Monday, July 29, 2013

If At First You Don't Succeed....

....cover it up with something that looks better!

Sure, our little green barn looks good, generally, but a closer look reveals...

...that the red paint is not sticking well to the sliding door that we fashioned from 2 salvaged interior doors:

Good thing we always seem to have a supply of salvaged lumber on hand! 

Using salvaged lumber is part carpentry, part art. In other words, working with boards that are warped, cupped and non-uniform in dimension, requires a bit of skill and a bit of reckless abandon:

Sure, our projects - being spontaneous and Obtainium-based - sometimes require a first and a second try, but they ultimately end up funky as well as functional:

Next: aluminum flashing will be installed over the  metal roller track then installation of yard-art accents and some prickly-pear cactus beds out front!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fence and Arbor Almost Entirely From Scrounged Materials

In the olden days we called "re-purposed materials," "stuff that we scrounged up." Here is our most recent project from "scrounged" items.

Since our house is a bit closer to the road than optimum, we've sought to, while we convert our front lawn to native plants (for wildlife and pollinators and our enjoyment), also better-screen ourselves from road noise and on-lookers. We've killed the grass and installed the plants. Here you'll see how we created a physical barrier as well.

From a neighboring farm we were able to salvage old wooden fence posts, rough-cut hardwood planks and an old metal gate framework. From these items and some salvaged wooden ladders we:

Created a fence:

Installed a gate:

And integrated an arbor into the fence itself (using the ladders):

At the base of the arbor we planted native trumpet creeper vines (hummingbirds love these) that we grew from cuttings. Once these vines fill-in on the arbor, the sumac spread a bit and the ashy sunflower (and others) grow and multiply, we will be quite hidden from view!

We had to buy a bit of hardware and used a few screws but this project was largely scrounged and that makes us happy! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Obtainium, a New Addition to the Periodic Table?

"Obtanium" is a term that we learned from a great book by Wendy J. Temayne called The Good Life Lab, Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living. You can get it here.

Wendy, along with her partner, Mikey Sklar, also produce a great blog: Holy Scrap

Back to "Obtanium". This is a concept that we've been integrating into our lives for quite awhile now - partly because we are frugal, partly because we seek to re-purpose things for environmental sustainability reasons and partly because it's fun and rewarding and fosters creativity!

Check out this "official" definition from The Urban Dictionary:

One of our favorite uses for Obtanium is in the "whimsification" of our place. (I think I may have just coined a new word!). We first learned that one's surroundings can be whimsical when we lived in Sante Fe, NM (go visit, you'll see). One thing that people do there is make use of fences and gates to create whimsical yards. We've done that here in Ohio, using Obtanium.

One example - our garden gates - entirely created from throw-away items:

Here is another gate that we completely rebuilt using a rusty but intact gate frame and lumber salvaged from a barn that was being torn down:

What will we do with this bit of Obtanium? Stay tuned!

Oh, and go get yourself some Obtanium...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Tree Cookie Path and Scrap-Wood Fence

Sometimes our plantings for wildlife get, well, a little wild. In this case a planting in front of our house began to spill over across the sidewalk. We didn't want to curb the plant's enthusiasm by pruning them, of course, so we looked around our place for some materials with which to hold the plants more vertical and also widen the sidewalk (which is relatively narrow).

We found some old barn siding that we'd gotten for free from a Craig's List post and cut some tree cookies (thin cross sections of a tree trunk) from an Ash that the power company had trimmed from below their wires.

Here's what we did with the old barn siding:

Here's what we did with the tree cookies:

Recent rains have turned soil to mud but luckily we had some extra gravel on hand and so used that as a base for widening the path and in which to set the tree cookies:

A couple of simple projects using free materials results in a much improved approach to the front door and...

...retains the maximum growth of native plants that support our wildlife residents. 

For example, check out the pair of garter snakes in the center of the below photos. 

These two beauties were just a few feet from us while we ate our lunch on the porch. We like to think that they feel safe since they have a welcome habitat at our place and are finding lots of bugs and small rodents to dine on. 

Oh, we did spend a bit of money on some colorful solar lights for Jennifer's birthday and  installed them along our paths to light our way on evening "yard tours".

As we like to say, "we sure had a lot of fun today." We hope that you did too!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Early Summer 2013

It's July and so much is/has been happening.  Steve and I are so good at occupying ourselves and finding projects we want to complete (much on this over the next month), we must really work to take time to be restful and allow time for physical rejuvenation.  Life is good though and it's our most favorite time of year.  July is my birthday month and I am most certainly a Cancer...I love water, heat, growing things.  Though I enjoy all months of the year, this is the month that I hold on to and remember when the grayness of February settles in a little too deeply.  Here's a snippet of our life of late. We continue on our path to work hard, make things, repurpose and reuse, make our home inspiring and welcoming for two-leggeds, four, six and eight-leggeds and, not to leave anything out, the no-leggeds and many-leggeds.

This June and start to July are defined by rain this year here in north-central Ohio.  We greatly welcome the reprieve from last year's drought.

The moisture lends itself to abundant growth....

truly incredible abundant growth.  This garden is 2-3 years old depending on the plants.  In a couple of weeks the flowers will be in full, beautiful bloom.

Steve's moved A LOT of stone this summer.  We have a gravel pit nearby so this is a natural, cheap material for us.  The stone pathways make the gardens visibly and physically accessible and are themselves easy to maintain.

The potting shed garden positively exploded this year.  We put in so many different native plants over the past few years and should have a great seed source this year to vegetate new areas as well as feed the wildlife.

This northern broken-dash skipper spent quite some time on the bergamot.

The butterflies are finally starting to show up in small numbers.  These winged-creatures are freakishly absent this summer. Duskywing on salvia...

Eastern Bluebirds easily find lots of insects to feed their babies thanks to all the native plants we've planted.  This is the second brood for this family this year.

The vegetable garden is providing us with loads of peas and greens and some early peppers, tomatoes, raspberries and many herbs.

Common milkweed grows everywhere on our property.  Some we've planted...

 and some plant themselves.  The onions don't mind sharing their space.

This sunflower self-seeded last year and already is enticing the goldfinches.  Its spectacular yellow makes us smile.  How can it not?

The three-sister's planting on the right like their salvaged wood tripods.  The beans are starting to twine around the wood and I rather like how they look.  After one of our crazy wind storms knocked a tripod over, I redug them in and they've held their own in all subsequent storms.  The blooming calendula is ready for harvesting for soap and salve once they dry out.

There really are two raised beds in here. The potatoes are out of control with their growth.

Bi-colored scarlet runner beans are starting to climb.  I am so excited for these to grow and be one big jumbled mess of color!

Remember that bit about relaxation?  This cat, Flora, has no problem finding much everyday.  The seed  basket is the new favored napping location.

We're finding some relaxation time too.  A perfect summer evening capped the last day of June and found us enjoying a fire, a pink sunset, calling frogs and fireflies to boot. Oh, and did I mention smores?