Current Topic: There is a small house 'Picker Shack' on the property. It is so small that the bank doesn't consider it a 'Home' and can't issue a 'Home' loan. Worse then that. It's not even in livable condition. Geez!
The Pantry Is... Wait A Minute... What Pantry...
When we arrived, the pantry (and that's a generous description) was a wasteland. It was the collection area for all junk that didn't look right lying around and could not go in to the shed because it was not weather tolerant.
So the first thing we did was travel to the nearest town (technically this is a village) where we were able to purchase a wall mounted TV stand. This helped only a little and it became obvious, especially after we realized how many beer bottles lay abandon after a weekend of visiting (Canada's favorite pastime) that it would need much more work to keep up with the demands of friends and family and basically living here.
Off to Irene's shop we went and after a few days of rearranging (mostly digging out an old Craftsman table saw) we were ready to start cutting pieces for a cabinet that would hopefully hold brooms and mops, empty bottles (which must be recycled manually), coats and jackets as well as a place to remove and store muddy boots.
So... I bought some melamine sheets (cheapest material I could get). Melamine is basically particle-board with a plastic facing (an awful material). Even though it is a 'poor mans material' it was incredibly overpriced. And the quality of the underlying particle-board was pathetic. But we moved on and cut for a while and were soon ready for fit tests.
Now I estimated this beauty weighing in at about 140-lbs. so I decided to bring all the milled pieces (unassembled) to the little house and assemble it there. Well... Shauna, remembering some of my fine furniture pieces, envisioned a month long assembly process (I knew better then that) and proceeds to throw a fit. Needless to say I expected all this but was hoping to defer the fit for at least the couple of hours I needed to assemble the unit at which time I knew Shauna would calm down, and ultimately she did thanks to Myles and Cheryl who were there to help me, for as long as it took, to assemble and install the cabinet (if you can call it that).
Here's the finished product. It has a long storage area to the left for brooms and mops with a shelf unit adjacent to the right and a coat storage on the far right with a shoe/boot cubby and a place to sit while removing those muddy boots. It even fit... Next to the fridge and under the already mounted television. Who'd have ever thought.
There was some leftover melamine (and nobody wants leftover melamine) so I decided to build small cabinets (Ikea grade) to house t-shirts, sweat-shirts, towels and rags in (almost) the only places left in the house (shack).
There was a space on the left side of the bed.
There was also a little space in the closet, behind the hanger, that worked out to be a fine place to store shoes and handbags.
And thus the melamine was gone. Whew! It's awful to have to store such a worthless material.
We Recovered The Little House Kitchen...
In case you don't remember... I'll refresh...; When we got here this house, if you could call it that (picker shack), was basically used as a tack shed. Mostly because there was no other place on the property that was suitable to store weather sensitive equipment. And... As you should recall I tried to solve that dilemma by fixing the shed. So when we finally moved all the saddles and tack from the kitchen. Behold... It absorbed all the kitchen stuff we brought with us.
Regrettably we have no 'Before' pictures of the kitchen (camera technical difficulties) but it I assure you is quite functional now. However... There is an electric stove/oven unit in here and for those of you who have never cooked with gas. 'You're Wasting Your Time.. 'You Can't SIMMER On An Electric Stove'.
So... We called up the gas company and started the process for getting a gas service installed. Well... They refused to cooperate until we get a contractor who is going to install the gas appliances on the property. Hmm! I don't have a contractor. I just want a capped off meter for now. So we called the local heating company and had them over for a chat. Very informative for me. I explained my eventual plans for the property and they were able to suggest a solution (high pressure gas line) that solves my current and future needs without further intervention from the gas company (who has been less then cooperative thus far).
Now that we have talked to a contractor (even though we haven't paid for anything) the gas company was willing to talk to us. Unfortunately... It turns out that they can not install a new high pressure line (yes they agreed. and for only $250 Cdn) before we have to leave Canada. Basically they have to get a permit to work on the highway that the property resides on. Darn... Stupid politics get in the way again. Hopefully they can handle this in our absence (I'm not expecting much).
The Shower Has Not Worked For Many Years...
Shauna went shopping and to to visit her mother. Her mother lives on the other side of town. She came back a little frustrated because her mother would not let her take a shower there and that upset her a bit. It wasn't really a big inconvenience. We have been here about three weeks and although I made a minor repair attempt the shower was still not functional. On top of that we were told that there was only enough hot water to wash your hands. A week or so earlier I had replaced the shower head (minor repair) with one that had a shutoff valve. I figured that if you could shut off the water when you were soaping up then it would extend the hot water availability. Replacing the shower head went well but when I closed the valve it became evident why the hot water was so limited. Water just poured out of the faucet. The hot/cold water valve seal was completely blown out. No wonder the the shower was useless. So... Here we are, three weeks later, and still there is no shower. Shauna was so upset that I decided I would try to rebuild the bad valve. I had already replaced the valve-seats and washers in the sink and I figured the shower would be just as easy. I went down to the local hardware supplier and purchased a universal rebuild kit for the valve. It 'was' one of those kinds that are hot and cold in one valve. No pressure adjustment (always full) only hot and cold mixture on one rotary control. I hate it. I had also never worked on that type of valve before. I was also too lazy to venture under the house (as small as it is) and turn off the main water supply. Remember this is a cold weather climate in the winter so all the plumbing is buried below the frost line and comes up under the house where it can't freeze. So I decided that since it was a shower I would just remove the valve, have the water pour into the shower while I replaced the o-rings and seals. Wrong... When I went to remove the valve it wouldn't turn (probably because of the water pressure) so I tried to persuade the valve with a rather large pipe-wrench. Well... The water started to pour out but not from the right place. So I turned the valve the other way (with the way too large wrench) and the valve broke. There was water everywhere but in the shower. Within seconds there was about an inch of standing water in the bedroom making it's way quickly to the kitchen. The bathroom was also flooding. The shower however was relatively dry. Not really good for bathing. Ok, so now the house is flooding, fast, and I have no idea where the shutoff valve is only a suspicion. I do know however that under the worst case I could run out to the back of the pastures (several hundred feet) and there is a shutoff for the main feed, on the hillside, where the water line comes down from the spring. Only I share that line with the beef farmers next door. Yes my water is all gravity fed from springs in my mountain. By the way... The cats absolutely love the fresh water here. They have never drank as much as they do now. In fact we can't fill their bowls (or clean the litter box) fast enough. Anyway... I ran outside, took off the cover for the crawlspace and dove under the house. Now it turns out that the shower is directly above the crawlspace entrance and there was literally a waterfall pouring down in front of it. But Alas I had no choice but to dive in, crawl to the far corner, where indeed a main shutoff was to be found. For all of you people out there designing houses remember this lesson. There is a shutoff less than an arms reach from the wall but the access to the valve is on the opposite corner. I hope you realize the impracticality of this configuration. So I turned the water off and returned upstairs only to find Shauna soaking towels and squeezing out the water as fast as she can. And the water is still toe deep. Just then Irene and Joanne show up and the three of them take up the task of damage control so I went off to the hardware store to buy a new valve. I returned shortly (the hardware store is only 30 seconds up the highway) with a new valve. When I compared the form factors I quickly realized that there was no way this was going to work (easily or inexpensively) with the existing valve. So I went, once again, to the hardware store. I had no problem exchanging the valve I bought for a more compatible one. They were happy to open all the boxes and let me find the best match. I finally settled on one that was a little more work than I wanted but at least fit in the space of the old one and required only minor adapting to the existing piping.
Alright... The plumbing is fixed. The valve works great. The shower-head cutoff works great. Will the water heater hold up. Its about 12 in. by 12 in. and doesn't even come up to my waist. It's also square. I've never seen anything like it. I figure it's somewhere between 15 to 20 gallons max. But low and behold... Not only does it work. It works great. Plenty of hot water. Whew! The shower is a little small though. In fact it's so small you can't really even bend down to pick up the soap or your knees and butt would get wedged in the walls. Better be careful. Oh yeah... The curtain is a little short also so water (and quite a bit) gets on the bathroom floor. But it does get you clean so it qualifies as a true shower.
In the midst of all this I had a teleconference in the late afternoon which was fast approaching. Fortunately. The water was now drained. The tools were put away. The computers were unaffected. Back to work.
And The Rest Of Bathroom Looks Like It Belongs To A Cheap Gas-Station...
Well, after almost a month here the bathroom was still a disaster. Because of better then twenty years of farm house the bathroom was still not comfortable to use. Mostly the sink and toilet had mineral buildup on the porcelain. Remember the water on this property is gravity fed spring water (hard water). Anyway... There was green stuff on top of the mineral scale. That can't be good. Shauna had soaked it for a couple of weeks so it was finally beginning to loosen. However we'd had enough. So Shauna went down to the store (stoar in some parts) and bought us some 'lime and scale' remover. Well that did the trick. Since we were prepared... The scale was gone. With very little effort (and a very small amount of chemicals) the sink and toilet are clean. The toilet wasn't to bad however the sink originally had bad valve seats, which had been dripping for who knows how long, on both the hot and cold taps. I had replaced them when we first arrived so at least the constant drip problem was solved...
There was a final problem however. The shower curtain rod was set unusually high. Because 'All' shower curtains are a standard length now. The shower curtain we purchased was too short and leaked all over the floor whenever anyone used it. We had been dealing with this by using towels but it was a real nuisance so I lowered the shower rod also.
The bathroom is actually not to bad now. Even the fan and heater work. Notice also how small the shower is. I have trouble in there. Ladies... Imagine shaving your legs in that space. Can we say 'Disadvantaged'.
Not The Luxury We're Used To... But It Will Have To Do...
As you can see... We have moved in nicely to the 'little house on the prairie' (that's what we call it anyway). Shauna and I have turned it from a tack/storage shed into a (small) home. It's actually a fairly cozy place. And being a country village... Everyone that's anyone in the valley stops by regularly for a visit. Something we had to get used to being isolated city folk. But their all friends and family and that is what we had been missing in our lives.
And that's what we have for now...