Schmidt Homestead

Our new home in Woodburn, IL

Monday, May 21, 2007

We spent the weekend at the property and finished planting the garden. Emily came out Saturday and stayed till Sunday. She put the decking on the deck for us and helped with the garden. A few things have begun to sprout from what was planted last weekend. Our challenge now is to keep enough water on it. Emily had so much fun working with us that she asked if she could come back next weekend. We said “Heck yeah!” We hope she’ll come up often this summer to help us with the garden and other projects.

We’re trying to get things organized in the trailer, but we’re bringing stuff out there quicker than we can put it away. We moved the futon, so we have a decent bed to sleep on. We spent over $700 at Lowe’s on decking, faucets, closet racking, plumbing, towel bars, and a bunch of other stuff.

We’re having some friends out to the property for a cookout this Sunday. Steve is even thinking about setting up a screen on the outside of the trailer and having a ‘drive-in’ movie.

We’ll probably spend a couple of nights at the property this week, and then we’ll be there all weekend. We have a phone in the trailer now, so we’re more likely to hear it if anybody calls.

Monday, May 14, 2007

We got most of the garden planted this weekend. We’re going to have way more than we can eat, but I want to see what we can grow. We have corn, cucumber, green beans, peas, squash, radish, lettuce, carrots, beets, cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, sunflowers… We still have to do the tomatoes, which will be in a different area and a pumpkin/squash patch. I bought a pack of mixed squash/gourds, so that should be fun to have for decorating at thanksgiving. Emily is going to give us some loofah seeds that she got when she grew it in South Carolina. I always thought loofah was a sponge that came from the ocean, but it’s actually a squash that’s been dried out. I’m following a book that Steve gave me called “Carrots Love Tomatoes” to plan the garden. The book tells you what things do and don’t grow well together, so we’ll see how well it works.

We got a tiller for the tractor, and it made quick work of tilling up the garden. Steve also used it to break up and smooth out the area that was dug up for the septic system. Then he took it to the neighbor’s house and tilled a huge area where they want to put their garden.

We waited too late this year to plow the area for the garden, so the grass didn’t have time to die off before we tilled it. We’ll likely fight grass and weeds this year, but maybe we’ll be on the ball a little better next year.

We’re getting pretty comfortable out there. Steve finished the stairs for the deck, so now we just need to finish the floor (we have plywood laid down) and put up the awning. We moved one of our dressers, a bookshelf, and our rolling white kitchen cabinet to help with storage. Steve fixed the kitchen sink, so I don’t have to do dishes in the bathtub. We went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore on Saturday (that’s where all the Habitat ‘extras’ go). We got countertops with sink basins for both bathrooms and a big cast iron two basin, deep bowl sink for the kitchen, all for just $90! We also got a phone hooked up in the trailer. We still can’t make long distance calls without a calling card, but at least we can receive them inside.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The trailer is livable! We have electric, septic & water now. The water is spotty – it only works in some of the faucets – but we have at least one sink, toilet and shower that work completely. We’re not sure if the non-working faucets are clogged or if they possibly have bad gaskets, because the water was shut off for a number of months. The kitchen sink doesn’t work, so I had to do dishes in the bath tub. We’ll have to spend some time investigating the water situation, but it wasn’t a priority this weekend.

Phil & Kathy came out to help us this weekend. Steve and Phil worked on building a deck (we have a platform and temporary stairs, so no more ‘climbing’ into the trailer!), and Kathy and I moved all our stuff from the house and pop-up to the trailer. We’re sleeping on mattresses from the popup on the floor and using a dorm refrigerator and a plug-in cooler for our food. We don’t have gas hooked up yet, so we’re using a camping stove on the counter with a 20 lb propane tank on the floor. It’s far from the lap of luxury but many times better than what we had before. At least we don’t have to put on our shoes to go to the bathroom or get running water!

Phil and Kathy spent some time clearing out the old garage. We’ll take down the pop-up soon and move it into the old garage to store it. Phil burned a bunch of the garage stuff yesterday.

We had hoped to plant a garden, but with all the rain last week, it was too wet. Luckily it didn’t rain at all after Friday, even though the forecast predicted some rain all weekend. Steve and Kathy cleaned out the overgrowth around the peonies. Kathy mowed with the tractor, I used the push mower in the harder to reach areas, and I ran the weed eater until I thought my arms would fall off. The dogs learned to walk across the planks over the mud, which made a big difference in how dirty they got.

The two exterior doors on the trailer are in pretty bad shape and need to be replaced – especially the back door. It was literally falling apart when we bought it. It was sagging on the frame, so it was very difficult to open and close. I refused to use it, but when Steve and Phil began working on the deck (and blocking the front door), we didn’t have a choice. With all the in and out this weekend, the back door finally bit the dust. The door must not have been closed properly, and a gust of wind caught it. It was ripped off all the hinges except the top one and flapping in the wind. Did you know that they made doors out of Styrofoam? We didn’t. Phil took a door from the old house and cut it to fit the opening. Surprisingly, the make-shift door works better than the old one! Out there, it’s always an adventure.

Speaking of adventure… Friday I stopped at Dollar General in BH on the way home from work (home being the property where Steve and Phil already were). As I pulled into the parking lot, a lady in a car waved me down and signaled for me to roll down my window. She pointed south of town “There’s a funnel cloud. You probably want to go home.” I looked into the sky, and sure enough, there was a funnel cloud a few miles south of us! I headed for the property to alert the guys. They were in the front yard but hadn’t noticed it. I won’t repeat the expletives that were exclaimed when they saw it. Steve immediately got on his HAM radio and found the local weather reporting station. He told them where he was and what he saw and that he was an official weather spotter. They issued a tornado warning based on HIS report! He was very excited about that. Then he hopped in the truck and headed north of town when he heard a report of a tornado in that direction. Phil looked at the old house and said “I’m not going into that basement.” I said “If there’s a tornado, I’m going into the basement!” There were several tornadoes in the area, and the only one that touched down was the one that Steve reported. The news said that it went into a field and didn’t cause any damage.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

We have power! It was hooked up this morning, so I turned things back on when I went by at lunch. Once the septic tank is hooked up to the trailer (hopefully this weekend), we’ll be up and running. I’m looking forward to taking a REAL shower in the trailer – rather than the crappy ones in the old, gross house.

Phil is coming up this afternoon, and Aunt Kathy will probably be here Saturday. Emily is supposed to meet us at the property tomorrow to help out and spend the night. We’re going to try to plant the garden on Saturday, but they’re predicting rain. It’s been raining for about 3 days now, and everything out there is mushy. We’re trying to get the AC hooked up tomorrow, but it’s not excessively hot yet, so that’s not critical.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Phil is coming to SL on Thursday to help us at the property this weekend. Jean was supposed to come, but since she’s at a new job, she couldn’t get off on Friday. Emily will probably spend Saturday helping us with the garden (she bought Steve a bunch of seeds for his birthday), and Steve found out last night that his Aunt Kathy might come from Champaign on Saturday. If we’re lucky, the guys will build us a deck and the girls will get most of the garden planted this weekend. It’ll be nice to have stairs, rather than climbing into the trailer. We’ve already picked several pounds of asparagus out of our garden. Emily sautéed some for us at the cabin last weekend, and it wasn’t bad – very similar to green beans. It’s not something I’m overly excited about, but I could do it on occasion.

I feel like we’re finally making progress at the property. If things go as planned, after this weekend the trailer should be livable.