Slow and Steady Wins the Race

I sure hope this old adage is true, because we've been spending a long time refurbishing my grandparents 1918 homesteading cabin in the Nebraska Sandhills. You can find the story of our early progress at a blog post from June of 2009:

Unfortunately, if you look at the "after" picture in that post (third picture down), you'll see that there hasn't been much progress made from then until now - today's "before" picture is the third picture down in this blog post.

However, any day in the Nebraska Sandhills is a day spent in paradise. We headed out early in the morning to get a good start on the day, and as we topped the hills just north of Sutherland, the fog rising from the North Platte River obscured the view of the hills and made a picturesque scene.

As we neared the Home Place, the sun had risen further, and we came upon a herd of horses warming themselves on the sunny side of an abandoned one-room country school.
And here is the sight that greeted us. We had been up the day before and taped off all of the windows. It isn't particularly necessary, as the windows are slated for replacement, but that could be a long time in the future, and we didn't want the paint to obscure the light that we'll need inside - no electricity you see. Like I said above, not much has changed since last summer. I blame the high water in the North Platte River, as much of our spare time has been spent lazily floating down the river in a stock tank in the company of our friends and family - not a bad way to spend our time, but not very productive either.
Even though it looks like there's not much paint left, what is there is loose and still needs to be scraped off.
As I was taking this picture, I realized that this is the epitome of true love. The Mister has no connection with this land or this house, he is simply helping me preserve it because he loves me! All of our projects have one thing in common - they are a way for us to spend time together, and no matter if we are cutting and splitting wood, tanking down the river, hosting a house concert or renovating an historic home, we're doing it together.
Now, please join me in a short commercial break. We highly endorse Benjamin Moore Fresh Start Penetrating Primer for restoration jobs such as this. By our calculations, this house hasn't had a fresh coat of paint on it since the 1940's or possibly as late as the 1950's, but assuredly not since then. You can imagine the condition of the wood in the dry, harsh Nebraska Sandhills after that amount of time without protection. We consulted the local experts at the Kildare Lumber Company and went with their recommendations. It wasn't cheap - ten gallons of primer at $36.00 per gallon for one and a half coats! We're going to leave the primer as is until the spring when we can afford paint, then probably apply one more coat. We'll keep you posted as to the stability of the undercoat.

The project truly is a family affair, because thankfully, the family farm, Seifer Farms came up with the money for the primer, and my brother's construction business loaned the generator and paint sprayer - the same brother who pitched in to put on the steel roof last year.

Since we did manage to get part of a second coat applied, there was time to wait between coats to allow the first to dry. Not one to waste time, The Mister got out his trusty chain saw and made some of the huge logs we had cut in previous trips just a little bit smaller for easier handling.
And here she is, glorious in the evening sunlight. Even just the primer has made a world of difference, and gives us renewed energy to continue work on the project.

Cash is always the problem, and hopefully there will be some available next year for more progress. Another coat of primer in the spring and a coat or two of paint should finish the painting project.

After further consultations with Kildare Lumber, we found that we can purchase vinyl replacement windows for around $130.00 per window. They won't be anything special, but will make all of the future work possible. The sills and frames are rotted throughout, and really need to be made secure before much more can be done. We had considered other avenues such as plexiglass ($110 per 4 x 8 sheet, with 3 needed), or just storm windows, but these don't seem cost effective considering they're just stop-gap measures. So for now, we're just going to continue replacing the plastic as needed.

After that, I have finally been convinced that the falling ceiling in the main ground floor room needs to be completely covered with drywall to prevent further damage. It's only a small room, maybe 12' x 12', so it won't be major, just more than we had initially anticipated.

There are a number of outbuildings on the homesite that are falling down, and my next plan is to tear them down, saving the wood to use to sheet the attic room upstairs. Because of the mice that can't really be kept completely out, we won't be insulating, but just having it sheeted will make a huge difference.

Following that, interior painting, final cleanup, and we'll be DONE!

I'll keep you posted. Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.


  1. After reading the blog post, mom just called to relay a story. This is the home my dad brought my mom to after their marriage. She and dad were married in October, I believe 1958.

    An old Sandhills tradition is the Chivaree. Late one night, mom and dad were awakened by a crowd of people intent on welcoming the newly married couple with some fun and games. Upon hearing the crowd in the downstairs, my dad locked the door heading upstairs into the attic, which was their bedroom. Not to be thwarted, the visitors placed a ladder to the south window - the same one The Mister is seen painting in the above picture.

    Once in the bedroom, the revelers took my mom's newly made flannel nightgown and dressed dad in it. Their next trick was to throw him in the stock tank, but they had to chase him halfway through the Sandhills to get it done. I understand the hand-made nightgown didn't survive the ordeal.

    Later, my mom was using the "facilities" (since the house had no indoor plumbing, this consisted of an outhouse). While inside, she heard whispered "we can't right now, I just saw her go in there." The plan was to tip over the outhouse, but they were polite enough to wait until it was unoccupied.

    Thanks for the stories mom!


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