The yellow crown amazon parrots Joko and CiCi were very beautiful and talked all the time. They were previously raised in a childcare center and imitated young kids often.You can imagine how strange it is to hear a young boy playing outside when you have no kids :) We unfortunately did not have the time to spend with them that they needed and found a new home for them on island. They are in the care of two wonderful people who love birds.
Daisy (the donkey) had been on the property for many years and had trails all along the bottom of the property. Most of our land is covered in bush and she did not care to eat any of it (spoiled). This meant that we had to buy feed and cut hay for her all the time. I am sure you can imagine how old cutting hay got after a while and we began looking for a new home for Daisy where she could roam and have a better life. After a few weeks of looking, we found the perfect home for her. She is now at Ridge to Reef Farm on St. Croix and even has a boyfriend :) The guy who picked her up had the best trailer we ever saw. It is below :) Growing up in a farming community ourselves, we never felt right about having Daisy cooped up in a small yard with nothing she liked to eat. We are very happy she has a new better home.
We bought new leather couches and quickly got rid of the old victorian pink couches that came with the house. Aaron found the outdoor rug at Home Depot and it looks great! We also got a better generator from a friend who moved to a condo and no longer needed one. Now we are ready for hurricane season and power outages :)
Well I think it is safe to say that the previous owners did not have the gutters cleaned in a very LONG time. All the trees above the roof added to the thick layer of compost and leaves in the gutters. Needless to say, the gutter cleaning job was needed ASAP. So, we purchased a 20 foot ladder and got to work. I was a little nervous about being so high, but it wasn't bad. Luckily our roof is not very steep. The view from the roof is gorgeous! On this day, the water was calm and we could see the islands north of us. I believe we removed a 5 gallon bucket of leaves and compost from the gutters. Yuck! We also trimmed all the trees back, scrubbed the gutters, and washed everything out. Much much better now!
About a month after moving in, we noticed the cistern was pretty low. For those who do not know what a cistern is, we have a large concrete storage tank underneath our home where we store rainwater from the roof. This is our only method of obtaining water unless we pay for a water delivery truck (expensive). When the cistern runs dry, there is no water. Not the situation you want to be in! In addition to a low water level, we began hearing a low hissing sound near our water pump. After going through different scenarios on what the problem could be, it became apparent that there was a plumbing leak in one of the pipes buried in the ground. Awesome....
So, we started digging and this is what we found. It seems that the vibration of the water pump caused the concrete foundation next to this pipe to rub a hole in it over the years. We are not sure why the previous owners placed a concrete foundation on top of the plumbing pipes... We fixed the pipe and decided that we might as well drain and clean the cistern. I pressure washed all the sidewalks since they were covered in mold and we very quickly ran out of water. The cistern access on our home is under the kitchen sink. Very tiny space! We were able to get a ladder in and Aaron crawled in with a bucket, rope, broom, water hose, and sump pump. We stored about 50 gallons of clean water to use for this job before the cistern was empty. One bucket at a time, we removed all the silt and leaves that were in the cistern. This was one long, hot and humid job for Aaron! But now we have a clean cistern and clean water :)
Aaron built new gates for our front entrances and our deck to keep Buddy and Bonnie in the yard. Bonnie got stuck once... It was pretty funny! They have figured out how to squeeze through one of the gates so we will have to reinforce it soon.
We live near the "rainforest" and the bush grows and grows and grows. We thought that we would take a stab at getting some of it chopped down and burned. Tools required: machete, chainsaw, trimmers, sweat, and maybe a few tears. Buddy decided he should help too :) This is HARD work! If you want to lose weight, I would recommend chopping bush a few days a week. We cleared about a tenth of the land below our house in two days and we decided that it was enough for a while :) We kept a bunch of the straight logs in case we decide to build a fence or need straight posts. If we have to do this job all the time, we might just make a raft and sail away :)
Aaron's brother Jared who is a professional painter stayed with us for 5 weeks and painted most of the interior of our house. This was a long process since many of our walls were wood panels and required sanding and caulking before it could be painted. Jared painted all the walls a light yellow and redid our kitchen cabinets in white. The ceiling that you can see in the first picture may be one of our future big projects down the road.
We tiled the inside of all drawers and cabinets and painted the pantry green. We found an amazing double oven stove for a reduced price because of a small dent. It is great! I probably have already made 20 loaves of bread in it :)
The change from wood to white was amazing! We love it! The last picture shows the kitchen before the remodel. I think we may change the dark green to a lighter green later but for now it is much much better than the wood panels.
The fireplace in the house was built using a pink toned brick which we definitely did not like. Of course we were not going to rebuild the fireplace or redo the brick work so our only option to get rid of the feminine fireplace was to repaint it. Our first color choice was copper and after the first coat was on half of the fireplace, we quickly realized it was much too orange. We settled on a dark chocolate brown paint and the contrast between the old danish bricks and the brown is amazing!
Aaron must have gotten really excited about remodeling our upstairs bathroom because I came home one day and the bathroom was gutted. The shower was not usable anyways because the water did not drain. The lever was so corroded that it was stuck in the closed position. It has been about 8 months since Aaron gutted the bathroom and it is still pretty much gutted. We did paint the walls a light green and the ceiling white with dark brown rafters. Aaron also framed the mirror with tile and I spray painted the light fixtures which looks great! Soon we will finish this project. The first picture shows what the bathroom originally looked like.
We had a TERRIBLE problem with mosquitos for a few months and decided it was time to build new screens and some screen doors for upstairs. We built screens for all the windows using the typical method with the metal frame and rolled in screen. This was not a great solution because the screens bent too easily with the large windows. After a bit of thinking, we decided to build wood frames to fit each window and then staple metal screens in with a staple gun. This worked perfectly! Of course we also put on a fresh coat of paint on the frames and rebar. We still have the upstairs windows to do but I think we have the process down now.
We also built two beautiful screen doors for upstairs. Now we are able to keep the little critters out at night. They do not however keep out the rain when it comes in sideways :) Nothing better than waking up because it is raining on you!
We noticed a patch on our roof that had lots of rust when we first cleaned the gutters. This spot was slowly getting worse and we were afraid that it would start rotting the main rafter beams of the roof. So, we decided it was time to do a bit of roofing. I have never done any roof work before, but Aaron had. We bought a sheet of galvanized from Home Depot and once we were up on the roof realized it was the wrong size and crappy quality. Bummer! We went to one of the local hardware stores and got the right sheet of metal and started again.
We had to cut out the rusted sections and then place new sections on. For those of you who do not know, you can cut galvanized sheet metal by turning the blade backwards on a circular saw. Luckily we had ear plugs because this was ridiculously loud! We may need to replace the entire roof one day, but for now it is in good shape.
Well it appears that our water pump and pressure tank finally were reaching the end of their working lives when we noticed the pump cycling often and when it refused to cycle at all. This occurred the day we were back on island after our trip to Dominica. Lovely welcome home right?
So we took a trip to Home Depot (our now favorite store) and purchased a new water pump, pressure tank and hot water heater along with lots of plumbing fixtures and pipes. We then began the process or redoing our entire water system. The picture on the left is the old system and the new system is on the right.
We live on an island where we experience hurricanes and tropical storms. It is very important to have proper latches on all shutter doors so we can close all of our windows and be safe and hopefully dry during a storm. The latches on our windows were rusted and not sufficient. So, we put on new ones and painted the back shutters a dark chocolate brown. They look great!
I think it is safe to say that this was the largest project we have ever tackled. The bottom deck is approximately 700 square feet with 85 feet of railing. When we bought the house we knew the deck was leaning and would need to be redone soon. Well, the soon became sooner when it started leaning even more. The construction of the deck had 3x6 boards as the support which were not strong enough. They had tried jacking the deck up and putting in braces but this did not help much. Needless to say, we began demolition! Our friend Kendall and a few hired hands helped us and we were able to get the entire deck torn down within two days. The rafters were almost completely rotted through. It was definitely time to get rid of the deck!
Buddy and Bonnie liked to sit at the VERY edge of the deck when it had no rails. Made us nervous but I think they liked living on the edge!