Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Second Snow of 2010

When we moved to TN, several people assured us that it rarely snows, and it is ALWAYS gone the next day.  This is the second time this month that we have been snowed in for three days.  While the major roads are cleared, all the smaller roads are very impassible.  However, we made the best of the situation!


This is a Tennessee sled (a cardboard box) and I am demonstrating its use.  Our rental trailer is in the background.  Here is another shot of our trailer and the nearby creek that we swam in all summer!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Guest Cabin

We bought a used portable cabin for storage at the moment, but eventually it will be a guest cabin.  It is 10 feet by 20 feet and is 12 feet tall, with a small sleeping loft.  The side shown faces south and it absorbs a lot of heat in the winter.  It is typically 25 degrees warmer than the church on a sunny day.  Of course, we will have to plant some deciduous trees to block the sun in summer!!  The guest cabin is just about 30 feet from the creek and a nice swimming hole.  Here we are saluting Che.

Here are some inside shots, looking west toward the loft and east toward the "kitchen" area.  We will be insulating and finishing the insides soon.

Taking down the Porch

We have removed the front porch from the church and used the materials to build two nice shed add-ons.  The porch was on the south side of the church and was about 9 feet deep by 22 feet wide.  Unfortunately, it totally blocked the sun from falling on the side of the church during the winter.  We plan to add windows on the south wall and take advantage of the free heat from the sun.  In the summer, the trees will be leafed out and will block the sun.

We added a wood shed on the side of our existing shed and another storage shed behind.  They turned out really nice.  The roofs are made from the old porch roofing and the siding is made from some other recycled metal and the old tongue and groove flooring from the church.  All of the materials were recycled and the posts are cedar logs that were already down in our woods.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

'S no Problem

Two new Tennesseans, fresh from the tropics, experienced their first really cold spell.  We went for 7 days straight below freezing.  Today got up to 37 degrees and it almost felt balmy!  Here are a few pictures of our deep freeze.  The truck is our new (to us) 1991 GMC Sierra 1500 4x4.  It has 137,000 miles and we are the second owner.  We love it!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Renovation of the Church

The old church was never a grand building, but in its day served as a place of worship for people in the local community, who would arrive in horse-drawn carriages and would often have to stand outside during the services when there was not enough room inside. There was not a particular preacher or congregation associated with the church, instead traveling preachers would stop in and deliver a sermon. Later, the building served as a school. When we found it, the floor was caved in after it had been used to store fertilizer. Originally, there was no inside finished wall, just the wall framing and outside cladding of yellow poplar board and baton. Poplar boards also formed the ceiling, and were nailed to the bottom of the ceiling joists, which were part of the original trusses. The floor originally consisted of six 8"x8" oak beams, 16' long and ship-lapped in the center, making three 32' long girders. Pockets were cut into the girders to hold oak floor joists, mostly 2"x8" by 11' long, creating a 32'x22' sub-floor. The girders were held up by stacks of stones collected from the property. The original flooring was 1"x4" tongue and groove oak. Later, 1/2" particle board and vinyl flooring was put on top of the T&G oak. A drop ceiling had also been added later at 7.5' high (the original ceiling is 10.5' high). Finally, poplar siding had been added inside as a wall covering (with no insulation in the walls). The roof was just metal ribbed panels nailed over the trusses. Some fiberglass insulation had been added in the attic. A bathroom and kitchen were added when the building was converted to be used as a cabin. Partition walls were erected and paneling was nailed over the poplar wall covering. All inside plumbing was done with 1/4" copper tubing inside the cabin and most of the electrical wiring was draped above the drop ceiling and routed in the partition walls. Some wiring was snaked inside the original cabin walls.

We started by pulling out all of the flooring down to the joists. Unfortunately, the oak T&G flooring was not re-usable and, needless to say, the particle board was worthless as it had gotten wet in a number of places over the years. The oak joists and girders were in very good shape and even had to be pre-drilled in order to nail into them, they were so hard. One joist and one girder were broken and had to be repaired. The entire house had pulled apart by about 2", to the point that some of the joists were coming out of their pockets, so we pulled the house back in using a come-along and bottle jacks!  We attached all joists to their girders using metal hangers and ties and re-stacked stones under the girders to get the house somewhat level. We still plan to raise the house by about 6", so the final leveling will come at that time. Also, we will be replacing the stones with concrete block. This was a tough decision, but many of the stones were tending to crumble.

We have removed the drop ceiling and its frame, all of the wall partitions, all of the inside plumbing and the ancient, water-logged insulation from the attic. All of the furniture and appliances have also been removed to storage.