Glass Storm Door Replaced

Today we had the front storm door glass on my studio building replaced.

glass-shattered

In the meantime I learned that all storm doors are made of safety glass that will shatter if hit hard enough. Imagine how you could be hurt if you slipped on the ice and fell into a glass door and that glass broke into large shards. Glass doors are made this way to protect us from a fatal accident.

glass-coming-off-truck

We will never know for sure how this happened to our door but we think a stone was thrown from our lawn tractor and hit the glass because we found it shattered one morning late this fall.

gene-putting-wood-away

A phone call to our insurance company and seven week later we have a new glass door insert. In the meantime the pieces shattered in a zillion pieces and fell into our stone landscaping. That meant vacuuming out many tiny pieces of irregular shaped glass and then hauling over new pea gravel from the other side of our property and revamping the stone bed. That translated into five or six hours of hard physical labor.

worker-carrying-door

We worked with Glass Images out of Holland, MI. They came to measure, order and then replaced the glass insert. They did an excellent job for us.

After we cleaned up the glass pieces we put down a large vinyl tarp to keep the rest of the glass from falling out into the landscaping again. And on top of that we put large field stones to keep the tarp from blowing up in our high winds and sending glass pieces everywhere.

tarp-and-stones

This glass insert had to be a custom order and the main hold-up was that this door has mini blinds in between the glass. That also meant that it the insert to be rebuilt to match the back door, hence the long delay in replacing it.

glass-images-logo

With property there is always something that needs to be repaired. Today we have a new door insert and that is one more chore is ticked off my winter to-do list.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

Front Loader Pedestal Makeover

As many of you know front loaders washing machines and dryers require quite a bit of bending downing to load and unload them and that is why they sell these very expensive platform pedestals for them. When I bought my units over 10 years ago these matching pedestals cost $300.00 each. I have no idea what they cost now.

A friend of mine had mold in her old front loading washing machine and got rid of it. She bought a new top loader washer and dryer. I was lucky enough to inherit her old pedestal. I saw this as an opportunity to not have to bend quite so far down to remove my clothes from the dryer. And she saw this as an opportunity to save this piece from the landfill. Another win-win!

After maneuvering the pedestal into place and I realized that it stuck out quite a bit further that both machines did before. The power coated metal pedestal didn’t look as smooth as I would have like so I set my thinking cap on for a way to camouflage it.

unpainted-pedestal-base-close-w-rug-use

Part of the wood base cut and screwed into place waiting to be painted. We also built and slid a top piece on to cover the metal base as well. 

When a not-so-pretty but highly functional pedestal base came our way for FREE we decided to take advantage of the windfall. Once it was in the my laundry room I then had to figure out a way to camouflage the unattractive metal. One day I was looking at our fireplace and realized the mantle cover up-piece was the exact answer I was seeking. All we had to do was build a kind of cabinet cover piece of wood, paint it and slip it over the offending pedestal and ta da, we now have a DYI pedestal cover!

Gene purchased the pine wood while in town one Monday and a friend helped us to cut it to size on his portable table saw one day when he came to Sunday dinner. I served Frank grilled salmon and chicken along with a fancy tossed salad…can you hear that refrain “I work for food!”

washer-and-dryer-from-angle-and-rugI primed the raw wood using Zinsser sealer and primer and then painted the frame pieces in a Benjamin More white semi-gloss trim paint to make it blend in nicely with the white washer and dryer. I had contemplated staining it in the maple wood tones to match my laundry room cabinets but I also realized that color matching pine with a maple finish was a time-consuming project I did not want to get involved in at that time.

I admit that the tight fitting appliancedwere a real pistol to get into the snug space between the existing two cabinets but with the help of our two friends and lot of jiggling we managed it. When I had my cupboards layout designed the kitchen designer asked me if I planned on having a pedestal installed and I said then, I did not. I wanted them of course but the added expense was pretty hard to justify.

I could however justify the expense of my commercial-size top-loading washing machine because prior to buying it I had been driving the 10 miles into town (and back) at least once a month to wash our bed quilt. Iwas alsomaking that drive  more often to wash seasonal items like my husband’s heavy hunting coats and outside work clothes. That drive, my time, plus the extra $10-$15.00 cash spent at the laundromat eeach month basically paid for the move up from the standard size machine to the commercial at home size washer.

looking-into-washer

Anna our RIR photo bombs the photograph of the washer and dryer before we added the pedestal.

I love my front loading machines and have been very, very happy with them. I know from reading on-line articles that there was a class action suit on these machines due to mold that developed in the rubber seal located just inside the door. But I have been very careful from the beginning to carefully wipe out all of the moisture in the rubber seal after every wash and then to leave the door open to dry out thoroughly overnight. With this small extra effort, I’ve never had an issue of mold in my machine.

That small extra effort paid off big.

Small House Big Sky Homestead, Donna

Master Bedroom Refresh

I have been searching for a king size bedspread or comforter for our nearly ancient water-bed for months now. (My husband brought this waterbed to our marriage over 20 years ago and we still use it today!)

checkered-edge-use-this-one

The colors and weight of fabric in this King sized bed comforter is perfect for my needs. 

The Orvis quilt we bought just 4 years ago unfortunately ripped out and I quickly found out that my earth-tone palette of green, gold, rust and browns is no longer “in fashion.” And when colors are no longer in style this means you can’t find the fabric you seek no matter how long or how hard you search. I know as I have been looking for months and months; in stores and on-line.

My bedroom walls are painted in a Wythe Blue 143 paint by Benjamin Moore. See more here.https://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/colorcolor/color/…/wytheblue

I chose this historical, deep base color because I thought it was a very pretty and because I wanted a fairly dark room since I am a very light sleeper due to my wacky thyroid. Darkening the sleeping room is part of the sleep hygiene tricks those of us with autoimmune conditions follow.

rocker-in-corner-close-up

Our new matching curtain panels on our bedrooms corner window. This is a little sitting area I created using an old sewing rocker and chalk painted sewing table. 

Although my bedroom walls photograph more blue than green but they are actually a kind of deep sage green with gray undertones. I used the Wythe paint as my base coat and then washed a lovely golden/yellow paint over the base color. It really is lovely.

curtain-pattern-and-sweing-table-green-use

A close up view of the wall paint color. 

I painted that same soft yellow/gold paint on my louvered closet doors and put down cream-colored carpet on the bed floor. I’ve discovered that it is almost impossible to find coordinating items for this color combination too. Our water-bed, dressers and armoire are each heavy and bulky to move so I am not up to repainting the walls either.

curtai-in-corner-and-spread-nice

This large armoire holds my dressier and work type clothing.

Yesterday at the Estate Sales Warehouse in Holland, MI, I finally hit the jackpot. For just $30.00 I found this King size comforter, three pillow shams and two matching drapery panels in this leafy pattern theme. And they are in my desired mix of woodsy colors. The slighter heavier weight of this older fabric is perfect, a bit heavier than the new ones and easily smooths out to a wrinkle free look. The reverse side is a tiny green on green check pattern that goes well with my wall paint color too. Hooray!

I could use either side of this comforter; the leaf theme patterned side or the tiny check side.

I also found a perfect quilt for just $8.00 for our guest bedroom with a white background, and the leaf green, rust colors of the spread and wall in that room as well. I folded and laid that quilt at the base of the guest bed as an accent piece.

white-quilt-laid-at-end-of-the-bed-use

Our guest bedroom also got a mini reset with this lovely vintage quilt. 

In November after a long search, I had bought a comforter out of sheer desperation at Wal-Mart and was not happy about the colors (it was too icy blue) the make or the cheap fabric that lay in wrinkles on my bed no matter how hard I worked to spread them out. Nothing about that spread met my needs. I hated it and took it back for a refund. They just don’t make things like they used to!

guest-bedroom-new-quilt-use

A closer view of this guest bedroom quilt shows the modernistic split circles of lime, rust and yellow. 

I am definitely a “frugal-ista” I love buying used or vintage goods. In fact, I actually prefer buying vintage. Yes, it is certainly about the savings and about saving the space in the landfill but it is also very much about the quality of the products and the way these older items wear and last.

curtains-close-so-so

My original yellow sheer curtain panels pair well with the vintage leaf panels.

Give me an old cast iron pan over a new stainless steel pan any day. My 40-year-old cast iron skillets are as good as they day they were made and will likely out-live me.

Who cares if my colors are “out of fashion” right now, I do not. They are practical, work weell with the rest of my homes colors and best of all they do not show the dirt or dog hair our lifestyle brings. Give me a vintage bedspread over a new off-shore cheaply made model any day. This option is such an earth friendly alternative too.

It turned out that the two drapery panels were the exact length I needed and look as if they had been hemmed to the perfect length for our corner bedroom window!

Small House Big Sky Homestead, Donna

 

Small House Weekly Homestead Photo Diary


Not that I am complaining….but summer weather came upon us suddenly this week on our homestead in SW Michigan. One night it is freezing and the next day it is sunny and hot. In fact, it was sunny and hot all week-long and no rain. The daffodils are bursting out everywhere and their bright yellow color everywhere makes me happy. Even the daffodils that I had thought were drowned in the 2009-2012 high ground water flooding have returned with many new blooms and are spreading.

Firepit in meadow ith Rhodies very close GOOD

The Rhodies love to scratch and peck in the wood ash from the recently burned down fire pit.

While this is a mood boosting strategy we do need rain here and a lot of it. Not only do the plants and trees need life-giving water to get a really good start, we need to fill our water containment totes for the long, dry summer ahead. The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting hotter than usual and less rain that usual in our part of the state. In a 1950’s style home without a/c and a not-currently-working swimming pool, this is not good news. Sigh.

April daffodils to circle USE

The daffodils are bursting out in the crab apple tree circle garden right now. 

We hope to get the swimming pool up and running again soon but a large chunk of cash is needed to do that and not in the budget right now. The pool needs to be drained, scraped, acid washed, re-painted and the mechanical’s up and running again. It’s going to a big and expensive project.

Daffodils in triangle under fruit tree USE

Circles of daffodils in the fruit tree triangle. 

Gene worked on removing the deer netting from around the hydrangea shrubs and turned the pool pump turned on and got out the hoses. He also worked on repairing the ruts in the meadow this week. The rusts came as a result of the roadside trimmer driving their large, heavy truck to dump the mulch. The ruts were filled with a mix of sandy soil from the woods, well-composed horse manure from a friend’s farm and topped with good composted soil from the compost pile. In the fall, I’ll plant grass seeds. Grass seeds do not germinate well here in the spring time unless we have a very wet year to keep them going. Grass seed simply does better here if I spread it in the fall and let the snow melt germinate it the following spring.

Cart, Rhodies Gene digging w shovel USE

Gene digging composted soil with his Rhodie helpers fishing for worms.

Daffodils in bloom in bird bed USE

Our bird feeding bed is edged in daffodils and a bloom.

I spent most of my week dispersing straw and then bark chips. I made some good progress but have a l-o-n-g way to go yet.

Rhodies close puzzld cute

This Rhode Island Red chicken is certainly strutting her stuff in the leaves.Gen holing Crystal who is lfying downCrystal wants to get away after wiping down her messy butt from a bit too many kitchen scraps.

Burning bush and daffodils barn

Bloom where you are planted my friends!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

The Chicken Garden Project – Phase One – Getting Started


Like many gardener’s we have a new garden project going almost every year. This is how I manage to accomplish new garden projects with my current homestead work load. My working formula is that I work on this project an hour or two each morning and then I accomplish a little bit everyday!

Cement blocks withgreenhouse hoops and garden USE

Soil, straw and bark chips make up the base of my boarder garden. 

This year’s project is what I am calling the chicken garden. I plan to add some color and form on the North-end entry gate to our chicken coop and runs.  I also want to add some pizzazz and visual interest. I plan to only plant easy-care perennials so I don’t have more than the basic seasonal work to maintain them. These perennials have proven themselves to be low water and easy-care plant here already.

Two step stones in bark chips chicken garden

Just a simple stone and chip pathway lead to the chicken run.

In this case, I am going to transplant some of my standard “nothing will kill them” hardy plants from other parts of our property. I’ll be using the tried and true plants that I know can stand up to whatever weather Mother Nature Give’s us;  from drought to flooding. These are the perennials that have proven their merit over and over during the past 15 years we have lived and gardened here on our SW Michigan homestead.Rhodies close puzzld cute

The eventual recipient of the chicken garden.

Small House Homesteads Top Ten Hardy and Easy-Care Perennials:

  1. Day lilies
  2. Iris
  3. Catmint
  4. Black eyed Susan’s
  5. Brown eyed Susan’s
  6. Shasta Daisy’s
  7. Butterfly Bush
  8. Comfrey
  9. Sedum (spreading and low growing)
  10. Autumn Sedum Joy

thB2ARDF5I

The herb comfrey in full bloom.

My overall goal is to brighten the place up a bit when we walk out to the coop a half-dozen times a day. I also want to play down the ugly, gray cement blocks that hold down the greenhouse hoops. The blocks are super practical and make the low-cost side of this design work just fine, but I would like to pretty them up a bit.

Metal stake in cement block

I hope to soften down the hard lines of these gray cement blocks with green plants.

I started by amending the soil with good composted dirt from our compost bins and then added spent straw and topped with bark chips from the recent roadside clean up crew. Then I added six flat stepping-stones to a simple bark chip pathway that I put down to deal with the spring mud. The step-tones were once used in another garden location at once point. These stones resided for a few years in the bed behind our three-season porch but the shrubs there grew big enough to fill that open space and I was not longer using those step stones to get into and out of that bed.

Boarder at coop before just chips USE

Bark chips help to keep the weeds down as well as the moisture in the soil.

Before I could plant any flowers on our homestead I have learned I must seriously amend the soil and kill the grass that was growing there. Because our soil is super lean, sandy oak savanna soil that is also devoid of most necessary nutrients, so my garden prep process typically takes me a year or two to amend the soil before planting.  This small garden border is no different.

2016 pine pile USE

This great mound of bark chips will soon disappear.

My formula is quite simple; I add soil from the compost bins mixed with old soil from within the fire pit. Then I added some bark chips and mulch left for us by the local tree trimmers.  This tree trimming mulch includes pine needles and other greenery that will also help to amend our soil and add nitrogen to make a nutrition base for the flowers I plan to add in a year or two.


Chickens shack, hoops and garen USE

Another view of the “back forty.”The chicken run, the pool shack and of course, our girls!

While the amendments were doing their thing, I consulted a great book called Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard. By Jessi Bloom. This book is full of practical and beautiful solution for any gardener who wants to invite a flock into their backyard. It’s a great resource and give good tips and used many lovely color photographs for ideas and interest.

Chicken Garden foront cover book

If you are considering landscaping in or around your coop or run here are a few relevant posts you might also enjoy.

Enjoy!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

 

Keeping our Chickens IN the Chicken Run

Keeping chickens where you want them can sometimes be a challenge. Chickens like to be out and about free ranging and they like to fly. And they REALLY love worms.

Metal stake in cement block

A close up of the cement block filled with dirt that hold the hoop in.

In spite of the four feet high fence, our chickens have a habit of flying out of the chicken run. Yes, we could clip their wings so they could not fly but if they ever seriously needed to escape a predator (or our labrador Retriever Sassy) they would be minced meat. So I don’t clip their wings.

Gene tieing crisscorss use

Gene working on the connection point of the two hoops.

Chickens are smarter than you might think too. Ours have learned that if they fly up on top of the bale of straw they can fly up, out and over the tall fencing designed to keep them in their run. They have also learned that the worms are in the vegetable garden under the bark chips. Destination worms!

New hoops to keep chickens out

The overview of our chicken condo complex.

That leaves them flying out of the run and into the vegetable garden where they scratch up the back chips of the low raised beds. This is not a good thing for me because it meant a lot more work rebuilding and spreading more bark chips and leaves!

New hoops close

Greenhouse hoops new held in place in cement blocks.

Our assignment was to find a way to keep them from flying out and to do it without spending any significant money. This was going to be quite a challenge.

New hoops close  The chickens also like to fly up to the tarp top and fly over from there.

It’s not fancy or perfect, but we came up with the idea of using the last two leftover stainless steel greenhouse hoops and poles along with the left over bird netting and tie wraps. The only out-of-pocket costs to us were $4.00 for four cement clocks to hold the hoops.

Problem solved. Now to determine if it works…

Small House homesteader and chicken keeper, Donna

Getting Food Creative: Buying Locally Raised Pork

As the costs of healthy foods continues to go up many of us who are dedicated to healthy organic look to find more creative ways to feed ourselves. That is the subject of this post.

I have been a serious vegetarian in years past and I have many vegetarian as well as meat-eating friends as well. Many of my yoga friends are vegetarians due to ethical reasons. Some hunt deer for food, a process that provides their main source of protein. I always feel to each their own. No judging on my part.

Front of shop USE

Bob’s of South Haven, MI

My philosophy is that we all eat to live and most of us eat something that once lived in order to stay alive. This process for me is more about doing this in a safe, honest and ethical way than about anything else for me.

Eating safe meat is a huge issue today as the science is in and it has shown that factory farmed meat carries unhealthy chemicals, medicines and bacteria on top of the often deplorable way many of these animals are kept. This is where I draw the line as I cannot morally or financially support inhumanely raised animal practices.

Kim loading the truck

Loading the boxes of processed meat into the vehicle.

I made a huge decision this winter. In the future I will only buy organic humanely raised meat. I know that this means a 42 % increase in food costs but the recent changes in my health requires this. So this means I have to get more and more creative to buy the highest quality foods that I need.

In years past I dealt with the issue of increased grocery costs by eating less meat (keep my intake to about 3 oz. every third day) and making more soups, stews and stir fry’s to stretch a small piece of meat. Since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s’ I have been buying small amounts of organic meat at the Health Food store but the $13.50 a lb. has made this more and more difficult. I considered raising my own animals but roadblocks are there including not having enough land to pasture them, suitable barns and corrals to keep them in. And to tell the truth I do not have the emotional distance necessary to raise and slaughter my own animals.

Meat apon use

Looking at the sales receipt as we pick up the meat.

I grow much of our own seasonal vegetables and raise chicken for our eggs. But I was having trouble dealing with the high costs of organic meat.

I finally found another more affordable way working with local farmers and growers who feed organic feed and believe in taking very good care of their stock without growth hormones and antibiotics. They do their best for a humane and ethical slaughter and safe meat processing too. It’s called farm-to-consumer…

Sign at window

Bobs Processing Inc., of South Haven, MI  a USDA approved meat processor.

I had been buying organic meat at the health food store and by the time the farmers raised the animal and made their profit, then the store marked it up to make their profit, I was paying $13.00 and $14.00 a lb. for this meat. Something had to change.

This winter I ordered and bought ¼ of a hog that was raised in the highest of standards. I know and trust the farmer who raised these hogs and believe this is the highest quality of meat possible. I ‘sold’ the other 3/4 of the hog to friends and neighbors to make this happen for us.

Girl and flhig paper

Check out time.

Our hog was raised by a neighbor, Anthony Winfrey of Forgotten Forty Farms and processed by Bobs Processing Inc., of South Haven, MI  a USDA approved meat processor.

This past weekend we cleaned out our chest freezer, thoroughly washed it out and made it ready for the organic raised pork that I picked up on Friday.

Buying directly from the farmer and making arrangement to have it processed cost me $685 a lb. total. Both parties made their profits and I now have a freezer of clean meat. Now that’s better.

Many of you who follow me, know how I feel about eating organic and whole nourishing food, so I am probably as they say ‘preaching to the choir’ but if you have been on the fence about spending for organic foods, this may interest you.

See more at: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2015/05/30/sophies-story/#sthash.f60jKMHh.dpuf Eating organic is important for us all and especially for those of us who are fighting immune system diseases.

As you now I have Hashimoto’s Thyorditis. Hasimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that affects over 10 million people in the US alone. Damaging the thyroid gland, it creates symptoms so wide-ranging and confusing that it can be hard to diagnose. My Hasimotos’ is why I must eat organic.

Another podcast if great interest to the subject of eating organic is “Why Eat Organic” by André Leu: GFS Podcast 071, found on one of my all-time favorites podcasts, Gluten Free School (GFS)  by Jennifer Fugo. If you have been on the fence about the value of organic, your mind is about to be opened.

Gluten Free School is a dedicated teaching tools about being gluten-sensitive. This savvy woman gives us many empowering steps to get healthy. In fact, this is the number one spot for those living a gluten-free life who are seeking community, as well as simple & clear information about their condition, and looking for ways to become empowered and to finally feel better.

Based on her personal journey, Jennifer Fugo, founder of Gluten Free School, is more than just about chat about a diet… it’s a healing revolution!

If you want to know more about the how’s and why’s of eating gluten-free, check out Fugo’s podcasts at http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/listen/

For the podcast dedicated to the importance of eating organic go here: http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/2015/07/28/why-eating-organic-is-important/

Yes, it was a lot of work to find, sell and make the arrangements for this meat and yes the farm raised meat can be more expensive than meat in the grocery store but I believe it is worth it. I paid about $3.00 a lb. for the meat and with the processing it cameo out to about $5.00 a lb. Not cheap certainly, but not $13.00 a pound that I was paying in the health food store either.

The end result will be cleaner, healthier organic meat to help to me heal my leaky gut and shut down the inflammation of the Hashimotos’. When one is on a restricted diet like I am, meat is the number one component of the Auto Immune Protocol (AIP.)

Its time to celebrate because my freezer is now full and I know I am on my way to better health.

Small House homesteader, Donna