11 June 2012

A Greenhouse of Recycled Windows

Over the last few years we’ve gotten pretty serious about growing our own food at Small Pond Arts, which led us to one of our epic spring projects: building a greenhouse out of recycled windows.

We have a number of outbuildings at Small Pond, the very worst of them we called – if you’ll pardon me - the Shit Shed, basically because it was really, really shitty. It was built out of chip board, and after many years of being exposed to the elements, the walls were falling off, the roof had large holes, and if you tried stepping on the floor, odds are you’d fall through. Despite all this, the framing of the structure seemed to be fairly solid, so we decided to give it a makeover.

The first step was stripping off the chipboard walls and pulling the roof off, which all took a surprisingly long time. I am just starting to learn that most of our projects take at least 50% longer than I think they will.

Milé poses with the stripped Shit Shed
When we lived in Toronto, I had a habit (problem?) of bringing home cool stuff that I'd find on the curbs on garbage day. I'd often find beautiful old windows that people were disposing of during renovations, and I'd haul these heavy, fragile things home, up two flights of stairs, and put them in a closet. I think Milé thought I was crazy. But I knew they would come in handy, I just knew it!

The windows all needed to be cleaned. Sanded. Painted. Both sides. Two coats. (See 50% note above.)

Milé and our friend Henry (left) made a new roof of corrugated metal. Our old gardening shed looked on from the background, sensing its imminent replacement...

We put in a new floor, as well as some temporary bracing to keep the whole thing square (or square-ish) while we were working on it. Then we painted the framing the colour of blue that looked just perfect standing out there in the sunshine. 

We worked our way around, fitting the windows together like a puzzle, and filling the gaps with plywood and caulking. We had an old door lying around, so we cut it to size and hung it with some new hardware.

And TA-DA! A greenhouse is born!

We hope that having this greenhouse will really help us extend our growing season, as well as giving future seedlings a good start with lots of warmth and sunshine. Yet as functional as our greenhouse is, we approached this building project as a work of art. We try to infuse beauty in all that we create here at the farm, and I do believe we've succeeded once again.

Big thanks to Henry, Christine, Elizabeth and Tom who all helped out at various stages of this project.

04 June 2012

A banner, a band, and a birthday

Today is my 40th birthday. A few days ago we had a party to celebrate. It was one of the best parties at Small Pond to date – and that is saying a lot.

The bash was a day-long affair. First off we raised our new banner on the silo.

“What does it mean?” people asked.

“It means ‘UP’,” I said.

The banner-raising went smoothly. A few days earlier Milé went out to Canadian Tire and bought himself a bow and arrow. He’d never shot one before, but within the space of a few hours he learned how to use it and shot the ropes over the silo.

The morning of the party we attached the banner to the ropes.  At the appointed time, all that was left to do was hoist the banner up and tie it down both inside and outside the silo.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I didn’t take a lot of progress shots while I was making it, but if you want to read about the creation of our first banner you can do so here.

My birthday gift to myself was hiring a band called Alberta Darling to play the party. 

I’d seen them a few months earlier in Toronto and knew right away that their bluegrass stylings would fit in perfectly with the Small Pond vibe. I love it when I’m right.

The band played and played and played and played. First in the silo, then in the barn, then in the silo, then by the campfire. People danced, tapped their toes, clapped to the beat, sang along.

That night there was a full moon. Groups of revelers split off for moonlit strolls to watch the fireflies blinking in the dark.

It was a magical day and night, and reminded me that the best thing about Small Pond Arts is when people are here to share it with us.

My deepest gratitude to everyone who made this birthday so special! I am one lucky girl.