Shopping at a Demolition House!

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When our bluegrass buddy, Curtis, called and said he was demolishing his old house to build a new one and would we like to come and go shopping for anything that might be able to work in our home, you can bet we were ready to say yes!

He had a home that belonged to his family, and that when he was living there about 6 years ago, it developed a failure in the septic system.  They ultimately had to move out of the house and then the city got involved and well, it has been in litigation for 6 years now.  He won his case and got the property back, however the little old house had been vacant for that time span, the septic system was not repairable and the house had been vandalized and stripped of many parts.

However… the vandals were caught in the act and had not gotten to the furnace or central air unit!   Curtis said we could have both if we can find a way to disconnect and move before they start to tear down the house in a few weeks.   They are waiting for the snow to thaw and the ground to firm up a bit so they can bring in a back hoe and those big trash containers.

Such a huge blessing and we are so thankful to him!   It’s a 80,000 BTU furnace, and was only about 2 years old when they moved out.  It seems to be in perfect shape, doesn’t look like anyone has messed with it.  We’ll have to convert it to propane, but that is not a huge issue.  Our furnace in our home is underpowered, only 40,000 BTU and doesn’t completely heat our house.  It’s brand new, but through a bit of confusion and misshipped unit, it is what it is and we’re fine with how it all worked out in the end…  thankful for the friend that installed it and how we got the wood furnace as a settlement for the mistake.   (And that wood furnace has been a GODSEND….  with this dreadful winter and propane sales so out of whack, it has saved our bacon and given us an alternative heating source for the house.  Wood was much much cheaper than propane this year, so we were able to stay out of debt.  Friends were paying close to a thousand dollars to get a 70% fill on their tanks!  Oh my gosh!)

All said and done, however, to have a proper sized furnace in the house will be a good thing…  if propane is more reasonable, we can have both going…  and it will save us from having to tend the wood furnace at night and the two can work to provide a nice overall comfort in the old farmhouse.

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We are also getting three large newer double pane, vinyl windows that we can hopefully replace a few bad windows in the house…  as a few smaller ones as well.  So exciting!

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As you can see, one of our front windows is still an old window… leaky and single paned… it’s a huge heat loss for us, even after we cover it in plastic and all.  And the new windows match the big window down to the left…  so our house will be a little more symmetrical!  Pretty darn cool!  I think we might replace the windows in my office and the dining room to let in a lot more light into the middle of our home.  It’s just so neat!   May take us a while to be able to have someone put them, but still, we’re way ahead of the game.

DSC08331The house is pretty much empty at this point, the kitchen and cabinets are gone and helping out another friend.   However, we were given a bunch of door and window trim, which just is so exciting!   The previous owners had pulled all the trim off the doors and windows in our house, to super insulate the openings with foam and such.  As we understand it, the trim was all in a big pile out in the garage and when the house went for foreclosure, it was carted off as trash!!!    Trim is so expensive!  We’ve managed to trim two doors and that is all.  Now, we can use all this nice trim out of the old house and mix and match it up to take care of our lacking windows and doors!!!  And what’s so nice, is that it was only just lightly stained in Curtis’s house… so we only need to pop out all the nails…  fill them in and then a light sand and we can paint the trim… no one will ever know!  It’s all the same too…. we might have to splice a few here and there, but that’s just fine…   Can’t wait to get it all ready!

And we got 14 new ceiling tiles for our main office!  We were going to replace a bunch because they are stained or damaged…  but a pack of tiles is kind of expensive and just not high on the priority list!   Now we have enough to change out almost all of them!!!  So nice!  Windhaven is one happy old house at the moment…  a few super nice upgrades from a super great guy!!!  Thanks Curtis!!!!!!!!

 

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Escapees!

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Apparently Mr. and Mrs. Onyx decided that enough was enough, and the kids were driving them nuts so they made a breakout.  They lifted up a fence and bust a little weak door and went on a bit of a holiday.  Of course, the snow drifts were too high so they could only run back and forth along the chore paths in the middle yard.  Still, it was pretty funny to see that at the screen porch door waiting for the food lady to give them a handout.

 

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Awww…  the Windhaven American Guinea Hog family.   It’s Onyx, our boar in the middle…  with his lovely wife Ebony to the right.   And Cheyenne and Shawnee, the two piglets gilts we retained from the first litter.    One of the girls will become a breeder sow, and the other, ah…  is going to either go to freezer camp in the fall, or be sold as a full grown bred gilt.  Not sure yet.

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I just love how they are all doing, getting along just fine.   That is one of the things we LOVE about AGHs…   they love family groups and in fact thrive that way.  Like they would in nature.  Our only concern is that we will have to separate Cheyenne and Shawnee soon so that their step dad doesn’t ah, play the hokey pokey with them too early.   They are still pretty small…  born October 1st…  they turned 6 months old on March 1st.   As soon as we get Oscar off to freezer camp, which will hopefully be SOOOOON…. the two little girls will be moving into his old pen for most of the summer to grow up big and strong and NOT pregnant!

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Awwww…..  which is okay… that is why we retained a pair of them.  I didn’t one just one lone little piggy girl to grow up solitarily this summer.  She will have her sister with her to hang out and be cute little pig girls!

And I am pretty sure that Ebony is expecting again!   She is starting to fill out, a nice little pouffy belly!   Hogs show their pregnancies pretty early.  Since their beautiful late December wedding and move in together, Miss Ebony has had at least two heat cycles and could be either one or two months along.   I am guessing somewhere in the 6 week or so period.  In another couple weeks we’ll be able to see just how far along she is, and compare to her last pregnancy.  Pigs gestation is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days…  nearly 4 months.   So…  best guesses would be a new litter in about, oh, 2 to 3 months…  somewhere in May, I suspect.  Perfect time for a nice litter!  She won’t be too uncomfortable all big and pregnant in the heat, but her babies will be safe and sound from any brutal cold.

We just love our American Guinea Hogs…  absolutely the best little homestead hog around.  They are easy feeders, good temperments, just nice little pigs.  It was so funny to watch them all afternoon running along the pathways and just having a little fun in the snow.  Digging around and such, enjoying the time out.   Mom and Dad would trot by and the little girls would run after them, all in single line along the pathways.  There was no danger of them getting out of the middle yard, but Maggie fixed the doorway, and soon they were back where they belonged.  Water had rotted out the board that held the hinges for the little secondary door, so once the hogs pushed the inner fence up, they just knocked down the door!   She turned it around and hung it on the good side.  For now… that will work.   We need to reframe in the doorway on that little building…   another project for the spring!!!

 

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Harold Spins Again!!!

Wow! Look at Harold go!!!! He’s spinning again after tons and tons of years idle!!!! I can’t believe it!

If you’ve been following along on our little fiber journey… you know that we recently bought an antique spinning wheel from a lovely lady in Michigan. It was my birthday gift from my wonderful daughters! As the story goes… this lady, who is elderly, her FATHER owned this wheel from the turn of the century. He bought it for a lady he was courting, as a gift, perhaps as a wedding gift but alas, she turned him down and gave him the wheel back. Harold was disappointed, but went on and wed another, which was to be this lady’s mother! And apparently, no one used the wheel much if any. It stayed in the family as a cherished antique and finally ended up in pieces at this lady’s home. She took the wheel to a spin doctor, someone who refurbishes wheel and this fellow updated the wheel with a new flyer and a crafted a few of the missing parts. He got it running again, but since no one was interested in spinning, that was that. It just sat around as a family antique. Finally, she decided to sell it to someone that would use the darn thing and that is how I got this wheel!

Problem was… or is…. there were a few issues with it. Sure it spun, but not sure if it really spun WOOL… or flax or anything. Not sure if the fellow showed her how it was worked or what. It was hitting the floor as you spun, which was sort of interrupting how the wheel rotated. It was not so nice. And the wheel was really wobbly, like there were pieces missing or something. To make it quick, it was a cranky old wheel and impossible for a newbie like me to get it going right… I needed some professionals!!! I was getting worried that perhaps this old wheel was just going to be a decoration. We really didn’t pay very much at all for it, especially in the range of spinning wheels, which seem to start at $300 and upwards!

So when my friend Mary asked if I wanted to go to a fiber get together with some of her friends, I was so excited! Yes!! And she said that one of them was really good at getting old wheels to work and that I should bring Harold along… oh, yes! I was so on board!!! So Jessy wanted to come along as well, to work on one of her needle felting projects and I brought along the wheel as well as my needle punch to fiddle with and off we went!

The hostess of the gathering was a wonderful lady named Katja. I believe she is either AUstrian or German, but has been here a good while. Sweet lady! Lovely crafter, homesteader…. and she runs a beautiful home spa at her lovely farm. Oh my gosh, the gardens and all… you could tell, even buried under two feet of snow, that they were lovely and just so nice. Meeting all her friends, it was just a lovely afternoon! A bit after we arrived, her friend Michael came to the gathering and he was so excited to get fooling with old Harold, the spinning wheel. (I like to name important things in my life, if you haven’t noticed yet! haha…. And i thought it would be fun to name the wheel after the man that bought and owned him! Why not?)

Well Michael agreed.. this was a cranky wheel. He started to putter with it, saw that the wheel itself was much too wobbly, and we fixed that by adding a few washers to the spindle to fill up the wobbly gap. Katja had a little bucket full of odds and ends in the washer department and there were a few that perfectly lessened the gap that let it wobble. We took an old twig from the kiddling pile near their wood stove and fashioned a little peg that was missing and helped to hold the wheel in place!!! And then he adjusted and moved and fiddled and hmmmed and hawwed and pretty soon, Harold was spinning SO MUCH BETTER than I ever got him to. Michael also oiled the flyer and the wheel axle and just got that old wheel smooth as silk!

And then Katja came over to add her expert spinner’s twist to the wheel. She helped to get it in the right alignment and get him ready to spin. And spin she did!!!! Jessy took a picture of the actual first yarn on this wheel, most likely in nearly a hundred years!!!! Oh my gosh…. At first we started with some crazy neon lime green roving! It was kind of funny… a very modern take on the idea of yarn from Harold! But that ran out quickly, so we got spinning on a bit of available dark greyish brown roving and away he went!

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Well after a bit, Katja gave me some pointers and set me at the wheel. And of course, as a new wheel spinner, I overspun my yarn, and couldn’t quite get the rough motion of this still slightly cranky wheel’s treadling down good and then my pinch and draw was rough… haha… but I did manage to do about 10 or 12 inches of the stuff because Katja, THANKFULLY, relieved me and got to spinning again on it so I could watch. Jessy’s video taped it so I could review on my own wheel, which I think I’ve watched now about a zillion times!!!!

After we were done, she wound the spun yarn on a little handly yarn winder and then she showed me how to double ply on my wheel!!! How cool! I didn’t know you would do that, but well, you can. I am so learning so much this wonderful fibery year of mine! SO blessed to have the best people in my pathway on this journey of fiber enlightenment! Katja and Michael then gave me a little laundry list of things that I can do to make Harold run even smoother and less cranky. And Katja gave me a homework assignment!!! She wants me to treadle the wheel for two weeks without even trying to spin! Just treadle. Make it go fast, slow, medium speed… learn to use one foot, two feet, left foot, right foot. And make a few changes to it… like shortening up the treadle stick thingy on the back so it doesn’t whack the floor… (HUGE help! Oh my gosh!!!) and then to work on getting the wheel in even better shape… it’s got some burrs and rough spots in the groove that holds the band… and occasionally it snags the band and jumps the wheel. So Michael gave me instructions how to fill in the bad parts with a bit of wood glue and to use a little file and smooth out some of the snaggy parts. He also said it would really benefit from a drenching of linseed oil since the wood was very very dry. That is why some of the wheel is splitting. I know Maggie will be able to help me for sure.

So, I’m already working on my treadling and Maggie helped make a few of the adjustments already with me. It’s spinning so much better now… and the linseed oil really made it beautiful! He was so right, Harold soaked up a ton of the stuff! But it also brought out the beautiful oak wood and carving! We have had a busy few days but Maggie intends on filing and filling the cracks in the wheel for me and letting that dry nice. And then she’s going to paint the actual wheel for me in dark purple and dark green… a beautiful sort of Gypsy like design that will be wonderful as it spins! (Because of the wood filler and some major cracking, leaving the wheel natural just looks a little, well, not as nice. But a sharp paint job from my lovely talented painter daughter will fix that up perfect and make Harold very unique!)

I leave you now, with my first spun ball of yarn on my lovely little Saxony spinning wheel. I have my first yarn that I spun on a drop spindle as well, it’s very special to me and my journey! I have been practicing my treadling and I must admit, after now about four days, I am SOOOOO much better! Katja says you need to build up your muscle memory in your feet, so that the treadling part is just automatic, you hardly have to think about it. That way you can concentrate on making beautiful yarn from my beloved flock of sheep! I can’t wait… she is so right! They get together quite regularly and I sure want to show her I have been practicing and that hopefully, I can actually show her that I’m learning to spin, too!! But until then… one step at a time!!! I’m just so excited to see Harold spinning after so many years of idleness!!!

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