Missouri or Bust
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UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 2008. Fall is in the air. The shop is nearing completion. Read all about our Spring and Summer adventures.
Also check out my portfolio website: I Like It Design.com.

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Many friends have inquired about the flooding reported on the national news. Fortunately we are fine, although a great deal of Missouri has suffered losses this year. Our house is on a ridgetop. It gets windy but we aren't suseptible to standing water. However, our property, and the surrounding areas have dense clay soil which doesn't drain well and it stays soggy. The water meter in front of the house has been underwater for 3 months now. The basement, whose concrete block walls are cracking and shifting, got wet this year. The former owner had some old carpet down there which we thought indicated it stayed pretty dry. We were wrong. All the carpet got wet and we had to throw it all away. We have had a dehumidifier going night and day since May to dry it out. Some of the house has a sour smell and I have no idea how to get rid of it. According to the neighbors, the former owner hand-dug the outside perimeter to install some type of reinforcing but it seems he didn't address water infiltration.

July was pretty wet around here. We had about of week of rain everyday. We walked down the gravel road north of our property after one of the earlier rainstorms to see the creek. The road, bridge and the bottomland was all under water. It probably was impassable for at least the entire day. It was a hot and humid day. Buster and Sammy had a nice swim. On July 26 we decided to take a break and go to Macon for the "Flywheel Reunion". The fairgrounds were sodden and many activities had been cancelled. I made the mistake of wearing white tennies. I should have worn my rubber boots. We had to drive through 5" of water on the major highway on the way home. We heard there had been 10" of rain in 24 hrs.

After the rains, the temperatures were in the 80's. All the water evaporating from the ground made it pretty humid. Sweat starts pouring down every part of your body after only a couple minutes work outside. Danny gets the worst of it since he has to be out on the blacktop all day for his job. I hide in the house during the afternoons. We had to run the air conditioning constantly for about a week. Lately it has been milder. It is still in the low 80s but cools down at night and not very humid. We have been able to get by without running the air conditioner.

I love the sky here. There are almost always big puffy clouds. In the morning and evening everything gets a glorious glow that looks like orange sherbert and just makes me giddy. It is impossible to capture with the camera. We've had quite a few exciting thunderstorms this Spring or Summer but the worst seems to go North or South of us. Anytime there was a tornado watch on the radio, I would run around the house trying to remember what we are supposed to do. Danny just tells me to wait. He says when there is something to worry about, we'll know it.

::  SHOP
We finally got the pad poured on April 27th. The ground was still pretty muddy and the workers had not reinforced the forms so the low side started to blow out while they were pouring. The pad ended up being a couple inches wider then it should have been. Plus it was not square. The contractor had to cut off the excess and and put in new anchor bolts on the south side. It also is not terribly flat and the building has a noticable dip on the south side. Danny ordered the lumber and we began framing the next weekend.

Danny planned out the walls in 12' sections to make it easier for us to raise ourselves. It worked out quite well. We used 6" walls 24" o..c. studs on the shop side and 4" walls 16" o.c. for the garage. The trusses for the roof arrived on May 8. We devised a way for the two of us to wrangled them up on the walls and had the trusses in place by May 18. Because we were using OSB and were getting a lot of rain, we didn't want to sheath the exterior walls until the roof was sheathed, so we put up some temporary sheets and bracing and went to work on getting the roof on. We debated doing open eaves or soffits and went with open eaves. I wanted to make it a little easier on myself and put the primer and first coat of paint on the eave tails, blocking, fascia and underside of the roof sheathing before we put it up.

Even with a rented nail gun it still took longer than we thought it would to shingle the roof. We had to contend with some very blustery days so we didn't want to put on the roof paper unless we could get it covered that day. We finally completed the ridge vent on June 18 and began working on the sheathing and siding.

It was a relief to get the building sheathed and wrapped although rain was still coming in the garage and man doors. We chose vinyl siding for ease and economy. It is very common in Missouri. This is the first time either has put up vinyl siding. We learned a lot. It went up fairly easily. The biggest issue we had was the twisted corner posts trim. All in all, we are pleased with the appearance.

Because we had moved the table saw, chop saw and other tools into the building, I was very anxious to get the building closed up to keep out the weather, critters and prying eyes. Before we were able to install the garage doors, we needed to put up some of the sheetrock on the front of the building and part of the ceiling. The pre-hung door and vinyl window dropped right in but Danny spent awhile hanging the door for the shop. We used a steel door that we found in the barn. It needed to be repainted but was in good shape otherwise.

Now that the exterior is done, we concentrate on the inside. We previously had an electrician come and trench for electrical to the shop and barn and we wired the shop with 220 and 110. We got a huge stack of insulation and sheetrock delivered on July 27th. After insulating all the exterior walls we begin to sheetrock. Once the ceiling was done we ran down to Lowes (a 90 mile round trip) for the insulation blower. It gets 8" of blown-in insulation for an R value of 30. We started early but by 12 it wasn't done and it was getting hot up there. I started getting woozy so Danny finished up.

It is close to done. We still need to finish topping and taping and then paint. Danny will have 3 interior doors and cabinets to build and install. That will take the most time. We will get a wood stove that Danny will have to stoke all winter to keep it warm. We haven't gotten a cooling system yet.

::  WORK
Danny's job with MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) gets him up at 4:45 M-Th. We are early risers but that's just a tiny bit too early. He is scheduled to work four 10 hour days per week, weather permitting. He has mostly been part of the crew that has been painting all the railroad crossings in this region. The sign shop covers several counties and he ends up driving more than painting. If it rains, people have a choice of going home, but they don't give the workers much to do so Danny usually leaves. We have plenty to do here. He has enjoyed getting to know his co-workers and is gathering a lot of local knowledge about farming from them.

I spend my days doing a few jobs here and there for former clients in California. I have picked up one project here that I can do at home. It is tracing satellite maps of golf courses for a software company in K.C. It is piecework that is based on $11/hr. Unfortunately, that doesn't take into account any administration time so it seems like I am only making like $5/hr to do it. But it is something to do while I look for other work, plus it will end soon.

Then I try to keep up with the chores and yardwork around here. I can't imagine if we actually had to do real farm work too. When would i have time to keep up with my TV watching. Mowing is BIG in Missouri. Everyone who is anyone has a riding mower. I spent 4-1/2 hours last week mowing the yard. Danny usually does it, but it has been too hot for him to do it when he gets home and it was very overdue due to the rains, which also makes it grow faster. Usually it takes about 2-1/2 hours just to mow the entire yard. Then it is my job to get out the electric mower and weed wacker to get the parts that can't be reached by the riding mower. Plus weeding and tree trimming, it's hard to keep up.

We haven't been to many auctions lately. They have to be worth it to spend the time and gas. We went to one in La Plata which is not too far away offering a good collection of fairly new tools. We had our eye on quite a few items. You never know if something will go cheap or if people will just keeping bidding until they end up paying full price or more. We were interested in 2 sanding stations and a dust collection system. We hadn't done our homework and didn't know exactly what the items were worth but the sanding stations went for more than we wanted to pay. We did win the bid on the dust collection system. It is something we really wanted. Turns out, we ended paying about what it is worth. Our consolation is we saved shipping costs and it is almost new. Danny got a bunch of clamps pretty cheap--you can never have too many clamps. I got a box of rusty stuff and a box of misc. bolts. I was so excited! We also got a bunch of walnut lumber for an irresistible price. I better learn to like walnut furniture.

Sam brought the cattle back over to our property in the Spring so the hay could grow for harvest on Glenda's property. They do a great job of keeping the grass short so we can walk the property. I find new wildflowers or something new almost every morning when I take the dogs for their morning walk. There have been a few occasions when we saw a lone coyote watching us from a short distance off. Danny only gets to join us on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We have taken to walking on the paved road to avoid cow patties and flies. There are a lot of new calves. They are so cute gamboling over the fields. They try to chase the dogs as much as the dogs try to chase them. The biggest problem is that the dogs like to eat the calf poop. This grosses me out and I spend most of the walk yelling at the dogs.

There are 2 new bulls in the herd. They still seem to be trying to figure out what they are supposed to do. Clifford has been moving his cows to the neighboring pasture and his bulls interact with our bulls. There is a lot of mooing and pawing the earth. Then one day, Frederick the bull decided the grass looked greener on our side and decided to come through the fence. Clifford on his tractor and Kelly (our neighbor and Clifford's sister-in-law) on her ATV, chased him around our 80 acres but he didn't want to cooperate. I went out on foot and tried to help. I was actually able to chase him into our cattle pen. Unfortunately, Clifford doesn't have a cattle trailer so we tried herding him out our front gate but the bull would have none of it and veered off into the pasture. Because Clifford had to get to work, Frederick spent the day with our cows and our neighbor Jimmy (Clifford's brother) was able to coax him back home that evening.

The cows were moved back to Glenda's property in July to give our pasture a rest. It is a bit of a relief since I don't have to yell at the dogs as much but the grass it getting pretty tall again.

::  POND
The pond that we were dreaming about is not going to happen. Looking out there, it seemed to us that we could get a huge pond on the site but when the pond people came out and surveyed the site we had in mind, they said they would only pay for a 1/3 acre pond. Apparently , the site could take up to a 1/2 acre pond which is still pretty small but we would have to pay the difference which could come to $7000. So we opted not to put it in. We will have to see about fixing up the ponds we have.

There doesn't seem to be any fish in our bigger pond, but it is full of bullfrog tadpoles. I'm guessing they are why the pond is always so muddy. We have heard the songs of a number of different frogs in the various ponds. When I go to investigate they all shut right up. There is one type of frog that sounds just like dogs barking.

::  PETS
Buster is now about 9 months old. The vet says he is probably as big as he will get but he still has huge feet. We believe the Humane Society was wrong about his heritage. We are seeing signs of hound in him. He has big floppy ears that make the funniest wobble-wobble sound when he shakes his head. He also has a distinctive hound bay when he barks at every little noise. Sammy is the good dog now. Everytime Buster wanders off, Sammy comes over to us as if to tell on him. It is a joy to watch them run around and play. They both have boundless energy. I'm glad we have Sammy to help wear Buster out a little.

Aiko seems to hate Missouri. She also doesn't like Buster. She rarely goes outside anymore. We have been having to put her on a leash to make her come on the morning walk. She spends most of her time sleeping in the bathtub. We were going to shave her but I think she would just look too weird.

Kitty-kitty (she never got a better name) loves to go outside. I believe she is becoming quite the hunter. I have found several dead rodents and birds. I was somewhat happy to see the dead mice, but very sad to see the dead hummingbird. We were trying to just let her out a night but she's fast!

Bootsie is looking very old. The vet says she is 10 years old. She is very thin and losing hair by the handful. Of course it is 100 degrees in the barn most days and she doesn't leave it much, but I'm worried she may not make it through another winter.

We had 2 visitors this Spring. My mother and step-father visited in early May. We were in the middle of framing the shop and they felt a little in the way. One day they took a day-trip to Hannibal where Mark Twain grew up. The next day we drove to La Plata where a community of Amish live, then drove to Macon and walked around downtown. It was the first chance I had had to look around myself. We found an old-style soda fountain in the Rexall and enjoyed some ice cream. They went to Kansas City a day early to spent the day at the Truman museum before they flew home.

Danny's mother came to visit a week later. Without a car, she was at our mercy for entertainment and spent most of the visit watching us up put up trusses on the shop. Danny did take her to an auction one day. We also spent a lot of time sitting on the back porch watching the birds and the bees. The carpenter bees were busy boring into the porch rafters to make their nests.

No one else we know has offered to come to Missouri to visit us. But we have a guest room for any brave enough to venture out here to see it all for themselves.

We put in a compost bin in the Fall. It is a pain to turn, but it's great to have a place to put all the kitchen compostables. I have been searching desperately for a chipper/shredder. I have cut several branches from the trees around the house and have quite a few more that need cutting. Most people around here just take it out to the pasture and leave it but I need mulch and hate to buy it when I have the resources sitting here. The shavings from Danny's planer actually made very nice mulch for the melons.

::  NEXT
We are having a septic system put in next week. Right now everything just comes out of a pipe "over the hill". They will put in a tank and a lagoon instead of a leach field--very common for these soils (A lot of people just have the lagoon). So, the next chore will be building a fence around the lagoon.

Of course, the best part of being out in the country is enjoying the nature. For the nature-lovers, I have made some separate pages. Check the sidebar or below for links to the nature page that interests you.

GARDEN    : :      WILDFLOWERS     : :      INSECTS     : :     CHAPTER 5