Putting lipstick on a pig (or slow progress on the chicken coop)

This weekend I’ll make progress building the coop. That is my hope. That was my hope last weekend, and the soil-cement slab still sits there unimproved since I put it in. But this weekend will be different.

I did pick up a door for the coop last weekend. I found a listing for free doors/windows in the northern part of the state. Izzy and I drove there and, sliding around on the ice, loaded a door into the back of the mini-van. It is a metal clad exterior door, but in pretty rough shape; not really worth the hour drive to get it. The bottom of the door was completely rotted away, and, deciding that it doesn’t really matter how tall the door is to the chicken coop (I can duck my head, and the chickens certainly won’t care), I cut off the bottom 3- 4 inches of the door.

The (hopefully) soon to be chicken coop door before painting.

The paint was in pretty bad shape, so I pulled off the plastic trim decoration and decided to use some fairing compound to fill the holes and then paint the door with some left-over marine topside paint that I was going to throw away. I didn’t spend a lot of effort making it look great, but it does look better than it did when I picked it up. And no one will ever notice it once it is installed.

The door after priming and painting. Hopefully I have enough paint left over to finish the other side. Better to use the paint than throw it away. I’ll probably flip the door around so it opens outwards, so at least the chickens will have a nice baby blue door to enjoy from the inside.

Now I need to go and get Ben up so he can help me pull out lumber to start building the coop. Plus I can’t forget to make the brooding box – I did pull out the plywood scrap for the bottom, but promptly got distracted with other projects. We pick up the first batch of chicks on Friday and I’ll need a place to put them when I get home.

Getting Ready for (more) Chickens and an update on the dishwasher.

The old chicken coop is starting to fall down. The roof supports have rotted, and the coop floor is nearly falling apart. We are down to three hens, none of which regularly lay eggs. Much to Izzy’s delight, it is time to build a new coop and get new chicks. Plus, I think the rats have found their way into the composting bin and coop.

The plan is to move the coop inside the last bay in the garage/carriage house. The space is just storage and has a dirt floor, but at least is under a roof, so I only have to build a racoon-proof space for the chickens. I plan on making the coop big enough to walk into, which should make it easier to clean. Which, in theory, will make me clean the space more often. I hope the new location will make it easier for the dog and cats to keep the rats away from the chicken feed.

I am experimenting with the floor. I plan on making it out of soil cement, though I put a load of gravel in that section of the garage many years ago, so I’m not too sure how it will turn out. But it is only for the coop floor, so shouldn’t really matter. I could always add a concrete slab on top if it turns out too lose and I really care about it. To make the floor I mixed in a bag of Portland cement to the first few inches of the gravel/dirt floor, sprayed with water and compacted with a 4×4 post.

The weather forecast for the weekend has temperatures above freezing (though it may drop just below freezing tonight), so I decided to do the floor today. The coop will be approximately 8 feet long by 4 feet deep, and 7 to 8 feet tall.

The soil cement floor installed.

I’m planning on a few improvements over the last coop. I’ll add a larger self-feeder for the chickens. This time, I’ll make it big enough to hold a full bag of pellets. I’ll also make the nesting boxes set up to have the eggs roll out of the boxes to a collection tray to make it easier to collect. We’ll have an enclosed run off to the side of the coop, as well as a door to the outside behind the garage. I’ll make an automatic door opener for the outside, but that will be a later post and after a trip to the pick-and-pull salvage yard with Ben to get a car antenna motor to control the door. I also need to do a good cleaning on that bay of the garage. It is time to get rid of some stuff that has been just sitting around.

Chicken coop floor covered with plastic and a blanket to protect from the cold tonight.

We should be getting chicks in two weeks, and I still have to build a brooder box. The brooder heater arrived today, I’m trying something a little safer than a heat lamp, I’ll see how it works. We will have to keep the chicks inside for a few weeks until they get feathers and it warms up a bit outside. The plan is to get 12 hens and 4 ducks. The ducks will make a mess, but the coop exit will put them in the back by the stream, so hopefully they can get enough water from the stream and keep the mud outside. Once the birds arrive, Izzy will be in charge of handling the chicks daily to get them used to humans. A chore she has no problem at all doing.

And, for the much anticipated update on the dishwasher. The repair seems to be working for now. The dishwasher is back to functioning and the basement no longer rains when the dishes are getting cleaned. Knock on wood.

Attempting to repair an GE Adora Series Dishwasher

Or, why one may not want to buy a GE dishwasher.

Last week, Susanna noticed the dishwasher was making a whining noise when it was running, and it wasn’t cleaning the dishes properly. I did a little online searching, and it seemed the likely culprit was the pump motor.

This morning, I noticed water raining down in the basement when the dishwasher was running. Not a good sign. After the cycle finished I pulled out the dishwasher and looked underneath. The water was coming from a rubber hose between the dishwasher pump and the main diverter valve assembly. The part is available online for around $60, but the reviews said the replacement part had many failures in the same manner that the original did, lasting less than 2 years in most cases. One reviewer mentioned patching the leaking hose and I took that path.

Leak location on diverter assembly for my GE Adora Dishwasher

Ben and I drove to the local Home Depot and I got some Flex Seal paste for the inside of the hose, some E-Z Fuse Silicone Tape to wrap around the outside, and new hose clamps. Hopefully that will repair the leak.

The leak is on the outlet (high-pressure) side of the pump, and seems to be a design flaw. If the repair doesn’t hold, I’ll order the new part, and add a few wraps of the silicone tape to the outside to hopefully extend the life of the new part.

Repair completed and installed.

Next step is to wait the 24-hour cure time of the Flex Seal and see if that fixes the problem (for now).

Kitchen Update

Our plans had been to have a family trip to Europe this summer and renovate the kitchen in 2021. When the craziness of the spring spilled into the summer, we cancelled our tickets to Europe and decided to instead renovate the kitchen.

Susanna and the boys started the demolition in the beginning of July, and then I spent a few weeks updating services and hanging the drywall (with some help from Ben). The boys were stuck at home for the better part of the summer, so we had lots of help during the hard part of the project.

Earlier this month, Susanna spent two weeks finishing the ceiling and walls, from the joint compound, through sanding and finally painting. Then, last weekend, we rented a sander and spent 8+ hours sanding the one hidden gem we found during renovation – a hardwood floor under the linoleum kitchen floor.

The kitchen layout is similar to the old layout, however we did eliminate a window to give us more cabinet space, and moved the fridge. Eventually we will pick up a counter depth fridge to fit with the cabinets. We purchased cabinets from IKEA, and while I don’t really like their furniture, their kitchen cabinets are pretty easy to install and seem to be of reasonable quality. The rail system for hanging the uppers makes lining them up a snap. So no complaints there.

This weekend we hung the cabinets on the wall where the fridge will go. The next week or two will be doing the other two walls and working on trim and other finishing touches. We aren’t too far from having a partially usable kitchen!

First wall of cabinets installed, with a space for the refrigerator. They still need the toe kick installed, and the side panels to match the color, but progress! But the coffee nook is ready for use with a temporary countertop.

Workshop upgrade (new window)

My goal is to replace both windows and the door in the workshop this summer. I have a door in the garage that is ready for me to install and have been looking for windows. I was able to find a used replacement window for the east-facing window, but couldn’t find a used one for the north-facing window. In addition, I had the window a/c unit in the north-facing window. It is a heavy unit, and I haven’t been taking it out in the winter, but that means lots of air leaks around the window.

I decided to permanently install the a/c unit so I could insulate around it properly, and add a smaller window on top of the unit. I picked up a bottom-line replacement window (it is a workshop) and started working before it was too hot outside to work.  The window sill was replaced with a piece of reclaimed decking material. All of the other wood used to frame the window was either reclaimed or pulled from the trash bin.

Window frame with new sill and spacers for the air conditioner.  Reclaimed decking for the sill, and pressure treated lumber reclaimed from the same deck for the spacers.

A/C unit installed. Preparing to install the replacement window.  A piece of reclaimed decking was put on top of the unit to give the window a place to land.

Project completed! Just in time for the heat.  I still have to add insulation around the A/C unit – but good enough for now.

Bathroom Addition (Update)

We have been back to somewhat normal for a few weeks, and have had a second fully functional bathroom for a little over a week (finally). The project isn’t totally done, but I only have smaller things to wrap up (window trim, some electrical, and the bedroom closet).

Here is what the project looks like now:

View of bathroom from bedroom

An unexpected snow day

The forecast called for less than an inch of snow ending early in the morning. Instead we got nearly six inches of snow with the snow ending around noon. School and my work were cancelled. The boys got out in the morning with Izzy to play in the snow and again late in the afternoon to go sledding with the neighbors.

Will and Izzy playing in the snow.

I was able to get some time to work on the bedroom/bathroom project in the afternoon while Izzy napped. We are making progress on the room. New England Performance Insulation (NEPI) installed the spray foam insulation two weeks ago. I have been working on installing the subfloor and framing for the bathroom. Susanna has been working on picking out fixtures and finding a tiling contractor.

Progress on bathroom framing.

 

Cold weather, books, and more bathroom progress

The cold weather continued through the weekend. We had an unexpected four-day weekend. The cold weather and snow makes it difficult to find energy to get moving in the mornings – perfect weather for sleeping in late and curling up on the couch with a book. A plan that Isabella agrees with.

Sunday morning, staying warm with her books on the couch.

Despite the weather and general lack of motivation, we were able to make progress on the bathroom addition. I was able to get some of the wiring done – the rest requires a climb into the attic, something that I had no desire to do with the temperatures in the teens this weekend. However, I was able to run some new plumbing in the basement and pull out the old copper piping – something that I had been meaning to do for several years. The acidic well water slowly eats away at the copper piping and has caused small leaks over time.

We also completed more of the demolition and I tore up part of the subfloor. I’ll have to replace the subfloor in the corner that we will turn into a bathroom so we can tile the bathroom floor. The next step is to finish pulling out the nails that held up the lath (Susanna has been working on that) and finish the wiring (when I can work in the attic without freezing my fingers off) so that I can get the walls insulated (I’m planning on spray foam insulation). I’ll also need to order new subflooring and tear out the remainder of the hardwood flooring and section of subfloor so I can get started on framing and plumbing.

Digging into the subfloor. The door was salvaged from the existing closet and will be the bathroom door when completed.

February weekend

It has been a slow weekend. Both Ben and I have been fighting a cold since Friday. Neither of us is completely knocked out, but we are certainly not feeling up to a super busy weekend.

The boys and I are working on upgrading the game loft – in preparation for Will’s birthday party in two weeks. Over the past two weeks I built a counter using some oak flooring that I brought back from St. Louis years ago. The party will be a gaming party, so we needed the counter to set up the computers on. We also made a Craigslist gain of four bar stools that are a surprisingly good match.

The new bar/counter in the play loft. The computer monitors need a bit of cleaning.

I still have some work to do before the party. I have to add wiring for the computers and two more overhead lights. In the long run we need to finish insulating the space and finish the walls and floor. But who knows how long that will take to finish…

Izzy, playing with her Mom’s iPhone.

Deconstructing a swimming pool

We had a busy weekend so far. We are catching up on chores – Susanna and Izzy were sick most of the week. And I’ve been falling behind on the small chores. In addition to small chores, we started helping my uncle take down his pool today – we will move the pool to our yard in the spring. We will have to get a new liner, but we should be able to salvage the rest of the equipment and enough decking to complete the project.

Susanna working on cleaning out water from the old swimming pool prior to taking it down.
Susanna working on cleaning out water from the old swimming pool before taking it down.  Looking good in the boots!

In addition to the swimming pool (which too most of today), I was able to replace the well pressure tank on Friday night. The old tank had a leak in the bladder and required constant refilling of the compressed air in the tank.

With a big yard, it is difficult to get WiFi around the whole property. And with a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old (and two adults that also spend way too much time on the Internet) it was time to update the access point. I ordered an access point that I could install on the exterior of the house and had enough signal strength to cover the entire inside of the house. Getting a good access point (EnGenius ENS1750) makes a huge difference in speed and range.  I got the access point attached and the Ethernet cable run before dinner tonight. I do still need to clean up the wiring in the basement, but that will be for tomorrow.

Tomorrow will involve more yard chores and hopefully some workshop time.

Isabella watching Susanna clean the pool. Clearly very exciting!
Isabella watching Susanna clean the pool. Clearly very exciting!