Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Progress on the grounds....the edible kind

All I can say is that it is gratifying to plant something and watch it grow.  These are plantings for the future, so that when the big house is finished, it will feel more like home.  I wasn't banking on these trees producing this year, I just wanted to plant them and let them establish a footing in the soil.  A few of them have surprised me.

The fig tree is starting to produce tiny figs.

After a vigorous spraying to get rid of the ants and aphids, the apple tree has produced some tiny apples.

The citrus performance has been spotty, producing many blooms and dropping many.  I think they just may be too young yet, they need some time.  In the meantime, I see the trunks thickening and the trees getting bigger.  These are the Orlando Tangelos.  

The avocado tree will definitely not be producing, for a looong time.

Here, an out of focus olive from the olive tree, so I'll look forward to my harvest of one.

This is a continuing experiment, next year may see some of these trees being ripped up and placed in another location in the garden.  Still trying to plot the path of the sun through the oaks, to determine the best place for the trees.

A project in process...

Monday, May 9, 2016

Cedar beams, what to do?

The cedar beams were one of the things I liked about the house, but not the color.  I wanted them to return to their natural color.

Maybe sanding, yes, even I knew this was going to be a gargantuan task, working upside down, the dust, just the thought of all of that work....  I googled, looked to see how others have solved this problem, mostly, they repainted.  I especially enjoyed where the woodworking boards discussed some woman who wanted to refinish cedar beams, and all of the recommendations they made to persuade them to change their minds.  I knew I was not alone.  The green was dull, and not a part of my future color scheme.

I knew I wouldn't be doing this alone. After consulting with some local craftsmen, they opened my eyes to what an enormous task this would be.  They said I had over $3,000 worth of cedar, all of the beams are solid, some of them 15 ft long.  I didn't know, and it didn't stop there.  They couldn't figure out how they were attached, they said something about not being responsible for the damage.

What to do,  we decided to drop the ceiling in the living area, and the beams came down.  These beams were bolted from the attic holding them in place, and no one wanted to take that project on.  What they recommended was rebuilding the beams in the form of boxes, or faux beams.  That way I could run the electrical wires in the hollow portion for cleaner lines on the ceiling.  This would mean, you could have whatever color you wanted.  The estimate for that was a starting price of $2,000.

Enter, the insanity, and the idea I could have what I wanted with a little elbow grease.  This is where we explore stripping the beams, it couldn't be easier, right?  I applied the stripper, waited an hour, and pressure cleaned the surface.  Oh and this meant I could buy myself cool rubber boots :)

It doesn't all come off, but this is better than the green.  There was a bit of trial and error here, if the stripper was left too long, it would dry, and not come off.  It would even be more difficult to get off even if you applied the stripper again.

Today, the last beam is finished.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all that forced water doesn't warp the beams as they are drying.  As a precaution, I have stacked the beams in the house, hoping the weight will keep them straight.

The pressure washer ripped up some of the grain on the beams, so either hand plane, or polish them with an orbital sander and sandpaper.  The next step will involve some experimentation.

Friday, May 6, 2016

It's cedar time...

When I bought this property, our philosophy was to balance spending with "do no harm".  So, we didn't want to needlessly spend money on every little thing, because there have been, and continue to be little things that need tending.  The harm would have been to my budget.  Instead, we focused on things that needed to be addressed immediately.  There were two cedar trees pushing against the fence line, right next to electrical wires, and within the range of my neighbor's house, (an elderly couple).  Those needed to come down immediately.  My brother had the idea of cutting the trunk into 8' lengths, with an eye to making something out of them in the future.  We hired a professional to do this.

These were cut down last April, and we finally got them to a saw mill to be cut into planks.  We left them to dry, stacked on the lawn for over a year.  The cut areas were painted with latex to keep the cracking at a minimum.  The theory, is that it slows evaporation of the sap.  We have 1" and 1 1/4" planks.  The 1" will be used for closet shelves, and the 1 1/4" will be used for a dining room table top.

We did learn a few things, the saw mill operator offered to run them through a planer, which smooths out the surface, so less sanding when we polish them.  Unfortunately, his planer was very narrow, and he had to cut the planks narrower than I would have liked, but we know for next time.

We also had two short stumps which are now coffee tables on my patio, it's rustic, but perfect for the area.

Next the cedar beam project...