Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Timeout for Texas

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. We've taken a timeout from Flat Top Mountain for a quick road trip to Texas to check in on family. But as soon as we get back to the homestead, we should be able to rapidly wrap up the shed project and the new front door, so start looking forward to those photos!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


See? We really have been hard at work!! Well, Mason has, at least. The shed walls and roof are up. The window is in. There will be a door (on the left) and a garage door (on the right).  I feel a bit bad that we are blocking out that forest view, but we have about another 200 degrees of it, so I guess we can't complain.  Once the shed is done, we'll build a "pole barn" in front of it. The barn is basically 12 tree trunks and a metal roof, creating an open-air workshop area for Mason to work in -- and the rest of us to play darts in.

I help Mason when he needs me, which usually involves lifting something heavy (OK, heavy for me, at least), but I've spent most of the past few days putting plants into the ground: The last of the lavender that I sprouted inside this winter and a few other things.

Unrelated notes: The Farm Bureau Insurance (that's right: FBI) guy came out today to get us a quote on fire (at least) coverage. He only lives about 5 miles from here -- a 45-minute drive he said -- but called this "The end of the Earth," after we guided him in for the final mile. A VERY affable fellow. We'll see how the quote goes ...
Also, in the past few weeks we've learned that we have not one but two local "markets" (open-air stands) that sell produce and plants grown on Flat Top.  Check out these strawberries!! Picked fresh for us that very day! (And yes, that's the local newspaper touting Chattanooga's own "American Idol" contender Laura Alaina. Big BIG news here.)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Building a Shed, Reclaiming a Bedroom

We've spent the past four days getting a good start on the 9- by 20-foot tool shed. Piers have been poured, the floor constructed and today, two walls went up. All very exciting for us, as once the shed is done we can get all the crap out of the other bedroom and Mason can finally stop rummaging through the rubble every time he needs a chalk line or a plumb bob. ("I can't live like this!!" he keeps muttering.) But maybe this news is not quite as exciting for you ... nor does it make for very exciting photos just yet. So instead, here's my new porch-side flower containers:

And better yet, peaches getting started on my tree!!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Different Kind of Derby Day Party

Today officially marked the beginning of the pole barn and shed project. Yesterday we staked out where the two buildings will go, and today we started taking down a few trees that were in the way. Big trees.  Sixty-foot-tall trees. There was digging, chain-sawing, pulling, tugging and ... finally, success:

Mason often rates his days by how many toys -- oops, I mean tools -- he gets to use. Today was a good day. There were two chain saws, a tow chain, a tractor, a truck, a 100-foot-long steel cable, an ax, lopers and more. Pretty much, it was Mason in his heyday (what could possibly go wrong here?):

Alas, we got two massive trees down and chopped up JUST in time to come inside and watch the Kentucky Derby with one of our super-delicious Blonde Ale home brews in hand. I can't watch the race without thinking of my dad. His great-grandmother, Nanny Haskins, brought up the Williams family in Kentucky. Mason and I considered buying the old family homestead, before we realized how far from anything it is.  It's still there, though. So, as always, a toast to Dad and the Williams family today -- and a fabulous race.

Here's our toast ... and while the focus is a bit off, check out Mason's poor overworked, filthy thumb:

Friday, May 6, 2011

Some Photos For You

Thank "I Want More Photos" Dvorak for these. The newly stained porch rafters and some of our gardening efforts:

And Nick on one of our pathways, house in background:

And another pathway on the rear portion of the property:

And the "lake":

And what Mason does on the walk to the lake:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Done Gone Green

I've started staining the front porch rafters a deep chocolate brown (above, the same color we stained the pergola porch rafter in Edina), and though we're only halfway done, we can already tell it's going to make a big difference. The brown sets nicely against the green of the forest, which has come alive in the past week or so.  If only we could get the front lawn to look more green than brown. ... Next spring ...

The deer dinner bell you see above was here when we moved in; it's one of the few kitschy items that we kept. (I'm certain Ms. Fantastic Photographer Plesser could have framed that shot a whole lot better.) The muggy 80-degree day that we hung four ferns from the porch, I promptly took a nap in the afternoon heat and declared myself a Southerner. But former Savannah boy Chris Clonts said the picture would only be complete once I planted some azaleas. So within the next day or so, I planted four azaleas.

We're supposed to get started on that next big project -- the shed and pole barn -- but so far we've stalled by doing some smaller stuff. Mason's running a gas line to our new stainless-steel propane fridge (made by the Amish!), which will quadruple our fridge space and significantly cut down on our electricity needs. I'm working on the porch stain and gardening, of course. Today I put into the ground a boxwood shrub, some japanese ferns, a siberian iris and some creeping Jenny (yeah , I know it's invasive, but I really like it).

Mason's also been busy at our burgeoning Flat Top Brewery. Last night, a lawnmower Saison went into the hopper. Should be ready to drink just as the summer heat descends on us. Check him out here, hard at work, with the Saison boiling and a Boundary Waters wheat in the "ale pail" hanging from the ceiling, getting ready for bottling. Meth labs got nothin on our operation, I tell ya whut! (Pardon the topless shot -- that beer boiling can seriously heat up the place.)