A Week of Farm Work

I’m on “vacation” from my day-job this week, which, naturally, means I have a list of projects to tackle on the farm that even my extra-large chalkboard isn’t big enough to hold. As you can imagine, I’m in heaven.

This week dedicated to farm work is a tradition I started when I bought this house. As a present to myself, I spend my birthday week off of the computer, out of the office, and covered in sawdust. And by the end of this week I’ll be so sore and exhausted, that spending some time sitting at my desk in the air-conditioned office seems like a whole other vacation.

The best thing about this is… well, all of the things really. But the most convenient of those things is that my week off usually falls right around planting time. Last year I had big plans for my “farm week” that included (no shit):

  1. Getting all of the raised beds in the garden built and installed
  2. Fencing in the garden
  3. Fencing in the donkey pasture
  4. Fencing around the propane tank
  5. Mowing the back field
  6. Cleaning up the rubble pile
  7. And taking care of the jungle weeds around the barns

Ha. Ha ha.

Just to put that in perspective, I built and installed 5 of the 10 raised beds last year, then it took me until October to get the fence in around the pasture, November to finish cleaning up the rubble pile, and the garden fence didn’t get installed until last week (and I had lots of help). So…

Sometimes I may be an overachiever with my lists. Which, by the way, hasn’t stopped me from having great expectations for the next six days. My list this year includes:

1.) Finish installing the missing fence sections and building the pergola for the garden


With just two sections to build (once the rest of the garden items on this list are taken care of) and the pergola already started, I feel pretty good about knocking this one off the list in the next week.

2.) Sod removal in garden

I actually did a real “vacation” like thing this past weekend and spent a little time on one of the islands in Lake Erie with my bearded guy. (One day he’s going to shave his beard, and then I’m going to have no idea how to refer to him obtusely on this website.) On the drive home I was talking about how stressed out I was about removing the sod in the garden, and dude was like, “Why don’t we just stop and get the sod cutter and do it tonight?”

The man does know the way to my heart.

So we stopped at Big Orange on our way back to the farm, rented a sod cutter, and he wrestled the thing around the garden for an hour or so and then went to work. Meanwhile, my mom– who’d been farmsitting– got roped in to helping roll the sod for an hour or two before dark.


I spent a few hours today hauling it to the compost pile with my neighbors tractor.

So the sod-removal project is well under way, but there are still a lot of man-hours left to get everything cleaned up.


3.) Building and installing final 2 garden beds, filling with dirt, and planting.

Once the sod is gone I’m hoping to get my last two garden beds in the ground, and fill them up with dirt. (A lot like how I spent my time last year, actually. Except this year I’m doing this with heavy equipment and not a shovel.)


4.) Finishing gravel walkways in garden.

The final garden project will be finishing the walkways between garden beds. Most of the work will be laying down weed fabric, and hopefully I’ll be able to maneuver the tractor around to fill the walkways with gravel fairly quickly.


Getting the garden to that state will be a huge win for this year already, but in the spirit of overachieving, there are a few other things on my list. For example…

5.) Fixing my mower.

I have an old hand-me-down riding mower from my grandpa, a gift I am eternally grateful for. Other than fixing a flat the first year I had it, I haven’t had any issues with this little tractor at all. Until earlier today when I was attempting to mow the areas of the pasture the donkeys haven’t been keeping down and… there was an ominous snap.

I think this was the belt that goes from the gear box to the blades, but I actually have no idea what I’m talking about. Luckily, I got the necessary mowing mostly done first, so I’ve got some time to figure out how to fix this before I need it again, and if I’m right, it might just be another mechanical problem I can learn from.

6.) Making some progress on the big pergola.

So, here’s another thing that happened in the last week, thanks to my bearded guy. When the fence crew was here, I asked them to dig six extra holes for me over by the garage/barn. I’ve had a vision in my head of a pergola nestled up against the side of it, a short distance away from the fire pit.

Well, once the holes were dug, my dude did me a huge favor and picked up the lumber for the posts (12′ long 6×6 posts) since he was borrowing my trailer to pick up some lumber for himself as well. When it came time to unload it, I suggested we just pile them next to the holes. He suggested that since we were going to pile them next to the holes, we could just stick them upright in the holes. And then I suggested that since we were going to put the posts in the holes anyway, we might as well just level and set them…

UntitledSo we did.

In fact, just before this he’d put some artichokes in the oven to roast (that’s a thing that happens when you date a guy who owns restaurants, apparently) so we had about 45 minutes, and dammed if we didn’t get this finished before dinner was done.

Setting those posts was really probably the most difficult part of this project. I’ll need another set of hands to help me mark a level line across the tops, then, once they’re cut, it’s just a matter of building the frame for the cross-beams, and knocking it all together. Still a few more weekends of work, but maybe I can get a good chunk of it done this week.

7.) Actually building that fence around the propane tank.

You can see in the picture above, there’s a concrete pad and very ugly propane tank located next to the barn as well. For over a year I’ve been dreaming of fencing that area in. Instead of sinking the posts in the ground, I actually think I’m going to attach them via heavy-duty anchor to the concrete pad, and then create some horizontal fencing.

I’m guessing it’s a one-day project if I have all of the materials, and the further along I get with the big pergola, the more I think this will become an urgent project. I might not get to it this week, but it also feels like a quick, easy, and big win, so if I don’t feel like I’m making good progress on the other projects I might take a day out for this on Friday or Saturday.

8.) Actually mowing the back field.

Another thing that was on my list last year. If I can spare a few hours to pick up my grandpas tractor and brush-hog, I just may be able to tame the jungle out back before it gets out of control…


9.) Eating cake.

It is my birthday week, after all.

Bonus project: Most of the things on my list are outdoor projects, and the weather looks like it should hold most days, but if I get rained out for a day (or week, like last year) I’d also love to either paint the cabinets in the workshop or finish the demo on the master bedroom.

Now, this may seem like an ambitious list (and it is) but I don’t feel like it’s completely unreasonable. Mostly because I’ve learned to work smarter in the last year. I’ve hired in help for things like all of the fence, and I got over my discomfort with borrowing my neighbors tractor when I need it, which speeds everything up. I’ve also got a lot more tools, and a week of what looks like beautiful weather ahead of me.

It’s going to be a ton of work, but also a ton of fun!

25 Responses

  1. Can’t wait to see the write-up at the end of the week. Happy Birthday and good luck!

  2. Does sound like fun with addiction appeasing opportunities around every corner. Best of luck on your list, you are in your element so I need not tell you to have fun… Happy Birthday!

  3. Great list! There is nothing like striking an item off of it, even if it does take a little longer than anticipated. I also realized a few years ago that my time IS actually worth money, and there is no shame in paying people to make my life more manageable!

  4. Happy Birthday!
    We are yard twins this year! I am also designing a pergola or two and thinking of building a horizontal privacy fence.
    Can’t wait to see the updated posts, on all your projects.

  5. I’m off this week from office job to work on fun home project list too! Hope your week is productive and wonderful. Happy birthday!

  6. Happy Birthday!! That is a long list of things to get done, but it always feels good when it’s complete.

  7. You are my hero! 🙂 I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who makes lists that are a tad on the unrealistic side. Btw, your guys sounds like a definite keeper!

  8. How big is the fenced in garden? Based on the sod cutting photo, it seems to be a lot bigger than I had thought. Big enough for corn…

    1. I’m hoping to plant a few rows of corn on one side (might be a bit too late in the season, but I’m still going to give it a shot.)

  9. Kit,

    We have a raised bed garden that is also fenced in. When designing the fence my husband made the gate wide enough to be able to pull the tractor in. It can’t reach all of the beds but it certainly makes it much easier when cleaning up the beds, filling in the dirt, etc. when we can get the bucket as close to possible to the beds. If you can’t make the gate wide enough maybe you could figure out a way of being able to slide a section of the fence in and out for accessibility. Just a thought! Good Luck with your list!

    1. Yes! 8′ wide and I can also get (my neighbors) tractor in there! It’s been super helpful.

  10. Happy Birthday!

    Forget brush-hogging the back field….find a hay farmer who will cut it for you. Down here the property owner keeps a percentage of the bales for themselves (or to sell) and the farmer keeps (or sells) the rest. You don’t have to put in the time (or equipment expense) and in your case, you’d be set with hay for the winter!

    1. Only a week? Certain females I am acquainted with are not satisfied with even a month.

  11. I was just last night reading my most recent Handyman mag (again) and the Wordless Workshop page (110) shows the idea of a removable section of a low picket fence around their heat pump…PVC pipe in the ground so longer pieces attached to one side of the fence can slide down and be taken out easily for the refill guy and his hose. Might work for the propane tank?

  12. Congrats on the birthday, and good luck with the list. I also tend to underestimate the amount of work something takes, so by now I’ll usually just say “we’ll see when it’s finished”…

  13. Hey Kit, what ever happened to that tractor you bought? And by the way, Happy birthday!! 😀

    1. Oh, god. Long story in which that tractor was so broken that no one would fix it…

  14. Wow, I’m exhausted just reading all that! The sod removal sounds like fun, I never had a chance to try it. We have a small garden so I can only dream about the lifestyle you have this week, but that small piece also makes me happy when I can see how is all growing. We rather focus on renovating the interior (right now on repainting the walls). Hope you will be successful, I’m really impressed with all you accomplish on your own.

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