A chronicle of Mike and Julia's adventures creating a home on the Missouri range...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Insulation... check!


     Finally, the first progress report on the house… drumroll please… our house is fully insulated! Yay! Getting insulation in the roof and the floors was a huge step for us, and we could not have done it this quickly without an infusion of help from friends and family. That seems to be our constant refrain in this process! 

     First Mike’s uncle and cousin came for a day on their cross-country trip, a very hot day I might add. They assisted us in our first step—stapling “Insulweb,” on our rafters which is very much like it sounds, a sort of webbing material for the cellulose fiber to get blown in behind. Once we had all the necessary insulweb stapled up on the underside of the cathedral ceiling, we framed out the gable end walls to make an adequate depth of insulation, and then stapled up insulweb there too. 

     A word about cellulose—as far as insulation goes, it is the most green material (being recycled newspaper bits mixed with relatively nontoxic borax) for the most affordable price, perhaps with the exception of straw, but we had used straw as far up the walls as we could go and we now needed something that could easily fit in between rafters, etc. Hence, cellulose. However, the downside to cellulose is that it is extremely messy, dusty, and an all around pain-in-the-butt compared to batting-type insulation. I vaguely remembered thinking this when we helped our neighbors with their cellulose years ago, but memory tends to soften the edges of such experiences, so I went into our cellulose job with great optimism that it would be painless and quick....

        Not so. Thanks be to Susan (Mike’s mom), Chris (a good family friend), and Taylor (Mike’s brother) for helping us for 3 grueling days of stapling webbing, feeding the ever-malfunctioning hopper (sort of a reverse vacuum blower for cellulose) and hand stuffing and packing floor and ceiling cavities. Every day they left our house semi-coated in grey fiber dust (and a few hitch-hiking pests) to retreat back to their hotel in town. Their help was a huge push to me and Mike, and we were feeling confident when they left that 90% of the work was done! Haha. Well the days dragged on as we further packed down the bays of fluffy cellulose and refilled with the long-hosed hopper… compressed and filled, compressed and filled, each time convinced it was the last time. The true last time involved hand-filling plastic shopping bags and prying them into the last little open space at the top of the roof. As you can imagine, our house was a mess with stray cellulose and it took a whole day just to thoroughly sweep it all up. Whew! Glad we only have to do that once!


and after!
     Perhaps sensing we were now ready for a heat source, our cook stove magically appeared the next day after finishing the insulation. “How?” You might be wondering, “would such a random thing suddenly appear?” Such is the way of all things in Missouri. Well, actually it was at our Amish neighbor Jake’s retirement auction that we met our lil’ Ashland cookstove. We offered to help the very stressed Jake in his days, really, weeks, of preparation for the big event (half the Amish men in east La Plata were swarming around his place, setting up things) and sure enough, Jake had a task with us in mind: ice cream. He asked Mike to drive him into town to buy 20 gallons of ice cream and dry ice. It is auction tradition round these parts to have “food prepared by Amish ladies” including 7 kinds of pie and ice cream. (In case you were wondering, the other choices are almost invariably—fish sandwich, cheese sandwich, coffee, fresh made donuts or popcorn.) Ice cream is our kind of helping out! On the way, Jake mentioned to Mike that another feller was selling a cookstove and we should have a look. We did and rapidly researched everything we could about Ashland stoves in need of firebox repair. We gave it a careful once-twice-three times over at Jake’s and wracked our brains for what a fair price might be. $200 was one friend’s suggestion. $1,200 was Jake’s guess. Ack! The stress and exhileration of an auction! You never know what is going to to go hot and high or what the auctioneer will be begging folks to take for $1. Finally it was time for the stove—we decided I would bid since sometimes the competition will drop out in a gentlemanly way, deferring to a lady (little do they know!) But since almost no one was bidding against me, it was easy. We got it for $500 even. The cherry on top of the stove was that we also won the bid on Jake’s old slate chalkboard collection, so for $50 more we have enough slate to tile a stove threshold, back heat shield, and some other areas of the house too!  Funny how exactly what you need falls into your lap when you need it.

Stove and bathtub in waiting

Tomato ally
      In other news, here is the brief garden update: everything save the melons is growing quite nicely! Our first peppers and potatoes are ready for eating (radishes already came and went!) There are green tomatoes hanging on the vines and cucumber and bean vines going nuts climbing. Maybe we lucked out with our soil, or perhaps it is beginners luck, but things are doing way better than I thought they might! Still, things have a mind of their own… our largest happiest squash plants are growing out of the compost pile. We’ll still count it as a success. (Photos to come very soon.)

Sweet potatoes, asparagus, and sunflowers

Kale, peppers, and climbing beans
Potatoes and cucumbers growing up a trellis
    So what about that pig I mentioned in the last blog post? I guess some things aren't meant to be this year and our pig is one of them. The day we were expecting a pig delivery (and we were fully prepped with pen and hutch ready), we got a call that our "weaner" (yes, that is what a piglet is called in farm-speak) and its brethern weren't doing so well, perhaps having a hard time separating from their sow mama. Anyhow, we still haven't found a good alternative source and perhaps it is for the best that we take on one less thing this year. In fact, there are quite a few things on our to-do list that probably won't happen this year, but I won't totally give up until the snow flakes fly, signalling end of season surrender. And this year, it will be a sweet retreat to our warm house to sit by our stove!