Tag Archives: barn

Almost Ready

DSC_0604A view of the new nursery greenhouse from the street.

DSC_0607The steep pitch sheds the snow pretty well. We still need a warm, calm day to install the second layer of plastic.


A great deal has been accomplished in the past few weeks. Tables have been built…


And topped with wire for good drainage.

DSC_0683Shelby/Vanna, shows off the tables that are all done. Moisture-proof wiring and lights have all been installed. Black painted barrels are ready to be filled with water, once the compost is in place behind the north wall. The barrels will absorb heat from the sun during the day, and then give it off slowly during the night.

DSC_0685This is the blower with a thermostat for circulation of air from inside the greenhouse, through the compost behind the wall and back inside. About half of the compost is on site here, being mixed and readied.


Meanwhile, there are several roofs to be fixed. The shed roof was in horrible condition, leaking badly and nearly ready to collapse.  Once this project is done, we will have a pitched dormer over a new loading dock accessing the back door of the cooler. They are also building some dry storage for boxes of tomatoes, onions, and other things that don’t go into the cooler, but which need a cool dry place away from the sun. The next roof on the list is the one over the chicken coop.

As part of the long range plan, we will move the chickens out of the barn completely and use their space for something else. Arks, or moveable chicken tractors will be built so the chickens can be moved about to forage and fertilize, and then parked next to the barn where they’ll be easily accessed during the winter months.DSC_0681

New timbers and framing were needed to keep the roof from falling in! This project happened just in time before the foot+ of snow we are getting today, and the potential for even more big snow forecast for Sunday!



Filed under Compost, Farm Hack, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Spring, Sustainability

Nursery Greenhouse Phase I

Every spring without fail, we make lists of all the things we want or need to do on the farm. Our lists always contain more items than any of us can accomplish in any given year, let alone the short couple of months we get once the snow starts retreating, and before the temperatures warm up enough for planting. Once that occurs, the hectic life of farming swings into full gear and some of our intentions fall by the wayside or get put off until next year. Over time, we have begun to learn how to assign priority to these tasks and choose one or two important projects each year. We are also learning to work in phases. DSC_0870

Phase 1 of our new fixed nursery greenhouse began last week. Unlike the other two, this greenhouse will be heated to start our seeds. We will also use it to raise potted plants for sale, and perhaps microgreens in the off-season. We have not even begun to figure out everything we will use it for! Very exciting! The north wall will have the composting facility behind it to help to insulate the greenhouse. We also plan to use barrels painted black inside, filled with water for a heat sink. Initally, we will heat with a propane heater, but eventually Mike hopes to build a rocket heater with a cobb, a masonry structure formed around the vent pipe of the stove which will run down the length of the greenhouse. The idea is to build one fire to heat the cobb, which in turn, gives off heat throughout the night. The propane then becomes the backup…


The giant rock at the corner is here to stay. Made a good footing! DSC_0803 DSC_0826

Seeing Todd in shorts, you wouldn’t know that it was a blustery 40 degrees all week. The wind never stopped blowing!DSC_0804  DSC_0809

Crushed stone and then a poured footing… DSC_0840

Then the wall building began. DSC_0838

Phase 2 will involve building knee walls and anchoring the other corner pipes. We hope to have the plastic on before long, and we will have a staging area for hardening off plants. We will still use the Sanderson greenhouse for the next few weeks to get our babies growing!

A few more new things on the farm…

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Meet Wyatt, Mike and Desi’s new farm dog — a rescue mutt with a really sweet personality. He’s an awesome buddy for Charger, and even Grammie likes him!


Also, a new paddock for Prudance and Ruby.  They are very excited about their new space to roam! DSC_0865And last but not least, I uncovered the garlic today. Looking good!


Filed under Antique Barn, CSA Shares, Farm Animals, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Uncategorized

S(no)w More Please! We’re Moving Floor-Ward…

DSC_0613Last Friday’s 18+ inches of snow….


…was a total surprise. The local meteorologists got it completely wrong. At 12 inches and still snowing, we were scoffing at snow total maps still showing our area could expect no more than 4 to 6.

On a sad note, by the end of the weekend, tragically, three houses on Plum Island literally had toppled off their foundations onto the beach. Thirteen more in that same neighborhood have been condemned, and at least 40 homes are in danger of being lost in future storm surges. In today’s Boston Globe, according to Kenneth Kimmell, the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, “It took about 100 years for the coastline to recede 100 feet. . . . It has now receded another 100 feet since 1994…Those homes are at risk, and will continue to be at risk because of the sea-level rise and the retreating shoreline that is picking up in pace in ways that none of us can predict or stop. Those are large geologic forces that no one is capable of stopping.”


Between snow cleanup, and planting carrots, mesclun mix and head lettuce in the greenhouses…


work on the barn floor was begun. Pressure treated cribbing was laid directly on the earth. In the 1700s barns were built directly on the dirt. All of the posts are incredibly still sound, each one resting on a large, flat rock…



A few of the old floorboards were deemed fit to last another 100 years or so…, and then new boards were fitted and screwed firmly into the underneath supports.


…and what a difference! We are well on our way to having a barn floor that we can dance on!DSC_0615


Filed under Antique Barn, Tractor

The Soul Of An Old Barn

Mike + Desi 1160

A Bit of History

We’ve been told that our gracious old barn was built in the 1700s. It has stood witness to generations of historical events, and has weathered many storms. Consider that this barn may have already stood on this soil here around the time of the American Revolution.

Our ancestors were smart. They situated this most important building centrally, on the highest elevation of the farm, where it always stays dry, and commands a view of the fields all around.

The original post and beam structure was added to with lofts for hay storage along the sides, and two higher lofts over the main central aisle. These photos give you a sense of the structure.


This photo was taken from up in one of the high lofts.DSC_0424484283_3738883482561_1730840263_n

Each generation has added or subtracted something to the main building: an equipment shed along the west side, the chicken coop, a tiny milk room in front. In the past, a different configuration where the chicken coop is now, housed the farm’s horses.

Inside, the barn at one time was adapted with raised rows of stanchions for cows along one side of the wide middle aisle, and a two foot wide concrete pad was poured for a feed trough. At each renovation, the builder used what lumber he found on hand to scab things together, and we ended up with layers of construction details. But the old soul of the barn remains under all this change.

An old barn is a living entity. This one surely has a soul, and a very deep history that we have come to appreciate and love. But it is not our intention to freeze this building in time. We honor its history by adapting it to our use, just as earlier generations did while being sensitive to, and preserving its integrity.

Ever since restarting our present day farming operation, we have struggled with storage. Through the generations, the barn had become chopped up into a series of overstuffed bays along both sides of the central aisle. Generations of accumulation resulted in a huge pileup of items. Some of the items are of historical value and great interest, other stuff was well, just stuff…Several cleanups later, we have carved out a few areas that work better for us: our pickup station, and a new packing area and cooler room, but there’s still much more to be done.

A great deal of moving and re-moving of equipment and tools goes on here every year, as we strive to accommodate all the activities around the farm. In fact, too much moving around of the same stuff, as we struggle to adapt an outmoded use of space. We have long known that we can use this space better, and lots of really good ideas have been floating around as talk. Some of these ideas involve major changes to the internal configurations.

A New Floor

Our CSA operation has brought the public into our barn, and the uneven flooring has been a hazard that we have ignored too long. Time to fix it! So last weekend, the men started sledging out the old concrete trough and pulling up the old floor and the cribbing underneath. DSC_0214You can see the edge of that concrete pad just behind the pile of wood. All of the old floor boards have been ripped out, soon to be replaced with new ones from the Herrick Farm sawmill.

These boards are probably 200 years old, and are still in pretty good shape, in spite of sitting on the ground all these years.

By next summer, we will have a nice, even floor in our pickup stand.



Filed under Antique Barn