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It is a slow process, this current renovation. If I’m being honest with myself I will admit that we’ll never actually be “done” and that’s fine. What would we do with ourselves if we finished? Start over somewhere else, I guess. And I’m not remotely interested in moving again so I plan to draw out this renovation for our eternity. Today happens to be a gorgeous one so I thought it was high time to show a before + after of what we’ve done to the back of the manse.

Way back in the olden days:

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Step one was to remove the crazy arborvitae that was glomming onto the house.Image

Step two: blow a big hole in the back of the house.

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Step Three: Have Bradley and Bradley Jr from Decks Decks Decks come out and work their magic.

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Step Four: make a margarita and then another and then another.

And just like that (2.5 years later) we have a great space to live in and hang out and watch the hens doing their thing in the yard below.

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Happy Spring!

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Contrary to what this blog would make you think about our lack of progress on the house we have been working like crazy. Our recent big project was a hen house for our girls, Chunky Penny, Lady Whistle and Ms Jackson.

Naturally before building a hen house we thought we should go ahead and tear out the non-retaining retaining wall that the previous owners “built” out of broken bricks and concrete blocks. Here’s a quick BEFORE shot to make you see just how heavenly our back yard looked when we moved in:

FULL DISCLOSURE: the yard didn’t look this nice when we moved in. I took this the morning we started the new retaining wall which was just a couple of months ago. Since we moved in we added the butterfly bush and the rain barrel that will eventually catch the run off from the garage.

Anyhow – after a day of building the wall and learning that our next-door neighbors are really amazing, wonderful and generous (even moreso than we previously suspected) this is what we had to look at:

 

 

The next step was to build the hen house. Little Brother Anthony arrived (in jorts) to aid in the construction.

 

 

We made a ton of progress that weekend and then promptly walked away from the project for awhile due to work, travel, etc. You can see by the change in attire and the leaves on the trees how much time passed.

TIME WARP:

This is much nicer to look at, no?

Now the girls live out there as happy as can be. I love to look it every day as more leaves fall and it settles in to look like part of the landscape.

This project would not have been possible without the help of friends and family who donated time, supplies and food. I feel like I’m dedicating a book. Huge thanks go out to Anthony for jumping in and getting us moving on the construction; to Sierra and Tommy for helping to engineer and build the wall; to Ton and Sonja for lunch, tea service, gravel and dirt moving and all around moral support (and for giving birth to Sierra all those years ago); to Tammy, Barbara, John, Eric and Jan – neighbors who donated scrap lumber, chicken wire, shovels, etc.; to Dad, Kate L, Terry, Natalie, Cliff M and Janice D for donating license plates; to Mom for hanging out with Whistle and most of all, to Steve, who continues to indulge every crazy whim I get.

I am so happy to have built something for the hens to live in that makes our home a more interesting, fun place to live, with the generosity and kindness of so many people involved. My heart swells.

 

 

And just like that, with a call from the post office, we became chicken farmers this morning. It was like Christmas around here  – for all of us. I remember getting chicks at Easter as a kid but I did not remember just how dang charming they are. I know we are supposed to be giving them some peace and quiet for awhile to adjust to their new surroundings but we are doing poorly in that regard. They’re too cute to ignore.

What is cuter than chubby kid-fingers reaching for baby chicks? NOTHING. End of discussion.

I am surely not going to get any work done today.

The chicks should be arriving next week and we’re so excited to see the wee things. Fingers crossed that they arrive safely. We’re busy prepping for their arrival and also planning the large outdoor “Chicken CUBE” that we’re building. We have pretty much decided to build a fully enclosed space and then site the coop – and all other hen-related things – inside the cube.

First we have to relocate the castle:

 

Then try to build something a lot like this:

Then put this little guy into the “CUBE”

 

(and finish staining the deck and rebuild the retaining wall and stack the firewood and and and)

This past weekend we took a quick trip to Chadds Ford, PA and spent a few hours roaming around Terrain at Styer’s in absolute awe of it all. I know where I want to be buried. Hope the fine folks at Terrain won’t mind. Every square inch was inspiring. Maybe we will face one side of the CUBE in funnels?

 

More on Terrain later. Headed to the incredible Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.