Monthly Archives: March 2009


I mentioned in a previous post that I would be starting a salvage operation. Well, it has begun.
The little parsonage house was built in the late twenties or early thirties. It’s been abandoned for roughly 21 years. If the cottage had had a septic system, it might have been worthwhile fixing up. But as it is, the flush toilet drains to the creek.

It’s a remarkably sturdy house despite the neglect. Sturdy wood floors despite some roof leakage. The ceiling in the bathroom has collapsed, but there’s nothing worth salvaging in there. The sun porch at the back has collapsed, floor and ceiling, but I might be able to save some windows. Inside, the walls are wooden, covered with drywall. The exterior was also wooden clapboard, covered with aluminum siding. All the trim boards are solid wood. The baseboards are 8 inches wide. The doors are all solid wood. The kitchen sink is cast iron.

Along with the house are several outbuildings. A little garage, with the same siding as the house which is difficult to remove. The boards are 4 inches wide but they’re grooved down the middle making them look like 2 inch wide overlapping boards. They’re very vulnerable to splitting and I couldn’t use them for anything else but siding. I’ll probably take trim boards and the doors.

The barn wood siding is more useful, and I’ll be removing all of it. I was hoping the hay loft flooring would be salvageable but I think they’re rotten. They were much too light when I lifted them. I might try to salvage some of the metal roofing, if I can do it safely.

The little coop or garden shed doesn’t have a lot to salvage either. It has the same siding as the house and garage. But I might salvage some of the support boards and the door.

The last outbuilding is another barn, squeezed into collapse by a growing tree. Those boards are under a lot of tension. I may not mess with any of it.

The first load wasn’t big. But I spent a lot of time exploring and testing. I had taken out quite a few trim boards when the elastic on my mask broke. Believe me, you don’t want to do any salvage work in an old house without a mask, especially overhead boards.

I did snag one of the doors to experiment with. I wanted to make sure I could get the hardware off of it, and to see if there was some nice wood under the layers of moldy crackled paint. There are three coats of paint on the doors plus a varnish and a stain, but the wood is pretty underneath and nicely distressed. I only need a couple of doors for my projects, but I’ll take all the doors. What I don’t use as doors can be cut down into beautiful antique boards for possible furniture making.


New Moth

I saw a pretty new moth today. It was flitting around on the road like a butterfly this morning when I was walking the dogs. Luckily I know my butterflies well enough not to be fooled. I forgot to look it up until just now when I was reminded by another of the same species flitted in the back garden. It’s a Grapevine Epimenis. I haven’t gotten a photograph yet, but if you click on the link it’ll take you to a very good photo of the moth on Bug Guide. This moth is small. Not much bigger than my thumbnail, and as the name implies, feed on grapes.

What’s next?

What’s next you ask? Well, starting tomorrow, I am undertaking a major salvage project, which will hopefully provide me with all the reclaimed material I need for the various upcoming projects: beehives, chicken coop, greenhouse, woodshed (not necessarily in that order). A friend of a friend has some derelict buildings on her farm that are in need of demolition. She has agreed to let me salvage any material I want: wood frame windows, solid wood doors, hardwood flooring, lots of barn wood, barn door hardware, etc. My only problem is that I don’t exactly know where to start. This is a GOLD MINE.

Working on a bender

Spring has arrived, although it’s been cold this week, and it’s time to amend the garden beds and give all the trees and shrubs a little compost. The city compost facility hasn’t had good compost since the ice storm in December 2007, and I’ve run out of the three loads I got back in February 2007. I did some searching and found a company that makes it’s own organic compost. Having it shipped in bulk would have been too expensive for the amount I needed, so I decided to drive into Oklahoma City and get a pallet of compost in bags. I was a little surprised at how big a pallet was. I had to ask how much it weighed: 2400 lbs. That was too much for my truck which has a 3/4 ton capacity. So, I had to make two trips. It took most of the day, and some sore muscle, but now I have a big pile of compost (the photo was taken after I’d used a third of the bags), which should get me through the growing season. Eventually, I’ll make enough of my own to supply my needs, but I’m not at that stage yet.

My final task in refurbishing my gardens was to make hoops to hold up netting. I tried borrowing a conduit bender from another farmer, but the hoops ended up being too wide. So I made my own bending jig out of plywood and some scrap. It’s very effective. It took me about four hours to build but now I can whip out hoops with exactly the same profile in less than a minute each. It might seem like a waste to have spent so much time building a jig, but believe me, because I tried it, making 15 hoops using a couple of close growing trees would have taken me a lot more than 4 hours and the quality would have been quite variable. Now I can use the jig whenever I build a new garden, which will be soon; I have four more planned for this year alone, and at LEAST six more for the back yard.

Now the gardens are hooped and amended with compost. That alone discourages the deer but doesn’t completely deter them. So now I have my choice of hoop coverings.

For the garden that’s already seeded I installed a thin row cover. This cover allows 95% of the light through, as well as rain and some of the breeze. It does not allow insects, which in this case is fine since all the veggies inside do not need pollination: roots, leeks, leafy greens and broccoli. The installation is simple. I just gathered the ends with an elastic and hooked the elastic to a nail in the end boards. On the sides, since the fabric is very light and will lift in a wind, I rolled a sand filled sock into the overhanging material. Now I’ll just have to wait and see what the deer think of it.

Another option is deer netting, which I installed in the same manner, except no socks. The only problem I encountered was that, because of the sandstone, the hoops couldn’t go down into the soil as deep as I would have liked. I solved that problem by shortening the conduit and making another set of hoops. I’ll save the taller ones for areas where I have deeper soil. This netting should work superbly to keep the deer away from the basil and peppers I plan to plant in this garden. I’ve also been thinking of moving the strawberries into one of the deer netting beds. They’d be much easier to pick and keep the weeds controlled.