1999 - Spring Projects

The spring of 1999 found us anxious to get outside and get some long awaited projects completed. We had worked on the house most of the winter and it seemed like it was time for a few minor projects that would get us outdoors to enjoy the fresh spring air.

My first project was to clean up the shop, whew! What a mess! I have tried several times to clean the shop, but all the major building projects just returned it to its messy condition. In fact it got worse with each phase of the project. So I took nearly 5 weeks to clean the shop, install some new equipment, and get organized. There was no way a new kitchen could come out of the mess I had created. You can read all about this clean-up project and the new equipment on the shop page.

One of our spring projects was rebuilding this plow. This old single bottom horse drawn plow has followed us around for a number of years. We displayed this at our house in Spencer and now here in Mason City. All through this time it has not had handles, which left it looking incomplete. During a visit to the Iowa Living History Farms in Des Moines, IA we found a pair of handles at their general store. We were pleased to find the handles but they were stored in the shop for two years waiting for enough time to start repairs.

The first problem I faced was although we have seen a few of these plows with the handles, I had never looked that close on the mounting method and the bracing. One mounting bracket was obvious, it was a double sided metal strap with bolts still in place. The other mounting surface was on the backside of the plow blade itself. There were a couple bolts that passed through the blade and were long enough to attach the handle. Unfortunately none of the bolts could have the nuts removed so I had to remove them with a bolt cutter.

We did see a plow mounted on a rural mailbox near town so using the digital camera I took several pictures of it as a reference for mounting and bracing the handles. I had to fabric the steel cross pieces and although they are not completely accurate they do the job and will have to do. The plow is now back in the flower garden to enjoy the rest of its retirement. I don't plan to finish the oak handles, we thought they would look best if they weathered to match the rusty plow.

Another early spring project involved the construction of another flower garden. We have wanted to construct another perennial garden towards the West side of the property and decided to border this garden with stepping stones. We had purchased a set of round molds several years ago but the first try ended in failure when the stone cracked upon removal from the mold. I built a rectangular mold with concave ends to use between each round stone. We cast about 40 stones and have them installed around the new garden. We added some reddish brown cement color to soften the concrete look.

This image of the new garden shows you how this will be a divider between the garden area and the open field area to the West of the property. This image looks North and you can see the pumpkin patch to the North. The next time we discuss this garden you will find it in Sandy's Garden pages.

The other project that we worked on this spring was a set of fences to surround the garden spaces we completed last year. We have so much trouble with rabbits chewing off our vegetables that we decided to use the battens removed from the house to construct fence sections for the garden. Each section is constructed with two 4-foot sections and two 5-foot sections. These are connected at the corners with 1/4" rods and screw eyes. This allows the fence sections to knock down for storage and makes the garden areas easy to till. We decided to leave these fences painted red since they had not weathered much while nailed to the house.

Another early spring project was a planter for the front stoop. When I moved my tools into the shop I found a very larg pully hanging from the ceiling. It is all metal and although I can't say that it was the original pulley used in the barn, I just had to find a use for it. I also found a very large hemp rope that seemed to go with the pully.

We decided that it would look nice to have a couple buckets hanging by the rope and pulley under the cover of the front stoop. This would keep the wind from becoming a problem with the hanging bucket and would protect the rope from deterioration. Hanging the pulley was a simple problem but next came the buckets. We tried to find some old buckets at antique stores but did not have good luck. So what's a person going to do? Certainly we did not want to hang a new shiny galvanized bucket and wait for it to rust, nor did we want to go with plastic.

So rather than simply paint them a solid color we hit upon the idea of faux painting them. We started with a rusty red primer sprayed on the entire bucket. Then I used a regular latex glazing compound in two colors, both in the reddish brown color. I used a small natural sponge scrap and dabbed on the two colors, but by mixing some of the colors I actually ended up with about 4 or 5 different colors dabbed on. The final coat of paint was a light dusting of the rusty red primer. I held the spray can about 18" away from the buckets and applied the lightest coat of paint possible. This tended to speckle the other dabbed on colors with a rusty sort of finish.