Wednesday, July 15, 2015

# 556 - Construction - Timber Goes Up!

This week has been a fast moving week for the construction of our house. The day we walked over to the side of the acreage where the house is being built, we were shocked to see the basic first framing in place for the first floor.

Truly, I was overcome with emotion at this sight. We have waited so long for this moment. I was so overwhelmed that I cried some of the happiest and most relieved tears that I've ever felt.

Sgt. Dave walked hand in hand with me and we made our way to the part of the house that will be the wrap around porch and we headed toward the front doors, just as if the walls were already in place.

When we reached the front door threshold, Sgt. Dave insisted upon carrying me across the threshold into the interior portion of the house so we could properly enter the house for the first time. I was worried he would crumble beneath my weight, but he handled carrying me like a champ!

Yes, it was romantic and loving and it summed up so much of the good character of the man I love.

Each day this week, the house made fantastic headway. In the photo above, you can see some of the construction workers standing on the rafters...not something I would want to do.

Every day, as Sgt. Dave heads to work, he first drives to the construction site to make a quick video and to take pictures of the progress made the day before.

In the photo below, you can see the holes in the roof for the three dormers. We are putting on a metal roof. I changed a few things at the last minute, but am extremely happy for that decision.

Since this is a custom home and we literally designed our floorplan on our own, we have never been inside a house like this one, which makes it nerve-wracking to wonder if the house will be as great in reality as it is on paper. Once we walked through the framed house, I could clearly see that I will LOVE this floor plan and LOVE every element in the design. I might eventually try to explain the reason behind each decision because all of it took incredible thought and planning. But, I will probably have to wait until the finished house is photographed before trying to explain some design elements.

One thing is for sure, I am ecstatic. My husband has trusted me to completely design this house and he absolutely loves it. He is finally seeing things as I've seen them in my mind for the past two years. So much of this house has been designed for the man I love because I have been married to him for 29 years and know his personality.

Here is the side hallway that will lead to the driveway and on one side
of the hallway is the laundry room and on the other side of the hallway
is the second bathroom downstairs, so Sgt. Dave can run inside with
while wearing his dirty overalls and then walk across the hall to the
shower. I am LOVING

Side still feels weird that I am 47 years old and have been married 29 years.

Since the framing has gone up, each day when he gets home from work, Sgt. Dave drives the tractor to that side of the acreage and sits on the porch deck and savors his wrap-around porch. Then, he comes back to our cramped RV and tells me how much he loves our house, every bit of it makes sense to him and the vision now belongs to him too.

I am breathing easier, but until the house is finished, I won't feel completely relieved. But, that day is is fast approaching.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

# 555 - John Deere and a Shock Collar

Our lives have been transformed...we now have a John Deere tractor!

For the past several months I have been negotiating and getting prices for the tractor we wanted...contacting John Deere dealerships within a three hour radius of our place. It has been a ridiculous process.

In April we were given a great price. We also have an Ag-exemption which means we do not pay the sale's tax. And we were paying cash for this baby, so there is another "cash" discount off the regular sale's price.

In May, they raised the price nearly $3,000. and other dealerships were almost $5,000. more than our preferred dealership's price. So, I wouldn't go with it. But, we REALLY needed a tractor as the rains beat upon our acreage, especially making our private road a super special off-roading experience!

One thing is certain, we definitely need equipment to match our lifestyle...and living on acreage means you need heavy equipment that can handle the amount of land and terrain. The yard equipment we used at our previous suburbia homes in Greater Houston are inadequate to handle the level of work needed on our acreage.

Sgt. Dave needs to be able to go outside and have the right equipment on hand, ready to cooperate with him, which will help preserve his energy, his back and his time.

But, first, we had to get the tractor home so it could be unloaded. The front-loader was used with straps to unload the box blade, which weighs around 600 pounds! Sgt. Dave did a GREAT job!

Later that day, we made time that day to discuss a few common-sense rules and expectations regarding heavy equipment usage, not just for his safety as the operator, but for the safety of other people, of our pets and animals, and for the preservation of other vehicles and structures.

Slow and easy it goes. No rushing, especially around ANY person, animal, structure or other vehicle. Heck, a potential disaster is one pot hole away. No drinking and operating any heavy equipment, common sense rules. Pro-active upkeep so that equipment stays in good working condition and will look great for as long as possible.

I have personally learned that a tractor is especially dangerous because of its attached parts, whether those parts are moving or not because there is a tendency to already be massively distracted or goal-oriented while operating a tractor instead of worrying about what is behind or beside you. Not to even mention the massive weight of the tractor and attachments, this can be a very dangerous tool.

Actually, the need for stringent ranch rules was confirmed after Sgt. Dave unloaded the tractor and a scary incident occurred. I was standing behind the trailer as he unloaded so I could make sure the wheels remained aligned with the trailer wheel-rails as he slowly backed it off the trailer. He did it slowly and carefully as I held one end of the strap tie to keep the 600 lb dangling box blade from potentially swinging back onto the tractor front end. We did great and Sgt. Dave got it unloaded.

However, after unloading the box blade, Sgt. Dave forgot about being safety conscious and he suddenly swung the tractor around to head out to the pasture and he must have completely misjudged that the brush hog was sticking so far out behind him and it nearly clipped my legs, but I literally jumped out of the way, just in time. I also screamed out, but he never heard me. I was videoing at the time and was NOT very happy at this sudden swing around as he forgot he had a very large attachment behind him that was going to be swung into MY SPACE. If I had a chance to press the button on a shock collar attached to Sgt. Dave at that time, that would have been perfect!

He never even knew what he did because he suddenly didn't pay attention to what was going on behind him as he focused on his desire to move forward with the new tractor. Still, I would have preferred for the slow and easy going motion to have continued until I was safely in HIS view at a good distance from the radius of the tractor's attachments.

Fortunately, for both of us, especially for me, I was not clipped by the sharp-edged piece of unforgiving machinery. As people operate heavy machinery, it cannot be assumed that others in the vicinity are mind-readers who will magically understand the motions you will be making with the equipment...same with the dogs, they aren't mind-readers either, so this was the first and hopefully the ONLY close-call for this piece of large equipment causing potential danger to others, especially others who are in the midst of helping said tractor driver who needed to be hit upside the head with a 2x4.

If a lot of people are around, there will be NO tractor usage because the near accident with me can definitely happen with when we have a lot of company visiting, the tractor keys will be put away until they've left. The potential for disaster is too high. A tractor is fun, but it is not a toy. After he had a few hours on the tractor, Sgt. Dave began to understand what was behind him in a different way...he quickly learned to be a pro while he developed more respect for the machine he was operating and the dangers it could present, especially to people and animals around the tractor.

So far, we both still have all appendages and our heads are attached. Sgt. Dave is learning to also pay attention to what is behind him BEFORE he hits something, which is a great lesson in life. And the next time he needs my help, I will first attach a high powered shock collar to his neck and will be holding the button, ready to remind him that I am present and near the machinery, even when he cannot see me. I bet we won't have any more problems down the line. We're off to a GREAT start!