Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's a Hoop House!

I learned today that what we have is not a greenhouse, which is made of glass, but a hoop house, which is made with rounded supports and stiff plastic sheeting. Today was the Big Move -- it was no small task to get the hoop house from near the barn into the garden.
Before putting the hoop house in the garden, Adam finished fencing in the garden on the far side.
 Then he hung this big aluminum frame (with wire mesh in the middle) by hinges across one section of the fence to make a wide gate. Might come in handy later although it's not the entrance we use every day or even every week.
 Then began the arduous task of disassembling the hoop house where he'd built it by the barn, dragging the walls into the garden, and reassembling it there. Here's the back end:
 Adam did 90% of the dragging and 100% of the lifting needed, and we wore ourselves out getting those two walls in place.
 The footprint of the hoop house is below. In the center foreground of the photo, you see one of the pieces of re-bar onto which the metal hoop slips to hold it upright.
 We stood both walls upright and braced them to the ground.
 A view of the garden. I'm standing in the near, small gate. The barn is behind me. The big garden gate Adam just hung today is on the far right side, way down there. It's a big garden, and someday we hope to fill it all up with beds.
 Adam got all the sides lined up. He put six other re-bar stakes in the ground, and we slid those 3 hoops onto them.
 He's holding a little piece of wood where one of the side rails will be. There's a lot more to be done. The side rails will be 2x3's. He'll use wiggle wire (as he did on the front porch project) to keep the plastic sheeting snug to the hoop house frame.
And he hung the screen door for me too, because it's pretty.
It's quite exciting! This is (I guess) the big farm project this year, and it looks like a success. I can't wait to be in there, fiddling with seedlings and dirt. And I must say I'm very proud of Adam for his hard work and for doing the literal heavy lifting. Hoorah for the Hoop House!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Down with the Floors, Up with the Greenhouse

 Adam finished the dining room floor a couple of days ago, and it looks marvelous. I'm quite proud of him. It was not altogether easy because there are so many openings from this room, and the videos he watched didn't tell him everything he needed to know. But he's a problem-solver, and he got it done! And he didn't stop until he found a way to make it look great.
Now, however, he is thoroughly unhappy with the old wooden floors in the rest of the house. Sigh.
 The contrast is rather stark :)
LLBean was having a massive sale. I had free coupons for merchandise from them, plus another coupon, plus the 25% off sale, so I went ahead and ordered the rug for the new floor. I was going to wait ... but ...
Adam says this is shockingly colorful for me, and he's right. I'd usually go for a nice, safe, boring brown. But I want this room to be a cool, summer blue, and the rug is the first step in that direction. It has shades of blue, green, and white in it.
At last, today Adam can get outside and do the work he's been longing to do: build the new greenhouse!
First metal hoop:
 A piece of rebar keeps it in the ground.
 Adam built this jig/frame/don't know what you call it. This is for bending the metal poles into rounded hoops.
 He lays part of the metal pole into that opening against the rounded piece of wood. Then he gently begins to press against it, forcing it to bend and round.  Two poles joined together make one hoop.
 Here's the nice screen door for the greenhouse!!! He didn't make this; he bought it. But he's making the frame for it, and the rest of the building.
 Beginning to stand things up for a dry fit. He'll finish everything here near the barn where he has electricity. Then he'll move it all to the garden and put it together permanently.
Yesterday he did me a huge favor and improved my chickens' lives. He made an opening in their fence so they could get into the orchard, and he closed off the opening that allowed Ned to get into the orchard. Now ... at last!! ... my chickens can peck and eat greenery and bugs and worms to their hearts' content! I'm so happy :)
From inside the orchard, here's a view of the new fence blocking Ned out (on the right) and the new opening where the chickens are coming through.
 They mostly stay on the far end down there near their coop where the vegetation is overgrown and they have lots of cover from predators. Plus, Bernie the Roo keeps his eagle eye on them and is always watching for their safety.
 See how they blend in?
 Other good news: my daffodil bulbs are coming up everywhere. Then, I dug around in my tiger lily bed and found new green coming up!! yay!!
 I should add that Adam returned the truck to its owner who needed it back. It was a generous loan for over a year and quite useful. In its stead he bought a wheelbarrow at the hardware store.
We wanted to buy him one for his last birthday but they were all over $200! A bit steep! But yesterday they had this one for only $49, so we're glad we waited.
That's all from the farm. Hopefully in the next post I'll be showing you the greenhouse in its new home.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Improvements in January

 Did I tell you that one of us stepped right through a thin spot in the dining room floor over Christmas? Yep! Kinda scary, and I'm thankful nobody was hurt. Adam quickly did a patch job.
 But we realized then that the patching work he'd done on the various weak spots on that floor would simply not be adequate; the floor was too thin, too weak.
 We would have to put something on top of it, and we must do it before somebody else puts a heel through it and makes a bigger hole! So we picked out a flooring. Today Adam is starting to lay the pad and the new flooring on top of the old.

Okay, that was two days ago. This has been a challenging project. Adam used the trial-and-error method, putting it down and pulling it up. But he's got the hang of it today:
 Meanwhile, our house generally looks like this:
 That photo is just in case some of you have a false impression of the wonder of farm life.
Guess what? I have cilantro germinating!!
I was so excited, I planted some more cilantro seeds. I want LOTS of cilantro!
Elsewhere on the farm, Adam's compost continues to do its quiet, magical work. BIG compost. He constantly turns it with a pitchfork to keep it moist, and it steams and gets hot as it breaks down into dirt.
 He has a small separate pile of chicken poop/compost especially for the asparagus bed. However, the puppies are always sticking their noses in there. This is why I do not kiss dogs on the face.
 Our five beehives are fine. See those funny stands? Adam used them in a telescope-making class he taught. The poles are in concrete, which is in 5-gallon buckets. He'll bury the buckets out there and build a new, taller bee table on the stands.
 He's marked out the perimeter of the new greenhouse, twice as long as last year's greenhouse. That front black PVC won't be there; it's just marking the front two corners.
 And he bought metal pipes that he'll bend into curves for the dome of the greenhouse. They will be sturdier than the white PVC he used last year. This will be a permanent greenhouse.
Soon Adam will expand my chickens' yard. See the barren landscape in which they must live? Not a green thing. I pick greens and grass and toss it over the fence to them. 
 He will expand the yard to include that overgrown area next to it (the back of the orchard). That will make them happy. He'll simply extend the fence below straight across to the property line fence.

Today is 70 degrees. I put my basil plants on the front steps to drink in the sunshine. What crazy weather we have in the South! Its primary characteristic is unpredictability. I'm sure we'll have some more chilly temps, but I'm betting we have had our one harsh cold snap last weekend. Now we will drift happily into spring. Yes?

All these photos are to encourage you that the wonder of spring and warmth and growing things is just around the corner!