Somehow the anniversary for one year in our new (to us) home came and went without us hardly taking notice. I say somehow but the honest truth is that I know exactly how it happened. It happened because we have been so incredibly busy and we still haven’t hit half of the projects that we want to. We’re not finished with our 2022 goals and I’m already working on the list of 2023 goals! Of course, I’m mainly just doing that so that I don’t forget about all of them that come up and I know we won’t be able to get to them for awhile. It’s more a way to document them than to actually set them as a goal. Anyways, I thought it would be fun to update you on what we were able to accomplish in a great big one year homestead recap.
If I could use one word to sum up our one year homestead recap it would be projects.. From the moment that we moved in we had work to do. Heck, the house was still full of the old owner’s belongings when we moved in so the first thing that we had to do was get all those out. Then, the real work started.
The most stressful of all the year one homestead recap projects was the drain field for our septic. We almost didn’t buy our house because of the septic. The previous owner had lied to us and told us the septic report was fine, but it was not. The day we were supposed to close on the house I told our realtor if she wasn’t paying to fix it we were not going up to sign the papers on buying the house. Which would have been a really bad predicament because we were also in a contract to sell our old house. Long story short, she ended up paying for it.
The work that these people did was horrible. We had standing water from October to the spring when we finally got enough heat to dry it up a little bit. After a lot of back and forth with the company that did it, instead of fixing their bad work, they wanted to charge us more money to come fix it. My husband and I were not on board with giving them more money and hired a friend’s company to come take care of it. They did a wonderful job and it looks better than ever! I’m just sad it took so much stress and effort from our part to fix something that someone else did poorly. I guess it goes to show, you can’t trust just anyone!
Another big project to get our electrical box updated. There was something that they did in the box that was “okay” according to the inspector but it definitely wasn’t the code way to do it. The box was very old and even connected to a smaller separate box that needed to be gotten rid of. Contractors around here are so dang busy and the one that we signed on with kept pushing out the date they would be able to help us. Finally, at the end of July we were able to get this completed. We also had other projects that were waiting on this one. Those projects would need to be done before the weather turned. Again, a lot of stress and waiting around for things to get done! Overall, though, we are thrilled with the work they did and that it’s off our plate forever!
Before we could get to the HVAC work, we needed to have the electrical work done. THat’s mainly because the breaker we had was full and there was no room to add another breaker for our central air. Listen, I’m all for living a simple life and all that but I’m not about to give up my central air if I don’t have to. We lived through half of the summer without it and, yes, we survived but it was miserable and even worse for my old dog who doesn’t handle heat well.
Our home came with a fuel oil furnace that shut off every other day during the winter. No really, we kept having to go restart it and we’d wake up in the morning to it being 50 or lower in the house. It was incredibly frustrating and the fuel oil was very expensive. We decided to switch to propane, which is also expensive but allows us to have a gas stove since I really dislike cooking on electric.
The house came with appliances but we knew we were going to replace majority of them. We hadn’t planned on replacing the washer and dryer but as soon as we started using them they started making crazy noises so we decided to start new. Plus, we bought them from Home Depot during last year’s black friday event so we got a really good deal on all of them. They honestly sat in our garage for months and months before we finally got them all installed. We replaced everything- refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, microwave, dryer, and washer. Yes, I’d love to move away from a microwave but right now we use one and replacing it would require major modifications in the kitchen. You better believe I got an upgrade to a double oven again too! Such a blessing.
They smoked in our house briefly before we moved in. Probably about 6 months time. It was enough to give it a smokey smell, especially in the back living room. It wasn’t long enough to leave that smokey film on everything and ruin the windows/walls/ceilings. No matter how much we shampooed the carpet, it still stunk. I knew there was no way we were going to be comfortable in that room unless we got new carpet. We found a place that had a good chunk of remnant that made it super cheap and they installed it too.
We almost had a big issue because when they came it was winter 2021 and we didn’t have our heat on yet. Due to the smoking we opted to make sure our ducts were cleaned before turning the heat on. The earliest we could get someone was early November. It was frigid in our house with no heat! Carpet apparently needs to be warm in order to be able to stretch it appropriately (which I did not know). I cranked the electric fireplace up and got it to about 80 in that room so they would be able to get it done. The carpet we chose looks significantly better than what was in here and smells well…brand new!
Our entire house was white when we moved in. No joke. White or off white, that’s it. I need color in my life! Plus paint is a great way to cover up and eliminate any leftover odors. I did a whole post about getting the smoke smell out so you can find the details there. Long story short, we used JoAnna Gaines paint which is made by Kilz to get the most of the job. Plus, we painted all of the ceilings too, which is the worst part but makes the biggest difference.
The first big unexpected expense was our well pump. We had tried to use it to fill our pool (another fiasco) and it quit on us. So now had very little to no water on a daily basis. We were praying we could get water to the animals at least. We also had meat chickens at the time and they went through a ton of water. It was pretty stressful!
Thankfully the company could get out quickly and it took just over an hour for them to have the new one installed. The well pump they replaced was actually quite old and overdue for replacing. I’m just thankful that this one should last us another 30 years so we won’t have to worry about it for a good long while. It was painful to have to spend even more money but at least it’s another thing we have out of the way.
Another one of the unexpected replacements that we did was the water softener. We noticed the water was getting really hard really fast. After some investigation, we realized that the well company had put it in bypass without telling us! I was having such a hard time getting everything clean and come to find out we didn’t have to live that way. We’d already ordered an upgraded one so we decided to install it simply because it’s another one of those things we shouldn’t have to worry about for a long time now.
If your windows break, it’s totally fine to just cover them with cardboard. Well, that’s what the previous owners thought. There are two basement windows and both were covered with just paper and cardboard. Knowing that this is just an open door for critters, we were planning to replace them right away. We went and bought glass block windows to replace the broken ones. It wasn’t a horrible project and it immediately helped me feel more comfortable that I wasn’t going to come across a rat or raccoon in our basement when doing laundry.
Basement Insulation & Demolition
Shortly after moving in we found out we had a mouse problem. There are two animals I really, really dislike. Snakes and mice. I’ll kill all the spiders you want if you keep the mice away! They were so bad they were leaving droppings in my cast iron pan I keep on stop of the stove. We started setting traps and, as I mentioned, we put the windows in the basement.
When we were doing that project we had to take down some of the ceiling tiles to get the window in. To my shock and horror, they were covered with animal droppings. We immediately knew we had to take them all down and restart. As we took down the tiles we realized the insulation around the base of the house had been ravaged by so many animals and it had a lot of nests left in it. We decided to tear it all out and replace it.
Once we pulled the insulation out we could see broad gaps of daylight where animals had been getting in and out. We even found a very large bees nest in our wall! Thankfully, there were no bees actively in it. Once again, we worked to get everything closed up. We bought boards and foam to cover up all of the holes and then replaced the insulation.
We also decided to take down the “walls” that were down there. With everything else we found they just felt so dirty and gross. I just wanted to gut everything and get a fresh start. It was a good thing we did, there were two dead mice inside one of the walls. Now, it is down to the studs and our goal next year is to re-do the rest of it so that it’s actually an enjoyable space. I’m actually excited to make it a space that we can utilize vs. being a burden of space.
When we moved in and met the neighbors we learned our house had quite the criminal history. The cops were here constantly and the kids that this woman had were crazy. They informed us that the entry doors had also been kicked in at some point. We knew that this meant they would need replacing soon. Well, the kickplate broke on the one to get into the garage so that was the first one to go. It didn’t take too long and this new door looks so much better! One down, two to go!
The pool was more work than we anticipated as part of our year one homestead recap. We could have torn it down. However, I’ve always wanted a pool so we decided to keep it. This required us to tear it all down and build it back up. Thank goodness my parents are amazing and helped us out. We also got to have the fire department out to come fill it for us!
On top of all these year one homestead recap projects, we also had plenty of things break that needed fixing. Our lawnmower broke, multiple times. I bought a Mantis rototiller on an auction that worked wonderfully when we first got it. Then when I went to use it to plant the garlic it decided it didn’t want to work. The dryer that we bought started making a strange noise so we replaced the bearings (yes, already). The sink upstairs had no water pressure because it was clogged with sediment from the well.
On top of everything, my dad got sick and had to have his toe amputated. He is our leader and he does so much for all of us that him being out of commission has been really, really hard on all of us. We knew we’d need to step up and help my parents get back on their feet though. Unfortunately, just as he went down so did a lot of other things. His truck’s fuel pump went out, the muffler in my mom’s equinox went out, and their boat needed to be winterized. There were also some last minute work things that needed to be wrapped up so his customers could have their vehicles. It was chaotic for a bit, but we got it all done! He’s still on the mend and we’re so thankful for the doctor’s taking care of him and helping him heal.
Upcoming Homestead Projects
Whew! That’s a lot of just a one year homestead recap. I know you’re thinking we must be wanting a break or we must need some time to financially recover. Well, we do need to financially recover but we’ve got a lot more projects lined up.
The first is for me to fix the tile in our kitchen and dining room. The grout they put down has cracked and come up in several spots and one of the tiles cracked. My goal is to replace the cracked tile and fill in all the grout. In order to do that I’m going to have to stain the rest of the grout to make it all match. Which I think will also give it a fresh updated look.
There is also still carpet in our house that has a slight smell to it. Honestly, not many people can tell unless they are on the floor. I workout in that part of the house daily so, to me, it’s a very stinky section of carpet and it needs to go. This winter we plan to rip it all out and replace it with a nice laminate. Colin has put down flooring before so it shouldn’t be too hard of a project for us.
I mentioned this a little before but we also plan to finish the basement. My plan is to stain the concrete as a cheaper way to finish it. Then we will use just a backer-board type wall that I’ll paint to make the walls look nice. We’re planning to pull the tin ceiling out of the barn (since it’s not necessary and just houses animals) and we’ll clean it to put it in the basement. If you can’t tell, we’re trying to keep the costs decently low while making it a nice area.
Working on the barns is one of the biggest projects we have coming up. We need to get the well out there working so that we can get animals out there. Once that is working we’ll set up some stalls and get the fencing put in so that we can get some bigger animals. Out of all the upcoming projects, this is the one I’m the most excited about.
In Summary: One Year Homestead Recap
Wow. As I was typing this out I started to realize what an insane year it’s been. On top of everything we’ve been working through our fertility journey too, which is more than enough stress in itself. Our goal is to just keep working towards making the best life we can for ourselves. It’s hard and it takes a lot but we are working towards our dreams every single day.
What are you most proud of from this past year?
Honestly, I’m glad we keep pushing through. There were so many projects that we did where we had no idea what we were doing. We just kept trying and finding ways to make everything work.