Homestead & Remodel

Follow along below with monthly summaries of what we are up to on the homestead!

Homesteading [hohm-sted-ing]

v. 1 the act of transforming a home into a property that produces some or all of its residents own food and other subsistence needs.

v. 2 participation in home-based activities such as gardening, raising poultry or small livestock, producing simple products through cottage industry, minimizing consumer purchases, and generally seeking ways to increase self-sufficiency within the home environment.

v. 3 the creation of an homestead with the goal of reducing one’s environmental impact and returning to a home-based, family-centered, self-sufficient way of life.

home old

Our homestead when we bought it. Things have come a LONG way!!!

We found the perfect house and small plot of land to start our own homestead on Vashon Island. This rural, artsy PNW community is exactly what we were looking for.

May 2017 – Spring finally arrived! Cabinets were wrapped up and slate was the focus. We found a system to remove the glue (woohoo!) and got the cleaning done and prepared for kitchen demo. Tomato starts grew on the deck and the garden still looks overgrown…but getting closer to planting!

April 2017 – Cold and wet. And more wet. It rained SO MUCH! Garden is untouched and the living room starts are still tiny. The house remodel focused on two main projects: a new tile entry pad and kitchen cabinet building. Matt is taking DIY to the learning extreme!

March 2017 – March was all about the pantry. That is now buttoned up and installed, waiting for paint. We started tomatoes, squash and other veggies by the living room window. The weather has still been super wet and cold…not great for getting the garden rolling!

February 2017 – February finally brought long anticipated snow to Vashon! With it came two days without power (aka: really really cold in our house! and no progress on the remodel) but some quality down time. Matt finished up his first cabinet building project with built ins for the living room, and finished up laying the wood floor inlay. That room is now on hold until it is warm enough to open the windows and paint!

January 2017 – A late December cold snap meant we have been on overdrive with our ductless heat pump…time to finish up that gas stove! After a break for Christmas we cleaned up all the remodel areas of our house and are starting from a good clean slate. Focus for this month: brick hearth and mantle in the living room. And starting to plan the summer garden!

November & December 2016 – Colder weather turned our focus back on the remodel…a much needed focus! Matt reignited his weekly project rhythm and finished taking out the old gas fireplace and piping, and running it it a new location! Framing is done on the hearth, cat porch put back in place and the garden tucked in for the winter. After taking a pause for the holidays it is back to full steam ahead.

September & October 2016 – Two big trips meant we were only home about 50% of the time (yikes!) and harvest was still in full swing. We put up gallons of tomato sauce in the freezer and made the most of it.

July & August 2016 – Garden was booming and time flew by! We launched our new business: Silver Platter Events and hosted our first wedding! Remodel is going well and progress is being made…though never as much as you expect. Lots of monday night dinners in the yard made time pass more slowly and stretch the weekends out. August brought an abundance of food and so preservation became a focus. Pickled beans, tomato sauce, and 3 gallons of plum jam.

June 2016 – Kale, beans, tomatoes all going bonkers with a hot streak…followed by cool and cloudy. Arugula weeds are everywhere but easy to pull. Inside the house we are also making good progress. Starting on the living room built ins and fireplace, ordered tile and brick samples and making more design decisions.

May 2016 – Planted 3 apple trees, a pear, peach, mulberry and serviceberry all from Burnt Ridge Nursery. The warmer weather means plants are growing like crazy and new garden plots need extra compost to keep the moisture in. 55+ tomato plants are happily growing from seeds we saved. We built two massive bean trellis’ for our favorite beans. They are coming up but new growth may be getting eaten by slugs. The squash are not coming up so we are guessing critters are getting to the seeds. Will replant and start some indoors to see if more emerge. Cove ceilings are nearly done, as is the drywall and floors. Wood inlay looks amazing! Cannot wait to see them refinished with a new dark stain.

April 2016 – April 1, Rita finally got back to laying eggs! All 7 are producing so we are swimming in eggs. Luckily we are able to sell some for eating and some for hatching. 70s degree weekends made good weather for putting potatoes and kale in the ground, as well as a new fig tree. Tomatoes from seed are started indoors.

March 2016 – Made huge progress on the house remodel. Walls are out, flooring salvaged, cabinets procured, counter top material selected, and most of the drywall and electrical complete. It is finish time! The garden was wet, wet wet still but very green. Managed to sneak in some new plants salvaged from the neighbors and plant a new bed of asparagus.Six of our seven hens are back laying!

January – February 2016 – A very very rainy winter has turned out homestead into a muddy mess. The poor chickens need some coop redesign but with all the rain it has not been possible to deal with well. Cover crop is doing well and our garlic is surviving the drowning. We still got a little kale out of the garden for some soup. The house has been all consuming. We got the new guest room done except for molding, and the rest of our demo should be done before the end of the month. Consulting with a local contractor revealed the best possible news about our house and we are good to go with the design we wanted! Living in so much dust is getting old.

October – December 2015 – Time flew during these month. Buttoning up the garden with cover crop, travel, holidays and starting a remodel…yikes! A lot was going on. Inspired to finally make our kitchen bigger we started tearing out and moving walls and doors. Because it is an old house (1925) there have been MANY past decisions that we are uncovering and dealing with. Things take longer than planned but we are making progress!

September 2015 – Harvesting beans and tomatoes, making and freezing sauce for cold days ahead. We got 98% finished with painting the house…enough to slow down and finally get out of town for a break! Chickens are laying more eggs. Baja started laying sweet little blue/green ones at the end of the month. on a rainy weekend we planned out a kitchen remodel that would move around some doors and rooms…Phase 1 we are calling it. Time to talk to a pro about planning it out correctly so we can go up a level some day.

August 2015 – Stilling getting summer squash, beans, and kale galore. We have been practicing our “putting up” by freezing sweet corn and peaches (WA grown but not by us), and homegrown spanish beans. As of August 5th we are done scraping the house and well on the way to having it painted! Starting at the top, soffits were the first to tackle. Changing from green to white has already made a big difference! Plus, the white we are using is a whiter-white so everything looks fresh and clean. Painting is so much faster than scraping!

July 2015 – Picking summer squash, beans, and kale galore…and the house is nearly finished being scraped. We are managing critters: removing rats in the attic (yikes!) and keeping chickens safe from the very bold bald eagles. HOT, dry weather turned everything brown and we are watering a ton to keep things alive.

June 2015 – Replanted beans, more peas, and cucumbers. Kale and other greens are slow to grow…it has been so warm. Many days over 80 degrees. Our soil is so poor at absorbing water. Two hens were added: Lemon (white Leghorn) and Penny (Rhode Island Red). We finally started making movements that look like paint prep. Plants are trimmed away from the house and power washing and scraping is underway but it has been a slow start to the process. SO MUCH TO LEARN!!!

May 2015 – Garden fence is cat/chicken proofed with re-purposed netting from the old garden. 18 tomato plants are in, as well as 12 blueberry bushes (10 varieties), kale, cabbage, salad, spinach, strawberries, calendula, beans, peas, cucumbers, broccoli, pumpkins and squash. We have removed SO MUCH sod from our yard to make room to plant. Each new garden row is getting a healthy dose of compost and peat moss before anything goes in. Two young hens were added to our flock: Dee Dee (Barred Rock) and Baja (easter egger)!

April 2015 – Garden deer fence is up! Manure pile is starting it’s compost routine out front and the chickens are laying steadily. (except, ahem, Belle. You had better pick it up!)

March 2015 – More spring weather got us jump started on garden planning. We broke ground on the new HUGE garden, Mary laid her first egg, and the coop got new solid doors on the back.

January & February 2015 – Early spring (60 degrees…what?!) is bringing up bulbs, rhubarb and every other living spring thing we did not expect to see till much later. We lost our rooster and adopted a new one…the lady hens are laying eggs much more rapidly! Planning has commenced on expanding the garden (5x bigger! a huge 60×45′ plot) so fencing is the current design debate. We are also making a plan to tackle a huge summer project: painting the house exterior. Not only are we dealing with lead paint (ugh) but also struggling to come up with a good color. Goal: Caribbean/Florida bright that actually works on a PNW Craftsman. Any thoughts? We also finished trimming bushes, tearing down the back slope fence and building the retaining wall under the front deck.

December 2014 – Finished the cat porch and adopted a flock of chickens (and their coop)! Made some coop improvements that will tide us over until drier, brighter weather. Massive shrub and tree trim operations are happening to try and tackle our overgrown landscaping.

November 2014 – Started work on the cat porch…learned there is very little daylight to work in the evenings this time of year. Got the guest room more put together and a plan to move recycling collection outdoors.

September through October 2014 – Matt replaced the deck door (living room towards the back of the house). We also started repairing the retaining wall under the front deck and building a new lattice divider to enclose a storage area.

May through August 2014 – Summer was all about the deck. We rescrubbed and finished painting both the front and back deck with DeckOver. It looks awesome. We hired out getting our living room ceiling drywall skimmed, repaired and painted…and that made a huge difference. The garden was a HUGE success!

April 2014 – Sunshine + school makes me itchy to get outside! Daffodils bloomed (even though we got them in SO LATE!) and the grass got it’s first cutting for the season. Baby veggies were started and we attacked more blackberries to clear out the western fence line. We started doing paint planning (exterior color picked!) and will paint the garden shed to test the color. Roof maintenance and drywall repair were on the list for getting things ship shape indoors and out.

March 2014 – Epic, record breaking rains kept us mostly indoors. The ground was SO saturated. At one point there was a river running through our garden. Daffodils started popping up and we started thinking about bringing out the seeds.

January  & February 2014 – Made the decision to back off on adding chickens (for now) since our schedule is so full of work and school. House cleaning, light switch upgrades, replacing lights with LED bulbs, and hanging a few more fixtures were the major milestones. Still dreaming about the property next door…

November & December 2013 – Well, school happened, so the house projects pretty much stopped for the past few months. We cleaned out 6 more boxes of “to donate or give away” stuff (woohoo!) including the carpet room in the basement so we have a space to work out! We did a huge renovation of the veggie garden and it is now free of bricks and awful pathways! We planted a cover crop that did not really come up. Big project was tree limbing. We have a lot more sky and now have to do something with all the branches. Matt replaced some outdoor light fixtures and we love the way it looks.

September 2013 – We painted 1 coat of Deck Over on the main deck, and then fought off the rain for a second coat on about half of it. Now we are just hoping that this single coat lasts until a break in the rain for the final coat. At least we brushed it on so it is thicker than rolled on paint. The dining room has a new light, new butter yellow walls and is free of boxes! Gearing up for the housewarming party and start of grad school year 2 forced us to unpack more, get the storage room set up, and put projects on hold for the fall and winter. It really does feel like home.

August 2013 – August brought more sunshine and house projects…along with solidly booked weekends so there was NOT enough time to tackle them all. Once we decided on a deck plan every other project was on hold to take advantage of dry weather. Day after day of scrubbing wore out my wrists but the clean deck was worth it. The dining room was primed, and our amazing old farmhouse table put in place. The house is coming together. We also took our first steps in scoping out the property next door and strategizing on how to acquire this vacant land…

July 2013 – We are moved in! We are trying to prioritize projects and ease into the new house…but our project list and visions for the house keep growing! Oh why are there not more hours in the day? We are focusing on the house (laundry room, storage room, and dining room) then will move our focus outdoors into the garden. We are also trying to troubleshoot the “shelf” in the living room to see if it is possible to tear out or not…

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