Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finally, bedrooms for the kids

When we moved into the house over three years ago there was a lot left unfinished. We did not complete the planned bedrooms for the kids at that time because they were so young that they didn't really need their own rooms and we just wanted to be done and moved in so we said we'd get the rooms done "someday." Well, that someday came this winter after Chris' injury. The kids were ready for some personal space and in the light of Chris' disability we also needed to create an office/spare room where we could potentially put an intern to help us out on the farm.

After the injury we received an outpouring of offers of help as well as some financial gifts from family members too far away to help in person. We took those offers and decided to go ahead with the room construction. The first thing we had to do was clean out the entire West half of the house, otherwise known as the playroom. My mom spent several days down here with me helping to sort through all the mess and put everything in boxes. Here is the "before" photo after clearing stuff out.

Our friend Aaron is a talented carpenter and in just two days he had the majority of the three rooms framed. This was a difficult job because of the earthen-plastered walls and floor which are inevitably NOT square, but Aaron figured out how to deal with it.

After the framing was done, my Mom's friend Paul and his wife came down to spend a day on the project. They even brought a helper and lunch for everyone!

We got much of the rock on that day and I even ventured up into the attic to work on the wiring. It was an enormous boost for us and it was so much appreciated.

The following weekend my brother, his wife, and my niece Aris volunteered several hours to painting.

Here's the view of the rooms from the outside.

The kids enthusiastically helped with the painting. Fortunately the paint was clay based so it washed off the floors easily.

Scotty demonstrates the use of Eliza's little climbing wall on her bunk bed.

More photos of the finished rooms coming soon!

A massive erection

No, it's not what you think. It's a big ol' greenhouse!

I'm finally getting around to posting about the greenhouse film installation which we did just days before Chris' hospital stay in February. This was something that we really wanted to get done and as I think back about that time now I can't believe we actually did it. I'm sure glad we did though because we have enjoyed fresh greens for the last month or so now and we've even sold some at the market--all possible because of the greenhouse.

Even though Chris was in terrible pain he crutched out there to coordinate the project. The kids were on hand to help, along with our friend Crystal and our helper Jason. The first step was to roll out the film. Note the chicken in Eliza's arms.

We used baseballs and rope to tie the film in three places before pulling it up and over the frame. Basically you bunch some of the film around a baseball and then tie a rope around the ball. This prevents tearing and works really well. Jason, Crystal, and Scotty each took a rope while I ran around making sure the film unfolded properly and didn't get caught on anything. Chris had camera duty. Click on the photo to see Scotty at his post at the back. He was a great help that day!Of course once we got the film up and over the wind started to kick up. The film had to be held down at the back until we got it clipped into place, which was a perfect job for Chris and the kids.

We almost lost it a couple of times but we got the clips in place. Chris designed a rainwater catchment system on this greenhouse complete with gutters so the film got clipped in just above the gutters. Underneath the gutters the film rolls up to provide cross ventilation.

The greenhouse measures 24' x 60' and is almost as big as the house! Before the day's end we had to cover the front with film because at this point it was just a giant wind sock sitting in the field. The piece of film was fastened from the bottom up with furring strips.

In order to fasten the film, Jason needed Crystal, Scotty and me to hold it up for him from underneath. We took the opportunity to toss the camera back and forth for some fun pictures.

A harrowing but ultimately successful day.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Solar lamb warmer

This is from before Chris' injury but I just had to share this great idea we had back in early January. We had a lamb born to a skittish and reluctant mom and we found it in the morning, chilled and lethargic. Lambs like this need to be warmed quickly so after a warm water bath we set him up in the kitchen with the reflectors from one of our solar cookers, a sleeping bag, and a towel which we used to cover his eyes. It worked wonderfully and the little guy perked up pretty quickly.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


He made it about 20 paces to the kitchen and back. That's a pretty major accomplishment for someone who hasn't walked in 3 months.

I'm getting ready to upload some photos and get the blog updated. Stay tuned!