Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Guide to the First Annual noTTafarm Lumberjack Days!

Trees were made for choppin' - and noTTafarm has no shortage of trees in need of trimming...so why not host a party where the main entertainment is accompanied by the roar of chainsaws and the growl of the wood chipper?  Celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary over the Memorial Day holiday gave credibility to the idea, and so Lumberjack Days was born.  We invited all of the Wards and all of the Camps, and were thrilled that so many chose to spend a day or two with us at noTTafarm!

The weather kept us guessing all week; would we have sunny skies or rain?  We ended up with a little of both and temperatures in the 70s.  The morning sprinkles kept my cute pennant banner indoors most of Saturday but we managed to show it off on Sunday.  What's Lumberjack Days without the appropriate decorations, after all?

Friday night, Scott practiced using his new "chainsaw-on-a-stick" which is actually a tree trimmer attached to a 12-ft. pole.  He really enjoyed this new toy!

Lumberjack Days was not the only attraction this weekend! Several of us girls went to see Taylor Swift in concert on Saturday night.  Niece Chelsie invited her friend Katie (at left above) to Omaha for the show.  I put them to work Saturday afternoon and had them fold and tie napkin/silverware bundles.  Great job, girls!  (I think they enjoyed the concert more than the silverware task.)

Saturday afternoon, Andrew and Pete stopped by with Sophie.  They enjoyed some cookies and a quick tour of the house renovations before heading off to work. 

Sophie (almost 3!) practiced throwing sticks - she's getting a new boxer puppy this week!

Carl cleaned out some junk from one of the many wood piles west of the house. 
After a few hours of work in the afternoon humidity, the crew took a break at the bonfire.

Lauren helped me set up the "welcome" sign before we headed out to the concert on Saturday.

On Sunday morning, Scott and I received the very best gift from Mark and LuAnn!  They had a limestone marker custom-made for us which utilizes the noTTafarm logo you see on this blog. This is such a special gift from our favorite Kansans! 

Here's an up-close view of the marker.  This was created in Home, Kansas which is near LuAnn's hometown of Marysville. 

Sunday's sprinkles forced us to have our sloppy joe lunch inside.  We set up tables created by balancing 4x8 sheets of sub-floor on sawhorses.  The recently de-plaster-ized living/dining room offered quite a bit of ambiance!  

After lunch, the chipper roared into action!  Everyone was anxious to get started (this photo includes, from left, Nick, Mark, Tim, Aaron (Karli's special friend), Clark and Teresa.)

It was quite exciting to have Nick with us. Not only is he the tallest lumberjack/nephew around, he is also soon to be a daddy!  Brooke kept us all on-watch (much to her chagrin) but the baby is yet to arrive.

Teresa was the Axe Queen!  Normally a mild-mannered auditor extraordinaire, she wielded the axe like a pro and made short work of trimming the branches to fit into the chipper. 

Niece Karli was all smiles on Sunday.  Was it because she got to hang out with Grampa Ward?  Or because her special friend, Aaron, came along for the day?

Nephew Clark monitored the chipper for over an hour.  He helped out when a branch got stuck or otherwise needed coaxing toward the chipper's teeth.

Meanwhile, an impromptu soccer game broke out!  Here, Brooke passes the ball to Karli.

Mark was responsible for raking up the debris left from the felling of a dead pine tree (a victim of pine beetles.)  He left that corner of the yard cleaner that it had been in years!
Tyler brought along his "new" 24" chainsaw - which was awesome until it got bogged down late on Sunday.  Luckily, Monica was here to cheer him up.

Tim and Teresa donated their under-utilized picnic table to noTTafarm.  Clark, Karli, and Aaron enjoyed playing cards with Teresa.

By the end of Sunday's work session, a giant pile of wood chips had been created.  These will eventually end up on the west slope's walking trail.  Scott thinks at least 75 small, dead, or undesirable trees were culled off the slope and fed through the chipper.  Larger tree trunks were sliced into firewood chunks.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of all of the chainsaws in action.  Nor did I get a picture of Scott's brother, Jeff, who joined us on Sunday for several hours of work.  We will have to have someone assigned as the official photographer next time!

While Scott got the grill started for dinner, the rest of the gang enjoyed some beverages around the bonfire.

The weather was clear enough to dine al fresco Sunday evening.  We set up the aforementioned sub-floor/sawhorse tables on the west side of the house and enjoyed a delicious dinner of grilled pork tenderloin and chicken, coleslaw, potato salad, veggies, pasta salad, fruit salad, watermelon, and cornbread.  It was quite a spread!  Mark and Aaron found a good use for the bandanna napkins after dinner.

While the homemade ice cream was being prepared, Clark roasted a few marshmallows.  Teresa brought along some jumbo jet puffs - each about the size of your fist.  They made the best 'smores!

What a treat to have homemade ice cream!  Mom and Dad brought their original White Mountain freezer and everyone took a turn with the cranking (electricity?  why?)  Tim helped Dad get started.

Carl and Marita enjoyed the chaos of a Ward gathering, made easier by the consumption of 'smores, ice cream, and the delicious cupcakes Marita brought.

Scott gave the ice cream its final few cranks.  Boy, that ice cream was good!!!

Dad dished out the ice cream as everyone hurried to get their share. 

And with that, our first Lumberjack Days came to a close!  We think it was quite a success, and we hope it grows bigger and better every year.  We want everyone to love noTTafarm as much as we do!

Mom and Dad surprised us with a beautiful bouquet of white roses tied with an aqua bow to commemorate our 25th anniversary on May 30th.  We couldn't have asked for a better celebration!

Stay tuned for our next adventure! 
Something tells me that fun time is over . . . time to get back to work!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Stay Tuned for News!

Lumberjack Days were deemed a huge success! 
We had so much fun and everyone worked so hard . . .  so hard, in fact, that I am too tired to post a big article. 
Check Back Soon!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New Life for an Old Combine

When we bought noTTafarm and realized that the 1950s Gleaner combine in the east pasture was ours to keep, we had a few options:  sell it for scrap, restore it and become farmers, or turn it into a piece of yard sculpture.  I took a page from my own mother's garden ideas (she has an old manure wagon in her yard which usually boasts a profusion of pink petunias) and decided to create a flower garden with the old combine as the centerpiece.  I was further challenged by our favorite Wildcats, Mark and LuAnn, to plant a majority of purple flowers.  Scott and I spent a sunny Sunday afternoon to start this great project!

I wonder how long the Gleaner has been parked?  What kind of crops did it harvest? 

After assessing the hopper atop the combine, Scott decided to create a frame to hold a series of six 30-inch window boxes.  He used surplus galvanized conduit to fashion hooks to hold the frame.   

Marita was an excellent noTTafarm gardener today!  She helped me get the planter boxes ready, planting purple petunias (plain and striped) and yellow zinnias.

Here's the finished frame with hand-hewn hooks, ready for use.

Scott stacked everything in the wagon and pulled it all down to the Gleaner.

After a couple of whacks, the frame fit!  "Thumbs Up, Scotty!"

Awww!  Marita took this picture of the cute Mr. and Mrs.

The purple flower display is off to a good start. 
Now all we need is water and sunshine! 

One Last Demolition Project

Scott and I arrived bright and shiny Saturday morning.  Our plumber, Cody, needed one last day to complete the installation of the new plumbing so we got to noTTafarm at 7:30.  We originally planned on spending just a half day at the house, trying to get back to Grant Street to work on some projects.  Our only task for the day was taking the ceiling down in the 1920s living/dining room. 

It seemed like the day would be easy-peasy.

The living/dining room is a 26x13-ish room with a drywall ceiling.  Mrs. Norgard told us that she helped her husband put the drywall up in 1960, standing on a stepladder with her arms up holding drywall - all while 8 months pregnant! 

Even though the drywall was in excellent condition, removing it gave us an additional six inches of ceiling height.

Since we are not trying to save the existing flooring, we determined the best method was to tear everything down then haul it all to the dumpster.  Here, part of the floor is covered with layer one:  drywall.

After the drywall was eliminated, we took down the 1960 framing comprised of about 25 2x4s and 103,279 nails.  The pink-painted plaster was next.

Of course, the plaster was hiding its partner-in-crime:  lath.

The rubble was about four inches thick by the time we had it all down.

Finally, by 4 p.m., the debris was in the dumpster. We were both covered with dust and grime, and completely exhausted!  Happily, this is the last major portion of demolition we will undertake.  Most of the remaining work in the existing house will be done by professionals.  (Did you know you could hire people to do renovations for you?  Weird, I know.)

Hooray for Cody! 
Our faithful plumber completed his tasks by 8:30 Saturday night. 

And with that, our long day was done.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday News

Scott has been busy running back and forth to noTTafarm the past few days.  The electrician has been working and our plumber came back to start installing the supply lines.  In a few days, we'll have safe electricity and new piping running throughout the house!

Not Fun But Got It Done

The goal of this past weekend was to remove all of the remaining plaster, lath, and insulation in the two upstairs bedrooms and the parlor portion of the 1920 living room. 
Mission Accomplished! 
Luckily, mother nature cooperated, dropping the temperatures to the 40s and denying much sunshine; this definitely kept us from being distracted by the great outdoors.  We went out Friday evening and finished the small bedroom, then completed the rest on Saturday and Sunday. The rooms were ready for the electrician to begin rewiring on Monday, May 16th.  (More on that later!)

We topped off the dumpster with a frosting of pink fluff.  It actually looks like a giant pile of ground pork.

After all the walls we've removed from the house, you would think we might find something more interesting than a juice can of unknown origin and a chicken bone.  Still on the hunt for the gold doubloons!
Here's a view of the parlor with the walls removed.  We plan on taking the ceiling down soon to allow for an extra six inches of height.  Thank you, Carl, for helping remove the plaster on Sunday!

We love visitors; especially fraternity brothers we haven't seen in 7 years.  John Kleider is a dear friend and we were so happy to have him as a houseguest for a few days.  Hopefully, he will come back next year and experience noTTafarm's hospitality (without having to knock down plaster!)