(www.oldworldgardenfarms.com )When we first started to put down some initial designs on paper – one thing we didn't want was a typical brick, mortar or stone outdoor kitchen. We wanted
something unique, and we wanted it to match the existing barn and reclaimed brick patio. Even more – we wanted to make it from the left over recycled barn materials we already had on hand. The only other requirement was to make sure we had enough counter space on each side to be able to easily prepare food straight from the garden to the grill.
We finally decided on a simple straight line island design. 14′ long, with a 48″ grill and burner slide-in space in the middle. Each side would then be flanked by 5 foot overhanging counters. We made the width of the counter 34″ to give extra surface room to prepare and serve foods. With limited time before a looming barn party– we opted for a simple wooden top for now to match the farm table – however- as future time allows – we really want to replace with some stained concrete countertops.
THE BUILDING PROCESS
We first built a simple 2 x 4 stud frame, leaving a 48″ space in the middle and front for the grill and burners to slide in. We used treated wood for the bottom to sit on the brick pad – and then built the rest from standard 2x lumber. Next -we encased the inside of the grill area with cement board to protect the structure from the heat of the grill. Then sided the entire structure with more of the left over corrugated roofing and trimmed it out to match the barn.
All that was left was to slide in the grill – attach the top and the outdoor kitchen project was complete!
It's a bit funny how it all started. I would love to tell you it was a grand business
scheme complete with well thought out ideas, a marketing plan, and great advertising. A grand plan to build a business that would allow our little farm to earn an income and become self-sufficient.
It was however, all by chance. After clearing the land for the first time and putting in the raised bed gardens – we sat in lawn chairs in the upper northwest corner of the "farm" and took in the view. While sitting, Mary simply said..."wouldn't it be nice to have a place to sit and enjoy the garden and look out at the barn and farm".
We both liked the look of a pergola over other choices of garden structures like a gazebo or canopy. The rustic and beautiful lines of a pergola just fit the theme of what we wanted our Old World Garden Farm to be about. Over the course of the next few weeks we looked everywhere to buy our dream pergola. The problem was, we couldn't find one we liked. We seemed to have two choices – flimsy metal canopies that came with a not so flimsy price – or ultra expensive wood kits on the markets that required the equivalent of a house payment. So we decided on a third option...design an old world pergola and build it.
With no power still at the farm, and much like our chicken coop – we built our farm pergola in the driveway of our suburban neighborhood. We cut our own pattern for the edges from a piece of cardboard until we liked the curves – then proceeded to cut out the purlins with an old jigsaw. Looking back now – I laugh thinking how long it took to cut those boards – having to stop every 15 minutes just so the ol' jigsaw would stop smoking from overheating. We cut every curve and notch by hand – even cleaning out the notches with a hand chisel to get "just the right look". At the end of a couple long days – there she stood – our "old world" garden pergola – an all wood, all natural hand-built pergola erected in our driveway. We headed out to a local dining establishment for a celebratory beverage and meal - and then it happened. Mary's phone rang, and our little business started. The call was from parents of our neighbors down the street. They had just driven by our driveway while we were at dinner and the pergola caught their eye. She innocently asked where we had purchased it , because like us – she had been looking for a "real wood" pergola. We laughed and said we looked too, and finally had just built one. Before we both knew it – we had made our first sale. We built another one in the driveway for them – and during the process another note appeared on the half-built pergola asking if we would sell it....and then another. That year, in just a few months we built and sold 15 pergolas...and every single bit of the profits were poured back into our farm. It was and continues to be our way to build our little dream farm. We still both have our days jobs – with no immediate plans to stop. But our ultimate goal, is to have a completely self-sufficient little farmstead. A little vineyard, an orchard, a full garden, chickens, with hopes of more future livestock as well. And ultimately – a little bed and breakfast to share it all with others. For now, our little business is helping us build it that much quicker, one pergola at a time. It's why that little upper garden pergola is still my all time favorite.
We made this sign out of the old barn flooring from a barn we tore down last summer. The back of the sign is a 16" wide x 9' long 3/4" wide piece of red oak flooring. We simply used a
pressure washer to etch it clean. Then we cut out 12" letters with a jigsaw from some of the smaller flooring scraps. A quick coat of flat black paint - and then we pre-drilled and screwed the letters in from the back. The sign now hangs in our "new" old barn we built from the reclaimed lumber, over the entrance to our barn pergola patio.
Our Chicken Coop - built from shipping crates and reclaimed lumber. Home to our nine proud hens :) www.oldworldgardenfarms.com
We don’t live on ‘The Farm’ just yet. We actually live in a typical residential neighborhood with neighbors within a throwing distance from us. We have frequent walkers that pass by the house and always give a friendly wave hello. So when we decided to build what we now call “The Coop” - we did so in our driveway where we had the modern convenience of electricity. We wanted to reuse some materials that we had obtained in years past, so we decided to build the chicken coop primarily out of old shipping crates. After week one, we not only had a frame to our structure, but a pretty significant start to the future home of the chickens. Spring was in full force at this time, and after the harsh winter we had, several individuals had decided to take up walking as a form of exercise. Each day we would hear general comments from the neighborhood such as, ”looking good”, and “keep up the good work”. It wasn’t until the actual outside structure was built that we started getting more curious looks and the occasional question, “Ok, you have to settle a bet, are you building a playhouse or a dog house?”. To much of their surprise, we would laugh and tell them that it was actually a chicken coop….always followed by a quick clarification of “Don’t worry, it’s not staying in the driveway, we are moving it out to the farm”. Now, we live in a small community, where the head football coach of our small high school lives just up the street. Without hesitation, one day at school he approached one of our boys and commented, “Son, you are going to have the most elaborate dog house on the block”. To the horror of our son, he shyly admitted to Coach that it wasn’t a doghouse at all, but a chicken coop in progress. Life has never been the same at school.....
You can find more about our coop and meet our nine hens here : http://oldworldgardenfarms.com/news-from-th...
Yes - we have named all nine of them :) - and yes, they all have personalities.All in all – I would have to say that the most talked about of any venture we have going on at the farm
are the chickens. "The Coop" as we call it – is usually the first place visitors to the farm go to see. Our coop has been home now for over the last year to our little flock (we started with nine). With a few minutes of care each day – they have provided us with a little over 4 dozen eggs each week – and maybe even more importantly – an incredible supply of organic matter for our compost bins.Our hens are not free loaders – they actually pay for themselves. In a short time – we have developed a steady supply of farm fresh egg buyers who purchase our excess eggs, which is more than enough to pay for their feed and straw. You can follow the link below to our post to see picture and bios on all nine of our chickens.
A silo is one of those things that makes a farm...a farm. Take a short drive through the countryside and you can see them dotting the landscape everywhere. I have always loved the sight
of silo's, and always wanted to find a way to incorporate one into our little farm.
Now it's true, we don't have cattle to feed - and a silo may be a bit large to hold just the chicken feed for our small flock. But I think we may have come up with a way, just like the "big farms", to make a silo become one of the most useful structures on our farm.
A few weeks back – we did a post on collecting fall leaves and making compost. Although we have our 6′ two-bin compost system up above the garden – they fill quickly in the fall with the garden clean up material. For our big batch of fall leaf compost, we have then always made a temporary corral fence right in the garden. It's a good system, but we are limited to how much compost we can make and store before we need our garden space back in the spring. And that is where the silo enters the picture. Why not combine the wish of having a farm silo...with the need to collect and create more leaf compost to use throughout the whole summer!
Hence...The Compost Silo Project
It's the perfect aesthetic solution to holding tons of shredded leaf compost and gives me an argument to why we should have one without Mary thinking I have finally lost my mind. . Actually – she's on board with me in thinking our farm needs a silo too.
With that established...where to get a silo on the cheap?
Our first thought was to find an unused or abandoned one that we could recycle onto our property. So – a few weeks back we set out on a Saturday morning for a long drive through the countryside. It was a beautiful drive, and we saw some incredible farms and silos as well. And with each and every single stop we checked out – it became pretty apparent that we were biting off way more than we could chew.
You know...silo's are so much bigger in person than I ever realized!!! Even the "small" ones we found are a bit big for our farm's scale. So, as we drove home that day – I began to think about finding and using recycled material to build our own smaller scale silo that fits the need of our farm.
The solution – design a "smaller scale" silo – using as many reclaimed materials as we can to build it on the cheap. We still have decent quantities of salvaged metal stored to use to make the roof -and plenty of lumber left over to build the bones of the structure.
For now it's all worked out on paper –and the framework has begun. We hope to have a 6 foot diameter silo – that will stretch up to 12′ at the apex of its curved roof. It will have a top door for loading up material – and a bottom door for getting out fresh loads of compost. We will locate it at the top of the garden and put it beside the existing 2 bin compost system and water tank to overlook the farm and garden. And yes, we are even going to add the farm's logo across the mid section to make it look like the "big farm" silos When completed, it should be able to hold just over 275 cubic feet of composted leaves – which will be almost 6 times what we have ever been able to make before. And of course – the ultimate goal will be achieved...our little farm will have it's silo.
We will keep you updated in the coming weeks on it's progress.
We needed a mailbox for the farm – and wanted it to match the barn and surroundings. After looking on-line and in stores over the past few months – we realized anything unique was
well over $125 to $150.00. We decided to continue the recycle, re-use and re-purpose theme and build one ourselves out of a few pieces of left over scrap lumber and a pallet.
Utilizing the scrap we had on hand – our total cost was under $13. But even if one had to purchase the couple of 2x boards needed for the project, you would still be under $25 to build.
How We Built It: (you can see a complete picture tutorial on our blog post)
Like most of our projects – we started by cutting out all of the pieces and setting them out. (You can find a complete materials and tool list at the end of this post)
Beginning with a couple of scrap pieces of 2 x 10″ lumber left over from another building project – we made the base and two ends. The base we cut at 22″ long to make the rectangle needed for the mailbox to sit on. We then cut two more pieces from the 2×10 stock at 18″ high for the end pieces. We drew a 45 degree angle line from the top of the end pieces – and used the jigsaw to cut the roof lines for each piece. For the front of the mailbox – we took the mailbox we would be using and traced the outline of the door. We then cut that out with the jigsaw as well.
Next, we assembled the 2 ends with glue and a few screws to the 22″ long base.
Once the main base was assembled – we cut 6 of the pallet slat boards to 22″ long. We used those to build the sides – gluing and nailing them to the two end pieces.
We then cut four more slat boards at 26″ long for the roof top – and again attached them with glue and nails – leaving each end with about a 2″ overhang.
At this point we decided to add some trim to the mailbox house to dress it up a little bit. Using some more pallet boards – we cut 1″ wide trim strips with the jigsaw. and then cut them down as needed to trim out the corners and bottom of the mailbox. Using the pallet wood and wanting a rough look – the jigsaw was more than okay to use for the cuts.
A quick coat of paint and stain we had left over from the barn – and we were ready to install!
The hardest part of the project turned out to be digging the hole for the post at the road! We have dug quite a few holes for a lot of different projects around the farm – and I can say without a doubt – the dirt near the road bed is the hardest anywhere on the farm! After scraping and clawing with the post hole diggers for over an hour – we finally had the hole dug to the proper depth (28″ for us).
Beyond the hole digging issues..putting it up was as simple as attaching two 40″ 2 x 4′s cut from the scrap to the post. This created the stand for the mailbox to sit on. We then attached the mailbox house to the 2×4 ledge with four screws. We added an angle brace cut from scrap at 45 degrees to the bottom, attaching it from the post to the 2×4 ledge. All that was left was to slide in the metal mailbox – and we can get mail at the farm!
One final note: we ended up cutting off the back-end of the 2×4′s from the post. We had originally thought about attaching a sign to it – but decided we liked it better without. To receive our DIY and Gardening Tip Posts each Tuesday – sign up to follow the blog via email or hit the "Like" button on the Facebook tab on the left side of the page.
The last two weeks on the farm have been filled with a lot of snow, wind and freezing cold temperatures. It's about this time of year that most of our friends and family start asking us
how the "girls" are faring in the frigid conditions. Our "girls" of course are our chickens, and surprisingly enough, with a few simple adjustments, they handle winter better than us! Now don't get me wrong, they are not particularly fond of the snow any more than us humans. In fact, it's funny to watch them when we open the doors to check on them. They will run to the door, and the minute they see the white stuff on the ground, they stop, do an about-face, and decide to stay in the warm coop!
The key to keeping healthy and happy chickens through the cold winter months is really quite simple. Keep drafts out of the coop, keep the inside of the coop dry, give them extra insulation (straw), and make sure they have fresh (not frozen) water and food to eat. If those simple needs are met - chickens stay happy and healthy even through the coldest of winter nights.I think a lot of our friends and family are surprised that we don't have heaters or warming lights in our coop during the winter months - but there really is no need if you have good shelter and it's properly prepared for winter. Here are some simple basic strategies that we practice with our girls and their coop in the winter:Keeping Out DraftsWe cover each of the windows in late fall with a 1/4" thick piece of clear plexiglass. This allows the light to still get into the coop, but keeps out the cold winter winds and drafts that can be so detrimental to the chicken's health.We keep their attached covered run filled with thick straw as well during the winter months, and if it gets too cold we can cover the small opening to the run with some heavy plastic strips that keep out drafts. Make sure if you do have an outside run attached - that the small opening faces away from your prevailing winds - this will also help to keep out drafts.Deep Litter Method:One thing we do not do during the cold winter months is clean the coop. Instead, we practice what is called the "Deep-Litter" method. In very late fall, we give the coop one final clean-out. We then put in a good 6" to 10" layer of straw all around, and for the next few months, we will add a few inches of straw every week or two on top of the old. The new straw provides a nice clean, dry surface for the chickens to roam about on. More importantly - the old straw below, along with the chicken droppings that are mixed in, will start to slowly decompose, releasing heat that helps to heat the coop and keep the chickens warmer. As the winter progresses, we keep covering the old straw with a few more inches of fresh straw to continue the process. In the early spring, when the night temperatures begin to rise, we will clean it all out and start fresh. This big clean-out has an added benefit - it's a great start to a new compost pile each spring!Water and Food:With the simple practices above - it is amazing how warm the coop actually stays. In fact, it is usually at least 20 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even so, one thing we do keep an eye on is their water supply. On extremely cold nights, it will have the tendency to freeze over by morning - we just make sure to switch out a new watering bucket in the morning, and all is well. It's important to also keep their feeder full of food through the winter months. Without as much access to scratch and dig outside for worms and bugs, they need a steady supply of feed.I always remember the four words of advice an old farmer told me when we first started keeping chickens : "Happy Chickens Lay Eggs". He couldn't have been more right, and if you keep them dry and draft free through the winter, they are a lot happier-Jim and Mary
We love the look of old barn doors. Ever since building the original doors from salvaged barn flooring - we have wanted to build a few more to make into a headboard.
So with the weather still snowy and cold over the weekend, and no ability to work on the chicken coop or recycled greenhouse project - it was time to cure the winter blahs with a building project! And yes, sadly, as the garage became a temporary workshop, Mary's vehicle was once again the victim and banished to the driveway :).
The headboard can be made with a variety of materials. If you want a rustic look - you could easily use pallet boards and old barn wood to create it completely from recycled materials. It can also be built from simple framing lumber. Ours is a combination of both, along with some salvaged barn hardware saved when we deconstructed two old barns.
Since this was built for a king sized bed - we built it as two separate door frames and then attached them together once in the bedroom. It made it easier to move and work with, not to mention fit through tight hallways! When finished - it measured 6' high x 83" wide.
Here are the basics on how we made ours:
(4) 2 x 6 x 72"
(3) 2 x 4 x 80"
(4) 2 x 10 x 29"
(2) 2 x 4 x 29"
(12 to 16 pieces) of 3/4" or 1" thick, 48" long boards
Tongue and groove wood, old barn siding or pallet wood would work great for this, we used some 3/4" x 8" wide tongue and groove boards we bought at the lumber yard for around $40.
(2) 2 x 4 x 72"
(1) 2 x 4 x 85"
Tape Measure, Circular or Chop Saw, Drill, JigSaw, Nail gun, (30) 2 1/2" screws, Biscuit Joiner (overkill)
Step 1 - Cut Materials
We started by cutting all the materials to length - using a mixture of scrap lumber and purchased wood from the local lumber yard. Scrap wood is actually a great choice, even if it is nicked up - adding a rustic feel to the finished piece.
Step 2 - Making The Top Curved Boards
Taking the two 29" 2 x 10" pieces - we traced a long curved line on one and cut it out with the jigsaw. We traced the cutout to the second board to match, and made our second cut.
Step 3 - Laying Out The Doors:
Next, we assembled the two doors - one at a time. We built the doors face down, assembling it from the back.
We started with (2) 2 x 6" x 6' rail pieces. We then laid (2) 29" pieces between the 2 x 6" side rails for the doors. We put the curved board at top, flush with the top of the 2x6's. We placed the other 29" board 24" from the bottom of the door , and the remaining 2x4x29" board 42" from the bottom.
Step 4 - Gluing the Frame:
I applied glue to all of the joints and clamped them together while nailing on the backing boards. I did take an extra step and added simple biscuits to the joints for added strength - It's a habit of "overbuilding" that I tend to have :). Simply applying glue to the joints and clamping would have been enough, especially with the backing boards and 2 x 4" braces we attach later.
Step 4 Assembling the Door
Using a 2 x 4 as a guide on the outer edge of the back of the door frame - and with a nail gun, we nailed in all of the 48" tongue and groove boards across the door opening - nailing on the top and bottom, and to the 29" 2 x 4"piece as well. You could use pallets or reclaimed boards here just as easily. By nailing in to the door frame boards, the door becomes one solid piece. Once done, we repeated the process and built door #2.
Step 5 - Assembling The Headboard:
We took both doors to their permanent location before assembling into the final headboard. Placing both doors side-by-side with the fronts facing the wall - we screwed in the top 2 x4 x80" piece to connect the two doors. Then we installed the remaining two 80" boards - one at the very bottom and one at the bottom of the 2 x 10 x 29" board located below the tongue and groove boards.
Step 6 - Trim and Hardware:
Next, we flipped it around, and added a couple of 2 x 4" trim boards on each side as well as the top to trim it out and give a little depth. All that was left was to stain, and add the old barn hardware. We finished it off with a couple of old lanterns, and the headboard was complete!
From start to finish - the entire project took about 4 hours. Well, 4 1/2 if you count cleaning the garage back up :)
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