he came out and went on the grand tour. After seeing the stuff left over from the previous owner, he said....

"This guy must have been one serious redneck jackass". We couldn't agree more. They had a good vision, and left great bones for what we want to build, but they had no follow through.

What is left is evidence of people who just don't give a damn.

Crazy stuff we found:
  • a 1987 penny and a cabinet maker's card affixed to the wall behind the old cabinets.
  • black mold behind the 'wet' kitchen appliances
  • dead rabbit
  • conch shell in the midst of dumped trash behind the barn
  • a pile of old metal tools and implements in another small dump site near the pond
  • an old tire in the ditch
  • a broken lawn chair in the same ditch
  • 2 collapsible folding chairs by a trailer loaded with fiber-optic cable
  • 1 pole mounted concrete, and portable
  • beer cans shot up with bb holes set on tree limbs all around the property
  • in the dumped trash, I found plenty of personal papers and pay check stubs of the dump-ee. Idiot. They were from as late as December when we'd already begun the contract process.
This means people have been parking back here, and dumping their trash.
Most of it was Newport cigarette packs and empty cartons, fast food wrappers in disgusting amounts, soda beer and Red Bull cans, and chip bags.

In short, the people that had been trashing the place out here, were trashing the inside of their bodies just as bad with processed food, unhealthy drinks and cigarettes.

We also put up our 'NO TRESPASSING" sign, then dragged our exhausted bodies back home for showers, pizza, and beer - remedy for a full recovery.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 2 - Skeletons in the Closet

After dropping the younger off at his school, I went out and pulled the "For Sale" signs out of the yard, and retrieved the keys from the realtor lock-box.

The construction crew had already been there to tear out the kitchen cabinets, they'd been standing by yesterday evening for word that the house was ours, and commenced demolition. They found a dead rabbit in a wall space.

I brought my best friend, Purple, out to see the place before we ripped it apart any further. We'd walked the whole place, I told her of the plans for reconstruction and about the dead rabbit.

It was quiet and cold, we were standing in the great room, when I saw the coat closet by the front door.
We walked over to it.

Mind you, I have looked in every space in this place before it was bought.

I told her it was a decent-sized closet,
 and it would be handy.

And then I opened the door......

Purple was just about out of the back door before I could call her back in the room by yelling to her, "It's not real! It's not real! I promise...I've been in this closet before!!!"

I have to say, even though I'd opened the closet before, I had a vicious surge of adrenaline for a few moments myself until I realized it was a prank.

Upstairs, in the eaves of the FROG (Finished Room Above Garage), the previous owner left a box of Halloween decorations. This skeleton must have been in the mix. One of the workers must have placed him in the closet.

I named him Eddie.
Then I left a note in Eddie's bony grasp, commending the prankster on his superb scare.

Later I took Mom out to see the place, then we went shopping for painting supplies, and looked at the choices for counter tops and floor tile. So much to do.

Day 1 - Sign Your Life Away?

Thursday, January 27, 2011 3:30 pm

Closing time. I've heard people say it's like signing your life away when you close on a real estate deal. It felt more like signing for life to begin.

It had been a long process to get to this day. 40 years in the making (41 in my case) Now, everything we do is for us. No more rent, no more restrictions on what could be done. Everything is an investment in our lives.

I wanted to go out to the property I've begun to call Brewer's Pond, but it was late when we finished up. It was also cold, so we just went home for pizza and beer to celebrate.

Our realtor presented us with pewter mugs engraved with our names, and our banker gifted us a nice black iron candle holder with one of those little battery operated candles, so we don't burn the house down.

It was celebratory, and the meeting with the lawyer was jubilant on all sides. Sign your life away?... Hardly.