The Organic Life

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Another week, another project

Posted by on 30 May 2010 | Tagged as: Construction, Gardening, General, The Organic Life

So, the biggest news is, the deck at the house is done.  Well, close enough.  There are 2 boards missing.  1 is a little piece of trim,

Gimme three steps

Posted by on 20 Apr 2010 | Tagged as: Gardening, General, The Organic Life

Three steps baby….

Yes, the staircase is progressing.  Saturday morning, Mason had a 4H art camp south of the county.  I figured I could work at the farm or spend an extra half hour driving home.  Easy choice.  Not only did I get the 4th and final stringer cut and installed, I found enough plywood to cut out 7 of the needed raiser/toe-kick sections.  During the art camp, I got these cut and installed.

After I claimed a proficient basket-weaving and wire-sculpting Mason, I brought him back to the farm to handle the 1/2 tube of liquid nails I left behind.  Now this is trust….   I pointed a 10 year old Mason at a stack of 10′ 2×6’s, and told him I needed them marked at 57.5″.  After he marked a stack of them, I started cutting.  No double checking, I just started cutting.  Every one of them was spot on!  He even re-marked another 57.5″ on the remaining left over pieces, but I have not yet cut them.
These were to be the treads of our staircase.  It seemed the most logical to install risers from the top – down and treads from the bottom – up.  With the amount of glue we had on hand, I got 3 full stairs installed, in the middle of the staircase!  Every tread board fit perfectly.  I was never so proud of our little munchkin.  I don’t know how we will finish off these stairs (carpet, laminate, hardwood), but they lay out perfectly.  When we go back and finish cutting, the staircase will get longer.  Thanks Mason!

Fast forward a couple of days..  I decided at he last minute to remove a few random trees that was growing too close to our garage or our neighbor’s garage.  I dug these out carefully….do you know how much a small tree costs?!

I dug up these trees from our town lot ….roots are bad for foundations – really.  I took these transplants to the farm tonight, and Mason either dug the hole for or planted our 15 trees.  He was even giving instructions for the transplants!  I had to carry the water jugs around, or more importantly controlled the weed dragon, where I hoped a small clearing would give new transplants the chance.  Our transplants were between 8″ to 4′.
We had a great planting session, and I plan on re-soaking them several times this week.  Hopefully, they will turn into our permanent windscreen.  Long term operations look promising by having such a good helper.

Another use for an old barn

Posted by on 11 Apr 2010 | Tagged as: Gardening, General, The Organic Life

Spring….how nice.  And time to go find the farm again.

I have stopped by about once a month over the winter.  The snow is gone and the ground is dry.  The crib appears to have stayed dry, and the shed did far better then expected.  I still have got to do something about the bottom of those shed doors.  There seems to be quite a bit of rabbit poo in there.  Luckily, a little bit more of the barn seems to have settled lower again.  And of course, a few branches have been shed from the trees.

A few days ago, I had to get something out of storage in the corn crib.  While I was there, I mounted the end joist for the platform on the staircase, and cut out the 2nd stringer.  It was too cool to see the first pair of them line up after waiting all winter.  They were all traced from the same pattern of course, but this was the first 3D vision of them.

Yesterday, in the middle of a bike ride with the Cyclists of Greene (COG) a few of us made it as far South as our property from town.  My plan was to stop there and get a recent wood delivery placed inside.  While I was there I started a new project, the potato planter.

I de-nailed a stack of old board that used to line the galley under the corn crib and cut them into 4′ lengths.  I also used a couple of the old bin-wall studs (4×6’s) to make 3′ tall corner posts.  The plan/experiment this year is to plant potatoes inside this frame.  As the plant grows each week you nearly bury it again, adding more side boards as needed.  After a summer of this, you should have a large cube, full of potatoes.  All the lower leaves and branches are supposed to turn into roots and give layers and layers of potatoes in a small area.  All the hardware for the first few layers is ready.

The tractor has undergone a minor overhaul.  I’ll be hooking up the mower deck tonight, followed by a quick test – why not.  Then I need to get the truck from the farm, load the tractor in it, then bring it all back down to the farm.  We need some dirt tilled so that we can plant these potatoes and a bunch of onion sets soon.

What do you do when it’s cold?

Posted by on 17 Feb 2010 | Tagged as: General, The Organic Life

Hibernate!  Not really, but you sure hole up a little bit.  I don’t know how it started, but when the temp starts dropping I usually start baking bread.  Something about a warm over just makes the day better.  We also had experimented with several pies.  Many were good, but there were a few failures.  We gave one of our favorites to a friend of ours, who wrote such a rave review online that we could have walked away with several orders.  However, once this coffee shop idea comes through, pie might be a good side dish now and then.  Hmmmm.

I’ve also made a few more things from scratch lately.  I created a week-long bake off on the best homemade mac and cheese recipe.  Once in a while, I like fish tacos.  These need a little cabbage.  The down fall is that you usually end up buying a whole head and using 6 leaves from it and let it begin to compost in the fridge.  This time, I helped it.  I shreaded the whole thing and used the leftovers to create a homemade batch of sauerkraut.  A trip to the deli caused a rash of Rubens to appear around here.

The most interesting thing in the kitchen was a chicken.  I bought one of those pre-roasted birds from the deli and it served as dinner.  After stripping it of all leftover meat, the next day the bones found themselves simmering in a stock pot all day.  At dinner time, it quickly turned into the most amazing chicken soup I’ve ever had.  Finally, the leftover chicken meat turned into a batch of chicken enchiladas for our 3rd great meal from a single chicken.
Winter is getting a little old around here.  The snow is far deeper then I’ve seen in Iowa and the old-timers keep mentioning they haven’t seen storms or a winter like this for years.  Having the JD tractor in the garage with the snowblower on it makes for easy snow cleanup.  We are lucky we have this, as the building downtown we own has sidewalks that drift like you wouldn’t believe.  I’ve seen storms that leave as little as 2″ in our yard here.  A few blocks away, the sidewalk is waist deep.  I’ve given up any dignity and have driven the tractor downtown several times now this year.  At least I don’t drive it to the gas station to fill up like many do in the summer, and I’ve seen 3 others out there this winter too.

A little wrap up

Posted by on 30 Jan 2010 | Tagged as: Construction, Gardening, General, The Organic Life

A few things around here got a little slack during the first half of the winter.  Finally, all these little projects are getting out of the way.  In celebration of the photo gallery getting fixed, I noticed that we never posted our last few pictures of progress from the fall.  Click HERE to see them.

For no real reason, I attacked the side of the corn crib with a circular saw, and hung up a pair of storm windows I had found in the barn.  I guess they are a little more solid then the slat wall, but having a view is real nice.  I used another window to cover the hole on the east side that had a piece of metal covering it.  The top windows were plugged with plywood to keep snow out this winter.  I’ve visited a few times, and things are staying nice and dry.

We did frame out the 3 door openings we wanted in the greenhouse.  While I was at it, I also planned and cut the framing for the big bank of windows on the west end of the 2nd floor.  Come spring, all these will be installed and we can look out at the bike path.  My last project was to figure out the stairs.  I got the first stringer cut, and 3 others traced.  The first one got hung so that we would know the height that the landing would be at.  Most people would have this planned out on paper first, but we changed the pitch of the stairs slightly after seeing the actual hole, and the center concrete floor did come out higher then we originally plan on paper.  We did end up saving a few steps.  The nice part is the fact that our staircase will be 4 feet wide.

Winter happenings….besides blizzards and ice storms?

-Mason and I did good at the Pinewood derby.  The cars were fast, but not quite fast enough.  Mason did take home the ‘Best Themed Car’ award.

-Bought a restaurant grade stainless steel set of pots and pans.  Oh, they are nice to cook with.  More of our home kitchen keeps upgrading.  I’m never buying consumer grade stuff again.
-My resume just got a little nicer looking.  I started working for StorageTek about 6.5 years ago.  They got bought by Sun Microsystems. This week it became official, that I now work for Oracle due to the last purchase.  I did get paid my Microsoft for a small project once. If I can add Apple and Google I think I would score some sort of Bingo or Yahtzee for listing all the biggest and best tech names out there.

-Greene Bean Coffee is still growing great.  Next is an upgrade to the license for ‘food plant’.  That will allow us to wholesale and let people re-sell the coffee for us.  I think I’ll start construction on that tomorrow.

-Reagan is taking Master Gardener classes.  Mason has marked everything he wants in the seed catalog for us to grow next year.

-RAGBRAI towns were just announced.  Short and flat.  442 miles, 14,500+ feet of climb.

-Finally saw Avatar 3D today.  Most amazing!

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