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.

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!


Mollie | Jennings Brae Bank Farm said...

Looks great so far! I'm jealous of your carpentry skills!

MT Dreamer said...

So agree with you on the just try it and see how it goes approach. Since I quit my day job a few months ago, I've been using power tools and other "manly" tools with great success. I even took apart the leaf shredder to fix it after I broke it. I put it back together and it worked great! I must say I was quite proud of myself! And hubby was too! He was impressed that I didn't ask him to fix it like I normally would have. =)

buddeshepherd said...

I can't wait to read how to level the site. I level the site for our manufactured home. I used an ancient front wheel assist tractor and a box scraper carry all kind of mini earth mover thing. I took me all day and was a huge amount of fun. I carried loads of dirt and dumped them all over the yard. Best of all I looked really busy and got quite dirty.
I leave the carpentry to my wife. I feel that large scale earthmoving is more of a man's job. As is driving around in the pickup and looking busy. And anything involving a chainsaw. I like chainsaws also.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Mollie! But really - anyone can do it. Really. :-)

Hey MTD! Yay for you! The more you farm the more you will love tools.

Budd, I can assure you that there was so such earthmoving. Just me, the dog, and a shovel. When I drive around I like to look "determined" instead of busy. I think it adds a kind of gravitas for what I'm doing.

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