Saturday, September 25, 2010

Raising a Roof

My first task is done! And just in time too, Since I'm going to Alaska here in a few days! There were a few delays, mainly weather related, but my Dad and I managed to completely strip off and then replace the roof on our garage that my grandfather built. I'll just give you a before-and-after shot here so that those of you not interested in reading through the process can appreciate the work without having to hear all the hoobajoob:


So! A long, arduous process was begun on the 13th of September. The roof was in shambles. The roof covered both the garage and a small 24'x12'  section behind the garage. It looks something like this:

 I imagine the shelter was there originally to park another car or something, but it had, through the years, just become another junk pile behind the garage, though this one had cover, so it had all the junk that somebody wanted to keep out of the rain. Which didn't work, as it turns out, because the stupid thing leaked like a sieve. The garage roof shelters a number of things; originally for someone's car and some tools, however it has now become a Cat hospice. Here is a video of my mom:


Anyway, the leaky roof needed to go. It was old and had holes in it. The Cats were getting wet :-( . It was made out of nothing but plywood, which had deteriorated, and asphalt roofing rolls. The cheap stuff. There was something like 3 or 4 layers of the stuff in some places, because when there started to be leaks, Grandpa would simply roll out another layer!

Also, if you take a look at the following picture, you'll notice that the slats supporting the roof in the garage are uneven:
Garage rafters AFTER a full day of cross-bracing with custom cuts for stability
The uneven rafters are a result of the fact that the plywood Grandpa used for the garage roof was a size that was inconvenient for the structure he built. Solution? PUT ANOTHER RAFTER WHERE THE EDGE OF THE PLYWOOD WOULD LAY! This is consistent with what we found with the rest of the structure: it was all SOLID, but nothing was built to any standard or code.

We had two options: adapt any new construction to the existing garage, or tear it all down and start anew. I'm not sure which would have been easier, but we decided to keep the existing garage and adapt new construction.

The biggest hurdle I personally had with this whole project, is that I kept expecting things to be square. Nothing was. The construction was basically based around 8 railroad ties placed in the ground in a L  pattern that outlined the garage and back shelter. It was frustratingly non-square. Which is fun when you're using, you know, rectangular materials that are made to be square (hip to be square?).

(On a tangent, does anybody else think that Huey Lewis' backup band should have been named the Dewies? Huey Lewis and the Dewies?)

As a result, the cross-bracing we decided was necessary to stabilize the structure, OSB decking, and the actual metal roof that topped it all off had to all be fit in custom proportions.

As you may remember from a previous post, this is also being done so that the shelter behind the garage can be used as a waterproof enclosure to put the goat(s) in during the winter. That is part of another, larger, project that involved moving the cars that were sunk into the dirt behind the garage, tilling the soil to get any farming artifacts from years past out of the ground so the goats don't eat them, and fencing in a 75' x 25' area to house more than the one goat we have. And just cause I know you like looking at the goat (I don't blame you, she IS cute!), here she is again, this time peeking out from her current shelter that will be replaced by what was just roofed:

Now, without further ado, Here is the progression in picture form of the entire process:
The Roof Prime

After the original Shelter was torn down

Re-Framing of the Shelter

Framed shelter, roof off Garage, One car gone!

After 2 days of the most boring thing on this job: cross bracing for stability.

OSB used as Decking, with many Thanks to our right-hand man, Cousin Josh Essinger, who helped us out with just going out and getting us supplies while Dad and I were on the roof all day.

With Roofing felt atop the OSB 
Roof 2.0!
The delays from weather were the two days that we didn't dare get on the roof with 12'x39" metal sheeting in 25-35 MPH winds. On the morning of Friday September 24th, the winds were manageable enough to dare climbing on the roof, so we got up, and the sheets screwed in rather easily. That is, after we realized we got screws that were too short, ran to home depot to exchange some and get longer screws. We were done with the top caps by 5:00 PM, just in time to let the evening wind down, and me to forget to take pictures until about sunset time, which is why the last picture is so blown out with the sun at the edge of the roof.

In the process, however (And Dad tells me this is how it is everywhere), we did excavate quite a few exciting things, what with pulling the 2 cars out from where the goat pen is going to be. Check it:

Yes, I believe that is a shoe. There was more by the time we were done.
And since I know you like it when I end with pictures of cute things, I offer this one:
And now the Portrait:

-Jon E

Sunday, September 19, 2010

To Do List

As I may have conveyed earlier, there is a lot of work to do around the farm. Here is a short, albeit incomplete, list of some of the major projects that need to be done in the next year while I'm here. Of course, some of this will be hard to do during the winter months what with cold and snow and all, but I'm sure I'll be able to keep busy.

Replace roof on garage/goat shelter roof
As it stands, the garage was built by my grandfather for function more and aesthetics. It was built with railroad ties, plywood, and nails. Being that he was a farmer, and not a carpenter, everything he built was basically for function, and not looks. Looksee here:

Now, thats a rear view of what I'll be working on (Actually, this is my first project and it looks completely different now, but we'll pretend I haven't done any of that for the time being. That's for a completely new post). Basically, the structure of the garage is solid enough that we will be keeping it up, but the roof was simply made of plywood and asphalt roofing rolls. No felt paper underneath, and it has been patched at least 3 times because it leaks. Extending off the back of the garage is a 12'x24' cover that is just over dirt. Since we now have a goat, we are replacing all of the beams on the enclosure and making that 12'x24' cover into a goat shelter, and making a 75' by 25' encolure of the goat and any subsequent goats we will be getting. As you can see, there are a few cars in the way. Those need to be moved before we can build the fence around the goat pen. As of today, they are both moved thanks to cousin Mandy's husband Scott and a few of his friends. Those cars were a pain in the ass.

Cleanup Fallen Milk Barn
Grandpa Al had cows. My mom loves cows, and thinks they're pretty. sometime in the Summer of 2002, after my Grandpa died, my mom and I came out to the farm to start cleaning the basement and farmhouse. We were here over the 4th of july, and had family out to set off fireworks, etc. I don't know how we got to this point, but my cousins and I somehow convinced my mom that we could push the milk barn down, because it was leaning to one side anyway. Well, wouldn't you know, it was not as easy to push down as we thought, and it took probably a good 2 hours to push this down. Don't ask me why we decided to push it down, or why we stuck to it for 2 hours while it would not go down, but this is what it looks like now:

Sufficed to say, it is a mess. We *think* there is a concrete pad underneath that would serve well for putting things on. We have a bunch of single-paned windows in the shop laying around from when my parents replaced the windows in the farmhouse with energy efficient ones. My dream is to construct a greenhouse using these windows, and probably a covered area on the north side of that greenhouse to brew beer under. It is right next to the well pump, so it would be easy to get water to. No plans have been made yet, but this is a project i can work on when i have nothing else to do. I just need to rip apart the boards that are still nailed together. Also, that roof does not look like it will be fun to have to deal with.

Garden and Barn

The garden and barn are kind of both ongoing projects.

The garden from this year has some good production in the Zucchini, carrot, tomato, and beet department. But the corn, peppers, and pumpkins seem to need some help. The ground was far too cold in the spring to start anything when it really needed to be started. Thats why I want to make this greenhouse. So that we can start the garden earlier in the year to have better production. I imagine Dad will have a better idea about this stuff, as he has taken a master gardening class.

The barn is a mess. Plain and simple. It is storing so many generations of tools and filth that it feels like there can be no end in sight. However, it is better than it was. A few things we have already done to the barn by me and Dad: the roof has been replaced (New metal roof, very nice and water-tight. it is our inspiration for the roof that is going to be installed on the garage). The original roof had so many holes in it that it let birds in. Those birds crapped everywhere up there, leaving, in some places, up to 3-4 inches of bird waste (Including full bird skeletons!). I scooped all of that, quite literally, shit out of the attic of the barn. Just last thanksgiving Dad and I also cleaned out most of the decomposed straw that was on the floor of the barn, which was spotted with all kinds of old farm equipment. That equipment is now a little bit better organized, however, there is an infinity of work left out there in the barn. For instance,we need to re-build the doors. I would never be wanting for something to do on the farm even if I only had that barn to worry about.

Tearing down fences

There are a bunch of fences around the farm that are in complete disrepair. They will no longer contain any animals because they are far too rickety. They need to come down. I imagine once the fences get taken apart, we will be free to put fences in wherever we want in the future, that planning is far off, probably not until spring 2011 which is wishful thinking in the first place. However! being that I am calling myself "the rural brewer", these poles look great for something....Growing hops! Hops are a perennial vine that die back to the root every winter, but they can grow up to 20 ft every year! Its true! I read it Here! Those long, straight poles can be used to train the hops upwards, which increase hops flower production. Looks like I could do this with them:

Green House

This house was originally brought here for my great-grandmother to get away from everybody. I don't know when this was last occupied (other than by mice, rats, skunks, whatever rodent takes charge). The floors are rotted out, and it is just gross. This might be a nice place if I demolish everything but the frame and build it anew. Seems like a big project. May be worth it, may not be, I have yet to decide. It is a "possible" to-do.

Rebuild Windmill

Back in 2002 when I knocked down the milk barn with my cousins, we had to replace the water pump and re-drill the well. I guess i was in a destructive mood. You know teenagers....
Anyway, the windmill has been down for 8 years, and any self-respecting farm needs a windmill. The picture above shows the tail of the windmill thats used to point it in the correct direction. I will still need to replace the blades on the face of it, but we have so many spare parts, I'm sure it will not be that big of a deal. That being said, I have noticed that things around here take maybe 1.5 - 2 times as long as you think it will. That is probably a direct result of there being so much junk all over the place, and needing to either sort it, or at the very least, throw it away.

Its going to be a real chore, but I'm going to have to watch quite a few sunsets here. Heres an example of how mundane I can expect them:

Psych! Yeah, the sunsets are all pretty great.

Train the goat!
Apparently, goats are highly motivated by food, and can be trained just like a dog. I can't wait to train this goat. Look what she can already do!

What a Cutie.

Anyway, that concludes by initial to-do list. This is all, of course, in addition to me cooking every evening for my parents' dinner (Which i like doing! any my mom doesn't like cooking, so its a good trade-off). Its going to be a full year.

Cheers and Signing off,

Jon E

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Brief History of the Farm

The Farmhouse as it currently Stands

My Great Grandfather, Alfred Emil Pederson, Homesteaded land in Idaho around the turn of the century. He worked for the Union Pacific Railroad company and lived in Kansas, came out here to work and decided he was never going back to Kansas. This was around 1910 or 1911. My Great-Grandparents met at the local mental hospital. He was a Maintenance man and she (Edith) was a Nurse. Not crazypeople. Insanity, as far as I know,  doesn’t run in the family (apart from a few distant relatives that I have not had the “pleasure” to meet). /tangent:  also, other than the fact that my mom takes care of 11 billion cats around the farm.

Our Barn with some junk laying around.

The railroad company Alfred E Pederson worked for went on strike around 1925 and he decided he didn’t want to go on strike, so he quit, and bought land to farm on. Some of that land was later appropriated by the US Goverment to build the FBI base in Pocatello at “fair market value” at the time. There is some hubbub around the family about how the government cheated us with the price; I’m inclined to be indifferent. The land that I now live on was purchased at the same time as the land appropriated by the US Govermnet, but it is in more of a rural area. and therefore not taken . Alfred E. Pederson built the farmhouse I am now living in from scratch with his own two hands in 1925. You can tell that it was a custom job for my great grandmother because of the extra-low countertops that I can not use because they hurt my back. Seriously, I just measured and the countertops are only 31” from the ground. Less than 3 Feet. I don’t know standards for these things, but that’s pretty short. My Dad just told me that they used to be shorter, only 30” (2.5’!!!). My great grandma was a tiny Norwegian lady.

Things went, well you know, pretty bad in the 30’s, but  from the time that my Great Grandparents built the farm, they were busy with the farm and making a few babies. My Grandpa (On my mom’s side), Alfred Linton Pederson was one of them. Family lore and legend has it that he wanted to join the military come WWII, but since he was the only son of a farmer, they wouldn’t draft him because he was needed to grow crops for the troops and country in general. A noble cause to stay home, I’d say. I’m pretty sure he was bummed that he was not fighting for his country, though. My mom tells me he tried to sneak in TWICE but he still couldn't get in the service, i.e he got caught. The Rascal!

Through the years, Alfred L. Pederson farmed and became an amateur bowler. Oh yeah, totally awesome. That’s why I’m so good at bowling. Its in my Genes. Kind of a weird thing to have in your Genes. Al L. Pederson met Evelyn Anderson (My grandmother). Evelyn had been previously married and had 3 kids, all girls, Kristin, Marianne, and Suzie (In no particular order). When Al and Evelyn got married and she moved out to the farm and had 3 more kids (Again all girls). Debbie, Kathy, and the youngest is my mom, Martha Donne Pederson. The farm is where my Mom grew up. In fact, I am now occupying her childhood room.

My Backyard, complete with Firepit, Hammock, and the only green lawn in the Rural area!

I remember visiting the farm as a child every summer, as we didn’t have any REAL vacations. Just go hang out at the farm for a week or two. Get burrs in your socks. Visit cousins, feed the horse (Which is no longer on the property). It wasn’t until when I was in high school that I had any appreciation for the farm. Around that time, my grandmother Evelyn stated showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. About that time, she was put into a home and Al went to visit her. She died around my Sophomore year of high school, and he died about 1 year later. 

At that point, I was about to  graduate high school (class of ‘03) and my parents had inherited the farm. When I turned 19, my dad was laid off from Boeing and my parents decided to move to the farm. They sold my childhood home in Everett and moved to the farm, where there was (and still remains) much work to do on the farm. Over the last few years, there has been a few minor details, but for the most part, I graduated, started working full time sales for the company I was working delivery for after college, paid off my student loans, saved some money, quit my job, and moved to Idaho. And that has brought us up to the present-day farm situation. Though my parents have been living on it, they have not been able to devote as much time as they wish to maintaining and cleaning the farm from it’s 85 years of use and service to our family. Thats where I come in.

The view of Pocatello from afar: from the farm.

Next post: Before pictures of things that need to be done around the farm, with explanation of what needs to be done and how it will improve.


-Jon E

P.S. We have a Goat. 
My Dad Named her something like Crabby McAppleton Because she likes Crabapples. Cute.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The First Post

Alright, well, here it is. My blog about quitting my Job, Moving from my home in Seattle to Pocatello, Idaho. To live on my parents' farm to cook, brew, and be a general field hand for whatever needs to be done on the family property. I'll write a more...inspiring post as soon as I take some pictures. I have to set the scene for what life is going to be like here, and what actually needs to be done. Knowing me, I'll probably have some irreverent posts as well just because I need to do that to pass the time (Be on the lookout for my post on the cats that my mom seems to be collecting, That'll be probably especially entertaining). I'm going to need the people who read this to probably ride me (Aht) to make sure I post with some form of regularity. For now, I'll post a google map embedded below to show where I am:

View Larger Map