Update, Part 4: Projects
Our pole barn is finally done. The schedule went something like this:
- Day 1: Sign Contract
- Day 80: Stake out building perimeter with twine. Square up corners.
- Day 95: Re-string perimeter twine that was blown loose during wind storm. Dig post holes.
- Day 110: Frame 90% of building.
- Day 115: Finish framing. Dig post holes for incorrect door placement.
- Day 125: Start roof & siding.
- Day 126: Finish roof & siding. Put in doors & window.
The actual amount of time spent on site amounted to about three days' work. Technically, it still needs its overhead garage door. But that should be done some time next week (i.e. July). Excuses for delays included:
- Concern over water in post holes
- Company owner's wife in late pregnancy
- Lumber supplier problems
- Metal supplier problems
...and my favorite - somebody who was ahead of us on the schedule, who was also "kind of a friend, but I don't really know him..."
No wonder it took five months. The good news is that they actually did a nice job on it. And the price was right. But still.
Lori built a cool chicken tractor, which, even as I write, is slowly helping to create a new garden bed for me for next year.
I've been very gradually working on a fence that will divide our big pasture in two, so that we can do a little more rotational grazing. We tried a temporary electric tape fence, but it just doesn't seem to want to work for me. I did manage to put a tiny fence around my big garden, in hopes of slowing down the rabbits. And the chickens, for that matter.
My grape arbor has all its posts in the ground, but I haven't topped it off yet. It's had to move down the priority list for now.
Since the pole barn's (near) completion, we've been frantically working on some new chicken accomodations to get them moved out of the garage. (The photo just shows the framing for the pen.) The nest boxes are assembled, the fourth side is complete. Now there are just a few finishing touches to go.
I really want those guys (er, girls) out of the garage. If we'd known the pole barn was going to take this long ("it should be done in two to three weeks"), we would have done things much differently. As it stands, they should be moving in this weekend.
The good news about our lack of rain is that the grass in the non-fenced areas isn't quite to the point of being totally out of control yet. The tractor just does not want to run yet this year, and I need a scythe expert to show me what I'm doing wrong with my scythe. (It just bends the grass over instead of cutting it. I've adjusted the blade and sharpened it as instructed by the manufacturer. It was supposed to arrive pre-sharpened, but even now, trying to cut a blade of grass over the sharpened edge takes more effort than it seems like it should. I'll probably put out an APB on the OEFFA mailing list to see if anybody can come show me in person what I'm doing wrong.)
This fall or next spring, weather and budget permitting, I'm hoping to attach a simple greenhouse to the south side of the barn. In fact, we angled the barn so that it's not square to the house, specifically so that it had a true south face (well, within a few degrees at least), just for that reason.
I'm hoping to use some thin, corrugated polycarbonate panels for the glazing, some freecycled cinder blocks and some salvaged barrels filled with water for thermal mass, and some lumber already on hand for most of the framing. The barn has a small window on the south face. If that window becomes part of the back wall of the greenhouse, I can use it to let sun-warmed air into the barn in winter (assuming the sun comes out). And the chickens can keep my seedlings company if they want, as long as they promise not to eat any. But, this is all this is still hypothetical. Time will tell.
It also crosses my mind to extend the greenhouse framing beyond the actual greenhouse dimensions, and turn the rest of it into another arbor. Maybe I can grow hardy kiwi, or some more grapes. That would give the chickens a little more shade and raptor protection, as well as free meals of Japanese beetles whenever somebody is around to give the arbor a shake.
I must have enough ideas and plans for a lifetime. Good thing our one credit card is still zeroed out and frozen in a block of ice. Otherwise I might be tempted to overextend myself in money as well as time.