Barn Raising at Seven Oaks

What a whirlwind of activity we have had at the farm in the last month! It is a good thing that I take so many photos to remind us of all the adventures we have had. I’ll try to share these chronologically starting with early Spring…

Remember the Brussels sprouts that we were about to harvest? We grabbed them out of the field en mass on March 2nd with our big machete-like knife and got nearly 8 pounds of goodies.  We enjoyed them roasted with our carrots in a hot oven and dressed with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Yummy!IMG_0943

Of course early spring is also the time when we dutifully spray the orchard with dormant oil (organic) to snuff out the eggs of any early laying predatory insects. This year I was so pleased to try out our new backpack sprayer which I found at a garage sale. Interesting to note, it was being sold by our friends, the Ryans, who when they heard we were about to buy it, GAVE it to us instead! Thank you, Lucy and Ron! The tank holds at least three times the volume of my old one, duh! With the increased size of the trees, the orchard required over 10 gallons of spray which translates into nearly 90 lbs of liquid. No wonder my shoulders were sore the following morning! IMG_1046

Our blueberry netting finally arrived along with two nice installers who worked for an entire week getting the netting all put together. They gladly took a break to pose for me!IMG_1135

Here is the finished structure with a ‘doorway’ that is closed with metal belay hooks.  IMG_1439

It feels really cool when you are inside. It is like being in an aviary, only with no birds..haha!…which is the point, right? IMG_1442

The barn is also finally underway after a very long wait for the electric company to come and hook up a temporary power source. (Wouldn’t you know, the old electric line was directly in the way of the digging and had to be re-located!) The concrete crew arrived next and began by saw cutting the existing driveway. IMG_1050

They also made a temporary road out front since our lane is so narrow that cars would not be able to get past the large concrete trucks. The crew kindly put down a sturdy, wide landscape cloth before dumping rock to create a gravel access road. The cloth will help us after the project is finished when it is time to clean up the inevitable damage to the yard.IMG_1057IMG_1096

Then they started digging the footings, using precise, laser measuring tools. IMG_1233

The afternoon after the footings were dug and the re-bar added, we had a torrential downpour which filled their trenches with rain and subsequently had to be re-dug before they could pour concrete.

IMG_1235

In the meantime, the barn crew were not the only ones digging! We were also out in the fields getting ready to plant our potatoes and onions. They say potatoes should be planted on St. Patrick’s Day…we were just a couple days late. We planted Red Pontiac and Yukon Gold this year…10 rows that were 22 feet each. IMG_1270

IMG_1123We also planted three rows of onion sets in close proximity to the potatoes as they are ‘good companions’. IMG_1128

All that rigorous planting prep was particularly hard on one of our faithful hoes. I think this might have been one from my dad which was well used by all but finally wore out. Good thing we had a spare so there were no excuses to finish the job!  IMG_1126

In the meantime, the barn project continued on with lots of entertainment for little Coulter who is fascinated by all the machinery. Concrete trucks rolled in and were on site for days since after the footings were poured, the foundation walls went in. IMG_1257

Here are the foundation forms being lifted by crane in front to be transported around to the project site in back. IMG_1293 (1)

Foundation forms in place. IMG_1415

Concrete was ferried from front to back in bobcats and poured this way to protect the existing driveway. IMG_1410

After the foundation was poured, the forms were removed revealing walls for the base of the barn. IMG_1419

Which was then filled with rock… IMG_1499

And subsequently prepped with wire mesh and re-bar…IMG_1509

Before the concrete slab was finally poured…IMG_1517

Et violà, a barn floor! IMG_1532

The backside of the barn has a lower level with steps that lead to the workroom and chicken coop as well as chicken run. Here you can see the steps are formed and ready for concrete and the plumbing for a sink, toilet and floor drains are roughed in. IMG_1529

One of the most exciting moments for me was the slab that the guys so kindly poured for our new bee hives which will be installed in the coming weeks. IMG_1524

In the meantime, the orchard trees have been blooming like crazy. Although the peach trees were challenged by some very cold nights recently, Coulter doesn’t seem to mind! IMG_1276

I’m pleased to report to my cousins Peggy and Janice – who visited the day after our damaging wind storm last June – that all of the staked apple trees (which were on the ground at the time of their visit) are now vibrantly alive and blooming like crazy! IMG_1538

We have just planted the cool season vegetable seeds which include: Turnips, Crocodile spinach, broccoli, cabbage, Black Seeded Simpson lettuce, Bibb lettuce, peas x 2, radishes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, Salad Fresh spinach, Swiss chard, carrots x 2 and leeks.

Our biggest cheer leader is little Coulter who is about to turn one year old next week and can’t get enough of the outdoors. IMG_1399

IMG_1141

He celebrated St. Pat’s in style thanks to a Kathy B. who provided his dapper attire…IMG_1091

And his first Easter! IMG_1185

More to come as Seven Oaks Farm & Orchard gears up for prime time Spring!

 

 

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