Tuesday, April 5, 2022

East Texas Project Update

Hi Friends,
How are you? I hope you are well. 

It's been a while since I've done an East Texas update. 
I'll fill you in on what we have been up to and what is still on the list to get finished. 
Bill's brother came for a few days over spring break to help Bill with some things. 
Together they installed a new storm door for the front of the house. 

I've never been a storm door proponent. It's too hot in Texas to have the screen open. My house in town doesn't need the added light. Our little farmhouse needed the natural light so we went for it. 
We have to keep it closed in the evening, however, so the scorpions don't waltz right it but I love how bright it is.  

I hate scorpions. 

The exterminator came out to treat. We will get ahead of those nasty creatures this year. 
They also installed a new toilet for my bathroom. I don't have to stand there and wait for it to quit running anymore. I always made sure it wasn't running when we left the house.  

They also did the last of the demo on the cabin/shop. 
Here are some before photos. 

It doesn't look that bad but the more we poked around the worse things looked. 

Bill suspected that none of it could be saved. It took me a while longer to get on the same page. 

In the image above, the molding is pulling away from the wall. There was mold behind the sheetrock. The two buildings are joined at the faux window wall. Water pours down from that spot when it rains.
 The shop portion has been gutted. The cabin portion of the building still has walls and sheetrock.
All of it is salvageable except the curtains and the light fixtures. We will also get new floors. 

The cabin is in the foreground in the image below. The odd shaped portion to the right is what we called the Quonset hut. That is now the shop. 

Here is what it looks like now. 

We weren't sure what it would be but now that it has been gutted with the end wall rebuilt, Bill can finally see that this space is a great workshop. 
Bill's brother, Bob helped Bill come up with a wood storage solution. He also helped him sort through and discard the wood that was not salvageable.
It has taken a year to get this far. 

It is not finished though. Bill plans on pulling off the roof since we can't fix the leaks. He will run new roofing in another direction so that water runs off correctly. 
Once the leak is fixed, we can build a wall to close off the two buildings. I can't wait for that because then I can finally fix up the cabin. 

A small bathroom will be part of the cabin project. Figuring out the septic was a factor in how to accomplish that. 
The septic company came out and pumped. It needed it which means that the seller did not do it before closing. While they were out, they pointed out the two old septic systems and located the current septic system. We were driving over it which is not good. 

Our neighbor ran over his septic and broke the concrete lid. As soon as his excavator is fixed, he'll come get the lid from our old septic tank and then he will fill in the hole for us. Either that or he'll crush this lid and fill in the rest. I'm not sure. The plan seems to change weekly. 

There were some eye sores in the backyard when we took possession. 

The propane tank which we moved. The deer blind which we turned into a tool shed. 

There was a weird circle of concrete foundation blocks with metal stacked on top. There was also a black plastic ring with an orange cone on it. The black plastic ring surrounded a drain pipe for camper sewage. The concrete blocks encircle the old septic system so that no one would run over it. The sewage drain pipe has been capped and will be covered or dug up. I'm not sure. 

Initially, Bill cleaned up the metal. He cut up a pear tree that had fallen over and stacked the wood to look like a fire pit. I kept telling him (nagging) that the concrete blocks would make a good fire pit since there is no where to dump this much concrete. 

We needed a good burn pile because we were wasting a lot energy cutting up wood for our small burn box. 
Bill finally agreed so he and a friend moved the blocks and created our fire ring. 

We constantly have a lot to burn. 

We were hit with Winter Storm Uri in February of 2021. 
Initially, it looked like our pine trees would recover. It wasn't the snow. It was 10 days of below freezing temperatures and temperatures that dipped to -2°.  Because our trees were already besieged by pine bark beetles, they are dying off at an alarming rate. There is nothing to be done to save them. 
Initially, I was very upset. It was our dream to have a house in the Piney Woods of East Texas. 
I have begun to think about what our forest will look like with them gone. They aren't native so maybe more native species will begin to emerge. 

For the most part we will let the ones in the woods fall on their own but there was a dead one behind the camper. Bill pulled out the camper and cut down the tree. It's great to have that one gone so that it doesn't fall on the camper. We need a tree man to help with one near the power lines. 

We have cleared paths in the woods but now that critters are waking up for spring, we will put that on the back burner until this fall. We have almost a mile cleared for walking. A little less than that for riding. 
We will still ride the paths to keep them clear this summer. 

I've begun to think about spring planting. I want to focus on the little area right outside the back door. 

The spirea that we moved at the wrong time of the year did survive. 
Bill got me some blocks to define the bed around it. I tried a no dig method. We will see how that works out. 

I sprinkled some seed around so it should look pretty this summer. This area can be mowed with a small mower on a weekly basis instead of using the John Deere Zero Turn. I just need a small battery operated weed eater to keep the path cleaned up. 
That is about it for now. 
Bill still works pretty hard on Saturdays but I have slowed it down and that is a good thing. 
Come back and see me. I will be back when I have something new to share. 
I appreciate all of you.


  1. Katie, what will you do when it's done! You two have been monster workers and it shows. It looks terrific and I long for the day when the two of you can just go there and relax! Three cheers!

  2. I am an East Texas gal, myself, and I know about those nasty beetles. Dreaded! I no longer live in ET but that's where my heart is and always will be. I miss it, terribly!

    Grace & Peace,
    Pam (Gma Birdie)