This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Month: September 2013

A House – Update XXIII – Front Screen Door, Bedroom Ceiling Insulation, Beam Brackets & Drapes

Just a little update on a few things we’ve been able to continue on with the house, by God’s graces.

Front Screen Door

We’ve had these for some time (bought them with the windows and doors, and with the heat of summer, I wanted to at least try to get the front door screen installed.

Here’s the tar paper installed:

Front Screen Door Tar Paper

And for the frame, I decided to use cedar fence slats because of the longevity of cedar and the inexpensiveness of the slats. Since we’re planning on a form of lap siding for the house siding, with the fence slats being 1/2 inch thick, I needed to build out the frame by double stacking them (making the frame 1 inch thick).

Here’s the inner frame. I used tan deck screws to hold the pieces in place:

Front Screen Door Inner Frame
Front Screen Door Inner Frame Side View

After putting up the entire outer frame, I checked the width measurements of the screen door, and discovered the frame on the inside of the door, being an inch thick, was going to make the screen door frame too small. After trying to fit the screen door in place, I found out I was correct…bummer. So, I took the outer frame pieces off from inside the door frame, and ripped them vertically on the table saw to slice them in half, making them about 1/4 inch thick instead. This ended up leaving table saw burn marks, which I had to belt-sand off, and made them thin, so they ended up splitting some when putting them back in place, even with pilot holes.

I believe for future ones, I would plan to just get 1-by cedar boards, which are going to be 3/4 inch thick, which is what I ended up needing.

And here is the screen door in place. We have found in other structures that when a partial screen door is wide open, it still allows much more air flow then when it’s closed, even if half of it is a screen; so I wanted something that was full-length screen. The screen is removable and can be replaced with a glass frame instead:

Front Screen Door Installed

Here’s a look at the screen door frame:

Side View of Screen Door Frame

And the base plate:

Front Screen Door Base Plate

And the door sweep:

Front Screen Door Sweep

And the nice view from the inside!

Front Screen Door From Inside

We’re thankful to the Lord for these screen doors, and for the air flow they allow.

Bedroom Ceiling Insulation

In trying to continue with the bedroom, in hopes of being able to at least sleep there during the winter, and since we had the ceiling panels in place, it was time to start getting some ceiling insulation in place.

Here is some of the R30 rolled out. Maneuvering the big rolls of insulation in the trusses while trying to make sure to only walk on the trusses, and having to lay down to get the insulation in place at the low end of the trusses, was a little more difficult that anticipated. Some of the grommeted screws from the roof metal got my shirt and the top of my head 🙂 :

House Bedroom Ceiling Insulation

Since the truss-end blocks are vented, we needed a way to push the 9-inch or so insulation down, so the vents wouldn’t be blocked. They have these foam baffles, but they just seemed so flimsy that they wouldn’t press the insulation down enough. While in that area of Home Depot, trying to figure out what I was going to do, I found some metal leaf guards for rain gutters that sort of have a lattice pattern; and in looking at them, their flexibility and tensile strength, I thought maybe they might work:

Metal Gutter Leaf Guard

I tried cutting one at 1-inch wide, but that wasn’t strong enough to keep the insulation pressed down. And so I tried just cutting the 6-inch guards in half, about 22 1/2 inches long (after trying 24 and 23 1/4 inches), basically cutting off 6 half-lattice sections back; and after cupping them from end to end, I found they would keep the insulation pressed down:

Metal Gutter Leaf Guard Cut in Half and Formed into Stay

Getting far enough out the low end of the trusses to be able to place the insulation stays was interesting. I used a small OSB board to lay on across the trusses, and while laying there, with the roof so close above that I could barely turn my head, I had to reach out arms length to press the metal stay in place. It sometimes took some messing with, and sometimes pulling it out and re-shaping the the stays, but I was able to get them to hold:

Metal Insulation Stay Installed

With the the insulation right by the vent held down, I needed it to be pressed down just a bit more, a little farther back, so I took these left-over OSB strips and just slid them all the way to the corner of the horizontal and angled truss boards:

OSB Strip Insulation Stays
OSB Strip Insulation Stay Installed

Thanks again to the Lord for the insulation and the stays idea.

Extra Foundation Beam Support Brackets

For some time, given how I designed the foundation beams and the weight of the house, I’ve been a little worried about the overhang of the beams over the piers. I have tried to think back as to why I did that, not putting the pier right under the beam end, and I think I had felt I needed to have the whole pier under the floor footprint, I think because I thought a barrier would need to extend from the wall straight down to the ground, but that wouldn’t have worked anyway, given that some of the wide bases of the concrete piers were above ground. At any rate, I had been trying to think of how to support underneath the beam overhangs, and then in struck me one day that I could probably slide into place another bracket like the ones bolted to the piers, just the 4×4 ones instead of the 4×6 I had already used. And so, over time, I’ve been trying to collect them, and slowly install them under each overhang, starting with the corners, which I figured were the most critical and most load-bearing.

To get them to slide in, I had to sometimes chisel out a little of the bottom of the beam, and then often would have to hammer them into place using a piece of 1/2-inch re-bar:

Using Rebar to Hammer into Place a Foundation Beam Overhang Support Bracket

Sometimes the bracket would get caught on some uneven concrete under the termite shield, and I’d have to hammer it back out:

Uneven Pier Concrete Under Termite Shield

And sometimes it would end up contorted, so I’d have to re-shape it:

Contorted Foundation Beam Bracket

But finally, on this one, after chiseling out some of the wood, I was actually able to slide it into place by hand:

Foundation Beam Overhang Support Bracket Installed

Hopefully these brackets will help any potential beam overhang problem, and not cause any unforeseen problems, and I’m thankful to God for the idea.

First Drapes

With the sun slowly moving south as we head out of summer, it started shining into the house on our working table, and so Sue took some pieces of drapery-type material we had been given, hooked on some drape-rod rings, and we put up some light drapes that at least cast some shade. These are only temporary, but did seem to help against some of the heat from the direct sunlight:

First Upper Window Drapes

And we thank the Lord for this quick and inexpensive thing we could do.

Once again, we are very grateful to God for allowing the resources and strength to continue this progress on the house!

— David

Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: Third Batch of Chicks 2013

As hoped for when we showed the broody hen in our last chicken hatching blog post, the Lord granted the momma hen to hatch out some new chicks! She hatched out 8 out of 11 or so — one had the shell cracked all the way around, but sadly didn’t make it out; and it looked like another one had died during the incubation process.

From the mini-tractor, I moved them into the piano room so they have a little more room, and to get them away from the ants (although ants get into the summer kitchen, but just not as badly as sometimes in the mini-tractor). Once in there, one day I noticed there were only 7; and I ended up not being able to find hide nor hair (or skin nor feather) of it. And then a day or two later, one of the other chicks I found dead. I did see one of our smaller, homestead snakes in the piano room, so I’m wondering if it got either or both. Or the first one maybe got out of the fencing, and one of the hens we have running around the summer kitchen, while their backs are recovering from when the roosters service them too much and the feather are removed, got the chick. Not sure. But, we are thankful to God for what He has allowed to continue, and here is a picture of them — I thought I’d try to get them a little younger this time:

Third Hatching of Chicks 2013

And a short video:

And here is another hen the Lord has granted to get broody. This is actually the mother hen from that last hatching blog post mentioned above, going for another round apparently; and she’s about a week into it:

Next Broody Hen

We are so very grateful to the Lord for the granting of these continued provisions. May His works, both spiritual and temporal, bring glory to Himself!

— David

Root Cellar/Storm Shelter – Update II

Over time, we’ve learned some things about an underground concrete structure, especially when they’re in an area through where water flows or floods: if the walls are basically straight down, the water will end up rolling down between the wall and the dirt, and can end up flooding the underground structure. And for us, this has happened quite often with our root cellar/storm shelter, especially around the main entrance side. We’ve tried burying plastic to try to get the water to drain away, but it’s never really worked.

Recently, we had at least 6 inches of rain for a 2-day period or so, and that whole area flooded, and we ended up with at least a couple of inches of water down in the root cellar — some 125 gallons worth, which Sue and I shop-vac’ed out, about 5 gallons at a time (since the full shop vac was heavy, I had to do the vacuuming and bucket filling, and so Sue uncomplainingly did the hauling up and out).

Well, that was about the last straw for me; and so I figured I really needed to do something as soon as possible, so more erosion that had happened below the stairs wouldn’t occur, to hopefully prevent any more erosion from behind the concrete walls from happening, and so the wood walls inside the root cellar wouldn’t rot. The plan was to dig away from the east wall, all the way around the entrance, to where we could pour a 4-inch slab or so, 2 feet out (3 in front of the entrance because that seemed to be one of the worst spots), dug out at least flat or inclined away if possible, and then have a 6-inch or so wide trench outside that around 10-12 inches down, so hopefully the water would have to crawl below and up the concrete in the trench, and then crawl under the slab before getting to the root cellar walls.

I began this project, starting to do the digging:

First Part of Root Cellar/Storm Shelter Footer Dug Out
Another Angle of First Part of Root Cellar/Storm Shelter Footer Dug Out

Once I dug out to a place past where I thought the first 20 bags of concrete might fill, I installed concrete anchor bolts to try to help keep the concrete against the root cellar concrete:

Concrete Anchors Installed
More Concrete Anchors Installed

And then I placed and elevated metal mesh, tying it to the anchor bolts:

Concrete Mesh Installed
Another Angle of Concrete Mesh Installed
Concrete Mesh Tied to Anchor Bolts
More Concrete Mesh Installed

And then it was time to pour the concrete. Since this footer isn’t really structural, I tried to mix in with each bag half a 5-gallon bucket full of the dirt I had dug out, to try to extend the range of ground each bag covered. I found putting the dirt in first and adding water before putting in any concrete helped soften the dirt and made for breaking up the clods much easier. And this is how far 20 80 lb bags of Quikrete, with dirt mixed in, went. It took me about 5 to 5 1/2 hours or so:

First Section of Root Cellar/Storm Shelter Footer Concrete Poured
Another Angle of First Section of Footer Poured

After showing the rubber ducky, which was meant for the root cellar, that hopefully it wouldn’t get its opportunity now, we were able to find it a new home 🙂 :

Root Cellar Rubber Ducky in Geese Pond

Once the concrete started setting, I used a 2-liter bottle with a hole punched in the top as a squirt bottle to spray water on the concrete to try keep it wet on top while it dried:

2 Liter Water Squirt Bottle

Well, a few days later, I mentioned in conversation this project I was working on. Community work day was coming up, which was to be at the Bunkers’ place; but Mr. Bunker graciously offered to move work day to our place so we could get help finishing the footer. Well, this was a very nice offer, and it sure would help to have that assistance, so I accepted.

And on work day, the work commenced…

Here is retrieving dirt from the dug-out pile to be mixed into the concrete:

Retrieving Dirt to Mix into the Concrete

And dumping in the concrete into the dug-out footer:

Dumping Mixed Concrete into Footer

And the guys mixing more concrete:

Mixing More Concrete

And here is how far we got before lunch break:

Footer Completed by Lunch Break

With as far as we progressed, I thought perhaps we might actually be able to finish the whole thing in the afternoon, so I dug out the rest and installed the anchor bolts and mesh. The guys came back, got on it, and we finished the whole thing — 53 bags that day, 73 in total!

Root Cellar/Storm Shelter Footer Concrete Pour Complete
Another Angle of Finished Concrete Footer
And Another Angle of Finished Concrete Footer

The rest of the time, the concrete crew got to cool down and relax — it was I believe in the low 100 degrees F that day. We also kept spraying the concrete to keep it from drying too fast:

The Root Cellar/Storm Shelter West Footer Concrete Crew

And as always on work days, we finished the day together with a fellowship meal:

The Community at the Work Day Fellowship Meal

We’ve had some rains since then, and it appears to be working so far. Hopefully it will work long term as well.

Sue & I are very grateful and appreciative for the help from the folks here we received working on the root cellar/storm shelter concrete footer, and for Mr. Bunker sacrificing a work day at his place to help with ours. And we thank the Lord for the resources to do this, and for the fellowship here He’s granted us, and for the service of His people to each other. We pray He grant us growth in the graces of servanthood.

— David