Tag Archives: DIY

Poulet Palace Renovation Day

And I do mean day!

I took down last year’s old wooden Franken-pen, which had been cobbled together over the seasons. Started as a fence, gained a ramshackle roof, ended up covered on one side because it was so ugly. That’s it in the picture below, hanging off the side of the chicken coop, behind the cabin. So, anyhow, I tore down the enclosure, and moved the coop. Took all day, but it’s done.

Pretty ugly back there. Plus, if I move the coop and pen, I’ll have more room on this side.

It didn’t give up easy – took about two hours to get to this point – but it’s coming down.

The pen is gone! And the only way to move the coop is by the tilt-flip-and-spin method. Notice the boards I put underneath as sliders. I also have it propped up on a cement block, because it’s so heavy, I can only lift it a little at a time.

Meanwhile … well, they had to go somewhere. The girls camped out in the cabin. Let’s just say there was plenty of mess, but nothing I can’t clean up. More mess than I wanted, but not as much as I thought there would be.

I think we can safely cross “wire fence building” off the list of things I have a talent for.

But now, they have full sun and plenty of grass!

The old pen, reduced to a pile of boards.

Now, doesn’t that look better? I have so much more room over here now!

And I continued the rock garden border right to their door. This will be awesome once I get some perennials planted on either side. Doesn’t every palace deserve a grand entrance?



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The Hole

I’ve never gotten a decent photo of the hole-full-of-rocks where the house used to be. Don’t know why it never occured to me to take one out of the window from in the RV. It won’t be there much longer – gonna have the hole filled in a few weeks – but here it is, folks. At the back of the photo, that’s the stone wall along the front of the property.

Off to run some errands today, maybe even getting the canoe out of storage! Highs are in the 40s this week, but it’s sunny. Warm weather is coming, Friends!


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Starting ‘Em Early in the Adirondacks

It snowed this morning.

A little. I don’t mind. It was melted and gone by afternoon, and I still went outside to do early Spring things. I shoveled some extra crushed stone I had sitting around into the wheelbarrow and took it over to fill some ruts in the driveway. Took the Christmas lights off the spruce trees, now that the cords are not buried in ice. I took some time to notice the robins and chickadees that have returned. The day lilies are poking up on the sunny side of the yard. The rhubarb is peeking out. Soon I’ll be raking the thatch out of the grass in the side yard, and planting new seed in the front.

Seems like it’s about time? Not so. Not way up here. Plants peeking up and birds returning in mid-March is highly unusual. It’s nice to see the plants coming alive outside, but my March gardening efforts are mostly concentrated indoors.

I started seeds indoors today – just the medium-to-hardy veggies. Spinach, swiss chard, carrots, peas, lettuce. The less hardy warm-weather stuff will go directly into the garden.

Didn’t exactly have a panic attack over it, but I ended up getting such conflicting advice, I decided to hedge my bets. One very experienced friend says never to start peas, beans, chard, corn, radishes, lettuce. Another says that because mine are in individual peat pots (and their roots won’t be disturbed), I’m fine.

So, I started half the seed, and saved the other half for later. If the starts are fine, I’ll have seed to plant for a second crop. If the starts are a disaster, I still have extra seed to direct sow. At any rate, they’re planted, for better or for worse.

Like most things, I think this Adirondack cold-weather gardening thing is going to come down doing a little experimentation and finding what-works-for-me/you.


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Cottage Conceptions

For those that are coming to the story late, I asked all my blog friends and readers to send me their idea of an awesome cottage. (I’m thinking of building on my own.) Readers here at The Pines are a pretty neat group, so I suspect that we’re going to have a virtual mini-encyclopedia of cabin and cottage designs here!

And it’s good for our blogs! Keep the cottage pics, links, and comments coming! I’ll post the links here, we’ll have a bit of a chat about them, and we’ll have a right proper Link Fest. Not a blogger? Play along anyway! Pass it on! I’d love it if you’d mention it on your blog or to friends – the more pics and links, the better!

* * *

Now, Tricollie, she’s a lady after my own heart. I could live in just about anything as long as I had one of these. Truth be told, when I was jotting a thing or two down, I actually bumped out the walls of the bathroom and took space from the bedroom, so I could accomodate a real tub. Had a link issue, but this is the sort of thing we were talking about.

Lynne at The Blue Door Blog (love that house of hers!) suggested Strawbale building. If you’re not familiar, it works like this – A foundation is built, straw bales are stacked as walls (and fortified/tied with rebar or otherwise), then plastered hard with a natural Earth plaster.

Strawbale is a relative of Cob – mud/clay building. There was a time, Awesome Lynne, when I had every book published on all this. Went to a workshop! But, with our visibility, short build season, and a potential codes battle, I decided I didn’t have it in me. Love ’em though.

Allie from over at Good Things Challenge sent me a wonderful link! (She has a neat gardening post up, currently.) They’re planning on doing the Owner/Builder thing too, and made me aware of their go-to site, Country Plans. Via the link, I’m sending you to a particular cottage – because the construction photos were so good, they made me feel better!

Kathy sent me the link to these little cottages in Oregon. They’re absolute gems – looking at the photos of these gorgeous little things is like walking through an art gallery. Makes me wish we had more decent salvage from tearing down the junky house last Summer. (There was really nothing except some logs and lumber I saved.)

Vicki at Havenwood sent me this wonderful link. If you’re a follower of natural building methods or interesting cottages, you’ve probably seen this house. Friends and I have always called it The Hobbit House. I had somehow forgotten about it! I couldn’t do something like this around here, but it’s enough for me just to look at the thing. It’s amazing. Also, an awesome debunking on Vicki’s part – this photo circulates pretty frequently, but no one ever gives the link or location. Thanks!

Joanna at Boonedocks Wilcox is tugging at my heart strings! Oh, how I would love to build a cordwood house. I want one bad! You can likely tell from my favorite photo – they’re stacked and mortared hardwood. Two big issues for me though – I’ve never known a cordwood house that didn’t leak, and you really have to stay on top of tuck pointing the joints. There’s constant shrinking and expanding of the wood, so there’s constant pointing work. But I want one! It would be pretty safe to say that a cordwood house is my heart’s desire. I’ve studied them pretty hard, for several months last year actually. Maybe Joanna has convinced me to take another look.

To Sandy, I have to just plain say, “Thanks.” Hers are the kind of comments that make me feel like I’m not alone in all this. Sandy and her husband built their own house (over three years), and left a really lovely comment about the this-that-and-the-other thing when building for yourself. Thanks again, Sandy.

The Mac is a neighbor, they built their own home, and we share a Zodiac Sign. So it didn’t surprise me when the nicities she said I needed were exactly the things I have discovered it would be nice to have – 2×6 exterior wall, mud room, metal roof so the snow sheds itself, lots of windows! Mac also points us to the ultimate clearing house for those interested in building smaller – The Tiny House Design Blog. It wonderful. The author collects information in all types of tiny houses, and posts them for our edification on the blog.

John over at Adirondack Almanack suggests a great book (I love this stuff) called “How to Build Cabins, Lodges, and Bungalows,” a “straightforward manual details the construction process from foundation to roof, including chapters on porches, fireplaces, and furnishings.” Might be able to inter-library this one to check it out before I order one. Pretty neat – It’s been constantly reprinted. Awesome.

OldLadyMac sent me an awesome link – Shelter Kit. This is the sort of thing I love – I wouldn’t buy a kit house, mostly because … well, I don’t know why. I just wouldn’t. However, these kit house websites usually offer tons of information, and this one is a whopper. Lots of great photos, floorplans, photos. Awesome site.

Blessing the Elements send me word of a site I had never seen before – Natural Home Magazine. I think of it as more of an “inspiration site,” and frankly, I think that’s one of the most valuable components of this whole building-your-own-home enterprise. I always like to say – Take tons of time planning and dreaming, and enjoy yourself! This is a great site for that. Good reading here! Fun. Reads like a magazine. I found information here on Tiny Houses, Cob Houses, and all sorts of neat stuff. Read a great article about the 280 square foot cottage pictured.

* * *

So, where does this put me? Maybe a few soft decisions have been made. I now know that we will be either building a standard construction framed cottage, or a cordwood cottage. I know both methods. I understand them. It’s important that I feel comfortable. I’m going to go back to look at my cordwood reading again.

After looking at more photos, I know that I positively need to do a simple “Alpine” or “English Country” thing. They feel right. I tried real hard to look at other styles, but I can’t wrap my mind around putting a non-rustic cottage amidst my spruces and pines.  I really believe that in the best of worlds, the home is part of the landscaping, part of a whole. I believe that ideally, the property is one piece, not several varied components.

At the mention of all this, my mind naturally wandering towards tree and perennial planting this Spring. There’s going to be a lot of that going on soon! I do a lot of planting around here – counteracting whoever stripped the lot clean 100 years ago. I have an endless supply of free White Pines and Lupins. Wouldn’t a little cordwood cottage look awesome among a property filled with those?

While we’re in a stream-of-conciousness mood –  I found a cottage name at natural Home Magazine that I really like. “Quietude.” Isn’t that cool?


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The Pines Wines

Hey, guys! Thanks for reminding to update about the homemade wine! If you’re not savvy, look down a few posts. The video is really rather entertaining.

You guys actually reminded me to go back and taste it! I had put it in a dark, cool place like I was supposed too, and forgot about it. However, I did strain it (through coffee filters – thanks Mac) on the tenth day. Stuck it away, and lo-and-behold, it cleared up even more. And it tastes pretty dang good, even after only a few weeks since making it. (Evidence of the fact is in the photo – It used to be full to the top.) That is to say – I actually like it, and not just because I made it. I compare my homemade apple version to something like a pinot.

So, being as we’re poor as church mice this bills-coming-due week, we’ll skip the drinks store, and indulge in the homemade stuff tonight. How much did I say it cost? About $2.50 for two-bottles worth?!



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Throw Another Log on the Fire

See that photo? Know what it is? It’s the sweet sight of success. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my first woodstove fire, viewed through a removable cook lid. My woodstove is installed, up to code, double-wall insulated, and fired up. And the chimney doesn’t even drip.

Ladies and gentlemen, I’m coming at you from my rocking chair, with a fire in the wood stove next to me.

Sure, I cut my hand on a piece of stainless steel, and I spent two days on an icy roof. And I think I might have acquired arthritis. But it’s done, and it works.

Very interesting getting to know the personality of my stove. Each behaves a little differently, especially when it comes to starting fires and how much air it likes. After just a day of fussing with mine, I’m getting used to it. I’ll be looking for a chart that tells me what-kind-of-wood-burns-how.

The horrific stink from the fumes and firing it up the first time were pretty awful, but that will go away. No more propane in the little sheddycabin. We figured it would be costing about $90 a month in propane to heat this extra “luxury” building. Not any more. Wood is cheap-to-free around my parts (if you know people), and a friend has a garage full I can just have.

And now, warmed by wood, I can set to working finishing off the cabin and making it pretty. Awesome.

You have a great day too.


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The Tea Kettle Method

I had a little adventure on Saturday.

The water line froze. Went out to turn on the pump to top off the tank this morning. Frozen. Now, to my credit, the line from the well to the RV is warm and cozy. Not frozen at all. I did a good job. You know where it froze? Down inside the well! It’s a short length, and now I know where the trouble spot is. I can put some heat tape on it after the weekend.

So, the line is frozen somewhere. I am relatively confident in my heat-taping and insulating work, but better check anyway, I check the line from the well to the RV. It’s fine. I check where it enters the RV. It’s fine. Warm even – I can feel it. I turn the pump on to see if it is frozen. Nope. Only one choice left – the few feet just above the water, inside.

I disconnect everything and pull the line to the pump out. I bend it a little. Crunch. There’s ice in there. I don’t freak out. (Only in my head a little bit when I consider going without a shower.) I crunch the line up a little and turn on the pump to see if I loosened the ice. No dice.

I consider the Hairdryer Method. Nope. The well is visible from the road, and that would require me to stand outside in the 15 degree cold for quite a while with a loud running hairdryer. I settle on the more covert Tea Kettle Method. I grab the tea kettle and reach for the hot water tap … hold on a minute there, newbie! If I use water from the tap, I am using up what little water I still have. What if it doesn’t work? I take the tea kettle and a big pot outside … and I fill them with snow. Should I pour hot water in the line, or on the line? I decide on the line.

I turn the pump on to see if it worked. It did. And now I can go practice and learn the music I have to play on Sunday.

And I can even take a shower afterwards if I want to.


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