Tag Archives: DIY

Yet another pallet project: Stairs

When we bought out cute little blue house, there had originally been a porch on the front. Well, the porch had no flashing and was aiming on rotting the sill if we left it there. With the use of a chainsaw and the destruction of a couple chains, the porch went. This left us with a very small set of stairs and that a pool rail for a railing. Functional, yes. However, when you’re suddenly lugging a child in and out of the house, while fighting the border collie for purchase on the stairs, and not being able to stand on the top step to open the door due to the door taking up all the space all of a sudden functionality takes a different meaning.

Last month, in amongst painting the house, the stairs got an upgrade using free lumber from pallets.

Needless to say, the upgrade that been wonderful. While it might be a little difficult to see, due to the lack of continuity in the photos, the landing is about twice the size as before. There;s now room to set down groceries, the kid, or anything else, and open the door. Not to mention the railing is actually at a height that makes you feel secure when using it.












Yet another great project done by Joe!

Another Garden Update

Weather means more when you have a garden.  There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.  ~Marcelene Cox

All the gardens are finally in as of last week. This year everything seemed to take longer, but according to my diary and last year’s calendar, we’re right on schedule. We may not have an early set of anything, but things are in the ground. Part of what slowed us down, aside from the new addition of our son, was the new addition of chickens. Last year the ladies spent much of their time in chicken tractors, but now they’re completely free-range during the day, which means all five gardens needed to be fenced in.

The North garden is a bit of a hodge-podge when it comes to fencing material. On the far side from the camera, where the potatoes are planted, we used two half pallets for moving large yard equipment. It looked much more pleasing before I had to add the top pieces and twine to keep the chickens from hoping in. Where the large beams are live our lettuce, celery, bush peas, and broccoli. Closest to the camera are the tomato racks with a bed of spinach between them. Everything is surrounded by chicken wire.

We were very careful in how we set up beds this year and made sure to ensure that we would have walking aisles so that we could actually week them all efficiently and hopefully avoid some of the pitfalls from last year.

The four south gardens all ended up with different fencing that gave them each a unique look and feel.

The hot pepper bed, sporting cayenne and Anaheim this year, is fenced in by two pieces of crib and chicken wire. (The crib was something given to us by a friend of ours before my parents bought us a sold side one for Vaughn. Right now drop sides can no longer be sold in our state, so we weren’t even able to thrift store this one. So we decided to reuse it in a very creative fashion.)

The cucumber bed, using the other two pieces from the crib, looks very sparse right now. Last year we planted dill in with the cucumbers, but I had no time to harvest it. If things go well with the bed this year we’ll try dill again in 2013.

While this was the last bed to be planted, and it’s only been three days since this picture, there’s a lot of green there now! The pole beans (Kentucky Wonders I saved seeds from two years ago) and the pumpkins (some sort of pie pumpkin I bought at the farmer’s market and saved seeds from) are growing like mad.  for this bed you can see that we used another large pallet for the east facing wall and used strapping to make a lattice out of it. the beans on that side will love having that amazing structure to grow on! The branches in front only go to where we planted the beans. On the sides we’ll be stringing up twine for the beans to climb on. All in all, it will look really cool when all 42 (Yes, I said 42 – 42 our of 46 planted beans are growing!) are turning this garden into a living shed.

This is what I’ve been calling the Hodge-Podge garden as it have a little of everything growing in it. Chives, onions, green peppers, carrots, and bush beans are all thriving right now. This bed, as you can kind of see in the far side of the picture, is fenced in using the branches that we dropped into the ground three years ago when we first created this bed. We chicken wired it in to keep the three ladies out.

On the left, you can see some plants growing on the outside of the bed, they’re the same ones that are in the far back right hand corner over-shadowing and providing protection for the carrots. Those are sunchokes. They’re a native sunflower to north America with edible roots that can be used like potatoes but supposedly have a different flavor. There were tons of tubers from them in the soil we got from Joe’s parents. Normally we pick them out and throw them away as they do have a tendency to take over everything. After some careful reading, and thinking hard about foraging and the like, I decided to take a chance and actually let some grow this year. The only ones allowed in the garden are the ones over shadowing the carrots, all the ones on the outside are tubers I unceremoniously dumped while weeding. We’ll see what we get!

Gearing up…

Planting season has almost slowed down. Four of the five gardens are planted, only the beans/pumpkin bed is awaiting seeds after I finish fencing it off. That’s the one thing you don’t think about when you decide that your laying hens are going to be free-range: they like seeds and sprouts – a lot. Thank heavens we thought of that before we started planting! Needless to say, come next year, everything will be going a lot smoother.

So with planting season slowing up to simply water, weeding, and planting second sets, life should be a little smoother around here, right? Wrong. Things are just gearing up. Rhubarb is up at the in-laws. We have one bag already which will be pretty much used fresh. The frozen stuff from last year needs to be thawed and jammed before I start using this season’s for that same reason.

Strawberries are up and we’ll be picking this weekend. With any luck we’ll get all twenty-five pounds done in one session so any extra I get at the end of the season will be bonus. If strawberries are up now, raspberries and blueberries are right around the corner.  We’ll be doing those at pick-your-owns this year, something we’ve done with blueberries in the past, but raspberries will be an added step. Granted, we will be picking what we can of the wild ones around the house if the birds and deer don’t get them first.

As far as tea supplies go, we’re borrowing the in-laws dehydrator so that I can collect some dandelion, raspberry, and clover, if it’s not too late to do such. I’m also hoping that this will let me get a better handle on drying the mint throughout the year as well as drying up spinach for stews and the like, if there’s’ a good harvest.

This doesn’t even touch on the other projects we have going, nor the ones we’re trying to plan. We just removed all the carpet in the master bedroom and will be painting the floor before winter. I’ve been working on cutting up a bag of scraps for braided area rugs, but that isn’t anything I plan on having done for this winter. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to sweeping instead of vacuuming the bedroom, though. That will be a plus!

There’s finally another wood bin done up. While we’re technically behind on wood still, it’s nice to be moving in the right direction.

Some say that summer’s their time to relax and breath. Personally, I know I’ll be ready to sleep away those cool winter days when they come back.

Pigs-in-a-Blanket and General Goingons

Before I get around to doing a general update on what’s been happening around our little patch of land, I wanted to share the new family favorite when it comes to hot dogs. In lieu of trying to make our own buns or eating them with bread, which is sacrilegious in the way of hotdogs, if you ask me, we’ve come to making homemade pigs-in-a-blanket.

I can’t recall where or when I came across the recipe, but what we used for the blankets I titled “Super Quick Wheat Buns.”

  • 1 c. warm water
  • 3 tbs. warm water
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/4 c. sugar or honey
  • 2 tbs. yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

Begin by combining the water, yeast, oil, and sweetener, letting that rest for 15 minutes. After adding in the additional ingredients, roll out and cut into triangles. Wrap a triangle around each hotdog, using a little egg wash or water to help seal the dough down. Bake these off at 400F for 8 to 10 minutes on a greased cooking sheet. We’ve also made hamburger buns with this recipe as well. It’s very universal.

In other news, we’re almost there on the gardens. We’ve been slowly fencing them all in, recycling some old cribs and pallets for some of the fencing and using basic chicken wire in other areas. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge, but each garden will have it’s own style and look to it.  Our chickens like to follow me wherever I am, and unfortunately this also means into the gardens for weeding. Some plants have already been started, and others transplanted. Onions, chives, green peppers, carrots, and bush beans have all found their way into the soil. Here’s hoping that cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, pole beans, bush peas, pumpkins, and potatoes will be soon after.

There’s a lot to go, still, and we’re hoping to chip away at it this week and have everything done this weekend.  I’m hoping in the new future to get a chance to update the garden page and add some photos of our garden beds as well. Hopefully that will become more of a living record of how things progress through the season.

Joe has been doing a lot of work on the front and back stairs that we’re hoping to post pictures of eventually. The back stairs needed a lot of shoring up, especially since there were no braces underneath. The front stairs, while intact, we really wanted to add a larger top landing to for safety’s sake. We were able to recycle free pallets for the wood in both projects, and once their painted, they will both look great!

Speaking of painting, we’ve been spending the last four weekends working on patching up the paint on our house to appease the powers that be. Joe’s folks have been kind enough to help us out with that. It will be grand when everything’s done and over, though, as it’s really cutting into the time that we’ve been able to spend on the gardens and putting up next year’s wood supply. With the upcoming long weekend, we’re hoping to play catch-up.

First Spring Freshet

So our little family went fiddlehead picking this weekend. (It was a great work-out for the Ergo carrier, which up until now hadn’t really been used.) While it’s been an early season, there hasn’t been much up it seems. I think this might have more to do with a lack of spring flooding more than anything else. Maine had spent the last few weeks in a high risk fire warning. After today, I don’t think that will be a problem. The doozy of a storm that tracked through the area of Cold Antler Farm has hit here, leaving a flood advisory for our area.

Gee. I wonder why.

The far left of the backyard...

...the middle of the backyard...

...and the far right of the backyard.

Needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t let the chickens out. Knowing my luck they would have tried to follow the duck that went swimming across out lawn. The plus side to all this rain is that next weekend, when we go for our second round of fiddlehead picking, the crowns should be up more. Here’s to trying to beat the 15 pounds from last year!