Thursday, March 25, 2021

Refurnishing Old Fence Boards

Barb and I have worked on a lot of projects over the past couple years building our house. Building and raising our tall sidewalls ranks right up there as one of our most satisfying accomplishments. It was challenging as well as significant in bringing our dreams to fruition. 

Hard to believe that this was two years ago!

Although not as challenging, over the past few weeks we have been working on another project that ranked right up there in the satisfaction department. When we bought our property in '17 there was a wooden cattle corral that straddles our property and our neighbors property. One of our first projects was taking it down so would could put our high tension fence up. 

This is a section that is still standing

We saved the wood, not knowing what we were going to do with it but knew it would be good for something.... Fast forward 3+ years when Kevin said we should use the fence boards as an accent wall in our kitchen. At first we were skeptical and were wondering if he had gotten a bad batch of mushrooms at the grocery store but with open minds we finished a few boards and liked the look enough to move forward and finish them to the point where we could actually do the wall.

It involved a lot more time and steps than I had originally thought. One just does not varnish them and throw them up on the wall!

The first step was for Barb to lightly sand each board, enough to take the roughness out of the face but not too much where we remove the old character.

She then varnished them to bring out the grain. This may seem a little backwards as there was still a lot of work to do to them but we wanted to see what each board was going to look like finished and only let the best of them move forward to the next step     

Since they were rough cut boards and had been in the elements for decades the edges were anything but straight. They were both warped from side to side and cupped in the center. If we wanted them to fit tightly side by side on the wall we needed straight edges. So for the next step I clamped an 8' level to each of the boards and ripped a straight edge on one side. Some boards were pretty good, while others were quite warped and required more to be taken off to get a straight edge.
Once I had a straight edge on one side of each board I could run them through the table saw cutting them to a consistent width and giving the other side a straight edge. We now had finished boards that were the same widths and had straight edges on both sides!

Done? Nope, if we wanted them to lay flat on the wall and butt up end to end we needed to take the cupping out of the boards. This meant running them through a planer to get them to a consistent width and make the back side totally flat. There were varying width of boards so some of them we had to run through 5-6 times taking them down 1/64 of an inch each time.

Now we had boards that were ready to put up on the wall! But even with all that work, not all the boards butted up tightly side to side and end to end so we painted the wall black so if there was any gaps you would not see the white wall behind the boards.
Since this project was an afterthought we did not put any nailers up so we ended up putting construction adhesive on each board when we put them up and used 2" finish nails anywhere we could hit solid wood behind the sheetrock. Each board had to be hand picked for each spot as we wanted them to fit as tightly as possible. Barb also stained the ends and sides of each board in case any tiny edges were exposed as we put them up. Board by board we worked our way across the wall. 3 days later we finally reached the other side!

This look may not be for everyone but we love it! The aging and old nail holes of the board has a lot of character and really adds to the overall look of the wall. 

Other accomplishments include getting the rest of the railing and trim boards up....

And no, that is not a fawn hide on the railing, that is an Axis deer I got while visiting our dear/deer friends Red and Pam in Texas a few years ago. You may have noticed another big difference in that picture from the one I posted last week....We got our fridge! Yes, after ordering it 6 months ago it finally arrived! That was the last appliance we were waiting for.

Those were our only house projects we did this week. We did clean the garage some more. We had stored all of our leftover steel roofing under the camper and we had to move it, getting ready for our upcoming adventures!

Barb has been busy getting ready for the arrival of the new puppy. Amazon packages seem to be arriving daily and the breeder sends pictures and videos almost daily. Here is the latest video....

If you listened to the video carefully, you heard the breeder calling the puppy Zoey. That is because we decided to change her name from Lyra to Zoey. Three more weeks and she will be in our house!

With the coming of spring, the turkeys are getting ready for their mating season which is just a few weeks ago. A few days ago we were greeted with this when we walked out of the bedroom to start our day! Turkey season for archery opens on April 3rd, my guess is that they are just taunting us and we will not see a feather come the first weekend of April. 
The highlight of our week however was when we took a day to get out trout fishing at our favorite creek! 

We caught a couple of small trout but overall they were not very cooperative. I don't think we have been there since the spring of '19 when we fished there with the McCormack's when the men out fished the women in both quantity and size by like 3:1. At least that is how I remember it! 

Friday, March 19, 2021

What Dog Breed is Best for You?

As you know Barb has been on an ardent search for a new puppy. When we lost Daisy we knew we would someday get another puppy, we both agreed that it would not be right away. What we did not know at the time is how much we were going to not only miss Daisy but just the companionship of having a dog on our laps and in our lives. Yes, we have Dakota but it was just different, our house did not seem complete.

So we talked about it and Barb set out on her search. One thing I have learned about Barb over the past 35 years is that I have to be very, very careful what I say to her about a major purchase like this. Whether it be a camper, truck, heck even a pot or pan, she has to research the heck out of it before she will finally commit to actually pulling the trigger and buying it. So when we finally decided to start the search, I knew I had once again “Released the Beast” and away she went. Practically every waking moment went into her researching for the best puppy that ever existed.

As I said in our last post I could not open Facebook without seeing hundreds of pictures of French Bulldogs (referred to as FBD in the rest of this post as my fingers will get tired typing out the entire name) as she joined every possible group to learn more and find “the one”. But it did not stop there, she also enlisted a friend of her cousin Lori in Alaska who shows, breeds and has 5 FBD's. Last but not least she searched every other website possible continuing to learn about FBD’s and a breeder to buy one from.

So, as she searched I too was learning as I was trapped. I mean, I got the opportunity to listen to her on our 54 hour drive to and from Pennsylvania. Here are some of the fun facts I learned about FBD’s….

  • They are not cheap, you cannot pick one up for free in the classifieds
  • Did you know FBD’s overheat easily and cannot go for long walks?
  • They also do not tolerate the cold well and need to be dressed up in the winter
  • They require a special “raw” diet. Not really sure what that means
  • FBD’s are artificially inseminated and require a C section for delivery. Not sure if that is true in all cases but that is what she read on one site
  • They can be difficult to house break
  • They are brachiocephalic so they have breathing issues
  • They cannot swim, they sink straight to the bottom
  • They can be allergic to many things
  • They can be very stubborn to train
  • And best of all they can be very gassy!

With all these awesome attributes who would not want one of these cuddly little monsters?!?!

As I was learning more and more about FBD’s I knew I had to intervene and sit Barb down and have a come up with a practical approach to what breed of we should get. So when the time was right we sat down and I drew a line down the middle of a piece of paper. On the top of the left side I wrote the word “Cons” and on the right side of the line I wrote the word “Pros”. I then wrote down each of the items listed above on the “Con” side. I then said “Now let’s list the Pros” To which she stated “They are cute and I want one”. With that she got up and walked away.

So without further ado, let me introduce Lyra…..

All kidding aside, although the items listed above may be true in some cases, there are lots of reasons to choose a FBD as a pet. Lyra is a cute little Blue Fawn currently residing in Oregon. Since she is so young, we cannot pick her up for a few weeks but we were able to Facetime with her the other day! At least I was able to answer the question what is the best dog breed from us is the one your wife says you are going to get. Who am I to argue with her? After all, I do still want to eat!

Now that the puppy search is all done we can continue with projects around the house. We have been working on two big projects. The first are the posts and railing in the loft. 

We had bought (3) 6"x6"x8' posts prior to going to Pennsylvania. They have been drying for several weeks so when we got back I cut them to length and notched 3 of them to fit over the loft wall and one to fit around a corner. Barb then sanded, stained and varnished them. Several days later they were ready to be installed!

End of Day 1

The next day we started putting up the actual railing.....

End of Day 2
One more railing section and one more rim board and that project is done! 

One of the smaller projects we did was complete the wood storage are by putting the last of the stained and varnished slats in the back of the wood shelf area. With that complete, this area is completely done! Well, not entirely, I need to put shelves on the right side.

The deer were happy to have us back and even left us a couple of presents! Little known fact.... Do you know what one of the fastest growing bones are? And no Dino, it is not .....never mind. It is the antler! Our whitetails lost their antlers in the past couple of weeks. We are still seeing elk and mule deer carrying theirs but it should not be too long before we can start searching for those as well. 

Here is what we have found so far.....

The other big event of the week was a snow storm that passed through dumping over 16" of snow over 2 days. We just hunkered down, had a fire going and worked on our projects. It was actually quite beautiful and peaceful. 

The deer were hunkered down as well with only 1 or 2 making the occasional visit. 

Frosty Deer!

Once the storm was done they came in droves. The snow was so deep they had to leap to get through the deep snow. Soon enough they had a path worn into the snow and only the little ones had to leap. 

This guy came right up to the window to see what we were up to....

Can I come in? It's cold out here!

When it was time for us to venture out we called Kevin and Cheryl and told them we were on our way over. 15 minutes later we called them back up and told them we were not on our way over as we buried the jeep in the driveway. 

After digging it out I made a couple runs up and down the driveway so we too had a path to get in and out. The snow sure made for some beautiful pictures...

Later that day I went over to Kevin's and went down a road that was not plowed and proceeded to get stuck again! Luckily someone with chains on their tires came by and yanked me out!

I earlier mentioned that we were working on two big projects. The other one is not quite done so hopefully we can unveil that one in our next post!

With puppy search done, Barb has deleted all those Facebook groups except one so our feed is back to normal. But now the beast is researching airline tickets, dog foods, pet carriers and yes, outfits for  Lyra....will the madness ever end?!?!? 

Friday, March 12, 2021

A Look Back at my Dad's History

The last day and a half in Pennsylvania were a whirlwind. Packing, playing, and getting as much time together before our Monday morning departure. Barb and Kendall went for numerous walks, that is the one thing that Kendall liked to do the most. Strange for a 6 year old (almost 7), wanting to go on so many walks with her grandma but that is what she wanted to do. 

For our part, Dylan and I, we went “hunting” spending time in the woods, walking, listening and exploring. Dylan and I would walk through the woods stealth like and listen at all the sounds of the woods. We would pick out a target; a stump, a pinecone…… Dylan would take careful aim with his pellet gun and pull the trigger. He is an amazingly good shot and hit what he was aiming at more often than not.

On our last evening there we enjoyed the nice weather outside and Shane cooked an awesome supper of steaks, mushrooms and onions. Everything was incredible! 

We also had a beer tasting of some very interesting beers. I mean, who could not resist drinking Unicorn Farts, Coconut Cream Pie or Dirty Little Freak beer?

Too soon it was time to go to bed and our time here was over. We woke up the next morning said our goodbyes and were on the road.

Although we still planned on long days we also planned on taking a little time to explore. Our first day was just under 400 miles but we stopped for a couple of hours to stretch our legs at an antique store just outside of Dayton. We did not find any treasures for us but we did manage to find two more tractor seats for Farmer Bob!

We spent the night in Fairborn Ohio. It was a little out of our path home but well worth it. Each time we have passed through this area I had wanted to stop at the National Airforce Museum, this time we were going to do it! On the Wright-Patterson AFB outside of Dayton, the museum has over 360 planes and missiles in their 4 buildings from early aircraft to missiles, space craft, Presidential planes (they were closed), all the way up to modern fighter jets. And best of all, admission is free!

Since my father was in the Air Force I was particularly interested in the planes that he flew. So that was my goal when I went in, to see if I could find each of them. His first flight in the Air Force was somewhere around 1944-45 in a Piper J3 Cub. It was only a 1 hour flight where they put him through the paces to see if he was going to puke or could really handle flying at all. I will tell you right now, I would not have passed that test, the ferris wheel gives me the willy's!

Piper J3 Cub

Next up was the PT-13 “PT” standing for Primary Trainer.

From there he went to the AT5 (AT=Advanced Trainer). This was the only aircraft that my dad flew that the museum did not have. Once he completed training we went straight to the P-51D. To me this is the most iconic plane of the era and had to be fun to fly. 

A little known fact is that you had to weigh less than 150lbs to fly the P-51. When my dad exceeded that weight he went to his least favorite plane in his career the B24 Bomber. Although it is a great aircraft, he did not like it for two reasons. The first is that it is a tank compared to the P-51 and when you go from that to the much slower B-24 I am sure it feels like you are going at a snails pace. The other factor was that there was an incident where he took off 3' of one of the wings and got into some serious trouble!

Those two things were incentive enough to get back down below 150lbs and he was soon back in the P-51!

From the P-51 he went to the F-80C, what  difference that must have been! With a maximum speed of 580 mph, this was the first American aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight.
Later in his career he flew cargo planes like the C-47....
....and the C-119 which is famous for its dual tails and rear opening hatch.

Overall, he served for around 20 years between his fulltime service and the reserves achieving the rank of Major. I always thought this was cool as a kid as he had the same name as that guy on I Dream of Jeannie!

Overall I found tour of the aircraft he flew incredible. I was never too interested in aircraft growing up and I was 3-4 years old when my dad left the reserves. And like any young child you are oblivious to anything in the world that did not involve yourself so I knew little of his Air Force career until later in life. A special thank you to my brother Rod for providing me with the information on his career. Rod was and still is very interested in aviation growing up and was my dads little flying buddy as my dad owned a few airplanes throughout his life. In fact, Rod still has all my dad's flight books which detail each and every one of his flights!

Of course there were hundreds of other planes there as well, it was really overwhelming would have taken hours to go through thoroughly. 
B-29, the plane that dropped the Atomic Bomb

The Fat Man

"Vittles", a parachute dog went on 131 missions and had over 2,000 flying hours

We were in and out in a couple hours as we had an appointment later that day up in Pendleton Indiana. While were in at Jessica's we received a text from Farmer Bob asking if we were going near Pendleton on our way home. Well, it was not exactly on our way home but close enough so sure, what do you need? He had been bought a bell for a project that he was working on back home and was wondering if we could swing by and pick it up. It took a little doing but we cleared some room in the back of the jeep by putting stuff on the roof rack but we were able to fit a 400# school bell in the back of the jeep!
We should have rented a trailer!

We did not make it too far that afternoon, stopping in Champaign Illinois for the night. I was a little nervous spending the night in a motel with all that stuff on the roof of the jeep but when we woke up the next morning it was all there. Barb passed the time looking on her iPad for a dog, I think she joined every French Bulldog group on Facebook. I cannot even look at Facebook anymore as all I see are puppies! The other thing she did was search on eBay for treasures that we cannot live without. We learned an important lesson about bidding on items while traveling. Barb found this lure that I thought would be a nice addition to my collection so I asked her if she could bid $26 on it. A few seconds later she said "Oh crap". I asked her what happened and she said she was typing in $26 and fat fingered $257 due to the rocking of the jeep. She went to hit the backspace button to fix it which happens to be right next to.... the Enter button. You guessed it, she bid $257 on the lure! Luckily, it did not go very high and we bought the lure of $27.

The third travel day was our longest, almost 11 hours which took us all the way to Norfolk Nebraska. We opted to take a more southerly route as a snow storm was passing through just north of us. Our last day was (only) 7 hours and finally we were pulling in the driveway at home. We had received about 5-6" of snow the night before so everything was white and beautiful!

Guess who was there to greet us?!?! Kevin was there working on our hearthstone for the fireplace! 
Not only that he had installed the stair railings while we were gone as well!
Do we have good friends or what?

As nice as it was to see Jess, Shane and the kids it was really nice to be home and sleep in our own beds. We are now reinvigorated to get to work on some more projects here at home. Hmmm, what shall we work on first?!?!