Category Archives: DIY

The Green Barn

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It’s been a long time since an update, but we’ve gotten a lot of work and relaxing done since Christmas at the property. A lot of people have been asking about our power and water systems at the barn since finding out we are completely “off grid” at the property, so I thought I’d explain a bit about how we have done it.

We have always had power at the barn thru a very simple system of two 12 volt marine batteries, a solar panel to keep them charged, and a 10,000 watt power inverter to make standard 110v power. This has always worked great for us, although I did recently upgrade from a 1700 watt inverter. The upgrade was due to the fact that the 1700 watt inverter didn’t have enough power to allow us to use the electric skillet or coffee maker. These two marine batteries easily keep us in power for a 3 day weekend. The solar panel then recharges the batteries so they are ready when we return. I have also wired in lights using compact florescent bulbs which use very little electricity.

The next issue to overcome was the lack of running water. Although there is very clean stream on the property as well as springs, etc; we really didn’t want to dig a well or have large expensive pumps (especially with our limited power source). So, after installing a septic tank, toilet, sink and shower I moved on to a system to capture rainwater from the roof of the barn. I used two rain barrells and black corrugated pipe to capture the rain from the gutters. I cut holes in the top of the barrells to allow the overflow to run off into the drainage pipes and be carried away from the barn. See some pictures here… A simple 12 volt water pump designed for a camper was installed to pump the water from the barrells into the fixtures. The best part is a small propane powered hot water heater that comes on instantly when you turn on the hot water at the sink or in the shower and heats the water to very high temperatures nearly instantly. This was also an expensive system designed for RV’s and mobile hot water uses. It connects to a standard 20lb propane tank and will lasts for many months as little as we use it.

The next trip is this coming weekend. It’s bee a great 4 day weekend for us with friends and family as we grill out and enjoy what we have worked so hard to build. I am definintly prepared to start sitting back and enjoying as opposed to working the whole we visit as in the past. Although, I’ll always enjoy a simple project every now and then. Besides, I still have a bench swing and a chair swing to hang somewhere.

We have walls.

This was a big weekend for the barn. We went to camp on the property, visit with family, and yes… To check barn status. We now have fresh concrete block walls. The footers went in and the block crew finished a few days later. We have a renewed level of excitement now that we can actually see some serious progress. Also, the driveway to the barn is finally in good enough shape that any 2 wheel drive vehicle can make it all the way to the barn.

Next week: Floor joists, the upstairs floor and walls and quickly to follow will be the roof trusses. It should go fast from here on out. We will return in three weeks to see what we hope will be a complete shell of a barn.

We still need to hire someone to mow/bush hog the property. The property will quickly get out of control if we don’t keep up with this aspect. I can’t wait to have a tractor and my own bush hog as well as the time to do it myself, but for now we have to find someone to hire. Can’t wait to show more pictures of progress in three weeks.  See the ones from this week here.

The First Dig

ugm_10_images_600x450-img00075Now that winter is over activity at the farm has picked up. I had planned on having the basement area dug out for our barn by a professional. However, I happen to know a professional, and it didn’t take much more than a casual mention that I could rent a trackhoe and do this myself to have my interest piqued. I could play with a trackhoe, get the job done and a whole lot more AND save money!

Next thing you know, I’m taking a week off to dig this hole in the ground and having an absolute blast. With professional help (thanks Ken), I was able to complete the dig, clean out brush, trees, move large rocks, dig out some deep areas in the creek, and generally tear up anything in my path. More pictures from the clean up and changes to the area coming soon.

Kimberly joined me on Thursday night and we camped for the weekend. It actually got down below freezing those nights, but we were warm and cozy in the tent with a propane heater while watching a movie. Many family members came to visit, play on the trackhoe and drive the four wheeler. I busted the tire on the four wheeler, but luckily it was the last day.  It has been replaced and is ready for more action now.

We are hoping to complete the barn by the end of June. I’m thinking barn-raising while pig roasting…. Anyone?