Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken Coop Fort, Step 3 - Burying the Posts

Chicken Coop Fort
Step 1 - Planning
Step 2 - Framing
Step 3 - Burying the Posts

This is the part of the coop/fort that I put off the longest.  In most projects there is, to some degree, a step that I just put off – sometimes for a week, sometimes for a year.  Once I start doing it, all is well, but usually I just don't know how to go about starting the task or am somehow intimidated by the step or the level of commitment it will demand.  In my defense, this project was interrupted by legitimate life stuff getting in the way but even when I had the time and frame of mind to work on it, for whatever reason, actually digging the holes to bury the 16' 4x4s for the fort/coop was daunting.  Part of the problem was trying to figure out how to get the sixteen foot 4x4s home when our best hauling vehicle is a minivan.  This is where my friend Joyce enters the picture.  She had already built her boys a fort which is high up in the air supported by huge 6x6s.  Joyce told me about Parr Lumber who for orders of $100 or more will deliver at no extra charge!  

I ordered my posts along with some other lumber to get my order up to the minimum required for delivery and in anticipation of a new fence one day.  Not only did they deliver but the gentleman pushed the lumber right into our garage, which is atop a steep driveway.  The lumber guy had some mad forklift skills.
My husband dug the first post hole and really got the project moving again.  I marked where we would dig by placing the base of the coop on the ground and marking where each 4x4 would run up the sides.  We used a post-hole shovel and dug down 4’2” which is about as far as I can imagine digging with a post-hole shovel.  I knew from a previous call to the city that I would not run into any underground pipes, mains or lines.  Since the spot we were putting the coop/fort wasn't perfectly level I did end up digging the back holes a little deeper so all the posts would be about the same level up top – all four posts were not perfectly level with each other in the end and that was fine. 

Four feet down is a deep hole and I have been accused of overkill but knowing that would be the foundation for everything else I didn’t see how it could be too deep.  TIP: I have been told that for a post which will carry a lot of weight it is best to go deeper rather than wider.  Each hole was about 8” across.  TIP: At the bottom of the hole I used about 2” of crushed rock to set a firm base, for a little drainage and to serve as a barrier between the dirt and post.
TIP: To set the post in the holes I followed my friend Joyce’s advice and to keep the post from tearing up the side of the hole thereby adding dirt to the bottom I placed a board on the side as it was lowered.  I was able to drop the posts in the hole on my own using a hill to balance the post on.  Had it been flat ground with nothing to use for leverage, dropping the posts in would have been a two man job.

Mixing the cement was not nearly as difficult or messy as I thought it would be.  Jason helped me with this.  We dumped a bag of dry cement in a wheelbarrow and added water one bucket at a time.  I simply hosed off the wheelbarrow when we were finished.   
Mixing Brands was no problem at all. 
Nothing is hotter than my man helping in the workshop. :)
Yes, by bucket I did mean a kid's sand castle bucket.
TIP: I used a post level to make sure the posts were strait.  The level was pretty cheap and well worth it.
TIP: Joyce cautioned me not to move the post very much once the cement was poured.  She lost a few inches of depth by accidentally moving her post up a little as she was shifting it.  

To make sure my posts were square with each other I ran some twine between the posts and before using cement I made sure a board could lay flush between the 4x4s and I even placed the coop base in between them to be sure.  It was a hassle to be so cautious but absolutely worth it.

I used braces at first but realized it wasn't' necessary with thick enough cement. 

I had to expand my last post hole by a couple of inches because it was not in line with the others and the post would have been in direct contact with the dirt. TIP: It’s important to have the posts surrounded by cement and not touching the dirt so it will not rot.  It is well worth the trouble of checking, double checking and even redoing so that your posts are lined up with each other perfectly and centered in the cement.

 To finish the cement job, I mounded the cement up around the post and smoothed it with a shovel to allow for water to drain off of it.  Since I live in Oregon and it can rain at any time I stapled some bags to the post covering the cement to allow it to dry.  It did sprinkle during all this post burring business but with a little protection from direct rain the cement dried just fine. 

Once the posts were cemented in the hard part, which really wasn't that hard, was over.  The project flew after this with of course the exception of the finishing touches which always take forever.  I really enjoyed the rest of the project and though it took me some time to get the posts in the ground it came together really well.  It was so much fun to figure out how to go about each new step as the project evolved.

Chicken Coop Fort
Step 1 - Planning
Step 2 - Framing
Step 3 - Burying the Posts

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The most random post about my last four weeks including graduations, a bathroom refresh, a new headboard, paint in the bedroom, free lumber and chicken rice soup.

It's been a while since I've posted.  I have a few things to post about (like a million ideas and some actual completed projects) but I've been busy in the workshop plus doing all the stuff that comes with the end of a school year which for us included a kindergarten graduation and two high school graduations!

At the end of May I flew to Colorado for my step brother's graduation!  My parents, step bro, big sis and little bro live in Colorado.  My twin and I traveled together.  She and I can't live without the green Oregon affords us.
My siblings and me.  
My dad and step mama. 
Me, my big sis and my twin who is ruining everything with her braces. We used to show off our matching crooked teeth.  It's like we aren't' even twins anymore since she is straitening her teeth.
Here he is, my super smart and dedicated High School graduate brother who has so much going for him as he embarks on his journey toward engineering!

I had such a wonderful time in Colorado.  I connected with some friends from eighth grade and a friend from high school and got to just be with my family.  I went on this trip solo leaving my kids and husband behind.  It was a short and sweet visit but truly rewarding.

The day after I returned home which thank goodness was a holiday I headed over to one of our neighbor's house whom I met because they were tearing down their barn/shed that was near falling.  They let me grab all the scraps from their demolition that I wanted.  Not only did my husband approve of the salvage project, he actually helped me rescue the treasures.  We are talking true dimension lumber, old boards used for siding which will make for the perfect fort exterior (I have a few plans for to improve the Chicken Coop/Fort this summer), and some nice sturdy beams which are already being transformed into raised beds.  My mind is going crazy with ideas to use the wood from my new lumber yard.
Damn he's hot!
Here is my son looking for treasures!
After playing in the demolition pile, we finished a great school year with my children including my daughter's kindergarten graduation!  The end of the year is always super fun but it's also busy with the extra school parties and such which for me means preparing extra food to accommodate my kids' (especially my daughter's) food sensitivities. I am still just a rookie on gluten, egg and dairy free cooking which my daughter requires and I lost way too much time screwing up cakes.  I finally settled for a sucky cake for her graduation day.  I have since bought an actual gluten, diary, egg free cookbook which so far is gold!
Here she is taking a bow.  Be still my heart. 
Then things got really busy.  I didn't realize my step son was going to graduate this year.  I thought he was too far behind.  He has faced some challenges in the past few years that even I barely weathered, he has had a tough road and certainly gone through more than most teens.  So it was an absolute surprise in the most amazing way that he was going to make it with his rightful class of 2012!  Within thirty minutes of my reporting that he would be graduating in one week, my sweet step mom booked a flight to Oregon.  In that time I made quite an effort to finish up some of my projects, some of which had been dragging for months and which had my house in quite an upheaval.  But more on that later.  Graduation was awesome and having my step mom here for it and having her to myself for a few days was priceless.  Check out my handsome, bright step son on his graduation day.  
Hugging his sis and bro. 
We call him Alexander The Great 
So the last few weeks have been full of super fun non workshop stuff but I did manage to finished up a few projects with some self-induced deadlines I set once I knew I would be having company.  My house is still torn apart because frankly I only finished three of the twenty projects I'm in the middle of but I'll take any progress I can get.

I recently painted and sort of redecorated my bedroom and as the final touch I finished making a head board out of an old door that I've had for many months now.  I didn't put a lot of money into this.  The paint was even recycled which means I paid $10/gallon.  I swapped out curtains from my daughter's room and simply rearranged my furniture.  One cool thing I did was finally glue my vanity mirror to its base.  I have literally had a rope holding it up for three years.  The brackets I needed to secure the mirror do not exist. I was using contact cement for my bathroom shelf project and it dawned on me that it would be just the thing to secure my mirror and it was.  I still need to do a little decorating in my room.  I'm sort of feeling like it's time to get the sleeping fairy picture put into a frame other than the poster frame it's been in for so many years but I will wait until my big sister visits this summer.  She is my interior designer.
Before.  This was the paint the original owners had.  The walls were definitely in need some loving care. 
Note the lack of a rope holding the mirror up - thank you contact cement!
After.  New headboard made from an old door. 
After.  Check out my new necklace holder - an old door handle!
I did splurge and buy a fun summery bedspread to compliment my new purpley silver headboard. 
I (almost) finished a quick refresh of our bathroom - not the final product by any means but enough maintenance to make the bathroom livable and keep it from failing before we can do what really needs to be done.  I know I took before pictures but they are nowhere to be found so I'll just tell you, all our toothbrushes, face wash, brushes, contact cases etc... were piled on the tiny counter due to lack of storage.  Not anymore!  I also took down the plain cold mirror and replaced it with one I already had.  I saw a bigger nice one at Ikea that didn't cost too much so when I'm ready to spend money, I'll buy it for the bathroom.  My aunt also gave me a nice bathroom mat and new shower curtain, totally not planned but in perfect timing, I just haven't put it up yet.
I replaced a small cabinet which wouldn't even fit a bottle of hair gel, tore out some drywall and added a nice built in to match our storage needs.  I'm very pleased with how the shelves turned out.  I still need to figure out what I'm going to do for doors.  I may use a little cloth curtain.  I will wait, once again, for my designer big sister to come to town and tell me what to do.  I know it is in style to leave your belongings on display but I must just not have as pretty of toiletries as others, I want to hide them.
The blue section is the size of the cabinet that was previously there.  You can see a bit of my patch job beneath.  Behind that patch and the one not shown in the picture is a board anchored to the drywall so my towel rack (which I still need to hang up) stays put. 
My new shelves!  My sister will tell me weather to use curtains or a door or any other creative idea she may have. 
Under the shelves I finally fixed the two large holes in the wall where I had torn the drywall out to add some wood to support my towel rack.  A huge pet peeve of mine is towel racks falling out of the wall.  I suppose I should finish the task by hanging up the towel rack now.  I also added some protection to keep the door from making any more holes in my wall.
The drywall above the shower, while not moldy thank goodness, was failing.  I added some trim and caulked the hell out of it to preserve it until we do our real bathroom renovation which will include knocking out walls.

While the bathroom is a far cry from pintrest worthy, it is a huge step up with even just fresh paint and the patch jobs.  I won't cringe whenever a guest used the restroom in my house now and this will buy some time before I get to have a real tub.  Once again, my sister can help me get some pictures up and decorate it a bit when she arrives.  Because this is not the final product, I greatly resisted spending money on this.  The only thing I bought was the caulk and paint for the shelves which I will use on other built in projects I do in this house.  The paint on the walls was mixed from leftover paint from other projects, hence the color. ;)

I also finished painting some chests and a small book case that I started a while back.

In between layers of paint, guests coming and graduations I got a twentyfour hour stomach flu.  The day after my bedridden day I wanted some chicken rice soup and was annoyed I didn't already have some so I made a batch following the same recipe as my Turkey Soup only with a whole chicken and minus the roux.  I canned the left overs along with chicken broth.  Beef is what I have readily available since I buy it from my grandpa for cheap so whenever I have a chicken I like to try and make stock - it's so much better to cook with than beef broth.   I followed my pressure cookers directions for chicken soup and cooked it at ten pounds of pressure for fifteen minutes.  Of course it takes forever to get up that high and forever to come down but I was multitask and only had one batch (7 jars) so it didn't really interrupt my life too much.

Now that I have some of my indoor projects mostly wrapped up I can work on the yard where I am building some more raised beds with that lumber I salvaged.  Today I am hoping to get all my summer plants in the ground!

I still have a million things to do inside but like they always have done, they will continue to wait.  I love the summer time when I work hard, go to bed sore many days and wake up when I want to all refreshed.  I love having the kids home all day (most of the time) and I love that we can go to the lake or camping on a whim.  I'm trying my best to balance my work and projects with fun time.... just after I get the plants in the ground!