This summer, my best friend April Wilkerson made two trips out to Seattle to help me build a Tiny House for my mom. Building a tiny house has been on my bucket list since we bought the farm, so it was SUPER AWESOME to finally get to tackle this project. During the process of this build, April taught me SO much about construction, and I must say, after all the remodeling I’ve been doing on the farm, it is SO MUCH more fun building fresh than trying to fix an old building. Everything happens so fast! As the tiny house sits currently, we have about 3 full weeks of work into it. It’s primed, roofed, dried in, drywall is up, windows, door and subfloor are in, it’s wired for electricity, buttttt the project is currently stalled as I’m waiting on some Solar Panels and a special piece for the roof so I can install the tiny woodstove, dry out the interior, and finish mudding and painting the drywall. At 8x16, this is definitely a TINY house, but once it’s all outfitted, it will be a really cozy, totally liveable space. I can’t wait to bring you the next portions of the build, so stay tuned!
The Anne of All Trades Blog
This was a VERY long overdue project on the homestead, in which I tore down a wall separating our heavy use area in the barn and put in individual stalls and sliding doors for my miniature donkeys and Nigerian dwarf goats. I used all reclaimed lumber from a Parkour studio in Seattle which was torn down, and my neighbor donated the stall doors he was tearing out of his own barn to the cause. Between this project and the French Drain system I installed in front of the barn in October, the animals are far better set up going into winter this year than they ever have been before. With these upgrades, I’m hoping hoof rot, worms, and other minor illnesses resulting from staying damp all winter will be a thing of the past.
These farm projects are of an enormous scale. They are hugely demanding both physically and financially, but it is a major goal of mine to give my animals the best life I possibly can. They unselfishly give me so much unconditional love and affection, and bring so much joy to our lives, I feel it’s the very least I can do.
This summer, I was honored to be invited to teach at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. I taught a basic joinery class, in which we built a japanese style Tusk bookshelf. I had to build one to prepare for the class, so I decided to bring along a camera while I did. This is a great project to practice all kinds of woodworking joinery including hand cut dadoes, mortise and tenon, and, with a few simple design modifications, dovetails.
Learn how to make cheese at home with just TWO ingredients, milk and cheese! One of my favorite things about homesteading is having fresh milk every day, but that milk adds up QUICK, and cheese is a great way to use up that milk, get some delicious fresh cheese, and enjoy a great byproduct as well, whey.
This is my favorite recipe for cheese for Pizza, and to that end, I’ve included the recipe for my favorite pizza dough below as well. And, while we’re at it, my Pizza Oven video as well.
When I first started getting really into handtool woodwork, I realized if I learned basic blacksmithing, I could make my own handtools, so I set out to make all the tools I'd need to turn the trees I fell at the farm into heirloom quality furniture. I forged a drawknife, a carving axe, several carving knives, chisels, an adze, splitting wedges and made my own shavehorse. Check out those videos on my channel. Green woodworking, and riving green wood for furniture is an important skill to learn because it teaches a lot about wood grain, wood movement, and why wood "acts" the way it does. Becoming a blacksmith was just a means to an end for me, and another step towards sustainability and self-sufficiency on my homestead. I'm incredibly thankful for the instructors and facilities at Pratt Fine Arts Center for the opportunity to learn forging and metal work. If you're in the Seattle area, be sure to check them out- http://www.pratt.org
See the video below!
After 4 years keeping bees, I’ve finally been able to harvest some honey! This is really “part 1” of the Honey Harvest video, because I’ll be making another video next week showing how to extract and process the honey with a centrifuge. I’m hoping to keep more hives at the farm next year, and am excited to have found a local mentor who will coach me a bit more in the process of keeping bees.
As some of you may know, I’ve been keeping our chicken flock in a lean-to off my woodshop for the past three years. It was meant to be a temporary solution, but three years suddenly went by, and they were still in there. My shop always smelled like chickens and my roosters made for quite the soundtrack in all my woodshop videos. I’m very happy to say the birds have an awesome new space of their own, which means another super awesome thing: The lean-to off my shop can now be turned into a blacksmithing shop! Some awesome benefits of this new Growing Back To Eden style chicken coop are that it’s very low maintenance cleaning-wise, and that the chickens now have an important “job” on the farm: Stirring our compost pile. A single bird can move several yards of compost per day, and if you know anything about composting, you know how important it is to keep the pile turning. Enter: chickens, and a whole lot less time spent with a pitchfork in my hand. The compost also generates heat, which will help the chickens throughout the winter.
This is a fairly open coop design, and wouldn’t be ideal in a high predator population area, but thanks to our amazing flock watchdogs, the alpacas and donkeys, we haven’t lost a single bird to a predator in over two years.
Check out the build videos below!
This week, my friends Steve, Jeff and I made Roubo style frame saws intended for resawing and veneering timber by hand without a bandsaw. This is a great project to practice basic woodworking joinery and carving, and if your new year's resolution involves a gym membership, skip the gym and make some veneer with one of these beasts! You can get the frame saw kits we used to make these from Blackburn Tools: http://www.blackburntools.com/new-too...
The farm has gotten a major makeover, with a new roof on all the buildings, a new chicken coop, more work on the tiny house, and a huge excavation project putting French drains around the barn and in the livestock’s heavy use area. I’ve also been renovating another building on the property that will become a metal working shop for fabrication and blacksmithing. The barn interior also got a makeover in the form of new stalls for the animals, and they are SUPER happy with both the dry land in front of the barn (thank you french drains) and the clean, warm stalls inside the barn. All those projects have been EXTREMELY time, effort, and money consuming, and have really stretched me, but I’m thankful the work is done, and even more thankful for the friends that showed up to help with various projects and made them a whole lot more fun. I’ve learned these past few months that I can work physically harder, and fit way more into my days than I ever before thought possible.
As is always the case in the summer months, my furniture production schedule was basically non-existent, but I did manage to eek out a few things- some hand forged tools, a bookshelf, a Roubo style frame saw, and, in the after hours of a class at Greg Pennington’s shop in Tennessee, I was able to get the bones of a dining room chair together, which I finished up at home. Next on my workbench is finishing the modern rocker that I made in class that same week at Greg’s.
As some of you may know, my husband Adam was in a bicycle accident in August. He is healing up well, and with a bit more physical therapy, should be back to normal by Christmas. It’s great to have him feeling more himself again.
There is a WHOLE LOT of awesome stuff coming down the pipes over the next couple months: a woodshop tour now that the space is fully complete, a Christmas craft special, harvesting the rest of our 2018 honey, the completion of my fabrication shop and blacksmithing shops, completing my Modern Rocking Chair, the first in a series on my 1953 Chevy truck, and a whole lot more. Looking forward to sharing it all with you, stay tuned!!
If you haven’t already caught my last couple of videos, check them out below:
In June, I had the incredible opportunity to buy my dream farm truck, a 1953 Chevy 3100. My grandpa and I had always planned to restore an old truck together, but he passed away before we got the chance. When I graduated from University, I restored a 63 mustang in his honor, but I had to sell it while I was living in Asia.
This truck seemed too good to be true, and for a couple of months, it was. As it turns out, when I went to register the truck, there was a title issue which prevented me from transferring the title into my name. I’d done my due diligence, from as far as a lay-person could tell, everything was in order with my purchase, but when I went to register it, all kinds of red flags started going up. To make a very long story short, I’m now on a first name basis with everyone at our local and state DMVs and there have been endless visits to their offices, endless paperwork, and lots of phone calls. The whole situation has been very frustrating in and of itself, but most frustrating is the fact that I can’t start any of the major renovation projects on the truck until the title is clear. That said, it being an old truck, it does need a little fiddling here and there to keep it running in the meantime, and of course I’m happy to oblige.
Earlier this week, my little buddy, Chairman Meow, who’s been shop and farm cat extraordinaire for seven years, the cat who followed me like a dog, slept at the foot of my workbench in the shop, and ran to greet me when I pulled into the driveway, passed away suddenly. Chairman was my first pet stateside, a gift to Adam and I while we were engaged, and to say we were very attached is an understatement. He was a constant in our young marriage, he made the move to the farm with us like a champion, and he lived the best life a cat could live, and none of that made it easy to say goodbye to him.
A few minutes after I got the news about Chairman, however, I got the call that the truck was finally mine. I decided to name the truck the Chairman in my little buddy’s memory- a reminder that even on the hardest days there is a silver lining to look for.