As has been our experience throughout this adventure, we found ourselves with "workers" who did not materialize to complete the work they'd agreed to perform. Of course, there were the normal excuses, promises to show up tomorrow, etc. etc. Much as I would like to believe that the economy is the reason these guys are out of work, I am being forced to face the fact that there are other factors at play, not the least of which is their work ethic.
Nevertheless, we have made the tentative agreement with the contractor who will repair/replace the foundation, install new beams and joists, and install the sub-floor, resulting in a more level house. To begin his work, he needed us to get the old joists out, the electric wires identified as "hot" or "dead" and cleaned up, and the general area cleaned. This was a task we'd imagined would take the two able bodied guys two days to accomplish. That was two weeks ago. This weekend, after numerous reschedules and such, we decided we'd proceed without them. We might not be as able bodied, but we were certainly determined to get the job done.
After spending an evening last week identifying and marking the electrical wires, we were ready to tackle the joist/broken rotted beam removal. Naturally, we opted for the weekend of rain, which followed the previous weekend of rain, which followed rain and snow, etc. etc. Under the house, with the failed foundation and the failed beams and the failed joists, was dirt... and puddles. At 13 feet above sea level, everything in this county is wet a good part of the year. Still it is a problem we intend to resolve as part of the restoration of this fine old farm house. So it was that Saturday afternoon and well into Saturday night we spent schlepping around in the mud, cutting and removing joists and rotted beams, exposing the broken ones still trying to support the two story structure.
|Breaker Box Mapped|
The more we uncover, the worse it looks, to be honest. If we are successful in restoring this place, we will have brought her back, literally, from the brink of death. The beams look awful. The ancient brick piers, which are the foundation, crumble at at the least touch. We worked with all of the windows open to allow the fumes from the chain saw.... yes, you read correctly, the chainsaw, to dissipate without our gagging or worse. Joe is a great fan of the chain saw and uses it for tasks not typically considered chainsaw material. Still, he makes it look easy, and the results were exactly what we were after.
While he removed the wood, I worked with the rake and shovel to clean up decades of crud from under the house. By the time we quit, at around 9PM, our boots were covered in much and our work gloves were wet and nasty, but we'd made major headway.
Sunday afternoon Joe worked alone, dumping the buckets of crud we'd removed from the house....which led to the lawn tractor getting stuck in the MUD, not once, but twice, and his having to use the big tractor to tow it out. By the time I returned from a recording session with our choir, he had succeeded in getting the buckets emptied, and the tractors back in place, awaiting the next load. Between church and the recording session, I had stopped over to pick up our latest CraigsList find.... 175 joist hangers, for $25. That, was a real deal!
|Trunk Full of Joist Hangers|
|Tractor Pulling Tractor|
|Judy in Mud|
|Cleaned Up Front Room|
|Cleaning Up to Start Supper in Garage Apartment|
So, while others were enjoying the Super Bowl in the comfort of their homes, in front of their TVs, we were enjoying the mud bowl in the old farm house. We might not have managed to catch the murder of the National Anthem, but we had our own screaming excitement when the smoke alarm went off, alerting us to the fact that SOMEONE was using a chainsaw! And we were rewarded with TREASURES, such as old shoes, a red plastic J magnet....and various parts of a lawnmower?
|No "pot of gold!"|
One thing occurred to me as we were pulling back the "curtain" on this old farm house. What if.... just what if, this was NEVER a "well built" old farm house. What if it was a "handy man special" right from the start. Certainly, from the appearance of the piers, they have long since served their expected life. It is also clear that we are working with two small structures that were joined to become one, and that the second story was an afterthought. Yeah, I suppose it is entirely possible that the beams, notched in crazy fashion, weakening them, while allowing them to "fit" into others, is the work of a handy man, rather than a house builder.... still, she has been standing for more than 126 years, and, if we can, we will help her stand for another century.
And lest you think I don't notice the beauty..... Saturday evening we were treated to a beautiful sky at sunset.
|Looking Down the Drive Toward the Road|
|Red at Night, Sailors Delight|
|Trees at Sunset|