Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Getting Water to my Garden, Organizing the Store & More Painting

Hello all.  Sorry I am late in posting this.  Last Sunday I hurt my shoulder, was on the mend and re hurt it the other day.  At the same time Mike hurt his back….grr!!!  Sometimes this getting older stuff is no fun, lol.  At least we do things together.  Oh and Nicole fell down her steps last week and really hurt her foot.  So Sunday breakfast came and poor Ella was with a bunch of broken adults, lol, which we are not allowed to be next Sunday:)

Last week Mike had a great idea for getting water down to my garden:)  We have an underground drain pipe that runs from our gutter, underneath our front yard for about 20 feet and then out of the ground so the water can go downhill.  He decided to run a piece of pex(since we have extra) in the drain tube under the ground and to our faucet.

Mike unrolling some pex to feed up into our underground tube:

The opening of our drain pipe and the pex is inside it and up to the house:

The pex coming out of the drain pipe and Mike will hook that up to our water faucet:

The other end.  Mike ran the pex to outside our yard(fence) and hooked the pex up to my hose:

The pex and hose running to my garden:

For now it works.  It is better than having a hose laying on the front yard all the time.  At some point we will run an underground waterline all the way to my garden:

Back to the store for a little more work.  Getting ready to put the bathroom together.  Mike starts with the toilet:

Putting the toilet on the wax seal.  OK…why didn't anyone catch what we did wrong last year, lol???? What did we forget to do before the drywall went up?  

Cutting the hole in the vanity for the drain pipe:

Our little vanity and sink in place but no water line to the toilet…grr!!  I blame Niki…she wasn't there to supervise us, lol.  Oh well…just another thing to fix:

After that round we went to the Farm Supply and picked up our new septic tank and chambers.  We want to be ready to go when our grader calls us back:)

The next day we did some moving of shelves and organizing:

And the best part of the week for me:)  It's time to get all my plants in the ground.  Everything is down by the garden and ready to go:

My tomatoes are going in:

Adding straw:

My square foot garden is also planted:

The next day Mike and I went in the barn and grabbed all of the extra water line.  He promised to run a water line down to Nicole's garden.  We went to her house and got about 200 feet of water line run to her garden.  She is very happy about that:)

And the final job for the week.  I talked Mike into painting the living room section:

The two walls in the kitchen and LR are the same color.  We will tone it down a bit by painting a shade darker on the front wall and back wall of the house….to be continued:)

Yesterday we went to Lowe's to pick up more paint and also 2 kitchen cabinets.  We are going to make and Island for my kitchen.  I looked at countertop materials yesterday and I don't like any of them.(yeah I will settle for anything but I don't "like" most things…I'm just a tad picky, lol)  I thought I liked Quartz until I saw the price….holy moly.  No that is not happening.  I think I found a nice laminate color and I will call the company today to get a larger sample.

We should also be getting our septic in this week:)

That's all for now.  Have a great week and I will post again next week.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Our New Sun Frost RF16 Refrigerator And A Bold New Color

This is Mike's year of putting all that we have learned together and making it right.  One of the things that we have never been "normal" with is our refrigerator.

We started off with a full sized propane refrigerator that worked well but used way too much propane.  It was the right choice at the time because our system was smaller and we wouldn't have made it through our first winter with an electric refrigerator.

After that first year Mike increased the size of our solar system and we bought a regular Frigidaire and it would have been fine if the 370kWh on the Energy Savings tag was correct.  In fact when we plugged that refrigerator into our kWh meter it was more than double which did not make us happy.  So with that much energy usage we could only run that refrigerator for part of the spring, all summer and part of the fall.

Then we went to an old standby.  We got an rv refrigerator while not the most efficient we could run it on either electric or propane with the flip of a switch.  It worked well but I was not happy with the small size.

At that point we had two refrigerators in the kitchen.  I switched over the the big one in the summer.  Mike was not happy about two refrigerators so he started researching again.  We have always known about the Off Grid solar refrigerators but two things kept us from buying one.  1.  Did they also lie about the Energy Efficiency?  and 2.  The cost.

Mike checked some reviews and there aren't many and he also spoke in detail several times with the rep at Sun Frost.  This is a big step as these refrigerators are made to order to your specifications and it would be a nightmare to return one.  Mike finally bit the bullet and ordered one.  So we waited and crossed our fingers that this would be the "one".  You can order any finish that you want and we just went with black since that was what we had and it will match the stove.  Now the worry begins.  We have never seen one of these refrigerators in person and the pictures online are pretty ugly, lol.

The refrigerator has been traveling from CA for a week and we finally got a call from Fed Ex Freight that it will be dropped off…yay.  Mike and I take the Jeep with the trailer and also the tractor down to the store.  Mike getting ready to get the refrigerator off the truck:

Lining up for the big box which is very top heavy since the motor is on top:

After the driver helps get it into the tractor bucket it's my turn to help.  Mike tells me to stand in the tractor bucket and hold the refrigerator while he drives over the the trailer.  I have a small freak out moment since Mike didn't tell me that the refrigerator will fall back onto the tractor.  So yes I freaked out when it fell over, lol.  But we prevailed and got this top heavy thing onto the trailer and strapped it down.  I drove it into our property and Mike followed with the tractor.  We made our switch at the pond.  There is no way I am risking losing the refrigerator on our way up to the top of the house, lol:

Now the fun part…yeah right.  We have to figure out how to get it off the trailer and down to the house.  The refrigerator is 300 pounds and with the motor on top it can easily fall over.  Mike decides to take off the outer box first.  We get the box off and decide to use the hand truck to take it down to the house.  Mike gets it onto the hand truck and off the trailer.  Once it is off the trailer I help hold the hand truck and one side while we take it down to the house.  OK..it wasn't too bad.  We got it inside:)

We knew this refrigerator was short and the company does sell a cabinet to put under it for "only"$522.00.  We decided to wait and see how short it was and what could be built if we needed it.  As you can see Mike will have to build something to make it higher and this is with 3 inch legs on the bottom:

We went to town and bought a 2x10x10.  Mike building two small boxes that we will install under the refrigerator:

Painted black and drying:

We decide to make the big switch in the morning.  We have to move the old refrigerator out.  Then Mike has to take out the old pipe that was hooked to the rv refrigerator and went through out ceiling for venting and also the fresh air vent that came in through the side of the house.  After he gets the pipes out he needs to make any repairs to the walls and replace the ceiling tile.

In the middle of all this I say "hmm…since we have everything out why don't we repaint the kitchen"…in a color.:)  So before we get started we run to town and pick up a yellow paint.  As you know Mike and I are terrible at picking colors so we are crossing our fingers that this will be a nice color.

OK…time for the switch.  The rv refrigerator gets disconnected and moved out of the way.  Mike starts sanding and spackling a crack that is behind our stove.  While he does that I clean everything and prep for painting:

I start painting the first wall:

Mike works on the repairs in the refrigerator corner:

We have to do this as quick as we can since the rv refrigerator is not plugged in and the food is inside it.  We need to make the switch as fast as we can.  Unfortunately we have a lot of drying time that we have to wait because of the spackling and the painting.

I got the first coat of paint on and I hate the color. Uh oh!!  Mike doesn't like it either:

Ugh..Mike tells me to drive all the way back to town and get a new color.  Yeah right…that is easier said than done and we don't have the time for samples.  I ask Mike to call Nicole as she has a dark orange on her wall and it is nice but a lighter tone would work for us.  I get to Lowe's and find Nicole's color.  I go with the one that is lighter and take it home.

OK…here goes.  I start with the refrigerator wall:

Ohh…it is bold but I like it so much better than the yellow:)

After I get that one wall painted it's time to help Mike.  I have been dreading this part.  We have to move the new refrigerator in place and get the old 3 inch legs off and then tilt it up onto the 10 inch boxes that Mike built.  Mike tilts it up and I hold it while he unscrews the 3 inch legs.  OK that went well:)  Now for the big tilt.  Thankfully we have a wall behind us, lol.  Mike tilts it while I get the first box under it.  Now for the really hard part…the second box.  We have to tilt it up and on top of the 10 inch box then we have to slide the second box under the other side of the refrigerator.  Whew we get it done.  The hard part is over:)  

Now we just have to make sure the boxes are positioned evenly and screw them into the refrigerator using L brackets to make sure it can't fall over.

Next Mike screws the back of the refrigerator to the wall for safety.  And for the final part.  Mike test fits a piece of luan to cover the front bottom part of the refrigerator.  We left the middle section open to keep a plastic pan underneath.  This is the drain.  Mike will paint and velcro the front piece on so we can get to the drain bucket:

The refrigerator is finished and in place.  Now we hook up the kWh meter and cross our fingers:

My new and refreshed kitchen and I love it:):)

Our Sun Frost RF16 review so far:)  After two days of running this refrigerator it has preformed higher than out expectations.  Now that is a rarity and a nice surprise.  Our first 24 hour period it used .47 kWh and the second 24 hour period it used .40 kWh.  That is amazing.  It must maintain the temperature inside the refrigerator very well as it doesn't "run" very often and when it does it stays on for a short period of time.  As you can see from the inside pictures it has super thick insulation.  I also like that it has two separate thermostat controls.  One for the refrigerator and one for the freezer.

The New Fridge and our homemade base:

The compressor is on top(and Mike can fix anything that could go wrong with it:))

The bottom refrigerator section:

And the freezer section:

Now that I have a larger refrigerator I can stock up, lol.

It;s another busy week for us and it's time to get my garden planted.:)  Have a great week and I will post next Monday.


Monday, May 12, 2014

This And That

Mike and I have been doing a combination of things around the house and at the store.

Mike cleaned out our underground water tank and now we need to figure out how we can use it:)

Last week we also got all of the poles and the wire taken down that kept the cows off our driveway.  It sure is nice not having to see all the ribbons:

Ah….the first round of mowing at the store.  Mike takes over and does the edge for me:

Getting the motorcycle ready to sell:

Back at the store for some inside work.  Mike needs to chisel out the area for the shower drain:

Time to get the power tools out:

While Mike works on the shower I spend my time pricing all kinds of things at the store.

I help hold the back of the shower while Mike makes the cuts for the handle:

The base and two of the shower walls are installed:

Yay…our well is drilled…we still have to add the pump and electric but we don't need anyone else to do that:)  Thankfully we have a good well.  It is a 125 foot 6 inch well at 20 gallons a minute.  Whew…that is a relief.  You just never know how far a well will have to be drilled:

Mike and his fish:)

Last week I showed you some of my pretty square foot garden pictures….well this week my larger lettuce and peas got eaten.  My granddaughter spotted the deer pellets in my garden.  The deer fence did not work…grr!!!  I am not happy about this.  I told Mike he needs to mark my garden, lol.  Hey I will do whatever it takes to keep the animals out of my garden.  A friend also suggested hanging bars of Irish Spring soap around the garden.  I am open to all and any suggestions.  For now I put bird netting over everything and put tomato cages around my blueberry plants.

I am watching the weather this week but it almost time to plant.  I hooked up the soaker hose in my garden and stapled the black plastic on the mounds to heat the soil up:)

Mike helped me this morning add the rest of the electric fence for the in ground garden:

That's all for now.  This week we should be getting our new solar refrigerator.  We may also install the toilet and vanity at the store that we picked up on Saturday.

Have a great week!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Getting My Gardens Ready and Plant Shopping With Nicole

I am so excited.  It is almost time to get the summer plants in the ground.  On Tuesday Nicole and I did our annual plant shopping").  We both felt like kids let lose in a candy store.  This is one of our favorite times of year.  We have a wonderful local greenhouse that starts vegetable plants and so many beautiful flowers.  Nicole gets both flowers and vegetables.  I usually just get vegetables but I may go back and get some flowers.  I think I can hang a couple of long pots on our cross fencing out front:):)

Here are some local pics of our Garden Greenhouse…..

The flowers:

One small table of veggies:

Oh Happy Day…Nicole and I with only one of each of our boxes.  We both bought two:)

Leaving my plants outside to get them used to being out.  I will put them out a few hours a day until planting time.  Hopefully Nicole and I can start planting late next week:)

Most likely I bought too many plants but I will get them in the ground somewhere, lol.  I bought 12 of Mike's favorite Super sweet 100's, 4 Golden Jubilee tomatoes, and 4 Celebrity tomatoes.  As for peppers I got 4 Red Beauty and 4 Lady Bell.  Then I got 2 cantaloupe, 2 Sugar baby watermelon, 2 straight neck squash, 2 zucchini, 6 very healthy cucumber plants and a basil and one purple basil.  I really hope I don't kill the basil like I usually do.  Ugh!!!  I also bought 6 Marigold to grow with the tomatoes and peppers and also one Sunflower to use as a trellis for one of my cuke plants.

Now for my gardens so far.  I have my old square foot garden and also a new in ground garden.

May 7

My square foot garden.  I cheated and bought 4 Romaine plants and 4 Purple Romaine plants.  I just wanted to see something grow, lol.

Onions, lettuce, spinach and beets that have not sprouted yet:

Peas and strawberries are looking good:

My Fruit Trees…that the deer nibbled on over the winter…grr!!!

My blueberries:

And my in ground garden.  I will be working on the fencing today. 

That's all for the gardening update.  This is my favorite time of year:):)

Have a great weekend and I will post on Monday.