Category Archives: Projects

New barn roof

When we bought the house we knew that one of the first big projects we would have tackle would be fixing the roof on the barn.  Over time the roof had developed a couple of weak spots that began to leak quite a bit.  Although the leak had only caused minor problems with the floor in the haymow, it needed to be fixed as soon as possible.  After getting a few different quotes on different types of repair we decided to go with a new steel roof that matches the rest of the out buildings.  We hired a local contractor and his crew to do the work.  For some reason the idea of standing on a ladder holding 12ft lengths of steel roofing didn’t seem like a very safe proposition.  We figured that the saying “leave it to the professionals” applied in this situation.  Other than it taking a while to get the crew out the farm, everything seems to have turned out great.  It is certainly nice to have it done, especially because it was finished about 4 hours before our first big snow.


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New windows

It is amazing how much more you notice a breeze in your home when the air coming through your windows is five degrees below zero.  When we bought the house last year we knew that a window upgrade was defiantly in order. While we enjoy many of the older characteristics of the house, the wavy glass, cracked panes, and balloon-filling air leaks were not some of them.  The old windows were the original single-pane, wood double hung windows that were installed in 1916.

Last spring before Mark changed jobs we were able to purchase windows through JELD-WEN with an employee discount.  We chose to go with white vinyl windows because of their ease of replacement and energy efficiency.  With the employee discount and the 2010 energy tax credits, we were able to outfit all 22 windows for a very reasonable price.  It would have been nice to upgrade to wood windows for the traditional look, however the additional work and cost eased our concern of changing the look of the house.

It is actually quite surprising how easy it is to install replacement windows.  As long as you have taken the correct measurements for your new windows, the old come out and the new go in.  Other than needing to insulate the chambers where the old window weights were hung, very little needed to be done.  In addition, the majority of the original woodwork was able to be reused, creating even less work when trimming out the new windows.  For the most part, this is a project that can be done by anyone.   Window manufacturers provide relatively good directions and with a few basic tools, an extra set of hands, and a nice afternoon you will likely be surprised how quick a few new windows can be put in.  I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have a ex-window salesman in the house, but either way, it is by no means impossible.

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The weekend project… Chicken tractor

This weekend while Lilly’s family was here we decided we better find something to do, and being that we had been thinking about building an outside chicken coop, we figured that would be a good project to work on.  After much debate we decided to go with a portable coop that would allow us to move the chickens throughout the yard and pasture, rather than having them mow down a spot right off the building.  We consulted numerous sources for ideas, but ended up with a hybrid of a few different ones.  Once we decided on our basic design, Lilly’s dad, brother, and myself went to work.

The basic design we went with was a 8ft. x 4ft. coop that runs on skids.  This design gave us the size we were looking for in terms of square footage for the birds, and size that allows us to move it around easily either by hand or by pulling it with the lawn tractor.   In addition, part of the design has a brace in the middle that acts like a yoke on a canoe, allowing me to lift from inside and carry the coop on my shoulders.  We wanted to make sure it was easy to move, otherwise we figured it would end up sitting in the same place all the time whether it was portable or not.

Lastly we ended up with a set of swing doors on the front and a lowering door in the back.  This allows for easy access to the chickens, and the ability to get in from either side once laying boxes are added.  As for the materials, we happened to have everything around the farm except for the chicken wire.  We went with a heavier type of wire often referred to as cage wire or wire cloth.  This type of wire is very strong and is much harder for predators to get through.  We figured the extra security and durability was worth the extra cost.  The only thing left will be a coat of barn red paint to match the rest of the buildings, but until then the chickens seem to be enjoying the outdoors regardless.

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Chicken Coop

We have had some people ask about our chicken coop, and being that we weren’t smart enough to post about it earlier, we figured we better bring our viewers up to speed.  We constructed the coop in our granary building in a section that was designated for loose grains.  We had to fully enclose the room with a ceiling in order to seal it off from varmints that may be looking for a free dinner.  We also removed some of the paneling on the wall and put in a heavy wire mesh to provide some light and much need ventilation.  All in all it turned out very well.  Below are some pictures of the coop from its start to finish.

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