Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Friday, December 25, 2015

DIY Ottoman #2

My living room is in a state of flux.  I'm slowly changing it's look and working towards replacing all of the furniture.  I still have the Chesterfield sofa in the barn that I'm planning to reupholster, but it's on the back burner for the time being.  I plan to work on that this winter.  You might be thinking, "It is winter."  But, hey, as I sit here typing, it is 77 degrees outside and my azaleas, roses, and irises are in full bloom.  No wonder I'm confused.

Anyway, daughter found this old table at an estate sale for me.  I was actually looking for a round one in this style, but I thought having an octagon would be interesting.

 It's sort of Louis XVI meets the 80's.

Once again, five inch foam.  Luckily, the table is short enough so that putting this big chunk of foam doesn't make it way too tall...just barely.

I cut the top to fit, allowing for a half inch seam all the way 'round.  By the way, I found this fabric at Hancock Fabrics and I loved it right away.  However, I didn't realize how much purple it had in it until I got it home.  Hmm.  Not loving how the purple in the fabric clashes with the red in the rug.  And, you know why this isn't working for me?  Because I don't love the rug.  Never loved the rug.  Even less so now.  I bought it because I was desperate for a new rug in the living room and this one was a decent price for the size I needed in the color family that I needed.  On-line, the red didn't look so red and I thought it would be neutral enough to work with the other ideas I had.  That's what happens when I ignore my own rule about decorating with things I love.  Why do I keep having to learn this lesson over and over?

So, anyway, I went back and forth on this...cut one strip to go all the way around the sides, or cut each of the eight sides individually and have seams at all corners.  I opted for the eight pieces so that the corners would be crisper instead of looking like a round cushion on top of an octagonal table.

More welting.  Man, am I ever glad that I found this tutorial on making bias tape for welting.  It saves a whole bunch of time and is so easy!

Self welt on the top of the cushion. contrasting welt on the underside to cover the rough edges.

Basically finished, except that I'm going to put four large buttons and very slightly tuft the top with them.  I've learned that the buttons I can buy at the fabric store are really not that great of an option for upholstery.  The fabric is too thick, it's hard to put the buttons together and they come apart too easily.  From now on, I'm either going to have buttons covered for me at an upholstery shop or find some better quality buttons that I can cover myself.

Now.  What to do about that red.  Ugh.  Does anyone know if I can paint a wool rug with fabric paint?

Ottoman DIY #1

Whew!  I've been busy, folks.  After chalk painting that old dresser, I got busy on this coffee-table-turned-ottoman for my daughter-in-law's birthday present.

I found this coffee table at the flea market.  Coincidentally, my son and daughter-in-law need a coffee table and I need a project.

It had this interesting pattern on the top that I thought might be fun to try to ceruse.

But, I couldn't find any liming wax locally.

And, daughter-in-law wanted a deep tufted upholstered top.

So, I stripped it down in preparation for painting it.  I stripped it before I discovered the chalk paint, then wished I hadn't gone to all the trouble of stripping when I could have just painted over the finish that was on it.

So, painted the bottom, shellacked the top.  Even though the top was destined for upholstery, I though it should have a finish on it.  Just in case...whatever.

I thought I could simply drill holes in the top and tuft the foam and fabric right onto the table top, but I realized that wasn't going to be possible.  There was no direct access to the actual top because of the  box-like structure and the drawer.  So, I tufted it on a piece of plywood first.

Then attached the plywood to the table top.

Then, uh-oh.  I didn't think ahead when I was ordering the five inch thick foam.  It made the coffee table ottoman way too tall!

Look at that!  Giant ottoman.

Solution.  New legs.  Little legs.  Painted and waxed.

Double welting hot glued to cover the rough edges.  Note the box construction of the table that prevented the tufting.

Welting finished.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dresser Redo

I have a couple of pieces of furniture that I needed to redo and while searching for various ways of refinishing, I came across a tutorial on using chalk paint.  Since we live near the flea market, which is a DIYer's paradise, I was well acquainted with antique furniture painted with chalk paint and I love the look.  But, I didn't have any idea about how it was done.  I imagined that it was the same ol' process of stripping and sanding like anything else.

When I read the tutorial, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that just about any surface can be painted with chalk paint without having to be stripped.  That was the deciding factor for me.  I found a local "stockist" for Annie Sloan chalk paint and went to buy my supplies, which included the chalk paint in Pure White, wax, and a wax brush applicator, right away.

Here's the first piece of furniture I wanted to get done.

I decided to set up in the house since I wasn't going to have to use stripping chemicals and I preferred to do this in the comfort of my home instead of out in the barn.  I laid plastic down to protect the rug.  Then I washed the whole dresser down with TSP (trisodium phosphate).  Boy, was it dirty!  

I'm not going to do a tutorial because there are plenty of those on Pinterest, but I do have one important tip.  The Annie Sloan website says that some pieces of furniture from the 1930-40's era have a finish that may bleed through the chalk paint and if this happens, to just paint it with a coat of shellac, let it dry (it takes just a few minutes), then paint over it and that should stop the bleed through.  Well, being me with my attitude of "it won't happen to me" and "hurry up and get to the final reveal", I ignored that warning.  If you never listen to a word I say, at least listen to this...if you're going to paint a piece from that era, go ahead and paint on the shellac.  Just do it.

Here's a picture of the top with two coats of paint.  The original finish was still bleeding through.

So...thankfully, I had bought some shellac for another project I thought I might do.  I put a quick coat on over the paint.  When it dried, I put another coat of paint over it.  For the top, I did a light sanding and put yet another coat of paint just for good measure.

After painting, I applied two coats of the Annie Sloan wax and did a light buffing.

The wax gives it a nice glow.  I think if I used my electric buffer, I could have gotten it a little glossier.

I lined the drawers for a little pizazz. 

All done.  I finished this dresser in four days with lots of breaks in between.  If you have the uninterrupted time available, this could probably be done in one or two days.

This was a seriously easy project with instant gratification....right up  my alley.  I just might be chalk painting everything in sight.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Yard Birds

Only one of Broody Hen's chicks survived her last broody episode.  I took it from her when it was a couple of days old because she had killed two others.  I didn't want her to kill the last one.  It had hatched at about the same time the guineas hatched, so I took five guinea keets and the one chick and raised them together in the guinea coop.  The guineas have a way of disappearing one by one and I wanted to make sure that at least the unusually colored ones survived, so those are the ones I took.

After we got the chicken coop remodeled it was time for the chick, who thankfully turned out to be a hen instead of a rooster, to be integrated into the flock.  I put her in a cage and kept her in the coop for several days.  Integrating her in that way had two benefits:  (1)  Chickens are mean to each other, especially when there's a new chick in town.  Keeping her in a cage kept her safe from the bigger hens pecking her, but allowing them all time to get to know each other.  (2)  Keeping her in the coop for several days "coop trains" her so that she knows it is her home that she will come back to each night after free ranging all day.

The coop training worked, but the hens are still mean to her.  She's pretty much a loner, except when she hangs out with old Tubby, our original Rhode Island Red rooster.  He's nearly eight years old now and is showing his age.  He's still big and glossy, but not nearly as grand as he used to be.  He limps, doesn't have his beautiful arching tail feathers, and the ruff around his neck is looking a little more "rough" than "ruff".  So, he doesn't go as far afield as he used to.  He mostly stays close to the coop.

I call this chick Shaun, after Shaun the Sheep.  Why?  Because, either by injury or birth defect, her beak is wonky and reminds me of how Shaun the Sheep's mouth in the Shaun movies.
Double click the pic to see her wonky beak.  I'm surprised she can eat or drink, but I guess she's doing just fine.

And, for some reason, she is very personable.  When I go out to clean the coop, she runs to me, getting in my way, and even jumping up on the roost so she can be right in my face, like a parrot, as I clean the roost area.

Tubby in the foreground with his stubby tail towards the camera, and Shaun in the background.

As for the other yard birds, the guineas, I kept the young guineas in the guinea coop until they got most of their grown up feathers, then I opened the door to let them come and go as they please.  Since then, two have disappeared.  We have a predator that is picking them off, but we don't know what it is yet.  We've also lost three of the adults in the past month or two.  I suspect a coon that can get up in the tree at night while the guineas are sleeping and the dogs can't do anything about it if it's happening up in a tree.

This silver guinea is the one I really want to survive.  I want to see what she looks like all grown up.  We had one hatch last year, but it disappeared right away.  The only way I could think of this year to ensure its survival is to keep it penned up until it was big enough.  But, still, there is no guarantee.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Vardo, Part Five

Hey, after, what? nearly two years?  I've finally started up work again on the Gypsy Vardo.  Well, to be fair to myself, I had started sewing the curtains some time between then and now, but I hit a snag and, true to form, got discouraged and put it on the back burner.

I'm back in full force now.  I finished all of the curtains and installed them.  Now the sun is not beaming in like crazy and fading everything in sight.  Hanging curtains before the walls are done is really not the proper way to go about a redo, but it was something that I could accomplish (once I got past my snafu and solved the problem on how to hang the curtains) and I needed to see some progress so that I could feed off it and get going on another part.

I've started the kitchen backsplash.  The one thing that was holding me back on that was the indecision about putting up the backer board for the tile.  I thought I was going to have to take down the paneling and expose the studs, but I thought to consult builder Nephew and he said, "don't take it down".  Yay!  Just what I wanted to hear.  His suggestion was to pull off the wallpaper and use Liquid Nails to glue the backer board onto the wall.

I watched a tutorial on how to cut backer board (or hardy board).  On the simple straight cuts, I just scored it, then snapped it apart.  On the trickier cuts, I used a jigsaw.  I'm kind of afraid of power saws, but I bravely overcame it and got all my pieces cut out.  Nephew showed me how to glue the pieces to the wall and put a few screws to hold it in place while it dried.  I finished it up this morning and am now ready to work on my tile design.

Other posts on the trailer-to-vardo transformation are here

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Are Hyacinth Beans Edible?

Since I didn't have much growing in the garden this year, I put a few Hyacinth Bean seeds in the ground just to see how they'd do.  I grew the vine at our last house and I loved it because it was always so lush and beautiful.  But, since we've moved out here, I've tried to get it to grow on a trellis and the fence, but it hasn't done well.

It really took off in the garden plot and is producing beautiful, shiny, purple pods like crazy.  I've always wondered if they were edible, but was afraid to try them because I thought they might turn my mouth purple, or worse, kill me.

So, I did some searching on the internet and was assured that if you eat the fresh pods, they are perfectly harmless, although, eating the dried bean is a different story.  When the beans are mature and the pod dries up, the bean contains a toxin.  They can still be eaten, but they have to be cooked twice, changing the water in between cooking so that the toxin can be released, boiled, and poured away.

I finally got up the nerve to try them, and, ugh.  NOT GOOD!

They are this nice beautiful purple color when they start out.  I thought they'd look so pretty on the plate with my baked salmon and herbed rice.  But, when I steamed them, they lost their color and turned into an icky greenish-grey color.

I was determined to answer the question for myself of whether or not they were edible, so I went ahead and served them up.

The answer is, YES, they are edible...if you mean by "edible" that "they won't kill you".  Tom and I both ate them and suffered no ill effects.  But, aside from the creepy color, they did not taste good.  I was expecting the taste and texture of a snow pea pod (which is one of my favorite veggies), but it was nothing like that.  Only the smallest, flattest ones were tender.  The taste wasn't putrid, but it wasn't good.  The texture was the worst, although Tom didn't notice it.  But, I'm more of a food texture person than he is.  Anyway, they had a fuzzy texture.  Almost like a peach fuzz texture, except not in a good peachy way.

So, yeah, you can eat Hyacinth Beans....if you're starving.

More Flooding

Remember the flooding we had in the spring that washed away the pond spillway?  Remember the installation of the culverts that was supposed to prevent another such incident?  Well, so much for that.  This is our pond spillway now.

The water went through, around, and over the culverts, washing away the soil and the new grass that had sprouted.  Tom tried, futilely, to brace it up with sandbags.  Some of them were just tossed downstream like driftwood.

It started raining Friday morning and hasn't stopped.  It's now 10:30 Saturday morning and we've gotten about 16 inches of rain so far.  It's supposed to rain until Sunday morning.

Those two things that look like logs are the culverts that were covered with soil and new grass.  Since Tom took this video, the soil has eroded away all the way to the front of the culverts.  They're just useless pipes lying there now.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chicken Coop Remodel, or How Not to Build a Chicken Coop (2)

To read day one of the chicken coop remodel, go here.

The chickens were completely freaked out by the changes to their home.  The first night, many of them wouldn't even go in the coop.  They tried roosting in the mower shed and on top of the coop yard fence.  I had to catch them and put them in the coop for the night.

In the morning, the chickens are usually out of the coop and clamoring around the gate waiting to be let out.  But after the first night of the remodel, I went to open up the coop to get started on the walls and all of the chickens were just sitting on the roost, apparently afraid to jump down onto the new floor.  I finally coaxed and shooed them out the door.

On day two, we put the linoleum on the floor and put the ceiling up and started on the walls.  On day three, we finished all of the walls.  I didn't take pictures of any of that because, frankly, I was too exhausted to care about pictures.

On day four, Tom had to go out of town and I spent the day painting the walls and ceiling.

I bought some mis-tinted paint at a local surplus store, exterior latex.  The first coat was a very light lavender.  I covered that up with a second coat of white.  I left the corner support poles unpainted because they're old creosoted telephone poles.  I hung a couple of cup hooks on the wall to store some cleaning supplies. Little whisk broom for sweeping away cobwebs and such.  My hope is to do a little regular maintenance so that the filth doesn't build up to an unmanageable level like before.

It won't win any beauty contests, but I think this set up is going to make life a bit easier for us.  The neat freak in me wants to caulk every seam and corner, but chicken coops need plenty of ventilation, so I don't want to seal it all up and make it airtight.  We left a big space in the ceiling open so the air can circulate up through the rafters.  We're going to cover that space with half inch hardware cloth so that it's snake proof, but will still allow airflow.  Still to come...a new, easier to clean roost and sand on the floor instead of the hay that we've been using as litter.  (Do a google or Pinterest search on using sand.  There are a lot of positive things about it, so we're going to give it a try).

Chicken Coop Remodel, or How Not To Build a Chicken Coop

Remember when we first moved to the farm?  Oh, how bright-eyed and naive we were.  Remember the Chicken Palace?  Well, it's not so palace-y anymore.  We built our chicken coop before the days of Pinterest and endless pictures and tutorials about chickens and beautiful, functional coops.  And, we pretty much didn't know what we were doing.  These days, this is what our coop looks like on the inside.

Poop and filth in every nook and cranny.  This is so hard to clean.  At the time, it seemed like such a good idea to use the R-panel tin for the walls.  And, yes, it has served us well since 2009.  But, ugh, it is almost impossible to clean.

The tile floor that I originally laid (using the saltillo tile that we took out of the house) has held up well in the middle, but all around the edges, the smaller pieces of tile have been dislodged by gophers or moles digging tunnels underneath and the chickens scratching around for bugs and such.

I don't know if that's a rat nest of a bird nest, but I know that I don't want it there.  And spiders...eek, the spider webs are everywhere.

Snakes have such easy access that this one felt at home enough to take it's coat off and stay a while.  There are lots of crevices where they can hide and even if we can find them, sometimes we can't reach them to get them out.

Tom was usually the one to clean the coop, but it's such an onerous task that it wasn't done nearly enough.  Even so, he was reluctant to go along with my plan to remodel the coop.  I finally talked him into it and went to buy supplies.  My plan was to put in a proper floor that we could cover with linoleum and put in proper walls to seal off all the hidey holes.

Floor joists, first.

This was a hard project.  Not only did we have a sloping roof that we had to cut the plywood to fit at the proper angel, we had these corner poles that we had to fit the floor around.  It was a challenge. 

But, with Tom's mad trigonometry skills, we managed to get through it with few errors.

Although, the circles were the worst.  

Almost fits.

This one we cut far too big.  Tom filled in the gap with the pieces we cut off.

The fourth time's a charm. 

We finished the floor on the first day.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cream Separator

Well, I got scared of being out of butter some time in the future.  And, even though it is possible (maybe even preferable) to make butter without a cream separator, I decided to get one anyway.  I've read that it's not really worth the effort to separate goat milk with a cream separator, but I pretty much never listen to that kind of advice and I had to try it myself.

Not only did I buy a cream separator, but I bought a vintage cream separator.  And, not only did I buy a vintage cream separator, I bought a hand crank vintage cream separator.  Am I a glutton for punishment or what?

There were several to choose from, as the shop owner had bought someone's collection.  I had chosen a particular one because the crank worked smoothly as opposed to another one whose crank wouldn't turn.  But, Tom went with me to pick it up and asked to look at the "cones", which were rusted.  I thought, "big deal, who cares if the cones are rusted?" because I didn't know what the cones were for.  Quite frankly, I hadn't a clue how a cream separator worked.

Nobody told me that the innards of a cream separator look like this!  And, nobody told me that those cones are actually what separates the cream.  I thought they were just for weight to make the thingy spin. *color me pink*

Tom talked me into getting this Viking model, whose crank wouldn't turn, but the cones weren't rusted.  He assured me that he could fix the crank.  So we came home with the Viking, and indeed, he fixed the crank right up.  And I proceeded to clean all the little parts, all 21 of them.

So, for those as unfamiliar with a cream separator as I am, this is the part that all those cones fit onto and this is what spins when the crank is turned.

These are the cones.  They are keyed so that they fit on correctly.  We still don't know if they go on in a certain order, so I was very careful to put them back on in the order that they came off.  I guess I'll find out if this is right when I try to use it.

After I scrubbed all the years of crud off of the pieces, I fitted the cones back on the cone holder (I'm sure these have more technical names, but I don't have a clue).

All of them on.

Then the cover fits down over the cones.

This ring screws down over the top to hold it all together.

No, it does not emit bubbles.  My camera flash caused a reflection off the glass tiles.

Then the cone spinner thing fits down in the separator base.

All nestled in and ready to spin.

Then two trays with spouts fit on.  This is a magical machine and apparently, while cranking and spinning, cream comes out of one spout and the skimmed milk out the other.

The bowl sits on top of the spout things.

This gadget...

fits down in this hole in the center of the bowl/milk receptacle.

See how it has holes in it?  Those holes line up with the holes in the gadget.  To control the flow of milk going into the spinner, the gadget is turned so that milk flows through the holes.

This is Tinkerbell's bell (see, I told you it was magic).  It rings if you aren't cranking fast enough.  "Ring, ring, ring, crank faster, crank faster!"

Gadget in hole.

Assembled and awaiting milk and cranker.

I can't wait to try it.  But, I am not looking forward to cleaning it again and again.