Posts Tagged ‘construction’

Race to the finish

Our awesome contractors (led by Steve Johnson) are working hard to finish the new house, and though there’s a lot left to do, it’s getting there! One of the main features inside is wood paneling made out of a set of Douglas fir farm sale bleachers we got from my grandfather. The door and window trim is also made from the same set of bleachers. Elden and I painted the interior and have stained most of the woodwork (though there’s still more to do), which has been keeping us busy on weekends.

Spring seems to finally be here and my seedlings in the greenhouse are happy to see the sun. I’m hoping we can move in to the farm house before ALL of the plants need to go into the ground!

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Something green in the snow

I’ll be posting our 2016 CSA sign-up form shortly … in the meantime, check out the progress on our “green” farm house.

If you’re interested in building science or just want to see the floor plan, check out Elden’s guest blog posts at GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, here and here.


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Building SiteSince the beginning of Stone’s Throw Farm, Elden and I have been planning to build a house at the farm, “someday.” What was once a bare hay field is now home to hoophouses, a quonset-style garage/packing shed, a couple of small sheds, gardens, a deer-resistant fence, a bunch of antiquated farm machinery, and, coming soon, a house!

Slab-BackfilledSo far, we have an insulated slab. This is quite thrilling, trust me.

Elden sold our house in Duluth at the end of October and we’re house-sitting at my parents’ Wrenshall home for the winter (makes it sound like we’re doing them a favor, right?).

In reality, my parents not only help me at the farm all summer, they’re also helping us make the house at the farm a reality. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Although progress on this year’s main farm improvement project — a potting shed/seed-starting greenhouse — was slowed by the more pressing concerns of getting a construction loan, selling the old house, and moving all of our stuff, that’s coming along, too. Previously I started seeds in my parents’ basement and devoted a large amount of hoophouse space to pots and trays all spring, so this will be a very welcome change next season. Some of our farm members chipped in a bit to help with this improvement — thanks!

I’ll officially wrap up the season on Wednesday when I deliver the Thanksgiving shares. I’m always thankful to switch gears at the end of the season and come inside for the winter, though this fall has been so warm so far, it’s almost unreal. I’m not complaining!

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Elden and I put up a used hoophouse frame at Stone’s Throw Farm today. It’s smaller than our main hoophouse, and I’m thinking we’ll use this one mostly for starting plants (i.e., to house pots and trays). Because it’s smaller, it’ll be easier to heat at night, and without all the pots and trays cluttering up the big hoophouse, it’ll be much easier to get that house ready for the tomato plants we’ll plant inside. We did put the little hoophouse in the field in case we want to plant something in the ground in there after most of the veggie starts are transplanted.

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The deer have been eating some of our cucumbers, which didn’t concern me too terribly much since the cukes are pretty prolific, but now they’re eating our punkins! I’ll probably have to make some fence tomorrow to SOS — Save Our Squash. I thought I would be able to get away with having the cucurbits unfenced this year, since my across-the-road neighbors do, but then again their fields aren’t right next to dense woods, either.

Elden has been faithfully chipping away at our building projects on weekends and has the front of the quonset building almost done, by my estimation anyway. It seems like he’ll for sure be able to get the thing buttoned up for winter, and perhaps a little work done on the inside, too. I am not much help, unfortunately, as I’m all thumbs with any kind of power tool and pretty busy in the field, anyway.

My friend Jacob stopped by the other day and saw this 2-pound tomato sitting on the counter and said, “What’s THIS?” As I explained, it was my prize tomato out of the greenhouse, a Big Beef I believe. I brought it home for a few days to admire, then eventually gifted it to my neighbors Randy and Kathy Wolf, who supplied our compost this year. It seemed appropriate.

The Sun Jewel melons that did so well last year might surprise me and produce something edible this year. I was sure they wouldn’t make it to maturity last year, but they did, so I’m not counting them out entirely even though the fruit is still tiny right now.

Finally, the “horsetail” weeds that are so prolific at Stone’s Throw Farm are maddening, but I have to admit they’re pretty covered with morning dew.

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Thanks to my new friends at Walker Construction, we now have end walls on our Quonset building. Troy and Sean framed the walls, put Tyvek on, and installed 3 windows and a person door, all in 3 short days. All we have to do now is put some siding on, install the big overhead garage door, grout the anchor channel, tighten a million bolts . . . . Still, it’s nice to see so much progress in so little time. We’re going to put in another smaller garage door eventually, but we don’t have the door yet so had them install a window instead.

The birds that have been raiding my straw and hay stack in the building for nesting material were a bit confused by the new walls and windows at first, but they’ll figure it out.

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Nuts and Bolts

Our dear friend Greg has been helping Elden and me construct our Quonset building. We’re not quite half way done putting up the steel ribs. The building will be 30 feet wide and 46 feet long when finished. I won’t hazard a guess as to when that wonderful day will arrive.

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Some assembly required.

Here’s our new Quonset!

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Yesterday I saw two little snakes at the farm. One was in a pile of scrap wood and one was on my compost pile, which is mostly leaves from last fall. I know the one on the compost pile was a redbelly snake. The other one might have been a redbelly, too, and I just didn’t see its underside.

Other things seen around the farm:

Our new (old) metal toolshed, purchased from Mary on craigslist and reassembled at the farm on Saturday. 

 The first tomato blossoms, on a cherry tomato plant.

The early cauliflower and cabbage, looking pretty happy in the field. I was so disgusted that we didn’t get any rain yesterday that finally I decided to do some hoeing, so I briefly peeled back the row cover.

A nice crop of dandelions.

The potatoes and carrots are in the ground, so I hope Wrenshall township got the same rain last night that I see puddled outside my window in Duluth!

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There are many things I don’t like about commuting to the farm — using gas, spending an hour in the car each day, not being there for sunrise, always managing to forget something that I needed that day, etc. One of the nice things about being a commuter, however, is that every once in a while I get a pleasant surprise when I get to the farm. Yesterday, as I approached Stone’s Throw Farm on County Rd 102, I was greeted by the beautiful red well drilling equipment of Kent’s Well Drilling.

Even better, when I got out of the van, Bob Kent came right over to tell me that they had just finished drilling the well, that it was only 90 feet deep, and that they were estimating 25 gallons of water per minute, which should be plenty for irrigating, supplying drinks for my precious pigs, and household use.

From this ...

... to this in no time.

Since it didn’t take very long to drill the well, the crew had time to install the pump, pressure tank, and hydrant, and trench the electric over from the hoophouse right away. All I need to do is get a breaker installed and we’ve got water.

As a bonus, we got about 2 tenths of rain last night.

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