The many uses of a solarium.

I had always wanted a sun room or three season porch.  So when the realtor unlocked the front door to this place and we stepped into a solarium, I fell in love with it!Solarium

One of the first things Rod did was replace all 15 windows (two of which were cracked) with thermal pane glass.  Originally each window had two panes of glass with about a four inch gap between the panes.  This was a poor design as it allowed for leaks and bugs had gotten inside where they couldn’t be cleaned out.

view of 15 south facing windows

Solarium with 15 south facing windows

We’ve kept all of the unbroken glass and will be using it to build a green house/chicken coop for our Bantam Wyandottes (the garden chickens).

There are still many changes we intend on making to the solarium.  This fall we hope to replace the river rock and deck board with soap stone or patio block.  We also have plans for a utility sink and cabinetry since there is an existing hot and cold water faucet.  But those changes haven’t gotten in the way of it’s usefulness.

For instance . . .  it’s a great place to store firewood.Firewood storage

 We added four ceiling fans for air circulation.  This creates a nice gentle breeze, so the addition of a retractable cloths line and few hooks makes this a great place for drying clothes in the winter.  I also like that it cuts down on the electric bill. 🙂Inside clothes line

This is an excellent place for starting seeds.Solarium Seed Starting 2 Solarium Seed Starting 1I still need to work out a few kinks and learn patience – started them a bit too early again this year. 😉

  This spring we found another use for our solarium . . . brooding chicks!Solarium Brooder 2

My grandmother had a large three season porch where she would start her seeds, dry her shell beans and black walnuts, and sometimes take a little break by relaxing in her glider.  I now have that glider in our solarium and wonder what she would think of my “three season” room.Glider

It started with an old tractor.

Last year we began the process of acquiring our farm implements.  First up was the tractor with a bucket.  Rod found a used 1957 Ford 600 with only 1700 original hours.  It appeared to have been previously owned by a small municipality.

Rod's Baby

Rod’s Baby

This is just the right size tractor for our place.  Now we just needed the tiller, or so we thought.  Further research revealed the fact that this particular tractor was geared to high to pull a tiller.  Therefore, we began the search for additional attachments.

A drag was found less than 15 miles from home.  An older gentleman had a hobby of picking up old drags that needed a bit of work and selling them, lucky us!drag

It wasn’t long before we found someone that was selling a two bottom plow . . .two bottom plow

discand disc.

Now we have all the implements needed to work up the gardens.

Oh but wait!  Rod’s decided a new King Kutter single trench digger would sure be handy . . .trencherIt turns out this was just the ticket for digging the 30′ asparagus trenches.  Just goes to show, I should never question an old farm kid.  Although, it’s been awhile since he’s done field work,trench cutter error next time he may want to pull the trencher up before he sets out to do any digging!!

Now that we’re all set with the tractor and attachments, Rod has decided a tiller for the kitchen garden is needed.  That’s fine with me since the alternative is to work it up by hand, and we’re getting too old for that.  He found a nice used self propelled rear tine tiller.  We started it up to see how it did . . . the chickens thought it did a wonderful job of uncovering worms.rototiller  I’m not at all comfortable doing field work with the tractor, but I think I’ll do just fine with this tiller.

Perennial edibles get an A+ in my book.

The land surrounding our house was so overgrown that we had no idea what we were going to uncover once we started to cut down the tall grass and weeds.prepurchase front field

Before Rod ventured in with the riding mower set to it’s highest cutting level, we did several walks through finding fencing, boards with nails, and all sorts of other hidden surprises.  During one of these walks a friend discovered seeded out asparagus.  We began searching through the tall grass and found an entire row of plants!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  Who would have thought in amongst all that tall grass and weeds was such an edible delight!

Shortly after that day, Rod was mowing another overgrown area below the front of the house and found another nice patch of asparagus – YUM 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I see this find as a good omen.  Before we even started looking for land we made plans for the produce we would raise.  Establishing asparagus beds that would supply us and our customers was one of the first things on our list.  Our tasty discovery is supplying us nicely, but more is needed for our customers.Asparagus harvest

It’s been almost three years since we bought this place.  Much of that time has been dedicated to repairs and improvements on the house, work shop, and lots of poultry infrastructure.  This is the first year we’ve had the time to establish our gardens.  First plantings this spring are five rows of asparagus (310 plants) and six semi-dwarf apple trees.2014 view

Our first apple blossom. first apple blossoms

New little asparagus sprout.newest asp

We’ve also established a blueberry patch. blueberry patch

Our next “perennial edible” projects will be to expand on the raspberry hill (started with plants donated by my niece)raspberry hill and establish a small grape arbor in front of our solarium. Thanks goes out to our friend and fellow gardener Michael, for that last idea. 😉



Cute little fuzz balls.

Today the newest addition to the RindyBerry laying flock is officially one week old and doing great!  Last Monday we took a drive to Abendroth Hatchery where we were greeted by the owner plus a couple of tables full of peeping boxes waiting for pick up.  Here is a picture of the box our 12 Black Australorp pullets road home in.chick transport box

The first few weeks are the most critical, so we decided to set the brooder up in our solarium.  This works out great in that it keeps the dusty mess out of the house, but yet they are close by for observation.Solarium Brooder 2

Shortly after we got them settled into their new home, our friend Kristi brought over the four Rohde Island Red chicks she hatched for us.2014 Spring Chicks 5 Both sets of chicks are the same age and new to the environment, so no major squabbles.

Since they won’t have a mama to keep them warm, we adjusted the brooder lamp so the temperature would be around 90 degrees for the first week.  Now that they are a week old, we will set it up to a temp of 80 degrees.

watching the tempThey keep a pretty close eye on that temperature. 😉

After about four days it was time to clean the brooder.  We moved their feed and water onto boards to help keep out some of the bedding they kick up while foraging.

Rod added a little roost.  It sure didn’t take long for them to figure that out and begin establishing the pecking order.2014 Day 4 clean brooder 1Clover is a hit

He also added some clover . . . that was a huge hit!

Baby chicks at this age are all fuzzy and cute, but it won’t last long.2014 Day 4 clean brooder 3  Already they’re wing and tail feathers are beginning to come in as they approach that adolescent stage.