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Posts tagged ‘wisconsin farm’

What I did on My Summer Vacation

School has started around here and teachers always seem to like to assign this topic as the first English essay of the year. This time of year is one of my favorites–new beginnings, new things to explore–a second New Year so to speak.

Since Harvey is pouring down rain around me outside and there isn’t much I can do outside except get wet and the newspaper is unlikely to be delivered this morning, I thought I’d get this essay out of the way for the school year—although it has been many years that I’ve had to worry about this.

I have a farm in Wisconsin–not Africa as Karen Blixen did–and we don’t go hunting wild animals–unless you count the raccoons that seem to show up every year. Rabbits are bountiful although my friend’s adopted dog—abandoned at our dog park here in Texas–does his best to annoy them, capture them, and mostly play with them but they don’t seem to want to play much after a few minutes. Ditto the wood-chucks.

I make a point of returning home around the Fourth of July every year–to watch the annual parade, visit with cousins and my aunt–dear lady who is in her 90’s and still quite sharp, and work on my farm. We are remodeling the farm-house where I grew up and I wanted to make it my house–not my parents or my grandparents. One of my brothers–designed two additions–a much larger bathroom and a beautiful breakfast room with huge windows. We are doing the majority of the work now but it is slow going.

My first task each year is to clean up the raspberry patch. Here it is before and then after. I do this twice a year but it would be better if I could do it monthly—but I still have to work. Usually I am there to pick the raspberries and have picked enough to make several jars of jam.1-20raspberry20patch-m2-20raspberry20patche20weeded-m

Next task was to clean floorboards, These were taken up after the original porch was torn off and replaced with a wonderfully wide and inviting porch open to the outside and facing west, north, and east–a nod to our now Southern roots. It is hard and dusty work to scrape away the dirt that accumulates in the crevaces from all the people that have walked on those boards. The farm sits on a crossroads of sorts and is a frequent stop for people asking directions. In the distant past there was a stage coach stop just over the hill from the Windmill and there is a faint track of that past trail.3-20cleaning20floorboards-m4-20my20chisel20to20clean20the20crevaces-m5-20cleaned20floorboards-m

A trip to Prairie yielded several boxes of tiles for the downstairs bathroom floor. I did most of the work, handing the tiles one by one to my husband who was on his hands and knees setting them in. I’m sure he will protest my effort as mostest–but I’m writing this–not him.8-20assisting20in20laying20floor20tiles20in20bathroom-m9-20completed20floor20tiles20in20bathroom-m

Final project was to start to hang the corrugated tin (steel) on the ceiling of the living room/dining room. I wanted to have an interior that would require the minimum of upkeep–no painting of ceilings or hanging of wall-paper or washing walls–simple–simple–simple.10-20starting20to20hang20corrugated20metal20roof20in20great20room-m

And not to forget—my daily task–every morning and afternoon I spent about twenty minutes or so pulling ragweed. It is bountiful and grows rapidly and my husband is dreadfully allergic to the blooming rageweed. It is also a high pollen count for honey bees who use the pollen for their winter stores. I didn’t make much of a dent but I gave it a good try.6-20ragweed-m7-20a20field20of20ragweed-20i20pulled20ragweed20every20morning20and20afternoon20for20twenty20minutes20and20made20a20small20insignificant20dent-m

See the scattered ragweeds in the oats and then the wide band of dark green near the trees. Maybe someone could make it into biofuel or something useful.

Tomorrow, maybe I’ll write about the Solar Eclipse–as it is far too dark outside to take photos of the rain although I could try for my dogs lying forlonely on the floor thinking it is bedtime three or four times a day as it is so dark outside.







Going home to Wisconsin


For many years, I never gave a thought to returning ‘home’ but now that I am approaching retirement age and making plans, I find myself longing to return ‘home’. I miss the view of the windmill through my bedroom window and the squeak as the blades turn and shift in the winds.


“Home” for me was the farm in Wisconsin. It wasn’t very big and rather hilly but still I think I roamed those fields and woods with delight. They remain the same—the woods all deep and mysterious and cool—but incredibly steamy and full of rocks and ferns and lady slippers and morels. The fields are corn and alfalfa with cows placidly watching.


In October of last year, we did a lot of cleanup including removing trees around the windmill/water pump, revising the driveway and demolishing several buildings that were falling down. Lots of other trash trees had grown up in the yard and along with the large maples in the front yard were taken down.


On this trip, we decided to re-roof the garage. This was a lengthy process particularly when conducted by two novices with vintage bodies. One of my brothers had estimated the supplies for us—what remained was the doing.


First project was to remove the old basketball hoop (with Rick’s skid-steer) and then to take off the old shingles. There is a special kind of shovel that is used—it has little divets in the front and a wedge in the back to make prying up the shingle nails easy. It didn’t take long and I did some—but then I got stuck up on the roof and could not figure out how to get down. Paul had to help me down—going over that edge was just more than I could do.


The old sheeting had to be knocked off. This required beating on it from underneath with a maul, pulling up nails, using a crowbar, and in general a lot of oomph. I figured out a way to crawl up through the rafters from inside the garage on a step-ladder and was able to do a fair bit. I just could not crawl over the edge even with the roof jack in place.


So my self-assignment was to clean out the inside of the garage. I also handed up tools that somehow migrated to the ground and refilled water bottles. My new wheelbarrow got a good workout as I made many trips to the burn pit.


The next step was to replace the rotting rafters—there were three. Then new sheeting had to be put in place. The sheets of plywood are nicely marked so you have lines to follow when nailing. We enlisted the help of nephew Stephen for this step. Paul’s nail gun was handy too.



Now the roofing felt goes on—not easy when rolling a huge roll of paper across a roof. There can be absolutely not a breath of air until you start unrolling and then there seems to be a gale. The hammer stapler was handy but it took three to nail down all that paper. Of course two were raw recruits!


Finally shingles are nailed in place. Shingling can only be done in the early morning or late evening as the shingles heat up. They melt together to seal the roof. We tried to be there at six to take advantage of the early sunrise but the two of us were really slow. Both of us felt our vintage bodies each night and were grateful for the bottle of Advil in my bag.


Both Paul and Rick helped us shingle that roof—I had to leave before I saw it finished. The inside of the garage was cleaned out as well with Rick taking away a large load of stuff to the iron recycle man.


Now all that remains is an overhead door, a personnel door, and new windows. What a job! It took us a week to do what professionals would have accomplished in a day and a half or so.



More of the photos can be seen here: