Easy Lamp Revamp

Apparently this is my winter for lamp make-overs!

Last month I painted a stained lampshade to update a pretty blue canning jar lamp and today I chalk painted and waxed two out-of-date 1960’s brass lamp bases. My bedroom lamps are not old enough to qualify for vintage but they are certainly not new either.

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Here is the “before” shiny brass lamp with its old pleated shade. 

The pleated shades are quite dated and because they are a light weight fabric and pleated they collect dust and are a pain to keep vacuumed.

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Both lamps bases before the recent make-over.

I have been looking at new lamps at Home Depot and on the Internet and I fell in love with this wooden artisan-shape lampbase (which I would have painted or more likely washed using my watered down green chalk paint.) But when I realized each lamp cost $125.00 plus shipping and that I needed two of them I knew new lamps were not going to be in my current budget.

And besides I don’t want my lamps to look too matchy-matchy, right?

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A Kathy Ireland designed lamp with the look of a hand-turned base. So pretty.

So instead I bought two new lampshades at Home Depot at $19.95 each and painted the lampbases I already had. I would have preferred a drum-shaped style shade but the size I needed did not come in that shape. I also needed a shade large enough and deep enough to cover up the brass screw in the lightbulb part so this was the only shade that actually fit my older style lamps.

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A close up of the shiny brass look that was popular in the 70’s & 80’s.

My choice of shades colors was a bit limited but these marbled tan shades will do the trick and will certainly freshen up our bookshelf headboard and provide some nice contrast of the dark green paint against our medium green painted wall.

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Left lamp based painted right hand side base painted and waxed.

I crawl into bed early every night to read and wind down so these lamps get quite a workout in my home.

  • MY STEP BY STEP:
  • I started off by washing the bases well to remove any dust or gunk that might have settled there over the past few decades.
  • Then I brushed on the Ce Ce Caldwell’s Michigan Pine chalk paint just covering them with one coat because I wanted some small bits of brass to show through for contrast.
  • Then I waxed each base using Ce Ce Caldwell’s Aging Wax using a rag to apply the wax because my waxing brush was too stiff to get the wax into the cracks and crevices. See more information here; http://www.cececaldwells.com

I was torn between waxing and not waxing because I like them both ways so I  sat with them a few days until I made up my mind.

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The painted lamps bases in process in my kitchen.

Finally I waxed them both and this Ce Ce Caldwell’s wax took forever to dry. I’m not at all sure I like that slow-drying trait. It took the wax longer to dry than the chalk paint itself which dries in less than an hour!

I put on the new shades, took a few photographs and put them into place in my bedroom. This project was very easy to do and only took me one day (except for the wax drying which took more than a week) so my “satisfaction rating” is high. LOL!

This is budget-based decorating at its best!

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Do you have any lamp bases or shades you might like to paint?

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

Tweaking My Healing Room

My husband and I made a huge decision this month and that was to purchase and commit to using the TrueRIFE Frequency Technology. http://www.truerife.com/

This has been on our minds for many months now and the only hold up, was of course, finding the money.

I used a friends TrueRIFE machine several years ago when I was seriously poisoned by working in a mold-filled factory. I was a very sick woman during the timeframe of 2008-2012. I believe now that the mold exposure was the trigger that set me up for the Hashimoto’s’ Thyroiditis and the autoimmune health issues I am now facing. I credit my the NewRIFE machine and my friend with saving my life.

We looked at several other options for healing including using the Ozone Sauna and IV chelation for detox but their were several roadblocks. Driving long distances and the long and exhausting day on the road several times a week is moe than I can tolerate most weeks.  I found on these exhausting days on the road it was really hard to get my fluids, my supplements and to eat properly. I would come home totally depleted and exhausted and it would take me two or three days of rest to catch up.

We ultimately decided to buy this machine and use this technology in the comfort of our own home. I know this will increase its usage while giving us the freedom to take care of our animals, our property and our own nutritional needs.

We started out using the RIFE equipment in our living room but that made for a rumpled and messy corner to live with 24/7 and I soon realized that I needed to come up with another plan. This looked too much like a hospital room for my tastes!

Living with that mess was starting to mess with my mind, interfering with my ability to concentrate, function normally and was, quite frankly, driving me a bit crazy. Not a good sign.

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This was the mess in my living room that gave me the idea to move it into my healing room. 

Yesterday we rearranged my healing room to accommodate the RIFE equipment cart and a wing back chair from our old Kalamazoo home that has been in storage. This chair is a bit larger than I would like for the size of my room, but it will fit people of all sizes, provide ample support and best of all I won’t have to purchase a new chair.

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My colorful new red cart will hold the NewRIFE equipment and keep everything in one place.

This week I ordered a pretty red canvas duck slipcover for my old wing back chair to help to make the healing room be more inviting, pretty and to hopefully boost the spirit of all who enter. I know it will do that for me.

Yes, a chair that size makes is a tight squeeze in this room now but I think we can make it work. And I did not have to buy another chair, which is another bonus. This image shows the on-line photo of the slipcover, not my healing room unfortunately. My room is painted in a deep and restful green paint and when the shades are drawn the room is dark enough for a deep and relaxing massage.

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I love this cheerful red color and hope this will help draw me into the room each day.

This is a fairly inexpensive slip cover costing right around $50.00 with free shipping.  I ordered it on-line from Walmart.com and it was made by Surefit one of the long-time and well know slipcover companies. This cover is washable, another plus.

I now have a massage table, my office and the NewRIFE equipment in my healing room.

Our self-healing is a huge part of our life right now so having a room dedicated to this just makes sense for us. We each receive one to two sessions each day. I know that having this technology here in the comfort of our own home will make all the difference between doing our treatments and not doing them.

As soon as the new slipcover arrives I’ll post images of it in my healing room.

Small House Big Sky Homesteader and Healer, Donna

The Art of Aging Gracefully on the Homestead-Mother Earth News

We are in the current issue of Mother Earth News!

My latest contribution to the current issue of Mother Earth News has hit the news stand. This magazine for those of you who might not know it; is a guide to living wisely while being self-sufficient on the homestead or farm.

The article is titled Aging Gracefully on the Homestead. This is a piece about the challenges of senior homesteading; a topic we know a little something about.

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Although I pitched an ongoing column geared to senior homesteading they opted for a one time “how-to” article. Perhaps they know more about the age of their readership than I do! My contribution was four photographs (out of the eight published) and a part of the text.

Double click on this PDF and I believe that the article will open up. aging-gracefully-1

Homesteading is hard work, and Gene and I are not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that. There are definitely multiple challenges to continuing to do the physical work required by homesteading as one gets older.

We moved to the Small House Big Sky Homestead fifteen years ago. We started out getting as much done as we could and added additional outdoor projects like the chicken complex and the water containment system each summer. And worked on the house during the winter months. This was a good thing we got a lot done in those early years since even then we weren’t spring chickens. (We were 50 and 55 years old.)

Eventually we got the major items on our to-do list knocked down. Every year we try to accomplish a project or two more outside during the nice weather and a few more small indoor project in the house during the indoor winter months.

Now that we are 65 and 72, our age and our health is beginning to be a real consideration. Fortunately, I started thinking about this several years ago. I asked myself what will I do and how will we manage when it becomes more difficult to do the work we need to do?

This past season I hired hourly help in the garden and yard. We found a local young girl of fourteen who is strong and looking to make some money for school clothes. It’s not a perfect system as Olivia is only available on Sunday afternoons because she runs cross county and runs her daily miles every school night, but we have managed to make it work. And this past winter when Gene had his hernia operation we hired a local small business in the short-term to plow our driveway and another local boy to run the snow blower to clear our paths.The total cash out of pocket during Gene’s recovery was less than $100.00.

Some homesteaders find an apprentice or a farm worker and offer room and board in exchange for work. Others turn a spare bedroom or cabin into an Air B&B for extra cash income on the homestead.

Obviously, there is more than one way to make this work but this is what is woring for us.

The moral of this story is to plan ahead about how you might make your elder years’ on the homestead work for you and how you can turn your homestead into a property that will sustain you when you are older.

I hope to convince the editors at MEN that a monthly column written by me with interviews of senior homesteaders who ARE making it work will be both inspirtional and informative.

To help support this idea please send your letters/e-mails to:Rebecca Martin martin@ogdenpubs.com>

As always, thank you for following and if you are aging homesteaders and want to share tips with me about how you have made senior homesteading work for you, please contact me. I am always looking for new ideas on how you in the hometead trenches are making it work!

Small House Big Sky Homesteader, Donna

What We Love About Homesteading

One of the aspects we love about homesteading here is that this life takes us out of the consumerist life of the city to a life of production and creation. We may not have enough lifetimes to realize our fantasy of full fledge farming (with mini goats and horses) but in our own small way with our garden, our blacksmith forge, the art studio and the restoring of this home and the outbuildings, we feel that we are making, giving, repurposing, and creating more than just buying our way through life.

And when a thing is truly needed there becomes first a reason to repurpose, reuse and to shop auctions, thrift store, flea markets and more.  These items are meant to be used another generation (or two) and the end result is that our home looks like it has always been this way, even when it hasn’t.

I love sharing our life with my granddaughter who is growing up in the city. She has this opportunity to see nature close up and learn about how we care for it. She loves my chickens and egg collecting and it’s amazing to watch her learn, grow and question how things work.

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We also love living with the seasons. There is a natural rhythm to homesteading or farming that is so different from life in the city. For us it is natural to wake with the light and sleep with the dark. It is natural for mankind to be our most productive spring through autumn and then rest, plan, regenerate and restore during the winter months.

We love the ability to search, forage, and gather plants, fruits, berries and to turn them into a productive edible feast or a healing tincture or syrup. This brings joyfulness along with a deeply felt sense of beauty and accomplishment as well.

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We love having the ability to control the food we put into our bodies. We grow it ourselves or source it from trusted growers near us putting that money back into our own community.

We love the freedom this life gives us to go into the woods, marsh, fields and farmland once a day to hike, explore, walk our dog, bird watch, observe nature and be one with the natural world.

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Living here and homesteading lets me practice my ethical belief of acting on behalf of the common good.

There is way of recapturing the spirit of the past found by people like us who have made the decision to slow their lives down to farm or homestead. This is a revival of the pastoral life of long ago while adapting and evolving it to our personal need and tastes.

In no sense was this house, the life the life of our dreams. But over our lifetime this has instead slowly turned into something better, the house and the life of our realities.

These images are the Grand Finale to our saying goodbye to fall on a foggy, fabulous fall morning.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Front Loader Pedestal Makeover

As many of you know front loaders washing machines and dryers require quite a bit of bending downing to load and unload them and that is why they sell these very expensive platform pedestals for them. When I bought my units over 10 years ago these matching pedestals cost $300.00 each. I have no idea what they cost now.

A friend of mine had mold in her old front loading washing machine and got rid of it. She bought a new top loader washer and dryer. I was lucky enough to inherit her old pedestal. I saw this as an opportunity to not have to bend quite so far down to remove my clothes from the dryer. And she saw this as an opportunity to save this piece from the landfill. Another win-win!

After maneuvering the pedestal into place and I realized that it stuck out quite a bit further that both machines did before. The power coated metal pedestal didn’t look as smooth as I would have like so I set my thinking cap on for a way to camouflage it.

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Part of the wood base cut and screwed into place waiting to be painted. We also built and slid a top piece on to cover the metal base as well. 

When a not-so-pretty but highly functional pedestal base came our way for FREE we decided to take advantage of the windfall. Once it was in the my laundry room I then had to figure out a way to camouflage the unattractive metal. One day I was looking at our fireplace and realized the mantle cover up-piece was the exact answer I was seeking. All we had to do was build a kind of cabinet cover piece of wood, paint it and slip it over the offending pedestal and ta da, we now have a DYI pedestal cover!

Gene purchased the pine wood while in town one Monday and a friend helped us to cut it to size on his portable table saw one day when he came to Sunday dinner. I served Frank grilled salmon and chicken along with a fancy tossed salad…can you hear that refrain “I work for food!”

washer-and-dryer-from-angle-and-rugI primed the raw wood using Zinsser sealer and primer and then painted the frame pieces in a Benjamin More white semi-gloss trim paint to make it blend in nicely with the white washer and dryer. I had contemplated staining it in the maple wood tones to match my laundry room cabinets but I also realized that color matching pine with a maple finish was a time-consuming project I did not want to get involved in at that time.

I admit that the tight fitting appliancedwere a real pistol to get into the snug space between the existing two cabinets but with the help of our two friends and lot of jiggling we managed it. When I had my cupboards layout designed the kitchen designer asked me if I planned on having a pedestal installed and I said then, I did not. I wanted them of course but the added expense was pretty hard to justify.

I could however justify the expense of my commercial-size top-loading washing machine because prior to buying it I had been driving the 10 miles into town (and back) at least once a month to wash our bed quilt. Iwas alsomaking that drive  more often to wash seasonal items like my husband’s heavy hunting coats and outside work clothes. That drive, my time, plus the extra $10-$15.00 cash spent at the laundromat eeach month basically paid for the move up from the standard size machine to the commercial at home size washer.

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Anna our RIR photo bombs the photograph of the washer and dryer before we added the pedestal.

I love my front loading machines and have been very, very happy with them. I know from reading on-line articles that there was a class action suit on these machines due to mold that developed in the rubber seal located just inside the door. But I have been very careful from the beginning to carefully wipe out all of the moisture in the rubber seal after every wash and then to leave the door open to dry out thoroughly overnight. With this small extra effort, I’ve never had an issue of mold in my machine.

That small extra effort paid off big.

Small House Big Sky Homestead, Donna

Master Bedroom Refresh

I have been searching for a king size bedspread or comforter for our nearly ancient water-bed for months now. (My husband brought this waterbed to our marriage over 20 years ago and we still use it today!)

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The colors and weight of fabric in this King sized bed comforter is perfect for my needs. 

The Orvis quilt we bought just 4 years ago unfortunately ripped out and I quickly found out that my earth-tone palette of green, gold, rust and browns is no longer “in fashion.” And when colors are no longer in style this means you can’t find the fabric you seek no matter how long or how hard you search. I know as I have been looking for months and months; in stores and on-line.

My bedroom walls are painted in a Wythe Blue 143 paint by Benjamin Moore. See more here.https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/colorcolor/color/…/wytheblue

I chose this historical, deep base color because I thought it was a very pretty and because I wanted a fairly dark room since I am a very light sleeper due to my wacky thyroid. Darkening the sleeping room is part of the sleep hygiene tricks those of us with autoimmune conditions follow.

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Our new matching curtain panels on our bedrooms corner window. This is a little sitting area I created using an old sewing rocker and chalk painted sewing table. 

Although my bedroom walls photograph more blue than green but they are actually a kind of deep sage green with gray undertones. I used the Wythe paint as my base coat and then washed a lovely golden/yellow paint over the base color. It really is lovely.

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A close up view of the wall paint color. 

I painted that same soft yellow/gold paint on my louvered closet doors and put down cream-colored carpet on the bed floor. I’ve discovered that it is almost impossible to find coordinating items for this color combination too. Our water-bed, dressers and armoire are each heavy and bulky to move so I am not up to repainting the walls either.

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This large armoire holds my dressier and work type clothing.

Yesterday at the Estate Sales Warehouse in Holland, MI, I finally hit the jackpot. For just $30.00 I found this King size comforter, three pillow shams and two matching drapery panels in this leafy pattern theme. And they are in my desired mix of woodsy colors. The slighter heavier weight of this older fabric is perfect, a bit heavier than the new ones and easily smooths out to a wrinkle free look. The reverse side is a tiny green on green check pattern that goes well with my wall paint color too. Hooray!

I could use either side of this comforter; the leaf theme patterned side or the tiny check side.

I also found a perfect quilt for just $8.00 for our guest bedroom with a white background, and the leaf green, rust colors of the spread and wall in that room as well. I folded and laid that quilt at the base of the guest bed as an accent piece.

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Our guest bedroom also got a mini reset with this lovely vintage quilt. 

In November after a long search, I had bought a comforter out of sheer desperation at Wal-Mart and was not happy about the colors (it was too icy blue) the make or the cheap fabric that lay in wrinkles on my bed no matter how hard I worked to spread them out. Nothing about that spread met my needs. I hated it and took it back for a refund. They just don’t make things like they used to!

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A closer view of this guest bedroom quilt shows the modernistic split circles of lime, rust and yellow. 

I am definitely a “frugal-ista” I love buying used or vintage goods. In fact, I actually prefer buying vintage. Yes, it is certainly about the savings and about saving the space in the landfill but it is also very much about the quality of the products and the way these older items wear and last.

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My original yellow sheer curtain panels pair well with the vintage leaf panels.

Give me an old cast iron pan over a new stainless steel pan any day. My 40-year-old cast iron skillets are as good as they day they were made and will likely out-live me.

Who cares if my colors are “out of fashion” right now, I do not. They are practical, work weell with the rest of my homes colors and best of all they do not show the dirt or dog hair our lifestyle brings. Give me a vintage bedspread over a new off-shore cheaply made model any day. This option is such an earth friendly alternative too.

It turned out that the two drapery panels were the exact length I needed and look as if they had been hemmed to the perfect length for our corner bedroom window!

Small House Big Sky Homestead, Donna

 

Moss on the Roof – Testing Wet and Forget Shingle Cleaner

The truth is that we are at an age now where we have to hire out some of the maintenance projects around the homestead. This is hard to do financially but I do not feel that we can risk Gene falling off of the roof and breaking a bone. Especially not during our busiest “spring rush” time of year! If Gene were to get injured everything from his heavy lifting to lawn mowing would end right now. Just not worth it.

This is one of the on-going challenges of senior homesteading. And to complicate things, Gene is suffering from either a pulled muscle or a hernia so he is not at his peak right now we well. His going up on the roof did seem like a smart decision currently.

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The studio building has moss on the roof.

We have discussed that if one of us breaks a bone or is for some reason is seriously incap
icitated or needs surgery; we could be in huge trouble here. We have no family nearby that can pitch in to help and hiring a local handyman or helper for day-to-day work is next to impossible here. Staying able, fit and capable of keeping the homestead up is serious business when you are a senior homesteader.

This week we hired a contractor to help us with two roof related projects. The first project was spraying the roof moss on the studio building. I noticed last fall that this roof was green with moss and I got busy researching and talking to contractors about what to do about it. The word was, “Take care of it now or it will affect the life span of your roof.” So that project was added to our maintenance list.

Our goal is to kill off the roof moss and to stop it from re-growing and ruining our roof.  I looked at several options; one option contained bleach, the second Wet & Forget was the least toxic and caustic and The Stainhandler product is caustic. I can see using this on an old pole barn for example but not on my 10-year-old, well maintained studio building with beautiful landscaping surrounding it.

The contractor who built the studio building said bleach works best but we are 100% totally organic here and I know that bleach is toxic so this option was out for me. The sodium  hydroxide in the Stainhandler Roof and Deck Cleaner product was stated to be caustic and that meant tarping or covering the entire building in plastic sheeting to prevent any potential corrosion issues with vinyl siding, eves and gutters, cement porch floor, etc. That just sounded like a lot of time, work and money to me. htttp://stainhandler.com

So we decided to try Wet & Forget first www.wetandforget.com/product_wet_and_forget_outdoor.html and are crossing our fingers that it works for us.

Wet and Forget is a concentrated product that is designed to attack mold, mildew and remove stains from the roof.  It is non caustic, non acidic and contains no bleach. This does mean you have to repeat using it from time to time, but that is a trade-off I am willing to make.  Wet & Forget  is an easy to use, one-step product that does not require, scrubbing, rinsing or power washing. You dilute it according to the directions, spray it on your roof with a garden sprayer and you are done. I read the reviews and most of them were positive.

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Frank the contractor spraying the Wet & Forget on the roof.

From the Manufacturer:
Wet and Forget has a unique combination of biodegradable selective surfactants for moss, mold and mildew stain removal on any exterior surface. When diluted with water and applied, it immediately penetrates the unsightly stain. Each time it rains, this safe, cleansing combination reactivates to gently lift the moss, mold and mildew stain without damaging the surface. Wet and Forget is an EPA approved one step process that requires no scrubbing or rinsing. It is non-acidic, non-caustic and contains no bleach. Be patient, Wet and Forget’s gentle cleaning action takes time depending on how heavy the stain is and results are visible over time. Remember good things take time, and Wet and Forget continues to clean for up to a year. No special equipment is required. Just apply Wet and Forget with a pump-up garden sprayer. After the first application simply reapply Wet and Forget at the first sign of moss, mold and mildew stains returning. Wet and Forget can be used on any outdoor surface. Some examples of these surfaces are: asphalt (black top), Astroturf, aluminum siding, awnings, brick pavers, composite decking, concrete, driveways, docks, fiberglass boats, fiberglass shingles, fiberglass hulls/topsides, green houses, gutters, inflatable dinghies, limestone, marble, marinas, natural stone, outdoor furniture, outdoor planters, paint surfaces, patios, patio furniture, plastic houses, recreational vehicles, retaining walls, sails, sandstone, shade sails, sidewalks, stucco, tennis courts, teak decks, textured finishes, tiles, tombstones, umbrellas (outdoor), vinyl siding and wood.

Our contractor said he used 6 gallons of this product for our roof putting three coats of it on the roof. He kept waiting to see a change but it did not so he put on another coat! Now we wait and pray that it does not rain for a few days!

Project 02 was to attempt to seal the leaks in our homes eves and gutter system. We have about a dozen leaks that required buckets under them and constant watching and emptying of the 5-gallon buckets. We put a new roof on our home in the fall of 2016 so this roof is sound and this leaking issue is not dangerous, but more annoying than anything. Every homeowner has an ongoing issue around their homestead and ours has been water…and after trying to get this leaking resolved for over four years, I wanted this fixed and fixed now.

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Streaks are a tell-tale sign that moss is on the way.

The locals here tell me that eve and gutters is the leading cause of ice damns here in snow county. Roofing experts tell me it is because these houses do not have enough ventilation or insulation (or both) in their attics. We have had serious issues with ice dam here for years, so we have added them both; insulation in the attic, ventilation around the perimeter of the house and when we had the roof replaced in the fall of 2014 we added a long roof vent system. All of these changes have improved the ice dam and huge dripping ice cycles we have long experienced here.

Although it is not common practice to put eves and gutter on houses here in our area we needed to keep the water off of the limestone siding of our home and from around our foundation. When we moved here there was a lot of moss growing right on the stone siding and I could see that water was running right down the siding and splashing up onto the stones and onto the foundation of our home. That was not a good thing.

We stated by scrubbing that moss off of the siding, adding seamless eves and gutters and I designed the landscaping around our home so the water would flow away from the foundation and off and down the lawn. But the water flow problem off of our roof has been a fifteen year issue and specifically ice dam on the roof and leaking eves remained and are now an issue I hope we have conquered at last. The next big rain storm will tell.

Next I am going to investigate stain protector zinc strips to help keep the black streaks and moss growth at bay as well.

Small House homesteader, Donna