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Odds & Ends

As I said in my first article, I live on the same farm I grew up on. The house has been remodeled since then but the surrounding woods and yard have changed very little, and some buildings remain. One in particular is this hog farrowing shed.


It was here before Dad built the house. Some of this land belonged to or was rented to a neighbor long since passed, and he raised pigs. The shed looks like it could fall down at any minute, but I won't hold my breath. In all the years I played in and around the thing, I didn't realize until 2 years ago that the verticle posts are oak trees. Not posts made from oak trees, but actual trees. Some still have the bark on them.


The frame and plank siding are all oak. If you don't believe me, try driving a nail into it sometime, and good luck with that! The shed is approximately 40' long, and 14' wide. The posts are set about 12' apart making 4 sections. I made one section on the end into my henhouse. The planks shrunk quite a bit, as you can see, so I lined the inside with hardware cloth and chicken wire to keep the varmits out. Then in the winter, I cover the outside with plastic. They seem to fare well in there. It has a cement floor that I keep covered with sand. It stays cool in the summer and is inhospitable to winter time sqwatters, i.e. mice.

My dad used to grade the drive way with his tractor and a box blade. He would always end at the top of the hill just behind the house and would mound up leftover rock and dirt here where these steps are. In the past 2 years I have pulled out nails, screws, screwdrivers, baling twine and assorted oil filters. I'd rake and smoothe it but still would trip and slip on my way to tend the chickens. So I built these steps. I like the way they look like I discovered them whilst I was "clearing the land". But this year, I felt that it needed a path. Do I make it with gravel or wood chips? Nah, the chickens would tear it up in no time. Instead, I added boards to mimic the steps. It was actually easy since this area was built out of mounded gravel and dirt. Looks like it's been there all along, doesn't it?


In other news, 2 hens were seen making a getaway on a vintage Snapper lawn mower.


The rooster was close behind!


I didn't have the heart to tell them it was the Flintstone model and with their short legs, well, you get my drift. Though they did look fabulous trying!

This end of the shed is a favorite spot. Dad used to have a work bench mounted here with a big vice on one end. When I was a kid, I would crack hickory nuts from a nearby tree and dig out the meats with a nail. I've been wanting to plant something here. It is full shade and I think ginger would grow nicely, but again, the chickens like to scratch around here sometimes. I think next spring I will plant the ginger anyway and then lay some wire fencing over it to keep them from tearing it up. I have found that if they can't get their claws into the ground, they give up and move on. But that's another project for another day. I'm always dreaming and planning!

Jill Barlow


Future articles will include information about gardening, meat birds, egg birds, photos and lots of project ideas.

For further information, to ask a questions or to suggest a program topic, contact Jill Barlow at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..