Thursday, December 17, 2009

Belly of the Whale

The view from the shop--finally the barn roof is fully roofguarded!

This is my lovely sister Mary Kate, making friends with Riley, who is the photographer of the following shots. She is being quite brave, making the trip all the way to Maine in the dead of December, and is surviving nicely.

Here's our work party--special thanks to Ly, Steve, Chris, and Jonny for coming out on a chilly Sunday--where we worked on rafters, the silo connector, and exterior trim. We're trying to be ready to start putting metal on the roof tomorrow! Yikes!

Another rib hits the ribcage...we were on the home stretch at that point.

Victory! All rafters have been doubled up! Structural reinforcements have been completed!

Tyler on his way down to Elsie's dad's shop to pick up the roofing materials--if you want to start the truck and it hasn't been plugged in for multiple hours, you have to jump start it--and if it still won't start, you have to take a hair dryer to the gas lines. Today it was 11 degrees out at the warmest, with the wind chill taking it down to -10.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This little critter was spotted dragging compost out of its bucket and down a hole under our kitchen sink. S/he may have eaten our rug as well, or might have eaten the previous inhabitants and taken over. We hope the latter.

Dad named it Lambbone. It was dragging a piece of a lamb neck skeleton as big as itself out of the bucket. Yeck.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ralph's Room

I have extracted from "Draft"--the purgatory of blog entries--these photos Chris took of our current house before we moved in. They are some of the only documentation of the state of the house before we got our hands on it, but they are pretty representative.

This is the room that is now Gib's Room/The Library, back when it was Ralph's room, and Barbara, his wife, wasn't even allowed to go in there. Yikes. We found false teeth, mouse nests of pumpkin seeds and candy bar wrappers, and probably one hundred empty cat food tins, "for painting my model planes," he said, while we were helping him pack up and move out.

This is more or less what the room looks like now--except we've filled it up with many many more books and now it has a permanent occupant!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Opaque Windows, See-Through Floor

Elsie, hero of the scrub brush, paint brush, pastry brush--and many other brushes, I'm sure--working her magic 3 weeks ago on the house.

Another of my heroes in life, Todd SQ, cinderellaing the storm windows.

I wasn't there at the time, but here we see Gib competing in some kind of barrel-chucking competition--or maybe diving away from a feed barrel falling out of the sky. We received our first delivery of feed grain at the farm last week and have been poisoning rodents ever since.

Sadie Rose in the background and her daughter Ella Rose front and center, looking fat and happy but maybe a little perplexed in their first day on the farm.

And a less cute sight: the white patches in the floor are actually holes through which you can see the joists supporting it. You can also see how Ralph and Barbara laid down thicker boards so they could drive the hay-unloading tractor into the barn. Very sketchy. Not a good place to go walking in the dark.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Adventure of the day: moving Dolly and Riley, our Haflinger draft ponies, a chicken tractor, and twelve Rhode Island Reds stuffed in cardboard boxes from the old farm to North Branch Farm using our new beasty truck. Seth seen modeling the season's fashions.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Oh yes, a House! And Music!

Here you may enjoy a glimpse of our living room and our library-guest-room-phone nook.

Last we spoke, the barn was full of cars, the yard full of camper-trailers and more cars, and the house was full of old stuff. In the intervening weeks, we have helped the former owners move to a new home and put in a whole lot of time on the house--deep cleaning, painting, making runs to the dump, and more. More than half the cars have flown the coop, and we are mostly left with the big heavy trucks that have trees growing up through them. We are now safely--happily--and slightly coldly--moved in at our new house. We got approval from the fire chief to re-use an old chimney and I expect that by the time I return to Maine from a brief Massachusetts sojourn (wouldn't want to have to attend Seth and Tyler's CD release party, would I?) we will have a wood cookstove hooked up and throwin' off heat, as they say.

Homeownership proves to come with many good and not-so-good surprises that we might have foreseen had we put much thought to it. As it is, we roll with the punches and are doing mighty fine. Lead in the pipes? Asbestos in the floor? Nitrates in the spring? We're still alive and kicking so far.

On another note--a musical one, at that--Seth and Tyler are probably warming up for the concert to celebrate the release of their debut album as Whiffletree at this very moment. The CD is as beautiful as its cover, with artwork by the acclaimed Elsie Gawler. Purchase yours for only $15!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Vehicular Voisins

Our barn is currently inhabited by vehicles (5 downstairs, 3 up), junk, and trash. Supposedly, the cars are leaving on Saturday and then the barn will be All Ours so we can really get down to business on the inside--sistering up rafters, replacing floorboards, and scabbing in some new purlin sections. That's the scene:

Ralph wants to take this Buick to his new place and thinks he'll be able to get it up and running again. I'm a bit skeptical...

Each of the four of us (Tyler, Elsie, Seth and Anna) are assigned a different horsedrawn equipment book, and Seth says that, based on his readings in Haying with Horses by Lynn Miller, this will be an ideal side-delivery rake for us.

Here are two of the tractors that came with the farm: an Oliver (big, 65 or 70 horsepower) and Polly, a Ford 8N. Somehow, Polly's gear map doesn't match up with the gearshift, and I haven't been able to find 1st or 2nd gear at all. Very mysterious. Ideas?

Back at the Homestead

These beauties are a few of nearly 1000 lbs of cabbage we harvested this fall, now safely wrapped in newspaper and stowed in the root cellar. Come visit us, and you too can be included in our 2lbs of cabbage per capita per week rule.

The first bake in the bread oven was a raging success--all whole spelt flour in the form of sourdough, potato-rosemary, and cinnamon-raisin-walnut breads.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Roof Antics

Seth and Anna performing OSHA-approved harness strength tests.

The stationary ventilator decided to eat Tyler for tea. Seth was trying with all his might to pull the ventilator off Tyler, but not until Tyler reached solid ground could he get the purchase he needed to totally extract himself from its gaping maw. In truth, though, both ventilators had to come down, and this was the second one. Any suggestions for weathervane designs?


Two vehicles currently on the farm: Big Red, the Farmall (staying to make hay with us) and an old pickup (going, we hope) (though we like it) (but we're not mechanics).

Monday, October 19, 2009

More shingles

On October 17th we stripped the shingles from the northwest quarter of the barn, and on the 18th we got it all dried in as it started raining...and blowing...and snowing...
It's a good thing we have harnesses, although it really prevents us from appreciating what a world-class slip'n'slide we have created.

The whole south side is stripped and dried in! The rotten wall of the milk room is re-framed, and the green tarp is covering a rotten purlin that we have to replace--but not until the antique Cadillac Coupe DeVille gets out of the way.

Here we have applied our newfangled roofing underlayments: Rooftopguard and Bituthene. And it's not an optical illusion; the barn is really quite swaybacked.

End of Day 1, harvesting our new breakfast cereal: asphalt crumbles with tarpaper flakes. Yummy.

Stripping on Day 1 with Seth, Tyler, Elsie, Megan and me.

Barn Roof Before

Here's our barn, October 8, 2009, before the makeover began. Note the two-tone shingles and the industrious new farmowners eager to find rot, wasp's nests, and other valuable treasures.
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A Farm Is Born

So shiny! Here are Tyler, Seth and Anna the day they bought the farm on October 1st, 2009.