Farmhouse Project – The Pumpkin Area

We had plenty of rain over the past two days, so in the interim, we were able to tackle one of the projects from the immediate list – opening up an area in the back part of the property for pumpkins or other veggies . Last year, we tested a small patch of grass where we were able to grow a few pumpkins and cantaloupe, not many. We realized we had to move the planting a bit to the front, where there is a bit more sun, so we finally settled on the area. We took advantage of the very wet and soft ground after the rain, and we finished the job quickly. The seeds are planted. Only a few rows, just for a second test to see how it goes. This year we planted a few seeds – pumpkins, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and a bit of corn. Not too much because we are still testing. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Clearing up this section was easier than we thought because of all the previous rain.
While digging out grass, we found all of these interesting objects. Mostly, old electrical parts and tools, bolts … I wish I could have a window to the past and see the story attached to each one.
Of course, these will end up in my collection. Why? Just because.
And here they are; in their rightful place. It has become an obsession that doesn’t require an explanation.

After testing this area, if it works out it will be expanded a bit to be able to plant more, and added to over time. I am sure that we will find more interesting things buried in the soil. I hope you enjoyed this project; I surely did.

The Weathered Made Anew

It started last week when we restored a couple of old garden statues on a rainy day, and we decided to continue with a task that has been put aside for a while. While my husband tackled the remaining garden statues to be painted, I decided to restore the old porch chairs that needed a little TLC. The weather has taken a toll on the finished wood, but the chairs were still sturdy and solid. We already had the paint and materials around, so all we needed was time and effort. It is easy to discard something when it starts looking weathered and old, but it is not necessary at all.

These were a gift from a good friend for our first house, which makes them over 20 years old or so. When we moved, these came with us.
After my husband cleaned and painted these, the garden statues look great again. I think these can withstand a few more years in the garden.
This tired old chair is in need of some love.
All it needed was a light sanding, dusting, and a coat of stain.
This chair needs some attention before heading to the dumpster. I ask myself the more than one life question – is there still life left on it? If the answer is yes or maybe, then it gets the attention it deserves.
These chairs cost over $500 if bought new. Because we already had at hand the materials we needed to restored them (leftover stain, sanding paper, rag) the cost is $0.00.

Before discarding something as not useful anymore, ask yourself the “more than one life” question. If the answer is yes or maybe, go for it, and give it that life, restore it to beauty and good use once more. In the end, your pocket is happier/fuller, and Earth will thank you.

Restoring Old Garden Sculptures

It was a rainy day, nothing to be done outside. It was the perfect day to tackle a chore that had been put aside for some time – bringing back to life old garden sculptures. People tend to discard garden sculptures because paint has faded over time or the elements have taken a toll on these; however, with a little effort these can be brought back to life. We purchased a few garden sculptures over 15 years ago for our previous home, and when we moved we took them with us to the farmhouse. Although I love the weathered look of garden sculptures my husband likes a more clean and painted look, so he took on the task on a rainy day, and I joined in the effort. We sat on the porch, enjoyed the sound of the rain in the old tin roof, and painted away. A cup of hot chocolate made the task more enjoyable.

It doesn’t take much effort, other than dust them off and make sure the sculptures are not wet, or at least almost dry, but we had put the job aside for years, and because I like the weathered old look there was no rush; however I have to say that these really look good painted. After painting them, we sprayed a light layer of clear coat to protect the paint. The paint and clear coat will help the sculptures last longer, and also prevent the concrete from eroding faster. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Before – In the process of painting these two bunny sculptures.
After – The bunnies look beautiful now. The pots in the back are filled with two tiny evergreens I found around the property. On the opposite side, there are two more. They will grow to resemble Christmas trees.
This one has grown fast; it was barely three inches when planted.
I liked the old patina on this cement pot, but the birds were not noticeable anymore, so we decided to bring back the original color of these birds and leave the old patina just be.

We have a few more sculptures to restore to beauty. Old things are lovely, and can be made lovelier with a bit of effort.

Farmhouse Garden Project

I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.

It is the bush on the far left.

After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.

The small boxwood by the bird fountain is still recovering from the large branch that fell on top of it during the ice storm.

Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.

Here is my other half working on his idea.
The solar lights are hanging from the branch he attached between two young trees.
We had to wait until twilight to see the result. The mason jar lights twinkle so it was hard to take a picture. I can see them through the kitchen window as I do dishes. Eventually all three entrances will have solar lights.

From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.

The idea is for the ivy to cover the entire structure and for garden critters to use it as a home.

As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.

More irises have grown. Once the irises die, pink flowers come up, and after those, white ones, followed by tiny yellow ones. There is something blooming always. Originally, this area was an old trunk under grass and overgrown bushes. It has come a long way.

All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.

Impromptu Farmhouse Project

This project was not in our radar, but we spotted a lovely tree with gorgeous white flowers, which seemed to be thriving in the back area of the house. My husband decided to try and free it from the bushes, grass, and other small trees that were suffocating it. That was all it took for us to continue the effort along a small area, working on freeing other evergreens, mostly cedar that are growing close together. So we did. Some smaller trees that were growing next to one another had to be eliminated, but this freed up growing space for the ones we kept. It was a joint effort; while my husband cut the trees, I removed the debris and piled it up with the rest of the dead branches that need removing, and I cleared the area with a rake. The area looks much better now. We are planning on hanging solar lights on the two entrances. We also think that it would be nice to add a bench and some flower pots in the future. For now, we will continue to work on the remainder part of the area. Here are some pictures of this unscheduled project.

One of the little cedars we decided to save. The back area is full of overgrown vegetation.
Most of it looks like this, one tree on top of another.
The white-flower tree has been freed, and a few cedars as well.
Other cedars and another white-flower tree are asking for help, and we’ll freed them too.

After that, we have been preparing the garden for planting, and cleaning up winter’s vestige. As soon as the weather permits and the temperature remains a bit warmer, work on the veggie garden will begin. We are still having some nights in the low 30F.

The veggie garden got a refresh, and the pots/boxes were filled with extra soil. It is ready for planting.
I worked on setting up this area last year, and I am seeing the results now; unfortunately, this is one of the giant cedars that will have to be cut down, after the ice storm damage.
Spring Moth Worms are starting to show up.
The shed got a light layer of mulch as well. Because we use pine needles from the property in the winter, it cuts down on how much mulch we need to use when it needs it. The plants in the pots keep coming back every year, so this area is almost effortless now. Eventually, much of the area will become almost effortless.
While cleaning up the back area we found part of a chimney top that was split in two parts. I decided to place these in the faerie garden as shelter for critters, whether frogs or whatever decides to visit.

Despite our ongoing project list, we never know what new project will show up on the side. It is always fun and never boring. Our goal is to get to a point were most areas are set up and become almost effortless to maintain, that is, considering the mess we started with when we bought the place (see Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts). I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project.

This Old Farmhouse – My Take on the Journey So Far

About ten years ago, my husband and I bought an abandoned old farmhouse that was dilapidated and almost buried under a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and trees. It wasn’t until five years ago that we moved into it. It took some money, time, and a lot of work to make it livable, and there are many areas that still need to be addressed, mainly exterior work. It has been hard work, and I mean, real hard work. Because we did not count with a large budget, we had to do most of the work ourselves (about 95%), just the two of us. We continue to work together in some outdoor projects, slowly, as the budget allows.

Will we do it again? Although a simple question that requires a yes or no answer, I find myself unable to answer it in such way simply because it has been quite a journey. A journey full of bittersweet moments – great moments, exhausting moments, unnerving moments, proud moments, and moments of faith as well. We both have learned so much – about ourselves, about working together and our working styles, about new skills, about the house, about appreciation and gratefulness, about our limits and disposition, and much more; but mostly, about trusting the Lord in our everyday lives. This is why a simple yes or no answer does not suffice.

In the practical sense, a bigger budget would have made things easier and faster – hiring people, easier/better materials and tools, and overall contracting out the hard work areas, and only dealing with the fun tasks. Ideally. However, we would have not experienced and learned as much, grown with the project, and appreciate it as much. It was hard work, but also fun. We would have done some things in a different way, but other things in the same way we did. Overall, I think the experience built up character, but also faith. In that sense, it is a step up from where we started. The long and hard working hours improved our physical stamina but also our mind; the overall experience, our souls. We will continue to work together on this old farmhouse and will share some projects here.

So going back to the yes or no question – will we do it again? I will answer the question for myself, but I think my husband feels the same way about it. The hard work was physically taxing but the overall experience was worth it. If you would like to take a look at the progress so far, please check out the “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series of posts on this blog.

Yes.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.

Fixing an Old Farmhouse – Future Projects

We had a pretty heavy three-day ice storm, and I am so grateful that we did not lose power, and also grateful that we did not have any trees damaging our home. I also feel for the people that are without heat in this type of cold weather. We are expecting another storm by tomorrow, and that will add to the damage we had, which was nothing compared to other people. The amount of ice was so heavy on the trees that I could hear the tump tump tump every time one fell. Many of our trees lost a considerable amount of heavy branches, including the one near the house, my beloved old cedar tree, which is as old as the farmhouse is, or older. This storm put into perspective the need to remove two more trees that are too close for comfort, although I truly hate to see them go. This of course will be expensive because they are old giants. One of them lost most of its branches, a few of them hitting the porch at the corner but thankfully, only leaving a slight dent on the old roof, which is over 100 years.

With most of its branches gone, at least the weight of this old cedar has shifted away from the farmhouse. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Many of its branches are still hanging ready to fall. For now, we will avoid walking underneath. Another reason why we have decided to add it to the list of trees that unfortunately will have to go. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Another old giant that have been added to the list is this tree, about the same height.
(Photo by M.A.D.)
This smaller branches missed the tin can. Although smaller compared to the other branches, these are still heavy. I saw pieces of broken branches that fell with force buried into the ground about three inches or so. Imagine if that hits one’s head. One of nature’s teachings. (Photo by M.A.D.)
This is one of my favorite trees. Not sure if eventually, it will have to go; I hope not. Time will tell. For now, it is healthy, and it is a very young tree. It was half its size when we bought the farmhouse. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Our friend came around when the ice started to melt on Sunday. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Other little ones came out as well. (Photo by M.A.D.)
It amazes me how these little ones can handle the ice. (Photo by M.A.D.)
It was a beautiful sight. (Photo by M.A.D.)
When the ice started melting, it sounded like waterfalls, like heavy rain, and every time a chunk of ice slid and hit the metal roof, it was like thunder and lightning. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Sometimes, beauty is found in the least expected places. (Photo by M.A.D.)
Even on a frozen flag (Photo by M.A.D.)
Colors become more vibrant. (Photo by M.A.D.)
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap, or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Mathew 6:26 (Photo by M.A.D.)

The list of chores keeps growing around here. For now, the way to tackle these coming up projects will be one at a time, little by little, and all in due time. I will share some of them here. Hope you enjoyed this post.

Fixing an Old Farmhouse – Shelving

Previously, on the Fixing and Old Farmhouse series of posts (Fixing an Old Farmhouse – The Kitchen), I mentioned that I had planned to find an old French buffet and place it where the microwave and bread box were located temporarily, on top of a long table my husband made. Because these items are accessed on a daily basis and were to low to reach, I figured that a narrow French buffet or narrow cabinet would serve the purpose, and look beautiful. Later on, I realized that although it would give me more storage that I don’t need, the placement of the cabinet would overwhelm the space, and make the kitchen look too crowded. I am not a fan of traditional cabinets, especially the top parts, so when we fixed up the kitchen, I used shelving on top, and a few cabinets with a butcher block top, along with an antique French buffet that we placed in the coffee and prep area. We like the look of natural wood, especially when it ages and takes on a darker patina. After consulting with my other half, we decided that a shelf would be a better fit for the space, moreover, because we used these items too often.

When looking at wood at our closest hardware center, the prices for wood seemed to be all over the place, that is, for a nice piece of sturdy wood plank. The least expensive were too thin (1/4 inch) or short, and either pine, being the least expensive, followed by poplar, oak … I was ready to settle for poplar when I spotted a bundle of oak risers nearby. They were the perfect length and thickness, but much better, these had the rounded front already, unlike the planks of wood. To add to the perfect finding, it was the right length, no need for cutting anything at all. Price was about two dollars more than the poplar plank that we would have to cut, sand, and prep.

Next, we selected the brackets. This part was easy because right away I spotted two copper tinted brackets that matched the copper motif throughout the kitchen. We love an old world/vintage/rustic style. The installation was a breeze – no need to cut anything, just install at the right height, and it was done. The shelf allowed for placing the two chair stools under it, converting it (if needed in the future) into a floating desk or space for extra sitting. It also allowed for a lighter feel as opposed to using a cabinet. Cost came about under $50, a fraction of what a French buffet or cabinet would have cost. Here are a few pictures, and I hope you enjoy reading about this farmhouse project.

View of the area before.
Copper brackets.
The area now.
Completed project.

A Day of Farmhouse Chores

My latest post was about The Christmas Tree Project which we did last Saturday. While we were waiting for the moment it lighted up we had many autumn chores to do, and it translated on time going so fast that we hardly noticed the long wait until sunset. Around here, autumn means tons of cleaning up before winter or the first snow, prepping certain areas, and getting ready for future chores during early spring, so I figured I would share some of those.

Cutting the grass and blowing out leaves usually takes my husband the whole day. Once he is done, he sees another thin layer of fresh leaves that has just fallen. It is the never ending autumn story, but they look gorgeous when the entire grass is covered and one sees the many colors of the leaves on the ground, like a multicolor carpet.

Blowing out leaves and cutting the grass for the last time before winter takes priority. This is the fifth time for leaf blowing.
While Eddie took care of the grass and leaves, I took care of cleaning up the veggie garden, and collecting pine needles. I do this after I pick the last of the veggies and before the first snow.
Leaves are picked up, broken things go in the garbage, pots are emptied, collected and stacked in one area, large containers are cleaned up by removing dead and dried up plants, stakes are collected and placed in one area, and the remainder thin layer of mulch gets a refresher by using the collected pine needles. It prevents the cover underneath from breaking off. Overall, it gets a good cleaning.
After everything is done it looks like this.
After the veggie garden is done, the remainder of the pine needles is used as mulch for some trees. It protects them in the winter, and also looks neat. We are lucky to have cinnamon color pine needles from two pine trees in the property. They do put out a ton of them. Also it saves us money as we don’t have to buy too many bags of mulch. Bagged cinnamon pine needles are expensive, so I am very grateful to have them available here. A box of pine needles that might cover 240 sf will cost about $135 dollars.
While cleaning up the rest of the garden and removing a few weeds, I find expected seasonal gifts, such as the changing of the leaves on this shrub and the beautiful berries it puts out every year. This is one of the trees we uncovered and saved when we first started bringing life back into this garden. It will become an orange-red color. During the spring, it turns back to green and instead of berries it puts out cluster of sprigs with tiny flowers.
While cleaning up the garden, I also found the unseasonably unexpected – new flowers on the forsythia bush and a few buds. Is this a sign of a mild winter ahead? Last year, we had a mild winter and this bush flourished very early.

By the time we had our lunch break, and finally, we were both done with our chores, it had become dark and our reward was awaiting to be enjoyed.

Farmhouse Projects – The Christmas Tree

In a previous post, I mentioned twelve future projects we wish to be able to do around the farmhouse. The easiest one on that list is what I call The Christmas Tree. It was my husband’s project, and his obsession for a while. The Christmas tree is a young pine tree he was able to save when we took down a morass of weeds and overgrown bushes covering the front and part of the side of the property, near the entrance. He liked the tree, although it was in bad shape. I thought it would not make it because it had been sprayed by the city (or our electric company) with something they use to kill anything that would be a threat to utility cables. Although this tree was not nearby, when they sprayed some trees that were, some of this brew got on it and it burned some of the branches. The other trees dried up and died. Those were not on our property, but next to it. Once we had cleared out the bushes and weeds, my husband kept mowing around the tree, and trimming it. Eventually, he wanted to put white lights on it and make it a focal point. A few weeks ago, I noticed that the tree was looking much healthier, so I ordered solar lights for it without my husband knowing, as a surprise. It still has some brown spots and dead branches, but I think it will become a beautiful tree.

This weekend we were able to work on the tree. We even named it. We named it Christmas. Here are a few pictures of this first project.

First, we trimmed some dead branches and cleaned up the trunk a bit. You can still see some of the burnt branches.
We used some cinnamon color pine needles we collected, and used these as mulch around the base. We placed and secured the lights on top as best as we could and tested them for best sun exposure.
We took care of other chores until it became dark. It turned out to be a gorgeous sunset and evening.
And then we saw it happen; Christmas lighted up. It is a bit difficult to photograph all the lights because these do not light up at the same time. We used 200 white LED solar lights.

On Sunday, we visited it once more, and we love the way it looks. I think it turned out to be a very special tree. I think this tree found its purpose. As it becomes more beautiful with time, it will light up every night, and become a beautiful sight for those who pass by. Because we are not able to see it from home, we will visit it from time to time. I might place a bench nearby. Sometimes, things may look hopeless, but with a little bit of care and patience they turn out lovely.