Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sticks and Bricks

Birthing calves and smelling bluebonnets aren’t the only things we have been doing lately.  Our "sticks and bricks" in Austin was in need of some care and attention.  It was time to repaint the inside of the house and install new carpet.  The living room furniture, and shades, all of 18 years old, were well past their prime as well.  In addition, John has long wanted an outdoor kitchen.  So, we went into overdrive this spring, and began work on all those projects.   

The paint and carpet came together seamlessly, and shutters are due to be installed in a few days.  The furniture was another story, but with the help of my good friend Pattie, I found just the right pieces.  But more important, Pattie went through all our art and furnishings.  She reorganized and rehung everything downstairs.  The whole look is fresh and new, and we’re thrilled.

But the outdoor kitchen was the really big project.  My cousin, Jim, gave us some suggestions for how we could lay it out.  Then, our friend Larry, an engineer with a major architectural firm, made some changes to the design and produced construction drawings for the project.  Not only that, he helped John supervise the work and put in a lot of hands-on time himself.  We couldn’t have done it without him.

Here are some progress photos of the work, and the almost-finished product.  

Larry and John on the job

How work is supposed to look

Topping out

Ready for a steak!

When we return in the fall, we still need to install lighting in the outdoor kitchen and update the patio furniture, etc., so stay tuned later this year to see how it all comes together.

There was only one more major project we undertook this spring.  It wasn't related to our Austin home, but to the family farm east of Hamilton, TX.  John spent quite a bit of time researching "skid steers." That piece of equipment is a "bobcat" with a tree shear on the front.  We, along with my brother and all our children,  will use one at the farm to clear ash juniper, commonly known as cedar.  These invasive evergreens cover large areas of Texas, slurping up water that could grow native grasses and spewing out quantities of pollen to which many are highly allergic.  Removing some of them will alleviate those problems, as well as provide better habitat for the endangered black-capped vireo.

Just before we left, our skid steer was delivered to the farm.  Here it is being unloaded.

When we return this fall, you'll get to see photos of what it can do.

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