Basement Window Well Cover Greenhouse

We built our house with a full daylight basement that includes a mother-in-law apartment. This means that all rooms, except the bath and laundry room, have large egress windows. They allow enough light into all rooms, so the basement is nearly as bright as the main floor. There is a large window well around the outside of each of these windows.
 In years past, my husband made frames for the south-facing windows. These frames were covered with builder’s plastic and functioned as mini-greenhouses when we started our garden plants. On sunny days, we could open them to warm the living room and bedroom. If the temperatures were going to plummet, we could easily pull the plants back into the house, so they would not freeze. There are two drawbacks to this method. It is not possible to see outside through the plastic. The plastic only lasts a couple of years.
My recent Internet search for more permanent window well covers was rewarded. Window well covers made of Plexiglas can be custom-made for any window well. Some of these covers come with the well surround attached. I suppose they do not come cheap but neither does a greenhouse and these are multipurpose. Having the wells covered will keep the house warmer in winter. I will no longer have use a step stool to get down into the well to rescue the small animals that sometimes fall in. I do not know if they will make the house hotter in the summer, and that is something to consider.

Grow and Harvest Your Own Arthritis Remedies

There are a couple of easy to grow plants that are reputed to relieve arthritis pain. I’m up for that! The first, rose hips, can be found in most people’s yards. Hips are the fruits that follow the rose flower and contain seeds for future bushes. If you didn’t go crazy with the pruning shears, you should have some about ready to harvest. Heirloom roses are the best if growing rose hips is the goal. The studies I’ve seen on line used powdered rose hips to treat arthritis. I don’t know if I’ll break out the dehydrator or just enjoy a cup of rose hip tea each day. The tea sounds nicer.
The second plant can be made into an oil to rub on aching joints. Comfrey can be grown just about anywhere, I think. I had the same success with it in north Florida that I have in northern Michigan. It grows rampantly. Take a quart jar out and fill it up with leaves. Dig up some of the root, too. Chop the leaves and the root (after washing, of course) and return it to the jar. Fill the jar with cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil. Set in a dark place, like a cupboard, for one to three months. Strain and rebottle in some nice or official-looking dark glass bottle. Sunlight degrades the potency. If you discover that you have more than enough for your own use, bottle the excess to give as gifts to friends with aching joints.

My Newfangled, Sturdy Chicken Tractor

We’ve had our share of chicken tractors through the years. We started with the Salatin low-to-the-ground style. The birds really didn’t get a fair shake in them. Then we designed a multi-purpose, knock-down range shelter. The sides are panels made of hardware cloth that hook together. The roof is lightweight and easy to remove. This is a great day range house for meat birds, but not easily moved on a daily basis. When I saw this … Continue reading

Planting Garlic Behind the Chicken Tractor

The laying hens have been moved back and forth all summer over this bed. The three hens succeeded in removing all the vegetation, making my job easy. The bed is wide enough to have a narrow footpath down the middle. I loosened the front part of the bed with a turning fork and raked it smooth. My husband made the garlic dibble that is lying on the bed. This handy tool is one of my favorites It is easy to push into the soil and makes 12 holes that have the correct depth and spacing. I still have to crawl around to stick the cloves in the holes and cover them with soil, but the dibble eliminated a lot of work.
Early next week Chet’s Red Italian garlic will be planted in this spot. This bed will hold enough to provide all our garlic for cooking, and seed for the next season’s crop. It is a soft neck variety that does well in Northern Michigan and is so easy to braid.

Farming Without Pain

I’m a 50+ year old woman who is not particularly strong and vertically challenged to boot. Arthritis and lower back pain are becoming chronic. Please join me as I look for ways to reduce the hard physical labor on this small farm, so I can continue farming into my 80s.
There are products on the market today that either reduce the work or are ergonomically designed to prevent strain. All manual labor can’t be eliminated. Using these innovative products can, at least, prevent the painful aftermath. What are these products and where can they be found?
Of particular interest, to me, are small scale agricultural systems that reduce heavy work. Chicken tractors and pigs for tilling benefit the animal’s natural inclinations to scratch and root. Their actions till and fertilize the soil, making less work for the farmer. Sheep grazing in the yard feeds them and eliminates  having to mow. Companion planting to enhance plants growth and protect against disease/bugs saves having to find an organic pesticide. Season extension in the garden gives fresh produce over a longer period and eliminates unnecessary canning and freezing.
Please share any experiences you’ve had. What worked well or didn’t? How would you do it differently?