Barnyard Fence Part 1

We have several projects we are scrambling to complete before winter hits. Now that the days have gotten noticeably shorter and chillier, we decided it was time to begin our fall project list.

The first thing we wanted to complete was the winter barnyard. Ryan demolished most of the old, pieced-together, wooden barnyard fence where our sheep and cows wintered last year.wp_20160220_09_04_28_pro

We have decided this space will house a future green house. Our winter barnyard will be constructed on the other side of our barn, with access to the barn doors in case we need to bring any animals inside during the winter.

wp_20160917_15_35_52_proThe first thing Ryan did was dig 8 foot posts into the ground for the gate, which we are reusing from the previous fence. He mixed some concrete and filled the deep holes with it, ensuring the posts will be stable and secure as they support the heavy gate.wp_20160917_16_30_13_pro

It was at this time I decided the kids should leave handprints in the wet concrete. We marked each handprint with its corresponding first initial.wp_20160917_16_34_53_pro I’ve learned not to rely on my memory and since several handprints are similar in size, I can almost guarantee I will forget which handprint belongs to which child had they not marked their first initial.  I also dated the cement so we will remember when the handprints were left. wp_20160917_16_48_29_proThe kids were excited to leave their handprints and will have fun comparing how their hands have grown through the years.

While we were waiting to pour the concrete, we noticed several small, dead trees inside the new barnyard area. They were tall enough that when they fall, they will be falling right on top of our new fence.  Redoing a project that has been recently completed is a big bummer.  To prevent this, Ryan cut down the trees and the wood was added to our growing wood pile. wp_20160917_15_58_48_pro

The fence will consist of woven wire fencing attached to T-posts, many of which are already in place as this area connected with the main pasture in the past.  The winter pen will be bordered by the hay shed, making throwing heavy bales of hay in the frigid air a little more convenient.

I’m very excited for the woven wire fence. We have had our animals in the electronet ever since the spring. The electronet is an amazing fence that makes rotational grazing easy and affordable. The electronet has kept our animals in and predators out. Electric fences aren’t very kid-friendly, though. We have to turn off the energizer and lift the kids over the fence whenever they want to see the sheep.wp_20160607_13_44_27_pro As a result, the kids haven’t spent much time with the sheep this summer. Having the animals inside the barnyard, with easy access gates, will allow them to go and visit the sheep much more often and with less help from Mom and Dad. This will be even more important when our ewes lamb, which we are expecting in February. Lambing is one of the most exciting events on our farm, and the kids visit and play with the new lambs several times each day.

Due to a number of factors, progress on the fence has been slow. I am hoping for nice weather this weekend so we can make headway on this project. The animals won’t need the winter barnyard for quite a while yet, since we still have plenty of grass out in the pasture. But whenever we can cross something off our list, especially a bigger project like this fence, we feel slightly less overwhelmed by what we still need to accomplish. 🙂



Kitchen Remodel: Chimney Wall

A few weeks ago we completed the chimney wall in our kitchen.  With the start of our homeschool year rapidly approaching, we carved out some time over a weekend to make and install farmhouse-style open shelving for the wall above the cabinets and countertop to house all my school books and some materials.wp_20160912_08_13_04_pro  These shelves are identical to the shelves we installed in our book nook, however I did not add the “book ends” on the sides since these shelves are mostly going to be used by me, so I do not need to worry about kids knocking things to the floor.

wp_20160912_08_13_39_proJust before our first day back in school, Ryan got the computers set up on the desk area that we made out of wall cabinets.  The wall cabinets are not as deep as base cabinets, but they still hold plenty of supplies like paint, paper and notebooks that I do not want displayed on the shelves.  We currently have two computers set up, but we will be adding a third computer on the other side of the chimney, so we can have three kids working on computers simultaneously, while the others are working at the island or dining room table.wp_20160912_08_27_44_pro

My idea of simply moving the island stools over to the desk area for computer time works really well, and there is still plenty of space for people to walk even while the computers are in use.  wp_20160912_08_19_12_pro  I am enjoying the extra storage these shelves, as well as the cabinets, are providing for our homeschool.  This wall was completely underutilized when we first moved in.  It had no purpose except to hide the furnace room.


My goal with this house is to find a use for every space.  No dead space will be allowed in my farmhouse.  We assume we need so much more house, closets and square footage than we really do.

chimney wall layout
The plan

With organization and creativity, along with storing unneeded curriculum in the garage, this homeschool area is a very efficient set-up.


What a difference this is compared to how we finished our school year last spring when we first moved in!  We were using plastic, three-drawer carts shoved into a corner which were hard for the kids to dig into and find their books.  Many times books would be thrown into a pile on the ground.  I’m not sure about you, but when I have things organized and in their place, everything just seems to run smoother and my mood is brighter.


We are three weeks into our school year, enjoying a bit more routine and structure, and I think it’s going to be a great year.