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Farming Simulator 16 – Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Get You Started

So you’ve started up your own farm. That’s fantastic, but where do you go from here? As peculiarly entertaining as it may be to meticulously guide heavy machinery around a field or two, it can be a little tricky to figure out what to do when you get behind the wheel for the first time. That’s why we’ve put together some helpful tips and tricks to get your farm going.

First steps

  • Get familiar with the controls – There’s no real tutorial to speak of, so you’ll want to learn what the button icons mean as soon as possible. From bottom-left to bottom-right: the steering slider, switch vehicles, detach tools, activate tools, hire assistant, honk the horn, and throttle (i.e. forward/backward, general speed).
  • Then get familiar with your tools – Your harvester is pretty easy to figure out from the start (it’s the big yellow thing and it already has the appropriate header attached) but you also have one tractor and a few things that can attach to the back of it – a cultivator (the flat-looking green thing), a sowing machine (the red thing), and a tipper (the green bin on wheels).
  • Start harvesting immediately – You’ll have two fields of your own right away – one that’s full of wheat and ready to harvest, and another that needs to be cultivated. It’s very important that you start harvesting that wheat right away, otherwise you run the risk of it going bad.
  • Cultivating is also a good idea – You can use your tractor to cultivate your fields and make them ready for sowing. You can also save time by hiring an assistant to drive your harvester, having them harvest your first wheat field, and manually cultivating the second field yourself.

  • Sell all your starter grains – Every time you begin a new game you’ll start with 5’000 Wheat, Canola, Corn, Sugarbeet, and Potato. Sell all of it for quite a bit more starting cash.
  • Buy a second tractor before you buy anything else – If you harvest your first field and sell off as much of your starting grains as you can, you should have more than enough to buy yourself a second tractor. Definitely do that, because having a second machine around to cultivate, sow, and haul will be extremely useful.
  • Only sow wheat and canola to start – When you have a sowing machine attached to your tractor you can tap on the seed button (it’s the one highlighted in blue) to switch seeds. Stick with wheat and canola for a while, because harvesting everything else requires tools you won’t have yet.

General farming

  • Make liberal use of assistants – It costs roughly $1 of in-game cash per second when you have an assistant using your vehicles, but it saves you so much time it’s easily worth the price. You can certainly do everything yourself, but if you add a couple of assistants to the mix you can harvest, cultivate, and sow a single field at the same time – just make sure you leave enough space between vehicles or you might cause a pile-up.
  • Assistants can be used for more than just working fields – If you’re in the middle of harvesting and you need to unload a tipper, you can attach a tractor to it and have an assistant haul it over to your silo for you. They can also sell your grain if you tell them where to go (hint: the location highlighted in blue pays the best). They can also refill sowing machines and fertilizer spreaders, refuel, and even take your vehicles to get washed. Most of these actions are contextual and can be triggered by pressing the Hire Assistants button, but you can also open up the map and direct them from there using the Functions icons at the bottom of the screen (drive, refill, refuel, and wash).
  • Cruise control is a less effective but cheaper alternative to assistants – It’s not a real replacement, but if you pull up on a vehicle’s throttle all the way it will keep going forward until you slow it down – or until it crashes. You can use this to line your tractor or harvester up, turn on the attached tool, and pretty much sit back while it does its thing. Then once you reach the end of the field you can turn it around and repeat the process. Just keep an eye on it so you don’t end up in a pond or something.
  • Top everything off when you have some downtime – Your assistants will automatically refuel the vehicles they’re driving and refill any attached tools that might need it whenever they run dry. But if you refuel/refill yourself (or make an assistant do it) in between tasks, you’ll save a bit of time in the long run.

  • Can’t tell if a field is ready for harvesting? Check the map! – Any fields you own that have been planted will show up on your map with a green icon depicting the seeds planted in them. When they’re ready to harvest, those seed icons will change to yellow.
  • Store unused tools in nearby empty fields – The fields you don’t own aren’t actually in use, so feel free to dump your stuff there when you’re not using it. It’s closer, faster for your vehicles to gear-up, and just generally more convenient.
  • Check current prices before attempting to sell your grains – You can see how much each grain type is selling for (and at which location) from the Prices option in the menu (its next to the map button). If something isn’t selling for a whole lot, wait a bit and the price will eventually start to go back up. Conversely, if the price has skyrocketed then sell, sell, sell!

Misc tips

  • Keep an eye on your harvester’s capacity – The bigger the field, the faster it’s going to fill up your harvester. Keep a tipper nearby and unload it – just stop alongside it right side and the harvester should unload automatically – when it starts to get too full. If you have an assistant driving the harvester you can also manually drive a tractor with a tipper attached alongside it while it harvests, and it’ll unload while moving. You can also honk when your harvester is full to have a tipper automatically move to you, take your crops, then move back to its starting location – providing the tipper is either empty or contains the same crops as your harvestor.
  • Save up for a Tedder and a Baler – It’s expensive, but once you get a baler and Tedder you can start cutting the grass in nearby overgrown fields and making hay bales for your cows and sheep, which in-turn will allow them to produce milk and wool, respectively. And milk and wool sell for quite a bit.
  • Don’t over-extend yourself – Try not to have too many fields growing crops at the same time – at least until you have a small fleet of harvesters and tractors – or else you’re just going to end up losing crops because it takes you too long to collect them.

  • Check in on your assistants – They’re a big help, but sometimes your assistants will get themselves stuck. Whether it’s because they got too close to one another while tending a field or because they decided to try and drive through the back of the gas station, it’s going to happen. Just check in on them every now and then, and take over for a bit to get them unstuck.
  • Remember to pick up what you buy – Whenever you buy equipment that isn’t a vehicle you’re going to need to drive down to the shop to pick it up. Don’t just buy something and then leave it in the parking lot!
  • Keep an eye out for special requests – Sometimes you’ll see a red circle with an exclamation point in it sitting in the top-left corner of the screen. Tap on it, and you’ll be able to take part in a limited-time challenge for some extra cash.

Barn Woods

reclaimed salvaged antique repurposed barn wood board beamLand owners looking to take down older barns and place the wood on the market for resale can find themselves in possession of unique materials, including barn boards and hand-hewn barn beams.

Barn components: Most wood used in the construction of older American barns has value, assuming a particular species and condition.  The parts of the barn that are most commonly reclaimed are carrier and sleeper beams (these carry a higher value), upper frame beams (which carry a lower value when mortises are frequent), weathered barn siding, interior boards, and decking.

Dismantling: This must be handled very carefully.  Breaking, chipping, cracking, or otherwise damaging material during the demolition process is the easiest way to lose the value of your antique wood.  Even scratching the surface of barn board reduces the value of the product.  Barn board, in particular, must always be salvaged by hand.  Think ‘dismantling’, not ‘demolition’.

Selling barn board: Barn board (sometimes called barn wood or barn siding) can be difficult to sell.  For barn siding to have a strong resale value, it must be available in large, consistent quantities (meaning from the same building).  Damaged or rotten boards will significantly reduce the resale value of barn board.  Longer boards are more desirable, their shorter counterparts are not.  Painted barn board is usually valued lower than unpainted barn board.  Depending on the market, the widths of the boards may play a role.

Selling hand-hewn beams: Hand-hewn beams have resale value as architectural pieces only if they are in prime condition, undamaged, and unpainted.  If the original hand-hewing marks and character of the beam have been marred or altered, their value lies only in the resaw.  Solid hand-hewn beams (no checking, rot, mortise pockets, etc.) will fetch more than hand-hewns with imperfections.

– Making the Call:

When you call a reclaimed wood buyer to market your wood, have the following information at the ready:

  • Pictures of the wood: surface photos, end-grain photos, close-ups, site photographs, and current storage shots.
  • Species identifications.
  • Dimensions of all material.
  • Quantities.
  • Condition (checking, nail content, rot, other damage).
  • Age and history of the building from which the material has been salvaged.

Greenhouse grow bags

Greenhouse grow bagsGrow bags are incredibly useful throughout the garden: just pop them anywhere you want to grow plants but don’t have soil, like the edge of a patio or outside the back door. They give you an instant growing space for sweet peas, annual climbers like morning glory, or productive herbs, vegetables or even fruit.

We stock grow bags in our Paston and Oundle garden centre all year round, as well as useful accessories like frames that clip over them to support your plants as they grow and covers to help them blend more easily into the garden. Here are some top tips to make sure you get the best from your grow bags throughout the year.

  • Fluff up before planting: When you get your grow bags home, plump them up like a pillow before you use them. This breaks up the compost inside where it’s become compacted in the stack, letting in air and making it easier for your plants’ roots to penetrate.
  • Stack several together: If you’re growing big plants like tomatoes, consider stacking two or even three grow bags on top of each other to give your plants a better root run. Cut out a long rectangle from the first grow bag, then put another on the top, cutting squares from the underside to let the roots through.
  • Feed regularly: Plants in grow bags rely on you for feed and water, so make sure your plants never go short. A weekly general-purpose liquid seaweed feed keeps most plants going; switch to high-phosphate tomato feed once they start flowering. You’ll find both in our garden centre.
  • Use a second time for salads: Once your peppers and cucumbers have finished, don’t throw out your grow bag. Top up with compost if necessary (you may need to cut a longer rectangle from the top) and re-sow with baby-leaf salads to see you through autumn.
  • Recycle the compost: When you’ve finally finished with your grow bag, empty the spent compost on your compost heap or just straight onto your flower beds as a soil-improving mulch.

Scrap the Trap When Evicting Wildlife

When confronted with wildlife living up-close in their own homes or backyards, well-meaning but harried homeowners often resort to what they see as the most humane solution—live-trapping the animal and then setting her free in a lush, leafy park or other far-away natural area.

It sounds like a good idea, but the sad truth is that live-trapping and relocation rarely ends well for wildlife, nor is it a permanent solution. Why isn’t this approach as humane and effective as it seems, and what other options do caring people have when wildlife conflicts arise? Read on for the answers—and some solutions!

Wild nursery

Between March and August, raccoons, skunks, woodchucks, and other animals may choose shelter in, around, and under a home because they need a safe place to bear and rear their young. Well-adapted to urban life, they will opt to nest in safe, quiet, and dark spaces—such as an uncapped chimney or under the back porch steps—if given the opportunity. You may only see one animal, but during this time, assume that any wild animal denning or nesting around a home is a mother with dependent babies.

Unintentional orphans

Not recognizing that dependent young may be present when live-trapping and relocating wildlife during the spring and summer often has tragic consequences. Wild animal babies are unintentionally orphaned and too often die of starvation, because their mother is trapped and removed.

The dangers of relocation

Although homeowners mean well, wild animals do not “settle in” quickly to new surroundings, no matter how inviting that habitat may seem to humans. In fact, the odds are heavily stacked against any animal who is dumped in a strange park, woodland, or other natural area.

A 2004 study of grey squirrels who were live-trapped and relocated from suburban areas to a large forest showed that a staggering 97 percent of the squirrels either soon died or disappeared from their release area. Take it from the animal’s point of view:

  • Suddenly in an unfamiliar place, she is disoriented and doesn’t know where to find shelter, food, or water.
  • She’s in another animal’s territory, and she may be chased out or attacked.
  • She doesn’t know where to go to escape from predators.
  • She may desperately search for babies that she is now seperated from.

In the meantime, her helpless young are slowly dying. Even if the orphaned young are discovered, rescued, and taken to a wildlife rehabilitator to be reared, it remains a bleak situation for both the mother and her offspring, and one that could have been easily prevented.

Patience, it’s a virtue

If you discover a wildlife family nesting in or around your home, the ideal response is patience.

If the animals are not causing damage or harm, you can be assured that once the young are big enough to be out and about, the birth den will have served its purpose. The denning and nesting season is short. Be tolerant and wait a few weeks until the family has vacated the premises and you’ll prevent orphaning of the young altogether. Then, you can make repairs to prevent animals from moving in again.

If you can’t wait for the animals to leave on their own, the next best strategy is humane eviction—gently harassing the animals so they’ll move to an alternative location. Wild animals have a sophisticated knowledge of their home ranges—the area in which they spend almost their entire life. Alternative places of refuge are part of that knowledge or cognitive map.  Litters can, and will, be moved if disturbed.

Try using a combination of unpleasant smells and sounds. The size of the denning space and the amount of ventilation will largely influence if such repellents will work. We recommend using rags soaked in a strong smelling substance such as cider vinegar (but not ammonia!), lights, and a blaring radio during nighttime hours to convert an attractive space (quiet, dark, and protected) into one that is inhospitable.

Excluding unwanted guests

Repellents provide a temporary solution at best. To permanently prevent animals from using those same spots in the future, you’ll need to seal off any denning areas. Make sure all animals are out before sealing off any space. Remember, during the spring and summer months, it is extremely likely that the animal denning under your steps or elsewhere around your home is a female with dependent young. Make sure that mother and young are able to remain together, to prevent any of them from dying cruel deaths.

If you can find the entry/exit holes, an easy way to determine if the den has been vacated is to loosely cover or fill it with a light material, such as newspaper or insulation. This way the occupant will have to push the obstruction aside to get out or come back in. If the block hasn’t moved for three to four days (and it’s not the dead of winter), the den has been vacated and it’s safe to make repairs.

These suggestions are general guidelines only. Recommended methods for resolving conflicts with wildlife may depend upon additional aspects of the situation and the species involved (bats in particular).

But what if….?

When the only other option is killing we sometimes agree that relocation, which gives the wild animal at least a chance, is acceptable. Much depends on the species involved, the time or year, the area into which relocation occurs and other factors—too many to write a general prescription.

For example, relocating an opossum, an animal that tends to wander all its life and often has no fixed home range (and who carries her babies with her) could be seen as more acceptable than relocating a squirrel in mid-winter. For the squirrel it is a death sentence since she would no longer have access to her food cache on which she survives the winter. There are times and circumstances when relocation is surely a better alternative than certain death.

Storage Tips for your Garage, Barn and Shed

Owning a garage, barn, or shed is a great way to have extra storage space and a place to work and play. These outdoor rooms offer us a separate space from the house where projects can be done and things can get a bit messy. But often, these spaces can become cluttered and overcrowded with objects, tools, sporting goods, cars, and miscellaneous items that can cramp the space and get in the way of you enjoying these areas. There are some excellent ways you can reduce clutter and organize the garage and other storage areas that will make it easier to access things while still having plenty of room to work on your hobbies. Other important factors when you organize these areas include making sure that these areas are safe for animals and little ones. By having a clean and organized garage, barn, or shed, you will have a place that you enjoy using where you can easily find the things you need.

Garage Storage and Organization

Safety should be your first priority when it comes to keeping your garage clean and organized. Lock up chemicals and paints inside of a metal cabinet so little hands cannot get to them. Make sure all electrical and extension cords are out of the way to prevent tripping hazards. You can set up a hook system to hang tools, toys, and gardening items up on the walls. This keeps everything off of the floor and still within easy reach. Use a pegboard and attach it to the garage walls. Then, simply insert hooks and hang what you want where you want. Large plastic tubs or bins are another great option to store larger items. Label the tubs with whatever is inside, like “tools” or “grilling items,” so that anyone can easily tell what is inside each tub. Use as much of the space available in your garage as you can. For example, the ceilings can also be fitted to store objects up above.

Barn Storage and Organization

Having a barn can be quite a challenge. Not only do you want to have a place for everything, but having animals can make it even more challenging. You want to make sure you’re providing a clean, safe place where the animals can eat and rest, all while you are still able to perform the functions you choose to perform. Much like in a garage, you can utilize similar tactics to organize your supplies and tools. Hang horseshoes on hooks using pegboard, and store excess feed and supplies in large plastic tubs. There are even systems available to purchase that are specifically designed for barn storage, such as horse blanket and saddle racks. You’ll also want to make sure you have the tools and items needed to keep the barn clean for the animals that live there.

Shed Storage and Organization

The shed is usually a place where tools and garden supplies go to rest. It can be a workshop, a place to pot plants, a general storage area, and many other things, but if it is not organized, it becomes a cluttered mess. Keeping the shed organized can help you find tools and other things when you need them and can prevent you going on a wild goose chase to find that wrench you’ve been looking for. Utilize wall space from as far down to as far up as possible. Since sheds are usually small, you will want to use as much space as you can find. Baskets that affix to the wall as well as small jars that can hold things like screws and nails will make life much easier. Even simple things like wooden crates can help you keep the clutter at bay and make locating that drill or garden shovel a lot easier when you need it.

 

The Best Sets for Trapping Wolves

Trapper & Predator Caller Field Editor Serge Lariviére recently had the chance to interview expert wolf trapper Gordy Klassen. The renowned figure from DeBolt, Alberta, is known throughout the West and across Canada for his wolf trapping clinics and seminars. He is the owner of Trapper Gord trapping supply business (www.trappergord.ca), founder of the Trapper Gord Wilderness College in Alberta and president of the Alberta Trappers Association for almost 10 years. Klassen took a few minutes of his busy schedule to discuss his wolf trapping methods and philosophy.

The portion of the interview below deals with sets for wolf trapping. The full interview appears in the December 2013 Trapper & Predator Caller issue.

Serge Lariviére: OK, so we have a location, say a junction of an old forestry road and a series of beaver ponds. We have seen wolf tracks in the snow there before. We know wolves come here. What next? Snares or footholds?

Gordy Klassen: Both have merit, and both should be used if legal in your area. If using footholds only, make enough sets for every pack member.

SL: Do you gang set in close like most trappers do for foxes and coyotes?

GK: Ah, here we start doing things different. Wolves are a little more paranoid than coyotes or foxes. I space my sets just far enough so that when one animal is caught, the next set is out of sight. After a pack member is caught, other wolves run out of there fast, and then stop out of sight to call the member back. Then, they slowly approach while remaining out of sight to try and understand why this member is not following. This is where the other sets come in.

SL: So five to seven foothold sets is common for you?

GK: Sure, and snares if I can also. Footholds should be spaced so each catch is just out of sight of the next one. This is how you can maximize your catch or catch multiple members of a single pack when they come through. If you set too close, you might lock on to one or two members, but you’re unlikely to catch any more. By spacing sets out, the first animal you catch becomes the ultimate attraction for the remaining pack members, and multiple catches are almost assured.

SL: What about specific foothold sets?

GK: My No. 1 set is a big, high-visibility step-down dirthole set. I like lots of dirt thrown around and a big hole with the pan about 16 inches from the lower lip of the hole.

SL: All sets are dirtholes?

GK: No, I also use flat sets using skulls, blocks of charred wood or simply urine posts. Wolves are curious, and objects that stand out attract them a lot. I have used natural objects, but sometimes I might use a discarded oil can, pop can, anything that the wolves might have seen once or twice but not paid attention to. When that same can smells of lure or aged beaver meat, wolves will approach out of sheer curiosity.

I won’t make five sets alike if I set five traps. I try to vary. Each wolf has its own personality, and some are bolder or more curious than others. I vary my sets from all natural to very unusual, and I have caught wolves in all types.

Wolf Trapping Tips from Canada’s Premier Trapper

Wolf hunting and trapping is now available to many outdoorsmen and women in the United States after years of prohibition. Expanding wolf populations have created new opportunities for hunters and trappers in states like Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Sportsmen now hunger for information about how to hunt and trap these amazing, but wary canines.

The best way to learn how to catch a wolf is to look to those who have been doing it. In Canada and Alaska, wolves have not had the protections that they’ve known in the Lower 48, and many hunters and trappers have developed and refined techniques for that have served them well. Alberta’s Gordy Klassen is recognized as Canada’s premier wolf trapper. He travels around Canada giving wolf trapping seminars both privately and for government animal-control agencies. He offers what he calls a college course in wolf trapping and hunting each year and the weeklong event is booked well in advance.

I spoke with Gordy at length and he offered some advice to first-time trappers. “Wolves are not hard to trap,” he said, “but you have to do it by their rules.” A fox or coyote trapper may catch an animal and soon have another in the same trap. Not so with wolves. “Their brain is 20 percent larger than a comparably-sized dog and they learn very quickly. You have to realize that each time you catch one, you are educating an entire pack.” They figure things out very quickly, he said, so you can’t make mistakes. You rarely get more than one chance at a wolf. One of the keys to the equation is scent control.

Clean freak

Whether using traps or snares, Klassen is a self-confessed scent reduction fanatic. “You can’t fool a wolf’s nose, so you have to come as close to eliminating scent as possible, and make your set so appealing that it overcomes the fear of the remaining scent.”

He uses Scent Killer spray when he sets traps and never touches any equipment with his bare hands. He is careful to never breathe on the snare or trap and even chews spearmint gum to avoid the smell of human breath in the area while constructing a set. “One drop of sweat will ruin the whole deal.” He says, so he even uses sweat bands on his head and arms when trapping in warm weather.

His equipment is clean and free from human scent or foreign odors. He uses a product called Insta-Boil to boil the scent away from the equipment and adds some pine, balsam, or spruce to the mix to give the equipment a natural smell.

Gordy Klassen with a wolf he snared. Using snares the right way is a very effective way to harvest your first wolf or a dozen of them. A snare set properly will catch a wolf right behind the ears and it’s lights out within seconds. There is virtually no pain or discomfort to the wolf when caught this way. Image courtesy Gordy Klassen.

When making a snare or trap set, Klassen uses a clean ground cloth to stand or kneel on. Then when a catch is made, he uses a tarp to roll the animal up into and carries it out of the area. He says if there is any blood in the area other wolves may avoid it, so he shoots the wolf behind the ear and then quickly rolls it onto the tarp to avoid blood on the ground. Dragging the wolf out may offer the animals a clue as to where it went, so that’s a no-no. Even in the winter when there is a great deal of snow cover, the caught wolves are carried out of the area, not dragged.

Tactics

The wolf’s amazing ability to smell is also his undoing. Wolves are very attracted to the scent of any canine that is not a regular visitor to their hunting area. Urine and feces from wolves outside their home range are the best wolf-attractors out there—if you can get them. Klassen says many serious wolf trappers have set up exchanges in which each collects feces in sealed bags that they trade to trappers from other areas. These are then used for bait at wolf sets. The typical sets that trappers use to catch the smaller canines also catch wolves. Fox and coyote sets like dirtholes, flat sets, and urine post sets all work.

A bait station is one of the most effective ways to snare wolves. When the going is tough, wolves will come to fresh bait and are vulnerable to properly-set snares around bait stations. But Klassen doesn’t do things in the order that you might think. Rather than put out a bait and surround it with snares as the trails develop, he chooses and area for the bait and sets the snares first. He tries to anticipate the wolves’ approach to the bait site and sets 20 to 30 snares around the area in any possible trail. After a few days, any human scent that might be on or immediately in the area of each snare has dissipated. He then brings in the bait.

Snaring wolves in winter is made easier with deep snow cover. Wolves will follow the path of least resistance, even if it is a snowmobile trail. Setting snares in these trails and in places like them can be very effective. The same is true of game trails, but snares must be used with great caution where other animals are traveling.

A simple set that has accounted for a lot of wolves in the winter involves nothing more than a paper cup with a couple tiny holes in it filled with urine and suspended so it slowly drips onto the ground. Snares are set in foot-trails around the scent. You can add a stool from outside the area for extra appeal.

Location, location, location

Wolves spend the majority of their time on the fringes of their home range. A wolf pack’s home range is well defined, but they do not regularly cover every square inch of it. In fact, just the opposite is true. The animals do not aimlessly wander all over their “home range.”

“Wolves spend 95 percent of their time on the fringes of their territory,” Klassen said. “They like trails and roads, and will follow these. Power line cuts and rivers are also followed.” The edges of the territory will be defined by such a feature and the wolves make regular trips along these boundaries. Lakeshores, cliffs, swamps, and other barriers that are difficult to cross often make up the edges of their territory.

A good bait will draw wolves day after day. If you have one wolf coming to your bait, you most likely have several. Wolves are easy to trap, but you must do it on their terms. Image courtesy Bernie Barringer.

Once you find one of these areas, the sign will be abundant. Wolves will leave droppings and urinate every couple hundred feet along the boundaries of their territory. Tracks from regular use will be visible. Of course, it stands to reason that these are the high-percentage places to set your traps and the time it takes to find these boundaries is well worth the effort.

The tools of the trade

Snares are made of either 1/8-inch or 3/32-inch galvanized aircraft cable. Klassen primarily uses 3/32, 7×7 strand cable in 60-inch lengths. He then adds a swivel and another 60 inches of cable that leads to the anchor point. He is very specific about the particulars of his sets. He makes the snare loop 19 inches in diameter and sets it 18 inches above the ground. A plastic collar is used directly above the lock so the snare is held firmly in place. A support wire is held firmly in this collar.

He “loads” his snares by bending it with his fingers so it drops quickly upon first contact. He claims most of his snares hit the wolf right behind the ears and it’s lights out very shortly because the arteries that lead to the brain are affected. No blood to the brain means the wolf basically goes to sleep within seconds.

If the snare misses slightly, the wolf may be alive for some time, collared like a pet. But wolves have very sharp teeth and their jaws can exert 1,100 pounds of pressure on a snare cable. It may take some time, but it’s possible the wolf could chew the cable in two. He prevents that by anchoring the snare high or to the ground, so the lock settles either on the back of the wolf’s neck or the throat area, and he cannot get his teeth onto the cable in either case.

The RAM Power Snare in the Wolfmaster model is used when no anchoring is available. Klassen uses this setup exclusively where sign shows that the wolves are crossing beaver dams, one of his favorite places to snare them. This snare has a large spring that triggers when a wolf enters the snare, quickly closing it.

Foothold traps used include the Bridger Broad, the Alaska #9, and the 76 LAY, which is his favorite because it is center-swiveled, tough, and has offset jaws and strong springs. These big traps do not need pan covers, they are big and strong so you can sift dirt or snow right over the trap.

All traps are anchored solid, in no case is a drag or grapple used. Wolves can be dangerous and you want to know exactly where it is. Klassen uses long stakes, three feet long, made of 5/8-inch rebar. Long chains with effective swiveling are important to holding these tough, top-of-the-food-chain predators.

Wolf trapping has become available to many people for the first time. It’s no secret that wolf hunting is very controversial and even emotionally inflammatory in many circles. It pays to learn the specifics and do it right each time. Each time a trapper makes a mistake, it has the potential to flame up into a very tough situation for trappers, hunters, and game departments to deal with. Done right, wolf trapping is an important wildlife management tool and a challenge for outdoorsmen which can be carried out effectively and humanely.

Shed Building Materials

All our shed building materials are hand selected and thoroughly inspected before we use them to build your shed. The following details provide some basic information on the materials and construction methods you can expect with your Summerwood shed kit.

Sheathing: We use square edge 4 x 8 sheets of 3/4″ T & G. You may want to upgrade to fir plywood, or consider a T & G pine for a different look.

Shed Joists: We use 2 x 4 spruce (with perpendicular 2 x 6 (or greater) P.T. runners underneath). Although not necessary, some people prefer to go with P.T. for the floor joists as well.

Shed Shingles: We offer cedar shingles that can be purchased for your structure at the time of sale, but there are other choices that may be purchased from your local hardware store (asphalt shingles, for example). Whatever you choose, be sure to follow the installation instructions closely. Please refer to the roofing section on our website for more information.

Garden Shed Siding: We generally use four types of siding in the production of our products: cedar channel siding, cedar log siding, cedar shingle siding and Canexel wood fiber siding.

Canexel wood fiber siding: 1″ x 12″ and it covers approximately 11 feet per row. It has a 15-year manufacturers warranty and comes in a compelling range of colors with virtually no required maintenance.

Cedar siding: 8″ wide western red cedar channel siding with either the rough or smooth side out. It covers 6 3/8″ per row and is a lovely material that looks beautiful on every shed style.

Cedar log siding: 2 x 8″ and gives a truly rustic effect

Cedar shingles: 18″ in length and 7/16″ thick, they give a truly distinct look to the building that they’re put on.

Tips for Better Barn Function

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 The design of a barn impacts both the time and the money you spend to keep your horse happy and healthy. Whether you’re building or redoing a small private setup or a large professional training operation, the following tips will help you create a better dynamic.
Building Placement
Situating a barn well affects working conditions in that building. The experts advise avoiding low-lying areas or those at the bottom of a hill, for example, because runoff from rain and snow will be a problem. Build downwind of any residential buildings to minimize the flies and odors. Orient the barn so it takes advantage of winter sun, avoids the hottest summer sun and catches summer winds for ventilation. Dennis Rusch, product manager for Morton Buildings, says that the location of roads, including service roads, should
also be considered.

Architect John Blackburn advises choosing a builder who is experienced with equestrian facilities and is thus in tune with equine requirements, such as barn materials and safety issues. As he points out, “A good barn shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, but a poorly-designed barn might cost you your horse.” He begins by asking clients to complete a lengthy questionnaire before even starting a design. He wants to know how his clients spend their time in the barn.

Eileen F. Wheeler, author of Horse Stable and Riding Arena Design, agrees that thinking about where activities occur is an important first step. “I encourage people to create a diagram that outlines where they spend their time,” she says. “That’s where they should try to streamline. For example, most of us spend less time cleaning tack than feeding, so it makes sense to make feeding convenience a higher priority than the tack room.”

Convenience and Storage
Well-planned storage can save time and supplies. Keeping feed, hay and bedding in the middle of the barn, especially in a large barn, means less travel distance. Blackburn likes to put all of the service areas–feed room, office, tack room, wash stall–in the middle in large barns (16 stalls or more). “We can close that area off with sliding doors and heat it, making it more comfortable for the workers,” he explains.

With hay storage in particular, Wheeler warns against creating a system that makes you a victim of what she calls “the refrigerator concept”–what’s in the back of the refrigerator never gets used and what’s in the front does. By creating a storage area that opens both to the outside of the barn for stocking and to the inside for removing, there will be a constant rotation of hay. While it’s quite convenient to store hay in a loft and drop it into the aisle, it is not only a fire hazard but adds to the barn’s dust and allergen levels. Blackburn explains that if machinery is kept contiguous to the barn, it must be separated by a fire-rated wall.

Thinking ahead to everything you need in your barn and identifying a place for it will mean less clutter, which is a safety hazard. You will also save time if you don’t have to hunt for items.

Ventilation
The experts agree that ventilation is probably the single most important consideration, but many times it is overlooked. “[There are] fancy barns that are beautiful but, when the windows and doors are closed, there is no fresh air,” says Wheeler, adding that not only do horses have dusty bedding, they urinate and defecate on the floor, and thus have more need for fresh air in a barn than people do in their bedrooms.

Blackburn reminds us that horses in a barn can’t respond to their natural instincts to get warm or cool off. With forethought, a barn can be built for good natural ventilation.

Wind moves most of the air in a stable, so every barn needs a minimum of two sets of openings throughout the horse-occupied area to allow air to enter and exit. For example, there can be openings or vents along the eaves (where the walls meet the roof) and along the ridgeline (highest part of the roof). During cold weather, the warmer, stale air inside rises and escapes through the upper openings.

Rusch tries to impress upon equestrian customers the need to ventilate for their horse’s comfort, not their own. “We recommend Dutch doors or windows on the outside wall,” he says. “Fans in the cupola on the ridgeline of the building pull out stale, moist air and pull in fresh air through the overhang or the windows.” Multiple openings are needed for efficiency.

Stalls
Rusch says the most common stall is 12 feet square. “You want enough room for the horse to move around and get up and down comfortably,” he explains. “If you super-size that space, you have increased maintenance, a need for more bedding and a bigger area to clean.”

Partitions between stalls should be at least 8 feet high to prevent a horse from getting a hoof over them, but they don’t necessarily have to be solid from top to bottom. Spaces of an inch or so between wooden boards will enhance ventilation, as will a barred or mesh portion on the top. This configuration also has the benefit of allowing horses, which are herd animals, to see their companions–and provides easy observation of the horses by their humans. For the same reason, doors that are open on top or an open door with a stall guard or safety gate will increase visibility, light and ventilation. Bars, however, must not be more than 2 to 3 inches apart, and openings in heavy gauge wire mesh should not be more than 2 inches across to prevent a hoof from getting caught in the mesh.

Blackburn built a barn for one client who does a lot of breeding and, at her request, created all-steel mesh fronts for the stalls. “She is able to look down the aisle and see if a horse is up or down. It’s good for ventilation, too,” he says. The drawback is that bedding is kicked into the aisles, for which Blackburn installed bedding guards. He says that doors should be wide enough for a wheelbarrow to pass in and out (at least 4 feet). There are many reasons to use sliding doors over swinging doors. For example, a sliding door doesn’t need to be closed when you take a horse out. A swinging door interferes with aisle space and can get caught in the wind, causing a hazard. If you must use them, install them to swing outward. If a horse is down against a door that swings in, you’ve got a problem.

Blackburn always rounds or angles all edges in the stall for safety and includes a casting rail–either a groove in the wall or a 2-by-4-inch rail bolted low to the wall, so there is something for the horse to catch his foot on when rolling to avoid getting cast. “The height will depend on the amount of bedding you use but, for $50 or so, it is the simplest thing you can do,” he says.

Easy access to feed buckets is the quickest and most efficient way to feed without opening and closing stall doors. Morton, for example, offers a swing-out panel with a feed tub in the bottom and a hayrack in the top, or two separate swing-outs. Both lock open and shut to avoid being tampered with by bored lips. While swing-out hay racks are easy to fill, some people prefer feeding hay on the ground as it is more natural for the horse and avoids the dust from hay in mangers placed on a wall.

If you are debating whether to install automatic waterers, Wheeler says that they have the advantage of offering fresh water at all times. One model comes with a meter, so you know how much water your horse is drinking. Some models also have a shut-off mechanism, which allows you to control water intake. If you go the latter route, however, be sure to choose a model that is easy to clean.

If you don’t want automatic waterers, install water hydrants between every couple of stalls and provide for ample drainage for drips and overflows. Don’t forget to frost-proof them in climates where pipes are apt to freeze.

In the feed room, wooden bins lined with metal are one way that Blackburn assures feed will be safe from rodents. He will often fashion a large closet of the same material to store excess feed. Whether using trash cans or custom-built bins, elevating them off the ground will make scooping easier.

Another option Rusch uses for large barns is a storage bin outside with an auger that opens into the feed room for the delivery of grain. Include space in your feed room for a refrigerator to keep medicines.

The wash stall is a convenience with the potential of becoming a real headache. Always install a drain from which clogs can be removed easily, and put a removable strainer in the drain. Position the hose overhead. Fasten it with an apparatus specifically designed for that purpose. It will be easier to use on the horse and eliminate the possibility of tripping or a hoof tearing the hose.

Blackburn likes to include a recess for a muck bucket and a way out of the back in case a horse gets ornery. For a grooming stall, recesses keep necessary tools nearby while keeping the environment safe. Consider a niche built for your horse vacuum or a built-in vacuum that connects to an internal unit, much like a house vacuum system. A collapsible saddle rack and hook in or near the wash stall and grooming stall can be handy.

Waste Management
When cleaning out stalls, the person pushing a wheelbarrow full of manure will appreciate a straight shot to the manure pile. In larger facilities, aisles should be large enough for a pickup truck or tractor to pass through when delivering grain or hay or clearing manure.

The average horse creates four to five tons of manure per year. Combine that with soiled bedding material and about 12 tons will be removed annually from a horse’s stall, says Wheeler. “I am somewhat disheartened when I see people build big, beautiful barns, but when they get the first load of manure, they don’t know where to put it,” she notes. Make it as easy as you can to get the manure out of the stall and to the manure pile. Mechanized scrapers that run through a gutter can be great, says Wheeler. But they are expensive, and any time you add something mechanical, you are introducing the opportunity for malfunction.

More typically, manure will be tossed into a cart or wheelbarrow and taken to a pile. Wheeler advocates a short-term pile near the barn and, if you don’t have manure removed, a longer-term pile farther away. Taking advantage of elevation with a ramp from which manure can be dumped makes it easier, and you can drop it directly into a spreader.

Flooring
Choosing flooring is a matter of balancing what is wanted with what is affordable. Wheeler says that no stall flooring is perfect, so make sure you can live with any disadvantages. You want a surface that gives, is non-skid and durable, does not retain odor and is easy to clean. Mats in the stall offer the easiest cleanup option and can cut down on bedding requirements, but they can only be used on flat surfaces such as wood, concrete, asphalt or leveled stone dust.

Blackburn likes popcorn asphalt. “The texture gives it some friction so it’s not slick, and it is porous so it drains,” he says. “If you choose to use it in the aisles, however, it will collect hay and bedding and such.” If you use stone dust alone, it will hold urine and the ammonia gas will build up without proper ventilation. Blackburn says it’s never good to use bare concrete floors around horses. “Concrete without rubber mats can become slippery,” he adds, “and it is apt to freeze and crack in cold climates. The best flooring available is interlocking rubber brick because it is soft, recycled, durable, drains well and looks good.”

Lighting and Hardware
Inside the barn, you want good lighting for ease of work and general good cheer. If the climate allows, skylights, transparent panels or openings on the upper sides of the walls can provide a lot of natural light. Blackburn puts lights on either side of the stall at least 10 feet high with a switch and an outlet at each stall. Not only does good light make cleaning easier, if the vet comes to care for a stall-bound horse, having a well-lit environment is an advantage, he says.

When selecting hardware, whether for inside the barn or on gates or fencing, Wheeler advises that single-hand operation is always the best. You want latches that you can open or fasten with one hand while leading a horse or carrying a bucket with the other. They should also be durable enough to withstand the elements, horses leaning on them and years of use.

Safety
Fire is the greatest catastrophic threat to a barn. A few simple precautions can protect your barn and horses: Install a lightening
rod; install enough outlets to avoid overloading; modernize your circuit breakers; don’t store flammables (including hay and bedding) in the barn; protect wires with rodent-proof conduit metal or hard plastic; and use recesses to accommodate items such as fire extinguishers.

With function, efficiency and safety in mind, you can build a new barn or renovate an existing one to provide a better environment for your horse.

The Downside of Reclaimed Wood

Legitimacy: Because of the popularity of reclaimed lumber, some dealers make false claims about the source of their products. To make sure lumber is truly reclaimed, purchase it from a reputable dealer with certifications from organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council or the Rainforest Alliance.

Price: Reclaimed wood may be more expensive than virgin wood because of the process it undergoes. A dealer sorts and prepares the wood so it’s safe for consumer use, and often there is a lot of nail pulling and extra work involved over using virgin lumber. If you have experience handling lumber, you can mitigate this cost in some cases by deconstructing wood products yourself.

European Beech reclaimed wood flooringToxins: Companies may treat (or may in the past treated) lumber with chemicals and paint, which can contain volatile organic compounds, adhesives, preservatives, insecticides or lead. If you’re sourcing reclaimed wood on your own, test the lumber for toxins. Also, by learning about the wood’s past life, you may be able to gather information about any treatments it has undergone.

Pests: Many pests like to make their homes in wood. Before purchasing reclaimed lumber or deconstructing an item to get your own wood, inspect it for signs of an infestation. Signs can include asymmetrical holes in the lumber, the presence of bugs, or wood that crumbles when you touch it. In any case, if you are using reclaimed wood as a building material, it should be kiln-dried to ensure invasive pests are killed.

Hidden dangers: If you don’t purchase reclaimed wood from a company that sorts and processes it, you may find hidden dangers like nails or other organic matter. Handle the lumber with gloves, and inspect it for items of concern before you start on a project.

What to Expect With Reclaimed Wood

If you own an old house, you already know the satisfaction of having something that’s unique, and when you renovate, you look for one-of-a-kind materials. Unlike other materials whose appeal lie in their looks, reclaimed wood has beauty and history.

Not surprisingly, people are going to great lengths to find reclaimed wood that makes a stylistic statement about themselves and their homes.

Using reclaimed wood in a renovation requires more legwork than just stopping at a home center for lumber, but our Cambridge, Massachusetts, project house highlights the unique beauty that used timber can bring to a renovation.

As you enter homeowner George Mabry’s front door, your eyes are immediately drawn to the teak staircase crafted from wood reclaimed from a demolition site in Southeast Asia. Outside, the white stucco exterior is accented by a section of redwood siding made from California olive-oil barrels.

There are four strong arguments for using reclaimed wood, says Chad Beatty, vice president of Elmwood Reclaimed Timber, which collects and sells used wood.

1) It’s environmentally friendly. Reclaimed wood isn’t grown on farms, which often cultivate only trees that grow fast, but aren’t supportive of an ecosystem. Yes, it represents a tree that’s been cut down, but at least it’s getting another life in your home.

2) It has an age and character that cannot be mimicked. Old wood likely grew in a natural environment where it had to fight for nutrients and sun, making the wood strong and durable. Aging also brings out the color in the wood.

3) Most old-growth wood is no longer available. Regulations prevent many species of tree from being harvested, so Mabry couldn’t buy new redwood for his siding, for example.

4) It has its own history. How many people do you know who have olive-oil barrels on the outside of their houses?

And buying reclaimed lumber continues to get easier—and in some instances, less expensive relative to the escalating cost of new hardwood. Depending on what kind of wood you’re going for, you will spend $5 to $20 per square foot. The redwood that Mabry bought retails at just under $9 per square foot.

Local shops and a handful of national dealers like Elmwood can be found in phone directory or an Internet search (search under reclaimed wood, reclaimed timber or reclaimed lumber).

But beware. There are folks out there trying to make a quick buck selling used wood. Be suspicious of dealers who don’t guarantee their products, who have prices that are unrealistic compared to other bids, and who lack of professionalism–like shoddy paperwork or improper billing.

Make sure upfront that you’ll be getting wood that’s been properly treated. Your dealer should agree to scrub the wood clean and use a metal detector to spot any hidden nails. The wood likely will be cut from a large beam, planed and—this is critical–kiln-dried.

“Reclaimed wood has been air-drying for probably 150 years,” he says. “The problem there is you’ll get (natural) inconsistencies in the wood–it warps and bends.” That’s why it often needs millwork, particularly for indoor use. Many, but not all, dealers will kiln-dry the newly planed wood, Beatty says. Without that step, the wood could warp again. Kiln-drying also ends any infestation, ensuring that you won’t bring termites into your house with the wood.

Once you’ve signed your contract, be patient. Kiln-drying isn’t quick. The wood is heated at low temperatures, a process that can take more than a year for some bigger beams. The more rare the wood, the more likely it is that it isn’t kiln-dried and waiting for you to buy.

For the character and beauty it brought to the Cambridge House, it was clearly worth it.

6 Things To Know About Working With Reclaimed Wood

1. One end of your 2 x 4 could be wider than the other. Or the board is warped. Or a portion could be water-damaged. You won’t be able to use every inch of a piece of lumber in a project, so purchase a little too much material to work with.

2. It takes one rogue nail to wreak havoc on a saw blade. Good salvage warehouses will have removed most metal from the lumber, but anything that’s still embedded needs to be cut around.

3. Lightly sand the entire board, using heavier-grit (80- to 100-) sandpaper to remove splinters but keep the patina.

4. When cutting and assembling, remember that the interesting part of the wood is the outside surface and the end grain. The interior surface grain of an old 2 x 4 looks about the same as a new one’s.

5. Assume any paint on a piece of reclaimed wood is lead-based, which is safe for no one. Cut off and discard the painted area or coat the finished product in a highly durable polyurethane so the paint is behind a protective barrier.

6. A wax finish will mildly protect while keeping an untreated appearance. Polyurethane gives a shine and durability to high-use furniture. Apply clear coats or satin finishes like you would on regular wood but don’t use stains. You want the natural qualities to show through.

Timesaving Tips Around the Barn

Work smarter, not harder, management experts tell us. That’s easy for them to say–they’ve never had a barn full of horses to look after. If you’re like most horse owners, you devote every minute you can spare to ensuring your horses’ well-being. You don’t begrudge them the hours you spend pushing brooms, filling buckets and cleaning stalls. After all, you knew what you were getting into when you became a horse owner.

But could you be doing things more efficiently? Is it possible to provide even better care for your horses while still having time for the rest of your life? In other words, can you work smarter, not harder, around the barn?

Sure you can. There are timesaving techniques and tools out there that can help you complete your barn chores faster without sacrificing safety and cleanliness. We’ve collected some favorites here and arranged them by work category, focusing on the universal (and traditionally time-eating) chores of stall cleaning, watering and feeding, general maintenance, grooming and tacking. Some of our suggestions require specific equipment, but others call for nothing more than changing a routine or two to better utilize your existing resources.

Stall Cleaning
You could immediately reduce your stall-cleaning time by 100 percent–and improve your horses’ health in the process–by turning your herd out 24 hours a day. But since that’s not feasible for everyone, here’s how to cut the time you spend wielding a pitchfork without compromising the cleanliness your horses require.

Switch to a deep-litter system. If you bed on shavings, this European practice can help you establish a thick, clean bed with minimal daily labor. At each cleaning, remove only the visible piles of manure and wet spots–don’t dig down to the floor or turn the bedding over. Toss slightly soiled bedding to the sides of the stall, and put a thin layer of clean bedding in the center. Eventually, “banks” of dry shavings will form around the outside of the stall, and you can use these to refresh the center, eliminating trips to the shavings heap. Properly maintained, a deep-litter bed is dry, has no odor and is very cushioning to the legs. You will have to completely strip the stall once or twice a year, however.

Invest in the right tools for the job. A heavyweight pitchfork and a too-small wheelbarrow make for inefficient stall cleaning. Shop for multi-tined, lightweight forks that will allow clean shavings to fall through, along with oversized wheelbarrows that can reduce the number of trips you must make to the manure pile. Consider a mechanized manure sifter that separate clean shavings from dirty, saving both time and money.

Purchase stall mats or other floor coverings. Floor coverings, such as mats and grids, reduce the amount of labor involved in stall cleaning in two ways: by facilitating drainage and by reducing the amount of bedding needed. Properly installed, graded mats or grids channel urine to a drain or through the floor, eliminating the hours you’ve been spending each month digging out wet spots. They’ll also protect floors, cutting down on (or even eliminating) the heavy work of repairing holes or uneven surfaces each year. Mats have one additional advantage: Since they provide cushioning of their own, they require less bedding on top.

Establish a cleaning system. Clean stalls from front to back, back to front or side to side–it doesn’t matter what your pattern is; just stick with one method for more efficiency. Simplify waste removal by placing a tarp outside the stall door and tossing everything into the center. When the tarp is full, pick it up by the corners and place it in the wheelbarrow or carry it to the manure heap.

Watering
It goes without saying that your horses must have access to ample, clean water at all times. Still, there are some changes you can make to reduce the amount of time you spend delivering liquid refreshment to your beasts.

Add more water containers. The simplest and cheapest way to cut down on the time you spend watering is to add a second water bucket to each stall, as well as additional troughs in each paddock. Fill all the containers in the morning, and you may be able to skip the afternoon refill if the water is still clean.

Extend pipes to stalls. The next level of watering convenience requires a plumber’s help. Run pipes from the main water line along the outside of the stalls in the aisleway, above door-frame height. For quick and easy watering, install an on/off valve at each stall, and run short hoses from the valves to just above each water bucket. This kind of pipe system must be drained in the winter to prevent freezing, but during the summer it can save hours of hose-dragging.

A less frost-prone, but more costly, variation is to have pipes installed in the floor of the aisleway, with a spigot at each stall and a “dedicated” hose running through a hole cut in the stall wall above the bucket.

Go fully automatic.If you can afford it, automatic waterers are the way to go. With safety features to prevent shock, insulation to guard against freezing and gauges to measure a horse’s water intake, these equine water fountains are perhaps the most common and effective time-savers available to horsekeepers. They offer the added benefit of ensuring that your horses always have access to water and are available for both stalls and pastures.

Feeding
If your horse had his way, he’d be eating all the time. Grazing on pasture is his natural feeding pattern, after all, and even when it comes to concentrates, experts agree that giving small amounts at intervals during the day is the optimal schedule for your horse’s digestive well-being. Still, from a time-management perspective, the “little and often” approach can be tough to follow. Here are some ways you can cut the time it takes to feed your horses without compromising their health and happiness.

Streamline delivery. Instead of running back and forth from stall to feed bin, put all feeds and supplements into a large, wheeled cart with several compartments. With this system, you can roll down the aisleway, stopping at each stall to dole out rations. The process is made even more efficient by adding small, swing-out doors or other openings over the feed buckets.

Make gravity work for you. Stack hay bales in well-ventilated lofts with strategically located “drops” over each stall or hayrack. With this arrangement, you can toss flakes to their destination with minimal time or effort. This also works for feeds stored in the loft. Run individual PVC pipes (six inches or larger in diameter) into each stall, and pour grain down the pipe directly into the feed bucket for each eagerly awaiting horse. Just make sure you inspect the feed buckets daily for signs of contamination or indications that a horse has stopped eating.

Prepare meals ahead of time. A popular time-saver at racetracks is to prepare “bag lunches,” thus reducing measuring and scooping time. Whoever makes up the morning feeding also doles out the lunch and/or dinner rations in separate canvas bags. These are hung outside the stall when the morning feeding is delivered. Feeding the next meal simply requires dumping the contents into the bucket.

Install automatic feeders. If you want to spend the money, you can automate your feeding routine. Automatic feeders on the market can hold several days’ worth of concentrates, and some even hold hay. Just fill them up once and let the timer do the rest of the work. The benefit of automatic feeders is they can be set to dispense a small amount several times throughout the day, but the drawbacks are the maintenance and extra vigilance they require. You must check that automatic feeders are working properly every day, or risk a hungry–or worse, overfed–horse.

Feed concentrates in the field. Bringing in field-kept horses just to eat their daily rations can be a huge time-waster. If you choose to feed in the field, however, you’ll need to make sure that each horse gets his fair share and that no feed is wasted. Feed tubs that latch onto fences are a good start; these not only conserve feed but also prevent ingestion of soil or sand, a possible colic producer. If you’re good at construction, you can build standing stalls with individual feed tubs along a fence line. Your horses will soon learn to claim a stall at feeding time, and chains across the back of the stalls will keep bullies in until the slowest eater has finished.

Keep a bale-opening tool handy. Wrestling the twine off a bale of hay can be a real time-waster. Hang a pair of tin snips (special scissors for cutting metal) or a farrier’s knife on a nail next to the hay shed or loft ladder; either will safely and easily cut even the toughest baling twine. Be faithful about putting this tool back when you are done.

Maintenance and Record Keeping
The maintenance required around a farm can range from simple daily house-keeping to backbreaking, once-a-year heavy work. With horses needing constant care, these are the kinds of jobs that tend to get pushed to the bottom of a “to do” list. Cutting the time it takes to handle routine maintenance will let you get to the end of that “to do” list a lot faster.

Banish the brooms. Rather than push a broom for hours, invest in a quality vacuum and leaf blower. Use the blower for outdoor jobs only, such as cleaning driveways or gutters; indoors, a blower will stir up unhealthy dust. Instead, use a vacuum for aisles and rafters. A heavy-duty shop vacuum will do, but for really efficient cleaning, try a model specifically designed for cleaning barns or industrial buildings.

Buy synthetic tack for daily use. Cut down time spent on leather care by using synthetic tack for your everyday riding. Man-made materials are easily hosed clean, and your show tack will stay nice for dressy occasions.

Maximize storage space in tack and feed rooms. Spend a rainy afternoon overhauling your storage areas. Prefab shelving, wire racks and cabinetry, available at most hardware stores, will go a long way toward making sense of your mess. While you’re at it, hang a halter and lead shank on each horse’s stall so they’ll always be there when you need them, saving extra trips to the tack room.

Invest in high-quality, high-tech fencing. As much as you may love the traditional look of wooden board fences, they take a lot of time to maintain. Installing synthetic fences made of PVC and other polymers is more costly in the short term, but over time you’ll save on maintenance and repair. Properly installed electric fencing–particularly “tape” and poly-cord varieties–is also a mostly maintenance-free option.

Buy an appropriate-sized tractor and accessories. All but the smallest of farmettes can benefit from some sort of tractor for the hauling, dumping and dragging associated with heavy maintenance work. As a rule, it’s better to have slightly “too much” tractor than not enough, so set your minimum requirement at 20 horsepower and work up from there.

With the appropriate accessories, a tractor can speed nearly every farm job: Pull the tractor into the barn and muck out directly into a dump cart or manure spreader; cut grass and brush around the barn and in the pastures with mover attachments; drag fields and rings with a chain-link harrow; use a front-end loader to straighten fence posts.

Auto-water your ring. Use a simple lawn sprinkler to water down your riding ring quickly and inexpensively and keep dust at bay. Just remember to move the sprinkler before puddles form.

Start a binder system for your records. For each horse, purchase an inexpensive three-ring notebook, with pocket inserts and loose-leaf paper. Put official documents, such as Coggins test results, into the pockets, and record all other relevant information on the loose-leaf paper: Put veterinary visits on one sheet, show results on another, and so on. The idea is to have all of the horse’s vital papers and information readily available in one place. Start a similar binder for farm expenses, such as feed bills and hay deliveries.

Computerize your system. Consider one of the many software programs designed to organize horsekeeping data. Some are intended for large operations, others are better suited for smaller farms, so shop around with your specific needs and computer capabilities in mind. A computer program does require you to enter information on a regular basis, but it also means that records and data are easily and instantly retrievable.

Grooming and Tacking
So the chores are done, and you’re ready to ride? Make the transition even faster by streamlining your grooming and tacking procedures. A few basic changes can whittle your pre-ride routine down to 10 minutes or less:

Move everything at once. Elaborate wheeled carts with saddle racks and baskets can bring everything you need for grooming and tacking right to the horse, eliminating extra trips to the tack room.

Vacuum instead of brushing. Not only will grooming go faster with a vacuum, but your horse will be cleaner. It may take a few days to accustom him to the sound and sensation of the machine, but eventually your grooming routine will be pared down to a quick curry and a five-minute vacuum treatment. A good wet/dry shop vacuum will do, but a heavy-duty model designed for horses will last longer and make less noise.

Use both hands. It may sound obvious, but put a tool in each hand and you’ll cut your grooming time in half.

Teach your horse to lift both feet from one side. Pick out the left and right hooves from the same side. All but the stiffest horses (and grooms) find this no problem. In fact, same-side picking is standard practice at many racetracks. If you worry about developing “sidedness” this way, alternate the side you pick from. – See more at: http://equusmagazine.com/article/barntime_111405-8203#sthash.hioVB5yG.dpuf

7 Clean-up Tips for Your Cluttered Barn

There are two things you should think about when organizing your barn and outbuildings. First, dedicate some time to thinking about your work flow. Knowing how you use your barn space will help you use your body more effectively to reach that needed tool or material, as well as save both time and stress by allowing you to find everything more quickly. Second, organizing your barn doesn’t need to be a complicated, drawn-out process requiring heaps of time. As you’ll see below, small changes can make a huge difference in farm workflow.

7 Clean-up Tips for Your Cluttered Barn - Photo courtesty Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Thinkstock (HobbyFarms.com)

1. Customize for You
“I’m only 5 feet, 4 inches, so I do everything from building shelves to hanging hooks based on my height,” says Kathy Zeman, who runs Simple Harvest Farm Organics in Nerstrand, Minn. Customization can come in many forms: Think about your personal needs and how your outbuildings can best serve them. For example, if you need to be mindful of back issues, hang more shelving and pack things in smaller, lighter boxes so you’re not putting undue strain on your back.

2. Hang It Up
Getting things off the floor creates multiple benefits, from preventing tripping hazards to keeping materials cleaner and intact. If you’re short on wall space, take advantage of your barn ceiling: Hang bundles of hoses or drip tape with rope from the rafters for winter storage.

When hanging things in hard-to-reach places, make sure you have a ladder of suitable height handy.

“I have several ladders that I keep in different places so I’ll have one where I need it and don’t need to lug it around,” Zeman says. “I always hang my ladders and never keep them on the floor. This makes it easier to keep the area underneath clean and also serves as a safety technique so kids don’t feel the urge to climb.”

3. Group Like Materials Together
A simple organizing technique is to arrange tools or materials with others of a similar use. “We have one shelf with everything for the farmers’ market, another with our beekeeping supplies, another with all things soap making, et cetera,” says Yvonne Brunot, who runs Right Mind Farm, a diversified farm operation, with her husband, Ed Safford, in Walingford, Vt. “Sometimes there may be some overlap, but this way we can easily and quickly put our hands on what we need at that moment.”

4. Identify and Consolidate Tools
“I host a lot of work parties on my farm and appreciate all the extra helping hands, but folks typically don’t know where all the tools are, so I try to make it easy by consolidating everything in one place,” says Clare Hintz, who runs Elsewhere Farm in Herbster, Wis. Placing one hook per tool—and perhaps labeling or color-coding the tool—clearly communicates to helpers how many of each tool you have so things can be accurately and quickly returned at the end of the day.

Color-coding with bright paint also helps with field cleanup at the end of the day.”I paint the handles of my tools bright fluorescent colors, which is an easy reminder when you leave something out in the field or are looking for that shovel at the end of the day,” Zeman says.

5. Think Multiple Purpose
Creatively arranging outbuilding space for multiple purposes allows you to get more accomplished in your limited space. “My outbuilding serves a variety of functions throughout the year, from drying garlic to packing produce to a classroom for interns and other workshops,” Hintz says. She built large, sturdy tables that can be quickly cleared off for her upcoming projects.

6. Recycle Creatively
Castoff tools can take on a second, functional life in your outbuildings. Kim Marsin and Rachel Reklau, of Sweet Home Organics, a garden seedling business based in St. Charles, Ill., don’t have a permanent barn or outbuilding on the property, so they’ve learned to be creative in utilizing and stretching the space in their hoop greenhouses. “We repurpose pallets as table tops and hardening off spaces for our seedlings,” Marsin explains. “We just finished building raised beds to go underneath our seeding tables to maximize the space.”

7. Purge Regularly
When you have decent-sized outbuilding space, it’s all too easy to accumulate stuff, especially others’ castoffs that you “might use someday.” Over the years, this adds up to clutter, which negatively impacts how efficiently you can use your outbuilding space. “I find the more extra stuff I have around, the harder it is to keep things organized and clean, so I operate under my ‘five-year rule.’” Zeman says. “If I haven’t used it in five years, I gift it to someone else, ideally a new farmer starting out who could really benefit from it. I’ve rarely actually needed any of it once I got rid of it, and the positive impact of the extra space is well worth it.”

An extra bonus to all this outbuilding efficiency: You’ll save money! By knowing where things are and having easy access to them, you’ll avoid those extra trips to the local hardware or farm-supply store because something you need is “lost somewhere in the barn.”

Keeping up the harvest

Keeping up the harvestPlanting a veg garden really kicks off the year. By the end of March you’ll have bought new potatoes and onion sets from our Paston and Oundle garden centre and tucked them into their new homes, and with a bit of luck you’ll be getting out those seed packets you chose from our extensive range of fruit and veg to sow the first hardy crops like carrots, peas, cabbages and beetroot.

But what happens when that first flush of productivity is over? Once you’ve harvested those new potatoes it’s still only June, there’s half the growing year left but you’ve got bare patches opening up all over the place.

Planting for a continuous harvest throughout the year is one of the holy grails of veg gardening. With a little planning and some tricks of the trade you too can avoid boom and bust, evening out your harvest so there’s always something to pick somewhere on the plot. Here’s how:

  • Successional sowing: Fast-growing veg like baby-leaf salads and carrots are ready within weeks, so repeat sow just half a row at a time every month through the season to keep them coming.
  • Intercropping: use every inch of space by sowing quick-growing carrots, spinach or beetroot among slower-growing brassicas: that way while they’re growing, you get an extra harvest from the same space.
  • Plug plants: in our garden centre you’ll find a huge range of young vegetable plants, ideal for dropping into gaps opened up by harvesting lettuces, cabbages or leeks for a near-instant second harvest.
  • Sow different varieties: many types of veg, like carrots, calabrese and sprouts, have early, mid-season and late varieties: sow all three and they’ll mature at different rates, extending your harvesting time.
  • Remember winter: you won’t feel like sowing crops for winter while it’s still spring, but if you don’t your harvest will stop dead in October. Plant purple-sprouting broccoli, winter cabbage, leeks and parsnips in March to keep the veg garden pumping out the harvest through the chill.

Crow Trap dimensions

This is a trap we built copied from one provided to us by Falcon Environmental Services at JFK Airport.  It is highly effective at catching crows that use a communal foraging area, such as a public compost pile.  Other methods are required for catching crows on their territories (such as cannon-nets).
The four lower panels of the trap are the same dimension: 8 by 4 feet.  One side has a door that is 2 by 4 feet.  The two parts of the pitched roof measure 2 feet high by 3 feet wide.

The ladder, which is about 23 inches wide, sits between the two parts of the roof and it is here that the most important measurements lie as this is the working part of the trap.  Rungs define the area that crows will drop into the trap.  They are 8 inches apart (that is, the HOLE is 8 inches – I realize the picture looks as if the measurement is from one leading edge to the next, but 8 inches refers to the size of the hole).  The rungs begin and end 18 inches from each end of the ladder.  This part is covered in chicken wire and it is important not to have rungs close to the end of the ladder as crows will pull themselves out of the trap at this point.  Running back and forth through drilled holes in the rungs is a length of wire.  The distance between each course of wire is about 3.75 inches.  This creates a hole that is 8 by 3.75 inches for the crows to drop through.

Each panel, the two pitched roofs, and the ladder are constructed separately.  The trap is then held together by plastic zip ties.  Extra perches can be secured with zip ties inside the trap and the door can be secured with either zip ties or a lock (but given that the trap has no floor, a door lock provides little security).  A dish of water should be provided as well as a sign indicating permit number contact and a little warning about west nile virus (to keep the riffraff away).

Below is what a loaded Wattman Number 1 filter blot quarter looks like:

Note that the band number is written on the blot itself.  Blots are cut into quarters from 2-inch circles of filter paper.  They are allowed to air-dry and then placed in a small plastic bag with accompanying information.  Blots can be stored at room temperature or, for the long term, in a standard refrigerator.

Top 5 Ways A Shed Can Make Your Party Easier

  1. You’ll need to mow the lawn, and thanks to the popular ramp shed add-on we offer, many of our customers store their lawn mowers and tractors in their sheds for easier access.
  2. Grill storage: Some folks don’t like to keep the grill on the back deck, and some don’t even have a back deck. The large, shed, barn or garage – yes, we have them all – is a perfect place to wheel that grill in and out of. Again, the ramp is key.
  3. Coolers! Gotta have the coolers. One for the kids drinks, one for the waters, one for the beer… you can never have too many coolers. Admit it, you probably have a bunch, and they’re either cluttering the garage or a pain to pull out of the attic. The great, big backyard shed is a perfect place for cooler storage.
  4. Summer furniture storage: Bring it all out! It’s the most convenient place to store and take out for all those guests you’ve got coming over. And isn’t pulling it out of the big shed or barn way easier than the attic or basement?
  5. Easy access: Backup sodas for when the cooler gets low, extra lawn chairs…. Whatever you might need, it’s all right there. Easy access is everything when hosting a summer soiree.

5 Helpful Tips for Organizing your Storage Shed

Upon delivery of your portable shed, you’ll probably be anxious to begin stowing away your belongings.  Before long, you’ll realize that the building is full and you still have a pile of odds and ends that need somewhere to go.

It’s easy to underestimate your storage needs.  For that reason, we recommend purchasing a larger shed than what you think is necessary. It’s likely that you’ll have no trouble filling the space.

If, however, you find yourself running out of storage room in your portable warehouse, a bit of well-planned organization may help.

Follow these five tips for making the most of your storage space:

  1. Floor Space is a Virtue

The floor of a shed is usually the first area to be filled. Save this space for large items, such as lawnmowers, ATVs, motorcycles, pressure washers, etc. Don’t forget to leave open walkways for yourself!  You need to be able to get around in your building. As for smaller pieces, place these items around the insider perimeter of the building, using walls for hanging when possible.

  1. Help with Hoses and Cords

These things often get scattered around the inside of sheds. Hoses may get trapped under larger items, making them difficult to retrieve. Meanwhile, cords have a tendency to become tangled.

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To solve these problems, mount large hooks to the walls of your shed. Another option is to secure a galvanized bucket, base first, to the wall. To do this, you’ll begin by drilling a few holes in the bottom of the pail, spacing the holes out into a triangle formation. Then, place the base of your bucket against the shed wall. Use washers and bolts to attach the two. Bonus: You can use the inside of the bucket to store additional items.

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  1. Trace and Track Your Tools

When everything has a place to go, pieces are seldom lost. Keep track of your smaller tools by hanging them on a designated “tool wall” with hooks or nails.To prevent yourself from forgetting any missing items, trace the shape of the tools onto the wall using a permanent marker.

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When it comes to larger tools, like shovels and brooms, you may want to attach a tool hanger to a wall of your building.

Five_Helpful_Tips_Organizing_Storage_Shed_Cook_Portable_Warehouses

  1. Consider a Shoe Organizer

A hanging shoe organizer with clear, plastic pouches is great for visibly storing small pieces, like nails and screws. It also doubles as a storage unit for cans and bottles, such as household cleaners.

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  1. Stack Stuff on Shelves

We recommend adjustable metal shelving as a helpful storage device. These shelves won’t block out light due to their open form, and shelf heights can be adjusted according to your storage needs. Put your belongings in clear, plastic containers, and place them on the shelves for easy viewing.

 

The Advantages of Reclaimed Wood

Multiple uses: You can use this lumber to make reclaimed hardwood flooring, decks, wall paneling, tables, countertops, cabinets, shelves and anything else you can make with timber.

Environmentally friendly: When you use reclaimed lumber, you decrease the demand for newly sourced lumber, which helps curb deforestation. If harvested responsibly, reclaimed wood is a renewable resource that reduces landfill waste as well as the use of environmental hazards to manufacture new products. For example, it’s better for the earth to install an engineered reclaimed wood floor than it is to install petroleum-based carpeting or linoleum.

Antique Oak Reclaimed Wood FloorQuality and strength: Reclaimed wood is up to 40 points harder on the Janka hardness scale than virgin wood because it often comes from old-growth trees instead of first-generation forests.

Guilt-free exotics: The use of exotic woods is becoming a sustainability no-no for some in the design world – unless it comes from reclaimed lumber.

Looks: Because it’s aged and weathered, reclaimed wood has a desirably unique look that’s hard to find in new materials.

Added interest: Reclaimed lumber has a story that adds to the appeal of your finished project. Sources of the reclaimed material can include old barns, ships, crates, decommissioned buildings, schools, homes, railroads, pallets and more.

LEED points: Using reclaimed wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council can help your construction or remodeling project earn LEED points.

From an economic and environmental standpoint, reclaimed timber makes sense. By being smart about the wood you reuse or repurpose, you can enjoy the benefits of the reclaimed material without consequence.

5 Tips For Selling Reclaimed Wood

Understanding the value of your antique wood is the first step towards earning a square deal at the market.  The following information is intended to help sellers collect the greatest returns and keep buyers happy.  In the reclaimed wood business, happiness is a two-way street.

1. Species

This is the most important determinate of your wood’s value.  Certain species are inherently more valuable than others, and a few carry arbitrarily inflated prices due to trending aesthetics or values.  Generally speaking, if your wood is old-growth timber unavailable on the new wood market, you possess something of value. If your wood is only a decade or two old and is commonly available, it has very little value.  American chestnut and longleaf pine are more valuable than spruces, hemlocks and loblolly pine, for example.

Be positive about your wood identification before marketing your wood as a certain species.  If you’re unsure, take high quality photos and e-mail them to an expert for identification.

2. Dimensions

Larger timbers are often worth more.  Material from which wider boards can be sawn is highly desirable, as are longer timbers.  Certain species, such as American chestnut, white oak, and longleaf pine, are more valuable as larger timbers, while douglas fir, spruces, and other softwoods usually carry a lower valuation.  Beams are usually more valuable than boards.

3. Condition

white oak salvaged antique repurposed reclaimed barn beam hand hewn ready to be sawnWood must be in top-notch condition to fetch a high price on the reclaimed lumber market.  Barn board and hand-hewn beams, for example, have little to no retail value if they are damaged.  Larger beams and timbers have poor resaw value if they sport large checks, rotten pockets, or extensive insect damage.  The more nails, screws, and metal objects found in your wood, the lower the price you can expect to fetch.

Dry wood that has been protected from the elements is more valuable than wood that has been waterlogged or rotted over the years.  If you own antique timbers or boards, stack them indoors or under some sort of cover, and separate them with sticks to allow air to circulate.

Painted wood generally carries a lower value.  Lead paint vastly reduces the value of barn woods, as the costs associated with disposing of hazardous materials in an environmentally responsible manner are very high.

4. Quantity

Shipping and handling costs for large, heavy products are considerable, so reclaimed lumber buyers look to purchase in bulk whenever they can.  If you have a larger lot of consistently high-quality material, then it may be worth more.

If you have a large quantity of timbers or boards, their value is improved if the shipping and handling costs can be reduced.  Unruly, haphazard piles of wood or timbers stacked in hard-to-reach places lose value because of the time and cost required to organize and ship the material.

reclaimed salvaged antique repurposed beams timbers wood from warehouse in new bedford massachusetts

5. Ring Density

For certain species (Heart Pine especially), the slow growth of the tree makes for a higher-quality sawn wood product.  Look for very close growth rings.  In the most extreme (and best!) cases, growth rings will be so close as to be nearly indistinguishable from one another.  Wider growth rings indicate a faster rate of growth in the tree’s lifetime, sometimes making the wood less valuable.

20 Tips for Safer Farming

If you think farm safety is someone else’s problem, you’re right. It was Bill’s and Angie’s problems when the tractors they were driving crushed them. It was Roger’s problem when he got wrapped around a PTO shaft, and it was my problem when I leapt over a fence barely ahead of an angry sow.

Healthy cow

These are just a few of the people I know who have had problems related to farm safety. It isn’t that we were careless. Like most farm accidents, they occurred during everyday activities. The fact is farming and farms are dangerous. There are hazards literally everywhere you look.

Safety hazards shouldn’t deter your from you farm or from moving to one. However, thinking about safety and making it a part of everything you do on your farm is important. Make your farm a safer place, and you’ll be able to thrive on it.  Here are 20 farm-safety tips for you to consider:

Farm Buildings and Grounds

  • Perform a safety check of buildings and grounds for obvious fire hazards and hazardous materials.
  • Store farm chemicals securely where kids and animals can’t access them. Then make a list of the chemicals for firefighters in the event of a fire on your property.
  • Keep weeds and grasses trimmed so tractor and ATV drivers won’t run into hidden obstacles and holes that can cause the vehicle to overturn.
  • Maintain clean and neat work areas with tools stored out of the way.
  • Establish a safety boundary around gas and diesel fuel tanks and other flammable substances.

Personal Farm Safety

  • Don’t wear loose clothing around equipment or work areas.
  • Use safety equipment the way it was intended. That means appropriate gloves, hearing protection and safety eyewear, not to mention face masks and respirators when working in dusty conditions.
  • Always have a helper nearby when entering grain bins, breeding pens or other high-risk areas.
  • Discuss safety concerns with children as you explain safe handling and operating procedures. Practice what you preach, and they will practice it, too.

Tractors and Implements

  • Keep tractor roll-over protection structures in place. If you have a tractor without one, get it installed today … and while you’re at it, buckle your seat belt.
  • Prohibit riders on tractor fenders, hitches, attachments or implements.
  • Shield all PTO-powered equipment drive shafts, and keep kids at a distance from them.
  • Never start or run gas or diesel engines in an enclosed area without being assured of good ventilation.
  • Outfit tractors and farm trucks with fire extinguishers and first aid kits.
  • Never exit a tractor or truck without placing it in park or engaging the emergency brakes.
  • Never leave running power equipment unattended.
  • Check and maintain equipment, especially hydraulic hoses and electrical cables showing cracks or other signs of wear.

Livestock

  • Keep animals in good health. An animal in pain and discomfort can react aggressively.
  • Treat farm animals with respect. If understand their behavior, you’ll be ready for their actions.
  • Take extra care with farm animals at breeding and birthing, and you won’t have to outrun a sow like I did.

Looking after garden tools

Looking after garden toolsYour tools are your best friends in the garden. They’ll stand by you through thick and thin: they’re the first things you reach for at times of trouble, and your companions through your greatest triumphs.

Well-made, good-quality tools like those you’ll find in our Paston and Oundle garden centre can last you a lifetime if you take good care of them. So make it a part of your annual routine to spend an hour or two at the end of the season getting them in good shape before storing them away for the winter. Here’s how:

  • Give them a clean: let your stainless steel spades and forks dry for a few days so the mud is easier to brush off with a stiff-bristled hand brush. Get every last bit off including the mud wedged in to the neck of the tool head.
  • Repair any breakages: bent fork tines can be straightened with a piece of hollow metal piping: just slot it over the end of the tine and pull. Replacement wooden handles are available in our garden centre, and you’ll also find spare watering can roses to replace the one you lost, and new blades for pruning saws.
  • Oil non-steel tools to prevent them rusting in damp weather. This can be as easy as wiping them over with a rag soaked in paraffin, or alternatively fill a bucket with sand and mix in some oil; then dig your tools into the sand to clean and oil them at the same time.
  • Hang everything up out of the way so they won’t fall over into a hopeless tangle which you’ll have to sort out before you can use them.. Hang spades, hoes, forks and rakes blade-upwards, on double nails banged into the wall, and add some single nails to hold hand trowels, forks, and shears.
  • Get powered tools serviced at a reputable garden machine company once a year, to change the oil, sharpen blades and generally give them the once over before they’re back in regular use again.

Winter vegetables

Winter vegetablesWhen you’re happily beavering away in the veg garden over summer in Paston and Oundle, it can seem like the long days of abundant flowers and fruit will never end. But one day, inevitably, you cut the last pumpkin and pull up the bean plants and it is, undeniably, winter.

There’s no need to stop enjoying your plot just because the weather has turned cold, though. Embrace winter as part of your veg-growing year and you’ll find your patch can be as productive from November to February as it is for the rest of the year.

You’ll need to begin planning in early spring, as these are plants which need a long time in the ground. Start by choosing some of the great winter veg we offer as seeds or plug plants in our garden centre: here’s our pick of the best.

  • Parsnips: sow fresh seed direct into the ground: the sweet, pale roots taste better after being kissed by frost.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Tender and True’, ‘Gladiator’.
  • Cabbages: super-hardy savoys have fabulous flavour and texture: follow with crunchy spring cabbages for an April treat.
    Recommended varieties: ‘January King’, ‘Duncan’ (spring cabbage).
  • Brussels sprouts: plant early, mid-season and late varieties to pick fat sprouts from September to February.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Trafalgar’, ‘Rubine’.
  • Celeriac: knobbly roots with the fine flavour of celery but much easier to grow: keeps well, too.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Prinz’, ‘Monarch’.
  • Kale: if you want an easy-to-grow cabbage substitute, pick young kale leaves for a taste sensation.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Dwarf Green Curled’, ‘Cavolo Nero’.
  • Winter salads: sow spicy winter baby-leaf mixes under cloches, or pick from the new range of Japanese salads.
    Recommended varieties: Mizuna, Mustard ‘Red Frills’.
  • Chard: sow in September and you’ll be picking spinach-like chard all winter. Protect with cloches in bad weather.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Rhubarb’, ‘Swiss Chard’.
  • Leeks: ramrod straight leeks are as hardy as anything: plant seedlings deeply for long white shanks.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Musselburgh’, ‘Bleu de Solaise’.
  • Rhubarb: force clumps of big, beefy rhubarb for tender pink stems from February onwards.
    Recommended varieties: ‘Timperley Early’, ‘Victoria’.

10 Ways to Improve Garden Soil by Elizabeth Murphy

After spending years learning how to make garden soils light, fluffy, and easy to work, I wrote Building Soil: A Down-to-Earth Approach, a new guide to everything you need to know to improve soil. Here are 10 of my top tips to improve soil:

An Organic Diet

Red Damsel Farm | Gardenista

Above: Florist Clare Day raises her own organic flowers on her 12-acre farm in British Columbia. See more at Organic Flowers at Red Damsel Farm.

Spring brings a flurry of underground activity that we can’t see. Billions of soil organisms stretch and yawn, exploding into existence. It’s this living soil below ground that helps gardens thrive above ground by recycling nutrients, capturing water, improving soil tilth, and fighting pests and disease.

We build soil health all year-round by feeding and caring for it. How? Living soil has the same four basic requirements we do: food, water, shelter, and air.

Autumn is the best season to start. Organic materials, the key ingredients for healthy soils, abound. You can add fallen leaves, garden debris, kitchen scraps, and even apples raked from beneath fruit trees to soil.

Chop organic material directly into the top 2 inches of soil with a heavy bladed hoe and cover with mulch. Ideally, add concentrated manures, mineral phosphorous and potassium fertilizers, and lime at the same time. Adding these materials in the fall gives them time to break down for use when plants need them in the spring.

Till With Worms

DIY: Compost. Photo Jim Powell. Gardenista

Above: Photograph by Jim Powell for Gardenista. For more, see DIY Composting: A Man Obsessed.

Instead of breaking out the rototiller, or breaking my back double digging, I like to let the worms do my tilling for me by using sheet mulching techniques.

Sheet mulching is the process of building compost right on the soil surface. For new gardens, I’ll add a smothering bottom layer of cardboard to kill existing vegetation, then alternate 2- to 4-inch-inch thick green and brown compost layers. This invites worms to burrow through the soil as they transport food. In the process, they dramatically improve soil structure, while depositing power-packed worm manure castings.

Sheet mulching takes advance planning. Ideally, start sheet mulches for new gardens the year before you plan to plant (and for existing gardens a few months before planting). Sheet mulching will build new garden soil literally from the ground up. It maximizes nutrients, smothers weeds, and keeps soil life intact and undisturbed.

Grow Your Own Soil

Build soil cover crops ; Gardenista

Above: Photograph via Crystal Liepa Photography.

Green manures and cover crops —such as buckwheat and phacelia in the summertime and vetch, daikon, and clovers in the fall—are my favorite way to improve soils. Whenever I have a window before planting, I grow a cover crop to add organic matter, lighten and loosen soil structure, and enrich garden nutrients. Cover crops also act as a living mulch to shelter soils and control weeds in the off-season.

Chop over-wintered cover crops directly into spring soils a few weeks before planting. During the growing season, sow a quick-growing cover crop, such as buckwheat, to fill the gap between spring and fall crops. When it’s time to plant, pull the buckwheat cover and use it as a mulch for fall garden beds.

Test for Success

urban gardener gift guide | gardenista

Above: A Soil Test Kit in a sturdy plastic case is $18.50 from Basic Science Supplies.

Soil tests are an indispensable garden tool. I always recommend taking one when starting a new garden, or when garden health declines. If an essential nutrient is missing, garden and soil health will suffer. For best results, take nutrient tests in the late summer or early fall. Submit a soil test to a certified lab to add the right balance fertilizers and lime materials to new gardens. For a list of certified labs visit NAPT.

Supply What’s Missing

planting a black pussy willow by Justine Hand, fertilizer, Gardenista

Above: Photograph by Justine Hand.

Over several seasons of soil building, a living, organic soil recycles and retains most nutrients, reducing or eliminating added fertilizer needs. When planting a new garden, however, organic fertilizers and lime ensure proper nutrition for the season ahead. If you’ve missed the fall window to add lime and mineral fertilizers, add them several weeks before planting in spring.

Use soil tests results and other resources to determine your garden’s fertilizer needs. For general purposes, purchase a complete organic fertilizer mix from your garden center and use as recommended. Scratch fertilizers into the top 2 inches of vegetable gardens. For perennial gardens, don’t dig at all. Spread fertilizers and lime, when needed, around the plants, water lightly, and cover with mulch.

Don’t Forget The Nitrogen

soil mix | Gardenista

Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Of all the essential plant nutrients, nitrogen deserves special mention. Though a living soil will continue to recycle and retain most other mineral nutrients, nitrogen is often in short supply, even after years of soil building. Not only does nitrogen feed soil plants, it also feeds soil organisms. Because of this, garden growth and long-term soil health depend on nitrogen.

Before planting every year, ensure sufficient nitrogen by counting all the sources you’ve added. Organic fertilizers, such as blood, seed, or feather meal, are sources of concentrated nitrogen. Fall or spring legume cover crops transfer nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil.  Manures or green grass clippings, incorporated as amendments, provide nitrogen as well. Compost, on the other hand, does not supply enough garden nitrogen. While compost is great for improving overall soil health, additional nitrogen sources are needed when using compost as an amendment.

Pull, Cover, Smother

Weeds in garden ; Gardenista

Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

As our garden wakes up in spring, so do the weeds. Before planting, get them under control. Weeds compete with garden plants, and from a soil perspective, they steal organic food away from the living soil.

For starters, fall mulching gives you the upper hand on spring weeds. Pull weeds that do emerge in the spring early and quickly, when they are small and easy to manage. If not noxious—that is, not spreading vigorously by root or stem—I suggest laying them right back on the soil surface and covering them with from 2 to 4 inches of organic mulch. Covering garden beds right from the start gives you the jump on garden weeds, while feeding the soil with organic material at the same time.

Recycle Perennials

DIY: Compost. Photo Jim Powell. Gardenista

Above: Photograph by Jim Powell for Gardenista.

If you have a landscape garden, hedges, woodlands, or fruit trees, then you have a wealth of materials to amend soils. Winter and early spring tree prunings, hedge trimmings, and perennial cuttings can feed the soil when recycled back into the garden.

Chipped yard debris and bits pruned from trees make effective mulch. When green, they also provide a valuable nitrogen source as a sheet mulch layer. Use softer perennial cuttings as mulch, sheet mulch compost, or a garden bed amendment. I like a natural look in my landscape gardens. I’ll actually chop cuttings into smaller pieces and mulch them right below the perennials I’ve cut. This type of composting in place mimics the way plant litter falls in nature.

Let Soils Dry

Improve garden soil ; Gardenista

Above: Photograph via Crystal Liepa Photography.

For soils, it’s often what we don’t do, as much as what we do, that matters. Before planting spring gardens, the most important soil care priority is letting wet spring soils dry. Digging, walking on, or driving a rototiller over wet soils, particularly those with clays, compacts and damages the soil structure we work so hard to build. When this happens, we literally squeeze the air out of soils, leaving little space for organisms to breathe or roots to grow.

To tell when your soils are ready to work in the spring, take a handful and squeeze. If water comes out, hold off for a week or so. Soils that form a sturdy ball when molded or clay soils that press into a shiny ribbon also need to dry more.

Winter Garden Tips from Stone Barns Center by Erin Boyle

Before diving headlong into the world of blogging, I was lucky enough to enjoy a stint working in the fresh air as public programs manager at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. Even though I’m no longer making the daily trek up to the 80-acre farm just north of New York City, it’s still the first place I think of when anyone mentions wintertime growing.

There’s no season that’s not busy at Stone Barns, a nonprofit organization on a mission to change the way America eats and farms. Even in the depths of winter there are greenhouses to maintain and hardy greens to harvest from hoop houses—to say nothing of snow to clear and fences to repair. Four season farm director, Jack Algiere, took a few minutes’ break from the cold to share his top tips for wintertime growing.

 

1. Think of winter in summer. 

You may be wiping your brow and fawning over tomatoes while working in your summer garden, but focus part of your mind on the seasons to come. It’s important to think of your garden as a yearlong plan, not separate season plans. The easiest way to do this is to consider the succession of your crops. Are your tomatoes finished in October? That may be too late to plant some fall or winter crops. But it’s the perfect time to plant a cover crop like winter rye. (Stone Barns explains cover cropping here.) Your pea plants are through in July? This is when you can plant many of your winter storage crops. Have a bed opening up in September? Get your winter lettuces, mustards and spinach in then.

winter growing tips from stone barns center | gardenista

2. Stock your soil.
Just as you may stock your pantry with seasonal dry goods, think about stocking your soil crops to eat through the winter. In July and early August plant carrots, beets, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and celery root. Winter lettuces, mustards and hearty greens can be planted into September and October.

winter growing tips from stone barns center | gardenista

3. It’s all in the timing.
The lack of light and radiance after the fall equinox (September 21) extends the maturation period of plants. All seed packs list “days to maturity” as an indication of when a crop will be ready to harvest. However, these estimations are based on spring light—when the days get longer. So if you plant a seed listed as 30 days to maturity after the equinox—when the days get shorter—you might see as much as a doubling in the days to readiness. Allow plenty of time for crops to mature to full size.

4. Be choosey.
Not all kale is created equal. Even within plant varieties, there are some more suited for winter growing. Choose the heartiest plants. For example, Russian varieties of kale withstand the cold far better that Italian varieties.

winter growing tips from stone barns center | gardenista

5. Cover up.
Hearty crops like spinach can be grown over the winter with the added protection of low tunnels you can make out of hardware-found conduit pipe and polyethylene film covers. (Not sure what a low tunnel is? Stone Barns Center explains, here.) If you’re growing kale, mache and carrots through the cold season, you will want to add a second layer of protection, building a higher tunnel over the low tunnel.

winter growing tips from stone barns center | gardenista

6. Plant for your table.
When planning, try to estimate your winter consumption. Think about how much per week you’d like to eat from your garden. How many pounds of beets or carrots? One squash or four? Look for varieties that will produce what you need and plant accordingly.

7. Pick when perfect.
It’s better to harvest crops at their peak and store them in that state, when they are beautiful and ripe, rather than risk rot or flowering in the soil. This may not happen all at once for one crop, you may find half your carrots are ready to go while the other half needs some more time. But you’ll want beets and carrots out before the first hard frost, and cauliflower and cabbage out in December.

winter growing tips from stone barns center | gardenista

8. Go to the “store.”
After harvests of your storage crops, store them! All you need for storage is a cool, dark place. Basements work well, so do coolers. The hope is to discourage further growth and create a stable environment that’s not too hot or too cold. Ideal temperatures are between 55 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Crops like cauliflower, kohlrabi, celery root and cabbages do best in plastic bags inside refrigerators. Potatoes, beets and carrots can be kept in crates packed with soil or sand.

And more than anything else? Plant what you love.

Eager to see the farm in winter for yourself? Stone Barns Center is open to the public year-round: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Wednesday to Sunday.

3 Easy Home Made Mouse Traps

Did you know that the standard mouse snap trap wire slams closed in 1/38,000’s of a second? That every year over 400 patents are applied for just for mouse trap inventions?

To date all total there are 4400 patented mouse traps while only about 20 make any money. The first trap was invented back in 1897 by James Henry Atkinson a British inventor and his prototype of the wooden snap trap with springs and wires has not changed much at all since then. In the 1980’s glue boards were invented and widespread use was like a wild fire until people realized that the mouse died a slow and agonizing death, usually squealing and dying from exhaustion. Emerson wrote the famous line;

If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods. The world will make a beaten path to his door.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Actually the message was about quality of workmanship towards success rather than specifically about mouse traps but in either case he has been proven prophetic.

Not do be out done many homeowners have sought to one up Atkinson and start their own 112 year streak of mouse trap dominance. Here are a few of the ideas and you can decide if they’re up to the challenge. Click on the pictures to enlarge and leave a comment as to which one you like or tell us of one of your own.

The spinning can looks simple enough; run a wire through a beer or soda can and suspend it over a bucket of water. A stick or ruler is placed so he can climb up the bucket and peanut butter is put on the can to entice the mouse. When he gets to the can it spins like a log in water and he falls. Of course the mouse drowns in this scenario but you can leave the bucket empty but you’ll need to release him after he is caught.

The liter bottle trap is promising; Cut a plastic soda bottle 3/4 of the way up and invert the top spout into the base. Secure it with glue or tape and put bait such as peanuts or seed in the hole so it drops to the bottom. Grease the funnel with cooking oil or butter so the mouse gets no grip. Place the trap near a shelf or something so the mouse can jump or climb to the inverted top. Once in the funnel the only way is down, he won’t be able to climb out and you can release him to a safe place. This trap is also useful in that it can double as a fruit fly or gnat trap.

The modified snap trap approach is a little more difficult to make but can provide good results; A rat snap trap, coffee can, small gauge wire and some hardware cloth with some screws is what you’ll need. First attach the trap to the can by screwing the wood just under the tongue (trigger) to the front of the can. Next cut the cloth about a 1/2 inch bigger than the size of the can. Place the cloth on the back side of the can and mold the edges slightly down around the edges. The concave or protruding side up, use your wire to attach it to the spring loaded snap wire of the trap. The long trigger release arm goes through the cloth and sets the trigger. Test the trap out to make sure the release arm does not block the cloth from covering the entire mouth of the can when it shuts. Bait the back of the can with nuts or peanut butter and set the trap. (you can also attach a board for stability to the back of the can) Catch the mouse alive and release him away from the home.

Well we’ve come along way in mouse traps but as you can see sometimes simpler is better. I’m not sure if any of these will usurp old Henry’s contraption but when you have a mouse infestation who cares, as long as you get your mouse. Before you get to cocky however, consider that the mouse has also had 112 years to study the problem and he hasn’t been sitting idle. Almost all of my mouse calls come after the do it yourself bug man has failed to round up his furry friend and I marvel just how a mouse can escape some of the gauntlets I see. Maybe while we’ve kept to the simple time tested methods the nation of mice have spread the word and gone high tech. My advice? Always call the expert!

14 Tips on How to Build a Pole Barn – Part: 2

Commercial Buildings (retail store, church, municipal, office, mini-warehouse):

Remember layout and site planning when planning for a commercial building8. Layout. When designing a commercial building, consider traffic patterns and access for people and supplies. Be sure that doors and material movement areas will be wide enough to accommodate your traffic.

For example, if you insert a door that is four-feet wide, you’ll avoid scraping your door and trims when using a hand cart to move your stock to your retail shelves.

9. Site Planning. When deciding where to put the building on your site, consider looking ahead for future expansion.

Businesses often grow, and rather than having to move or take down a building to build a bigger one, think about leaving space around your building.

Maybe you’ll need more office space in the future, and since post-frame buildings are easy to add on to, you’ll have the room to do it.

Equestrian Buildings (horse stalls, riding arenas, training facilities, run-in sheds):

Building a horse barn is intricate and complex10. Horses. How many horses do you plan to keep in your barn?

The number will determine the plan for your building — from how many stalls, and how much extra space you need, to whether you want a tack room to store bridles, saddles and grooming supplies.

For an in-depth look at how to plan and build a horse barn, click here.

11. Ventilation. Animal confinement spaces can build up an excess of moisture, which in turn, can lead to smelly odors and other problems.

Animals’ lungs are larger than human lungs, and omit a lot of moisture. When combined with animal sweat and waste, a barn can develop poor indoor air quality.

How do you keep the stink at bay? Ventilation. Whether it is passive or powered, make sure you have enough to keep air fresh.

12. Food storage. Designating a storage space for food with easy access to the feeding areas is essential.

Agricultural Buildings (workshops, crop/chemical/equipment storage, dairy and livestock confinement):

Plan for the future when planning your ag building13. Dimensions. Think ahead! Will you be purchasing a larger combine in the near future?

Your new space should not only accommodate what you have, but also future purchases. From combines to sprayers, new agricultural equipment gets larger every year.

14. Purpose. Are you storing tractors, chemicals or crops? These specifics will influence your building’s design. For instance, will your barn have an office or workshop attached? This could mean parts of your building need to be lined and insulated.

Establish all of these possibilities upfront, and consult your builder to determine what makes the most sense for your needs.

A Dozen Tips for Building Horse Stalls and Barn Storage Space

Between adhering to building codes and choosing the best equipment, there are many details to bear in mind when planning your dream stall barn. To help you stay organized, here’s what to consider when building horse stalls and storage space.

As a horse enthusiast, you probably already know your dream barn would have a tack room near the cross-ties and a shower in the bathroom.

But have you thought about your horse stall space? How you are going to ventilate your barn and stalls? How will you organize and store your horse feed and equipment?

Here are twelve tips about designing and planning horse stalls so your barn will be as effective, organized and comfortable for your horses, and you, as possible.

Extra stalls are recommended1. Think ahead. It’s true: people with horses often tend to end up with more horses. That’s why if you currently have four horses, you may want to build a couple of more stalls — say five or six total — in your new horse barn.

You could use the extra stalls as storage space in the meantime. (After all, who doesn’t need more storage space?)

2. Explore the countless number of options for your stalls. When it comes to horse stalls, there are countless ways to spend your dollar if you want quality furnishings or fun accessories.

Talk to your builder, or visit a website like Classic Stalls to explore all of the fancy options available.

3. Choose the right flooring. Flooring is a critical consideration when planning your stall barn.

Granular base material is commonly used in aisles and stalls, often covered with rubber mats for horse comfort. Concrete and brick pavers may be used in aisles. Sometimes, they are covered with rubber mats as well.

4. Determine which type of stall barn design will be best for you. Stall barn designs can either be:

*Interior column type: Interior barn columns hold up rafters which support the roof.
*Clear span type: Trusses span the width of the building and do not require interior columns to support the roof.

Stalls can be attached to an interior column, or you can have a free-standing stall, which works in a clear span design. Free-standing stalls attach to each other instead of a column to make it stable.

5. Consider a wash stall. Dedicate a stall space to a drainage system for a place to wash your horse with an overhead hose system.  Having an interior wash stall allows you to wash down and groom your horse in all kinds of weather.

A concrete floor and drain, covered with rubber mats, provides a good surface and footing for the wash stall.

6. Dedicate some space for a tack room. This is a great way to have immediate access to your bridles, saddles, blankets, brushes and other necessary equipment.

However, you may want to install a door and close it off. You don’t want your valuable equipment to be exposed to too much dust.

7. Understand the importance of adequate airflow. Yes, it is critical to maintain adequate airflow to maintain the health of your horses. Install a ventilation system in your roof to keep the quality of air high and your animals happy.

8. Choose passive or power ventilation. You can choose a passive ventilation technique — like building a stall barn with eave and roof peak ventilation, which is great if your horse is well-fed and adjusted to weather conditions.

Don’t worry about normal winter weather temperatures when ventilating your building, as well-fed horses generate plenty of heat. They won’t freeze to death if exposed to normal winter elements inside a well-designed stall barn.

Another option is installing power ventilation. Some of these have moisture sensors that respond automatically to humidity levels, exhausting the moist and hot inside air and drawing in fresher air from outside.

Some horse owners will install an overhead fan to cool their animals. This is not like a ceiling fan in your house; instead, it is mounted at the top of your stall and blows down into it.

This fan can either be programed to react to temperature and humidity automatically, or you can manage it manually.

Sliding doors are less noisy9. Install sliding doors. Sliding doors make less noise than overhead, electric garage doors, which means there’s a lower chance of spooking your horses.

Your sliding door will typically be either one piece and slide in one direction, or split in the middle. If you choose a split slider, the two door halves slide away from each other.

Dutch doors add natural light10. Add some natural lighting to your stall barn. There are several options for getting natural light into your stall barn.

One great option is adding Dutch doors or windows in your stalls. These provide light in the building, and add an additional source of ventilation.

Fixed windows can be added to your sliding doors which provide light into the entry area and center aisle. Also consider an eave light, which is typically a  two-foot long polycarbonate panel placed under the eave of the building.

The more natural light you let in, the better. It saves you from using your electrical lighting during daylight hours.

11. Consider storing your hay in a nearby building. This is a safety precaution. Although it is very rare, horse barns sometimes catch fire. Because hay burns quickly, there will be little time for you to react before it harms your horses.

12. Plan for water and a space for food in your stall barn. It’s important to have easy access to your horse’s food and water — it would be inconvenient to haul everything you need from a farther location.

The Benefits of Reclaimed Timber

reclaimed timberLumber can be reclaimed from an interesting and diverse range of sources. The most prolific supply is reclaimed from old buildings including barns, factories, and warehouses which contain large volumes of wood, often oak, chestnut and pine. This timber is often in sizable pieces making wood from these buildings the most flexible in terms of future use. Lumber can also be sourced from railway sleepers, fences and even storage vessels like wine barrels, beer casks and pickling containers. These produce wood with great depth of colour and unique patterning. Timber can even be reclaimed from old shipping pallets which can be made from exotic hardwoods due to the need for strength and durability. There is also a supply of timber which is recovered rather than reclaimed. This is lumber from trees which have toppled over, died naturally or fallen into rivers.

Benefits

reclaimed timber stairs There are many important benefits to be gained from the use of reclaimed timber. We live in a world of diminishing natural resources, over-forestation and environmental concerns. Using reclaimed wood helps to preserve our forests by reducing the need for virgin timber. Generally, processing this wood has less impact on the environment than felling, transporting and processing new lumber and the varieties recovered can include those not available naturally.

The benefits are not just confined to helping the environment. Reclaimed timber is often from very old structures and vessels which were formed of wood from mature trees. Today, the demand for virgin timber means that trees grown commercially are rarely matured long enough to reach their full potential size. Thus, reclaimed timber can afford access to larger planks. The wood from mature trees is stronger and less prone to splitting, as is timber that has been exposed to the elements over a period of time. The wood in old buildings has expanded and contracted constantly over the years and has fully dried out, making it more durable and less prone to warping and splitting. Old wood also tends to have a dense grain making it more stable. One of the most important aspects of reclaimed timber is its character. Every section has a story and no two pieces are identical, giving depth and unique character to anything fashioned from the wood.

Drawbacks

Reclaimed timber can have some drawbacks. The fact that the wood has been weathered and aged making each piece unique is one of its greatest qualities but can also be problematic to some people who do not favour the non-uniform appearance of flooring or furniture made from it. Reclaimed wood can also have scars and indentations caused by the removal of old nails and pegs. Again, some people love the character of these marks, others see them as flaws. This wood can also be more expensive to produce than virgin timber due to the demands of dismantling, sorting and preparation. There have also been concerns voiced about the weak provenance of some wood. It is difficult to know how it has been treated across its lifetime leading to the possibility of harmful, volatile organic compounds being released from the wood.

Future

It should always be remembered that reclaimed timber is, itself, a finite resource. There are only so many old structures out there to source the wood from and eventually these too will become unavailable. In the meantime, reclaimed wood provides a valuable source of characterful material for producing furniture, flooring and architectural features.

Some Common Myths About Pole Barn Constructions Set Straight

Using our 30 years of experience in constructing nothing but pole barns we’ve put together the top five misconceptions we hear about pole barn construction.

Myth #1: “A pole barn/building is good for unheated storage, but not a shop, because you can’t heat them.”

Fact: Post frame (pole barn) buildings are easier to insulate well than other types of construction, and thus are very effective as a climate controlled building. Because the posts are 8′ on center, you have large, unbroken areas to insulate, with fewer ‘thermal breaks’ where the insulation is interrupted by a framing member. Using post frame methods, you can easily insulate to R-19 in the walls, and R-30 or more in the ceiling. Steel frame buildings are notoriously difficult to insulate well, and concrete block is hard to insulate as well. A stick frame building has a stud every 16″ or 24″, so there are many breaks in the insulation.

Myth #2: “Post Frame construction lacks the ability to put in things like insulation, wiring, drywall, or other amenities you may wish to add.”

Fact: Actually, Post Frame is a much more adaptable building method than either steel frame buildings, or concrete block buildings. It is easy to add doors, interior walls, windows, wiring, plumbing, etc.

Myth #3: “Pole Barns cannot be partitioned. In other words, you can’t have one part horse barn and one part machinery shed.”

Fact: Not true, at least with Graber Pole Buildings. Some inexperienced post frame builders will tell customers this, but with Graber, you can partition out the building any way you like, with readily available framing lumber. But with steel frame buildings, you can’t just nail in a 2×4 to the steel frame. You need special fasteners and components, which may be difficult to find. Some of the same challenges exist with concrete block.

Myth #4: Pole barns won’t hold up to the wind as well as other buildings.”

Fact: Yes. A poorly constructed pole barn will rattle and make a racket during windstorms, however, properly built post frame buildings perform incredibly well in high wind areas. The best advice is to select a real specialist in pole buildings who has years of experience in all aspects of construction – including how to construct your building to withstand wind without a noise.

Myth #5: “Pole Barns are much noisier on the inside when it rains.”

Fact: It can be a bit noisy when it rains on the metal roof. You can solve this by using an insulation/vapor barrier. To prove this, try this experiment: take a piece of tin and hit it with a hammer – it makes a ringing sound. But as soon as you hold the palm of your hand on it, the ringing stops. That is how the insulation works, it stops the vibration. A shingle roof also works the same way. During consultations or even quick phone calls, the Graber team can go over all the different options you have to prevent too much noise.

Myth #6: “Having roof trusses 48″ apart doesn’t work well to install an interior ceiling.”

Fact: This can be a challenge with post frame construction, since the trusses are generally spaced at 4′ on center, instead of 24″ or 16″. For utility buildings, the best option is often to use a ceiling material that spans the 4′ centers, such as our very popular steel liner panel. Another option would be to use OSB or plywood. These materials (especially our painted steel liner panel) are much more durable than sheetrock, for use in utility or storage buildings. If sheetrock is desirable in your application, we recommend running 2×4’s laterally across the bottom of the trusses 2′ apart. This provides substantial support for a sheetrock ceiling. Much of this is also true for the interior walls, if they need to be finished. Installing lateral 2×4’s at 2′ on center on the inside of the posts gives you the framing you need to install wood, steel, or sheetrock interior finish.

Myth #7: “One outstanding benefit of a steel-framed building over a pole barn is that it will not rot. Steel is non-organic, ages very slowly, and is dimensionally stable.”

Fact: Steel framing is good for some applications, for example when you need more than 100′ clear span. Some of the challenges with steel are that it can rust or corrode if not properly protected. It is quite expensive compared to wood; wood is a strong, readily available material. It is economical, and is an organic, renewable resource. Due to advances made in wood treatment and protection technology, there is little risk of wood rotting in the ground. Wood is also more flexible, and performs better in high winds, such as hurricanes. The design of a pole barn allows it to ‘give’ slightly in high winds, springing back into shape, rather than just bending or collapsing.

Myth #8: “Wood frame buildings like pole barns aren’t as fire resistant as other types of buildings.”

Fact: When structural steel heats to failure point, it fails catastrophically… In a fire, wood trusses have to char and burn through before they fail, and then it is a smaller, more localized failure, allowing time to remove equipment, vehicles, or animals. We saw this again recently when a customers truck ignited and started a fire in his pole barn. However, he was able to remove his other trucks and valuables in time, and we can quickly repair the roof of the pole barn.

Slow Tools, Fast Change

Cars, houses, meal sizes: for the past few decades, all have been getting larger. The same goes for farming equipment. In this era of “bigger is better,” it’s not easy to find farming tools suitable for small-scale operations. In fact, it’s almost impossible.

That’s why Griffin is teaming up with Stone Barns Center on the Slow Tools Project, a partnership that is re-imagining and re-inventing tools to bring appropriately scaled, lightweight, affordable and open-source tools to the swelling ranks of young farmers.

“The re-emergence of small-scale farming has created a need for small tractors and other tools and implements capable of performing traditional and newer farming tasks more efficiently and ergonomically,” says Griffin. Today’s small farmers simply cannot purchase the equipment they need to work a 30-inch greenhouse bed, for instance. They end up having to buy standard, cumbersome pieces and adapt them for their needs, hurting efficiency and very often their backs.

The Slow Tools project is bringing together a small group of engineers and leading farmers to design, build and make available through open-source systems a host of new tools. Among the partners are Eliot Coleman, an organic farmer, inventor and author from Four Season Farm in Maine, Ron Kholsa, organic farmer and egineer of Huguenot Farm in New Paltz, Josh Volk of Slow Hand Farm in Oregon, and Jack Algiere, our Vegetable Farm Manager. They have identified 34 tools in need of development, beginning with a small electric tractor that will serve as the “motherboard” frame to which other tools can be attached. Other inventions to follow will be the solar-powered “Horse Tractor,” which could have a significant impact among cultures dependent on draft animals and where drought limits water availability, and a compressed-air grain harvester and processor.

“We believe that these essential pieces of equipment will help reduce the risk of failure that so many young and beginning farmers face,” says Jill Isenbarger, executive director of Stone Barns Center. “The challenges they deal with are significant: high land prices and connection to markets, for instance. Tools shouldn’t be one of them.”

Displaying your houseplants

Displaying your houseplantsWhen it comes to houseplants, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t put your garden design skills to good use in just the same way as you would any outdoor display.

Houseplants may look more exotic – among the choice in our garden centre in Paston and Oundle you’ll find lush green ferns, stately weeping figs, orchids and sumptuous velvety-leaved begonias. But the principles are still the same, and a carefully-chosen group will always have far more impact than one plant standing on its own.

Follow our top tips for how to show off your houseplants at their very best.

Match houseplants to your interior décor: picking up your colour scheme in the foliage of your plants is a sure way to add serious wow factor to interior style. Plum-coloured curtains or upholstery echoed in a purple-flowered streptocarpus, for example, brings out the colour in both material and plant. The same trick works with texture, like shiny, reflective leaves in a modern chrome-and-glass kitchen.

Repeat the same plant: several identical plants repeated along a hallway or up stairs invite your eye to follow them – a great way to highlight something in your home, whether it’s a sculpture or a signature piece of furniture. Clipped green plants like ivy or privet can be made into elegant topiary that’s stylish and bold.

Choose contrasts: when you’re picking plants to group together, go for opposites. Tall, upright plants like dracaena work well with lower-growing, like philodendron, and small-leaved ivy contrasts with the broader leaves of the peace lily. Colours, too, can provide fabulous effects: try clover-like purple oxalis paired with yellow-flowered kalanchoe.

Plant a big specimen pot: several different houseplants can go in the same pot, as long as it’s big enough and all the plants like the same conditions – shade-loving ferns, for example, go well with peace lilies which don’t like full sun either. Then just choose your group so there’s one taller plant to give the display height, then mid-height plants and low-growing or cascading plants to cover the soil for a pleasing, well-balanced display.

Humane Cage Trapping of Domestic, Unowned and Wild Cats

Cats are valued members of many families across Victoria, however, some cats can cause nuisance in their neighbourhoods; often these cats are unregistered, unowned or wild. Most Councils offer a cat trap hire service to their residents. Traps can also be purchased or hired from animal welfare and commercial organisations. This document sets out basic guidelines for humane cat trapping and highlights many of the welfare concerns associated with using cat traps and transporting cats once caught.

General Information

In Victoria, under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 (the Act), property owners and occupiers have the right to seize or trap cats when they trespass on their properties. If a cat has been on your property more than once, without your permission, you may legally seize it, by containing the cat in your house or a box or by trapping the cat. Once a cat has been trapped or contained you must deliver, as soon as reasonably possible, the cat to an Authorised Officer (also known as a Ranger or Animal Management Officer) of the Council, Council Pound or Council contracted Animal Shelter. Do not dump the cat in the wild; it is an offence to abandon a cat under the Act.

Property owners and occupiers also have the right to seize or trap a cat if the Council has made an Order in relation to a cat curfew or no cat zone under the Act. The same rule applies that you must deliver, as soon as reasonably possible, the cat to an Authorised Officer of the Council, Council Pound or Council contracted Animal Shelter.

1. Equipment and Baits

Any method of trapping cats must be humane. There are two main designs of cat traps that are considered acceptable. These traps are usually rectangular wire cages and both are operated by the cat touching a metal plate on the floor of the trap with either a drop down guillotine-style or hinged swing-style door. It is illegal to use or set leg hold or steel jawed traps in urban areas and these traps are not suitable for the purpose of trapping cats in any area. Penalties apply for setting and using these types of traps under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. Hook operated cat traps must not be used for trapping cats, as the ‘hook’, used to hold the bait, can often injure a cat that has been caught. The use of hook operated traps would constitute an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. The term bait is not to be confused as a poisoned bait; the term ‘bait’ is meant as the lure or food used to get the cat to enter the trap. Oily, fish-based baits are considered the best lure for cat trapping. Baits like cooked chicken or other meat on the bone are not appropriate as they can injure the cat if ingested.

Note: use of a poisoned bait would constitute an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

2. Trapping Process

When undertaking a trapping process the following steps are recommended:

Feeding program – start by offering food over two or three nights in the area where you intend to set the trap to ensure the cat is willing to take the food.

Free feed the trap – lock or wire open the trap and place the food inside the trap for two or three nights so the cat becomes familiar entering the trap without risking scaring the cat.

Set Trap – place the food that you have been using during the free feed program in the end of the trap, and set the plate to operate the trap when a cat enters. Only set the trap when you are around to ensure you are prepared to monitor the trap and transport a trapped cat as soon as possible.

  • You must be prepared to inspect the trap every 24 hours. Failing to remove a trapped cat within 24 hours of trapping the cat would constitute an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.
  • Do not place traps on top of roofs, embankments or on slippery surfaces;
  • Do not place trap in direct sunlight;
  • Do not set the trap on days that are likely to exceed 27 degrees Celsius or when rain is expected, as these extremes of weather conditions will affect your success in trapping and may cause stress for the cats when trapped;
  • Do not place a trap in an area where other pets can have access to or harass a trapped cat.

Monitor trap – cats, whether owned or not, when caught in a trap are likely to be stressed, even if it is for a short time. Ensure you are either home while the trap is set or able to regularly check the trap during the day. At night, check the trap prior to going to sleep and first thing in the morning.

  • Do not set the trap if you are not going to be at the property for an extended period or if you are going away on the weekend;
  • Ensure you contact the Council to determine if they offer a collection service for trapped cats or how to access the Council pound if a cat is caught;
  • Once a cat is caught, cover the trap with a blanket or something similar leaving the ends exposed for ventilation or remove the trap to a sheltered area where people, pets or other animals can not harass the cat. Many cats, even owned cats, can become very stressed while trapped and may take some time to calm down;
  • Call the Council for pick up or transport the trap to Council pound or Animal Shelter;
  • Where there may be a short delay (ie an hour or two) in collection of cat or drop off at the Council pound then offering the cat clean, cool water in a clean bowl would be beneficial, and is vital on hot days. Do not give a cat milk, as a majority of cats are lactose intolerant;
  • Other than the bait used, do not give the cat extra food while in the trap. The Authorised Officer must feed the cat at the Council pound;
  • If the cat is injured ensure you inform the Council of the injury immediately or take the cat to a vet. Council pounds and Animal Shelters have access to veterinarians to treat injured cats;
  • Traps must be cleaned between catching cats to ensure no diseases are transferred from one trapped cat to another. Do not use disinfectants containing phenol, as cats are highly sensitive to this chemical.

3. Accidental trapping of other animals

There is a chance that while setting a trap to catch a cat, that you may catch another animal such as a possum or bird. This is another reason in being vigilant in inspecting the trap while free feeding and setting the trap.

When using cage traps you have the opportunity to release these animals immediately on identifying that you have accidentally caught an animal other than a cat.

If the animal is injured you will need to seek veterinary advice before releasing the animal.

4. Transporting trapped cats in private vehicles

  • Organise to transport the cat directly to the Council pound or Council contracted animal shelter;
  • Trapped cats must not be transported in the boot of a car;
  • Transport the trapped cat in a well ventilated or air conditioned area such as the rear seat of a sedan or the cargo area of a utility;
  • Be careful not to slide the cat trap on the back seat or floor of the cargo area as the trapped cat’s paw may get caught through the mesh used in the floor of the trap;
  • Cover the trap with an old blanket or towel to provide a darkened area for the cat to help to reduce stress on the cat while being transported;
  • To further reduce stress for the trapped cat and reduce the chance of disease transfer do not transport a trapped cat with other pets;
  • If transporting in a sedan, ensure the rear seat is covered to protect from urine and faeces. Ensure the cat trap cannot slide around by anchoring the trap with a seat beat in the back seat;
  • If transporting in a utility or van ensure the cage is restrained to prevent the cage from sliding around in the cargo area. After you remove the trap and cat from the cargo area, clean the cargo area with a nonphenol based disinfectant.
  • Disinfecting the cargo area can reduce the chance of disease transfer to future trapped cats, your own pets and zoonoses (diseases that can transferred between animals and humans) such as toxoplasmosis being contracted by a member of your family;
  • Toxoplasmosis can be an issue for pregnant woman, as this parasitic disease can cause deformities in foetuses. It would be preferential for a pregnant woman not to handle a trapped cat. Although, if this cannot be avoided, as a zoonoses prevention measure, a pregnant woman must ensure while handling a trapped cat that they wear gloves and wash their hands with warm water and disinfectant before handling food or doing any other tasks around the house.

5. Result of trapping a cat

Once a cat is handed over to a Council, the Authorised Officer must assess the cat for identification, injuries, temperament and diseases to determine the appropriate action to take. If injured, the cat will be taken to a veterinary clinic for assessment and treatment (this cost may be passed onto the owner).

Identified owned cats

Identified cats will be impounded for a minimum of 8 days to give the owner an opportunity to claim the cat. The Council must contact the owner to advise them of the impounding of their cat and where it can be collected. Council pound fees often apply before a cat can be claimed. Unregistered cats must be microchipped and registered before the Council can release the cat to the owner. If the owner fails to collect the cat, the cat can be rehomed or destroyed by the Council after the 8th day. Where the cat has been trapped as a result of a complaint of trespassing on private property, the Council must issue a Notice of Objection to the cat owner. The Notice of Objection advises the cat owner of the address where the cat must not enter and that if the cat does enter this property again penalties can apply.

Unidentified owned cats that are not wild, uncontrollable or diseased cats

These cats will be impounded for a minimum of 8 days to give the owner an opportunity to claim the cat. Council pound fees often apply before a cat can be claimed. Unregistered cats must be microchipped and registered before the Council can release the cat to the owner. If the owner fails to collect the cat, the cat can be rehoused or destroyed by the Council after the 8th day. Where the cat has been trapped as a result of a complaint of trespassing on private property, the Council must issue a Notice of Objection to the cat owner. The Notice of Objection advises the cat owner of the address where the cat must not enter and that if the cat does enter this property again penalties can apply.

Unidentified wild, uncontrollable or diseased cats

Council may destroy these cats immediately, which is usually in the best interest of the cat’s own welfare and the welfare of other cats at the Council pound, especially in relation to possible diseases these cats may have. If the cat is deemed wild, uncontrollable or diseased the cat would not be considered suitable for rehoming.

6. Duty of care when trapping cats

While using cage traps to catch cats is legal in Victoria there is a duty of care when attempting to catch a nuisance cat.

Failure to properly monitor a cat trap or treat a trapped cat humanely can result in legal action under thePrevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 if it can be proved that the cat has been caused pain or suffering by your actions.

14 Tips on How to Build a Pole Barn – Part: 1

Building a pole barn is an ambitious task, no matter what its purpose may be. There is engineering, codes and design to mull over, plus ensuring the structure meets all your needs. To make the process less daunting, use these 14 tips on how to build a pole barn.

Itching for a new backyard garage, a new horse barn, or a new storefront for your business? Look no further than constructing a versatile pole barn, also known as a post-frame building.

You’ve probably noticed that the terms “pole barn” and “post-frame” are interchanged quite often. What is the difference between the two?

The Difference Between Post-Frame and Pole Barn

While the two terms refer to the same type of building, “pole barn” happens to be slightly more dated.

Historically, these buildings were called pole barns because builders used poles — similar to telephone poles — to support the rafters making up the roof of the building.

Eventually builders began constructing with square columns which, compared to round poles, were easier to work with. Now builders use laminated columns, which are much stronger and allow post-frame structures to be utilized for many purposes.

The term “pole barn” also originates from when buildings were not as technically and deliberately engineered. “Post-frame” is more correct, as it more accurately reflects the engineering and quality of the structure built.

Whichever term you use, know that constructing one is a significant undertaking. To help you get organized, we’ve identified 14 tips and categorized them by the type of building — suburban, equestrian, agricultural and commercial. There is a “general” category too.

General (tips for every type of building):

1. Codes. Building codes vary depending on the city or state you live in, as well as the type of structure you plan to build. For instance, a building used to house your retail business will have different codes to meet than a simple garage in your backyard.

2. Weather & Site Conditions. Assessing the wind loads, snow loads and soil conditions of your building will dictate which building materials you use and how they are engineered to fit together.

3. Engineering. Anyone can use strong trusses or columns to construct their building. But construction is about more than the materials you use, it’s about how you put the pieces together.

For instance, your strong truss needs to be properly connected to a strong column. And that strong column needs to be properly embedded into the ground, or attached to the building’s foundation.

No matter how strong your materials are, if you neglect to engineer them together the right way, your building will not withstand the elements.

Suburban Buildings (garage, “man cave,” workshop, storage, toy shed, home, cabin):

Consistency is one of four important features of a suburban building4. Consistency. When you build a suburban building, it is usually constructed within proximity to other buildings, such as your home.

It is common for people to match their new building’s aesthetic to surrounding buildings. This will impact the size and decorative details of your building.

5. Windows and doors. Suburban buildings are used as a living space more often than other types of post-frame buildings.

Select windows and doors for access and ventilation. Insulate them properly to prevent heat from escaping during the winter months, and to keep heat out during the summer. No one wants to do maintenance on a four-wheeler in a freezer or an oven!

6. Ventilation. Talk to your builder about effective ways to ventilate your building, especially if you need to adequately dispel vehicle exhaust or vapors from paint or varnish.

7. Electricity. Even if you are constructing a garage for storage space alone, you will need electricity for things like a garage door opener. Then you’re covered if you want to hook up a TV or refrigerator in your garage/workshop/“man cave.”

Timesaving Tips Around the Barn

Work smarter, not harder, management experts tell us. That’s easy for them to say–they’ve never had a barn full of horses to look after. If you’re like most horse owners, you devote every minute you can spare to ensuring your horses’ well-being. You don’t begrudge them the hours you spend pushing brooms, filling buckets and cleaning stalls. After all, you knew what you were getting into when you became a horse owner.

But could you be doing things more efficiently? Is it possible to provide even better care for your horses while still having time for the rest of your life? In other words, can you work smarter, not harder, around the barn?

Sure you can. There are timesaving techniques and tools out there that can help you complete your barn chores faster without sacrificing safety and cleanliness. We’ve collected some favorites here and arranged them by work category, focusing on the universal (and traditionally time-eating) chores of stall cleaning, watering and feeding, general maintenance, grooming and tacking. Some of our suggestions require specific equipment, but others call for nothing more than changing a routine or two to better utilize your existing resources.

Stall Cleaning
You could immediately reduce your stall-cleaning time by 100 percent–and improve your horses’ health in the process–by turning your herd out 24 hours a day. But since that’s not feasible for everyone, here’s how to cut the time you spend wielding a pitchfork without compromising the cleanliness your horses require.

Switch to a deep-litter system. If you bed on shavings, this European practice can help you establish a thick, clean bed with minimal daily labor. At each cleaning, remove only the visible piles of manure and wet spots–don’t dig down to the floor or turn the bedding over. Toss slightly soiled bedding to the sides of the stall, and put a thin layer of clean bedding in the center. Eventually, “banks” of dry shavings will form around the outside of the stall, and you can use these to refresh the center, eliminating trips to the shavings heap. Properly maintained, a deep-litter bed is dry, has no odor and is very cushioning to the legs. You will have to completely strip the stall once or twice a year, however.

Invest in the right tools for the job. A heavyweight pitchfork and a too-small wheelbarrow make for inefficient stall cleaning. Shop for multi-tined, lightweight forks that will allow clean shavings to fall through, along with oversized wheelbarrows that can reduce the number of trips you must make to the manure pile. Consider a mechanized manure sifter that separate clean shavings from dirty, saving both time and money.

Purchase stall mats or other floor coverings. Floor coverings, such as mats and grids, reduce the amount of labor involved in stall cleaning in two ways: by facilitating drainage and by reducing the amount of bedding needed. Properly installed, graded mats or grids channel urine to a drain or through the floor, eliminating the hours you’ve been spending each month digging out wet spots. They’ll also protect floors, cutting down on (or even eliminating) the heavy work of repairing holes or uneven surfaces each year. Mats have one additional advantage: Since they provide cushioning of their own, they require less bedding on top.

Establish a cleaning system. Clean stalls from front to back, back to front or side to side–it doesn’t matter what your pattern is; just stick with one method for more efficiency. Simplify waste removal by placing a tarp outside the stall door and tossing everything into the center. When the tarp is full, pick it up by the corners and place it in the wheelbarrow or carry it to the manure heap.

Watering
It goes without saying that your horses must have access to ample, clean water at all times. Still, there are some changes you can make to reduce the amount of time you spend delivering liquid refreshment to your beasts.

Add more water containers. The simplest and cheapest way to cut down on the time you spend watering is to add a second water bucket to each stall, as well as additional troughs in each paddock. Fill all the containers in the morning, and you may be able to skip the afternoon refill if the water is still clean.

Extend pipes to stalls. The next level of watering convenience requires a plumber’s help. Run pipes from the main water line along the outside of the stalls in the aisleway, above door-frame height. For quick and easy watering, install an on/off valve at each stall, and run short hoses from the valves to just above each water bucket. This kind of pipe system must be drained in the winter to prevent freezing, but during the summer it can save hours of hose-dragging.

A less frost-prone, but more costly, variation is to have pipes installed in the floor of the aisleway, with a spigot at each stall and a “dedicated” hose running through a hole cut in the stall wall above the bucket.

Go fully automatic.If you can afford it, automatic waterers are the way to go. With safety features to prevent shock, insulation to guard against freezing and gauges to measure a horse’s water intake, these equine water fountains are perhaps the most common and effective time-savers available to horsekeepers. They offer the added benefit of ensuring that your horses always have access to water and are available for both stalls and pastures.

Feeding
If your horse had his way, he’d be eating all the time. Grazing on pasture is his natural feeding pattern, after all, and even when it comes to concentrates, experts agree that giving small amounts at intervals during the day is the optimal schedule for your horse’s digestive well-being. Still, from a time-management perspective, the “little and often” approach can be tough to follow. Here are some ways you can cut the time it takes to feed your horses without compromising their health and happiness.

Streamline delivery. Instead of running back and forth from stall to feed bin, put all feeds and supplements into a large, wheeled cart with several compartments. With this system, you can roll down the aisleway, stopping at each stall to dole out rations. The process is made even more efficient by adding small, swing-out doors or other openings over the feed buckets.

Make gravity work for you. Stack hay bales in well-ventilated lofts with strategically located “drops” over each stall or hayrack. With this arrangement, you can toss flakes to their destination with minimal time or effort. This also works for feeds stored in the loft. Run individual PVC pipes (six inches or larger in diameter) into each stall, and pour grain down the pipe directly into the feed bucket for each eagerly awaiting horse. Just make sure you inspect the feed buckets daily for signs of contamination or indications that a horse has stopped eating.

Prepare meals ahead of time. A popular time-saver at racetracks is to prepare “bag lunches,” thus reducing measuring and scooping time. Whoever makes up the morning feeding also doles out the lunch and/or dinner rations in separate canvas bags. These are hung outside the stall when the morning feeding is delivered. Feeding the next meal simply requires dumping the contents into the bucket.

Install automatic feeders. If you want to spend the money, you can automate your feeding routine. Automatic feeders on the market can hold several days’ worth of concentrates, and some even hold hay. Just fill them up once and let the timer do the rest of the work. The benefit of automatic feeders is they can be set to dispense a small amount several times throughout the day, but the drawbacks are the maintenance and extra vigilance they require. You must check that automatic feeders are working properly every day, or risk a hungry–or worse, overfed–horse.

Feed concentrates in the field. Bringing in field-kept horses just to eat their daily rations can be a huge time-waster. If you choose to feed in the field, however, you’ll need to make sure that each horse gets his fair share and that no feed is wasted. Feed tubs that latch onto fences are a good start; these not only conserve feed but also prevent ingestion of soil or sand, a possible colic producer. If you’re good at construction, you can build standing stalls with individual feed tubs along a fence line. Your horses will soon learn to claim a stall at feeding time, and chains across the back of the stalls will keep bullies in until the slowest eater has finished.

Keep a bale-opening tool handy. Wrestling the twine off a bale of hay can be a real time-waster. Hang a pair of tin snips (special scissors for cutting metal) or a farrier’s knife on a nail next to the hay shed or loft ladder; either will safely and easily cut even the toughest baling twine. Be faithful about putting this tool back when you are done.

Maintenance and Record Keeping
The maintenance required around a farm can range from simple daily house-keeping to backbreaking, once-a-year heavy work. With horses needing constant care, these are the kinds of jobs that tend to get pushed to the bottom of a “to do” list. Cutting the time it takes to handle routine maintenance will let you get to the end of that “to do” list a lot faster.

Banish the brooms. Rather than push a broom for hours, invest in a quality vacuum and leaf blower. Use the blower for outdoor jobs only, such as cleaning driveways or gutters; indoors, a blower will stir up unhealthy dust. Instead, use a vacuum for aisles and rafters. A heavy-duty shop vacuum will do, but for really efficient cleaning, try a model specifically designed for cleaning barns or industrial buildings.

Buy synthetic tack for daily use. Cut down time spent on leather care by using synthetic tack for your everyday riding. Man-made materials are easily hosed clean, and your show tack will stay nice for dressy occasions.

Maximize storage space in tack and feed rooms. Spend a rainy afternoon overhauling your storage areas. Prefab shelving, wire racks and cabinetry, available at most hardware stores, will go a long way toward making sense of your mess. While you’re at it, hang a halter and lead shank on each horse’s stall so they’ll always be there when you need them, saving extra trips to the tack room.

Invest in high-quality, high-tech fencing. As much as you may love the traditional look of wooden board fences, they take a lot of time to maintain. Installing synthetic fences made of PVC and other polymers is more costly in the short term, but over time you’ll save on maintenance and repair. Properly installed electric fencing–particularly “tape” and poly-cord varieties–is also a mostly maintenance-free option.

Buy an appropriate-sized tractor and accessories. All but the smallest of farmettes can benefit from some sort of tractor for the hauling, dumping and dragging associated with heavy maintenance work. As a rule, it’s better to have slightly “too much” tractor than not enough, so set your minimum requirement at 20 horsepower and work up from there.

With the appropriate accessories, a tractor can speed nearly every farm job: Pull the tractor into the barn and muck out directly into a dump cart or manure spreader; cut grass and brush around the barn and in the pastures with mover attachments; drag fields and rings with a chain-link harrow; use a front-end loader to straighten fence posts.

Auto-water your ring. Use a simple lawn sprinkler to water down your riding ring quickly and inexpensively and keep dust at bay. Just remember to move the sprinkler before puddles form.

Start a binder system for your records. For each horse, purchase an inexpensive three-ring notebook, with pocket inserts and loose-leaf paper. Put official documents, such as Coggins test results, into the pockets, and record all other relevant information on the loose-leaf paper: Put veterinary visits on one sheet, show results on another, and so on. The idea is to have all of the horse’s vital papers and information readily available in one place. Start a similar binder for farm expenses, such as feed bills and hay deliveries.

Computerize your system. Consider one of the many software programs designed to organize horsekeeping data. Some are intended for large operations, others are better suited for smaller farms, so shop around with your specific needs and computer capabilities in mind. A computer program does require you to enter information on a regular basis, but it also means that records and data are easily and instantly retrievable.

Grooming and Tacking
So the chores are done, and you’re ready to ride? Make the transition even faster by streamlining your grooming and tacking procedures. A few basic changes can whittle your pre-ride routine down to 10 minutes or less:

Move everything at once. Elaborate wheeled carts with saddle racks and baskets can bring everything you need for grooming and tacking right to the horse, eliminating extra trips to the tack room.

Vacuum instead of brushing. Not only will grooming go faster with a vacuum, but your horse will be cleaner. It may take a few days to accustom him to the sound and sensation of the machine, but eventually your grooming routine will be pared down to a quick curry and a five-minute vacuum treatment. A good wet/dry shop vacuum will do, but a heavy-duty model designed for horses will last longer and make less noise.

Use both hands. It may sound obvious, but put a tool in each hand and you’ll cut your grooming time in half.

The Eco-Benefits of Reclaimed Wood

Sustainable Furnishings Council celebrates use of our world’s most abundant natural resource – our garbage! Making use of what is thrown “away” will get us far in building the new products we need, including furnishings for our homes. You can participate in the reclamation and the reduction of waste in a variety of ways, all of which will enhance your home’s beauty and enrich the welcome it presents.

Thinking of “recycled”, you might think first of paper and plastic products, but reclaimed and recycled woods are significant in furnishings. Highest profile these days are urban salvaged wood and reclaimed deconstructed woods, both areas that represent segments of the wood products market that are growing quickly. More and more old buildings are being demolished carefully so that the materials can be reused. More and more fallen trees are being salvaged so that the wood, gnarled and splintered though it may be, can be used for a higher purpose.

According the EPA’s annual report, Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2012, wood represented 8% of our landfilled waste, after what had been recovered for recycling. Durable goods like furniture represented 20% of our discards, and none of that was recovered. This situation persists in spite of a nearly 10 fold increase in recovery through recycling at US municipal landfills since 1960. The obvious result is that we as consumers are responsible for choosing AND disposing of furnishings responsibly. Ultimately, we are the ones to take responsibility for what the EPA calls “Sustainable Materials Management” as we choose products that will last us a long time, and as we choose to dispose of what is no longer useful in a way that allows the material to be reused.

Fortunately we are being offered more and more choices. Nearly every community has a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, or other charity retailer accepting donations of gently used furniture and reselling them to benefit a good cause. While only reclaimed furniture is sold in these outlets, these days most furniture stores offer collections made of recycled or reclaimed wood. Where is it reclaimed from? That is a very important question.  It might come from abandoned and dilapidated buildings – barns, homes, factories that have long ago reached the end of their useful life. Or it may come from trees salvaged when roads are widened or when storms come through causing damage.

Urban salvaged wood from a fire in a Detroit home

Systems for rating the eco-friendliness and energy efficiency of our buildings, such as LEED, give credit for materials that are recycled, and for local sourcing, lending credence to the significance of furnishings made locally of locally reclaimed materials. Fortunately, more and more local makers are hip to the fact and finding materials locally, making use of dilapidated structures and “road kill” to provide us with extraordinary and storied new designs. Among Sustainable Furnishings Council members, Tucker Robbins is a leader in this innovation. Others, however, are also producing beautiful furniture from reclaimed and recycled materials, including Cisco Brothers, Phillips Collection, Asian Art Imports,  etc.

And what is the significance of these manufacturers’ choices? In reclaiming, recycling ,and upcycling, these designers are keeping CO2 sequestered. Obviously, if you are using materials already harvested, you are not causing the destruction of precious ecosystems or exerting pressure for overharvesting of new wood resources. BUT, with the popularity of reclaimed woods growing, there are more and more fake reclaimed woods on the market, so the discerning consumer does well to ask about the origin of the woods they are buying. Rainforest Alliance and Forest Stewardship Council have even developed standards for certifying that reclaimed wood, is in fact legitimately reclaimed, and not just falsely aged to look like it spent decades or centuries serving another purpose.

Discerning consumers will find a wonderful array of storied materials on offer, including logs recovered from our waterways by such companies as Triton Logging. Remember that in the old days logs were floated down river to the saw mill? Some logs inevitably sank. These days, smart recovery workers such as Triton are pulling these well-preserved and beautifully aged logs out of rivers and lakes and making the lumber available to furniture makers and builders.

Re-purposed wood used in home cabinet furnishings.

There is also furniture made in your own community from felled or windfallen trees that might otherwise have gone to landfill. Companies such as Robin Wade salvage lumber from windfall as well as trees that are being removed by public works. Their creativity sequesters carbon, reduces landfill volume, and provides homemakers with storied pieces that can be used and enjoyed for generations.

Other urban salvage comes from the demolition of buildings that have become dilapidated and unsafe. You will find beautiful offerings in now-rare woods such as Douglas Fir from Urban Woods, thanks to their ability to salvage what is still usable from deconstructed theaters and warehouses from along the California coast. In the case of a now-rare wood, utilizing reclaimed material is the only way to have the pleasure of having these woods in our homes.

Reusing and recycling wood is an economical and richly storied way to dynamic new looks. Many SFC member companies can share the importance and the fun of their success in creating the most beautiful products and interiors with the world’s most plentiful natural resource. Shop these resources with pride!

8 Steps To Get Barn Wood Ready For A Reclaimed Wood Table

Step 1 – You Have To Find Some Wood…..Where to find it?

The process of building a reclaimed wood table actually begins with a barn. In order to use reclaimed wood, you have to be able to reclaim the wood from some type of structure. We typically work with Michigan barn wood.

If you’re driving through the country and paying attention to the variety of barns that are out there, you will see that there are a number of barns that are falling into disrepair like this one below.

reclaimed-wood-barn-barn-demo-removal

While that’s sad to see, we never really like having to take down a barn because of all the hard work and integrity that went into building that barn. But this is where the process starts.

Step 2 – Determine What To Salvage

When we’re working with a barn, we’re looking to salvage all of the material that we can out of the barn.

In order to have material to build a table, we need to have a minimum of 2-inch stock, which is 2 inches thick by a variety of widths. There are a couple of ways that we can actually get that.

reclaimed-wood-reclaimed-barnwood-michigan

Sometimes the floor trusses might be made out of 2x12s or 2x10s. Or we might get that out of the beams which might be 8×8 inches, 8×10 inches, 7×7 inches, 6×6 inches, or even larger.

In order to get the wood out of the beams, that beam would have to be sawn into 2-inch chunks. Some floors are 2″ thick and you can use that material without having to re-saw a beam.

In the acquisition process, we take down the barn, haul the wood back to our location, and sort the lumber.

Step 3 – Time To Get Dirty….or Clean

The next step is to clean the wood. These barns have been around for anywhere from 100 to 130 years. They’ve got an awful lot of dirt and dust accumulated, and sometimes that can even be old manure, straw, hay, and lots of nasty stuff. This is a barn site, so you have to expect that.

In order to get rid of all that dirt, we have to power wash most of the wood before we cut the wood. Sometimes we can just use a wire brush to clean it off to remove most of the dirt if they’re not that dirty. We clean all the material that we get from the barn.

Step 4 – How To Get Rid Of All The Nails

The next step is to pull the nails. One of our least favorite things to do is to pull nails, but that is just a reality of working with reclaimed wood. These old barns have literally thousands of nails embedded in the wood. De-nailing is actually one of the most important jobs in our shop.

The only way to get those nails out is to go over each and every square inch of board with a metal detector. When we find a nail, we have to pull it out. Sometimes the nails are very visible, and other times we might find the nail a quarter inch below the surface.

The metal detector will tell us where it is and then we have to go in and dig it out.

Step 5 – Cut, Remove Waste

Next, you have to evaluate each board.  Determine what is salvageable and what isn’t. There are very few of these boards that have straight ends and alot of ends are sometimes damaged or split.

It’s best to determine the best chunk of material, and cut off the rest.  Just keep the useable part for your projects and use the rest to heat your home in the winter!

Step 6 – Re-saw The Material

This is one of the most fun steps of all of them.  For some reason I really enjoy working with the horizontal band saw.  One of the best parts about the job is seeing what the inside of these ugly (on the outside) old beams look like on the inside.

reclaimed-wood-resaw-barn-beams-midland-michigan-jimmy-hovey

I compare it to Christmas…you never really know what you have until you open the box.  In order to open up a beam, you have to cut it into the dimensions you need for your projects.

Step 7 – Kiln Dry

When I first started out in this business, I wasn’t too worried about drying the wood.  Thinking like most folks, I figured if this stuff had been around for 100+ years that it must be dry, right?

Well I found out the hard way after I sold some 2″ material to a regular customer.  The batch was a little wetter than usual and he had some problems.  He let me know that an I immediately came up with a solution; It was time to get a kiln.

reclaimed-wood-michigan-kiln-dried-barn-wood

We didn’t really do anything fancy, we just set up our own home made version and we can dry about 500 bd/ft at a time.

Even though this old wood has been around, the moisture in the wood can still be around 15-18%.  In order to eliminate problems with the wood, you are best to have the material down to 6-8%, especially if you are building a table.

It takes a bout 1 week to 10 days to dry a load of material.  Once it’s dry, we haul it back to our shop, sort the sizes out and start to prepare for our tables.

Step 8 – Straight Line Edges

In order to do a glue up, you need to have straight line edges.  In our shop, we have a straight line rip saw.  This is a big professional machine that makes perfectly straight edges on the boards so that we can get good tight fit when we are doing the glue up.

jimmy-hovey-reclaimed-wood-inc-straight-line-ripsaw

You likely won’t have one of these sitting around the garage, so there are a few options you can do to get your boards lined up nice and straight.

  1. Find a millwork shop and have them do it for you
  2. Purchase a glue line ready sawblade for your tablesaw…your saw needs to be stout, some of this 2″ material gives a 5 hp motor a good workout.
  3. Purchase a glue line blade for your skill saw and use with a straight edge.  Festool has a really nice setup for doing this, but honestly I have used a big, straight piece of angle iron and it works just fine for a straight edge.

 

Yard Tools to Have at the Barns

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-Giant rolling magnet.

Horse hooves + metal parts = disaster.  So, a giant rolling magnet can really come in handy.  Even if you are not doing any new construction, you will always be doing repairs.  And, the earth is constantly turning over, so your horse paddocks and turnouts are constantly spitting up weird metal and dangerous things.  I know it seems weird – but the photo below shows a few things that I found in a paddock after a rain.

I ordered my magnetic roller online from a roofing supply company, and you may be able to find one at a larger hardware store.

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I found all of these items in a paddock one day.  Giant vet bills, waiting to happen.

-Brooms. 

For cleaning crossties, barn aisles, cobwebs from above, the hay area, you name it.  Push brooms are great for big messes.  You can also separate the bristle end from the handle of a push broom and attach them to your stall thresholds to keep the bedding inside the stall, and not have it dragged down the barn aisle.   Regular brooms are great for small jobs!

Store your brooms with the bristle side up to preserve them, or hang them.

-Leaf rakes. 

I prefer the super light (and smaller) metal leaf rakes.  I use them to smooth out bedding, spread bedding in outside areas, and also to rake up leaves in the fall.  The larger plastic version are a bit clumsy for me to use, take up more room, and sometimes they collect so many leaves you have to stop and spend a year yanking them out.

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These handy spring handle holders keep everything organized and your broom bristles off the ground.

-Giant snow shovel.

These are handy for muck tubs throughout the barn and cross ties.  You can get metal ones, or heavy duty plastic ones, your preference.  I think the heavy duty plastic ones make less noise as you scrape them along the ground….  Good for picking up piles of “stuff” that you have swept up, and also good for sweeping up manure in the cross ties and barn aisle.

-Stirrup Hoe. 

While this is a gardening tool, it has a horsey name, which makes me like it even more.  These are super for removing weeds quickly and swiftly.  Because they have a long handle, you can deal with weeds around the barn and paddocks without bending over.

Tools for Preserving Barns and Farms

The National Register of Historic Places – NH Division of Historical Resources (NHDHR), 603/271-3483

The New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places – NHDHR, 603/271-3483

The New Hampshire Barn Survey Project — NHDHR, 603/271-3483

Farms of Distinction adobe acrobat – NH Dept. of Agriculture, 603/271-3551

Grant Programs and Tax Incentives

Property Tax Incentives – property tax relief for owners of historic New Hampshire barns and other agricultural buildings, NHDHR at 603/271-3483.

Barn Assessment Grants – planning grants prior to rehabilitation projects, New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, 603/224-2281.

Land and Community Heritage Investment Program – for municipalities and non-profits, grants for preserving natural, cultural and historic resources, 603/224-4113.

Conservation License Plate Program – for publicly-owned properties, grants for preservation and conservation projects, NHDHR, 603/271-3483.
How to purchase or give Moose Plates – and other FAQs.

Preservation Tax Credits – 20% federal income tax credit for the rehabilitation of income-producing structures on the National Register of Historic Places, NHDHR, 603/271-3483.

Other Resources

Barn Committee – Biennial Reports, Meeting Agendas and Meeting Minutes of the New Hampshire Historic Agricultural Structures Matching Grants Program Advisory Committee

Preserving Old Barns: Preventing the Loss of a Valuable Resource, by John C. Porter and Francis E. Gilman.

The Preservation of Historic Barns, by Michael J. Auer, Preservation Brief 20 from the National Park Service. A summary of historic barn types nationwide and technical advice for their maintenance.

Conserving the Family Farm  – a manual using plain language on conservation easements and agricultural provisions, produced by the NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture and UNH Cooperative Extension, (603) 679-5616. adobe acrobat

NH Stories Inc. and New Hampshire Made, Inc. – promoting the people, products and services of New Hampshire, 888/647-8674.

Scenic and Cultural Byways – increasing direct marketing opportunities, New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, 603/271-2155.

Preservation and Agricultural Easements – please contact the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance for more information on easements, 603/224-2281.

Is Your Town Farm Friendly? – A checklist for sustaining rural character, by Gary Matteson for the NH Coalition for Sustaning Agriculture and UNH Cooperative Extension.

Preserving Rural Character: The Agriculture Connection – NHOSP Revised Technical Bulletin 6, by Lorraine Stuart Merrill. How to support local farming in land use policies and programs. adobe acrobat

Preserving Rural Character through Agriculture: A Resource Kit for Planners – A broad array of useful tools and techniques, compiled by the NH coalition for Sustaining Agriculture. adobe acrobat

Barn Again! – national clearinghouse for information, awards and grants, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 303-623-1504.

Creating an Agricultural Commission in Your Town  – Lorraine Stuart Merrill, for the NH Coalition for Sustaining Agriculture and UNH Cooperative Extension. Agricultural commissions are an effective mechanism for communities to take positive action to remain or become more farm-friendly. adobe acrobat

Who’s Who in New Hampshire Agriculture – contact information for people and programs, and a brief economic overview of agriculture in New Hampshire, published by the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.

American Farmland Trust – online library, research, technical and policy assistance for saving family farms and farmland.

National Barn Alliance – national barn preservation network.

National Agricultural Library – online library and links to agricultural topics, including extensive history and image collections.

Agriculture Online – portal and search engine for agricultural subjects and programs.

Rolfe Barn – Technical Information Sheet: Exploring the Rolfe Barn in Penacook Adobe Acrobat

Keeping tools sharp

Keeping tools sharpGardeners demand a lot of pruning tools, especially in winter when there are roses, clematis, apple trees and fruit bushes to do. There are other cutting tools in regular use, too: hedging and topiary shears, and blades you might not think of as blades like hoes and border spades, both of which need sharp edges to cut  through the earth.

Keeping your tools razor-sharp is key to efficient working. Blunt tools take more effort to use, and worse, they can tear at branches rather than cutting them cleanly, causing snags and ragged edges that invite rots and other infections to set in. Hoes and spades, too, are far more effective if they’re sharp enough to cut through obstacles rather than bludgeoning them with brute force.

You’ll find all you need to keep your tools honed to perfection in our Paston and Oundle garden centre, from sharpening stones to specialist sharpening tools for curved blades such as secateurs. To use them well and get your tools cutting cleanly, follow our top tips:

  • Work out which side has the flat cutting surface: for bypass secateurs, this is the curving blade that scissors past the ‘anvil’ one. This is the edge you need to keep sharp.
  • Work at an angle of about 30° to the blade and run the sharpening stone along the angled side – if you look at the blade sideways on you’ll find out which that is. Work from hinge to tip, always moving the stone away from you to avoid hurting yourself. Keep doing this for a few minutes and you’ll find you have a rough edge forming on the underside as tiny shards of metal shear off.
  • Use a circular motion to gently remove this burr from the other side of the blade, though working flat to the blade this time as you don’t want to take the edge off again.
  • Consider a professional tool-sharpening service for larger-bladed items like hedging shears or petrol-driven hedge trimmers. These only need doing around once a year and it’s easier to get the professionals in.

Growing grapevines

Growing grapevinesOf all the fruit you can grow in the garden, a grapevine is among the most productive and beautiful. All you need is a sunny wall, fence or pergola for it to scramble up and it’ll cheerfully cover the whole thing with big elegant leaves turning brilliant colours in autumn, and of course fat clusters of fruit dripping with sweetness.

There are dozens of varieties of grapevine and we’ve got a great selection in our Paston and Oundle garden centre. For sweet fruit for the table, go for a dessert variety: ‘Brandt’ has small but very sweet dark-skinned grapes (and spectacular autumn colour) while ‘Phoenix’ is a reliable modern variety good for both eating and winemaking.

If it’s a vineyard you’re after, there’s an even wider choice. ‘Seyval’ makes a light, fruity wine; while ‘Pinot Noir’ ripens well in a good summer for a classic deep red claret.

Here are our top tips for growing successful grapevines:

  • Choose a sunny site, ideally a south- or southwest facing wall and sheltered from the wind. Vines do best in free-draining soil like sand or chalk: if you’re gardening on clay dig in a barrowload of grit before planting.
  • Add well-rotted farmyard manure (found in our garden centre) to improve soil before planting, as grapevines are in the ground a long time.
  • Add a handful of slow-release fertiliser like pelleted chicken manure or bonemeal to keep your plant happy all season.
  • Plant when vines are dormant – from late autumn till early spring, as long as the ground isn’t waterlogged or frozen.
  • Put up a sturdy training system before you plant: stretch wires 30cm apart up a fence, or attach trellis. You’ll find all you need in our garden centre.
  • Water thoroughly in dry weather: if grapevines get parched at the roots they’re more likely to suffer from mildew, ruining your crop.
  • Prune each winter once the vine has dropped all its leaves and is completely dormant to remove some of the year’s vigorous growth and keep the plant productive and healthy.

Seed sowing success

Seed sowing successIt’s one of the most exciting moments in a gardener’s year: you go into your greenhouse or peek at your windowsill to find the seeds you sowed a week ago shyly poking out little green sprouts.

Seed-sowing is hugely satisfying and an economic way to fill your garden in Paston and Oundle with colourful annuals, herbs and vegetables. Just choose what you want from the many packets you’ll find in our garden centre.

To make sure you get those little plants off to the best start, follow our tips for seed-sowing success.

Sowing direct:

  • Hold off till it’s warm enough as seed sown in chilly soil sulks and rots. A constant soil temperature of about 7°C is a green light for most hardy varieties.
  • Prepare the ground well so seedlings can get their heads out easily. Remove weeds and stones, and rake soil into the texture of breadcrumbs.
  • Sow sparingly to save the trouble of thinning out, and to avoid diseases spreading among overcrowded seedlings.
  • Don’t sow too deep – about 1/2 cm is enough for tiny seeds; larger seeds can go in at 1cm deep. Sink really large seeds like broad beans to twice their depth.
  • Sow in lines and then when your seedlings come up you’ll recognise them. Weed seedlings growing between the lines are easily removed.

Sowing under cover:

  • Use specialist seed compost as it’s sterilised and fine-textured: soil-based John Innes seed compost, available in our garden centre, is ideal.
  • Sow in modules to avoid root disturbance and you can transplant seedlings without checking growth. Sow one or two seeds to each module and pot on once the roots fill the space.
  • Water from the bottom to avoid disturbing the seed: half fill a tray with water and stand the seed tray in it till the surface turns damp.
  • Use tap water rather than saved rainwater as many fungal diseases are water-borne: tap water is relatively clean, keeping seedlings safer.
  • Keep them cosy especially if they’re tender: bring indoors at night, or heat your greenhouse to about three degrees above zero.

Growing fruit and veg on balconies

Growing fruit and veg on balconiesWhen space is really limited, gardening needs ingenuity. With a few clever tricks and some innovative gadgets, though, you can turn even a balcony into a productive garden overflowing with fruit, vegetables and herbs.

You’ll find plenty of useful gear to help you build your balcony garden in our Paston and Oundle garden centre, from planters to dwarf apple trees specially bred to grow in restricted spaces. Here are our top tips for balcony success.

  • Use large planters wherever possible, so they act more like raised beds than containers and give your veg a longer root run. Generally, the larger the container you give your veg, the happier they’ll be: if your balcony is high-rise, though, get a structural engineer in first to check it can take the weight of containers full of damp compost and plants.
  • Use successional sowing to keep your pots working hard all year. As soon as you harvest a crop, re-sow the container or replant with vegetable plug plants for a really quick replacement. That way you’ll always have new crops growing up as you eat your way through the ones you sowed earlier.
  • Grow container veg varieties which are better suited to growing with their roots restricted. Good choices are Courgette ‘Patio Star’, Aubergine ‘Ophelia’, Broad Bean ‘The Sutton’ and Pea ‘Bingo’ – all grow small but have bumper crops for their size.
  • Don’t forget the fruit as there are plenty of long-cropping varieties which grow quite happily in containers including gooseberries, blueberries and blackcurrants. Strawberries do better in pots, as they’re off the ground away from slugs; and you can even grow ‘Minarette’ apple and pear trees, trained on a single stem.
  • Take care over feeding and watering as your plants depend entirely on you for their every need. Automatic watering systems share the load: you’ll find timers, hoses and dripper systems in our garden centre. Add a weekly liquid feed when you water: liquid seaweed acts as a general-purpose tonic, but when plants are flowering a high-potash tomato feed encourages plenty of fruit.

Heirloom Seeds for Spring by Michelle Slatalla

The writer Michael Pollan advises: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” To that, we would like to add: Don’t grow anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as a seed. Here are 10 sources for our favorite organic and heirloom vegetable, flower, and herb seeds to plant this spring:

Above: From Italy, family-based Franchi Seeds are favorites of renowned London restaurant The River Café, which grows a year-round garden to supply menu ingredients. For more, see Kendra’s report from The River Café, Sow Now for Winter Salad.

Known for its winter-hardy chicories, chards, and spinaches, Franchi Seeds are available from Seeds of Italy for European gardeners and from Grow Italian for US gardeners. Our favorites include Chicory Grumelo Verde ($3.60 per packet) and Lettuce Leaf Basil (“large leaves and mild taste”) for $3.25 per packet.

Comstock Ferre & Co seeds ; Gardenista

Said to be the oldest seed company in the US, Connecticut-based Comstock Ferre & Co is one of Janet’s favorites: “An admitted weakness of mine is falling for gorgeous seed packets, and Comstock Ferre doesn’t disappoint,” she writes. Her spring list includes Antigua Eggplant ($3 per packet), White Cosmic Purple Carrots ($3 for 300 seeds), and Purple Top White Globe Turnips ($1.75 for 600 seeds).

Kitazawa Asian vegetable seeds ; Gardenista

Started in a San Jose, California warehouse in 1917, Kitazawa Seed specializes in offering seeds of 250 traditional heirloom vegetables of Japan. In addition, “Kitazawa sells curated chef specialty garden seed collections, such as the Kitazawa Asian Herb Garden Seed Collection and the Kitazawa Thai Garden Seed Collection, that offer selected combinations of the most popular Asian vegetables and herbs,” says Janet. Each collection includes seven different seed packets and is $23.

john-scheepers-seeds_seed-starting-gardenista 

Erin buys flower seeds from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds “in my native Connecticut. It’s a terrific small seed company,” she writes. Among her favorites: Blue Color Cascading Lobelia ($3.15 for 1,500 seeds), Marine Heliotrope ($3.25 for 200 seeds), and Picante Salvia Splendens Mixture ($3.45 for 25 seeds).

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which started as a mail order seed catalog in 1998 sent by 17-year-old Jere Gettle, is on a mission to find and preserve rare seeds. Among this year’s offerings are Georgia Rattlesnake Watermelon, “thought to have been developed in Georgia in the 1830s” ($2.50 for a packet); Dixie Speckled Butterpea Lima Beans ($2 for 40 seeds), and Gelber Englischer Custard Squash—”fruits are oddly flattened—impossible to describe”—($2.75 for 10 seeds).

seed-library-seeds-organic-gardenista

Hudson Valley Seed Library founder Ken Greene was working as a librarian in upstate New York more than a decade ago when he developed an interest in saving heirloom varieties. After adding seeds to the library’s catalog for patrons to “borrow” to grow in their gardens (and to return collected seeds from their harvests to the library), he and co-founder Doug Muller started a small company.

Today Hudson Valley Seed Company sells its own seeds and also seeds from other small, local farmers. On offer are vegetables, flowers, and herbs such as Cinnamon Basil ($2.95 for a package of 250 seeds), Pixie Delight Dwarf Mixed Lupine ($2.95 for 75 seeds), and Dino Kale ($2.95 for 100 seeds).

Renee’s Garden seeds are favorites of Seattle-based flower farmer Erin Benzakein of Floret Farm, who grows Long-Stemmed Zinnia “Blue Point” in shades of pink, white, yellow, red, and orange ($2.79 per packet).

Above: I recently purchased Jardin Seed Co.’s Chef’s Garden Collection ($29.95), in which there are packets of 12 varieties of seeds with names like Imperial Star Artichoke, Red Express Cabbage, Sweet Marketmore Cucumber, and Rouge d’Hiver Lettuce (Shown).

Waterville, Maine-based Fedco Seeds specializes in cold-hardy varieties that thrive in the Northeast. The company conducts field tests at multiple locations to determine which varieties will grow best in a cold climate.

This year’s catalog lists 333 organic varieties including 45 different tomatoes, such as Black Prince ($1.40 for .2 grams) and Aunt Ruby’s German Green ($1.30 for .2 grams).

Founded in 1989 and sold to Mars eight years later, Seeds of Change sells “100 percent certified organic vegetable, herb, and flower seeds,” ranging from Mahogany Nasturtium ($3.49 for 20 seeds) to Wheatgrass ($3.49 for 1,000 seeds).

5 Favorites: Modern Root Cellars by Michelle Slatalla

Whenever we go apple picking, we get a little carried away. How many families can eat three bushel baskets of fruit before it goes bad? Solution: storage racks that extend the lifespan of “keeper” crops will keep the harvest fresh longer.

Does anybody have a root cellar any more? What do you do with your apples? Tell us about your pantry in the comments below.

Three drawer vegetable rack l Gardenista Above: A Three Drawer Vegetable Rack made of untreated fir is £95 from Cox & Cox. Place storage racks in a cool, dark spot to keep fruits and vegetables fresh. Storage racks can also be used to dry herbs.

Above: A Beechwood Fruit Rack is 36€ from Manufactum. The racks are stackable and have space to store fruit and vegetables; separate solid inserts are available to close the drawers’ bottoms to keep smaller items from falling through.

Above: The rack from Manufactum has a special non-skid construction to keep it in place when stacked or configured in multiple units. It can be customized with an insert to hold wine bottles or with a flat shelf with a wire bottom for drying mushrooms and herbs.

Above: For abundant harvests (or families who fill too many bushel baskets). A Beech Apple Rack with ten drawers is £235 from Hibbitt.

Above: For US gardeners, a nine-drawer Orchard Rack is $195 from Gardeners. A smaller six-drawer rack is available for $149.

Above: Configured to fit the shelves of Gardeners’ Orchard Rack, a set of two Bamboo Trays is useful for holding garlic and other small items that might otherwise fall through the slats; $39.95.

Above: Made from spruce, the Minya Small Fruit and Vegetable Storage Rack can be separated into three units to fit inside drawers or pantries. The bottom unit has castors. It’s £57.97 from 123Furniture.

Growing fall vegetables: Tips and tricks

Most who have tried to grow fall crops will tell you that they’re more difficult than spring gardens. Problems such as dry ground from lack of rain, extreme heat at the time the seeds need to be planted, insects, diseases and weeds can all take their toll on gardeners who don’t know what to expect from autumnal crops.

Spring crops and fall crops have a few things in common, such as the fact that both can thrive in small spaces under the right conditions, but they otherwise differ greatly in their needs and ideal conditions. But the challenges involved in raising a fall garden shouldn’t be a deterrent to doing so, as the yummy rewards are well worth the research needed to overcome the challenge.

Kale, quite the superfood, is both beautiful and delicious. (Photo: Dwight Sipler, Flickr)

So instead of selecting plants or seeds without assistance, visit a local nursery to chat with an expert before tackling a fall garden.

“Nurseries have a variety of crops to choose from and a staff that can tell you how to go about making your fall garden a success,” Jim Webster, owner of The Barn Nursery, said.

Select varieties carefully.
Spring crops are chosen based on their abilities to germinate in cool, moist conditions, yet thrive as the days get drier. Fall crops, however, require the opposite. They have to be able to germinate in dry, hot days and then thrive in short, cool, moist days.

“Beans, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard and radish are all plants that thrive in fall conditions with proper care and maintenance,” Webster said.

Plant at the right time.
Some plants have to be harvested before the first frost hits; others will be able to withstand considerable frost and continue to produce. Some varieties of the same plants are better suited for some planting conditions over others. It’s important to make sure, either by checking with a nursery expert or doing research, that you’re planting your crop at the proper point in its life cycle.

With proper care and maintenance, your garden can produce a bumper crop of broccoli this fall. (Photo: Kate Ter Haar, Flickr)

“Don’t simply rely on the seed packet or catalog dates,” Webster said. “Those dates don’t usually take into account region or time of year.”

It requires some math to get the formula for planting just right. You’ll need to know the average date of the first frost in your area, the days it takes a plant to mature, the last date the crop should be planted and the number of days the plants produce for.

Care for fall gardens properly.
Fall may, in your mind, seem like a more low-maintenance time than spring, but it isn’t. Drought, insects, weeds and diseases are all more prevalent in the fall. Compounding these issues is the fact that fall gardens are just all-around more difficult to establish. Water carefully and deliberately. Control pests in safe, organic ways. Remove weeds while they are still small.

“You can have a successful fall garden; you just have to be committed to its success,” Webster said.

Maintain moisture during germination and growth.
Water amply not only before planting fall crops but also often thereafter. If growing from seeds, plant a quarter-inch deeper than you would a spring vegetable.

“Planting deeper reduces the chances of a seed drying up,” Webster said.

Coming up with a way to keep your fall garden shaded until more temperate weather comes is also a good idea. The late summer sun can be quite fierce on a young crop.

Use fertilizer.
Like spring veggies, fall crops prefer nitrogen-rich fertilizers. These solutions will help nourish your crops and keep them as healthy as possible, even during the less-than-ideal conditions of the crops’ earliest days in the ground. A good organic variety of fertilizer to use is Dr. Earth.

“Dr. Earth soils and fertilizers are great options for fruit and vegetable gardening,” Webster said. “They are 100 percent organic and perfect to use in raised beds and large containers.”

Cole Webster’s grandfather started The Barn as a fruit and vegetable stand in an old Civil War barn on McFarlan Avenue in Rossville, Georgia. His father, Jim Webster, moved The Barn Nursery to its current location 25 years ago and grew it into one of the leading garden centers in the country. Cole wants to continue to make The Barn Nursery a thriving part of Chattanooga’s landscape. He graduated from the University of West Georgia in 2013 with degrees in marketing and real estate and began working full time at The Barn Nursery in 2014. He wants to bring more young people to the garden center and gift shop, and keep it relevant and exciting to all generations of customers.

The Truth About Trapping and Relocating Wildlife

There is a better way.When members of the public take matters into their own hands and get a Havaheart trap to capture an animal on their property, they have no idea what they are getting into.  Or, the fact that they are going to be contributing to the animal’s suffering and most likely, premature death.  And, here in California, it is illegal to trap and relocate wildlife.  If an animal is trapped it must be released on site, or killed.  That is the law.

Anyone who is considering either trapping themselves or hiring a professional trapper please read through this carefully and call me if you have any questions.  WildCare does have licensed trappers on staff.  However, we use more humane and less stressful methods that do work.  We only resort to trapping if we are trying to capture an injured animal.

The top Reasons why Trapping Wildlife doesn’t work.

1) You have no guarantee that you will trap the offending animal.  You may catch something but how will you know it is the animal you are after?  The fact is, you don’t.

2) Trapping wildlife creates orphans.  There is always the potential you have trapped a mother that has a nest of babies somewhere.

3) It is incredibly stressful for a wild animal to be trapped and often they injure themselves trying to get out.  Teeth and claws are often broken in the animal’s frantic effort to escape.  Here at WildCare we see many injured raccoons, squirrels and skunks when people taking matters into their own hands, or hire a professional trapper because raccoons are digging  up their lawn.

4) Animals dumped in another location have no idea where the food and water sources are.  This often leads to starvation and death. Studies done on raccoons that were relocated support this finding.  The animal will typically die within 2 weeks of being relocated.

5) Most likely you will be dumping this animal in the territory of another animal and this will lead to territory disputes, and often these fights lead to serious injuries and death.

6) If you capture a sick animal and transfer it to a healthy population, this spreads disease.

7) If you remove an animal out of its territory (by either trapping or killing) you have opened up a territory and another animal will soon show up to take its place.

8) It doesn’t solve the problem.  As long as the attractant remains (food, shelter or water) other animals will show up.  Removing the source of what is attracting them is the solution.

However, laws regarding this do vary from state to state.  Here in California, according to the California Dept of Fish & Game, Section 465, (G) (1), the law states that animals trapped must be released on site or killed.  Below I cut and pasted what the law states.

(1) Immediate Dispatch or Release. All furbearing and nongame mammals that are legal to trap must be immediately killed or released. Unless released, trapped animals shall be killed by shooting where local ordinances, landowners, and safety permit. This regulation does not prohibit employees of federal, state, or local government from using chemical euthanasia to dispatch trapped animals.

If you hire a pest control company or wildlife control company and they tell you there are relocating wildlife they are either 1) lying to you or 2) breaking the law.

Trapping wildlife is never the solution when dealing with nuisance wildlife.  Please call me if  you are considering trapping your wild neighbors.  We can talk about solutions that are less stressful on the animals and less stressful on you!

Choosing a Shed Style

We know style is a personal issue. That’s why at Summerwood we offer choices. Remember all our sheds can be customized to your personal requirements. They range in size from as small as you want to as big as you want.  From basic storage and garden sheds, to elaborate dual purpose sheds – we’ve got you covered.

Garden Sheds & Storage Sheds – Our Styles

Palmerston Sheds – The Palmerston gable roof design is our most basic and most popular style. The look is clean and the space functional; roof trusses double as storage space for sports equipment and other items that need to be tucked away. A dormer adds a nice touch to this style.

Sarawak Storage Sheds – If space is tight, our Sarawak lean-to shed is designed to offer you the optimal storage solution. It works well partitioned into a multi functional space or with a large set of double doors for easy access.

Bar Harbor Sheds – An ideal shed for the avid gardener as a potting or storage shed for your garden tools. The saltbox style roof features exposed cedar rafters and 1 x 6 cedar roof boards.

Pioneer Barn Sheds – Our Pioneer barn shed combines new world construction with old world design and craftsmanship. The shed features a roomy loft with 1 x 8 pine flooring, a barn door hatch, and a wood ladder.

Catalina Corner Sheds – The five sided roof design of this shed certainly adds an interesting dimension to your landscape. A great choice nestled into a corner facing your yard.

Sonoma Sheds – The Hip Roof design of this shed offers a little more flair and versatility. The use of rafters instead of trusses also creates more of an open feeling. This style is easily dressed up with numerous door and window options.

Melbourne Sheds – This unique shed design offers an understated elegance that is not usually associated with garden sheds. The Melbourne is a big hit with our landscape architect clientele.

Telluride Sheds – Our Telluride is defined by its steep roof pitch and rugged natural good looks. This spacious design is ideal for both storing and working with tools. It comes all dressed up with large double doors, antique hardware, vertical cedar siding, country quaint windows, and may be dressed up with some very stylish cedar wall lattice.

Copper Creek Sheds – This shed features a steep roof pitch, providing just the right amount of drama. Bring in a steep peak over the door and you have an irresistible structure that’s just waiting to be personalized. This style is an idea potting shed, providing the space that’s required and the storage in the trusses that we can’t live without.

Glen Echo Sheds – A great utility shed, this building offers a bright and spacious addition to any setting. An extra foot of wall height and windows make it versatile and the extension of the gable roof is very unique. The 2 or 3ft. overhang (your choice) provides more loft storage space and it doubles as a porch. A great place to sit and relax.

Chimalis/Haida Small Sheds – Don’t let their size fool you; these shed designs are extremely practical for those with a tight space. The 10:12 roof pitch maximizes storage space to accommodate ladders, skis, and more. Gable front, gable side: a great style – customize it any way you like.

Santa Cruz Sheds – California inspired, this shed provides a lot of headroom with the beautiful Dutch Hip Roof and plenty of light with the spanning doors and windows. It’s perfect for use as a shed and it doubles as an entertainment facility. There’s no need to run back and forth from the house.

Eight Nifty Tricks to Save Money When Building a Pole Barn

Do you need more space for storage or your new tractor? If so, it may be time to build a new pole (post-frame) barn or garage. But how do you tackle this project without draining your wallet? Here are eight money-saving tricks to bear in mind when building a pole barn.

If you are a shop owner looking for a new storefront, or a horse lover wanting to build your dream barn, a post-frame building is a great option. This type of construction is versatile, and a wonderful way to ensure all of your needs are met. However, constructing a post-frame building is also a great investment. To help you avoid a huge financial blow, here are eight ways to save money when building a pole barn.

1. Spacing of your columns. Builders typically space columns anywhere between six and 12 feet. The wider your column spacing, the less costly your structure is going to be because each column and accompanying truss costs you money.

But some builders may lack the engineering knowledge to design the columns, trusses and the rest of the structure to the load requirements needed for your building. They’ll place columns every eight feet.  And guess who ends up footing the bill?

Reduce the number of columns, and you’ll also need less trusses.

2. Choose durable materials. Saving money up front by purchasing less expensive materials isn’t always good in the long run. Ideally, you want to use materials that will last as long as your building does to avoid renovation costs.

For example, purchasing an inexpensive, low-quality door may end up costing more if you have to replace it within 10 to 15 years if the frame disintegrates, door warps or hinges bend.

This is a rule of thumb for nearly every purchase you make for your building— from windows and doors to steel and insulation materials.  Cheap materials up front will always lead to higher maintenance, replacement and heating/cooling costs in the long run.

3. Install wainscot. This is a significantly overlooked but important piece to any post-frame building.  Wainscot is a 3.5 foot steel panel placed at the bottom of the building.  It is usually a different color but can also be the same color as the rest of the wall.

Wainscot is a great money-saver in the long runWhile it will cost you a small amount up front, your wainscot will act as a buffer if you accidentally bump into the wall of your pole barn with a lawnmower, tractor or truck.

Another common problem is your mower may kick up stones or sticks, shooting them at your building and scratching or denting the panel.

If an accident happens, instead of replacing the entire length of the sidewall, you would only have to replace the 3.5 foot section of steel — your wainscot.

4. Choose building aesthetics wisely. Talk to your builder about ways to dress up your building without adding much cost. For example, consider a double gable to get a more residential look instead of shelling out for expensive siding or roof materials.

Double gables are a cost-effective way to dress up a pole barn5. Install a sliding door. They’re less costly than overhead garage doors or hydraulic doors for equipment access doors that you don’t use frequently.

And today’s slide doors, even large ones, are much easier to open and close than your Dad’s old slide door due to improvements in tracks, trolleys, materials and construction techniques.

6. Use DripStop for condensation control. To prevent condensation from forming or dripping on high-end equipment, purchase DripStop.

It’s not an insulation, yet it effectively controls condensation in non-insulated buildings. It works well for mini warehouses, animal confinement or any cold-storage building in which you wish to deter moisture from dripping on your stuff.

DripStop can potentially save you thousands of dollars in comparison to using ceiling insulation. Read more about it here.

7. Choose an interior liner system over a drywall finish. A good tip for many buildings; adding a steel flushwall liner system interior to your building can be much less expensive than finishing your building with drywall.

You’ll get a durable interior without all the hassle of hanging and finishing drywall.

8. Weigh your options on soundproofing materials. Some people will install a sound-absorbing ceiling material, but that isn’t always the most cost-effective option to reduce noise.

How to Salvage Wood from an Old Structure

Reclaimed wood producers can transform old, gray, weathered wood from rural buildings into lustrous timber that is difficult to differentiate from virgin lumber. Modern up-cycling procedures can strip away the outer gray layer of weathering, revealing the warm, strong heart of the reclaimed lumber, which is still perfectly usable.

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In fact, when the pioneers originally built the structures dotting the American frontier, they used old-growth timber. Therefore, salvaged wood from barns and other outbuildings is often of a higher quality than virgin wood available today.

Of course, in order to harvest old barn wood, you need to know a few things. Read on to discover how professionals turn salvaged wood from barns and other outbuildings into breathtaking new products.

1. Getting Ready: Preparation for Salvaging Wood

Salvaged wood can come from many sources, some of them easier to excavate than others. The most common and prolific sources include old barns and other abandoned structures. Whatever your source of reclaimed wood, it’s important to make sure you understand the proper techniques and have the appropriate tools to recover the wood safely.

Review safety procedures. If you are taking down an entire barn or other structure, you will definitely need to understand how it’s built. Imagine how you will take down the building. Typically, a dismantling crew begins with removing the roof, and then works their way down to the ground, removing the support beams last. Be sure to review safety rules and dismantling procedures with your entire crew.

Gather tools. You will need certain specialized tools to remove the wood from the structure without damaging it. For instance, you’ll require a pin knocker to knock out the pins holding the beams together. You’ll also want to create a crowbar-ish tool for prying up wood siding. (If welding is not among your talents, call a local blacksmith to have this tool made.)

Finally, you’ll need several woodworking tools, such as a joiner, a planer and a table saw if you want to your reclaimed wood completely ready for a new project. (Alternatively, you can contract with a local mill to have them prepare your salvaged wood for you.)

Talk to property owners. Most property owners are happy to work with someone who offers to take down their old unused buildings. Dismantling old barns for salvaged wood products is wise from a tax perspective, since fewer buildings generally means lower property taxes. Furthermore, a rotting old barn can be a real liability issue. Mice and rats love to live in old buildings, for example, and their droppings can carry the deadly Hanta Virus. For these reasons, turning an old barn into reclaimed lumber just makes sense for most farmers – especially if they are offered a cut of the proceeds.

2. Spotting Reusable Timbers

Wood with tighter grain patterns is strong enough for reclaimed wood beams, flooring and furniture. Tighter grain patterns indicate higher density, meaning that the salvaged wood is less likely to warp during the up-cycling process.

It is best to avoid water-damaged timber when producing reclaimed wood products. When water migrates through timber, it compromises the wood’s strength. Moreover, water opens up spaces where beetles can infest and weaken old beams.

3. Up-cycling Procedures for Reclaiming Wood

Once you’ve acquired your reclaimed lumber, it may require some work to coax its beauty out from beneath its weathered surface.

Clean the wood. Using a wire brush, scrape off any dirt, mud and debris from the reclaimed wood. As you work each piece of wood, remove anything that could get caught in a saw or other piece of machinery. Protruding nails or screws would definitely fall into this category.

Next, pressure-wash the wood to remove paint and other exterior debris. Call a contractor if you find you must remove lead paint. Because lead paint is highly toxic for both humans and the environment, only certified contractors should remove it. If you decide to keep some old paint on the finished project, you should seal it with polyurethane sealant at this point.

Apply insecticide, if desired. An wise step is to apply an insecticide treatment to the wood after it’s been cleaned. Most professionals use borate, sprayed directly on the wood, to eliminate any insects that could be living in the reclaimed lumber.

Dry the wood. Once it’s clean, the wood must be cured in the hot sun. This removes moisture and decreases the chances that the wood will warp once placed in a home or business. You can either expose the wood to hot sunshine over a period of several days, flipping it often to discourage mildew growth, or have it cured in a kiln, which quickly dries the wood and removes all mildew growth.  Kiln drying the reclaimed wood can speed this process as well as eliminate any insects without the use of chemicals.

From flooring to paneling, furniture to storage, salvaged wood from old barns and buildings can create a multitude of products. Those who choose to purchase reclaimed wood beams, flooring and other reclaimed wood products can feel good knowing they helped reduce the amount of deforestation on our planet. If you’re considering salvaging that old eyesore barn or outbuilding, follow the tips above to safely, efficiently produce valuable reclaimed lumber.