Winter is for resting and planning! We’re currently under about a foot of snow, that’s the perfect time to get planning! We are planning several things including our back patio, our deck, our garden, our septic system, our classroom space inside the barn and the kids want to build a treehouse.
Diving Deeper Into Growing Food
We’re very excited, while keeping expectations low, to start our own seeds. I have set up a seed budget ($100/year) and combed through rareseeds.com looking for short season, heirloom seeds to start. A variety of flowers and veggies. I am still planning on getting some seedlings that have already been started from a local farmer because I have a limited amount of space.
I did clear out the top shelf of the kitchen and built a small stand for some grow lights. The area itself is warm but not very light. The whole reason to start seeds inside though is that the days aren’t long enough outside, so we’re supplementing light. We are off grid and so I needed a low power option. LED grow lights fit the bill perfectly. They use about 20 watts each, I got two sets, on full spectrum and one red/blue. It was interesting to learn that plants primarily use the red and blue colors to grow leaves and and roots. I am skeptical that it will be enough but it’s about learning, right? That’s what we’ll do!
This year we’ll be moving our garden down by the barn. It as a construction zone last spring so not possible. I hope to increase the size by a lot. It will have a medicinal herb area as well as veggies galore. I will be planting Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries up by the tiny house, in the soil held back by our rammed earth retaining wall.
In order to keep other livestock out we will be taking down this fence which is about 350 linear feet and reusing some of the pickets. We were shocked and delighted to learn that the fence was held together by 3 rows of 10 foot long 2×6’s which happens to be exactly what we need to build out the classroom in the barn. Taking that down will give us approximately 100 studs which is more than we need for that project! With lumber at all time high prices that is thrilling, we estimate that the fence will save us at least $5,000 and give us a lot of left over materials!
The kiddos are plotting out their own treehouse and they have targeted this large willow down near the pond. The tree is about 4′ around on it’s main trunk and has several branches that are low and huge. It has not been tended, probably ever. It’s wildly overgrown and in soft ground since it’s that close to the pond. We hope to hear back from an arborist before to long to get their opinion and expertise on trimming it up to be a healthy and happy treehouse tree.
We also aim to add a tire swing. Miles requires a wolf theme and Hazel is all about unicorns. They both want it to be very low-key on the outside so that it can be their secret space. We’ve made some trips to the library to start researching methods to construct a treehouse that doesn’t hurt the tree and still allows it to grow. We’re finding all kinds of inspiration inside the tiny house community. Our hope is that the fence will give us enough materials to make most of this, too.
Until the snow melts
We’re having a blast planning. We’re pretty safe from any hard labor to do with projects. This is the future home of our outdoor kitchen and back patio!