Saturday, 13 April 2013

Yank's House - A stitch in time

Many regular followers of Yank’s House on Twitter will remember my worries this winter over the wonderful old chimney in our ‘out-house’. Part of the walls adjoining this old building/chimney fell one stormy night.  We were worried the next storm would knock more walls and these could pull the chimney down with them. This building was once a little house and probably home to the Yank as a young boy.  It is part of the footprint of the site and tells us something of its history. To Pat and I it is precious. So the damage to the surrounding walls was of great concern to us.

Pat and I carried out an evaluation of the damage. We were horrified to find wide splits in the walls especially where the corners should have been tied in. Another storm might do untold damage. 

Money isn’t plentiful on this project and spending some of our dwindling budget on an old chimney might not seem very wise but we really felt we had little choice. It was a matter of staying true to ourselves and to the Yank and to the undertaking we accepted when we became custodians of the Yank’s House. 

We didn’t have any lime on site so we needed to head off to The Traditional Lime Company for a few bags. We asked Jason (Stone mason) if he would come down and check the job out and fit us into his schedule. Lucky for us Jason wasn’t as worried as we were. He didn’t think there was any immediate risk to the chimney. Also with the down-turn in the economy, Jason wasn’t busy, so we didn’t have to wait too long for him to start.

Jason tied in the corners of the building and pointed up a supporting pillar. 

To one side of the chimney there was once a doorway. This has been built up using round stone. Over this there was a wooden head. We were worried about this because the wood was damaged by woodworm and damp. If it disintegrated further it might unsettle the wall above it.

So Jason removed this timber and filled the gap with stone. He tried to take out the round stones to replace them with more traditional building stones but they wouldn’t budge. He told us not to worry about them falling.

It looks a bit funny but it tells a story. At some stage an extra room was added to our little house and this doorway was opened to give access. Then at a later stage it was closed up again, maybe by the Yank himself. 

Jason has assured us that this chimney is not going to fall. We still need to do a major job on it, scraping out the joints and pointed the stone.

Jason has advised us to extend the roof over the wall to prevent the rain from hitting the top of the wall. When we have this done he will come back and build the gable up to meet the roof closing it all off from the weather.

We are relieved to have our lovely old chimney secured – especially tonight as I sit here writing my blog – listening to the wind and rain howl outside. 

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Yank’s House – Spring into action

Ha! I like this heading. It suggests I have been struck with a bolt of energy – wish I was but alas no. I am merely referencing the fact that today could pass as a spring day – the first of 2013 here in Ireland. The east wind was missing and we had a blue sky and sunshine all day.  What a treat! And I had to rescue two butterflies from the Yank’s house today.  

There were two butterflies on this window. I picked them up and let them out where they flew high into the sky

Pat and I headed off to check the house out and pottered about for a few hours. We haven’t been for ages – the weather has  just being too bad. But today encouraged by the sunshine we headed off and even managed a few small jobs. I cleared the bedroom with the floor I want to paint and swept it out. Then Pat did a few repairs for me. 

Pat fixing the floor

Maybe if we get another good day I will get started on the sanding and cleaning in preparation for painting. Pat also finished off the paneled wall with a trim along the floor. I will paint this to match the wall when I am down again.

New trim needs painting

I spent a bit of time out in the garden today also. I wanted to enjoy the weather. I checked our trees and pruned some low shoots and branches to encourage the growth up the young trees. I am trying to encourage one main leading shoot so the trees will grow straight and strong.

We put crow guard covers on our chimneys way back at the beginning of this project but every year – in spring, the crows come back and drop nest construction materials down through the guard. They cannot get into the chimney and haven’t been able to build a nest there for years but they just keep coming back and trying to block up my chimneys.  I cannot understand all the energy they put into collecting these materials and then pushing them down a chimney that they cannot get into.

In this image you can see what the crows are pushing down mt chimneys

Then again, maybe it isn’t much different to Pat and I.  We return to the Yank’s house every spring with our tools and materials and we have never actually been able to move in, or spend one night there. We haven't finished our nest either.  Maybe 2013 will be our year!