Friday, September 27, 2013

Today's Challenge - Build before it starts to rain!

My building projects for today are Wine Bottle Tree and Floating Haunted Hallway Wall.

First on the block is the wine bottle tree.  I started with an old 4x4 we had in the quonset.  Please pay special attention to step #6 as it is a whole other story in this project.

Step 1:  Gather up the tools. 

What I needed were my new 1-1/4 inch paddle bit, tape measure, marker, the electric drill in the picture, a wine bottle (for checking depth), a cup of coffee cause I had not had one yet, the camera so you all can see what is going on today, and the broom to clean up the mess I am about to make. 

Before bringing the 4x4 from the quonset to the deck and my house, I had to cut off a little bit - with dad's help.  Then we used the post to pry a 2x4 from its position over dad's deck because we have been forecasted to have 50-60 mph winds at some point today or maybe tonight.  Best to get all tarps down, lawn mowers covered up and other hatches battened down.

Step 2:  Take post into house and place in location and mark spots with X with a magic marker.  Bring back out to work deck to begin drilling.  When I got to the house with my newly cut 4x4 I realized that the measurement I took before heading out to the quonset was not what the tape said so now I have about an inch or so more cut off than I had intended.  Oh well, I will figure that problem out later, sometimes I wonder why my brain can't look at the tape and see the right numbers.

Step 3:  Start drilling holes at a steep angle so that the wine bottles will slide in neck first and be up at a 45 degree angle - at least that is the intention.

Step 4:  Stop and check for proper depth and angle.  Repeat drilling until desired depth achieved.  Work on a better angle on neck hole.

Step 5:  Keep making holes, there are 8 marks on this board.  Stop at halfway point to check holes for depth, angle and clear out the residual sawdust.

Step 6:  Stop after 4 holes to check progress.  Unknowingly change the drill direction to backwards.  When I start drilling hole #5 get frustrated because suddenly the paddle bit is not working correctly and it looks like I am trying to start a fire with smoke wafting up out the attempted hole.  Go get dad and see why the bit would wear out that fast and what can be done to sharpen it back up.  Get set up with 2 files and another bit just in case.  Go back to work area and try each bit sharpening each time I stop to check for any progress.  Try a different mark to see if maybe I am hitting a knot in the wood. Continue to try to start the 4x4 on fire.  Drink more coffee and get exasperated with self and tools.  Sit down and get ready to switch out blade once again, turn drill over and notice that the button is not in the forward position.  WHAT?  are you serious?  Don't tell me I just spent all this time trying to drill hole #5 backwards?  Well no wonder the damn bit would not do its job as it is intended.  I think one of the cats must have snuck by and switched it when I was stopping for a coffee break and to check my progress and clean sawdust out the first 4 holes.

Step 7:  With all tools correctly positioned start drilling remaining 4 holes.  HOLY COW that works so much faster.  In no time at all I have the last 4 holes drilled.  Then I had to clear out more saw dust but at least I had those darn holes drilled and done.  I decided since I made such a mess with my backwards hole drilling I had better give it a splash of pain to try to cover up my missed marks and camouflage my mistakes.  Gravestone gray is what is handy so that is what I used.

Step 8:  Let dry and get started on next project which because of the wind meant I needed to roll up the Wildcat purple sun shade we have had down all summer long to keep the house cool and help with the afternoon and evening sun that streams in so hot through the French doors.  This roll up then allowed me to get the materials gathered for the next construction project - the Floating Haunted Hallway Wall.

Step 9:  Once dry, take post inside and figure out how to deal with measuring screw up.  I think a nice lean up against the end of the top kitchen cabinets and secured under the old stove that holds the cauldron will work just fine.  Start placing wine bottles in the holes.  Hey that doesn't look too bad.
Step 8:  Those bones in the cauldron would look much better up on the tree, so the hot glue gun is gotten out, plugged in and when it was hot and ready to go I started gluing dem bones on the tree.

I think I need more bones, but for now, this will work.  I need to find something to do with the very top, still working that out but here is the spooky wine bottle tree rack that I made this morning.

Halloween decorating update:  2 containers inside the house remain to be unpacked and their contents placed about.  The table has been expanded and the table cloth is in place so I might be able to get one container done later tonight.

Still need to make 3 or 4 hanging spider egg pods and move the yard spider to front and center.  Then I need to spider web the grave yard and get the floating hallway that was constructed just before lunch hung in its spot and the haunting covering over it.  No pressure, just have a meeting here at the house on October 1 so have a bit of a deadline to get done. 

Ghosts remain in their container and will not go down the driveway until Sunday at the earliest and possibly Monday late morning.

Say goodbye to September.  The next post will be after all decorating is done for Nancy's Halloween House and the pictures will begin.  So far the cats have not done much to anything put out, they know their allowed spots and I don't decorate those areas so they still have choices.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

As you prepare for the haunting season, keep this in mind. . . .

I really think that when possible we should provide Public Service Announcements.  This would be my contribution this year.

Have a wonderful FALL season and an even more spooky and fun Haunting season.  This is my time of year that I love.  The smell of fresh crisp fall air blowing the hope of a cold and snowy winter to come.  The late afternoons when the sun is warm and it makes things smell like they were in God's dryer infused with fresh air that only mother nature can provide.  Makes a person want to just be part of nature, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of FALL.  Here on the farm that would be wide open space, crickets and birds, and fresh air.

You are welcome to come sit on the deck and experience this wondrous atmosphere for yourself.  No reservation required.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The calm before the storm.

That is what I feel like I have been in.  The garden is starting to slow down a little bit.  I am also having to divide my time available during the week between getting geared up for Halloween season and the finishing of garden season and helping dad finish his deck cover project.  Sometimes I think I take on more than I can manage and sometimes something suffers. 

At this time, it is the garden suffering.  I need to go pick cucumbers.  I can't eat all that are in my veggie drawer in the frig and I probably have enough to fill it again out there in the garden that need to be picked. 

I have Halloween decorations going up.  Sunday will be a big day as I have a friend coming over to assist me.  I have been slowing taking the regular stuff off the walls and have placed a few things where I want them this year or if they are new they have found their spot to start off.  That gets them out of the shopping bag and off my dining room table.  I still need to do some cleaning of the ceiling fan in the kitchen and find a better place to store the ghost heads I have been saving as under the cabinet will eventually be something lurking - a kitchen monster of sorts. 

I also need to get the carpets cleaned sometime before my first tour which is now set for Oct 8 with another group from that same school coming on the 9th. 

Of course that also means, I am going to have to get busy making witch fingers and monster toes because little ones need a snack and if you visit a witch you must eat something spooky.

So to my faithful followers I ask that you be patient with me as posts may be a bit sparse over the next couple of weeks.  I will be spending a lot of time on getting the farm SPOOKIFIED so that I can enjoy it and start taking pictures of the finished product to share with you all.  I know that if you were close by you would come see this sight for yourself, and maybe some day you can, but for now, I will try to give you a good photographic depiction of Nancy's Halloween House.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Graveyard in progress

I started working the large pile of dirt I had dumped in the area where I planned to put my graveyard.  Last weekend Jim and I got the fence placed and secured.  We also got 3 dead trees brought over but I needed to soften the ground where they were to be planted so I started the sprinkler on a slow drip in the first spot.

Tuesday I was able to move dirt and create 3 of 6 grave mounds.  Wednesday it started to rain.  And it continued to rain on Thursday and still was raining this morning (Friday).  Now I have a small pond in the middle of my graveyard.  My pile of dirt is a pile of MUD.  But the good news is I should be able to dig me some tree planting holes without much difficulty.

Since it was still raining on Friday morning, I decided I might as well get busy making the headstones for the graves and at least get them cut and painted with their base coat so that I will be ready to give them some dead body information by the end of the weekend.  Of course, I run out of paint half way through the 5th headstone.  So I had to make a run to town to get another can of spray paint.  I guess I will finish that up tomorrow now.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A monster invades the farm

Sunday afternoon we had a visitor to the farm.  Just a neighbor gentleman who has been a long time friend and fishing buddy of my dad's.  I grew up with his kids, a couple of them worked at our pizza shop in town in the 80s and one was even in my high school graduating class.  He lost his wife a few years back and has made the decision with the support of his adult kids to get remarried.  So he brought over his new fiance to meet my parents and just visit.  Nothing out of the ordinary really.  Ice tea was enjoyed with fresh chocolate chip cookies topped off with a round of pool in the basement.  After Tony and his fiance got back to Tony's place he called back to mom and dad's.  Come over and get a half a cantaloupe that he pulled out of his garden patch.  Mom and dad drove over to Tony's and came back with the monster below.  Unfortunately, both dad and I are allergic to it and Jim does not like the fruit so that leaves mom and she shares with grandma. 

We failed to weigh this monster before mom got to cutting it up but the rinds filled 2 ice cream buckets (the 5-quart kind) and mom had 3 containers filled of cubes that probably weighed about 4-5 pounds. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Halloween House preparations have started!!!!

Those of you who read this blog and know me, know that the comment above has me so excited!!!!  Today, Jim - my wonderful husband - assisted me in making a GRRR face with red rope lights on the end of the house.  This will go with the Eyeball lights he insisted on purchasing at our recent trip to Menards.  Each eye will be located in a window on the south end of the house so that even at night, from the highway, you will think there is something ominous looking back at your from the darkness - at least that is the effect we are going for.

After this was accomplished, we proceeded to fencing the graveyard. . . . Granted that it is just an old pig fence that we have used in the gardens in years past but what it will become will be fabulous.  I have plans for 3 dead trees and of course, grave markers.  I will be getting those made over the next couple of weeks.  Now that I have devised a way to secure them and not let the Kansas winds blow them over I am ready to get creative. 

Anyway, the mere mention of dead trees got Jim excited and off to get the chainsaw he went.  The next thing you know I had more work piling up that I had not planned on.  Never mind the dead tree branches I wanted for my dead trees in the graveyard.  The oak trees along the drive way got their very much needed trimming first.  5 truck loads later I had that cleared and a pile of oak branches to cure over the winter for spring firewood.  That was what dad said anyway. 

Once we had the tree limbs cleared out I was able to retrieve the 3 dead limbs I wanted to for the cemetery.  Next task will be to dig holes to plant them in and then get the shovel and move some dirt so I have some actual graves.  Here is how it looks at the start of the project.  Another phase will be spider webbing the fence and making some sort of creepy, creaky gate to walk through.

Sien-Zu checking out the dead tree before it gets planted.

The makings of a graveyard right next to my house.  That pile of dirt will be graves soon enough, one is even planned to be open with the casket and Marcus the Carcus posing as in progress of being buried.

Garden is plentiful!

Today we picked zucchini - always start there because as you can see, we generally find the monster sized ones in that patch. . . by the time we got done picking the zucchini, the cart was nearly full.  We went ahead and went to the cucumber patch - and we saw those red things hanging on the tomato plant.  We picked them too!!!  Have 1 more not quite ripe and quite a few have set on and are growing.  So excited to see tomatoes finally.  We eat the cherry ones as fast as they ripen.  Cucumbers finished filling in the holes and voids the zucchini left. 

When we got back to the deck I called mom, said bring you sack, 10 for a dollar and the first 10 are free!!!

She got the tomatoes, some cucumbers and the smaller zucchini that you cannot see from here.  Then a bit later, after we had moved the cart into the house before the temperature hit 100, she got one of the monster zucchinis and grated/shredded it for bread and cake. . . said it was so moist the water was just dripping out off the grater.

Tomorrow I have got to make mock apple crunch again!  I need to pick green beans and I need to put out some more solar pickles.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kansas Weather. This sums it up for you.

I hope you all enjoy this break from the farm funnies to enjoy a statewide giggle.  This is how we approach weather every day of the year here in Kansas.  The old saying goes - If you don't like the weather in Kansas, wait 10 minutes and it will change."

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Riding shotgun with dad!

Last evening before I started working at the computer doing my medical transcription, dad asked me about taking pictures of the summer fallow that was supposed to have been sprayed to kill the pig weeds and fire weeds and sandburs.  He is supposed to be planting wheat in this field in 3 weeks and cannot do that with all these weeds growing and taking the moisture from the ground.  So we got in the pickup, mom's camera in hand and took a jaunt around the field of summer fallow.  I was snapping pictures right and left.  There were some spots that looked like the sprayer had not even ventured in.  Lots of GREEN HAPPY WEEDS all over the place.  There were pigweeds that were at least 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide out there.  That is not something you want to try to plant through, not even no-till. 

Will see what dad decides to do.  There may not be a winter wheat crop this year.  We might have to go to milo for this section of farm ground next spring.

Either way, we need SNOW and RAIN and any kind of moisture that mother nature wants to toss our way over the next 6-8 months.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day - is that no labor or yes labor?

I can honestly say that I never know for sure if I am supposed to labor or not on Labor Day.  As long as I have been a transcriptionist, if my schedule included the first Monday of September I manned my post at the computer during my scheduled shift looking for work and clearing it as fast as it comes in.  When I was not scheduled for transcription, I still generally had something that needs to be done, mowing, weeding of gardens, picking the fruits of my labor in the gardens, or just general labor.

So today is no different except that I am laboring double duty.  I am scheduled to work on my transcription and I have been doing labor around the farm.  I mowed around the gardens. 

Jim and I went to North Platte Menards yesterday for a little Labor Day Sale shopping.  

3 new deck boards
solar lights
kitty litter
16 inch patio blocks

Then there was the unscheduled meander through the already displayed Halloween section.  Jim fell in love with a pair of lights that look like huge eyes which meant if we purchased them we needed to get rope light so we can put the face on the end of the house.  SOOOO . . back to lighting for rope lights.  Of course there were the necessary purple and orange mini lights and a new skull head.  Might as well grab another box or 3 of screws - composite decking, 2 inch deck and 3 inch deck screws got added to the cart.  None of this was on the shopping list.  Loaded up the Expedition with our purchases, had a lovely lunch at Whiskey Creek and came home.

Today we unloaded the Expedition, 16" blocks - all 12 of them - and got the 3 boxes of kitty litter.  I had pretty much gotten the rest of the items out later on Sunday because I wanted to get my solar light ready for staging.  

Deck phase #27 - I have no idea really what phase the deck is in.  The west deck had 3 boards that suffered firewood tossing damage last winter so those got replaced.  Now we have stripes on our deck.  The other boards are faded to the natural color of a sunwashed beige.

Solar lights are assembled, set and solar panel charging. 

Rope lights need something to attach them to the house.  So into town we go to get the right kind of tool for the job.  Might as well get a package for the rope lights and a package for the wires on the solar lights so it is all neatly tucked away.

Guess that is enough labor for one day.  Maybe I should go check and see if I actually have work in any of my accounts.  Tomorrow it is back to the regular schedule, whatever that is, for me it is just another day closer to October and me without a graveyard started yet.