Friday, October 28, 2016

Chip, chip hooray! My first ride!

Chips spread.
Dragging and rolling in progress. 
Many things have happened regarding the arena in the past month.  First of all the footing went in. We decided on a wood chip footing and found a source that would deliver right away. The full sized semi came up our drive and I thought it would never fit in that door. He pulled in hauling 80+ yards and backed right up to the arena door. When the driver got out to assess the height I said he may not make it. He said he would make it. I had to trust him as he climbed back in his cab and put her in reverse. I held my breath as he slowly maneuvered back, up the small incline at the doorway created by the base of stone, and inched his way back into the arena. Seriously, it was barely inches of space above his trailer to that door frame. When he jumped out and grinned at Scott and I, he said he probably wouldn't make it once the footing is in. I exhaled and took my first breath in five minutes and laughed.
The semi just squeezes in under the door frame 

The walking floor in the trailer was pretty amazing. It moved the footing out the back of the trailer into the arena. As the pile grew the driver would move the semi forward and continue to let the automatic floor push the chips out. It didn't take long and we were looking at a pile taller than we were in the middle of the arena. We thanked our talented driver John and he took off. Scott also took off, back to work. Me, I stood there, alone, and looked at the pile. Then I grabbed my wheel barrel and a fork and started spreading the pile. My progress over the next two hours was much like using a teaspoon to do a backhoe's work. And by the time Scott returned after 5pm I had maybe spread enough piles to cover 1/6th of the arena. Actually not too bad considering my manual tools. But in comparison, Scott, using the skidster, spread the rest of the footing in about two hours and about twice as thick. My job was to rake the piles to an even depth for a consistent thickness of footing that covered all the stone base.  Something I did with determination. It was grueling work, but also a labor of love. My hands were blistered, my back ached, and I think I pulled something in my arm which plagued me for about a week afterwards. But it was done by 10am the next morning so that I could begin the process of dragging and rolling the whole arena multiple times to really pack and spread and even it out more. The dragging fluffed the footing, while the rolling flattened it out. The repetition eventually made it pretty consistent across the 7200 sq feet. In the end, I knew I'd be tweaking that footing for months but I had a pretty impressive start.
This is what 80 yards of wood chips looks like.


Then I did what I've been dying to do for months and months. I rode. Diva was selected for my maiden voyage. I pulled her out of the paddock, saddled her up and made the walk across the drive from the barn to the arena. I walked her in the door and out into the middle of the wood chipped space. I placed the stool next to her, tossed her reins over her withers and climbed up the two steps and swung my leg over her back. Scott was there to watch and we smiled at each other and he said, "well, go ahead, let's see this!"  I walked her around the circumference of the ring and let her look around and get used to the place. Then I picked up the reins and off we went. She was way too excited and way too fast but she and I were riding in our very own place, for the very first time. And my heart burst with joy. This is going to be SO awesome. Scott asked me if this would work for me?  And I said Yes!!!  Of course any other answer would have been completely ridiculous.
My very first ride in the arena aboard Diva.


The electricians came back about a week later and completed the electric. There were a few minor challenges, but in the end all the lights were up and in working order. They put recessed can lighting along the front outside wall - it has a great artistic effect at night along the wall facing the house. A light under the overhang lights my area where I enter.  And, Scott had them put in electrical outlets all around the perimeter, including one at each window for me to place my window candles. All the window candles and outside lighting is wired to a photo-eye, so all the exterior lighting comes on and off automatically with the sunlight. So I won't have to worry about turning the lights on or off each day. That is a wonderful feature. One of my favorite electric features is the light switches for the arena lights that were placed in my main barn (as well as at the two doors in the arena). So I can actually turn on the lights from the barn,  saddle a horse and by the time I walk over to the arena to ride, the lights are fully on. This will be exceptionally handy in the winter when the lights may take a few minutes to warm up and go on.  Also, I can depart the arena with my horse, go back to the barn and cross tie and then turn the arena lights off from the barn without going back to the arena. A great suggestion from Scott's friend Rodney. Best idea ever!!
This will work. 

Other little things are coming together too. I put up some halter hangers, a few cross ties and placed a nice large box in one corner to store bell boot, hoof picks, lunge ropes and other tack. I nailed a window candle in each window. And plugged them all in. Scott drilled a hole in each candle base so that the candles could be secured and never fall over or get blown off the sill. And I plugged in a radio so that I have music when I ride. I purchased a new muck bucket and fork to keep handy in the arena for clean up and I assembled it and put up a few nails to store the pitch fork.  Yes, it is all coming together while I wait for the big custom front doors, that were back ordered due to window parts. The final touch.



Saturday, September 17, 2016

Footing-o-Rama

The building is now up, with the exception of the main front sliding doors. We have been told by the builder that the doors were made in the wrong size and now they need to be remade and won't arrive until sometime mid October. Darn it!  But that doesn't stop us from getting the arena footing in. And despite this being another setback and delay, I think the Lord works in mysterious ways. In this case those special doors are not here so we can get the footing placed using all the large machinery and they won't get scratched or worse in the process. The front sliding doors are our big, big splurge on this project.  At 14' tall and 14' wide, they are custom made and will have divided light panels on top and cross bucks on the bottom. They will be the cherry on top of the entire project - well, more like the front center cherry, not really the top. Lol. I can't wait to have them hung and in place....but first the footing.
The arena is standing. Gable end set of sliding doors on. 

The first step for the footing was a day long excercise in packing sand and soil under the knee saver sections. This took hours. It had to be done so that the footing doesn't slide under the void under the kick walks later, but neatly fills the arena and stays put. Scott dumped ground all along the wall and I got the pleasure of hand pushing it under the wall.  We both agreed that if we had thought this through beforehand, we could have pre-set the soil before the builders put up the kick wall. But hindsight is 20/20 and as a result I am on my knees pushing soil to fill the circumference opening of 360' X 6"X 18". Arghhh. My badge of honor comes in the form of bruises on my legs, and cuts and scratches up my forearms. Not to mention sweat and yes, tears!!  Oh, and exhaustion. But the project was concluded before sunset that day. Whew. I hope to never do that again!
Scott spreads TB as our base for the footing. 

Next was the base. Scott has been taking to the skidster on a nightly basis all week.  A load of TB has been delivered each day. After work he goes out to spread the material and fill the arena, section by section. I'm so proud of him. He has become quite proficient with the skidster, and little by little the arena base is getting set. He needs to work while we still have sunlight since the electric isn't hooked up yet.

Speaking of electric, one night during the week the electrician team came to pull electric from the barn over to the arena. And because nothing on this project can be easy, we needed to run new electric lines from the house to the barn in order to have enough electric to light both buildings. The crew gets to work but in the midst of the project comes a knock on our door. They can't pull the old lines out or lace the new cable in because something must be pinched off in the tubes that run from the house to the barn. The solution is to retrench the hundreds of feet and possibly break out the cement around the barn!  Omg!  Scott is truly going to have that gripper he keeps threatening this project is going give him. The electricians go back in the basement and then back out to the barn. They continue to attempt to fish the wire through the tube that was in the ground. I had to walk away. I couldn't believe that we are going to face yet another huge unexpected expense. Then I began to pray a novena to St Anthony. Please help the electricians find a way through with the wire. Please!



Almost have the base in. More loads to come.
Then we roll it next. 
I went out into the barn to clean stalls. And I continued to call on St Anthony.  Please find a way. Please!  One of the electricians walked into the barn and attempted to fish the wire from there, and all of a sudden they got it!  They were able to fish the electric wire through. Oh thank you St Anthony, the patron of finding lost things, who found a way through. They think it was a 90 degree bend in the tube that provided the challenge. But we are not yet out of the woods. Now the team had to get the fishing line back through with the actual wire. After about 20 minutes they succeeded. We were home free!  Whoop!

We enter the weekend with most of the base in and a new electric box put up. But more work ahead to get the arena powered up and the footing in so I can actually ride. Next week I'm on vacation. I was supposed to be hauling Diva and Bourbon to Tennessee to compete in The Nationals, but I'll be home to put in footing instead. A very good trade off.  I am hopeful that I may ride in that new arena before next week ends. Fingers crossed. The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.



Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Holy Knee Saver Batman!

It's been over a week since my last blog update and much has happened!  I'm so excited to update all of you about the arena! Things are getting real around here!  :)
The walking horse weather vane atop
one of the two cupola. 

The siding is installed on all sides of the arena now - except for a few pieces around the door frames.  In addition the front now has a porch section that covers the main walk-in entrance door. The 10' deep porch will protect that door from rain and snow, helping to keep it clear for entry, no matter the weather. This is located at the door closest to the existing barn and paddock. My plan is to saddle in the main stall barn and then walk over to ride in the arena.  In addition all the wainscoting is now installed, the windows and corners of the building are all trimmed in cream, and the final pieces of smoked sidelights have been installed across the entire 120' front wall. This was the point where the crew ended on Friday. The arena is standing for the most part  - although it looks like a few puzzle pieces are still missing. Gaps include a few pieces of siding here and there, the doors, cupolas and shutters.  But it now should only be a few more days of work for the crew. Oh, it's so close to being done!

Inside view. The knee saver wall is starting to be
framed in along the back wall. 
My alarm went off at 6am on Saturday morning. I woke up, made a coffee and walked down to the barn to toss hay and get my horses ready for day 2 of a horse show. I had been showing all day Friday at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds at the Brew City Charity Horse Show. I had gotten home pretty late, well after dark Friday night, so I didn't get to see the progress made on Friday. I  walked over to see the arena in the daylight. I noticed a few pieces of the knee-saver wall was installed - they had started to frame out the kickwall on the inside of the arena.  Cool!  As I walked across the arena to see the framing, a few trucks drove up the drive. I wonder who that is this early in the morning?  Scott was walking down from the house as I came out of the arena to see who our 6am guests were. Three guys jumped out and waved at Scott. But they weren't the construction crew. I didn't recognize them. Scott had a grin on his face as he turned to me and said, "Surprise! Your electricians are here!"  Oooooo, that was a surprise!  I had no idea they would be here today. Yeah!  More progress!
Within a day the knee saver wall is in.
Lights are getting installed too!

I had to leave for the show, but I was able to walk through the general lighting plans and share what Scott and I had in mind with the electricians. The lights for the outside will have photo-eyes that will be programmed to turn on at dusk. They will be recessed into the 18" overhang and will flood beams of light down the extetior walls for a cool visual effect at night.  The inside arena lights will provide the
option to have a single row or all rows of lights on, my choice. The location of electric plugs will accommodate fans and enable me to place window candles in each window for Christmas. Of course Scott rolled his eyes, but indulged me. It will look pretty from the house. We always put a little window candle in every window of the house and barn. Now, the arena windows will also contain this colonial holiday tradition. The plan was for the guys to run the wire this weekend and then they'd return next weekend to finish the job with fixtures.  However when I went down Sunday morning to see what was accomplished so far,  I saw that they had also hung all the arena lights already. No power was run into the arena, but the ceiling lights were hung.  They looked like little soldiers, in perfect rows. Chills went down my spine and a few tears fell down my cheek. It's so real. It's so close to being an actual arena. Oh my gosh. I'm so, so, so excited.
The angled wall ensures my knees are
protected while I ride. 

On Monday night I arrived home from work to find the cupolas in place - complete with my pretty walking horse weather vanes on top. I stood and looked up. They were visible against the evening sky. The breeze was lightly blowing and twirling the weathervane cups around in a circle. I smiled.

Inside all the kick walks were installed. I smiled again.

Now, we wait for the doors to arrive. There seems to be a sizing correction that needs to be made to the custom order. Arghhh!  I pray that they will still arrive and the final install will happen before the holiday weekend. Fingers crossed.  Literally moments left until we're done and footing can be brought in. I'm so ready to ride!



A reminder of why this project
means so much. Diva wins her 1st
floral ring at the Brew City Charity
Show this weekend to support
Make A Wish charity!



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Siding, Windows and Rain - Oh My!

Monday started the building week with a bang. The crew arrived extra early and were prepping walls as I fed horses before heading for work. Bob, the crew leader asked me to stop to confirm door and window locations. His info seemed strange so he wanted to double check. The windows are meant to be hung vertically, to match the house and existing barn windows. So, yep that's correct. But were they placed at the correct heights?  Yep, after a bit of discussion, the height was determined correct too. We have wainscoting on the outside and kickwall for security on the inside and we need to clear both of those elements, plus account for the sand footing that still needs to be brought in. Check. And double-check. All is good in blueprint land, so off to work I go.
Back wall is in. Includes smoked glass sidelights.
Wainscoting still to come. 

At work I kept wondering what was happening back home. I texted Scott - "not sure if I want to see pictures or be surprised with the unveil when I get home."  No pictures came from Scott. I wasn't sure if I liked or hated that fact. All I knew is that my anticipation was high. My drive home was long. And my heart was pumping as I turned into the driveway, not sure what I'd see as I rounded the culvert today.  How far would they be?

My heart sank a little when it seemed only the back wall was up. I think I had visions of all sides up. Lol. As I drove up the drive I noticed the windows were framed in and so were the walk doors and big split sliding door. Oh, I guess quite a bit got done today!  The putsy work that takes more time and attention to get just right. The guys waved as I passed and drove up to the house. I ran upstairs and changed into jeans and walked down for a better inspection. The back wall was in. That included the double row of smoked sidelight that ran all along that side. We wanted a lot of light in the arena but I didn't like the white panels that seem to turn yellow over time. So we were excited to find smoked gray sidelight panels that match, camouflage the poles and won't turn yellow overtime.
Gable end facing paddock is in too.
Arena from the horse's point of view. 

Up close the work was impressive. Every panel was straight as an arrow and even each fastener was in a perfect line. It looked awesome and a chill ran down my spine. Yeah!  Scott walked down and rested his arms on one of the framed windowsills, and watched me with a smile on his face.   He has been very pleased with the workmanship of the building. And now that the footing fiasco is behind us, he's been enjoying the building process more....requiring less beer.  Mostly he's enjoying my ooo's and ahhh's of excitement. I guess that's really what this is all about, right?!  Getting to build dreams.

On Tuesday the crew placed the windows in their frames as I was leaving for work. That made me think the front wall would be put up next. Oh happy day - that will be super exciting to see!  However, when I got home it was the two gable ends that were completed.  The crew was still there and cutting and placing pieces on the front entrance
A little rain?
Go, go away!
wall, around the window and door openings. This probably includes the trickiest cuts that need to be made on the building siding. Putsy work again. But, as a result, you can see a building standing there as you arrived on the drive.

The front main wall is next. But Wednesday brought rain....so the crew isn't here. 😕  I have off of work today and the rest of the week and I was hoping to watch the front get raised. Hopefully tomorrow.  In the meantime, Rachel stopped by and we toured the arena in galoshes and umbrellas, sipping frappes.

To all my friends competing at the Celebration that opens today - best of luck!  I'm thinking of all of you and wishing I could be there too.  My "big oval" is my arena project right now.  Hope you all have safe and fun rides!  I'll be monitoring the results and cheering you all on to victory!


Friday, August 19, 2016

No Longer Topless - This Baby's Got Roof!

Yeah!  The arena roof went on this week and so the arena space is now covered. A little breezy yet from the sides, but we're no longer topless.

Raise the roof!
The week began with the building crew framing out the overhangs. We wanted to make sure the rain fall would be off and away from the immediate building area, so we designed the building with overhangs on all sides, following the advice of the builder.  The team blocked out the overhangs and also added soffits and wire caging to keep all nest-making critters out of the otherwise enticing nest-making spaces.  (Which reminds me, I need to get some owl decoys.  Lisa B has them in her barn and says they definitely keep the barn swallows out. So, I want them for the arena - to keep swooping from happening while I ride!  LOL. Amazon, don't fail me now!)

Once the overhang blocking was done, the team worked a double-shift day to place the roofing. On Thursday, I left for work prior to 7am, and returned home about quarter to 7pm. The crew was working before I left and still working when I returned home that evening. Making for a 12-hour, roof-attacking day!  But they got the whole thing done and even the ridge vent and bases for the cupolas were in. The roof is a weathered wood color - a brownish gray - to match our house and existing barn roofing.  It also serves as an accent against the side walls, that are gray trimmed in cream. I'm glad we thought through the coloring detail so that the three buildings on the homestead match and work well together!
Cupolas standing by. You can see how well the color
Matches the existing barn behind them. 

The cupolas were delivered to our building site this week as well.  It was like Christmas. Scott and I went down to take a closer look and unwrapped them. They are great. I loved this detail when I saw it on other buildings, and I'm very glad we included them in our design. In addition, I went searching for horse weather vanes to top them off. I searched and searched - and believe it or not, I found a Tennessee Walking Horse weather vane!  And it was a cool, pretty designed horse and I liked it!  So, I bought one for each cupola.  Like the crowning jewels on top of the arena. The weather vanes were packed with the cupolas. When we unwrapped them, we had a moment of panick when the weather vane boxes we opened up were pheasants and not the custom TWH editions I had purchased months earlier and had given to the builder. Noooooo!  But, we eventually found them after  a bit of digging through the crates. Whew!
Halo's, paddock-side view of the arena. 

So, we wrap up another building week with the roof in place. It even rained. So I ran out and stood in the arena to listen to the rain fall drumming on the tin roof. Why do I love that sound?  It starts soft and then gains urgency as the rain falls harder....and then soft again as the rain subsides. Like waves crashing against the sand.  Standing there, in the middle of my arena, I once again got choked up. My arena. My tin roof with the drumming of rain fall. Oh, Scott I'm so, so happy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love how you indulge me and know me so well. I'm blessed.







Saturday, August 13, 2016

What a difference a week makes!

A weekend ago we were sitting waiting for the dig on Monday. Now, this weekend, I'm sitting looking at a fully framed building. It was a big week and it's totally amazing how much has happened in such a short time.

Trench dug. Footing boxes set. 
Monday was the day of the 'Big Dig.' The excavator arrived at 730am with the large backhoe and a truck of stone. They started on one end and over the span of the day they excavated about 100' X 8' X 8' trench. Then the building team placed the stone and the frames for the footings. The width was extra wide so that the sandy soil could fall in but not cover the middle where the footings would be poured.  It was evident that these guys were pros. The one crew member told me this was an easy day.  They typically are digging huge ditches and doing commercial work.

Three trusses in. 
The best news is that they hit solid soil and between the stone and footings, the posts will be extra sturdy and solid. I certainly will be able to sleep at night knowing that we won't have future issues.

Late in the afternoon a cement truck arrived and poured the footings. That completed Day 1. They left the trench open to allow the cement to cure for the posts that would be set on Tuesday.  Later that night I climbed down into the trench and sat on my footings. Just to touch those babies. I knew I'd never see them again - but I wanted to always have that special moment.
My footing moment.

I had to go out of town for work - so the rest of the week's arena progress came to me in the way of photos. 

On my drive to Indianapolis the first photo arrived. The guys had the first three of 13 posts set on the footings and they were beginning to back fill the trench. By the time I arrived at the Indianapolis office, I had a photo showing all the posts set and the ground was pushed back in place. No more trench. Day 2 was complete and we were back in business.  The builder had said it would take about two weeks for them to do our project. Of course, due to issues, it's taken much longer. But we are now back on track after our footing snafu. 




Posts set and ground back filled. 
Day 3 was all about cross bracing and prep for the trusses that would happen on Day 4. The trusses arrived and were dropped off arena-side for the team. On Day 4 the real excitement began. By the time I had my morning coffee in Indy I received a photo from Rachel, who was taking care of my horses this week. She snapped a photo from the paddock as they hoisted the first truss and set it into place. Omg!  I couldn't believe it. Soooooooo, exciting!!! ( Thanks Rachel!)
Truss #1 goes in. 

Later in the day another message and photo arrived from Scott showing more than half of the trusses were up. Wow! It was all happening pretty fast now. Then late in the day a photo showed all the trusses in place and the cross bracing started for the roof.  I couldn't believe it. I called Scott to check in with him between the work day of meetings and before going out for dinner. He told me the entire truss roof was up and the next step was the actual roofing. That would happen next week. They want to allow the trusses to rest over the weekend just to ensure no movement or issues.
The view coming up the drive. 


Trusses all in. Cross bracing on roof. 
I drove home from Indy on Thursday. It was a long drive but I had the good company of my colleague, Lindsay, as well as texts from Shannon to make the time pass faster - with a few laughs as well.

I couldn't wait to get home to see the arena in person. After more than a six-hour drive to Madison, and an additional hour home from there - I finally pulled into my driveway. It was dark so I knew I wouldn't see too much but my heart was pounding anyway. I drove slowly. From the entrance of my drive I couldn't see anything but trees. I slowed at the culvert and stopped. Once I go over the stream and through the tree line I would get my first glimps. I took a deep breath and pulled through the opening and around the corner - and my headlights hit the building. Oh my gosh!!  I started to cry. There it was. It was really there. And, it's really, really big. I can't even see the main barn behind it now. But you can see the house to the left. I realized I was holding my breath and exhaled. I slowly drove up the drive and watched as more of the building appeared as I came closer and drove alongside it. I stopped and peered into the main doorway before turning to head up the driveway to the house. So cool. My dream sitting there, fully framed out.
Panoramic view from the main door. Love. 

I drove up to the house, parked, pulled my luggage out of the trunk and entered the house. I could hear Scott snoring. Darn, it's too late and I didn't have the heart to wake him. So, I snuck out to take a closer look at the arena, alone, in the moon light. Wow!  I couldn't see much but I could see it was all up.  I turned a few times as I walked back up to the house. And I looked out the window of my bedroom just before I jumped into bed. That night, I slept soundly in my own bed and dreamed of my rides.

All I could think was - what a difference a week makes!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ho. Ho. Hoe. No

Back-Hoe twelve. Arena zero.  That's the score this week. I guess it wasn't Christmas in July after all.  We're now into August and the posts aren't even in yet.

It's been more holes, more digging and more project holds, than progress. In fact after a very unsuccessful attempt at digging to put footings in last Friday, we've been at a complete stop on the work all week long.  (Insert sad face here. Or if you're Scott , make it a very very crazy mad face with fire coming out the nostrils.)
This project requires Two Women.
You can see some cross braces on side walls. 

I'm not going to go into details here, but suffice to say a poor plan typically results in a poor result. Therefore, there has been a retread on the assessment and planning....and thankfully we're now engaged with pros who have experience and have done what we need to get done. Better still, we're scheduled to get it done next week Monday - bright and early.  I'm saying prayers for this to go smoothly. Based on the dialogues with the excavation contractor, he seems to be very knowledgable and both Scott and I feel pretty confident he'll get it right.

Unfortunately, we'll spend another weekend looking at the piles of lumber and siding....or what Scott has come to not-so-endearingly refer to as "The Big Sandbox."  He always says it in a not so flattering way.

On a good note, there are enough poles up now that I can imagine the building standing there. When I drive down my driveway each morning I know I'll be looking right at that beautiful split door with the windows. I have also practiced the walk from my barn across the paddock and into what will soon be my main arena entrance with the over hang.  I know I'm crazy, but I'm just so excited. I'm trying to be patient but enough is enough for this girl.  I'm ready. If things had gone as originally scheduled the entire arena, including kick walls, would be up and finished by now.  I'd be getting sand placed next week. But, instead of being built in two weeks, were still two weeks away from that point.   I remain hopeful that I will be riding in it by September. Pleeeease!

Until Monday, here's a little reminder from Cinderella.