Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In The Garden - The Story of a Cold Frame: Part 1 in a 6 part series

This post is very belated. I actually began to compile it over a year ago, and somehow, it got put on the back burner until now. The series "In The Garden," is scheduled to come out with its following parts in approximately, April, June, August, September and November of 2009. We did have a blessed growing season and harvest this year which was aided greatly by the use of the cold frame . . so read on!

This story was almost a year in the making, and could not have come about if not for the blessings of God and generosity of some strangers!

For those of you who don’t know, a cold frame is like a mini greenhouse and is used for hardening off plants in the spring, and holding plants over winter. It is a long, low “box” with sides of either brick or wood and a removable “roof” usually made of windows. The back of the box is higher then the front and faces South so that it can catch the Winter sun.

It all began with some Goats, Eggs, and Rhubarb. Now some of you might think them a strange combination, but without one, there couldn't have been the others, and without any of them, there wouldn't have been a cold frame. But to continue . . .

It was late May, 2007. We had been working at the Klaty’s Goat farm for a couple weeks, and one afternoon on the way home, stopped in at Spratt Farms to inquire about their “Brown Eggs” sign.

While there I asked if they sold Rhubarb. Nope, not them, but she knew there was a man in Atlas (little town we drive through to get to the Goat farm) who sold it. So off we went with our eggs to Atlas and sure enough, there, down a little side street, Josiah spotted an antique sign, painted “Rhubarb/ $1.00.” A creaky old gentleman answered our knock and said to drive ‘round back. So we did, and there leaning against the side of a weather worn shed, were a dozen or so old barn windows of all different sizes. If it is possible to drool over windows, Grace and I were doing it. Double paned, and peeling white paint, we wanted them! Such Character, such Charm, such Potential, such Cute-ness! So, after buying 5 lbs of Rhubarb off the nice old man, we politely inquired as to the destination of the said barn windows. “Puttin’ ‘em out to trash Thursday,” was his welcome reply. Would he mind us taking them off his hands? Why no! Go ‘head take ‘em, and welcome! We could hardly contain our glee as we loaded them up and headed back home. Dad’s glee wasn’t quite so evident, as he wondered where we were going to keep all these windows, but they found a home along the side of the chicken coop, and there they sat, for almost 4 months. Grace used one to make a cute thread rack for the sewing room, but it wasn’t until early fall when the rest of the pieces finally came together.

This time it involved our dear friends and neighbors the Brysons’. Across the road from them sits a little tan house, that had been vacant and for sale quite some time. Well, unfortunately, the little house foreclosed, but before it did, the owners told the Brysons’ to go ahead and take what they wanted from the yard or garage. And what do you think was sitting on the side of the garage, but a large pile of bricks! Whoopee! There was the rest of my cold frame! These were big bricks, so Rusty helped to cart them home and they were stacked along the fence to await my leisure. It was almost two months before things finally slowed down enough for us to start working on the cold frame.

We finally began on a crisp day in late October, the 31st of October to be exact. Anyone walking by might have thought it strange to see a group of people standing around a large grave-like hole by the back fence. Whew! That was quite the hole! Fifteen feet long, three feet wide and about one to two feet deep. And dug in clay! It took Josh, Dad and I a better part of the day to dig , and we were sure glad when it was done.

The next day, Mr. Polk, a friend of the Brysons’ and a retired master brick layer, came to show us how to mix mortar and lay the bricks.

After watching Mr. Polk show us how it was done,

Dad put down a few layers, and then I took over,

along with help from Daniel Bryson . . .

and Barak Bendixon. (Who was there with his brothers working on our furnace)

As easy as it might look, there is a science to laying bricks!

The mortar has to be mixed “just so,”

the corners laid at a perfect right angle,

and make sure you consult the level frequently. No eye-balling allowed here! (That was particularly hard for me . . . I am the queen of eye-balling)
We put in a good days work, and had almost half of the cold frame finished by evening.

The next day, after a quick run to Home Depot for another load of mortar, Dad, Josh and I finished laying the walls, and I angled the ends so the windows would lay flush.
Then, before the mortar set,
I etched in the date,
and a special bible verse.
There! Now it was all finished, except for the windows . . . the things that got us started on this whole project in the first place!

About a week later, Dad and Mr. Bryson scraped and re-caulked the glass in the old windows

and screwed them into place on the cold frame. (double drills! :-)
Many hands make light work!
They sure did look nice!

And finally I had a cold frame! What a blessing from the Lord! I could hardly wait until spring to try it out!

"But in the multitude of counselors there is safety." Prov. 11:14b

~ Faith

(pictures taken by Timothy Bryson and Josiah Sauve - Thanks guys!!)