Not too much off the (tree) top

Once upon a time, more than a year ago, the hydro company came through and marked a bunch of trees for trimming.

Trees marked by hydro for trimming

It had been a few months since the ice storm, and we had seen how hazardous the trees could be to our wires. Despite my desire to preserve our power, I admit preserving our trees was more important to me. The hydro company was willing to send someone to meet with me, so of course I took them up on that. We did a walkabout talking about what trees to keep and how much to cut.

My biggest concern was the pines along the road at the front of the property.

Pine trees along the side of the road

The suggestion was to “top” them–cutting off their tops. I was not in favour. I was equally opposed to option 2: cutting the branches off one side. I am willing to take the risk, cross my fingers and bank on the trees being far enough from the wires.

Hydro guy seemed willing to listen to me and adjust his plans. But I couldn’t be sure. The proof would be in the actual trimming.

Except the trimming didn’t happen. The orange Hs stayed on the trees, and the trees kept growing all through last year.

Hydro finally came through to do the cutting a few weeks ago.

Trees trimmed by the hydro company

The good news is the pines–and most of our other trees–stayed. Some lost a fair number of branches, but they still resemble trees.

Pine trees along the side of the road

The bad news is there’s a lot of brush lying around.

Brush left behind after hydro tree trimming

When I met with hydro guy, he said brush would be chipped on-site. Some was chipped, but a lot is still there.

Wood chips

The bigger logs we’ll pick up and use for firewood. But we’re going to have to do a bit of unexpected clean-up. Not ideal.

Brush left behind after hydro tree trimming

At the back of the property we have a hydro line that runs through the marsh about 20 feet back from the road. Hydro did a lot of cutting back there. We’re not going to bother cleaning up the wood and brush, but I would like to repair the wire fence, which hydro crushed.

So on the not so good side, we have some clean-up to do.

On the good side, we kept most of our trees. We have a bunch of new firewood. And we have less chance of losing power in the future.

One Room Challenge Week 3 – Master bedroom headboard

Today marks the halfway point of the One Room Challenge. How are we here already?

One Room Challenge

This challenge seems to be flying past. Here’s where the master bedroom has come so far:

This past Sunday was my deadline to finish the headboard. It’s not quite done–yes, I’ve already missed a deadline–but I finally made a decision, so I can show you the direction I’m going.

Headboard templates

The headboard was the spot where I didn’t have a clear vision. Should it be painted white like the dresser? Wood like the nightstands? Upholstered?

Brown paper wasn’t even close to the list… and it will not be the final product.

The paper is my mock-up and my template.

I decided to go with… drumroll… wood.

When I took a look at my master bedroom Pinterest board, I saw some common themes in headboards: one was a camel back shape and one was a more fanciful carved shape.

I decided to give the carved shape a try. I kept it simple, using a piece of plywood that I had left over from the growth charts I made for our littlest nephews. I think the unique shape of the edge will make up for the completely flat face.

Cutting out the headboard

After I traced my template, it was easy to cut out the headboard with my jigsaw. I still need to add some legs so that I can attach the headboard to the bedframe, and then I’ll use iron-on edging to hide the layers of the plywood. Finally, I’ll stain the headboard to match the pine nightstands.

So there’s a little bit of progress, but a little more work to do yet.

Here’s where we’re at on the overall makeover:

  • Buy a new bed – Done
  • Remove popcorn ceiling – Done
  • Patch ceiling and walls – Done
  • Paint ceiling, trim, doors and walls – Done
  • Make/find window treatments – Done
  • Build hookboards for behind the door – Done
  • Paint dresser and replace hardware – Done April 6
  • DIY a headboard – By April 12 19
  • Refresh dinged up closet doors – By April 19
  • Relocate light switch – The electrician is booked to come April 22
  • Replace light fixture – I’ll get the electrician to do this while he’s here
  • Come up with a jewelry storage solution – By April 26
  • Sew a bedskirt – By May 3
  • Decorate and personalize – Ordered prints April 6. Fingers crossed they get here in time.

Thanks as always for following along. Visit Calling it Home to check out the progress of all of the other One Room Challenge participants.

Scorched earth

Hello everyone. Happy Monday. I hope you all had a great weekend. I feel like I need another weekend to recover from my weekend. It was super productive, so I am wiped.

You’ll see Saturday’s project in my One Room Challenge post later this week. Today, I have to talk about Sunday’s project. Sunday turned out to be a good garden day.

In my last garden update, I mentioned my plan to use the longe ring. I also mentioned my dilemma of how to clear it of weeds.

Longe ring


By Sunday, I had a bit of a plan of how to start. I also had a sidekick: my oldest nephew.

He loves being at the farm, and he and I work really well together. We also share another unique trait, which I’ll talk about in a minute.

Step one was to cut a new opening in the fence. There’s a gate, but it’s on the wrong side of the ring. Nick selected what he thought would be the best location for the new gate. I ran the saw, he used the drill and then the hammer to knock off the boards (yes, they were both nailed and screwed to the posts).

Voilà, access.

Opening for new garden gate

Then came the slightly dicey part of my plan–and the opportunity to exercise Nick’s and my shared trait: pyromania.

We piled some of the cardboard that’s been amassing in the driveshed in the middle of the ring. And then we lit it on fire.

Burning weeds

After a bit of a slow start, things started to take off. And then they really took off. It wasn’t that bad though. I only hurled myself over the fence once to get away from the flames. And poor Baxter nearly strangled only once when he got tangled in the hose.

We quickly got everything under control. Nick ran the hose while I directed the fire with a rake.

Burning weeds

When the smoke cleared, I still had a nephew, I still had a dog and I still had a fence around the ring.

But I didn’t have any weeds left. Yay!

Burning weeds in the future garden

Nick and I had been really careful to keep the fire inside the ring, so I spent another few hours hacking at the weeds outside the ring with my trusty rake. My plan is to have Matt mow a single loop around the outside of the ring to try and keep the weeds on the field side of the fence, so I needed to clear a path for him.

Three quarters of the way around the ring I found something that’s going to be harder to get rid of than the weeds.

Anyone need some carpet?

Roll of carpet dumped in the field

Who says, “I’ve got a huge roll of carpet. Let’s carry it out to the field and leave it there?” How is this a reasonable disposal option?

The carpet is either frozen or rooted to the ground, and by the time I found it I had pretty much lost the ability to raise my arms above my shoulders. So removing it will be a project for a future weekend.

But for now, let’s look at the garden!

Garden after the weeds have been burned

You can actually see all of it for the first time. You can see the fence on the far side. You can tell it’s a ring.

Sure there’s still a long way to go, but some major progress has been made.

I’m pretty sure the roots of the weeds are still living, so tilling the soil is still going to be a challenge.

On my last post, Meghan suggested covering the ground with tarps for a few weeks to kill the weeds. I’ve read about this technique before, so now that the weeds are knocked down I think I might give it a try.

Once I regain the use of my arms, that is.

What did you do with your weekend? Have you ever done a controlled (or not-so-controlled) burn before? How about using a tarp to kill weeds? Any tips?

Watch out rabbits

Ralph is a top-notch barn cat, but she’s become a bit… soft.

This winter, as soon as HRH deemed the temperature too cold and the snow too deep, she retreated to the barn and refused to venture outside.

As a result of her hibernation, we had our first rabbits this spring. Two of them living behind the barn.

The snow is now mostly gone, so Ralph is outside again and the rabbits are also gone. She hasn’t gotten that soft.

But then last weekend the snow returned. It fell all night from Saturday into Easter Sunday.

HRH poked her head out of the barn.

Ralph peeking out of the barn

She looked to the left and the right.

Ralph peeking out of the barn

She paused for a moment to consider.

Ralph peeking out of the barn

And she retreated back into the barn.

Ralph peeking out of the barn

Oh, Ralphie. You’re such a tough barn cat.

At least the Easter bunny was safe.

One Room Challenge Week 2 – Master bedroom progress report

It’s the beginning of week 2 in the One Room Challenge. Time for your first progress report on the master bedroom.

One Room Challenge

This makeover has been going on for a long time–longer than just the ORC. If you want to get caught up, here are the previous posts:

I’ve learned that I need schedules and deadlines if I want to complete a project in any reasonable amount of time. That’s part of why I love the ORC.

I posted my to-do list last week, but not my schedule. So to hold myself accountable, I’m going to put timelines on everything.

It may look like I’ve accomplished a lot already. Just remember this makeover has been running since Christmas.

Here’s where we’re at:

  • Buy a new bed – Done
  • Remove popcorn ceiling – Done
  • Patch ceiling and walls – Done
  • Paint ceiling, trim, doors and walls – Done
  • Make/find window treatments – Done
  • Build hookboards for behind the door – Done
  • Paint dresser and replace hardware – Done April 6
  • DIY a headboard – By April 12
  • Refresh dinged up closet doors –By April 19
  • Relocate light switch – The electrician is booked to come April 22
  • Replace light fixture – I’ll get the electrician to do this while he’s here
  • Come up with a jewelry storage solution – By April 26
  • Sew a bedskirt – By May 3
  • Decorate and personalize – Ordered prints April 6. Fingers crossed they get here in time.

The main accomplishment in the past week is painting the dresser. I didn’t realize how badly scuffed and chipped the black paint was until I started to prep for painting. It’s amazing what your eyes miss when you look at something every day.

Black dresser before

I’m really liking how the white paint pops against the dark blue walls. The brass knobs and handles tie in with the hardware on our pine nightstands–and even better the new handles are the same dimensions as the old ones so I didn’t have to patch or drill any holes. That’s never happened for me before, and it felt like a major victory. (And yes, I know I’m missing two handles. They’re back ordered and are supposed to come in a week or two. Missing hardware seems to be a recurring theme of my ORC participation).

White dresser with brass hardware after

I think I’ve made some decisions about the headboard, so I’m crossing my fingers I can get that one done next weekend.

Thanks for following along.

And be sure to check out Calling it Home for all of the other ORC projects.

Not quite a spring mantel

Despite the snow flurries that fell thick enough to coat the ground this weekend, I’m pretty sure it’s spring. Easter was early this year, but not that early, right?

Snow on Easter Sunday

It seemed like it was time to update the mantel for spring. We still light the fire most nights, but the snowshoes on the mantel seemed to be a bit out of season.

For me, styling a mantel is like styling a bookshelf–challenging.

I replaced the snowshoes with some green glass bottles. I separated the pair of antlers and spread out the trio of spherical tealight holders. But I’m not sure it’s working for me.

Fireplace mantel decorated for spring

I’ve learned I really like the pop of black from the lantern–and the glow of the candle at night–but I’m wondering if maybe I should do without it for the spring.

The glass bottles seem a little small to me. And I think their watery blue-green tone says summer more than spring.

I’d love your input and advice on what you’d do. Here are your constraints:

  1. The stone needs to be the main feature of the fireplace. That means no covering it up with a huge painting or mirror, although something smaller might be acceptable.
  2. I want balance, but I don’t want symmetry. Matching topiaries at either end of the mantel with a perfectly centred hurricane are not me.
  3. Bigger is better when it comes to tchotchkes. The fireplace is 8 feet wide and 9 1/2 feet tall and close to 4 feet deep. It’s a monolith. From the mantel to the lowest point of the ceiling is 40 inches. The accessories need to be equally large scale so they don’t get lost.
  4. I’m cheap, so there’s no way I’m spending much money on decor, especially if it’s going to change seasonally.

This post from Kim at Tidbits and Twine has an easy formula for styling a mantel. I particularly like her layers of anchor, weight and filler. However, I’d have to put my anchor off centre. :)

Here are some of the things I’m thinking of:

  • Something living (or more likely, given my luck with plants, a decent replica of a living thing)
  • Large crocks or bottles (or urns or tarnished trophies?)
  • Candles or lanterns of some kind (maybe an oil lamp or a candelabra could be fun)
  • Some appropriately “farmy” accessories (wagon wheel hub, grindstone, antlers)
  • Something appropriately seasonal (is there something that says spring besides the obvious tulips and hyacinths?)
  • Art (even though I don’t want a central painting, a smaller scale painting or sculpture or mirror might be nice)

This picture speaks to me. Even though the fireplace is a completely different style from ours, are there some lessons I can apply?

Help me bring spring inside, even if it hasn’t arrived outside yet. What are your styling secrets for mantels? What accessories would you use?

Good Friday

On our first Good Friday at the farm, I cut a huge bouquet of forsythia off the bushes beside the driveshed. Every spring since then, I’ve marked the start of April with a forsythia check-in.

Forsythia on the first of April

Thanks to a few mild days in March, we’re in a better snow situation than we were last year. The blossom situation is still TBD. Last year we seemed to be dealing with frostbit forsythia. Hopefully we have blooms soon.

And I hope that you have a very happy Easter.

Forsythia through the years:

One Room Challenge – Master bedroom makeover

It’s One Room Challenge time again. This will be my second time participating in the Challenge, and things are a bit different this time around.

One Room Challenge

The room I’ve chosen to make over–our master bedroom–is already part of the way there. Yes, I took a head start. But those who have been around here for a little while know that I stalled. The One Room Challenge is my motivation to finally finish it.

For those that are new here, here’s where we started–our former guest room. Pretty, ain’t it?

Master bedroom before

Here’s the inspiration (from another ORC participant, no less):

Black, white and gold bedroom

Source: Chez V (found via Little Black Door)

And here’s where we are today:

Master bedroom mid-makeover

Without a deadline, I’m finding it very easy to dilly-dally my way through this makeover. So the plan is to draw up a schedule and feed off the enthusiasm of other ORC participants and get this room done.

Here’s the plan (I’m reusing some of the text from previous posts so that those of you who are new can follow along):

  • Buy a queen size bed – Done, except we decided to really upgrade and went for a king size.
  • Remove popcorn ceilingScraping the ceiling was not the funnest way to spend a day, but this job is done.
  • Patch ceiling and walls – Also known as, “how I spent my Christmas vacation” (yes, Christmas. I told you this makeover has been going on too long). Patching took such a long time. Done, thank goodness.
  • Paint ceiling, trim, doors and walls – I had such a hard time picking a colour, but this one is done. Chez V’s makeover made me decide to go dark and dramatic with Hale Navy.
  • Make/find window treatments – This was the when the makeover stalled. I discovered I do not like making curtains. So boring. But I’m finally done.
  • Build some hookboards for behind the door – Extra hanging space is always a good idea.
  • DIY a headboard – No idea what I’m going to do here. White? Wood? Upholstered?
  • Relocate light switch – Oddly, the light switch is behind the door. It’s perfectly positioned if you used the mirrored pocket door from the other bedroom to enter the master. Weird.
  • Replace light fixture – I have a hand-me-down brass and crystal chandelier just waiting for a home.
  • Paint dresser and replace hardware – We have a beat up black dresser that we bought at a garage sale. I think it can be freshened up with some nice white paint and brass hardware.
  • Sew a bedskirt – I have some material left over from the curtains. A bed skirt can’t be as tedious as the curtains, can it?
  • Refresh dinged up closet doors – It appears our closet doors spent their past life as bulletin boards, except with tape rather than pushpins.
  • Come up with a jewelry storage solution – Notice I didn’t say a new solution. I’ve had no solution, and tangles of necklaces are getting really old.
  • Decorate and personalize – It will be nice to finally personalize a bedroom. Although the giant pink ape you saw above probably isn’t the personalization I’m looking for.

And finish it all by May 7 in time for the ORC finale. Stay tuned. And be sure to check out Calling it Home for all of the fabulous makeovers–or this week the plans for fabulous makeovers.

Put a ring on it

Thanks so much to everyone who gave their advice on my vegetable garden post the other week. Everyone’s input was really helpful. Also helpful? Being home for a week. It allowed me to spend some time outside and develop my plans.

It also allowed me to change my plans.

The location I’d planned to put the garden just isn’t going to work. See that big wooden thing in the background? Our beautiful barn?

In the shade of the barn

Obviously there’s a large tree too, but the barn is the bigger problem–literally. Because of the barn’s size, it casts a prodigious shadow. Too much of a shadow for a veggie garden, I’m afraid.

So new plan: Matt’s goat ring (aka the longe ring), gets to stay. It’s sunshiney pretty much all day. I’ll build the garden inside the ring.

Longe ring

Bonus: the fence is already in place. I don’t have to drill holes, set posts, or hammer boards.

Quandry: I have to break up the really thick sod somehow. This ring has been growing weeds for years. My father-in-law and mother both think I need to call our farmer for help. I’ve seen his tractors, though, and I’m concerned there’s nothing that will fit inside the ring. Remember, preserving the fence is a key bonus of using this spot.


Quandry 2: I’m not quite sure how to arrange a garden that is shaped like a ring. I usually think in terms of grids and boxes and rows. Arcs and pie wedges are hard to work out in my mind. Here’s a preliminary idea.

Plan for a round vegetable garden

I feel like I need to get the ring cleared of grass and weeds so that I can see what I’m working with. It’s 56 feet across. That’s an area of roughly 2,462 square feet. Too big to wrap my head around. I’m not even sure I can fit it on a piece of paper at a scale of 1 foot=1/2 an inch.

Once I get it cleared, staking out the planting beds will be the first step. I have a suspicion that I’m going to have to cut some of the quadrants into slices. But first I need to understand how much space I actually have, what size beds will work and how much I’m going to be able to plant.

I’d still appreciate your advice, though. Any tips for working in the round? How much space do you think I need between beds? What would you plant? How would you lay things out?