Thursday, October 29, 2015

the shabby garage gets a little love

The farm has several outbuildings and one of them is a little stand alone garage.  Picture a sad little building with white peeling paint, rotten fascia boards, a gravel floor, no door, old shingles and a vintage basketball hoop.  That was the garage a couple of weeks ago.  We haven't parked a car in this garage for many years.  Without a door the birds  that perched on the rafters 'decorated' anything that was below them.

The last few years we have used the garage for wood storage.  We have been dropping a few old trees each fall and cutting and splitting the wood.  We stack it and store it at the farm to dry out and then it is used by my dad to heat his workshop and my brother for his fireplace and by any other family members for bonfires or fire pits.

The to do list for this garage included taking down the basketball hoop, painting it to match the grays on the house and replacing the fascia.  The fascia has turned out to be the most time consuming part of the project.  Dad made a pattern and then cut a bunch of small pieces of new rafter ends that were sistered on to the rotting rafters.  The roof had been shingled without a metal trim piece under the edge of the shingles so the rain water ran off the roof and down the trim rotting the trim and the ends of the rafters.  Once the new rafter ends were up the next part of that project was to put up the vertical part and the underneath part of the overhang.  That is the part that we are still working on but hope to finish this week.  The new paint was the easy part.  Not on the list for this year is new shingles.   That will wait until next year.
new gray paint, old and new rafter ends
new rafter ends sistered onto the old rafters

new fascia, the vertical part

putting up the underneath part of the overhang
The white metal edge that was missing is installed

the trim on the edge of the door needs to repaired

the left side trim is done
Dad hanging the star where the bball hoop used to be

it is coming along. 
In a couple of weeks we will be having our annual lumberjack day and I am hoping that the garage will be done and ready for its new supply of firewood..  The ladders and tools will be put away and I am picturing a little hitching post on the right side.

It is great having parents that DIY.  My mom has done much of the painting and my dad has done most of the carpentry work on this project and others.  All four of their children became avid do-it-yourselfers, unafraid to grab the power tools and tackle a project.  And the next generation is following in their footsteps.  What a legacy. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A few greenhouse pictures

The earliest planted greens are starting to get some size, most of the tubs have been transplanted into, the chains are nearly full of gutters and the seed mat is full of seed trays.  As we are heading into Persephone (in my zone it starts on November 7) I am pleased with the progress.  I thought I would share a few pictures.

 Above is the north wall.  The pots on the floor and on top of the yellow and black water containers are the herbs that we are hoping to overwinter to use for the wedding celebration next summer.  The gutters hang in two rows in front of the water containers. 

scarlet frill in the back and amara in the front

two romaines, a mix of green and a red
 In the tubs on the tables are the larger Asian greens, mustards and Chinese cabbages.



tokyo becana

joi choi


vitamin green


On the seed mat are pea shoots and sunflower shoots and two kinds of cress, along with  newer plantings of some of the same greens pictured above.  I didn't take a picture of them because they are still just black dirt in a black tray with a clear cover but as soon as they germinate I will share a picture or two. 

I have to give a shout out to my mom who spent some of yesterday afternoon organizing my pots and tidying up the entry/storage area.  It looks great.  Thanks Mom!  You're the best.

this week's greenhouse projects

This was where I started yesterday.  Here are nine of the ten bags of potting soil that I am hoping will get me thru until spring planting of bedding plants for the summer garden.  The tenth bag was already in the mixing tub where I wet the potting soil before planting.  I spent the morning and part of the afternoon and part of the evening working in the greenhouse.  That pile is half gone today.  I transplanted nearly all of the remaining baby plants into tubs.  Dug up the lavender and rosemary from the pots in the herb garden near the house to bring into the greenhouse and planted some seed trays to fill up the heat mat.

I finished moving the failed compost sterilization project out of the greenhouse and shuffled the tubs into that freed up space.  The plants are coming along nicely.  Soon there will be greens to eat and sell. Left to do on my list for today is to rearrange the hanging baskets and repair a couple of leaky gutter planters.

Then I will be heading to the big garden to dismantle the irrigation system, flush the water line and work on getting the garden ready for winter.    

Sunday, October 25, 2015

decorated and ready for halloween

Not me, my sister.  We couldn't be more different.  Where I can barely get a couple of pumpkins on the front steps and don't personally own any Halloween decorations she loves to decorate for all of the holidays but I think Halloween must be her favorite.

Tonight we made a quick trip to the neighboring town to pick up a couple of things.  My mom picked me up first and then we went together to Lisa's to pick her up.  To further make the point about how different we are, she was shopping for home decor stuff--a great wood blind for her bathroom window--and I was picking up dirt.  Anyway, we got to her house and it was looking so cute that I had to take a couple of pictures.
 In the window is a large vinyl pumpkin that is backlit.  The sign on the table between the two skeletons says 'trick or treat, money or eats'.  On the table are three candlesticks with skulls instead of candles
 To the right of the door is a couple of straw bales and another smaller skeleton. 
 The vultures are checking out the pumpkins carved by her kids, one in college and one in high school.
 A little closer shot of a vulture.  These vultures started out as your standard pink plastic flamingos. 
 Her mailbox.  She actually gets her mail at the post office.  The newspaper goes in the mailbox.  Between the mailbox and the door to the garage is a small seating area with a cute pail with a fall plant and camo on the cushions.. 
She has a skeleton vulture in the house that she is not quite done building a perch for that is not displayed yet.  She also has a great vulture that moves his head and makes noise and his eyes glow red that will not come out until it is time to greet the trick or treaters.  

Oh, and she got her blinds, I got my potting soil and we all three got matching cozy lined flannel shirts/jackets with fleece hoods that we found on a rack in the men's department.  I wonder if her son will be embarrassed when we show up dressed alike for his first basketball game?

I am sharing her fun decorations at Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

my coffee spot is complete

I have been expanding my collection of coffee paraphernalia to the point that it seemed that consolidating it all in one area made sense.  The spot that I chose is my  chippy drop leaf table.  I don't know how old it is but it was already chippy when I brought it home from the antique store years ago.  It is a little small when all the family is at the farm but with the leaves dropped and pushed up against the wall I think it will work nicely as a place to store my coffee and gadgets  

The black box I originally built to use as a centerpiece.  I have this larger one and a smaller one.  Turned on its side it forms a small shelf.  I am old school when it comes to making coffee.  No electric coffeemaker or Keurig for me.  I make my hot coffee in a french press and my iced coffee from homemade coffee concentrate which is kept in the refrigerator.  And now I can use my new to me moka pot to make espresso for lattes and cappuccinos.

I added a jar of biscotti and a little banner on the wall and it is done.

at the computer...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

a thrifty start to the day

In a recent post I mentioned that I have lately started hitting the thrift stores.  I started going with my daughter when we were together.  She is putting together a vintage collection for a rental/event styling business that she will have in addition to her day job.  We had so much fun that now my sister and I, and sometimes my mom and I, have been hitting the shops even when Caitlin isn't along.  It is kind of addicting. 

A few weeks ago I picked up a set of dishes for Caitlin and sitting right next to them on the shelf were these cute cups and saucers.  No place settings, just eight cups and saucers. Blue on the outside, white on the inside with these funky shaped handles. Caitlin is a fan of mid century modern and I thought that the cute handles had a retro feel.  They reminded me of the cups that Italian lattes are served in.  They were five dollars for the set.  I sent them down to Cait with the understanding that she didn't need to keep them, she could just send them back if they weren't something that she loved.  I was secretly pleased when they came back to me.  :).

Our next thrifting adventure happened this past weekend when Cait went to pick up a chair that she had purchased on an online auction.  It was a ways away so I rode along so that she wouldn't have to go alone.  In the car I mentioned that I was looking for a moka pot and that if she happened upon one in her thrifting I was interested.  It turns out that the place that had the chair was also an antique dealer and we checked out her inventory and she had a moka pot!  It looked like it was brand new.  Another five dollar purchase.

So after a couple of batches of coffee using the coffee that I had at home to break in the pot I selected an Italian dark roast espresso coffee yesterday at the local grocery store and today I made my first latte.  I don't own equipment to make a steamed frothed milk but I used my immersion blender to froth milk that I heated on the stove.  I added a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg on top of the foam.  And then while I was enjoying my latte I watched a couple of short videos made by baristas on you tube doing coffee art.  That could be my winter project. 

I am glad for the little burst of caffeine as I have a few projects today and that little bit of extra oomph should come in handy.  My moka pot makes enough espresso for 2-3 lattes and I made two and drank both of them.  The little bit of leftover espresso that would have made the third latte would have been good over ice cream, a treat that Caitlin says they have occasionally at her day job, but alas, no ice cream in my freezer.


Friday, October 16, 2015

miscalculated :(

It is a bit after 5 a.m. and my plan that seemed reasonable last night appears to have been unsuccessful.  Frost was predicted and I covered the tomatoes up near the house (as best I could with the staking) but the ones in the cornfield garden I was hoping that since it was only supposed to get to 33 and only that low close to morning that if I let the sprinklers come on as usual at 5 a.m. that it might protect the tomatoes from potential frost damage.  But when the alarm went off at 5 a quick check of the weather showed the temp already at 31.  I headed out with a flashlight to take a look and the tomatoes look to be done for.  Sigh.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

what a difference a couple of days makes

The weather this time of year can be pretty varied in Minnesota.  On Sunday it was 91 degrees, just a degree or two shy of the record.  The next day, Monday it was cool and overcast.  A great day for soup.

Caitlin and Robb shared with me some of their soup that they made on the weekend.  She borrowed my largest stockpot because they were making two big batches of soup for the freezer.  I enjoyed it for lunch today.  Hamburger in a tomato-y broth with onions, peas, corn, carrots, green beans, cabbage, kale, potatoes and egg noodles.  It was lovely, very flavorful, and just the right thing on this cloudy, cooler day.

Today is Thursday and the low the next couple of nights, or early  mornings, could get to freezing so I am getting ready just in case.  I moved all of the wedding celebration herbs into the greenhouse that were in the pots.  I will cover the ones in the herb garden until I can get them dug up and relocated.  I picked the ripening tomatoes and all of the peppers of any size.  I picked the green beans and eggplants.  I will water everything and then unhook the hoses.  We are predicted to have a warmer rest of the month so the plan is to get thru the next couple of nights and then a bit of Indian Summer.

I still have a bunch of end of the season stuff to do in the gardens.  I am going to tarp part of the garden and am trying to get the more weeding done.  My sister donated her two big tarps so I am planning to spread them over some of the rows with the intended outcome that the tarps will smother the weeds, and if any weed seeds germinate they will not have sunlight to grow.  Not sure how it will affect snow melt in the spring but I am so hoping that the weeds will be less.  

Happy Fall!  


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Autumn on the farm

It is autumn on the farm.  I am putting the garden to bed and 'putting up' a few jars of apple butter and tomatoes.  I still have tomatoes coming so I am hesitant to pull the plants.  I am still getting a few pole beans and peppers as well.  I am planting cover crops in the empty rows and trying to get straw spread on the walking spaces between the rows.  The garden was overtaken with weeds this year and so the rows and the walking spaces need to be weeded and I am hoping to get a bunch of it done before the snow flies. 

The greenhouse season is also starting up and I have been planting seeds for most of a month.  I started seeding in the house and putting the seedlings under lights because the greenhouse was still getting too hot on sunny days.  But now all of the winter plantings have been moved to the greenhouse.  On sunny days the fans have been able to keep it below 100 degrees in there and so far I have been able to not cook the new seedlings.  I am including a few pictures but it is hard to get a representative picture of plants that are only two inches tall.  There is more seeding to do and a lot of transplanting from the seed starting trays to the tubs.  In the past I have started all the seedlings in trays and then transplanted the baby plants into the gutter planters and the tubs.  This year I have tried seeding the gutters directly instead of transplanting and so far it seems to be working well.  All of our seeds are started on the warm mat and once they have germinated they are moved under lights and new seeds take their places on the mat.  Our mat holds four gutters or four trays at a time so it is a good way to spread out the seeding.  

The wedding party herbs are all in bigger pots and ready to move into the greenhouse once we run out of summer weather.  That is an experiment that I hope to be writing about in blog posts over the winter.

A lot of people rave about the colors of autumn and they are great but equally impressive are the smells of autumn.  Transplanting the sage and rosemary was heavenly.  Just brush up against them and they share their fragrance.  And then to come in the house from outside and smell the apples and spices cooking away in the crock pot making apple butter is great.  Of course there are some not so wonderful smells that happen on the farm in the fall too.  This time of year the goat buck is a little more stinky and one of the neighboring fields must have a new layer of turkey manure since my yard had that distinctive odor for a couple of days.

A little fall at the front door.
 A sampling of the baby crops in the greenhouse.  There are ten gutters hanging up in the chains and another three on the heat mat and a few more to plant once those germinate.

scarlet frill

 The arugula is one of five or six trays of seedlings that will eventually be transplanted into the tubs.  Some trays like the arugula are all the same variety.  Others like the one to the left just barely in the picture has two or four different varieties. 
 Just starting to transplant into the tubs. 
oops, blurry kale
   Happy fall!