Monday, May 24, 2010


We managed to survive the sääsk attack. For a while it looked a little grim. All the bug zappers in south and central Estonia had been sold out. We were unable to find any BTI to dose the water in the front yard to kill the larvae and deprive the swarm of fresh recruits. Even Bauhof in Tartu failed us. We were forced to turn to chemical warfare. We bought some Kapo®.

We've seen dozens of used up spray cans of this in the garbage that we excavated from under the Kõrvalhoone, and the debris that washes up at the end of the old river bed when the Spring floods recede. It's a remarkably effective insecticide. I sprayed the window wells in all four rooms and the walls in the second bedroom. Every mosquito in the house died horribly in the next half hour. We've always imagined Kapo® as some neurotoxic product of Soviet chemical warfare. The older cans are labeled in Russian as the primary language, so we assumed it was imported from there. Reading the actual label, I see it's manufactured in France here in the EU, so I suspect it's reasonably safe, but I don't plan to use more of it than we need to indoors.

The Garaaž is another story. There were vast swarms of mosquitoes outside the door, making it difficult to stay inside for more than a few minutes. Fortunately, the weather has turned cooler and windier, which has set back the sääsed in a big way. We can now put the car inside without too much blood loss.

The Garaaž, which occupies the other two-thirds of the Kõrvalhoone, is almost as cool as the Sauna. Feliks and the boys built some suitably massive doors, complete with (new) cast iron hardware.

The VW Polo we're driving fits in easily, but you could get a good-sized sedan in as well.

The inside is roomy. The wall between the old stable area and the room with the stone walls was in bad shape, so we removed it, which will also make it possible to store larger vehicles.

When we first arrived there were only some odds and ends inside, left-over doors and ladders, old garden carts used by former inhabitants, etc.

We immediately filled it up with all of the stuff we had stored in the house that used to be in the Kõrvalhoone. Hay forks and other pole tools, barrels, buckets, old wooden and zinc bathtubs, more cast iron and steel fittings, it's remarkable how much stuff was here.

The Garaaž has some clever features. My favorite is the the trap door into the attic. Next to the ladder (which we kept from the pre-renovation building) there is a handle hanging from the ceiling,

made of course from a branch.

If you pull it down and latch it under the eye hook provided for this purpose,

the attached cable opens the trap door,

which leads to the attic where you can see the mechanism that lifts the door. The boys designed this, though I did add a couple pulleys to make it run more smoothly. The attic is just storage space at this point. We had to insulate above the sauna to make it heatable, but otherwise there's just the ceilings as a floor.

I also like the window that we decided to remove and fill in at the back of the Garaaž. The boys solved the problem of making this fit in with the rest of the logs with a new window frame.

The only thing I don't really like are the joints on the stonework. The old stuff is on the right-hand side of this section. This isn't the really good work where the stones are closely fitted together and the mortar just seals up the spaces in between. Here, the masons filled in the larger joints with smaller stones, which gives an interesting effect.

Our walls are sturdy enough, but the joints don't quite match the style of the old ones, and the smaller inset stones don't give the effect of being part of the wall. We're talking to Feliks about re-doing this.


  1. I continue to be amazed at how your place is shaping up. It's quite lovely!

    So at some point, are you going to add some farm animals to the mix? At least some chickens.

  2. Well thank you. We appreciate the appreciation. It is a lovely place, and we hope we're improving on it.

    As long we're commuting back and forth from the Gulf, we have to stick to the wild livestock. I don't think even hardy arctic chickens would survive an Estonian Winter alone. Maybe when we retire we can get some sheep and herd them back and forth to some place in southern Europe. Perhaps when Rail Baltica comes online we'll be able to rent a stock car and take them down to Croatia for the Winter.