July 26th, 2012


It’s been a while since the blog was updated and a lot has happened in that time!  The house actually looks like a house now, complete with insulation, running water and walls!  We have a working toilet which has made it a little nicer for everyone, especially me!  The Painting Crew (Rich, Me, Chris and Brian) began our work last weekend!

The crew taking a break!

By the way, this is Susan writing this  update! Between work and the house, Rick doesn’t have a minute to spare so I am updating the blog for him!  I have been spending anywhere from 1 to 3 days a week at the house; meeting with contractors, supervising contractors, cleaning up after contractors, making decisions and taking care of whatever I can to help expedite the process!

Foam Insulation in Kitchen
Bonus Room Insulation

The insulation was completed about 2 weeks ago.  We used a spray foam insulation which should make the house very energy efficient and really help to keep those energy costs down!  The drywall is complete in the main house and the bonus room and the crew that did the work did an excellent job!

View from the kitchen eating area
Rick's Garage Drywalled and Primed
Drywall Progress after 2nd full day
Kitchen Prep Area


We are finalizing the hardwood floor, tile, and carpet choices this next week as well as selecting all the interior doors and hardware.  If all goes according to plan, we should be ready to have the kitchen installed the week of August 13th, just in time for me to go back to school on the 20th.  I will only get to enjoy my new kitchen on weekends and school holidays until next summer!

Enjoy the rest of your summer…it has been a busy one for us but will be well worth it in the end!  In addition to work and the house, the month of August will bring us:  a visit from our daughter, Megan, who lives in Los Angeles; the return to Penn State of our son, Brian, who will be a Junior;  the start of high school football for our son, Chris, who will be a high school Junior;  Rick’s 51st birthday;  Chris’s 17th birthday; and an early celebration of Megan’s 24th birthday! Wow….hard to believe that we will have a 24 year old this year! My how time flies!

Rich and Susan Harrell




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May 8th, 2012

Greetings to my Faithful Blog Followers!

First, I want to apologize for the long time span between updates.

Working  at US-1 and at the Ranch has me worn pretty thin.

Special thanks to Chris (and Mom!) for keeping the yard mowed in Harrisburg.

There has been a lot of progress on the house in the last couple of weeks!

First – I moved!  I know you’re wondering what that means.  Well, it is grass time and we moved the RV from on the grass to onto the driveway.  It was about a 40 foot move.  Special thanks to George for helping tow the RV into its new position.

Second – The new HVAC is almost complete as the air handlers and the duct work had to all be taken out because of the bird damage while the property sat empty.  J&A heating has done a nice job and we’ve gone from three units to a newly designed two unit system.  High efficiency system combined with the foam insulation should be a great solution for this house.

Third –   The fireplaces were both installed and couldn’t have  turned out nicer.  The team who installed them was from Mechanicsburg and Justin was a superb Project Manager.  They will be back to convert them to propane and wrap up the final install after the stone work is finished.

Fourth – Stone work, beds, river rock has been installed in preparation for the final grading.

Fifth – The well, framing of the master bedroom’s soaker tub, rough out of the final plumbing by Sam and Curtis has gone smoothly and a bunch of other miscellaneous house framing is now complete. As you can see from the picture, the ditch witch got the best of Joe!

Sixth – the final grade has just been completed, so look forward to grass springing from the straw in my next update.


Rich reporting from the ranch.

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February 25, 2012 thru March 9, 2012

Blog faithful, update for the period Feb 25 thru March 9th.

Well it has been a busy 2 weeks at the ranch with a lot to share.

First and foremost let’s talk about safety.   Had a small scaffold set collapse last Saturday and fell 5 feet to the floor.  Not sure what latch was not hooked but just like you measure twice and cut once, always check pins on scaffold.  I was lucky and the good Lord was looking down on me that day, I landed on my feet and whacked the underside of my arm/elbow.  Of course PIC #30 is a shot of the bruise,  a lot of my local followers thought I should share this as a warning to all of my fellow do-it-yourselfers!  Safety first and double check safety items all the time.

Eric would now like me to wear rope climbing gear and a helmet. But, he is a lot older and more cautious than me, a skilled rock climber and great adviser.  I will pass on the rope outfit but will be ever vigilant with safety.

My good friend Joe B. can down to visit from Philly last Friday and we began installing a central vacuum system.   Got about ½ of it done and I might be able to coax Joe back down with one more Friday night dinner at the Hill Top.  Both Joe and I learned something special that Friday as he bunked down at the ranch (RV) with me.  Neither one of us believe the stories about our snoring that our wives have been making up for years!  I did not hear Joe B. and he didn’t not hear me snore one bit.  Go figure.

The siding, soffit and fascia job is now all done and Zach and his guys (with Daniel doing the lion’s share of the work) did a very nice job.  I hope to know Zach for many years to come (PIC#39).  He is an excellent Contractor. See PICs #32, #34, and #37.

The columns arrived and were just put in place on Tuesday night.  See PIC #31 of one of the raised resin columns.  Stay tuned for a picture of the front of the house with the columns in place.

A couple of misc. pics of the kitchen ceiling all framed out for insulation #33 and the start of the basement porch ceiling framed out before cedar T&G is installed PIC #35.

One odd picture of a wall organizer I bought and installed in the RV (PIC #36). I now know exactly where every key is and the RV really feels like home away from home.

Finally, PIC #38 is of the barrel ceiling on the front porch.  Big Joe, Darrell, Chris and Cory all worked very hard that day to make that ceiling a grand entrance for the property.  Thanks for all of your help.

As I close out this update, I have to name a few others.  Jackie from work has been my ever diligent Nurse.  Splinters, cuts and I am sure she would have set my arm in a cast if I would have broken it.  Thanks Jackie for doing all of this non-work related nursing of my bumps and bruises.  If there are any single male followers out there I could introduce you to Jackie as she is a young, _______,  Syracuse grad and I can vouch for her nursing skills.

In addition, my son is back at Penn State after a Spring break trip with two of his Penn State friends to visit Megan in LA.  I think everything went well, Brian hung out with the cat (Webster – sounds like a smart name ( his real name is Banshee, because he meowed like a banshee when she first got him!)  and he met a bunch of Megan’s special friends.  I hear one is traveling to Baltimore in late March, on tour with the musician known as Van Hunt.  He should look me up for a drink and a chat.

And now for the unbelievable news.  Chris (our youngest) just got his license and is now driving his mom around.  Boy, it seems like they were little kids just a few years ago.

Still trying to get Susan down to the Ranch but she has a thing about RV’s with no plumbing or running water.  I understand.

Paul is in next week so maybe we can all have a Friday or Saturday dinner together.

Signing off



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Blog update, week of 2/20 thru 2/24/2012

Blog faithful,

Sorry, I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to post or take pictures to go with those posts!  So , the wife told me to do an update and here it is.

Pics 27 and 32 are the cedar ceilings that started going up last weekend and which  we hope to have mostly  done by the end of the day this coming Sunday.

Pics 28, 29 and 30 show  the siding (cedar shakes), soffit and fascia which is nearing the ¾ completion mark.  Zack and Dan are strong craftsmen and Joe and Kevin never seem to take very long to complete a section.  All good guys.

Pic 31 is the front of the house as it appears this week, check back to see what it looks like next week after Zack and his guys get to it!

The permit is now in the window and I had my first visit by a Cecil county inspector.  All went well and the RV went unnoticed.

Dave, my neighbor from back in Harrisburg, is doing electrical work, installing bathroom fans, and framing in the master bath tub this week.  No whirlpool this time…never use the one we have!

Saturday visiting the Oxford Cabinet Shop with Susan and a big push Sunday to knock out a lot of tasks including front porch ceilings.

Hoping to start central vac next week (any volunteers?)and maybe decide on final contractors for plumbing and HVAC.

Great weather and great neighbors.

Off to the ranch as I close out this message.


Smashed thumb included (I’ll spare you the picture of that)!

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Update 2/8/12

Blog followers:
Well the weeks have now run into the end of month #1 and the Ranch is treating me just fine. I have settled into a no TV and no late night Breyers ice cream snack routine and I am getting tons of exercise by working at the house in the evenings.

Glad to report I have lost 14 lbs and I will hope to keep going until I hit 205 pounds of lean muscle (however lean you can be at 50 years young).

The past week has seen the siding get underway, insulation board continue going up, and the last round of framing changes.  I had better get into the Cecil County Municipal office to pick up my permit so I can get it posted in the window.

The pictures this week are as follows:

Pic Blog # 21 and 24 siding (side of the house) and siding (from the rear of the house).

Pic Blog # 22 was a new Sat am breakfast place.  For those of you that know my wife I was as surprised as you that she opened a morning restaurant in the little town of Rising Sun! Next time I will do without the sausage gravy Pic #23 (could of mortared the house with it).

Pic Blog # 25 was when I returned home last Wed with the Ford Explorer filled with Craigslist shopping items.  Cedar trim boards for the porch ceilings, wood pellets for mulch around the house perimeter to keep the mud down.  It was super cheap and it will turn into good compost in the spring, and finally I bought “bathroom boards” with bathroom accessories.  I picked up 5 so if anyone needs a towel bar in “satin” come see me for the extras.

The weekend before Super Bowl, Brian made it home from college and he and Chris helped with insulation.  Thanks a bunch to him.   And this past weekend big Joe and I got cracking on the insulation board as well.  Lots more of that to do but the cedar ceilings will need to go up first so the outside siding can be put right up to the ceiling next week.

Got to get the HVAC and the Plumbing details finalized and next steps will be central vac and low voltage TV, cable and computer lines.

Looking forward to a nice Saturday night dinner with the wife, son and a new carpenter friend.  Will call him the Z-man.

Finally, the last Pic is a new shower curtain for the office bathroom that Big Joe, Little Joe and Rudy put in for me.  These guys really have my back…….. Now if I could only get one of them to wash it!  Thanks guys for the extra hot water, soon I will be singing like at home in the shower.

Megan, ring your Dad.

Signing off


Rich at the Ranch

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Week of 1/22 thru 1/28

Hi folks,

Nearing the half way point for the week of 1/22 thru 1/28 and today was a good day so I thought it a good time to blog a bit.

Let me explain the pictures.

Picture #14 is a sample “white Styrofoam” column brace.  I am trying to size up whether it should be a 36 or 42 inch brace.  My instinct tells me no more than 1/3 the height  of the overall column, but, it is usually best to prepare a sample, tack it up and your eye will tell you if you’ve got it right.  My father would have known just by looking at it.

The picture of the car is my son’s which I drive every now and then, but if you look over the top right corner of the RV and see the wood-line in the distance, that is where the Mason Dixon line falls.  I would like to find one of the historic markers they placed along the line some time.  But, that will have to wait until after I hike part of the Appalachian trial for a few weeks with my youngest son.

The other pictures are two shots of the neighborhood looking west.  The 12acre farmette has three gorgeous horses and I hear we should have some barley on hand shortly to feed the horses.

The picture of the kitchen table shows an unopened box of cereal.  Bought cereal and milk only to realize that I do not have a bowl!   One step at a time and notice that the cereal is definitely on the healthy side.

Finally, the last two shots are of a denim shirt I bartered for from a guy last night in Elkton where I went to see a new craftsman table saw.  My old one was giving me some fits and instead of repairing it I thought I would go out on Craig’slist  and do some shopping.   I agreed to buy the saw and in the process the gent showed me around his home. Nice guy, great flea market finds throughout his house and to top it off he also works for a Food Distribution Company.  He is the HD director for PFG in Elkton.  The stars were lined up last night and I came away with a pretty cool shirt.  I am going to have to reciprocate for sure.

PS: This shirt will look much better on my job foreman!

Looking forward to a Saturday work party.

Finally, I have got to start working on getting myself invited to folks houses for dinner on Friday nights.  Can’t make much in the RV so I should re-double my efforts to get invited for home cooked meals on Friday nights now that I am down most weekends.

Reporting live from the Ranch.


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Post for Week of 1/15 to 1/21

Hi folks,

It was a busy week last week at the Ranch and the Company so not a lot of messages.  I suspect that I would get an “F” at blog etiquette if the primary goal were to give updates.

Here is an update for the week of 1/15 – 1/21 at the ranch.

Deck completed (railing pending).

HVAC nearing a final plan.

My son and I spent the weekend working on insulation panels in preparation for the foam spray that is planned for the ranch. Insulation panels is about a 3-4 week exercise with begged and borrowed labor.

House is now secure and the security system was installed, so it makes me rest a bit easier when I am not at the ranch.

Pic #11 is my son relaxing in the RV. He took up the visitor’s bunk and he tells me I snore at night. Until I hear a tape recording I still think the whole snoring topic is all made up.

Pic #12 is my new clock/radio (courtesy of Janet) who felt that I should be able to listen to some music when I really need another voice.

Pic #13 is the insulation panels that my son did a great job installing. Too small of a place for Dad to crawl into.

Looking forward to my 3rd week at the ranch.

PS: Storm Water Management Plan and Building Permit are now in process, which is a big thumbs up and should be forthcoming by week 4/5.

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Days 5, 6 and 7

RATR followers,

Well Friday/Sunday/Monday night this weekend included me snuggling up to a heater in my RV.  Every morning I am awake around 5:00am by a near-by rooster.  Anybody know any rooster recipes? This week the front and garage interior/exterior doors will be installed and a bit more electrical work will get underway. The back deck should get completed (weather permitting) and I hope to have the HVAC decided.

Will send pictures in the next blog, which starting Tuesday will be at “www.richattheranch.com” site.

A special thanks to Megan Harrell for setting this up for Dad.



Rich at the Ranch


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Day #4

Delivery of cedar logs for the back porches/deck, which became a receiving nightmare.  I will have to get come pointers from Domingo, and Norma thanks for beating the trucking firm as the timbers were delivered last night in the dark at 6:00pm.  I cleaned up behind folks last night and ate dinner at my local bar.  I think most of the locals are getting to know me.  The Bartender, Floyd, is pretty cool and is a laid off PLC programmer, which takes me back to a previous job, so it is easy to talk with him between serving folks drinks.

Pictures today are of the cedar timbers which are 6X8X10 foot and should be put in place next week.  In addition, I have a daytime picture of my RV (Paul I will sell this too you once I move into the house) and the Front & Garage door are included as picture three.

The “Building Permit” and “Storm Water Management Plan” are set for Monday and then the majority of the red tape should be behind me.

Nice to talk with my daughter who called at 3:45am and we chatted from LA (I always enjoy these talks).

Finally, Mindy keeps promising to teach me how to set up a blog (I am hopeful that she means sometime soon, but beggars cannot be choosey).

Susan, Can you forward this Day 4 Blog onto Brian and Megan.  Dad is just getting rolling.

Blog followers stay tuned.

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