Projects Update #2

Cutting holes in walls, raking 13 tons of gravel, and how our garden grows.

Projects Update #2

We just hit the one year mark on the house!

In that time, the two biggest lessons we’ve learned are 1) that everything takes longer than expected, and 2) that there’s always an unglamorous project more urgent than what you’d like to work on.

There’s still so much to do, but we’ve nearly reached the milestone where more of the house is renovated than not. Our latest project was a bottleneck, which means we can finally get to work on the best room in the house—which we've only shared glimpses of so far!

Entryway/Living Room

At some point in the long chain of ownership, someone decided it was a good idea for the front door to open into a bedroom, so we’ve been directing confused visitors to a side door for the past year. No more!

We worked with contractors for the wall framing and drywall over the past week, and it came out great. I get to start painting this weekend! Flooring might wait, but we do have new doors on the way that don’t look terrible and will let in more light. We’re all about light.

Next up, painting away more nasty beige and getting our long-lost bookshelves back up!


While our contractors were building the entryway, we were outside working on the driveway.

Our elephant ears hide some of the weed jungle in the before photo, so it actually looked worse, if you can imagine. After battling it all last summer and again this year, the driveway moved up the priority list.

It took us a couple of weeks to uproot the latest jungle, grade the slope, lay weed fabric, and then spread and tamp 13 tons of gravel. We had hoped to start before it reached 100º outside, or, even better, in winter when the weeds were dead. But, well, we got it done! (Nearly, anyway. If you look closely, there's still a trench by the door where we’re installing a pipe for rain barrel overflow.)

Gravel was nicely affordable, but it was also our best option. We get heavy street runoff during flash floods, and the gravel should help slow that down. It doesn’t radiate heat like asphalt, won’t crack, and suits our wooded location better than concrete.

Gardening & Foraging

Since you last saw it, the garden…grew, a bit.

I was skeptical of the garden soil we found, but it seems I've been proven wrong. Almost everything was grown from seed, and I've yet to find a zucchini shorter than my forearm.

I also finished building out the drip irrigation system from our rain barrels, and it’s been working nicely! Between the two, we can collect 150 gallons of rainwater, which helps with the summer water bill. A single Arkansas downpour fills that in minutes: hence the overflow pipe.

Irrigation in place, taken when you could still see it through the plants.

We’ve also been picking berries around the house, both from our own plantings and in the wild. The sarvisberry tree we planted in the fall had a great first harvest, and we even foraged a few red mulberries from a tree we rescued from English ivy over the winter. Unfortunately, the resident wildlife ate our first crop of gigantic blackberries before they could ripen. Maybe next year!

Sarvisberries! They do indeed taste like wild blueberries, and the birds kindly left us enough for several pickings.

It’s now starting to hail walnuts around the house, which we have aplenty, so we need to work out how to properly harvest those this fall. David found out the hard way that they’re called black walnuts for a reason.

Summer is so alive here. Our woods are a lush green, with barred owls swooping by and sitting to watch us eat dinner. Last year's bats are back on evening mosquito duty, and our most frequent visitors are a mama deer with triplet fawns, who stopped by as I wrote about them.

Two of the triplets, who stayed behind to distract me from finishing this.