When we bought the farm, the guest room was painted white and was in need of a fresh coat of paint. Its redo was inspired by my love for the beach. I painted the walls and the trim a bright white and the accent wall was painted “Blue Marina.” We added a new wall sconce to replace the older one and matched it to the one we installed in the master bedroom. The decor all reflects the beach theme and is reminiscent of a vacation cottage on the beach. Here in Ohio, hundreds of miles from the nearest beach, it gives the room a serene vacation vibe. This is truly my favorite room of the house!
When we removed the old wallpaper from the dining room, we discovered there was wood paneling underneath. Instead of removing that as well, we decided to paint over the paneling. We chose an orange color called Colorado Dawn. We also installed a new french door between the dining room and the new library, which was a room that used to be the front porch before it was enclosed. The tired old chandelier was hanging by its wires, so we replaced it with an oil rubbed bronze light fixture with off-white glass shades. We decided to keep the dark woodwork as it was in this room to help give the room a cozier feel for intimate dining. The decor is Tuscan style with earth tones and has several roosters.
The walls in the master bedroom had been covered in a floral patterned wallpaper that was just a bit dated and torn in a few spots. We spent several days steaming and scraping the walls to reveal the probable reason the former owners decided to paper the room in the first place. Under the wallpaper were several large well spackled cracks in the plastered walls and several others that the had probably formed since the paper had been hung. We then spent another couple of days spackling and sanding to prepare for the new paint. We chose Glidden Duo Paint and Primer from Home Depot in Cafe’ Latte (lighter color) and Aged Teak (darker color).
Right away we installed Insola white honeycomb cordless window shades from Bed Bath & Beyond. I knew that eventually I wanted to incorporate some animal prints in the decor and set my sights on either the window dressing or the bed for my pallet. I found a beautiful leopard print window scarf on Amazon. Then began my search for window panels to go with it. I thought that I would go with brown curtains as a complimentary color but at the last minute chose to go with black panels instead. The leopard print has both black and blown tones, but as I saw it, the benefit of going with black panels was the ability to change from leopard print to zebra stripe to tiger stripe to giraffe print, etc. As you can tell, I love all of the animal prints.
For the bed I went with white sheets and a white quilt and brown accent pillows and a brown quilt for the foot of the bed. I think the look is very cohesive and gives it an upscale hotel vibe. In keeping with the animal print theme, we have a few safari animals scattered about the room. See if you can spot them.
We also installed a new ceiling fan and wall sconce as well.
There is a room upstairs that is approximately 5’x7′. It used to be an open air balcony that the previous owner had enclosed. The room is too small for a bedroom and has too many windows to make it a closet. It is a small space with a lot of natural light, just perfect for a small home office.
The floor was a flat roofing material that was very flexible, so first we needed to lay some plywood to give the floor rigidity. Next we gave the walls and trim a fresh coat of paint. As you can see from the pictures, the walls are covered with the same aluminum siding that is on the rest of the outside of the house. When the painting was finished, we installed peel and stick tiles for the floor and a baseboard around the perimeter. Then we added a new overhead lamp since there was no lighting in this room, and we installed white window blinds to help control the morning and afternoon sun. Finally we finished off the room with a small desk painted a crisp white, a bookshelf also painted a crisp white, and an accent chair that can be pulled over to the desk for use.
This summer will be our third summer here at the farm. It will also be our third summer with a kitchen/vegetable garden. Though we are not experts by any means, there are a few things that we have learned each year and try to remember the following year. Here is a list of tips and suggestions when starting out with your own vegetable garden.
Tip 1: Location, location, location! Vegetables need a lot of sun. Make sure your location is in a sunny spot with as little shade as possible. Your yields will go down if the vegetables do not get adequate hours of sunlight per day. An exception may be lettuce and other heat intolerant plants that have problems in the high heat of summer. They may benefit from a little midday shading as long as they get some hours of early or late day sun.
Also, keep your vegetable garden as close to the house as possible. We have moved our garden around every year. The first year we insanely placed our first garden about 150 yards from the house. Why, you might ask. Well, with the placement of our poultry and other animals and the rental of our fields to a local farmer, that was the most logical place to put it as newbies. Wrong! The distance made it impossible to water adequately, protect it from deer, and in general tend it properly. We did get several harvests of half-runner beans; a couple of tomatoes, cabbage, and pumpkins; and several watermelon and cantaloupe.
Our second garden was moved to a location the was about 50-75 yards from the house. This made watering easier, however we had to still walk 50-75 yards and open 2 heavy farm gates to tend it. Though it was tended more, it was still to far to be convenient. We had a bumper crop of zucchini, cayenne pepper, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, snow peas, and snap peas.
This year we have moved our garden into our yard. It is only about 50 ft from our door. Up until this year we were unable to have it in the yard because of our border collie who loved to eat all kinds of vegetables, especially melons and cabbage. Joey passed away last fall due to old age, and Charlie the little Havanese does not bother the vegetable garden at all. He is not a digger and doesn’t eat his veggies.
Tip 2: Size matters! Make sure that when you are first starting out, that you don’t bite of more than you can chew. Our second year garden was massive! We planted it with canning and sharing in mind. Well, I quickly discovered that I didn’t like canning and that it does take finesse to do it well. After several batches of mushy pickles and a few batches of green beans, my canning days quickly came to an end. My husband trekked nearly a ton of produce to work with him throughout the growing season and quickly became the man in demand for fresh produce. The shear size of our massive garden was terribly time consuming for him and he did little else but work and tend that garden. While giving the produce away was rewarding, we ended up giving away 90% and keeping 10% for ourselves. Given the exhausting time investment for my husband, it was just a bit disproportionate.
This year we have put in a much smaller garden. We rented a sod cutter and removed the sod from (3) 36 ft by 3 ft plots. Here we have planted kitchen herbs and our favorites from the garden. I tried to restrain myself when planting and stagger planting times so that we do not have a crazy abundance of produce coming off at one time. There should still be enough to share but hopefully at a manageable level. Our favorites that made it into our garden this year are snow peas, snap peas, red cherry tomatoes, sun sweet orange cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, better boy tomatoes, 45 day small cabbage, 75 day regular cabbage, zucchini, red onions, sweet yellow onions, garlic, sweet bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, and purple), jalapeno peppers, hot banana peppers, strawberries, basil, and other assorted kitchen herbs.
Tip 3: Plant what you like! If you are going to spend many back breaking hours in your vegetable garden, make sure its rewarding by tending the plants that you like to eat. This does not mean that you can’t try new things, but limit your experimentation to a couple of new things per year. You will only have so much garden real estate to go around. Its best to give the things you love the most and best space available. New in our garden this year are 2 spaghetti squash plants and about 16 leek seedlings. If either one stand out a new favorite, they will get more real estate next year.
Tip 4: Do your homework! Other gardeners and the internet are a great source of information about growth habits, planting guidelines, and recipes for your new garden. You can quickly Google the answers to questions like: how deep should you plant onion sets? How much space do zucchini need? What are some delicious recipes for Roma tomatoes? How do you cook with fresh herbs? Remember, everybody has an opinion so check out a few sites before taking it to the bank.
Tip 5: Tomato cages and trellises: It is best to plan ahead by buying and placing your trellises and tomato cages while the plants are still young. You will want them to have their support in place at the moment they need it instead of having to pick up weakened stalks from the ground and coaxing them to grow upright again.
The Corkscrew Willow is a fast growing ornamental tree that has beautiful twisting branches. The branches can be cut and used to decorate in the same way a pussy willow’s branches are used. They grow up to 30 ft tall.
Corkscrew willows are not picky about soil type but like all willows, they prefer a lot of water. The roots will invade sewer and water lines if planted too close, so be careful about planting location. They grow well in zones 5 through 9.
Our corkscrew willow was purchased in the fall of 2014, and we ended up planting it in a temporary location. It will be moved soon to its permanent location. (Picture will be updated.) Trees that are moved need a little extra water to make sure they survive the shock.
There are basically 2 times per year that the large box stores such as Lowes and Home Depot sell fruit, shade, and ornamental trees; spring and fall. In October 2013, we purchased a pretty little flowering snow fountain weeping cherry tree. It has white blossoms and is doing even better than the pink flowering cherry that we bought before it.
We decided to purchase a locally grown live Norway Spruce to decorate our mudroom this Christmas. It is about 4 to 4.5 ft tall. After Christmas we planted it in the front yard. It was very cute and welcomed our guests to the farm for the holidays.
Next year we might try a blue spruce or maybe a white pine. We also plan to try a cut tree for our main tree in the living room. The bigger and prettier that artificial trees get, the harder they are to put together. This year we used a tree that we have had for a while but were never able to fit it in our old living room. It took me two days just to assemble it not to mention a day or two to decorate.
As a side note… The after Christmas clearance sales on Christmas merchandise is a great place to stock up on all Christmas supplies for the next year, especially the expensive LED light strands. This year we found 25 count C7 LED light strands for $1.45 per box and miniature 65 count LED light strands for $1.98 per box.
This was the first Christmas that we were able to celebrate at the farm. Last year we had just closed on the property and were busy painting and making ready for our move right after Christmas. Many wonderful people blessed our home with their presence on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and for a late holiday party. We hope that this is just the beginning of many wonderful holiday gatherings of friends and family to the old farm.
A few weeks ago we experienced below normal subzero temps here in Ohio. We moved the geese and the duck to a straw filled stall in the barn. They complained regularly about their temporary lodging, but sometimes they must do what they don’t want to do for their own sake.
On the windiest and coldest days the mule was also kept begrudgingly locked in the barn. And the chickens were happily stowed away in their coop.
As far as keeping everyone’s water free flowing, heated buckets and water bowls from Rural King and Tractor Supply Company proved very effective at -10 degrees. See our previous post “Tip: How to Keep Water Thawed in Winter” for more information.