Sunday, 09.08.2009

The last week and a half of our summer holidays have been spend putting up a fence around the yard. The main purpose is to keep Lilli in, but it will also keep the rabbits, deer, and mooses out of the yard.

After a bit of investigation it seemed that the cheapest and easiest solution was a plastic coated welded wire fence with tanalised wood posts. So after some planning and measuring we made a trip to a couple of hardware shops and bought some wood for the posts and several 25m x 1m rolls of mesh. Good thing we have a big car!

A pile of wood

The most of the time up till now has been spend putting in the fence posts. Each post is just over 1m tall with 50cm in the ground. So that required a lot of post holes. At first I tried to find a post-hole digger which seemed to be quite common everywhere except for here. After a fruitless search for one of those, or anything else, I eventually found a maakaira, which is basically a manual ground auger.

Tool of torture   Torture is over.   Full on torture

It looks quite a bit easier than it actually was. Back-breaking comes to mind. The best that I managed was 10 holes in one day. Athough other days we managed up to seven, but that included putting in the posts as well. The ground around the yard varies quite a lot too. Nearer the house it is hard compacted clay full of stones. The stones jam the auger and need picked out by hand. Further down the yard it is basically soft muddy dirt full of tree roots. Those need cut by hand as well. So, generally it is slow work, and we have had the best weather so far this summer with clear skies and around 25 deg every day. Cold beer helps a lot! Oh, and did I mention the endless stream of mosquitoes and horse flies?

Many holes to go   The first post!   The 9th post!   Posts in a row.   Many posts, not in a row.

Putting in the posts wasn’t so bad, just a lot of packing in the dirt back around them. A few of them are concreted in, expecially where the gates will go.

Now that the last of the posts are in (around 50 of them), it is time to put up the wire mesh. Unfortunately we have run out of summer holiday time now. So the rest will have to be done after work or at the weekend. But in a couple of hours we managed to put in the longest run of mesh. So hopefully the rest doesn’t take too long. Being a green mesh the fence itself is almost invisible as well, which is nice for summer at least.

A fence!   A nearly invisible fence

We also bought some hinges for the gates yesterday. They are all basic lift-off farm gate style hinges, but I just noticed that one of them is missing the hinge mounting for the gate post. So we have to go all the way back to the shop again tomorrow… Hopefully it is still there, they were exactly the hinge type I was looking for.

Saturday, 06.06.2009

Nothing major going on, but a few garden things and a bit of repair work.

At the back of the vegetable garden we put in a raised garden made from peat bricks. And in that we planted some asparagus. Our vegetable garden is starting to grow as well now. Even the potatos are coming up.

Asparagas garden   Chip in the ground...

The flower garden has also been cleaned up and the brickwork repaired. The bricks are too light to survive the winter freezing, so I tried cementing them in place to see if it helps. The garden itself was cleaned up and rearranged. Hopefully it can stay this tidy.

Here a brick, there a brick.

Our fruit trees are flowering again, although apart from a few cherries, I doubt if we get much. The first of the trees in the picture (an apple tree) was almost complete ring barked by moles during the winter. But their damage didn’t go so deep and it doesn’t go completely around, so hopefully it survives. It seems to be doing okay at the moment. The next is our cherry tree and finally our little pine. The pine was looking pretty sad for the first couple of years after the house was built and the ground around it was disturbed, but it seems to be growing quite strongly now.

Not much cider coming off here.   9 cherries last year!   Our very own Christmas tree.

Wednesday, 16.07.2008

Another few evenings spent in the ceiling and the end is in sight.

Over the last few days the shelves were finished. The railing around the ladder hole is done, and the air vents are in place.

Just a little dusty still.   Nothing that a good cleaning wouldn't cure.

Tonight I finished off the final part of the door frames, cleaned out all the offcuts of wood and removed all the tools. Now all that is left is to clean everything and give the walls a coat of sealant and the floor a coat of varnish. That should protect everything a bit and stop it getting so dirty. Then we can start moving the junk there.

Saturday, 12.07.2008

Well, not much writen here for a while, but work goes on.

The attic is nearly finished after many days and nights of scratching around in the ceiling. I didn’t really have an idea how long it would take, but it seems to have stretched on quite long. Although there were gaps of a couple of weeks between work days where I didn’t get anything done.

The longest and most time consuming part was putting up the walls and ceiling. For that I used tongue and groove paneling. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and the end result is quite good. But without a nail-gun it wasn’t much fun.

And the most annoying part was that after many calculations and recalculations of area to be covered I discovered in the end that I had forgotten to include the ceiling in the area to be covered with the paneling!

Seems that the wood run out before the wall did.   It's going to be a bit draughty like this.

So needless to say we had to pay another visit to the hardware shop and get some more wood. This time though we had to manage with getting it home on the roof rack instead of having it delivered. Although we did also need some more wood for the door frames and some for the shelving as well. In the end it actually took two visits to collect everything. Got some floor panels to use as doors as well. They were as thick as the plywood sheets I was planning to use, but a much more manageable size and cheaper as well. But hopefully that is the last thing we need to buy. Lugging stuff around on the roof racks isn’t much fun.

With most of the attic closed in it wasn’t possible to get anything long up the stairs any more, so it had to come up through the hatch above the car-port. Luckily it is still possible to get things up there although there isn’t much space to maneuver, so the paneling has to be the right way around the first time.

The next up was the door frames and end walls. Thinking about it now, the design I had was probably the wrong one. It worked out that each panel had to be cut separately to the correct length and with an angled end. I’m not sure how it would have been possible to do it otherwise, but without all the cutting it would have been much less work. Still, it looks quite good in the end.

All I need now is a door.   A neeeked wall.

The state of things at the moment is that both end walls are done. All the architraving I wanted in place along the top of the walls and around the doors is finished. One set of shelves is in place and I’m working on another two. Those shelves should be finished tomorrow with any luck. Then there comes the railing around the stair hole, some air vents and the doors at each end. Then maybe we can start piling all our junk there…

Sunday, 04.05.2008

With the coming of spring so starts more work. First up for this year is the attic. The attic will be unheated storage space built into the ceiling space. The rafters already had a space designed into them to be used for this and between the ventilation pipes and the chimney we have about 10 metres of space there, but the attic itself is about 7-8 metres long. We had always planned to build it there, but it has taken quite a long time to get started.

Of course nothing goes as expected. A couple of weeks ago when we decided to actually do something we ordered all the wood we needed. Pine tongue and groove floor boards and panelling for the walls. Both as cheap as we could get. Of course the day they delivered our near 1000€ of wood we found an advert for exactly the same stuff for half the price on sale…

Putting down the floorboards was quite simple once I worked out to knock them into place with the hammer and an offcut of boarding. Although most of the boards were twisted, so it took a bit of work to get them in place sometimes. The biggest problem is the hole in the ceiling where the steps come up. That took quite a lot of messing around to build a nice frame enclosing the hole.

Lots of grooves, not much tongue.   I hope that insulation isn't toxic...   Mind the gap.

But after a few scratchy evenings of jumping from rafter to rafter the floor was finished.

Mind the gap part II.   A nice dancing floor for the mice.

Next up is the wall/ceiling panelling.

Monday, 17.09.2007

Another back breaking weekend.

Last week we got the bricks delivered to continue the edging around the front driveway. We started it last year with some leftover bricks from the back garden. But now it was time to finish the rest and complete the front yard.

We picked up the compactor on Friday from the rental place to pack down the driveway fill once the bricks were in place. Saturday got off to a good start by bucketing down all morning. It finally let up about lunch time after turning the driveway fill into muddy soup. That afternoon Pia split all the bricks in half (they come in a pair and have to be broken in half to reveal the rough face) and I started doing the edge around the front flower garden. This went quiet well, although keeping the curve and height correct is time consuming. The worst came when going up the side of the driveway and where the height of the wall went from two bricks tall down to one. Once that was done we finished the day by compacting most of the driveway and yard. It went quite well considering how wet it was during the morning. But at least part of it was like trying to compact porridge and left a layer of fine mud over the surface behind the machine. We got the lightest compactor they had, 60kg, but even so it turned the kivituhka (stone dust) into quite a hard surface.

Flowers are still blooming!

Sunday was off to an early start. We were out starting on the other side of the driveway by about 9am. The first part went quite quickly, but it soon became clear that the ground level there was much higher than it should have been and the bricks would need to be set into the ground a bit to line up with the eventual ground and grass level. Unfortunately the ground there is very lumpy gravel and rock left over from the house construction. Trying to clean it away with the shovel was extremely slow work. We also found a huge lump of concrete buried there that we couldn’t dig up. The only solution was to chip enough out to get over it. And with all that and trying to line up nicely the large curves there it took until late afternoon to finish the brick laying.

Have to patch that brown spot...

Once the bricks were down we still had to level the rest of the area where all the dirt and sand had been dumped over the last couple of years and then lay the rest of the kivituhka. The compactor was due back at the rental shop Monday morning so we didn’t have any time to spare. Moving the top layer was relatively easy, being a layer of sand and dirt over the gravel. But the gravel itself had to come down a few centimetres and that was really painful to skim off with the shovel. But after and a couple of hours we had the surface relatively flat and used the compactor to knock the rest down to size (useful machine that).

Next we spread the remaining kivituhka around and also used it to fill in all the low spots, leveling the whole thing out with a plank. After flattening out the last of the soft spots with the compactor we finally finished about 7pm.

The whole kaboodle.

The final things to do are fill in the areas behind the bricks with dirt for the garden and to rebuild the lawn behind the rest. 

Monday, 09.09.2007

Well, nothing happens for weeks and then it is all go at once.

Just a couple of weeks ago we took possesion of 14 pallets of paving stones and a pile of fine crushed rock.

The paving stones cover an area of about 115 square metres which is over double what we layed ourselves round the back. So this job required a few reinforcements. We got a bit of slightly more professional help (people who actually know what they are doing!) this time. And with our assistance and Pia’s parents, Lea and Risto, helping we had a newly laid front yard in one weekend.

Nice little toy!

Risto brought his truck down as well along with a little tractor. The tractor alone saved hours of work leveling the gravel and having the truck with the hoist meant we didn’t have to carry the paving stones from one side of the yard to the other.

Quite a lot done already.

The weather didn’t entirely cooperate during the weekend, but it was possible to do some work under shelter during the worst of it.

Hard at work and out of the rain.   Finished at last!

While the truck was here we also replaced the drainage pipe under the driveway. The old one was crushed by all the traffic when the house was built. So Risto got us a new reinforced one that should survive better. Since the truck hoist also has a digging attachment it took just a short while to replace it.

All said, everything went pretty smoothly, thanks to everyone involved. If only we could get everything else done so quickly…

If only it went this quickly.

Speaking of which, last week we got 10 cubic metres of surfacing to finish off the rest of the driveway. The material we are using for the driveway area is a byproduct of rock crushing, kivituhka. Probably the best translation is rock dust. It is fine clingy material that packs down quite hard. We got a dark colour, dark grey, almost charcol. It does lighten quite a lot when dry though. Anyway, with another couple of helpers more and many, many, many wheelbarrows full later we spread most of it around. Unfortunately it still needs compacted and leveled off properly. But first we are going to get some more bricks and lay them around the edges of the gardens and driveway. Then once that is done we can spread the last of the around the edges and rent a compactor for the weekend.

Quite a few more wheelbarrows to go.

Thursday, 26.07.2007

Another job done.

Finished the step to the back terrace today. Also washed the terrace and coated it with stain again since we were going to be working on it. Recoated the front terrace one a few weeks ago already.

Shiny, shiny.

We also finished the stone work around the drain a few of weeks ago. It only took a year :-).

What a drain...

Tuesday, 24.07.2007

Just finished the latest endeavour in our yard the other day. Over the last few weeks we built a picnic table and benches. Building it took just a few days work, but painting it has lasted several weeks with a coat every now and again. But its finally finished now. Hopefully it stands up to the weather lately since it has probably raines more in a couple of days now than we had the whole last summer.

Picnic table

The flower garden that was mentioned in the last entry took a while to get going, but all the wild flowers eventually took off. There is a real mixture there and most we have no idea what they are, but it is certainly colourful.

Lots of flowers   Closeup 1   Closeup 2   Closeup 3

Wednesday, 16.05.2007

The truck load of dirt turned up soon after the last entry. That was put to use around the grass out back and to make the new garden in the front.

Dirt, lots of dirt.   More lawn to cut   More garden to weed.

The grass and flower seeds were planted about two weeks ago and the grass is already growing and the flowers are coming up quite well. The remaining land out the front still needs cleaned up and brick edging put in place, but that can wait a while longer.

The next thing on the schedule was to replace the rough netting we put up to protect the new fruit trees last autumn. After a winter they looked pretty bad, so we bought some plastic coated wire fencing and put up new fences around each tree. The fence is definitely needed. The rabbits peeled off the bark completely around one of our neighbours adult apple trees during the winter. The new ones look quite a bit better too. The trees have come out in leaf quite nicely and in the last few days some are even coming out in flower.

Lets see those rabbits get through that.   Pear tree.   Plum tree.   Apple tree.

After that came the greenhouse. We ordered it early last month and it turned up a few weeks ago. Since the last entry we have cleared the ground where it was going to sit, dug holes for the foundation, poured some concrete piles, set the foundation in place and assembled the whole thing. Putting it together took the whole of last weekend and was an exercise in patience. Being the typical product of that type all the instructions consisted of just pictures with numbered parts. Unfortunately few of the parts themselves were actually numbered and many of the steps needed were skipped over in the diagrams. And of course, Sunday evening, when it came time to finish the whole thing by fitting the doors we found out that a couple of parts for the second door were wrong. So now we have a greenhouse that we can’t close… grrrr!!

Perfectly level too!   Lots of little pieces.   #&?%! Thats all there is to say about that part.   Sitting in the sun.

The greenhouse itself is aluminium framing with some kind of polycarbonate sheeting like corrugated cardboard. Supposedly it keeps it a bit warmer and stops the sun burning the plants. We will see. We also got some automatic window openers. Bit hard to fit, but they seem to work.

Lots of holes.   Hopefully not like a sauna in here.

Since the ground where we put it is full of tree roots we put plastic around the sides and water permeable matting across the bottom. Hopefully that will keep the willow roots out. Now we just need dirt, lots of dirt…

Thats a lot of wheelbarrows full.