During the initial blast of the COVID shutdowns, I focussed my time at home building a vegateable garden. With the help of "Old Red"— my grandfather's 1950s Ford 800—and my family, we built a 50'X30' garden with 8' fencing that is even dug 12" into the ground. Animals, this is Fort Knox.
My favorite part was just spending time with family creating something that we will build upon and use for years to come. It was the begining of our true urban farm as we live simply four minutes from the the nearest strip malls in North Spokane.
It became our own little "Depression Era" garden as we used old pallets to make our "raised" garden beds. After all Depression Era-ish times need Depression Era thinking.
Every garden needs water. Thus, Justus and I trenched in water with four separate zones on a timer. Since the birth of our garden, it is continually evolving to get it where it is destined to be.
Last year, I received a call from Jason, my brother-n-law, asking me if I wanted a pallet. Yes, I have been using pallets for my garden beds, but I didn't need any more. However, after seeing a picture of it, I was hooked. The creative neurons were firing.
After driving some 30 minutes to look at it and convince the owner of the shop to load it on his flat bed, we drove it to my house.
The 12'X9' pallet was heavily reinforced with layers of 2"X12" and 4"X6" crossing beams underneath. It was used to transport a $180K CNC machine. Just in lumber, there might have been $500.
Dawn wanted to have a she-shed for tea-time among other things, so the pallet was intentionally located next to the garden. Hard work should be rewarded with time to reflect and refuel. Living amongst nature is a blessing and a gift from God. I want Dawn to be able to sit, relax, and enjoy. So much care and love goes into a functioning garden; thus, I want Dawn to know that she is also cared for and loved by creating a little place for her to relish the sounds, sights, and smells that come from her efforts.
Over a year ago, we began to collecting old windows to make the new structure feel as though it has been here for 100 years. Our homestead is over a century old, so we don't seek a modern feel.
I made a post about looking for old windows last year. Right away, a past student of mine, Jake Gallion, the owner of Homes by Gallion, messaged me to offer some windows that he removed from a 100-plus-year-old home on the South Hill. When he showed up with the windows, I was in love with their vintage look.
I have already used two windows in the chicken coop I built. The rest are waiting patiently for Dawn's she-shed. The windows are solid wood with various sizes and numbers of panes.
Before using the windows, I made custom jams for each made from 1"X4" spruce, which is less expensive than fir and hemlock, yet serves the same purpose. On some of the windows, I added hinges to offer a cool, cross breeze during the warm days of summer.
Building A Renewed Life From Reclaimed Lumber
The dream is starting to find its reality. I have finally started framing the she-shed. It is not easy framing as I want to doing my best to meet Dawn's vision in her head and heart. After all, like my shop that I spent so much time dreaming up, drawing up, and building up, I understand the excitement behind having your own space to be creative.
The other tricky part is the lumber. Yes, it has become gold in the industry. "I should have" has come across my lips many times over the past two years. Being that the price of lumber since COVID began has come up double to triple (depending on what you are after), many of my jobs died before finding their birth.
Thus, reclaimed lumber has become more than a must for the pocketbook, it has become a passion to see how much I can get built without buying lumber from the stores. I have visited construction job sites of friends of mine to dig through their scrap piles--so much good still lives there. I have even gone to friends and helped them with demolition in efforts to bring home lumber that is still usable.
Like the windows, the lumber that friends bring me connects each of us to the finished project. My retired friend, Dave, that I taught with for years, called me up over a year ago and asked if I wanted about 20 - 2"X4" studs that were used on his old fence. I excitingly accepted. Dave even pulled all nails and delivered them. They were aged to perfection and even had some mosses growing on the edges that saw little sunlight. You can see these studs in the pictures and video as they are dark lumber.
Once Dawn and I finished moving the windows around in different patterns like we were Indiana Jones trying to figure out a puzzle before the walls closed in on our dreams, I began to build the southern wall that holds most of the windows, making the shed also a greenhouse.
I prefabbed the wall inside my shop and then used some of my Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor thinking to move it from the shop down to the garden. We might have used my truck, a strap, and three men (all over 50). Yes, this 12' wall was not light. The final 70 feet of transporting brought in the big guns: may wife and daughter. Within the next 20 minutes, the wall was up, nailed, and plumb. There was much excitement even though it was one wall.
She-Shed Part II
Being that I am out of lumber, I shifted my direction. Fortunately, I have a new friend in the area that owns his own back-yard mill and kiln. He is currently milling me 40 studs, so I can continue and not go to the stores. I am, however, still looking for donations. Why bring your scraps to the transfer station when I can reclaim and give them a new life and purpose?
Until the lumber arrives, I will continue fixing the jams of all windows that need some repairs or hinges added to open, and plan the truss layout and pitch. Stay tuned for Part II of the she-shed build.