Those in Glass Houses....

NO throwing stones in our new glasshouse!! That's the rule for our new to us Lord & Burnham glasshouse...this was one of those craigslist folleys. Graham looking at who knows what in the used greenhouse section stumbled across a listing for a dismantled classic Lord & Burnham lean to. Now for those of you who don't know the company, Lord & Burnham was a NY based conservatory company that built huge beautiful conservatories and greenhouses of the botanical garden palm house variety (think the Enid Haupt pavilion at NYBG for reference). Anyways, Graham found this thing, got really excited about the potential for a nice lean to attached to the south side of the garage and next thing you know a box truck is in the driveway unloading box after unmarked box of bits and pieces and no directions but with the vague assurance that everything we needed would be there. Fast forward two years (yes two) and we finally have it up and enclosed and despite a couple hurdles like putting the foundation in the wrong spot and breaking some glass and not fully understanding some components it is actually up and pretty awesome. The awesome factor is based on it being 80+ degrees inside on a sunny day while only 20 degrees outside. We suspect this might pose an issue in the summer but hope to have the very complicated venting system sorted by then. The space is 35' long x 13' deep x 12' high inside. We expect to be able to do all of our starts as well as some protected crops and all our hanging basket production inside, and have room for a bistro table and chairs for some mid winter mood improvement.

We will spare you all the grisly details and just let the pictures do the talking, can't wait to get things growing in here!

Orchids are an Addiction

It's true, not sure if a 12 step program exists for this particular affliction, but it is a real problem. Take our greenhouse as an example, once upon a time it was slated for seed starting and growing hanging baskets.... fast forward a season and it has been consumed by the slow and inexorable creep of additional epiphytes and exotics. Oh well, it looks better for it and has spurred completion of the second orchid, we mean propagation greenhouse. 

As a reminder, greenhouse #1 started as a shed with a glass wall and stone floor. It had electricity and a water supply line, a drain line that goes....somewhere and a separate tool storage section running it's entire length. It appears to have been built in two phases, once a much smaller building that had grown and continues to grow. This summer we finished installing double wall poly on the west roof pitch and south and west walls. We also added misting systems, heat, insulation and lots of benches. This is very much a work in progress but it is coming together and and we look forward to sharing pictures as it progresses.

Change Your Filter

Furnaces are new to us, turns out you need to change the filters in them… yup, shocking huh? Well we had our first cold night recently and tried to turn the heat on only to have nothing happen. Next day O'neil plumbing was able to come take a look at it and diagnosed a loose connection on a relay, no big deal. While here they pulled the filter door open to show us how to change them, then they gave us one of those looks that people give you when they think you are a terrible terrible negligent human being. 

So this is actually the cleaner of the two filters. Needless to say we went to Home Depot that night and got nice high quality replacements. So listen up people, change your filters once every six months and if you are doing construction like we are, change them every three months; you don't want to make life harder for your furnace or your lungs!

Chim Chim Chimney

It seems like a deviation or perhaps even a betrayal of our farm name but from time to time we want warmth, toasty, sweltering satisfying warmth. Chimneys help with warmth sometimes. Broken chimneys carry warmth away so they don't help much, but functional chimneys; Awesome. Our old house was built in phases literally over centuries, what that means is that the heat does not necessarily flow well from one area to another. One of these heat gaps so to speak is the kitchen, it has no connection to the furnace and sits pretty far away from the rear pellet stove. Fortunately it has a big dramatic old fireplace, less fortunate is that it was blocked off decades ago with wood (a red flag) and still had stove pipe connections into the upstairs bedrooms. It looks really cool:

Beautiful right? Not really actually, but it has some great original details. That huge piece of wood in the foreground was a decorative mantel that was definitely not to fire code. This old gem is the answer to our heat gap though and what farmhouse kitchen is complete without a functioning wood burner. 

In order to get this going we called Tricounty Chimney, they put the liners in for the pellet stoves and furnace and Frank is a great guy who specializes in historic restorations. Frank came out, put a plan together, ordered a custom stainless ($$$) liner that is huuuge but means we can have a great fire with no draw problems, and put us on the work schedule. 

It took about two weeks all told, there is no rushing this kind of work because the cement/mortar has to cure between applications. Frank and his team were great about letting us look over their shoulders and learn as they went. One of the coolest parts of the process was the application of the chamber tek - it's essentially dryish cement with fibre mixed in for strength. It sticks and can be hand molded. Frank used buckets of the chamber tek and a trowel and slowly built a new smoke cavity, true artistry. Because of the size of the liner it could not be made out of the usual crimped flexible metal that smaller chimney liners are made with. Ours had to be built in 4' sections, each section was hoisted up from the scaffolding on the roof and then connected to create one long long stainless safe flue. The final bit of magic is a damper that is mounted at the top of the chimney and connected by a cable to the fireplace. The damper is spring loaded and a simple pull down locks it up tight and keeps hot air from escaping or critters from entering, heaven. 

With the work done we had to start a long burn to help cure the cement..not exactly a hardship in our book. It was glorious and the kitchen is a heat gap no longer. 

For anyone considering a chimney rebuild we would highly recommend the top mounted damper, it makes hearth life a lot easier. 

Work Crew

It's mid august and it's so hot the hens are laying hard boiled eggs....or at least we wish they were, so far it's more like a farmyard version of Jurassic Park with "nature always finds a way" since every time we turn around one of our "hens" has started crowing. Well now that that rant is out of the way... It's really hot here in upstate NY so we have been trying to do our outside work in the morning and the evening and do interior work during the heat of the day. A great plan unless that interior work happens to be tearing plaster walls out, in which case it's a crummy crummy plan. Fortunately we had help this weekend in the form of the always reliable Oren and Julie and a first visit north by our good buddy Jesse. We feasted on food catered by Babettes Kitchen courtesy of our top West Coast supporters Toni, Frank and Zak (a very talented designer).

After lunch it was back to destruction in all it's various forms. Check out @brokenchimneyfarm to see a video of Oren AKA The Hulk attacking a plaster wall in slow mo. Before too many of you lament the loss of old plaster walls please keep in mind that we are saving all the plaster we can, but some areas are too damaged to save and or will be put to purposes not compatible with plaster.

The guys spent the whole day in demo mode - locked inside rooms with no AC and sweat obscured vision, but they got a lot done. The Girl crew spent a good chunk doing more methodical demolition and then put the kitchen together now that the floors are finished. Getting the fridge in and plugged in was a big moment! Eventually the heat got the better of everyone and one by one we hit the floor, wrestled with Cercei and cooled off with drinks and played Cards Against Humanity. All in all it was a very productive and fun day. Let us not forget the high point of the day (in Oren's opinion) Mama Carol threw together some blueberry tarts and home made whipped cream; they were the perfect antidote to summer heat and grime.

Goodbye Sweet Dumpster

For the first time in almost a year we don't have a dumpster blocking the driveway (driveway is an exaggeration, dirt is more accurate). It was a bittersweet moment as we watched the dumpster leave. With one of those outside there is no project that feels like it cant be tackled. Now, we have to think, "ok, if we demolish this wall, where will the debris go?". But such is life and we will make do until we have enough debris piled up to warrant bringing a new metal box out for a dumpster filling weekend. We expected having it gone would make a big difference in how things felt, but I guess our minds always knew it was temporary because at the end of the day it was no big adjustment visually for us. Anyways, rambling is finished, now please enjoy these pictures: