Posted: September 28th, 2013 | Author: eliza | Filed under: barns, history, life, yard | No Comments »
The old dairy barn finally seems to be coming down. It was on the way out when we bought the place in 2009 but it’s hung on surprisingly long, through a few hurricanes and a lot of wet heavy March snowstorms. Every time we get a big storm, we can’t wait to go check out the barn and see what’s fallen down. We’ve talked about having it demolished but we keep hoping Mother Nature will do the job for free. It’s a kind of picturesque wreck and I hold it no grudge (in 2011 we got married in the backyard with the collapsed dairy barn as backdrop), but it was always wayyyy too far gone to think about saving it. (Also we don’t have any cows or anything, though a big old barn in better condition could’ve been a great venue for movie screenings, barn dances, yoga classes…)
Based on old photos and some historical society documentation, we think the original barn burned in the 1930′s so this barn was probably the replacement for the old barn lost to fire. It was a dairy barn; the Brunk farm sold milk to the Locust Farm Dairy that used to be in Limington.
evidence of the Locust Farm Dairy
A few years back, we found some neat cattle tags(?) buried in the yard next to the barn while doing some yard work.
Typical 20th century construction, the barn was huge but nowhere near as sturdily built as the older ell and house. Leaky roof and time and no maintenance is presumably what did it in. By the time the Brunk family sold the property by the early 1980′s, the farmers would’ve been aging and dairy farming in Maine was becoming increasingly unprofitable, so (like so many rural Maine dairy operations) it’s no surprise that they didn’t put too many resources into maintaining a dairy barn with a leaky roof. Since the 80′s it seems like the barn’s been mostly ignored and used for dumping junk. Day by day it’s sinking and slumping. We go out and check after every big storm and often we’re surprised that nothing has budged, despite howling winds and whipping rain and wet heavy snow, even when the yard is littered with tree limbs and debris, the barn holds up. But this week’s been peaceful and sunny and beautiful, and we just noticed that it’s gone down dramatically while we weren’t paying attention.
I wish we’d managed to set up a proper time lapse record of the changes, but we’re not so organized.
this is the barn when we first arrived in March 2010.
left: found photo of the barn (1960′s?). right: inside the barn, 2010.
front of barn. 2010
And here’s the back.
August 2011 (before Hurricane Irene)
August 2011, after hurricane Irene
Posted: May 4th, 2013 | Author: eliza | Filed under: exterior | Tags: before, exterior | No Comments »
the house. may 2013.
not much change to see from the outside, not yet. hopefully this summer.
Posted: January 21st, 2013 | Author: eliza | Filed under: excitement, kitchen, woodworking | Tags: kitchen shelves | No Comments »
After a year of steady work, we’ve finally completed this huge shelf. Here it is on the work bench for the first coat of varnish.
After the varnish, we painted the shelf back blue to match the color of our kitchen walls, and screwed on the shelf back (it provides important structural support and makes it easier to hang the shelf.) And then both of my parents helped us to haul it up to Limington and hang it up!
When we built the kitchen walls, we put sheets of 3/4″ plywood instead of strapping on top of the rigid foam insulation, under the blue board and plaster, all around the countertop areas where we expected to hang upper cabinets or shelving. So when it came time to hang the shelf, we didn’t have to wonder about where the strapping was, whether the screws would grab into wood or just plaster, whether the wall’s strong enough. We know the plaster is all backed with nice strong wood because we built it ourselves!
Posted: December 1st, 2012 | Author: eliza | Filed under: bathroom, oops, plumbing, progress, upstairs bathroom, water | No Comments »
Have I told you about the upstairs bathroom? There are a few stories to tell. We’ve learned that this bathroom was originally built by a previous owner, obviously another amateur do-it-yourselfer who invented a few creative (and not-to-code) plumbing techniques, like putting the sink trap (normally found directly under the sink) two stories down, in the basement. The next owners apparently had some bathroom problems because when we got here, the whole bathroom floor was covered in a thin film of foul, sludgy sewage residue, including the baseboards and, in some areas, the bottom of the wainscoting. And the toilet looked like this. UGH. Until I scrubbed it for a few DAYS, then it looked like this. (While I was working on the plumbing I discovered a pair of childrens’ safety scissors lodged in the drain-pipe, which might have been the root of the problem!) So back in 2010 I tore out all the flooring (while wearing rubber gloves and a mask!) and the baseboards and the nasty parts of the wainscoting. When I got down to the sub-flooring, I was pleased to find that it was clean, unsoiled and usable! So we left it like that, and cleaned the bejeezus out of everything else, and we’d been living without proper flooring in the bathroom ever since.
The shower stall was ugly but once we replaced the burst pipes and turned on the water, it seemed to work fine and we weren’t planning to replace it til we’d fixed up the rest of the house. And then around June, we sprung a leak! Downstairs, in our beautiful new bathroom, there was water coming out of the ceiling! It ruined some of the fresh new paint and plaster on the downstairs wall, which was kind of heartbreaking. We disconnected the water supply to the shower and set about searching for the leak. Because of the unorthodox and not-to-code nature of the plumbing situation, it was actually impossible to access the shower plumbing without either tearing out the plaster wall of the adjacent hallway, or else tearing out the shower stall itself. Unsure of the exact location of the problem, we decided to just bite the bullet and tear out the old shower stall. And when we did, we found no apparent source of the leak! Arghhhhhh. We inspected very carefully around every seam of the supply line and the drain line, and we could not find any moisture, nor any water stains or signs of leaking. Instead there was plenty of powdery, dry dust, which really seemed to suggest that there was never any leaking at all. Looking back on the situation now, I believe that the leak was not caused by plumbing problems in the shower, nor by cracks in the shower stall, but by water spraying out of the shower, on to the porous, unfinished floor and seeping down through the first-floor ceiling below. Oooops.
But we’d hacked up the old shower stall in the process of removing it, so we needed a new shower stall. After way too many days of living with no shower (thankfully we have a generous neighbor who let us use his shower!), we borrowed my parents’ pickup truck and headed to Home Depot to pick out our new shower stall. Hauled it home and wrestled it onto the front porch and … oops again! It won’t fit through the front door! And it won’t fit through the bathroom door either.
Next day we hauled it back to Home Depot and exchanged it for a two-part model that did fit through the front door. But it turned out to be a tiny bit larger than the old shower stall, so we had to rip out a partial wall (the one that supported the third side of the shower stall) to get it in. It was a pretty simple thing, it wasn’t a load-bearing wall, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but after we got the shower stall in, then we were missing that wall and it needed to be replaced.
It also seemed like a good time to replace the bathroom flooring, so we started researching Marmoleum, which my sister had used in her bathroom renovation, and seemed like the best and easiest solution. Marmoleum is the original brand of linoleum, which has made a comeback in the past few years as a green building material. It’s made from natural linseed oil, pine rosins and wood flour, without all the toxic ingredients that go into vinyl flooring. It comes in large sheets which are waterproof (except for the seams between sheets) and unlike tile it feels soft and warm under bare feet, which is important when you live in a big old drafty farmhouse in Maine!
We had to hire help for installing the marmoleum. Before he could get started, we had to remove all the fixtures from the bathroom (except for the new shower, of course).
Here’s the finished floor! It’s purple! It wasn’t my first choice for a bathroom floor color, but it was the only one we could agree on at all.
Once the floor was in, we put the toilet and sink back in, of course, and started planning for the next stage, re-building the shower wall and the corner soffit that we’d ripped out.
Posted: September 30th, 2012 | Author: eliza | Filed under: extra bedrooms, progress | No Comments »
We’re starting work on another bedroom! This is the bedroom at the top of the stairs, to the left, next to the bathroom. It’s got three doors, one connecting to our bedroom, one to the hallway and one to my studio. Since we already have one guest room and don’t have another extra bed, for the moment this room’s been used for storing studio overflow, extra art supplies, winter coats, linens and stuff, and hosts the occasional visitors on an air mattress. I’m not sure what’s the long-term plan here, but we’re all tired of looking at the insanely pepto-bismol-pink walls and cruddy floor and missing trim. We’ll have marmoleum laid down on the floor, which is an easy solution because we don’t need to rip out the existing layers of flooring. Marmoleum is the original brand of linoleum, which has made a comeback in the past few years as a green building material. It’s made from natural linseed oil, pine rosins and wood flour, without all the toxic ingredients that go into vinyl flooring.
So, step one: pack up all the stuff and clear out the room.
All cleared out. This room is hideous. When we got here there was filthy carpet on this floor. Judy ripped it all out for us! Under the layers of carpet and foam backing, we found this weird particle-board stuff. It looks like there used to be some kind of vinyl tiles on this floor but they’d been removed by some previous owner. Presumably there is some real wood flooring under there somewhere, but it’s a pain in the ass to rip out this particle-board layer and we don’t really know if the wood underneath would be nice or not – some of the original floors are in pretty rough shape here, and a lot of them are covered with lead paint, which is a brutal mess to deal with. So we’ll just leave this stuff there and cover it with marmoleum, which at least will look better, and is lovely smooth and easy to clean. Unfortunately Marmoleum is not easy to install as a do-it-yourselfer, so we got some recommendations for a local fellow that does a good job.
First Dan laid down a thin plywood underlayment (because the old flooring still had residue from vinyl tiling and old adhesive that could interfere with gluing down the marmoleum) and then a natural, non-toxic adhesive and then the giant sheets of marmoleum. He used a giant, weighted roller to roll over and over the flooring, bonding it with the adhesive underneath.
I kind of like the pink walls now, they look pretty amazing with the green floor! But we’ve hated them for too long, so the next step is definitely to repaint the walls and trim.
soon it won’t be pink anymore!
Posted: September 25th, 2012 | Author: eliza | Filed under: neighborhood, photos | No Comments »
I went out for a run on Cape Road. I usually run on a quieter dead-end road but I tried something different for the sake of variety. I hated running on the side of the road with so much traffic going by! and won’t do it again, but it was nice to go down a familiar road on foot and see so many details about the neighborhood that I never notice from the car.
sign on the old Limington town hall
What a relief to turn down a quiet side road away from the traffic. I wish we had more off-road paths for running and biking.
Posted: September 14th, 2012 | Author: eliza | Filed under: kitchen, slow progress, woodworking | Tags: kitchen shelves | No Comments »
shelves on the workbench
we’ve finished assembly! sanded and planed, plugged the screw holes and we’re ready to varnish.