acreage renovation: culverts

This is just one of the outdoor projects that we have worked on this summer.

At the front of our property are two culverts. They were overgrown with grass and had a mess of rocks of all sizes underneath.

They were almost impossible to keep nicely landscaped. We couldn’t mow the culverts because of the rocks, and we couldn’t easily expose the rocks because there was just far too much grass and weeds. Because it was one of the first things that visitors and neighbours would see, I felt like they were a negative introduction into an otherwise tidy yard and house. Something needed to change.

While my husband worked on a fire pit project, I decided that these two culverts would be my project. I began by digging up the grass with a shovel in order to expose the gravel underneath.

Once the grass was gone, I had around 6” of gravel to deal with. I removed nearly all of it, bucket by bucket, and spread it in other much-needed area on our property. Removing the grass and gravel alone took two days for each culvert. It was exhausting work.

Eventually, the ground had only a fine layer of gravel left. This I kept for drainage. I laid down plastic sheets in order to prevent unwanted grass and weeds from regrowing on the culverts. After covering a desired area, it was finally time for dirt.

As Geoff was excavating yards and yards of earth from the fire pit area, I asked him if he could leave it on the trailer until I was ready for it. He gladly agreed as he wasn’t sure as to where he would even put such large quantities. He ended up dumping four trailer loads of dirt onto the culverts. Spreading it evenly took another few hours, but I had help from two willing children who found it so fun to stomp on dirt mounds.

I took our wagon and went to my favourite rock pile just behind our property. There I gathered large rocks and small boulders and dragged them home. It took a few trips, but those, in addition to what I removed while digging up the grass, provided more than enough for the aesthetic aspect.

I did end up purchasing two wagon wheels from one of my favourite liquidation stores in Saskatoon. I had always wanted wagon wheels but had never really had an opportunity to use some. Lining the driveway with them provided me my first chance. I just love them!

I thought I had completed the project until a few weeks had passed and I noticed that weeds had started growing everywhere on the dirt. I spent an entire morning trying to weed the culverts but to no avail. I knew that I now needed to cover the dirt mounds with something- either gravel or mulch. I figured that mulch would be the quickest and least expensive of the two, and would still be really nice. Geoff purchased ten bags of mulch for me, and I set about spreading it. It was very easy, and smelled heavenly.

This project was a lot of fun to undertake. If you don’t like the way your culverts look, I highly suggest landscaping them!

Emory

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we bought an acreage

Almost five years ago to the day (though it feels much longer), we began our search for an acreage home. Having grown up on a few acreages, and my husband on a farm, we have always felt drawn to a more rural lifestyle. We started out by going north of our current city. I published my first post about our hunt here.

Since then, we have pursued homes in every possible direction. We must have looked at between thirty to fifty properties- small acreages with nicer houses, big acreages with smaller houses, nice yards, hideous yards, newer homes, older homes, ones less than ten minutes from the city, ones more than an hour from city limits, and so on. Years went by and we could not find an acreage that ticked most of our boxes. We also went through quite a few realtors during that process. In the meantime, we sold our place in the city, purchased an empty lot at a lake where we built a home, temporarily moved onto my parent’s acreage, sold the house at the lake, and returned to the city. All within the last five years. Now, I can finally say that our quest is over. We bought an acreage!

As life and luck would have it, we ended up settling on a place a few minutes from where we began searching- north of the city. While it does not have as much land as we originally wanted, it is newer and in better condition than most of the properties that we have looked at over the years. It is also completely fenced with a large garage and a finished basement (the latter of which we have never had the pleasure of owning). There are so many other positives about this home, many of which I plan to discuss in the coming months. There are also a few negatives of course, as no home is perfect. However, for right now, it is the best and most wonderful fit for our family.

I am just so thankful and grateful to God for answering my prayers, and to my husband for working hard and being able to afford this place, and putting up with my restless nature. It has been an eventful and long five years, but now I can finally say that we are home.

Emory

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home: a modern cape cod homestead (nine apple trees)

c4u3is18vS2CJvyT6K0M6F_WfQV7Z9O1QKLyKl33x7cThere are only a handful of blogs and bloggers that I have been following, or who have followed me, since almost the outset of HSB. One such person who has been a constant is Chris from the blog Nine Apple TreesHis Ohio home, in which he shares with his beautiful family, is one that I admire greatly. He is not shy in posting about the hardships in regards to acreage life, while also celebrating his achievements with the same candour. His blog is a realistic look on rural life, and not an edited or glorified one that most bloggers become a casualty of (myself included). From his beekeeping adventures, to renovating their sustainable home, and more, Chris is a great storyteller and photographer. I couldn’t imagine doing this series without him.

Emory

wGvFthMvdd4I_mQGHhBZnjD6lKCZggohIQYtQsTWn-A1. Where is your home located?

Our home is located between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio in the heart of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. While we’ve only been in our home for three years, my wife and I have lived within a few miles of the area basically our whole lives. The village has a rural feel but we are within twenty minutes of two major city centers. Living in a national park is a dream come true for us.

Wdbq5QusejaY-ONWlcAGsFx_dWhGzCSqHgqzHs4-gl4,6pzdcly1GjGSMHrelAf6YD4kO0A7tH4ybyKKNBX7JlwbmiWghEl3FJN9Yq0pqvK1uEhE9toAsRsy4jWXDDlVs42. What are your thoughts on the idea of ‘home’? 

This is our third house we’ve had together, all of which we built new. I think the idea of turning a house into a “home” takes time. Home is really about the experiences and memories that become tied to a place. It was difficult leaving our last home because that’s where the boys were born, and we lived there for over seven years. It felt comfortable. Of all the things to worry about, or be challenged by in life, home has been a constant. I think people find comfort in the constants in their lives. For us, comfort is found in the place we live.

ToqTx_1qYmePCMNvFNbPn5j6CDCUgPTvg3VWElRO_6g,3HN4DHB5tttqTLRa4vYQ3Sq9mqyxV2Q3olKTRd5meMcLD_BF5lWtsXCPYoogM4TUDNAygv85alsGjpJ9IzQuDI3. What kinds of things influence your design style?

We have been fortunate that our design tastes are totally in sync. We like a laid back, eclectic, contemporary feel. We hired an architect to design our house. The modern cape cod style home he created is uniquely ours, and fits into the rural landscape. I like to think it evokes the industrial architecture of the area’s historic paper mills and train stations in the proportions of the building – the house is very long and tall.

bIOiuWy0itKpKQwQz9HRx7FZmvpPfQjH3XRC61PPeVcWe tried to infuse a little of that industrial vibe with faux steel beams in the kitchen and repurposed welding-tank light fixtures in the dining room. My favorite trick is we used a cohesive paint palette with rich, yet subtle, earthy colors. We weren’t afraid to paint different colors on different walls. We even painted the kitchen ceiling. There’s no reason all four walls need to be the same color.

TsHhrHzqLNIYS0QHYZpEQY8efV12erB1SM1eWaiOTjgI’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that nature inspires our design decisions as well. We try to balance the man made with natural: framed dried leaves the boys collected for example. The only wallpaper in the house, in the half bath, has a floral pattern. And the fireplace mantel is made from a cherry tree we had to cut down during construction.

ADloUGBzaCsfYyoEMChSPqqCM2brwoMO6j348pkAa28,_CpJ6OdmpV16fqyNj2oUKc5UBppax3-ShN_DoCLLaYg4. What do you consider to be one of your favourite items in your home? What could you never live without?

Honestly, for me it’d actually have to be the yard outside. We have six acres and we’ve left most of it natural. I know that’s not an item, but I’ve come to know all the plants and trees, as strange as that sounds. We get attached to the living things on our land; we’ve been known to move shrubs from one residence to the next with mixed results.

E42UnjjqVZhNrcRaiUSrEafdWIku6_dXvogBHDkCxb4,Na32arBojFzpVzFJUBXkdbGErJ8qxczJmZojbkwMD_YAs for items, we have a lot of junk that we’ve moved from house to house. The more we accumulate, the less meaning it has, to me at least.

SO5dNkK95eYXH9UXWhQgEr_wN-cw4XU9wm2lKzXTUJ0,AzyU44RdwUZQwB2LsX10BWlvqjHjEzPWDEGQVhkiSaEI will say though when we designed the house we purposefully did not make a formal dining room. Our “fancy” dining room table gets used every day for every meal, and that’s by design. It will wear over the years and gain a character all its own. We bought it new, years ago, and I’d say that it has been a good constant to have. Whether it’s just a family dinner, business meeting or catching up with old friends, you can usually find it happening around the dining table.

3QNSXA3Eot634Y2oJJAZcTahLt1QlTdU_1I0wFakH9Egm7DuDUb_tXOt7MVUnIXSdBdnj-J1zgs2lFTNx6dC8M,WxGfMfdAPbAcx7At79iM0UfHVPEORvVhEyfh2xELezA5. Please share any ideas/stories/pictures that best highlight your home.

A major influence on our house and home life is environmental sustainability. The house is Energy Star certified, and we factor in the environment in every house related decision. My favorite example is our water supply is one hundred percent rainwater. It was amazing to take that first shower knowing that the water had fallen from the sky just a few hours ago. The house has been designed and built in a way that eventually we could live completely off the grid if we wanted to.

aNVZo8x1sIBr0cNdS3nmqK_iBkSvH0LJqNaw5kin6m8,tUcc6ouvgIYPBxkPvogZ43sKYgCLR6vDTX83aj0ks9QWe actually both work from home, and we built the house with an art studio for each of us. Beyond that we just wanted a place where our children could grow up around nature. We were worried about leaving suburbia with its sidewalks and kids everywhere, but we think it’s one of the best decisions we ever made.

Our home is the place where we live, work and play.

SltJNwjCgvgX28SCudieoU8UYNWkB_38Ha3cwOxAsdY,1Vg0zlICgmZ3d-jDcl-AsBP7rTulroftOKcd3Ip0xwUChris

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If you would like to take part in this series, entitled Home, please email me at helloscarlettblog@outlook.com.

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photo of the day

Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 11.04.14 PM

“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking up.”

– Charlotte Brontë

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mama + guiness

Mum Guin 2If you are an avid reader of my blog, you will already be aware of the fact that my mum lives for her animals. She loves her children, of course, but I think that what keeps her going from the moment she wakes up until she lies back down at night are her four legged friends.

Mum Guin 1A few weeks ago, I had published this post on my mum and her beloved horse, Tuscan. Prior to that, I showed you here what a typical morning for her looks like, as well as another post that was written by my mum on her newest find, Mesa. In the meantime, there have been many more kitten rescues, but her one true companion will always be her Guiness. 

Mum Guin 3This is what Guiness means to my mum, in her own words.

<3

Emory

Mum Guin 4P.S. Have the most memorable weekend, friends! The next time that I see you, I will be another year older. :-)))

Mum Guin 7Mum Guin 5“Born in Europe and brought to Canada with 3 brothers. Abandoned in a cattle trailer. Was going to be shot. RCMP intervened. And this is where our story begins.

Mum Guin 6Mum Guin 8“I met the police officer in the next province over and my first sighting of Guiness was a big, black, bear-like dog. I opened the door to my Jeep, he settled in and we made the long drive back. His eyes. They just seemed to say, ‘Okay, you found me, now let’s get this started’. That was six years ago.

Mum Guin 9“Guiness has been my constant companion. He has never known a leash nor a collar. He does chores with me three times a day. He knows exactly where I need him to be. I don’t give Guiness commands, he looks at me and I either nod or shake my head. He’s watchful, brave, quiet, strong and loyal beyond belief. I buried both of my parents and whispered in his ear all my sorrow. He is a rock. He is mine. When he lifts his giant head, says “Roo Roo” and swishes his tail, I know all is right with the world. I didn’t rescue him, he saved me. I adore you, big boy.”

MaryAnn

  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to three (two on earth and one in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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