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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Fever...

Well...after going crazy over spring...having severe garden fever...I stomped into the office yesterday and informed my boss that I need to have fresh vegetables...of course he looked at me like I had two heads..."and that means what, Lisa?" he said...he is used to my "bright ideas"...and he looked at me like he needed an attorney...


Weeeeelll...it means I really need a garden..."aaah..." he said while staring at me...

It always goes like this when I want something from him...he tries to stare me down...and it gets kinda tricky...the first one to speak? loses....I don't know if any other women that visit The Dilletante Proprietor have ever dealt with the "oilfield" mentality?  Well..it goes something like this..."ALL women are crazy " and need to be dealt with on a 7 year old level and if that doesn't work... get an attorney....

I stared right back....and he says.."and where are you going to grow a garden around here?"

HEE HEE! I WIN!

LOOK at all this space...

Way in the back of the yard is something of a "dump" place for all the extra odds and ends that come in with the trucks...it is on an old railroad bed and can't be seen from the gates coming into the yard or the office....

There is 10 acres of unused dirt back there!

He knows I win...and he tries to counter attack..."HOW are you gonna water a garden back there?"

"There are 11 plastic food grade barrels back there from when they remodeled the boat dock"....I say...and stare....

"Hmmmph" he says and walks off....he always does that when I win...and I always take it as a yes situation....and he knows it...

Well the mechanic started chit chatting about how great it is that I want to do something like this....and then the cleaning gal got in on it and then some of the drivers....

AND THEN...here he comes again...round 2....

or so I thought...."there is a 250 gallon water tank under the storage trailer...."  and off he goes again....over his shoulder he says "I'll start saving coffee grounds for compost..."




BAAAAAAAHAAAAAAA!  I have to admit...I do love the sparring...and I think he does too....

On to my garden...

As you all prolly know...Wyoming is in a severe drought..it has been going on for years and there is absolutely NO grass...weeds...green...anywhere.... I have a treasure hunt ahead of me to find sheet mulching materials...hay and straw are at a premium as they have to import it to feed livestock...it is very expensive! and I am a terrible cheap skate....and I LOVE to recycle, reuse and re-purpose.....


In the very back of the lot...at the dumping ground...I found my spot...and TONS of reusable stuff...the images of sugar plums dancing in my head? have lot's to do with the welding shop on the lot...and my Honey...he is an awesome welder!
Trellis'...fencing...garden art...I can't wait!









So we will see if this Dilletante can build a recycled, re purposed, reused garden and coerce even one tomato out of this barren desert ....

Monday, March 4, 2013

Greenhouses...

I have always wanted a greenhouse...I use a cold frame which consists of a plywood and 2x4 box with a recycled glass door for a cold frame...the bottom is open to the dirt, the plants are started in the basement under a $10.00 shop light and transferred into this box, which faces South... in March...








from March to June...my lil plants go crazy in there! they go so crazy that the box is soon over run with plants that want OUT!  Sooo...even though I am stuck in Wyoming with no garden this spring I have been researching green house ideas...




Barn Greenhouse

This one is one of the best representations...cost wise...that I have ever seen!

It comes from this site...http://ana-white.com/2012/05/plans/barn-greenhouse  which is a fantastic representation of DIY!

She has plans for EVERYTHING!  materials lists, detailed instructions and plenty of advice to boot! I priced this lil gem...her plans represent about $700 in materials...

BUT...I have a cost saving idea...

To frame the bottom...use pallets! My favorite recycled building material...I drove round the area I am in...there are no less than 1000 pallets on any given day...destined for the land fill....

Lay a treated landscape timber (which are a really inexpensive alternative to a 4x4) down with flat side up...put the full shipping pallet on the top of the landscape timber, screw it to the timber every 4 inches...attach each corner of the pallet with small bolts or screws... and then sheet it with the metal roofing...

Pallets make a nice straight wall and are super sturdy!

Duck fence


Tip:  Roofing companies sell or discard the outer packing sheets of metal roofing...which...are sheets of metal roofing! Free or cheap instead of new...I got most of the tin panels for my shed for free! from a roofing job that was being done on a bar in my area...

Landscape timber/pallet framing on shed


Take some pallets apart and use the 2x4's to frame the rest of the wall as tall as you want...I would not go with the gambrel/barn roof...cuz...well...my carpentry skills are not very good! lol! and the gable roof would cut down on the amount of lumber needed... I would just build the wall up with 2x4 general framing and lay a top plate around the whole thing....and go with a simple gable roof with the corrugated plastic sheeting horizontal on the 2x4 wall framing...and then vertical on the roof...to shed rain and snow...

This guy made a house out of pallets...

http://www.tinyhousedesign.com/tag/pallet-house/


Roof framing has been incredibly difficult for me to learn..I have the hang of it now but still not quite comfy with the idea of doing it by myself...but we all know SOMEONE that may be willing to help with this project....and my Hubby seems to think this would be a very simple one!

Simple roof design




All in all...my estimation of cost if I used the gleaned pallets and free scrap wood...and a free/cheap/recycled tin sheeting...it would cut the cost to about $200.00 for the corrugated plastic sheets...and screws...maybe some clear caulking...


Considering the expense of greenhouses today? I thought this one was a very nice looking and inexpensive, sturdy greenhouse...

Go way snow! 








Saturday, February 9, 2013

SUPER EASY FREE PALLET COUNTERTOPS AND MOLDING!

When we decided to put counter tops in our kitchen...it wasn't hard to decide that we were NOT going with standard issue kitchen ware...we, of course, wanted free, charming, handmade ones! There was one tiny cupboard and of course the Hoosier bottom in there when we first got the house...no counter top space at all and no storage....


The molding on the ceiling was cheap standard molding used to cover up the ceiling tile seams but the molding on the bottom near the floor was gorgeous 8" mop board from way back when...the quarter round had been removed but other than that it was in beautiful shape...We tore all the top molding out to get to the bead board ceiling and used some of the scrap on the cupboards...so where do you get free counter tops, molding, storage...space to prep food?




PALLETS!

Mostly big item pallets..NOT.the the standard 4x8 shipping pallet....but ones with long boards?  you can get them from Automotive Paint shops and Automotive Body shops that do repair on wrecked cars...

These are waaaaay easier to take apart as they do not have the horrid grabby nails that most standard pallets have and they are gorgeous 2x4x10 and 1x4x10 boards...no dog legs...:)

My Honey started with a basic frame screwed directly to the wall...we have all solid wood walls but with a stud finder, you could screw them to the wall by finding  the studs....I have to remind everyone...we have absolutely NO building skills...we search on the net for answers to our questions and then try our luck...my Honey is very adaptable and has learned wiring, plumbing and building with little help other than books, the net and by word of mouth information...so if we can do this? Anyone with imagination can!


Same for the other side of the sink...He then screwed a 1x8x6 foot board for a face board across the front to match the sink skirt...you could always laminate the 1x4's together too...and attached the found table legs by screwing them to the wall....they do NOT support the counter tops in any way..they are solely decorative....

On the other side...since we decided on a shelf...he did the exact same thing in a smaller proportion...


brace attached to front 2x4 of frame as there was no support on this side


and screwed 1x4 slats 1/4" apart along the shelf....



He then screwed 1/2" plywood to the tops of both sides...



The other side...we left open for somewhat of a breakfast bar....

Again..the table legs are purely decorative and hold nothing up...you can stand on these...we did it...lol!

A little paint.....

And one very large drawer with casters to keep dog and cat hair out....
And you have an almost free (paint cost and screws ($28.00) charming set of kitchen countertops....



Ikea has solid  wood 2" butcher block pieces up to 8' long for $80.00...they would look gorgeous in this kitchen...and they would fit nicely lipped up against the sink....AND...you would have TWO beautiful cutting boards with the excess....attach handles and you could hang them up out of the way!

As far as the molding? we went with what was normal for the house....1x4 boards around the top....all from pallets....





We also gleaned scraps of 1/4 round from the city compost pile to put back around the mop boards on the floor....you can also get these directly from a wood molding shop...they throw out tons!

This is exactly what the kitchen looked like....when I left....




Right before I gave away the house....

New Beginnings...

I have been yearning...yearning for chickens and ducks...tomatoes and artichokes....I am still driving around out here in the oilfields...my Honey and I...driving...the landscape is beautiful...and wild....and we see and experience a ton of new things every week...it has taught us to appreciate the small things in life even more than we had in the past...we are very appreciated by the company that we work for and they treat us very well! but life...life is passing us by and our hearts yearn for green...

Last September...September 14th to be exact...we finally got married! It was a joyous occasion and it is wonderful to have a ring on my finger and to be joined with the love of my life...forever...being out here in the oilfields has been great...the money flies into your pocket by the fist full and we have taken advantage of it but once you get into the life style...it is so hard to get out!  We started making plans for a larger homestead...a bigger American Dream than we had as that is always how Americans think when money is plentiful...the bigger the better...MORE MORE MORE!  The very thing that I personally abhor and goes against everything I stand for...being caught up in this...we decided to stay for another year and "rented" out our little hut to a wonderful girl with two small children....I was so afraid to let it stand empty and unheated for the harsh winter in UP....we all know how it ended up after someone else left it empty and neglected...I say "rented" because no money exchanged hands...we decided to find someone to house sit really and the lady who answered our prayers needed to apply for school, was only working part time and was having a terrible time of it with two small children to care for...it was a perfect situation for both parties...my Hut would be heated and cared for thru the winter and she could catch her breath and live rent free for a year!
We made plans to outfit our little hut with new windows, roof and miscellaneous accoutrements while we were making money hand over fist...I went to the UP and did some work on it myself in late September last year....we had new windows installed, painted the doors, the house, and finally finished the back porch...the house sitting situation accommodated me....




It has lights....the back porch...the bane of my existence the whole time I was living in this house! the only lighting back there for 3 years was a string of Christmas bulbs....it is bright...and shiny...and WARM...the new window and door was an amazing blessing! Can you believe this little house has 26 steps? 3 floors of tiny...with 26 steps....it was a wonderful feeling finally finishing this part of the house...AND A PORCH LIGHT...let me tell ya....going down those steps and out that door at night? was like walking  right up a bears arse! not that I have ever had that experience...but you understand...lol!

One story I have never told my readers is the story of my first "fridge"...we didn't have one at first...we couldn't afford one and no one seemed to be leaving perfectly good refrigerators on the curb! Well...when we first moved in...there was a shed on the back of this hut...right thru that window....I hung all my frozen meat and veggies out that window on a hook...and in addition...there was a small storage space under the stairs...that is where I kept milk, cheese, butter...all winter long...it kept a perfect 38 degrees under those stairs!



First Fridge


When I got home in September...I was flabbergasted...the man that we actually paid to mow and weed decided to skip out...my yard and garden were a mess! BUT......inside my chicken coop....was a complete garden with pumpkins, tomatoes, squash and and sunflowers...everything I had fed my chickens...grew...on it's own! HOW did those seeds survive the 7 feet of snow and below zero temperatures?

 Compost....the heat from the compost kept them warm and dry and they flourished with no help from ANYONE!





In addition...the Tomatogeddon Garden...was once again...TOMATOGEDDON! All by itself....the neighbors and I harvested 150 pounds of tomatoes out of there in 1 day...we just couldn't get them all...the power of sheet mulch...I can't say it enough....









My Veggie Garden? Same thing...there was Rhubarb, Acorn Squash, Lemon Balm, Strawberries, Peas and Chives...and this is all after 2 frosts...


No one will ever starve here....

After my excursion to the UP to get it ready for the winter and finish up some of the inside details....I went to Georgia for a week and visited with my Daughter and my Grandkids...OH!...the Grandkids...how lovely to be a Grandma!
It was hard being in the UP in my Hut....people were asking me for jobs and advice as to where they could go to find one...we actually took a few with us back to the oilfields...one friend had a three bedroom house on 5 acres of heavily timbered land right up the road from us....he wanted 5000 for it....5000 dollars for 5 ACRES and a HOUSE!  It is absolutely gorgeous...



And we truly thought about it...in fact we thought about it all the way up until last week....










The house is very cool...old fashioned and has been empty for 6 years but it has a new metal roof on it...



Living room, Kitchen, Dining Room, 3 Bedrooms, beautiful Entry way with Covered Porch and Staircase....and it is just as dirty and full of stuff as my Hut was when I bought it....AND...it has the same green nasty siding...UGH!


We went up to the UP ...to move some stuff of ours out so our little Lady living in the Hut would have some room to live...it was -32...14 inches of snow fell and the wind howled like crazy...we went to see the house again...and decided...NO!


In fact? we decided NO on the UP all together...it is beautiful...but it is sooooo remote...removed from everything...we are the only ones in our area that feel the need to keep the old fashioned ways going...to live on the land...In this area of the UP of Michigan...the government plays a big role...things are incredibly expensive...there is only a handful of places to buy the things we needed and it is an enormous monopoly of small lumber stores and such that gouge the daylights out of you because they can...because there is no other choice but to drive 100 miles to find something more competitive and have more of a selection...I believe this area of Michigan keeps it's people poor...the biggest employer in the area is Walmart with their 30 hour max rule...so they don't have to pay health insurance...I love my neighbors...they are my family...I love the fact that all the good stuff is thrown out on curbs free for the picking...I love the area's penchant for barter because they are poor...but the biggest thing that got me was the weather...the HAVING to move tons of snow every year...and that is where I drew the line...I am getting older...and with my lifestyle..I will have to pay someone to move it...the gas prices are still $4.00 a gallon up there and where I am at they are $2.79...even to pay for gas for equipment to move it costs a fortune...the land prices are cheap, yes...but the cost of living is outrageous...even if you own your home out right....


My Honey and I discussed and discussed our options...our little house sitting Lady wanted the hut so bad...she has asked several times to buy it...she loves the gardens...takes excellent care of the house and has already amassed small livestock including rabbits...her ties run deep there...her Mom lives there...her Sister...right down the road...we asked a Realtor to do a drive by and give us an estimate of value...based on comps that had just sold in the area...we were flabbergasted! Our little $600.00 hut was worth $30,000 big ones! mainly due to the amount of property and how desirable the area is....not bad for 3 years of hard labor and scouting out free items!


We hashed and rehashed on a price...taking into consideration the circumstance of our precious occupant...she would like to go to school...raise her boys...supplement her circumstances with gardening and livestock....that precious Lady is one hard worker!


No price seemed right...we wishy washed around for two weeks...and finally...driving around one day..we came to a decision...we drove up to the UP...found our precious girl at Wal mart....


AND WE GAVE HER THE HUT...lock, stock and barrel...


The outcome is so sweet...she was very excited to see us...she asked about buying the house again...over a cart full of vegetables...and we told her no...her face fell...and she said she understood but was sagging by the moment...and then...we told her "we will not sell it to you...we have decided to gift it to you..."  her face read no comprehension...for the moment she just stared at us...her eyes filled up with tears and she squeaked "you are crazy".... and she turned around and I really thought she was going to fall before she caught herself and swept us into a huge hug... the joy I felt was so complete...so utterly overwhelming...it still brings tears to my eyes....


I really feel that the reason that we wishy washed around about a price is because we were being led by the Lord to pay forward what we had begotten...

 
Acts 20:35  

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’


Luke 6:38  

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

The Lord Jesus has blessed us...there is no doubt at all in my heart...and He has steered us on to a new adventure....we have chosen Tennessee...20 acres with a hand built house....minimal snow and a LOOOOOONG growing season.... 4 hours from our beautiful Daughter and Grandkids....can't wait to share it with you all.....