I was supposed to buy fence posts

The plan this morning for Tex and I was to go help my mother at her old rental that she is fixing up to sell. She needed some yard work and digging done, Tex duties, and me to look at some other stuff. The other stuff was easy and before I could get out of there to go to Home Depot she made me get a haircut. I am a grown man and I truly believe that 3 or 4 haircuts a year are sufficient. I have felt this way since I could voice an opinion and it has not changed. My mother’s haircut belief system falls more in line with the military’s view. She thinks I need one every 3 weeks or sooner. So to ensure I got a haircut she brought the tools up to the house we were working on so I had no excuse to get away. I have a very nice haircut now.

I drove to Hermiston to return our tile samples and possibly place an order. Now it was a spur of the moment decision so Annmarie did not know I was going. Once at the tile place I managed to find a 6×6 inch tile that Annmarie liked via the wonders of text messaging and photos. She was not digging the Art Deco tile I found, 8×8 inch. I loved the bottom right corner and wanted to do the entire floor in it. No such luck. I ordered the tile she wanted and we got the prices for the rest. There was a hangup about the backsplash we wanted and the amount of water it could handle. The saleswoman called the company and called me back to say it would be fine. We will be ordering it after I get the floor installed. The floor tile was only $230, amazing when you only have a 60 sq ft room.

At Home Depot I was going to buy 4×4 posts for the fence yard build as Gizmo and Zeke keep getting out. I needed 100 feet of woven wire small enough that Gizmo cannot get through. They did not have it. So I gravitated to the concrete blocks they had out by the front door. They were incredibly cheap at just over $1 each. So I got a pallet of 100. I figured now was the time to get the stairs in on either side of the spring in the barn lot. I wanted some steps so the sheep and horses don’t tear up the dirt banks and keep making that area wider or steeper. It went in fairly well and we only used 40 blocks so we have 60 for the opposite side.

Its a good thing we have more blocks as that side is taller than the other. I will try and take down that side by 8 inches tomorrow. We are looking at getting those blocks installed tomorrow, the gravel spread out in the machine shed and the gates on the machine shed.

We got all the equipment moved around and now I just need to spread the gravel into the last bay before we install gates. We will take measurements in the morning. Before I can go to town we will need to offload the scrap metal I picked up last week. Its still on the trailer.

Day 17 and into home stretch

It is done! No applause yet as there is still cleanup and put back together left to do. Mr Experience finished the grout today and I laid the last of the tile under the sink today. We wanted to make it neat and clean and there were some old holes in the floor that I had stuffed with steel wool and plastic bags to keep the mice out and the heat in. Sealing up the floor of this compartment fixes all those problems and makes it look better and easier to clean. A total win all around. We put most of the tools away and went to go work on one of my mom’s rentals. This is good as the grout now needs to rest for 72 hours before we can do the final cleanup on it.

I will need to wash the kitchen walls behind the fridge and the built in shelves made out of old doors. We will have to trim the doors to get them to fit. I had holes cut in them for the light switch and the outlet and now that we have changed the floor height they will need to be trimmed, that will happen on Friday or Saturday. The border collies will have to sleep in the laundry room tonight as the hallway grout got touched up again today and it needs to dry.

We want to save up for the wooden trim and do the whole house at once. We talked about this today and depending on our sheep buyer we may have the money much sooner than the end of the year. Annmarie will know in a few weeks.

We are incredibly happy with how the floors have turned out. It totally changes the appearance of our entire downstairs. Now we are picking new paint colors for downstairs. Hopefully we can have the entire downstairs painted in the next six weeks also. If only I could come up with the trim money in the next six weeks, Annmarie?

Day 16 and the end is almost here

Well it is nearing the end finally, there will be just enough time to finish everything. I went over to Hermiston to pickup the needed tile to finish the job. They gave me credit for the 5 miscolored tiles. While I did this Mr Experience was grouting the portion of the kitchen we had done yesterday. I took Gizmo with me for the road trip. He is starting to settle down much faster but still won’t take a dog treat from the coffee place. He just does not eat it. I tossed it to Zeke when we got home, he wolfed it down asap. We had two different packages dropped off and Mr Experience said both delivery drivers were scared to open the gate. They kept looking at it like they were going to get shocked. The tightened wire sings like there is electricity in it and they think they will get shocked! So far it is working to keep Zeke in also and that is the important part.

We opened the new tile to verify the color match, it is a match and noticed that the new tile has rounded edges. Who does that? Who changes their manufacturing process on the same style of tile? So we did the math and realized that we could use a handful of new tiles and use up all the old tiles we had and the pieces. We only used up five new tiles to finish the floor. So in other words if they had not screwed up our five tiles and given us the wrong color we would have made it. In the end I had to cut of 3/4 inch from a full tile to get it to match the existing tile in the dining room. I was hoping the house was perfectly square but after 109 years I had my doubts. Not too shabby, only 3/4 inch and it was even across the opening.

We started tiling around 1330 and didn’t finish until 1830. Its amazing how long the cuts and odd pieces take. Mr Experience laid the last of the floor, I cut. I only miscut one piece and I cut some fancy pieces without breaking any. He had to float out two low spots and a high spot. I can do it but it just takes me longer. Sometimes, experience just wins for obvious reasons.

So tomorrow we will finish grouting, start cleaning up and then we have to wait 72 hours before we can do the final cleaning on the grout. After that cleaning then we can put stuff back. Annmarie and I have decided to thin out everything hard as we put it back so that the house is not as cluttered. The new wooden louvered vent cover has not arrived. It should be here in a couple of weeks per the website.

We had been trying to treat an eye infection in the barn kitty. It just keeps getting worse. Normally this is a live or die situation for the barn cats as they are feral. The kitten tamed down and comes over and wants attention every time we go out to the barn. I had Sarah (aka Meat head) take the cat to the vet. yep, it had worms, ear mites, an upper respiratory infection and an eye infection. So now we have to give it antibiotics and eye medicine twice a day and it needs worming medicine in two days. It is in a crate in the barn now. It didn’t like me washing its eye and had started to avoid me. So now its in hospital jail until its better. Of course the vet wanted to see it again next week. I told Sarah to make the vet call it “Barn Kitty #1” which she did. When Annmarie came home she reminded me the kitty’s name is “Soot” now I did not know that but now everyone else knows why the barn kitty#1 went to the vet!

Day 15, actual kitchen tiling has commenced

It took us 2.5 hours to just get to this spot. We screwed down a board to use to keep our alignment down the hall perfect. The tiles kept creeping over toward the board and narrowing the gap. We had to constantly shift them back into place. We broke one tile by the entryway when Mr Experience stepped on it. He had been starring at it from across the room and went over and stepped on it and it broke. He said better now than after it was dry and locked in place. We kept trying to work with it until finally he suggested we just remove it and come back another day when we can walk on the tile and dry fit it until it was perfect then glue it down. It was a great plan and that is what we did.

We had to eat out at the minimart as we cannot cook anything. We did remember to move all the coffee making supplies to the opposite counter! Long Live Coffee!! I would love to say that food sometimes wins over coffee but who is fooling who, I would never say that! Coffee before all else is my motto. On the way back to the house I gave Mr Experience the tour and discovered that someone had ran a disc through the one field I had burned. I need to burn the second field soon so we can disc it and I can keep them sprayed all summer long so we can plant them in the fall. We are going to plant Round up ready alfalfa on about 20 acres. We are hoping to get around 60-100 ton/annually from this acreage. Currently we use around 35 ton for our animals. This will allow us to be more generous with the feed and to sell some to recoup the costs of our equipment.

As we got closer to the late afternoon we realized that we were going to run out of tile. The floor company called to tell me our extra four boxes have arrived but I never went and picked them up or had Annmarie get them. This is going to put a kink in our completion plans. I was breaking open one of tile boxes and found the wrong color tiles! There are 8 tiles to a box and 5 of the tiles where a different shade. We looked around but that was the first time we had noticed it and it is pretty obvious. I told Annmarie about it and tonight as she was going to be d she tells me we installed the wrong color of tile on the floor. I ran into the kitchen in a panic thinking we had missed a tile, but alas i could not see the problem. So I go up onto the stairs and look down at the kitchen floor. The last four rows of tile Mr Experience installed look glossy. Like they are a different kind of tile. I tell her its only a trick of the light. If I turn the kitchen light on you cannot see it. Plus those last four rows went in very easy so they they did not get handled much and are very clean. I will keep telling myself that until I can walk on the tile in the daylight and take a really good close look at it again.

No tile means we are taking Sunday off! I get to spend all day doing laundry. My upstairs laundry basket is overflowing and I only have three pair of underwear and two pair of clean socks left. It is time for laundry.

So far Zeke has stayed in the yard since I strung up the new wire fencing. One of the oddities of it is it is so tight that it now sings when the wind blows. I think it scares him so he is staying away from it. Whatever works to keep him in the yard is okay with me.

Day 8, grouting in progress

Good Morning! It’s really day 9 now but since this is about yesterday and the sun is not out yet I think it will be okay. I finished up early, 1630, yesterday then went out to dinner and at dinner was reminded that there was a volunteer fire department meeting I needed to go to. I ran home, did the chores and went to the meeting. Which worked out for them as we ended up doing case reviews. By the time I got home I called and talked to Annmarie and then it was time for a shower and bed. I thought I would check my email just before falling asleep and had a reply from a friend who is in China so I wrote her back. I should have just gone to bed. If Annmarie were home I would have. Oh well, I will sleep good tonight.

We cleaned up the tile, vacuumed, cleaned out the grout gaps with a cool diamond cleaner we picked up and then cleaned some more. Mr Experience had told me about the pastry approach to grout application. I had ordered two bags from Amazon but on Wednesday at Home Depot I bought another for $5. He inquired and I said never trust the shipping time, when you want and need it you get burned. Luckily, we had one as our other ones had not arrived yet. It is literally a literally just a pastry bag for grout. It totally saves on cleanup. It is a learned technique as you cannot clean it up until it has hardened but if you wait too long then its hard to work. It is much faster and much neater and uses way less grout. I purchased the recommended amount and I bet we will only use 50% of it. Ugh. It was a custom order. I will know now and we may just pick a tile color for the upstairs that allows us to use the same grout color and call it continuity!

The entire entry way is done. The dogs are tired of getting moved around. This work has totally disturbed their schedule and sleep location. The big dogs have slept in the laundry room twice this week to keep them off the tiles. All dogs were kenneled during the day once and Gizmo had to spend several hours outside yesterday and came in shivering, he thought he had turned into a popsicle.

I wanted to fix the front yard fence yesterday but I got distracted. This is my single biggest weakness. I have so many things I want to do that I occasionally get distracted. Annmarie might say more than occasionally but we know that is a biased opinion. I think all wives would think that. So I got “side tracked” into finishing her cutting board revamp. I had a custom cutting board made for the kitchen to go into the premise slot. I measured it, sent pictures of it to a friend who does custom woodworking. He was swamped so he farmed me out to another guy. This guy did a great job except I wanted the pull part to turn down so that Annmarie had a stop to prevent the board from moving on the countertop when she pulls it out to make bread. Now if I would get our new custom island built I want to put a whole intact slab of granite on it so she can do her cooking counter work on it. Anyways, I needed to add a lip. Since I had measured the opening incorrectly (yes, I know I only had one job to measure it!) I had two 1/2 inch pieces from each edge. I sanded down one side glued and then drilled out five holes and glued in oak pegs. I will just need to cut them flush today, sand down and oil them and it will be done. It works perfectly with only a 1/4 inch lip, I tried it out.

I am unsure if we can get it all done today. Mr Experience says yes, we will see. No side jobs today, I am going to stay focused. I really want to be able to set the house back up by 1600 on Saturday when Annmarie comes back from her trip but it is going to be a close thing. We might not make it.

When I was out feeding in the barn yesterday morning I spotted a tuft of fur on the ground. I thought it was someone’s ear! The sheep catch their head on stuff all the time and rip out their ear tags. I bent over to pick it up and it was not an ear, it was a scrotum! The rubber bands were both still in place and intact but some little boy was now a whether instead of a ram, a job well done. I did stop and watch the lambs jump and play. I even snagged one and got some lamby time. They are super curious at this stage and are easy to grab.

Day 5 of the downstairs floor project

It is honestly only day 5 of this project! I cannot tell you how pleased I am that things are going so quickly. Mr Experience is the bomb and is a very hard worker! He is anticipating my next need and keeps the tiles and mud coming. This is such a departure from my normal virginal work help that I am just amazed at our progress. We have a total of about 46 hours each into the project. The best part is I am realizing how much I get interrupted in a normal day, get dogs out of crates, potty dogs, feed dogs, potty dogs, do am farm chores, feed barn cats, feed horses, feed sheep. The entire time I am doing chores, Mr Experience is moving the tile saw, filling it with water, making mud, laying out tile and in general making our project get done with little to no direction.

We did have some difficulty this morning with the area directly in front of the main entrance.
There is a low spot here of at least 1/4 inch. This needed to be built up but it caused problems. We laid down four tiles at first and had to pop up three of them and add more mud. It was very convoluted to get the tiles in place without stepping on any of them. It took us almost 2 hours just to do this small area. You can see the bottom of one of the closet spaces that will get tile in the bottom left corner of the picture below. This whole area took one bucket of mud.

Mr Experience heard me talking about the blog and offered to take some action shots. So you will be seeing my mug more than usual this project. Who knew I was bald?! As we exited the hallway into the main room I started to get very hungry. Unfortunately quitting time is dictated by the mud. If there is still mud in the bucket then its not quitting time! My knees were starting to bother me. Yes I have some fancy gel knee pads but after several hours they just don’t feel that nice. It took forever to get the last of that bucket used up. We had an excellent lunch of combined leftovers. What makes cheesy potatoes and ham mixed with chili and hot dogs better? More chili and cheese! It was amazing and hit the spot just right.

At 1500 the third bucket of mud arrived. It was huge, the entire bucket was full. It was going to take forever to get it all used up. I switched knee pads in the desperate hope that my new ones were somehow better than my old ones. Nope, this did not pan out the way I had hoped, my knees were killing me. We started to really sling mud and lay tile. One of the problems with this much tile at once is it starts to push on itself and get out of alignment. I never knew this as I have never laid this much tile in a single session before. We ended up putting a few strategic screws in the joints to keep the tiles from moving. This works very well. We had the last tile laid by 1730. It was finally quitting time. My knees were ready to call it quits hours before. They are already thinking of boycotting tomorrow but it looks like we can be done laying all the tile in just two more days! Incredible timing, I took off 25 days to do this and we could be done by day 10 with everything. As soon as we get grout in and it cures we will set the house back up and then most likely tackle the kitchen. I think we can do the entire kitchen start to finish in under 7 days.

Day 4 of the floor remodel

Another exciting day of vacation as we attempt to get the downstairs tiled. Since my wife is now back to work and currently out of town I am doing all the farm chores during all this. I now wait until it is light to do chores, it just makes it easier than doing it by head lamp. We have not had any more lambs for the last two days to the best of my knowledge. I have to throw that out there as there are lambs everywhere! They are like cockroaches in the barn. Its hard to keep track of all of them. We have had one more bummer since the ram’s demise for a grand total of 10 bummers and 2 dead. That is a lot for us.

The real problem with any remodel is the prep work. it is absolutely crucial to the longevity of any job but it is the most unglamorous part of the job. Take today for instance, we finished laying the subfloor. I had to screw in another 1000+ screws. This is painful, first you run the impact driver in your right hand and pull the trigger with your index finger. It gets tired so you start to use your right middle finger for the trigger. This also has the added benefit of altering your grip. When this gets too hard you switch to your left hand even if its not your dominant hand. That is four different ways to drive screws. it is just enough to keep going until the job is done. The site needs to stay clean and when tiling there can be nothing under the underlayment and the fuzz from the screws needs to be cleaned up. All the low spots that we patched Mr Experience floated in mastic so that when it dries the floor is perfectly supported in all areas. We then spent about an hour drawing lines on the floor to make sure the tile stays in alignment once we start laying it. You can see the bright orange chalk line we snapped in the picture below. I have been trying to figure out how to keep a steady input of coffee ready at all times. My french press doesn’t keep it hot. So today I started to use a small thermos to keep the second cup of coffee from my press hot. I tested the thermos last night by putting hot water in it. This morning the water was still very hot! This has been a fantastic discovery and I will be doing this every day of my vacation.

I have had to put Zeke outside on the run as he keeps jumping the fence and Mouse just runs around in the yard. Gizmo wants attention but he cannot run around when there is wet mastic on the floor. He does not understand this and tomorrow we will need to use the back porch so the laundry room will need to be traipsed through. He is going to have to spend some time upstairs in his day room.

Lunch today was chili and real Hill, all beef, hot dogs mixed together with onions, and drowned in cheese. A very manly lunch. For tomorrow we are having leftovers I am thinking about mixing the cheesy potatoes and ham with the chili and hot dogs! A most excellent combination.

We were finally ready to start laying tile after we moved the tile saw out onto the front porch. Its above freezing and we are trying to get the cut pieces to the layer as fast as possible. A bucket of mastic had to be mixed and the first tile cut and then we could lay some tile. I am the designated tile layer. Mr Experience does everything else. This means mixing mud, cutting tiles, and feeding me whole tile stacks so I can reach them. The firsts batch of mastic was a little runny for me. I truly do like the peanut butter consistency. It works well and is is easy to manage. Mr Experience fixed it up and off we went. I am the designated layer as it is my responsibility to get it right! In an hour we were able to lay the tile below. This doesn’t seem like much but this hallway is hard as I have to lean out and work on one side. Once we start down the other hallway I will only have to work one row of tiles at a time instead of bouncing between 7 rows of tiles and jigsawing them in place. I am hoping for 50% completion tomorrow. I realize this is incredibly ambitious but one must have goals!