Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Last snow? And frost dates.

I have to get this in my records... yesterday - March 30 - was (hopefully) our last snow.


We had a pretty hard frost last nite. We'll see how this goes.

Last year we had a hard frost on April 21. The year before our last frost was on March 27th. According to this site our last frost will be May 20.  The Old Farmer's Almanac put our last frost at May 5. It's a good reminder that we are not out of the fire yet - and that the "last frost date" is pretty variable.

But we might hit 70* tomorrow so here's hoping that we are going to head directly into spring and a long long growing season.

Happy Monday everyone!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Self Magazine Swings for the Cruelty Fences...

Look out! I have a bee right in my bonnet. If you haven't already seen this story then give a click. We might have actually seen the lowest of the lows.

Self magazine is supposed to be one of those fitness magazines that is allegedly about "being fit, strong and active means feeling great, being happy and looking your most beautiful."

Unless you end up on their lame list.

This gal, Monika, was contacted by the magazine and asked if they could use her picture? Sure! How fun would that be, right? No. They used the pic to make fun of her, and others, for dressing up in  costumes for their runs. It's a thing - Glam Runners - they make fun outfits for runners because why not? And they use some of the money for their non-profit, Girls on the Run, which helps young girls get train and prepare for a 5K run.

So Monika is thinking that the magazine is going to do a fun piece on her and her program. Yay!

Not. They put the picture under their "BS Meter" proclaiming what's lame and what is not. And they really swung for the cruelty fences when they said the outfits would make people "run away from you."

We aren't even to the worst part....

The reason Monika and her friend were in their fun superhero costumes - other than why not and they are fun? Monika was in the middle of chemo for her brain cancer. The back of her shirt read something like, "Chemo powered" and her friend's number reads, "Die tumor die." She was just trying to find some positivity in a bad situation.

Oh sure, Self ran right out and gave a "lame" apology - and I'm sure they meant every word of it. I hope they make good on their promise to donate to the Girls on the Run program. But let's back up the truck here.

Why would a magazine make fun of anyone? Ever?

You know I'm always shocked when adult people don't have anything else to do but make fun of someone else. Especially if they are in the public eye. And in this case, supposed to be encouraging people to be fit and happy.

And it's not like this was just some ill-advised tweet accidentally sent out by an intern that they can take back. Think of how many people are involved in getting a magazine published and no one - NO ONE - said, 'you know.. that's a crappy thing to do.' No one?

There is a phenomena that probably most of us have seen. You know when the gym teacher makes fun of the dorky kid and everyone joins in... not because they think that kid deserves it but because they themselves don't want to be the object of ridicule? Don't think that's just a school thing or a kid thing. It's disgusting and it's worse when adults do it.

Think about it - if a beautiful girl, who is doing good in this world, who has cancer is being mad fun of publicly. For heavens sakes - what chance do the rest of us have?

I'm pretty sure I look like a basset hound when I run and now I gotta be wondering that a fitness magazine is gonna call me up, ask to use my picture, then find out they just wanted to make fun of me?

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Monika? She probably called all her friends and family and got extra copies and was all, "Yay, this is going to be so great!" So she runs right home, opens the mag, and finds out they just used her. They made fun of her. For everyone to see.

A beautiful girl, who is doing good in the world, who has cancer.

I'm not sure it gets any worse than that.

So what do you do? Shine a light on their darkness. Don't let them get away with it. Don't be the person that stands by and says, "gosh I hope someone does something" or worse - don't pitch in with them. I'm writing this post and I shared the story on my facebook page because I think it's important not to just stand by. I also left a comment on Self's fb page - and you are welcome to tell them what you think.

For their part, Self published a real interview with Monika..and it looks like they will stop their lame list. I hope they do more than just this.  

The upside is that the story is getting out and I hope that these gals raise a ton of money for their program. I hope they sell out of their fun runnin' tutus. I hope more people find their joy and give a glad shout to drown out the haters in this world. I hope the next time you see someone expressing their happiness you think, "good for them." I hope the next time a mean person makes fun of someone you are the one that says, "wow that's wrong and shame on you."

Life is too short to be so hateful, friends. Get out there and find your happy. And if you feel like it, run a 5K in a tutu and the good folks of the world will just say, "Good for you!"

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Cat Trap

We set out a box cat trap.... It worked.

 We caught a derpy Little Mo. 

And Pepper.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Build a Hoop House: Step 4 Cover it up!

So far we have gotten our materialsbuilt a box, hooped it up, and framed it in. The last step is to cover it up with plastic. If you are bad with the clingwrap in the kitchen, horrible at wrapping presents, or flummoxed by odd shapes you might want to get a helper.  This was really the hardest part - and it took me less than an hour.

Somewhere along the way I got a load of gravel and was able to fill in around the base of 
the greenhouse. See that I built a gravel "watering station" so I could keep from getting muddy.

My pal and favorite nurseryman, ML, suggests using greenhouse plastic film by A.M. Leonard. That is some very fancy stuff. But what I had on hand was some heavy duty 6mil plastic from walmart. I had about a half a roll and then I needed to buy another 10x25' roll for about $19. This will not last...but remember my goal is only to get thru the coolest part of the spring and then take off the plastic and use the hoop as a trellis. So I'm OK with that.

Honestly the hardest part of this was tossing a heavy roll of plastic up and over the hoop, unfolding it, and trimming off the excess. This was one of the steps where having a helper really would have been great.

My big idea was to over hang the plastic enough so that I could affix it to the doorway on the open end. This took some fiddling around but I was able to make it work. Think of how the ladies at the fancy gift wrap place can perfectly cover an oddly shaped roundish box. That's what I was going for. the next section was easy - just up and over the hoop, trim it off to make sure I had plenty of extra. The last section over hung the closed end just a bit. I wasnt worried about that.

The closed end was a different kettle of fish. I wish I had seen this terrific video earlier of how a guy built his greenhouse. The window at the closed end sure makes a lot of sense. Thanks to my pal, Sci-Fi Chick for sending it. Does everyone know her? She's really terrific.

I pulled the end piece under the last hoop segment

Anyway, one of the problems with greenhouses is that they can get very warm. So having a way to let the heat out is important. Since the plastic wasn't permanent in my plan I figured I could just leave the closed end tucked in - and then untuck it when I needed to get some air flow going.

I tucked the end piece between the hoop and the last segment. Now I can open that end if it gets too hot.

I had a piece of plastic that was about the right size so I just tacked it along the bottom and pulled it under the last section. I knew that once that last section over the hoop was pulled tight that the end piece would be held in place. So far so good.

Trim off the extra plastic and lay out the furring strips.

Next I got my materials for attaching the plastic over the hoops. I had purchased several 1x2x8 foot lengths of furring strips for about $1 each. Working from the closed end of the hoop house I wrapped the plastic around the furring strips so the plastic went OVER the strip.

 Roll the plastic over...

Yep. It was backwards from what you'd think... the plastic went over not under so that there was no "gully" between the side of the greenhouse and the furring strip. This way the rain will just sheet right off and not get into the plastic. Isn't that neat? You can thank Bourbon Red for that tip.

 ...then screw into place.  See? No gully to collect water.

Then I screwed the furring strip to the base of the greenhouse using deck screws. Easy peasy.  I just worked my way along the 8 foot section, rolling the plastic under, keeping the strip level, and making sure the plastic was tight. I had weighed down the plastic on the other side so it wouldn't move around. The next section of furring strip had to be cut to fit the last 4' of the greenhouse. When I got near the corner I had to use scissors to cut the plastic so it would fit.

Next, I got to use my favorite tool. I call it "The Whacker" it has a technical name but I tend to call stuff by the sound it makes. Plus it's totally fun to use. Whack whack whack! And the plastic was tacked into place along the furring strip. How great is that?

I did the other side the same way. This side was much easier as I was able to pull the plastic pretty tight over the hoops. So now I had the closed end covered and both sides secured. Last step was the door end.

I guess I should mention that along the way I built a door. I should have gotten pictures - sorry! Just cut two long boards at the same time on your saw so they will be the exact same size. Then three cross pieces. Lay them out, square them up, and screw together. I used 1x3x8's cut to size.

An angled cross piece goes at the bottom to give stability to the door.

I measured the inside of the door and made the pieces one inch less than the true measurement.  Doors tend to sag and get wonky so this gives you some room to play with. The last piece was whatever I had left, attached at an angle for stability.  I used The Whacker to cover with plastic. I dug thru a bucket in the garage and found a couple hinges and attacked it to the door frame. Done. Easy easy. You can see my extremely fancy latch.

Back to the plastic covering.

The plastic was draped over the front to make sure it could be tacked to the door frame.

My goal was to pull the plastic tight, gather it together, and tack it into place. This took some patience but once I got the hang of it then it made sense. Gather, whack, gather, whack... then the same on the other side. I need one more short piece of furring strip to go across the top of the doorway but I can get that the next time I go into town.

Gather the plastic together in folds and tack into place.

As I found out when I was tacking the plastic on the this end...the only thing that I didn't like about this design was that the doorway seemed a little loosey-goosey. So I used a board, attached at an angle, to firm it up. This solved the problem. Plus it will hold the plastic in place.

Then all I had to do was fancy up the place. 

The wheelbarrow will be used to mix up the potting soil.

I used an old rake head for a tool caddy and added a thermometer.

I was going to get right to work... but then it started snowing. So I got mad and went in the house and started eating peanut butter out of the jar with a chocolate bar. Today.... today tho I have high hopes for a more productive day.

The snow was great. But see the last board I put in place to hold the door frame more securely?

Having a thermometer in the greenhouse was really helpful. Yesterday morning it was 14* but it was a little over 20* in the greenhouse. As for now I won't try and run anything electric out there but I'll try for some passive heating. Later, in the fall I'll try and different methods when I recover the greenhouse and us it as a season extender for some cool season veggies and greens.

What do you think, friends? Do you think you can give this a try? Are you getting ideas?

Happy Thursday everyone! This winter has to end sometime... and if not I'll just work in my hoop house.

Editors note:
Part 1 here
Part 2 here
Part 3 here

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Build a Hoop House Step 3: Frame it up!

Today let's talk about Step 3 of How to Build a Hoop House - let's frame it up!

Let's get to framing! We need to build a centerline beam. We can do this!

Our goal for this part of the project is to add some stability and rigidity to the hoop... and solve that 'wonky hoop' problem from Step Two. In order to achieve our goals we are going to add a main beam down the top center of the hoop (henceforth "centerline beam"), provide a framework for it, and build out the door.

Before you think this is too complicated... it's not. And rest assured I won't be providing any of those complicated measurements. The worst part is finding the center line, then just grab a pencil, and we'll do some marking. If this is going to make you cringe or start screaming the "You're Doing it Wrong" song then just look away.  Here, look at Little Mo. He's very calming and you need to relax.

Find the centerline, add some blocks, put the 2x4 into the blocks, screw it all together. Easy.

First, find the center point at both the front (door) and the back (closed) ends of the hoop house. That's easy enough. Next determine the centerline of the hoop. I just counted the squares and found the center mark (I think it was 12 squares on each side). You might have to find a helper or a tpost to lean up against the first hoop to hold it in perfect hoop shape with the center mark at the very top.

Cut the 2x4 to be as tall as the top of the hoop, add a block, and that is where your 
centerline beam is going to rest. Easy!
Then grab a standard sized 2x4 and a couple of odds and ends to use as blocks. Find the center line of the 2x4 at one end and match it up with the center line of the base at the closed end. Then mark the outside edges. Affix your blocks on the outside edges, then put the 2x4 between the blocks and see where the top of the hoop meets the 2x4. That's how tall you want that end 2x4 to be. Mark it. Check it twice, then cut it. I have a terrific miter saw but use whatever you've got. Then hold a stray 2x4 up at the top of that board (up- n-down, not flat) and mark it. Find another black and affix it to the 2x4. Your top center beam is going to rest on that. Easy peasy.

Then "toenail" the perfectly-cut-to-fit into place between the blocks. Voila - you are framin', baby!

 Where is your level? Level it, square it, toenail it it place. Easy.

The only fancy cutting that I did was to use two short-ish 2x4's cut at 45* angles to hold the closed 2x4 upright in kind of an A-frame like configurement. (Hey! I think I just made up a new fun word!)  At this point your closed end should be about finished.

The door end is only slightly more complicated but don't worry it's easy peasy. Just take your time, think about how it should work, and if you need to go and look at your garage doorway a couple times so you have a better idea of what we'll be doing.

Again, find your center line on the box of the hoop house. Go and find a couple of standard sized 2x4's. You'll also need a cross piece for the top and a couple shortish pieces for the fancy 45* cuts. Ready?

The centerline beam rests on top of the door frame on this end. Match up the centerline of the door frame with the centerline of the..um... centerline beam. Perfect!

Here is the one measurement you need to take - remember that the centerline beam is going to rest on the block at the closed end. The centerline beam needs to rest on top of the cross piece for the doorway. So you need to measure from the bottom of the closed end 2x4 to the top of the block, make sense? Because you've been extra careful with your leveling and squaring you know that using that measurement should give you a level crossbeam. Ready? Go measure it. Measure again, mark your door end 2x4's, and cut them. If you want to be extra fancy you can put both of them on your miter saw (squared up at the ends) at the same time to make sure they are exactly the same length. OK, that was the hardest part!

Now find a cross piece for the top of the door. I determined how long it was by holding it up to the perfectly-in-place hoop (remember to count the squares to find the center!) and I marked, and cut it,  to fit inside the hoop. Easy. Now find your centerline for that piece too and mark it. Line up the centerline for your cross piece with your centerline on the base of the hoop, mark the outside edges on the base, and that is the opening for your door. How fun is that?

Next affix the cross piece - squared up - to the top of your door 2x4's. Now you have a big, wonky, three sided, hard to move "door frame." You might need a helper for this - or some foolishness and determination - that's all I had. Carefully maneuver the door frame into place. Use the marked lines on the base to line up where the 2x4's should rest. Toenail them into place - but don't screw them in the whole way just "tack" them into place. And don't bonk yourself on the head. In fact you can tie the door frame to the hoop to make sure it doesn't tumble over on you. Or just have someone hold it for you.

Cut a couple of shortish 2x4's to help secure your doorframe and the 2x4 for the closed end. 
Cut at 45* angles and screw into place. Easy!

Check to make sure everything is square and level. Then screw the door frame in the rest of the way. Use your short-ish pieces and fancy 45* cuts to really secure the door frame. Are you kidding? Look! You have a door!

Look! You are almost done! Just get that centerline beam screwed into place. Easy!

If you have your act together then you also purchased a 2x4x12 and then you can maneuver your centerline beam into place so that it rests on the block at the closed end and the top of the door fame, square it up, and screw it all into place. Unless you are me and I only thought I had one in the garage. It turned out it was only 10 feet long. So I had to wait a couple days until I could get one. But then all I had to do was move the 12 foot beam into place, square it up, and screw it all into place. Look! how fun is that?

The centerline rests on the block a the closed end. See how the top of the centerline beam 
is level with the top of the 2x4? Easy!

Now you should be able to line up the hoop centerline with the centerline beam and you have a perfect hoop! I had to wrestle it into place just a little and held it there with a few of those fence staples. You should also use some zip ties and secure the hoop to the centerline beam - this holds it in place and gives it rigidity and strength.

That wasn't too bad, was it? Think you can do it? I think you can.  But...but what about complicated measurements? Fractions? 43 15/32s and all that? Nope. None of that here. Sorry. How tall are the beams? I dunno. Remember thru this whole thing I only took one measurement. Aren't I doing it wrong? Nope. Here is the thing, I can't process information that way. If I had to give you a detailed (with measurement) materials list I would probably just start crying because I couldn't do it. I use "materials on hand" and so should you. Or not. Do what works for you.

Who knows - maybe you want to use 2x4's as a base because that is what you have. I used 10 inch boards so if I provided exact measurements then it wouldnt work for you - and it wouldn't make sense to me. Hopefully these instructions will give you a good idea of how the theory of this works so you can apply it to your own needs. Maybe you are only going to use 2 hoops, or maybe you want yours to be taller, or shorter - whichever is best for you.

For all I know there is someone out there with a math affliction who is calculating the exact hoop radius and will have all their measurements, pre-cut boards, and to-the-exact-number of staples laid out on a tarp and will perfectly construct a hoop that way. Great! Fine. Super. But I can't do that.

One of the thing that was holding me back was all the right fighters telling me that I had to use charts and graphs and measurements... none of which made any sense at all to me. I used to feel very bad about this and I believed all the naysayers that I couldn't do it.

But one day I was watching a master furniture maker make a complicated drawer with a bunch of complicated miter cuts and do you know how many measurements he took? None. Not one. He just marked all of them. It finally clicked for me that there is more than one way to build stuff. Honestly it was kind of freeing. So now that I am free of the "right" way I just do what works for me.

So what do you think? Are you ready to tun right out and give it a try? Sure you are! Get your tools and get out there - frame it up!

Editors note:
Part 1 here
Part 2 here

Monday, March 24, 2014

Build a Hoop House: Step Two - Level your site, build a box, & affix the hoops.

Editor's Note: Much to the chagrin of my pal over at the lazy farmer, I'm afraid that this step will not involve any kind of heavy equipment - just me, a shovel, and the dog. Sorry, Budd.

Now that you have your site picked out, your materials laying in the yard, and your tools ready for action the next step is to build the box that will serve as the base for your the hoops. I chose to use two 12 foot x 2 x 10 and two 8 foot lengths... that is, all the boards are 10 inches tall. I used regular old lumber off the rack at the home improvement place. I looked at the 12 inch tall boards but they were exponentially more expensive... which is way I went for the 10 inch ones.  I wanted some additional height for the hoop which is why I didn't go any shorter (2 x 4's or 2 x 6's).

Level it.
I did not buy the treated lumber because it freaks me out. I looked longingly at the same sized cedar boards... but they were $42 each. EACH! So, you know... regular wood. Before you blow apart, no it is not going to rot in a year. I have used this kind of lumber before for similar projects and it hasn't rotted yet.

When I started laying the boards out I realized that my "somewhat level site" was actually really off kilter. So I got the shovel and started digging. I dug a little trench deep enough to get the long side boards level with the lowest spot. But it was still really off so I also had to prop up the lowest of the low sides just a little to make sure everything was level.

The dog thought it was amazing. But check out how much space under the board near his feet.

Unfortunately "level" meant that there was a lot of daylight under the bottom of one side. Clearly I needed gravel to make sure that the box base was resting solidly. I had two choices...I could go in the house and sulk because someone had my truck and I couldn't get to town. Or I could keep working. I kept working.

Theoretically if I really wanted to do it "right" I would have dug a base, filled it with gravel, and then built the box base. But you know how I am. So I just kept working on what I was doing because there are a lot of ways to do something "right."

I used garden markers and tposts to help me hold everything in place.

Building the box was just a matter of affixing the ends of the boards together so that they were level and square. Because I was working by myself I used some tposts and garden markers to hold the boards in place. They were heavy and a little unwieldy but it worked.  As always I screw everything together because the possibility that I will rip all of my projects apart at some point is exceedingly high. I think I used 3 inch screws.

I checked and rechecked that everything was level and square. Why? Because I'm obsessed with level and also when you do building projects like this they will be easier to build and more sturdy if they are squared up. So it's worth it to be a little particular about this step.

Laying the panels out in place over the box.

Next I had to lay the hoops out over the completed box. The 16 foot panels are heavy and kind of hard to move around. But I got them to the work site and laid out over the box. I was glad for all that squaring up because the three panels laid out perfectly. I made sure that I lined up the outside edge of the panels with the sides of the box.  Two of the panels are over lapped just a little but it was equal to one of the panel holes! Easy peasy.

I could have cut the panel to fit but I just over lapped a little. Totally worked.

Then came the most fun part. Hoopin' it up. Using fence staples I loosely affixed the first panel to one side of the box, that is, I did not pound the staples in all the way - just enough to hold it. Then I went to the other end of the panel, picked it up, and slowly walked toward the attached side. Low and behold... it hooped...I whooped...and the dog looked at me like I was amazing.

Staples loosely holding one end in place.

Then came kind of a wrestling match where I had to hold a tension-filled hoop in place, grab the hammer, and reach Twister-like for the just-out-of-reach staples so I could hammer the staples in place. I wished I would have had all of my tools at my feet and the staples in my pocket. I'm not lyin' this took some maneuvering. But I just took my time and it worked.

Once the hoop was mostly secure to the second side I went around and pounded the rest of the staples all the way into the tops of the box. How fun is that?

Securing the other two hoops went exactly the same way - loosely attach one side, slowly walk the other end toward the box, pound the staples on that side into place, and then finish pounding the first side.

HOOP there it is! HOOP there it... hey.... it's all wonky! Drat.

I was thrilled with my progress until I stood back and saw that my hoops were kind of cattywampus. Then I was a little sad because I thought it would be a little better than that. But then I was all, 'hey I'll just fix it in the mix later' - and that is exactly what will happen in the next installment called, Step Three -  Frame it up.

Happy Monday everyone! Did you hoop it up? Do you think you can do this? Sure you can!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Build a Hoop House: Step One - Gather Materials & Planning

Thanks for everyone's great comments yesterday about the greenhouse sneak peak! As promised I'll be going thru the steps of how to build a hoop house.

You too could have a happy dog in your own greenhouse!

The very first step is to get your act together. That is - get your plan and your materials together. And when I say "plan" I mean check around for how other people have build hoop houses and figure out what will work best for you. Find a good spot, stake it out, and do some thinking about how the finished project will turn out.

Is the spot you picked relatively level? Does it get enough sunshine? How is the drainage? Is it close enough to the house so that you are excited to run out and check on your seedlings early in the morning? Is it close to a water source? Will it be blocking your walking or mower paths? Will it shade anything important behind it? Do you have enough work space? Is it protected from the wind?

Now some folks will say to get out a piece of paper and draw it all out and then carefully build out a spreadsheet to track all your materials and costs.

Not me.

I'm much better at doing and seeing than sitting on the couch trying to come up with every variable that may or may not work. Am I reckless, ill-planned, and haphazard? Nope. I usually have a plan but I like being flexible enough to change it if I need to.

At this point there may be folks shrieking the "you're doing it wrong" song. That's fine. Mostly those are folks who are hopping around screaming how it's never going to work.... while I'm out there doing it. Just exhaust yourself and I'll just keep working.

How easy is this? You can do it!

I also like to purchase materials a little at a time. Spending $50 a paycheck is sometimes easier than buying everything at once. This is also a great way to keep from feeling overwhelmed. Little steps - easy peasy.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting started is... getting started. Some folks will come up with 100 reasons why something won't work. When the fact is, sometimes there are 100 reasons why something won't work but if the only reason it WILL work is because you are willing to give it a try... then give it a try. Don't be so paralyzed by doubt that you can't get a project off the ground.  Don't bury yourself in details and make that your excuse why you don't get started.

Remember that we are just regular people. There is nothing special about us other than we are willing to do the work. If I can do this - then you can do this.

I love a level.

Now that you have your "can do" attitude going. Let's get started. Get out there and get your materials.

Sometimes getting materials is the trickiest part of getting a project going. For instance, we were so glad that hoopin' up the cattle panels in the truck worked. That was really kind of a sticking point - and look how easy it was. Now, if you have a minivan or a regular car you might need to do some extra planning. Do you know someone with a truck? What about a stock or flatbed trailer? If not, now is a great time to cultivate some strategic friendships. In the meantime, a good solution is to rent a truck for a couple hours to get your materials.


Yep. Just go rent a truck.  UHaul, Enterprise, and Budget have pick ups and other types of trucks available. Sometimes you can rent them for just a couple hours or half a day. Do you have a friend who needs a yard of mulch? How about if you go in on the rental together and kill two projects with one stone? Or check out the by-the-hour truck rentals at Home Depot or Menards. Just be sure you get the extra insurance in case someone backs into something at the dump and you dent the rental truck. I say no more on this.

You might need that truck not only to get your cattle panels but also for your lumber. This project required two heavy 12 foot long boards (2 x 10 x 12) and one 2 x 4, also 12 feet long.  The 8 foot boards (two that were 2 x 8 x 12) easily fit in the bed of my truck.  Now, I have an irrational fear of stuff wingin' out the back of the truck. So I'm very cautious about this. But pretty much any of the lumber yards or home improvement stores have guys that will help you load up your truck.

They also have some tie down materials and those little flags for the end of anything sticking out the back. But if you don't have them already, while you are buying your lumber you can get some of those ratchet tie down straps to make sure that you secure your materials. Now just drive safely home. See how easy?

Now tools. Do you have cordless power tools? If not, go and get some. Technically you could do this project with just a hammer. However, I like to screw everything together because I know that at some point everything I build is going to be ripped apart, reused, and recycled.

Staples are a farm girl's best friend.

Make sure you have your affixing materials - nails, screws, and those fence staples. Probably should also grab some zip ties. And a level.

Is this starting to get complicated? Nope. Most of this stuff is pretty basic and chances are you have all of it in the garage.

If you've made it this far then congratulations because this materials gathering was the hardest part of the project. Yep. Just getting the stuff here was the most difficult part. From now on it's just work.

Here's the thing. If you are used to doing farm related building projects then you are comfortable with this part of the project. You probably already have tools and materials, and the idea of building something is easy and fun. However, if you never had done a building project then chances are the whole thing is kind of weird, scary, and someone along the way has either made you feel bad - or you've made yourself feel bad - about trying something like this. Well, how long ago did someone tell you that lie and how long have you believed it? Come on now, quit planning your own failure before you get started. If I can do this, you can do this.

I had an odd conversation once with someone who really just thought that I was cracking the whip on my husband with all these building projects. They had in their mind that he would come home from work and I'd be standing there shaking the fry pan at him and telling him to get working on these projects for me. I think they thought this because I'm a girl. Or because they couldn't - or wouldn't - do these kinds of projects.

The fact is that I'm the better carpenter in the family. I didn't even know I could do this stuff until I tried. But I finally blocked out all those voices telling me what I couldn't do, got up the gumption, and took hammer in hand. And guess what - I did it. Now, more than likely my husband gets home to me saying, "Hey honey! Look what I did!" The only fry pan involved is the one that has his supper in it. 

So if this is a project that you'd like to do then get outside today and scout around for the best site. Go around and gather up your tools. Then get a plan together to go and get your materials. If you can only get them a little at a time, that's fine too. Get all your materials at once? Super duper. But don't be afraid to get started. Remember this was the hardest part.

Next, Step Two - level your site and build a box.

Happy Friday everyone! Are you excited to get started?

Editor's note: Again with the associate links to Amazon? Yep - someone is going to ask about my tools...and also this is an easy way to show these tools and materials to  folks who don't know what I'm talking about. Remember if you order something thru my Amazon store, from one of the links, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon to show your support. Thanks!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Greenhouse Sneak Peak

Where have I been and what have I been working on?  This lovely vision.....

Hoopin' it up in the greenhouse - where every day is a plant party!

Check it out. Remember that building a hoop house greenhouse was on my agenda and I can now (mostly) check it right off my list as done!

The best news is that even with our strong winds last nite the greenhouse did not end up all over the yard - it stands proudly as a monument to my victory. Or something. Ha!

In the next couple days I'll do a more detailed step by step guide of "how to." But for now here are some quick facts.

The basis for the design - cattle panels secured to a wood "box." Easy peasy.

First the design was based on the turkey hoop houses that my pal, Bourbon Red, built for his farm. However the dimensions are 12 feet long by 8 feet wide. This allowed for a higher ceiling and more useable space.

Next, I built the entire thing alone. It would have been easier to have a helper but thru determination and some foolishness I got it worked out. Why didn't I have help? Because my hubby works during the day and I was too excited to wait for his day off. But the headline is - if I can do it, so can you.

Then, my cost of goods was amazingly low, as in less than $150, plus materials on hand. My biggest expense was the three 16 foot cattle panels which were about $23 each. I happened to have some heavy duty 6ml plastic on hand which helped keep my costs low. However, I want to get the actual greenhouse plastic.

Someone smarter than me will have to explain how real greenhouse plastic is better because it will hold up to UV rays and all that. But for now, this worked. It will be another $60 or so for actual greenhouse plastic. But if what I have will work for a season then that will be fine with me.  As with all my projects I purchase the materials a little at a time.

I need to work on building out the workspace.

What's next? I need to build out the inside a bit. I have some sawhorse tables to move into it, some slapped together benches, and other work surfaces. I'm also going to move some containers in and start some salad greens. Then I will also need to work on mud control and the actual growing area. My plan is to use the green house for seed starting then plant butternut squash on one side, remove the plastic cover, and let the squash grow up over the hoops as a kind of trellis.

So far I'm thrilled with this project. In fact... if I ran an extension cord out there I think I might be able to live out there.

Stay tuned for more details but for now happy Thursday everyone! Are you living in your greenhouse?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Three Eggs

The gravel is loaded out and today is going to be terrific! We might have a couple days until spring officially starts but today is going to be just like it. This morning it's still below freezing but when the sun comes up all you will here is the sound of our buckets being filled with maple sap!

One regular egg, one pullet egg, and one goose egg.

Yesterday the sap was really running and today it should be gushing from the trees. My first order of business will be to go around and take up the buckets. The next will be to go around and take up the eggs.

Cindy Lou Goose started laying eggs a couple days ago. I could have told you that from the goosey behavior out there. Yesterday I spent half my time chasing the geese away from anyone in their path. They are totally on a rampage.

 Cindy is the all white one with the tub of ganders.

The males get very protective of Cindy this time of year. Which means OD spent all day yesterday chasing "fat and sweaty" creepy meats. I'm not sure what he thought the danger was - maybe that they would waddle over and look blankly at Cindy? I dunno. But since OD is a confirmed chicken killer I'll have to keep my eye on them.

But one thing is for sure... there will be eggs. So many eggs. We are definitely back in the egg business.

I want to thank my friend, K, over at Homesteading Housewives for posting this terrific recipe for a goose egg custard. Goose egg custard? Are you kidding me? Nope. How fun is that? Can you use goose eggs for cooking? Sure! Generally one goose eggs is equal to 3 regular sized chicken eggs. This recipe calls for two goose eggs - which I happen to have.

The Warden won't let me have anymore geese - tho you know how much I love them. So I'll be looking for ways to use them up. This custard sounds like a terrific place to start.

Happy Tuesday everyone - are you so excited for Spring to start? Do you have goose eggs? What are you doing with them?

Monday, March 17, 2014


And so it starts.... the mud season. I am not complaining but I am going to be spending part of the day loading out this 1.14 ton of gravel.

Talk about a ton of fun!

Of course it's the classic conundrum.... do I wait until it warms up enough to work outside comfortably? Or run out there while it's all still frozen and I don't have to slog thru the mud. It's a pickle for sure.

Either way - I'm sure that this really was our last... LAST... bout of cold. I hope. Dang I am tired of this winter.

Happy Monday everyone - did you get a load of gravel over the weekend?

Friday, March 14, 2014

It's Pi Day!

I usually never remember but today I did - it's Pi Day! So don't forget to get or make or eat pie! So today I will be clearing my schedule and getting down to pie business. And don't forget to take the pie quiz.

It's not pie but it will do.

I didn't make pie yesterday but I did make this incredibly easy and extremely delicious bittersweet hot fudge sauce. It calls for two sweeteners but I only added the first measurement of sugar - I only used 1 1/2 cups.... and no honey. This was so easy and quick to make I can't believe I haven't done it before.

I guess I've tried other sauces but they never worked out - this one was perfect tho. I poured it - still a little warm - over this extraordinary ice cream. Then I put the rest in a pint jar and it set up really nicely. Perfect for eating by the spoonful right out of the fridge. (You know who you are who does this too....) I understand it might also be a breakfast food.

So happy Friday Pi Day everyone! Are you making pie?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to transport 16' cattle panels

My hoop house project is moving right along. I'm currently stymied by bad weather and ineffective planning. However, I expect to have a full update and "how-to" soon.  Until then we recently learned a valuable skill - how to transport 16 foot cattle panels.

You don't need a trailer. Just hoop it up.

I was very concerned about this and truth be told I expected this to be the most difficult aspect of the project. Turns out it was way easier than I could have imagined.

We hopped in the truck and headed down to the local feed store eager with anticipation...and a little dread. How the heck do you get something that is bendy, ridiculous, and 16 feet long home when you only have an 8 foot truck bed?

You hoop it up.

How fun is this? The loading guy at the feedstore followed us down behind their main building where the fencing stuff is kept. All we did was lift the panels (three of them) into the back of the truck and then he expertly hooped the panels up. That is, he just walked forward while the panels were braced against the back of the cab - this caused them to bend up into a hoop. Then we carefully closed the tailgate which held the hoop in place.... and voila!

Panels braced against the cab.

I was not convinced that we could drive home with a big hoop in the truck. Turns out it worked just fine.

Hold them in place and then close the tailgate.

When we got home my hubby held the hoops in place and I opened the tail gate then we both held onto the panels and walked backwards until they were flat again.

Our barncat, Shine, thought it was awesome.

How easy is that? You don't need a trailer just a truck. Normally when we get panels I have the loading guys cut them into 8 foot sections but now I know I can get them home just like this.

So there you have it - another farm mystery solved. 

We got the bad weather yesterday and it was 11* this morning... but as soon as this cold air moves out I'll be able to finish up my green house. Now the only mystery is solve is where the heck can I get a single 2x4x12 around here..... I should have gotten one on Sunday when I got the rest of my materials. Rats. Looks like we'll be headed back to town.

Happy Thursday everyone! Anyone else have a way to transport panels?

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