It has been a while since we have posted anything, and we apologize. We are still alive. We have been very busy lately. Here are some updates and some coverage from the Indiana-Illinois Farm and Outdoor Power Equipment Show.
Work continues on our small house. Walls are up, insulation, kitchen, bathroom, etc. We are making great progress considering we are cash flowing everything and doing the work ourselves. This is even a bigger challenge as almost all furniture and cabinets are custom made. We started with completely demolishing the inside of the building and gutting everything down to bare walls. No plumbing, no electrical. All outlets, switches, lights, plumbing and drains had to be built. We also have constructed a “barn” from almost 100% recycled materials. The main component has been pallets. We have a privacy fence installed on a portion of the animal yard, and started fencing in the rest of the land area. We are shrinking from 1900 sq ft and a garage to 550 sq ft with a small storage area. So we have been doing lots of downsizing and donating. We are moving the majority of our medicinal herbs, permaculture plants in the process as well. It has been a lot of work but will be well worth it in the end.
Here are some pictures of custom projects. Some of these are older and we have made updates since then.
Master bed – We raised the bed 36 inches so that we could have storage drawers under it. Essentially it is like taking your bed and sitting on top of 3 dressers. We keep the storage and don’t lose any floor space. The entire place has over 10 foot ceilings so it doesn’t feel confined. The bedroom is only 8 ½ feet by 9 feet roughly. When finished we will have all sorts of photos and collections of where it was to where it is today.
Tub – we wanted something unique to the space and keep with the rustic theme. We decided to use a stock tank for the tub and shower. Again, this is a custom job, not quite finished yet. We had to drill holes for the drain, coat the inside with a sealer, and install fixtures, and a curtain. The nice thing is this will be extra deep compared to a normal tub, and can be used as a soaking tub.
Bunk Beds – with a smaller footprint for rooms we went vertical. These are triple bunks, made almost 100% from reclaimed wood from another project. Each bunk has it’s own power pack and lighting. It is strong enough to hold me and my wife at the same time. This is an older photo and they have since been painted and decorated by the kids. Top bunk is 8 feet off the ground, and plenty of head room. The younger two kids have already claimed the lower bunks. An additional loft bed is ready to be installed once the walls are painted.
Bench-table – We needed a creative way to have meals without a table since there was no room. We came up with a bench behind the couch. There are also 3 additional spots on the kitchen island. We picked up some great deals on bar stools at Habitat for Humanity Restore and Asset Recycling.
Kitchen cabinets and sink – More custom. We got a great deal on 1950’s metal cabinets we sanded and repainted. Added a wooden top, and dropped in a cast iron sink we picked up for 1/10 the retail price. Sanded the wood top, and sealed it. The upper cabinets are what they originally looked like. The lower cabinets are what they look like now. We painted in some areas, and are leaving exposed brick in many spots. It will be sealed once we decide how much plaster to take off the wall. We liked the industrial look.
Here is the start to the attached greenhouse.
Building raised beds for medicinal and culinary herbs. We took old concrete field tiles that were being discarded and turund it into a raised bed.
I went to the farm equipment show the other day, it was free at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I went hoping to look into smaller farm equipment and see what is out there. Up until recently we haven’t had a need. Well, everything there was monstrously large, almost 100% computer GPS controlled. I was a bit depressed that this is what our farmers are today, not farmers, but an industry. Our youngest got a kick out of being able to run under the larger tractors. There wasn’t much for the small scale farmer and most wouldn’t talk to you unless you had over 1000 acres. I felt greatly out of place. It was all geared to soy, wheat, corn, feedlots, CAFO operations and little else. It was free, other than parking, so I wasn’t out too much. It was suggested I attend the ACRES events, if they were closer I would.
I did meet and talk with Organic Valley and what it takes to become an organic certified farm, and how to join their co-op. This sounded real promising for once we get larger land area. Being part of the co-op had many benefits such as borrowing equipment, grant writers, and marketing. Some of these would be cost prohibitive if we were doing it alone. One option was, if you plant some (acres here) black sunflower on your land, they can bring in equipment to press it for the oil, which you can then use for biodiesel on your land. Never knew that was an option. I also found that one of my inspirational heroes Mark Sheppard is part of their co-op and we discussed him for a bit too.
Another connection I made was with the living trust attorney. This is something we looked into and got more information. A living trust will allow you to put land and farm into a entity that doesn’t have to go through probate in order to be passed down from generation to generation. Many farmers, or large land owners are already aware of this option and utilize it. We are just being educated. If you are a smaller farm or land owner you may want to look into this. Probate can last 6mo to 2 years or more and that is if it is not contested. Who takes care of the farm during that time? Who pays the taxes? A trust can prevent many issues down the road. We have an appointment after the show is wrapped up, and I will share more of what we learn.
Today was a hodgepodge of topics but it has been a while and I wanted to take a few minutes to update. This next spring hopefully things will settle down and we can focus more on experimenting and sharing what we learn.