Summer Update, 2006

It's been quite a while since we've let you know what we're up to. I thought we might be getting enough things done to show in the home tour, but there are still quite a few tasks ahead that are worth reporting, but won't appear in the tour. So, a summer update to recap since we last checked in.

Much of the spring was spent dealing with the flaws revealed by an atypically cold winter. The worst, of course, was the frozen water lines. Quite a few people in the area had similar problems, but that is slim consolation. Our lines were buried only 2' deep, not the usual 4', so they were doomed to freeze, no matter what. We had to wait 3 or 4 months for the ground to thaw so that we could trench new lines. This time we went down 5', just for good measure. On top of that, we also insulated the water lines. I've got temperature sensors buried with the water lines, so we'll know whether we're close to freezing or not, though I'm not sure what we'll do if the threat appears. I also replumbed the storage tank so that the lines now enter and exit near the bottom - also around 5' deep. Otherwise, we would have had a major vulnerability at the tank.

The other major problem was the boiler, which provides heat for the radiant heat floors. We were suspect from the day the installers showed up with a smaller unit than they had originally spec'ed.  They rechecked their numbers and assured us that it was big enough. It wasn't. The installer made some very bad assumptions about the local climate and the heat load. To make matters worse, they didn't take into account that the system was filled with anti-freeze instead of water. This doubles the flow resistance, which means bigger pumps are required. I still haven't figured out quite why the system behaved like it did, but it definitely was sized wrong.  After several trips to try to fix the system, the installer finally agreed to replace  the boiler. We used this opportunity to upgrade to a high-efficiency, state-of-the-art unit - one that wasn't even available when the initial installation was done. It was a pretty big job to replace the boiler, because the new one requires multiple pumps and has a more sophisticated flow pattern and control system. It also works much better.

So much for the horror stories, now for some pictures of what's changed.

With the heat working, we could enjoy the view out the glass wall during a snowstorm. Snow was pretty rare this winter, which contributed to the freezing problems everyone was having with their water, as the snow provides insulation for the ground. The chair is just one sign that we've begun to move furniture into the house.

The scuppers (roof drains) grew impressive icicles over the winter.

The elk trails are pretty visible in this shot. We found 4 antlers this spring. We also woke one morning to the sight of two elk about 100' from the bedroom window, grazing and gently butting each other. We've since seen other elk in the pasture, either just grazing, or at the salt lick, which is for the horses.
The entry to main house and the guest suite are tiled with green pebbles. These pebbles come on sheets, much like tiles. Elaine's decided that it's easier just to work with loose stones like she did in the shower. That's how she'll do the entry to the bedroom.
Until the cabinets get done sometime in the future, we are using open wire shelving in the kitchen. In is quite consistent with the open look of the house, but it's not the long-term solution. The farm sink is the permanent sink, but in an obviously temporary cabinet. The water jugs and the orange cooler are dead give-aways this shot was taken during the period when the water lines were frozen.
All the doors for the main house were finally completed and installed. They follow the pattern of the guest suite bathroom door, but are made of wormy hard maple, rather than barnwood. They probably weigh nearly twice as much.

The door to the utility room has two portholes in it. The upper one is so you can see all the blinking lights on the controller and other various pieces of equipment. The lower opening is a cat door - the litter box will be out of way inside the utility room.

It didn't take long for the cats to discover the opening was just the right size for them. Bashful immediately took refuge in the utility room, watching us through the porthole.
The outdoor shower is a real treat, especially now that we've replaced the wooden pallet with flagstones and a pebble drain. Nothing quite matches the feel of an outdoor shower after a day working in the hot sun. Of course, this shower has hot and cold water, making for a more pleasant experience. Still to come, a towel rack and a privacy screen for company.

The pebbles were part of one ton load of rock we brought up in the pickup (and unloaded by hand, of course). The balance of the gravel fills the drain trenches that start below the scuppers and run from the house.

The master bedroom is just about ready for us to move in. Elaine tiled the bath in the same pattern as the guest shower.
The master shower is a little bigger than the guest shower, but otherwise quite similar with the same stone tile pattern and a pebble base. The pebbles are grouped by colors, creating a more distinct visual pattern than in the guest shower.

How moved in are we, you're probably asking yourself. Moved in enough to have a washing machine. No more carrying dirty clothes back each trip. Ranch clothes stay at the ranch.
Closing out our update - the cats have confirmed our belief that the top of the bond beam is just made for cats. Beau and Teaser reach the bond beam by a series of jumps, first up two storage boxes to reach the top of the fridge, then to the ceiling of the utility room, and finally to the bond beam. They can then navigate to any spot along the bond beam. Beau spent quite a few hours snoozing away the afternoon.