In February of 2009, my husband and I bought our first home located on a few acres in Johnson, Vermont. We live here with our dog, Ollie, two cats: Elvis and Atticus, six Nigerian Dwarf goats: May, Chutney, Poppy, Juniper, Willow, and Jokers Wild, and about fifteen laying hens. And to top it all off we welcomed our daughter, Isabel, into the world on January 11th, 2011.

We're slowly updating our 1850's farmhouse while steadily working towards a healthy, meaningful, self-sufficient life together.

This blog details our endeavors along with our successes and failures- all in good fun. Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you again soon!


May and I enjoying some sunshine


Our Renovation Weekend

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Thursday, October 21, 2010 3 comments

We were all geared up to get some work done on the house this past Saturday.  My Mom was coming down from Montgomery to help me with a bunch of little odds and ends in the rooms on our second floor, while Kyle was ready to really tackle the sheetrock in the dining room.  He had been whittling away at it through the end of the week, and was excited (if anyone can really be excited about hanging sheetrock) to have a full weekend to devote to covering the bare walls.

I was a little bummed to miss out on gathering drops over at Shelburne Orchards, but with time running out before the end of the year and baby getting bigger by the day, I was happy to help finish up some rooms.  Most of the upstairs (except for the hallway/stairwell) was finished for all intents and purposes.  So I hashed out a list of things to do in each room to keep my Mom and I busy.  We started in the guest bedroom, where the room has been mostly finished for the past year or so.  After installing a switch plate cover to the light switch in the closet, a door stop, and the hardware for the doors to the built-in cabinet Kyle made, we were finished.  One room down, three to go.

We moved on to the master bedroom which also needed a door stop as well as a second coat of paint on some of the trim.  We also hung a shelf on one of the walls, where I like to keep a mirror and some candles.  The closet also got a bit of an upgrade with the installation of some simple lights that we got from Ikea last month.  Two rooms down, two to go.

The nursery didn't need much that we could do (Kyle still had to install the new window to replace the broken, single-pane one) but we put on a coat of paint on the trim, attached the changing pad to the top of the refinished dresser, and installed a new light to replace the ugly brown one that had been plaguing the ceiling for the past couple of years.  We still need to get the dimmer switch installed but we weren't ready to cut the power to do that- so we left it for Kyle.

Finally, the bathroom has been sitting unfinished for...well, I honestly don't remember the last time we touched the bathroom.  I guess it was this past spring.  But with an additional coat of paint on the trim and wainscoting it was looking a little closer to being done.  We took the hooks off the back of the door so I could get up the towel bar (the old hooks were not only UGLY, but kind of dangerous if you ask me) and put a fresh coat of white paint on the door as well.

While we were toiling away upstairs Kyle was busy in the dining room, he managed to get the majority of the sheetrock finished, except for a few sheets on the ceiling that he finished hanging last night.  Things are really starting to come together in there.

I'll snap some more photos of the dining room tonight, because there really is such a difference having all the sheetrock up and the place cleaned up a bit.  But you get the general idea.

You may have noticed in the first picture a sneak peak of the kitchen.  We had been commenting earlier in the day about how awful it was going to be looking at the kitchen when the dining room is going to look so nice.  The kitchen, covered in layers of wallpaper, or just bits of primed sheetrock from when we had the new wiring installed, looked absolutely terrible.  It didn't help that the cabinets and the trim were painted some shade of aqua blue/green- not my favorite- with some stenciling in a dark green and even some stickers on the tops of the cabinets!  My darling Mother commented that we could throw a coat of paint on the walls and the trim that you can see through the doorway from the dining room just to get us by for now.

GREAT idea.

We primed the bench, the trim, and the walls before calling it a day.  I tackled the rest on Sunday, excited at the prospect of never having to look at the terrible color on the cabinets again.  I primed all the cabinets and threw a coat of paint on the walls that we had leftover from our bathroom renovation.  The color in these "After" pictures isn't quite true, the paint is actually a lot lighter and even a bit more yellow- but thats what I get for using a cheap point-and-shoot camera with no editing.  So, we'll all just have to make due.  So, without further ado, here is a brief 'before and after' of our kitchen.

Before (when we actually bought the house):

The horrible white appliance you see in this picture is actually a second freezer.  Our house came with two freezers, but no refridgerator.  We purchased a new one after we moved in, and placed it on a different wall, in hopes that someday we will open up the doorway a bit more.


Apologies that the pictures aren't of the exact same views, but you get the idea.  =]  We still need to get a coat or two of paint on the cabinets (primer doesn't wash very well), and I'm going to spraypaint the plastic handles on all the doors/drawers to get us by until we can really renovate this room.  Maybe we'll get to that this weekend (the finishing touches, not the full renovation).  We shall see.

So thats the skinny, folks.  Like I said, I'll try to snap some more pictures tonight, I still have a long way to go in catching you up on all the 'before and after' pictures in the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs.  So stay tuned!!

What a weekend!

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, October 18, 2010 0 comments

Holy cow were we busy this past weekend!!  The weather was so terrible it kept us from partaking in our "apple weekend" a la last year's but we were able to tackle so many projects, big and small, on the house (thanks to my Mom, for helping with all the little odds and ends!).  I'm so excited to share with you what we've been doing and I just can't believe how motivated my dear husband has been.  He's a machine I tell ya.

So, that being said, I haven't prepared any pictures yet so this is more of a little teaser.  No pictures, nothin.  But I promise to be back soon with a full update and some amazing pictures of whats been going on.  So, until tomorrow my friends!

My Favorite Renovation Project to Date.

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Wednesday, October 13, 2010 2 comments

For almost two years we've been dealing with a minor inconvenience regarding our house.  When you look at it from the road you see a total of three doors: one to the main part of the house, one to the addition, and one to the work shop.  Do you know how many doors you see when you look at the house from the back?  Zero.  Yep, our lovely, long house didn't have a single door leading straight to the back yard.  I'm only a little ashamed to admit that this kept us from spending more time back there.  In reality, when you're as busy as we are, the long walk around the house to the back yard was enough of an inconvenience to keep us from bothering with it.  So for the past year and a half we've talked about installing a nice sliding glass door in the back of the house in our dining room.

As we have been renovating the dining room for the past month or so we decided it was now or never.  We had originally planned to pay someone more experienced to install it for us but, as time was running out as quickly as our "excess" income, Kyle took one look at the exposed wall and thought to himself "I can do this".  That, paired with a free door that was salvaged from my Mom's house, was enough to get us jumpstarted into this long-anticipated project.

A few weeks ago, Kyle began work first thing in the morning.  We wanted to be sure to get as much done on Saturday because the weather report for Sunday wasn't quite as dry.  He measured the door no less than three times and marked the studs where he would have to cut and install a new header.  Because our floor in the dining room is a little slanted (this side of the house was an addition and the foundation wasn't perfectly in line with the old foundation) we had to be sure to make a level base to rest the door on as well.

After all the measurements were made, Kyle cut and removed the studs.  We quickly cleaned out around the work area and he put the new header in place which would be positioned just a little above the door frame.

Once the header and supporting studs were in, leveled, and solid we moved on to the scariest part: cutting the hole in the back of our house. 

This would the be one of the scariest things we have ever done, in my opinion.  Kyle was great, wore his safety goggles and everything, and using the reciprocating saw he managed to cut through the layers of siding relatively quickly.

Here is the ever-victorious man himself.  Champion of demolition.  Master of Sawsall. 

Ok, so once the hole was in the wall we had to quickly move on to the next most crucial part: installing the door itself.  We put it in place and started putting in shims on every side.  As we went we were sure everything was level and square- otherwise the door wouldn't be able to slide properly!  Luckily, the door had a great frame already on it so it was fairly easy for it to keep it's proper shape and before we knew it, the door was in!  We screwed it in place, put in the doors, and stepped back to admire our new view.

Pretty sweet if I do say so myself.  Later that afternoon we filled all the gaps with spray foam insulation designed for windows and doors (so as to not warp the frame with its pressure when it expands) and sealed all small cracks with silicone.  We also capped off the ends of the vinyl siding with special j-groove trim to keep the edges clean and rain water diverted away from the house and put up some lovely new trim around the door.  The door works like a charm and I L.O.V.E. it!! 

Stay tuned my friends, we've got a bunch more stuff in the works and the dining room renovation is in full swing!  Yahoo!

A Welcomed Addition to the Farm

Lovingly Posted by Melissa Monday, October 11, 2010 2 comments

Hi folks!

We've just been in a whirlwind of activity the past month or so and I am falling desperately behind on posting about our home renovations.  Progress is being made and I'm excited to share pictures with you.  I'm hoping to get a few posts up this week regarding the hearth pad and the dining room especially.  But as I still need to upload some pictures I won't be able to get to those topics today.  Instead, I just want to make quick introduction.

Blog friends and family, we are pleased to announce our newest addition to the farm, one that will enable us to keep pushing forward in our dreams of becoming self-sufficient.

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This, my dear friends, is NC PromisedLand Jokers Wild, who has come to us from our favorite Nigerian Dwarf Goat breeder, Sharon at Willow Moon Farm.  Joker is the first male to be welcomed to our farm on a permanent basis- he'll be servicing our does in the months to come.  As our girls are not quite ready to be bred, the younger ones especially, we're keeping this sweet little guy up at my Mom's house with her eight wethers where he has plenty of company and generally stays out of trouble.  Once we have our buck house built and a buckling born on the farm we'll be able officially welcome him home.

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Isn't he just the cutest?  Ok, so he'll be one big stud muffin in a couple more months but until then I'm going to call him "cute".  This little guy will enable us to breed all our girls later this fall and winter so we'll be milking five does next year.  This should provide our family with plenty of milk and I hope to start dabbling in cheese making and bit of goat's milk soap.

But this is just the start, stay tuned for all the excitement to come!