Free is Good

A couple of projects to work on now that things are slowing down for winter.

I sent my husband on a mission to find a used office desk that he could scrap-pass at work.  His company has a scrap yard/warehouse where employees can get things for free that the company no longer has a use for.  Tools, building supplies, scrap metal, old office chairs, who knows what all is in there (I wish they’d let me in so I could look for myself!)  All you have to do is sign it out.

He hit the jackpot with a bunch of old office equipment they were actively looking to rehome so as to free up a little space.  As with the manure situation, I told him I’ll take what I can get.  He brought me 2 metal work tables, 2 big metal desks and a 4 drawer file cabinet–all in great condition, just a few scratches and tiny dings.  I don’t believe you could destroy industrial office furniture if you tried.

One of the metal work tables has gone to the basement to serve as a laundry table/place for my husband to lay his hunting stuff/place for my husband take his laptop and hide when he has to do the bills.  The other work table and the larger of the two metal desks will go to the garage for extra workspace and storage.  The file cabinet will also go in the garage for tool storage.

This desk is going to replace the crappy, assemble-it-yourself, wannabe-wood eyesore I bought at Ollie’s that I am currently using for a computer desk.  I am going to paint this one a nice forest green to match my kitchen border.  It has lots of drawers, which is the part I am most excited about, to squirrel away all my junk.  I can’t abide clutter.  It makes me crazy.

And then there’s this thing…

Do you see what I am seeing? 

Kitchen storage space!!

I have a decent amount of cabinet space already, but I could really use more.  Right now I have to stack all my pots and pans strategically to get them all to fit (and so I can find them again when I need them.)

I got this antique armoire from my mother-in-law when she was cleaning out her barn.  She brought me a lot of things to put in my yard sale this summer and this was one of them.  She gave $50 for it somewhere.  I put $30 on it and was really surprised it didn’t sell.  It’s in really good condition structurally.  The veneer on the doors needs a little work where it had pulled up here and there.  I am going to add a couple more shelves to the right-hand side, paint it burgundy, distress it a little and rub a black stain into the sanded areas.  I might do a little decorative painting or stencilling on it to make it cute.  I haven’t decided for sure.

I’m going to use it to store all my dry goods in the kitchen (thus freeing up more space for my pots and small appliances) and make a cute little country-prim arrangement on top.  My kitchen needs a more deliberate attempt at decorating and I think this little armoire could be the start of some creative inspiration for me.

I’ll post back later with the end results!

Satisfaction

I LOVE the feeling of marking another project off the list!

And this one had been nagging at me for a long time.  Well, let’s see…we got the fence up in April, bought the lumber in July and just stared at it for a few weeks.  It took us three separate sessions and working past dark tonight, but we got ‘er done!

My husband and I are really getting good at working on these projects together.  He’s the muscle and I’m the “measure twice, cut once” kind of gal.  We balance each other well!

Now to install a couple of strands of electric along the fence line, cage off the bees their own sector and build a small run-in and we’ll be ready for goats.  You didn’t think we were going to all this trouble just for a couple dozen chickens, did ya?  😉  Although it does rest my mind to know the dogs can’t pick them off so easily now.

I am also getting a new horse.  Hopefully we can go pick him up tomorrow.  I was looking for a new pasture mate for my gaited paint gelding, Journey.  This new horse, Rocky, is a 12-year-old Tennessee Walker gelding.  He’s on rehab from an injury, but is cleared for light work and to build up from there.  He was free to a good home because his current owners needed to downsize.  I will definitely post lots of pictures of him when we get him home.  Here’s a picture that was forwarded to me. 

Isn’t he a looker!  I’m debating whether or not to change his name.  If you’ve got any ideas for a good name for this handsome boy, feel free to leave them in the comments section!

Now this is Journey (the Paint) and Lily, his old pasture mate (also a Tennessee Walker).  This picture was taken in October of last year.  I’ve had Journey since he was a colt.  I won him at the County Fair on a one dollar raffle ticket in 2002.  He’s a good boy and I love him.  I hope that Ava can ride him in the Fair here in a few years.

 

Now the horses don’t live here on the One Sunny Acre.  They live on my Dad’s 44-acre farm 10 minutes down the road.

 

 

Mud, lots of mud

I exited the chicken coop today with a basket containing 9 eggs.  That’s been about their average lately for the 13 girls I currently have as we are pressing forward into Spring and the days are getting a little longer.  Well, I forgot to turn off the light, so I turned back in a hurry, misstepped, and wiped out in the mud.  Somehow 4 eggs survived the fall.  Definitely one of my more graceful spills of late.  I did not hurt myself.  And there was no one around to witness it, so I didn’t even hurt my pride.  What is it about suddenly landing on your backside that it takes a few seconds of sitting there in the mud before your brain can fully process what just happened?  My first concern was for the eggs.

Well, add that to my list of mud holes that need patched up this summer.  I don’t know how you can live on the top of a ridgeline and have all the drainage problems that we have, but any small depression in the yard really collects the rainwater. 

We have a pretty thick layer of red clay in the soil strata here in this region of West Virginia.  It has taken the addition of many truckloads of manure, compost and other organic matter to get my garden plot to where it drains well.  It still could use more.  A little rain here and there doesn’t cause much problem, but this has been a very wet winter.  Last spring was very wet too and most of my cool weather crops suffered from having wet feet.

Hauling truckloads of wood to the back of the house where we have a walk-out basement did a lot of damage to the yard this winter as you can see from the picture below.  Between the deep snow and all the mud, we got hung up a couple of times.  I have plans to remedy this though and this summer we will be making that a priority.  I can tell now by looking (from off to the side) that the area circled in red there is just a bit higher than the rest of the graded area. 

This house was built in 1942 and did not have a basement originally.  My neighbor, Charlie, owned the house at one time and told us how he put steel I-beams under the house and jacked it up off of the foundation in order to dig the basement.  He built one nicest and most functional basements I’ve ever seen.  It stays very dry and has none of that musty smell that often accompanies a full basement.  He put in several access points to the septic system, a gray water system and lots of drains to take water away from the house.  However the grade is off at that one point and the small hillsides created by the excavation all drain back into one spot.

We asked Charlie to come over once and show us where all the lines are, but it’s been so long ago he can’t quite remember.  He said he thought there was a septic or drain line running right down the middle of our mud mess area.  I have partially mapped out the septic lines, based on the position of the septic tank and the leech field.  There are depressions in the yard and this photo with the yellow line shows where I think the line comes out of the tank and goes to the distributer.  It’s unfortunate that the septic system takes up so much of my yard.  I would plant all kinds of things (trees mostly) in that area if I could.  The leach field is over the hill just beyond the chicken barn and the two apple trees in the distance and takes up about 25% of our acre.  I’ve got my bees down there and I can pasture my chickens and pen one or two goats, so that is not entirely wasted space.

Drainage problems, ex.2

It is my bet that the drain line runs down the center (where the tire tracks are).  Rainwater and gray water go into it.  The clean-out has at least two pipes converging into it from left and right and is positioned just outside the basement door in the center of the concrete pad.  It gets plugged up with mud a lot.  That leads into another home improvement project I’ll be chronicling on here later this summer…

Drain

Anyway, here is my vision for the seasonal mud hole in my backyard… I am going to do a little exploratory digging with the shovel to find out exactly where any pipes are.  We talked about grading out that little hump (circled in red), but because of the parallel hillsides, I doubt that would be enough to do the trick.  I think what I am going to have to do is rent a ditch witch and put in a long french drain at the lowest point that will slope enough to carry all the water on down over the hill.  I can test the runoff with the water hose and once it’s going where I want it, fill in with coarse gravel.  Then what I want to do is make this area more pleasing to the eye with a little functional landscaping.  I will probably put down landscape fabric first and cover that with about 4 inches of sand over the whole area.  Pillaging my dad’s farm and my mother-in-law’s stream bed I hope to collect enough flat rocks to make a wide path which will taper down and split.  One fork will follow along my well beaten path to the chicken barn and the other fork will lead to a circular stone fire pit (also in the works for this summer).  The fire pit will be located just beyond the end of the yellow line drawn in the second picture.  Once I have the paver rocks down, I will go back and fill between them with a prettier gravel.  I don’t know what they’re called–name/number, but my husband does.  He says it’s #57 landscape gravel.  Ok then!  😀

From there, I want to put in my grape arbors on either side of the wide rock path and also work in some stone-bordered perennial flower beds.  Something low maintenance, but pretty, like day lilies and iris.

This rock path has to be sturdy enough and wide enough to back the truck in there with loads of firewood.  What do you think?  Any suggestions/comments will be much appreciated!

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