Moving Our Shed

Envisioning a New Life for a Repurposed Shed

I mentioned awhile ago the list of to-do’s I wanted to complete before winter hit. One of them the pro’s told me wasn’t the best idea and we would have to go a different direction that would have to wait until spring and the other I just sadly haven’t got to yet. BUT, this past weekend I did get one of my big items on my list DONE!

The shed where it stood in the background and it’s new home up front!

We finally got my garden shed moved to it’s rightful place! This summer we poured a cemetn foundation in my garden (read about that process here https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/07/10/533/.) We finally were able to coordinate a time with my Dad to have him come out and instruct us on how to properly move the shed.

Getting Prepped

Our first step in moving the shed was cutting all of the bolts that were securing it to the current cement foundation. Coby used a Sawzall for this.

We had to switch to the corded Sawzall as the battery operated just didn’t seem to have enough umph to cut through the bolts.

The most involved part of this process was getting the shed prepped to move to ensure that it would structurally stay together while moving it. The shed is about 10′ x 10′ so we bought six 2×4’s in 10′ lengths and two 12′ 2×4’s to help brace the shed.

Setting Up the Braces
  1. We placed two on the side walls, about 2′ up from the floor. These were also used to give us something to jack the building with too.
  2. One across the center of the building, perpendicular to the ones on the side.
  3. Two along the side with the door, one along the bottom and another at an angle across the door. There was one along the bottom of the back wall as well.
  4. The two longer boards we attached at an angle high up on the back wall angling down to the floor of the wall with the door.

We then started using two jacks to raise up one side of the building. Coby and my Dad were using the jacks to raise the building just enough for me to slip a 6×6 block underneath of the building to hold it up. The building has some rotten spots that gave way during this phase. When this happened it made the whole building shift a little and I had to reposition the blocks to make sure the buidling was steady. Once this step was complete we positioned skids that my Dad had made, they were made of 4×6 lumber with holes drilled into them and chain loops drawn through so we had a place to attached a tow rope. With the skids positioned I took a 2×6 board and screwed it into each skid on the front and back to help act as another brace while moving. We got everything attached and hooked up to the tractor, the moment of truth was here!

Moment of Truth- Moving the Building

Coby eased the tractor forward and a loud wood splitting sound pierced the air, my inital thought was,

“Well, there goes the building!”

Luckily it turned out just to be one of the 2×6 brace posts snapped. When it snapped it pulled some of the skid with it so I had to reposition it, nice and tight against the building and re-attached it.

I thought this was going to be a super slow step but it sped right along! I apologize for the sound quality, it was a very windy day!

The moment of truth was here again! Coby eased the tractor forward again and I was amazed at how fast he could move that thing and it did great! He got it lined up with the new cement foundation, got the front tractor tires onto the foundation and couldn’t get quite enough umph in the tractor to get the rear tires over the foundation as there is about a 1′ rise from the ground to the top of the cement. He then decided to unhook the skid, drive the tractor by itself over the foundation and turn it around. We were then able to hook up the tow rope and chain onto the bucket and have the tractor in reverse to tow it. Once the building was right next to the foundation Coby lifted the bucket the chain was attached to very gently and we nestled the 6×6 blocks under the skids to help elevate the skids into place to get it onto the foundation since it is elevated so much higher then the ground because we live on a hill. We had to do this again with some 4×4 blocks on top of the 6×6 blocks as well to ensure the skids would be able to clear the foundation. After we were set up Coby put the tractor into reverse and pulled it onto the foundation!

Securing the Building to the Foundation

At this point we realized the Tapcon concrete screws we had were definitely too small. I got the largest size available at the local hardware store but my Dad was not comfortable with using those to anchor the shed to the foundation. Since it was rather windy this day we decided to leave the shed as was, anchored on the skids and wait until we could get larger Tapcon’s.

My Dad got 5″ Tapcons during the week, there is a 2″ footing with 2×4’s around the bottom of the building so this gave us 3″ that would go into the cement foundation to secure the building.

The next weekend Dad and I set out to get the building anchored to the foundation. We started by using the loader on the tractor to gently push the building more square on the foundation. It was a little askew when Coby pulled it on the foundation so we let the tractor do most of the work for us to get it centered. We then took out the skids and slowly lowered the shed onto the foundation.

We had to add plates on the South wall of the shed as they had rotted away. We had a 2×6 laying around and cut them it length. We had to do some fabricating to make it fit the building correctly as the adjoining wall jut out slightly. The rest of the building had two plates so we added two to this wall as well.

As we were trying to get the footings around the building secured with Tapcon screws we realized the East and West sides of the building toward the door slanted up. We started to dismantle the braces we installed on the inside of the building to move it hoping that would shift enough to gently let the building rest flush to the floor. We worked at trying to get this thing flush for a long time but it wasn’t cooperating. Dad thought that possibly the old foundation angled one direction and then our new one maybe angled the opposite direction so the building was not sitting right. I was rather appalled he would suggest such a thing as setting up the framework for that foundation I swear was almost the death of me. I thought we had leveled the framework to within an inch of my life but who knows!

You can really see the gap underneath where the shed won’t rest on the foundation. Dad wonders if maybe they only used one plate on the right side where they used two on every other side of the building. We will test this theory and I will let you know!

We used a steel tamping/digging bar to get the building to sit exactly where I wanted it, scooting it an inch this way and that until it was perfect. We used the level to ensure that the door was square and would securely close. We then used a 3/16″ Masonry bit to pre-drill holes for the Tapcon screws. This took some time and patience because of course, drilling out cement isn’t a fast job! I then used my impact driver to secure the screws. I sadly have a hard time getting enough pressure on a drill to fasten things without stripping them but for some reason the impact driver works so much better for me. It’s an embarrassing flaw for the daughter of a man who’s done construction all his life but it’s the truth!

Final Thoughts – It’s Done!

We have the building fastened down and it looks amazing in it’s new home! It really anchors my garden and is the perfect axis to center everything from. Not to mention it will be handy to have all the gardening tools right there when I need them! Now I just have to wait until spring to really get everything in full swing!!

Thinking Ahead to Winter

Last night Scarlett and I were out meandering in the pasture and a very large flock of birds went overhead. Since then I’ve seen a couple flocks fly by and couldn’t help but think, “Is it that time of year already?” I still think it’s pretty early for birds to be flocking together and heading South but it got me thinking about winter coming and then the panic set in.

It sounds very “Little House on the Prairiesque” but the impending winter makes you really take stalk of what you need to accomplish before the snow flies. I have never had this thought process until last fall when we were coming into our first full winter at this property. I had things that I really wanted to accomplish before winter that would make life so much easier, i.e. pouring the sidewalk patch, read about that project here: https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/03/24/pouring-a-sidewalk-patch/ or putting in a gate in our barn to make it easier to access the pasture (https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/05/29/building-a-wood-gate/.) Luckily, I got all of the important things accomplished last year. Now, it’s time to look ahead to this year’s list.

Narrowing It Down

My husband read a book awhile ago titled, Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight. He summed it up how she sets priorities by making a list of everything you need to do. Now narrow it down. Narrow it down again. And then, narrow it down again. It sounds very common sense, but, once I started using this approach it truly helped me examine what REALLY needed to be done. Not what seemed important, but what do I have to do right now that sets me up for success. All of the fluff things you wanted to get done kind of sink to the bottom and you realize what truly needs to happen.

Now Narrow it down. Narrow it down again. And then, narrow it down again.

I have started using this approach with the acreage. We will have lived on this property for two years come December. There is a list as long as my arm of things I want to get done, that’s just life, specifically life on the homestead. BUT, I am starting to take note of what will make life easier this winter and what will give us a head start in the spring.

This helped me narrow down things to do for the barn, and my garden and probably most important, the wood furnace in the house.

Getting the Barn Winter Ready

We have a hook up for a hydrant in the barn but have not put a hydrant on there basically because I don’t know if anything else needs to be done to it to ensure it is ready for freezing cold temps. As of now I have to run two hoses from the hydrant in the middle of the yard to the pasture and then coil it up and put it in the basement so it doesn’t freeze. Granted, in the grand scheme of things this isn’t the worse thing in the world but when it is below zero out, it sucks! I would love to have a hydrant in the barn and get a lightweight coil hose that only has to reach about 25′ to the water tank. My Dad thinks that we need to do a lot of additional steps to get this hookup ready for the hydrant and I quite honestly just want to have our local plumber come out and give it the green light but also don’t want to have an expensive plumber come all the way out for a simple DIY so really I just need to pull the trigger and get my butt in gear!

The current set-up we have to water the horses is such a pain. We need two hoses to reach the the tank, it’s so far away you can’t even see it!

The next thing on the list for the barn is repair the roof. We have a hole on the North side that definitely needs some attention. I was out there awhile ago during a rain storm and the water was pouring in to the horses shelter area, not OK for so many obvious reasons. I do not do heights so roofs are clearly not my thing and Coby simply doesn’t have time so we are going to hire it out and definitely need to be getting on that because winter will be here before you know it

If you look towards the top of the picture you can see bits of light coming in, clearly not a good thing in a roof!

Moving the Garden Shed

The next thing is move my garden shed to the new foundation we poured, read about that project here: https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/07/10/533/. While this isn’t going to make or break our winter it would make things go a lot smoother next spring. My main reason in wanting to get this in place is so I can start my ground cover walkways so they can take root this fall and early spring before we get out in the garden.

I can’t wait to get this big project completed and have the garden shed moved so I can’t really start building my garden next year!

I thought long and hard about what material to use as a walkway for in between my raised beds. I have always loved going barefoot in the garden and didn’t feel that was a great option using tradition walkway materials of mulch or rock. I also didn’t want the added maintenance of mowing and trimming the walkways if I planted grass. I was very adamant about being comfortable walking barefoot in the garden, there is something so uplifting about connecting with the earth that you are working and I didn’t want to lose that. I kept thinking about it and realized that there had to be some other option and I stumbled upon walkable ground covers. These are huge!! There are people actually replacing lawns with this to make less maintenance! After much research I settled upon Irish Moss as the ground cover I would use for my garden walkways. It can withstand heavy foot traffic and grows rather quickly and has a decent spread so I don’t need millions of plants to get my walkways covered. I referenced the website https://www.stepables.com/, they were great in detailing the pros and cons of each variety of stepable plant. They also sell the plants of course. Since I am going to be covering a wide area of space I ended up buying seeds from a different company and am starting them at home myself.

If you look with a microscopic lens you can see the tiny Irish Moss seed sprout in there!

Wood Furnace

We have a wood stove in the living room. I grew up with a wood stove as our only form of heat because my Dad is very “thrifty” as he likes to call it. I love wood heat, electric heat can’t even begin to touch wood heat in my opinion. Our house is roughly 50′ long with doorways breaking up that distance. That is a lot for a wood stove to try and heat. It would be nice and toasty in the living room but it would be freezing on the other side of the house, something I am not a fan of! The previous owners had a wood furnace installed in the basement and I want so badly to get that thing up and running that way we have that glorious wood heat spreading evenly throughout the house! The previous owner mentioned that the chimney needed to be re-lined so that’s why we didn’t try it last year when we moved in during the middle of winter. Since it hasn’t been used in awhile we want it to get professionally inspected and brought up to snuff because of course burning wood can be dangerous if not done correctly.

Our wood furnace set-up and chimney in the background.

I hope you don’t have a panic moment like I did realizing that winter is around the corner and you have a bunch of stuff you want to get crossed off your to-do list before that happens! I hope this just gave you some food for thought, good luck on checking off that list!

Garden Shed Foundation

I took all of last week off work. All of the Veteran’s I serve have been asking me where I went and if I had a great time. Well, it was not a sit by the pool and sip on drinks kind of vacation. I had a to-do list about as long as my arm! I got the vast majority of it done, at least the back breaking part of it anyway.

My main goal during this “Workcation” was pour the cement foundation for my garden shed. We have an adorable 10′ x 10′ building on our property that the previous owners used as their milk house when they had a dairy cow, so precious! Since we moved in I have been using it to store random yard/garden supplies. For this new purpose it sits in a rather random spot of the property. We are very much about keeping old buildings that have so much charm and giving them a new purpose that suits our needs.

Getting Started

I honestly didn’t think this was going to be much of a project. I poured cement to fill in a patch of our sidewalk (Read that article here: https://pearlsponiesandpacifiers.com/2020/03/24/pouring-a-sidewalk-patch/ ) and that went really well so I thought this was going be just as simple. My Dad came out Wednesday to help me with the forms. We are on a bit of a hill but I didn’t realize how much our property slopes until I was out there with a level!

I bought out the lumberyard of 2″ x 6″ boards to use for the forms. We placed one along the fence which is what I was using as a guide to where the building would go. I dug it out to make the 2″ x 6″ even with the ground on the high side, remember, our property slopes quite a bit. From there we started pounding in stakes along the board and screwed the 2″ x 6″ to those, pounding in the stakes until the level read even. We basically repeated this process on all sides until the whole thing was even. There was quite a bit of back and forth until ALL sides were level. Please note that while completing this step ensure that you do NOT use the forms to help brace yourself as you stand up. I learned that one the hard way and we may have had to do some more leveling.

Digging to fit the first form.

The Really Hard Part

I don’t know if it was the fact that the temperature was pushing 90 degrees or if I just wasn’t mentally prepped for this step to take all day long but after the first step I thought we were pretty much home free, WRONG! Because our property has such a slope I had to go back to the lumberyard and get additional 2″ x 6″ to place under the first ones to totally fill in the forms. No big deal, I got those put in and then started placing waler brackets. For ours we just used a 1″ x 2″ cut in 2’ish sections and screwed them into the stakes at an angle with another stake behind them to ensure they didn’t move. These help brace the forms against the weight of the wet cement.

The walers on the tall side of the forms where they were needed most.

Again, that part wasn’t so bad either, the next step was prepping the ground inside of the form. Granted, I think the reason this step was extra difficult is because our property slopes so much but dang was it difficult! I used the flat-edged shovel to skim off the dirt until it was a level 4″. My Dad also suggested that we do a rat footing. Bascially, it’s adding extra cement down along the inner side of the foundation. I dug down about a shovels width in from the form and down an extra 4″. This helps so rain water doesn’t run under the building. I used the soil that I removed for the rat footing and to even the low sides of the inside of the form. We even had to bring in some outside dirt to make it even. After the soil was put in place I used the metal tamper to pack down the dirt so it was ready for cement. My Dad also wanted me to brace the forms with dirt so they would have more support against the wet cement but I’ll be honest, by this point of the day I was done and calling it good!

Pouring Cement

I scheduled the cement truck for Friday morning, it was quite exciting having a whole truck come. I had never had a big enough job to warrant a whole truck! The truck couldn’t quite reach the forms so we had to use the bucket on the tractor to haul the cement from the truck to the forms. Coby would pour the cement into the form and I then used a concrete come-along tool to rake the cement into the corners and tamp it down to get out any air bubbles.

Once we got the form filled in it was time to screed. We used a 2″ x 4″ for this. With a person on either side of the form they would drag the board pushing the bulk of the cement out of the way. Then they would take it back to the starting point and quickly see-saw it back and forth to level the cement. If cracks were needing to be filled in I would scoop a shovel full of cement in the area and they would do the process over again until it was nice and smooth.

Once this rough leveling was done my Dad showed me how to use the magnesium float and really smooth out the floor. Coby used the edging trowel to put a smooth edge on the cement so there aren’t any ridges. My Dad then used the broom to put a slight texture to the floor. He loves to add swirls to the cement instead of a straight line, I let him have free range and go for it! We then had to add the ever popular hand prints and Dad insisted we put the date in it as well, if only I could write in a straight line!

Final Thoughts

This step of the project was definitely more then I bargained for BUT it is done and done well. It really gave shape to my garden and I can’t wait to move the building and keep adding raised beds to make it my dream garden!

View of the foundation from the low side of the hill that needed a LOT of cement to even out with the high side of the hill.

Veggie Garden Design and Construction

I love a prolific, organized garden, who doesn’t?! I want a garden that is pleasing to the palatte as well as to the eye. Now that we have our own place my goal this summer was to start my dream garden. I have always wanted raised beds as they are beautiful and offer numerous planting benefits, i.e. longer growing season and complete control over the soil used.

This post is just covering the first phase of my garden plan. My total garden is going to be 61’1″ x 43’7″ and it just wasn’t feasible in both time and money to do that all at once.

Plan Before You Plant

The first step was measuring the space where I wanted the garden to go, and re-measuring it just to make sure. After that I broke out my architects scale and started designing. For me designing and drawing is relaxing, it’s my way of dreaming on paper. I have recently been obsessed with the YouTube channel called, “Garden Answer.” Laura is an extremely knowledgeable gardener who has given me a lot of inspiration and the confidence to try something new in my garden. I grew up with a vegetable garden being a plot of tilled up soil with rows and rows of veggies in it. There is nothing wrong with that but I wanted mine to have an almost architectural beauty to it as well. Laura made me realize I can have both, practical and eye catching. I have always heard of the idea of “rooms” in a garden but again, didn’t think that was for a vegetable garden but Laura made me realize, “Why not?”

My extravagant garden plan in my new “Plans” notebook with all of my current project ideas!

I really examined what we were wanting out of our garden. We would love to start canning and be able to have enough home-grown food that we can “grocery” shop from our own pantry. Therefore, we have to have a lot of garden space and we got it!

The design for my garden is very symmetrical, I am using the garden shed as the main focal point to break up the two main areas in the garden. After that I decided 4′ x 8′ beds are what I want for the bulk of my beds but didn’t want them just lined up in rows. I decided that along the center axis, aligned with the garden shed, I would do smaller, 3′ x 3′ beds for smaller crops and to help break up the area and really draw you into the garden from the main entry.

Breaking Ground

After the hours I spent designing and tweaking the plan it was time to break ground! My Dad has a 2 bottom plow that he tries to use any opportunity he gets. I had him come over and he and Coby plowed under the entire area where I was going to put the garden. We then tilled and tilled and tilled the area to break up the large clumps.

Building the Beds

It was time to make those beautiful raised beds. My research suggested using either Redwood or Cedar for beds due to their durability when exposed to the weather. In my area Redwood hasn’t been available for years so I went with Cedar. There were cheaper options of course but that included treated lumber which is something I wan’t comfortable with seeings how I am growing food in these. One lumberyard I called suggested that some people go with the treated lumber and then line it before putting the soil down to create a barrier.

I got my lumber and soil and started making six of the 3′ x 3′ beds. I mitered the corners because again, I wanted it to be pretty, and that’s what Laura did too! My Dad warned me that they would pull apart easier that way but I didn’t care. After I made these beds Laura did a follow up video on her channel stating that she would not do mitered edges again because of the aforementioned problem so, lesson learned, I won’t do it to the rest. Once I had all of the pieces cut to size I took them to the barn to screw together. Our barn is the only cemented floor we have and I wanted to make sure that they were flush. I screwed all of the beds together and then sanded the edges as they did get a little rough and splintery while cutting.

Putting Everything in the Garden

The next step was measuring the placement of everything in the garden. I measured the outsides and the center. I used fiberglass electric fence poles to mark these points. I then ran a string line in between the poles to measure from. Once I was sure it was centered I started placing the beds down where they should go based on my plans. I used a large rake to even out the soil where I was placing them to ensure that it was flat.

Scarlett helped me plant the finished beds. We may have a few extra Jack be Little pumpkins because of her assistance but I’m not mad. It’s so fun having her help and learn!

There is still a long way to go until my dream garden is complete but the first phase is done and let’s be honest, getting started is always the hardest part!