Sunday, December 18, 2011

Diverting Rain Water from Barn Roof

The final phase of diverting the rain water off the barn roof is finally complete.  Jens, Jeff and Lars worked on this most of Saturday and Sunday.  They finished digging the drainage ditch, laid the perforated pipes, dug a hole which they filled with gravel, and then covered everything up.  The ground was still soft enough to work this late in December - lucky for us.  Still needs to get some "finish work" done, to smooth it all out.  We'll plant grass on most of it, but decided to make a gravel drive-way from the road to the barn ... to avoid future mud pits :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Decorating Continues

One of the little troubles with moving to a different house is making your holiday decorations fit the new rooms.  This is our second year at the new house and decorating was a lot easier.  Our living room continues in the complete "country" style, but in the dining room we tried for something a little more traditional, as the "country" style just does not fit the room.  Each of the 5 large windows (with deep window sills) is decorated a little different, but each one has 3 gold balls hanging by gold ribbons and a single (electric) candle to set the tone. 

Holiday Decorations in Hallway

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bottling Wine

Finally got caught up with bottling some wine over the weekend, almost 100 bottles:
  • 6 gallons of "Honey Crisp Apple - 2010" 
  • 5 gallons of "Mixed Apple 2010"
  • 3 gallons of "Peach 2009"
  • 5 gallons of "Concord 2010"
Finished labeling, shrink-wrapping and storing them just this evening.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cement Hardened Off Nicely

Within two weeks of having the cement poured, it had hardened off and turned a grayish white color.  Ready for us to set the final missing support posts in the bottom of the barn...

perfect smooth barn floor

front "porch" for half the barn

in front of the house - using left-over cement

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another Fence Row Cleaned Out

Took advantage of unseasonably warm weather and worked on the upper fence row of the 3 acre field.  Jens and Zach both came (with their chain saws) and Lars was the "brush runner".  Some of the limbs were large enough for firewood, but mostly we pulled out thorny bushes, vines and small trees.

Completely took out an old electric fence row and "reclaimed" about 12 feet of extra space behind it, toward our border with the neighbor's field.   This will definitely allow us to extend our grape vine rows :)
We ended up with quite a brush pile to burn on the next rainy, non-windy day.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

We actually bought our Christmas tree already - from a local tree farmer - and it smells wonderful throughout the house.  It's a Douglas Fir and not yet decorated.  We always have to rearrange the living room to make space for the tree, which also involves a good cleaning job - so we did not have time to decorate it yet.  But we did get some of the outside decorations and lights up.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

A weekend spent with family....
  • Had a huge Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings - everything, except the turkey, came from our garden
  • Jens and Duff brewed a batch of beer
  • Anja, Sam and Tina went all night "Black Friday" shopping
  • favorite games that weekend included (like always):  Upwords, Monopoly and Risk

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cement Delivered During Huge Rainstorm

Even though everyone was watching the weather carefully, the day the cement was delivered ended up being one of those horrible rain storm days.  Luckily the loaded cement truck did not get stuck, but it lost control and could not stir, so Jeff had to get the tractor and spread a couple of loads of gravel to give some extra traction to the cement truck.  It made a terrible mess in the barnyard - but we'll fix that later on a dry day.

Otherwise, everything went great!  The cement was poured in the barn, plus a section in front of the barn, as well as a small section in front of the house (this was with left-over cement).  It took a crew all day to smooth and level the cement.  What a difference this made in the barn!

Jeff took a video (on his "dumb" phone) - but it turned out pretty good:

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Barn and Fence Progress

We were lucky with this weekend's weather - sunny and mid-50's for both days, which meant we spent every minute we could working outside:
We got the last load of gravel into the barn (yeah!!!) and also finished building and filling the form outside the barn. 
We will have half of the front overhang concreted for now.  The other half will hopefully become our crush pad, which will need to be extended beyond the overhang to give us enough space for the wine press - looking to do that in the Spring.

Continued on the fence painting project - we used 4 gallons of paint on Sunday afternoon and got most of the fence along the road on the pond-side done.

We also made a decent dent into our huge mulch pile - got all the new blueberries and elderberry bushes done.  We've been working with mulch every evening last week, until it got too dark to see.  Now with the time change, we won't be able to do any outside work during the week.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Got a Barn Owl in our Barn!

Earlier this week, Lars was walking into the upper part of the barn to get a tool for Jeff and an owl came swooping by him (they make no noise) - scared the heck out of him.  He shut the barn door and ran to the house to get Jeff - by the time they made it back, they just saw it fly through the one missing board on the back side of the barn - going sideways. 

This evening, as it was starting to get dark, Sam and Lars went into the barn with a camera - never thinking they would find it, but it was there, in the very top section of the barn - looking just like the image on wikipedia :)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Snowtober Weekend: Sunday

We woke up to snow covered sidewalks, lawns and roofs - though the sun was shining and it ended up to be a nice day.  I really wanted to get all the bushes I bought earlier this week on "super clearance" planted, but I had to wait until the snow melted enough to see the markers we had left on top of all our tulip and daffodil  bulbs.  After hauling 6 more loads of branches, tree-limbs and weeds, I had enough space to plant the rhododendrons, azaleas, viburnums and spireas - if they take, this will be a beautiful backdrop for the pond!  Had enough time to mulch all of the new plants as well.  Hoping that the weather report is correct and next weekend will be warmer and sunny - as we are still planning on planting another 1000 bulbs (yes...1000, for a total of 2000!)
(oh yes - also moved several loads of gravel with a wheelbarrow into the barn, to get it ready for the cement delivery soon)

Barn Remodeling Continues

Because of the awful weather, Jeff, Jens and Lars worked in the barn most of Saturday, while Tina finally painted her bathroom.  In the barn, the pointing between the rocks continues, but they also managed to put in two new windows.  This involved some pretty tricky rock stacking and pointing, to keep the window level.  One window is completely done, the second one still needs rocks and cement underneath:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snowtober Weekend: Saturday

All  plans for landscaping and planting were delayed as we got hit with a real snow storm in October this Saturday:
Marigolds: after first hour of snow

Marigolds:  3 hours later

My "late blooming" rose

Blackberries - with leaves - in the snow

Grape vines in the snow

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall Day at the Long Shot Farm

view of pond with blueberries
We spent most of the weekend visiting family in Pittsburgh and Ohio, celebrating Opa's birthday on Saturday, and Toben's birthday on Sunday.  Samantha however had to be back to work in Carlisle, so she left early and spent part of Sunday and Monday painting the barnyard fence by herself.  She finished the entire fence and took some photographs of a beautiful fall day as well.
backyard flowerbed

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fence Repairs

We spent all afternoon fixing the "barnyard".  This included fixing and painting the fence by the blueberries and moving lumber and rocks. 

We moved our pile of pressure treated lumber, which had been stored in the barnyard,  to the back of the blackberry field, and moved 3 tractor buckets full of rocks and slates over to where Tina is still trying to build a stone wall.

Lars and Tina pulled off the roughest and broken fence boards and replaced them with newer (and straighter) boards.  They also pulled out all old nails and various hardware still attached to the fence-rails from the days of an electric fence.

At the same time, Grace and Sam worked on painting the repaired fence parts white.  It is looking so much better already!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Stone Masonry Work in the Barn

wall after power-washing
For the past week, Jeff continued to pressure wash all the old mortar and white-wash off the stone work in the bottom of the barn.  He dresses in his hunting rain poncho with goggles, to avoid getting completely soaked by the mud that flings off the walls.  The barn is now probably two thirds washed, and this weekend we experimented with "pointing" the stones.  Luckily YouTube has a lot of very useful videos to help novices as us.  We used something like a pastry bag - only for mortar, which got pretty heavy pretty quickly.  We also had a large assortment of differently shaped trowels.  The pointing process will be very, very slow - but definitely worth it...and there is a long winter coming up to give us time to improve our skills.

wall before power-washing


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Our Favorite Evening Activity

Jeff and Tina enjoying time together planting berries!

New Blueberry Patch Planted...Finally

We had to wait a couple of days for the ground to get dried up enough so that we could finally plant our blueberries.  But after two sunny days, we finally were able to finish planting the new patch this evening.  We now have 3 rows of 14 blueberry plants, 10 feet between rows, and 6 feet between each plant (just like our blackberries).  This patch is right next to the fruit trees, and above the elderberries - and there is still enough space for some other fruit or more trees.  Playing with the idea of some currants for next Spring - to make some different kinds of jam.   Also tranplanted more blackberries and got some carrots from the garden!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Transplanting Blackberries in October

marking the spaces for plants
Our existing berry plants have sent out so many "runners", which have rooted, that we can't even mow in-between the rows.  So as an experiment, we started digging out the rooted "babies", and we are planting them in a new patch - in October.  For the past several years, we have been transplanting in the spring - which worked fine, except for the fact that there is so much else to do in the Spring.  We'll see how this works...they are just extra plants, so if it does not work, we'll go back to Spring transplanting.  Jeff still uses his spray-paint on a stick contraption to mark exact spacing (in addition to metal posts and string as guides)  This new patch currently has 6 rows, spaced 10 feet apart, and long enough for 36 plants.  The plants are spaced at 6 feet apart.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Barn and Barnyard Clean-Up

Now that Jens and Grace decided to have their wedding in our barn, we stepped up the cleaning process!!!  Spent Saturday cleaning out the last few large items and moved them upstairs (this included the large stainless steel milk tanks, our huge feedbox and all our food grade 55 gallon drums). 
We got a quote for cementing the barn floor last week as well as instructions on what to prepare prior to having the cement delivered.  Jens. Lars and Jeff  also worked on installing the drainage pipes, and our load of gravel got delivered as well.  

While the "boys" were working on the barn, Tina and Grace planted the first batch of 300+ tulip bulbs around the barnyard fence.  Once that was done, Grace started to paint the fence, taking advantage of rather warm weather.