The Shed

Reading about someone building themselves an equipment shed has set me to thinking again about the kinds of things I mentioned in yesterday’s post about the DIY lifestyle.

Most of the improvements on our farm were done while I was still commuting and generating paychecks.

I’m glad for things we had done in those days.  Our shed, for example.

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We keep our tractor, lawnmower and utility vehicle in it, as well as our net fencing, chainsaw, rotary tiller, hay mower and assorted other stuff.

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But it’s most important use these days is as the location of our wood-burning boiler.  When we had the shed built we didn’t have plans to put in a stove like that. Luckily for us, when we decided to do that the shed location was well-suited for it. Thanks to the boiler, we’re able to keep our house toasty warm all winter with wood from trees that have fallen naturally on the farm.

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We have to accept our own limitations and work with what we have.  As satisfying as it would have been for me to build my own shed, in this case I’m glad that I just went ahead and hired someone to do it.  I suppose if I had no other choice I could build a shed, but it would no doubt take me a long time and be a laughable structure when finished. In hindsight I’m glad that as we approached the finish line I was trading my labor for sensible things.

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30 comments on “The Shed

  1. shoreacres says:

    And don’t forget — by trading your money for someone else’s labor, you no doubt were helping to put food on another’s table, or keep another house warm.

    Just for grins, I started making a list of the people I know personally who make their living caring for boats in one way or another. I got up to 89 pretty quickly — mechanics, marina workers, washers, canvas workers, sail makers and so on. Self-sufficiency is great, but an honest exchange of money for labor isn’t bad, either — especially when you ended up with such a great looking shed.

    And I loved seeing the boiler. You’ve talked about it, but I couldn’t quite visualize how the setup worked. That’s just great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Excellent point. The guys who built the shed for us had just retired from the Goodyear plant and started up a little construction company. They built our barn and run-in sheds too. They did a great job and on the few occasions when we’ve had follow-up issues they’ve come out promptly and taken care of them, even though they’ve moved on to bigger and better things (like home building).

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  2. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, homesteading is all about trade and bartering. That doesn’t end with commodities. It includes skills as well. My skill set does not include working with drywall. I can hang it but when it comes to taping and finishing, forget it. I’ll trade plumbing, electrical, or framing for drywall. Since no one trades or barters in Urban city USA, I was left to hire it done when I had to break into the ceiling to fix the bathroom tub plumbing on the upper level. It was money well spent. I can do drywall finishing but it’s not a pretty sight when I’m done. So there’s no shame in having to get help on the homestead for certain things. Only a few are ones that can do it all. I’m not in that group by any means.

    That’s a very nice looking machine shed. There used to be a lot of three sided pole sheds like yours in Nebraska but now all the machine sheds are fully enclosed. The wood burning broiler concept is a great way to provide heat for the house. The amazing thing about the broiler concept is that just about any thing can be burned in the broiler to generate heat. It doesn’t have to just be wood although it’s the material that’s handy for you.

    Have a great DIY with your skill set day.

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    • Bill says:

      I didn’t have anything to barter with these guys other than currency. Maybe if my specialty was estate planning I could’ve traded done their wills in exchange for their labor, or something like that. But my expertise wasn’t something they’d need and I was unlicensed in Virginia in any event. I haven’t been good about trying to barter, although I strongly believe in it. I have a friend who tries to barter for nearly everything, with suprisingly good results. He bartered vegetables for his eye exam and glasses, for example.

      As for the boiler, while we could burn other things in it, we stick to wood. Sometimes I’ll throw in some papers that need to be destroyed, but nothing other than that. I like the fact that the wood doesn’t need to be dried or split. Most of the wood I burn was cut that day or the day before.

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  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Hey Bill! D’you recall my mentioning the Alvin Maker series of books by Orson Scott Card? (In which your last name denoted your vocation, btw.)
    In this reality, barter was the main method of business and your “knack” was important for the whole community; indeed, in some cases, to society as a whole.
    About your boiler though… Having seen these around here over the years, I’ve always wondered how the heat actually goes from the ignition chamber to actually warming your house?

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      And, after having read Curt’s comment about “burning anything” in the boiler, and speaking (only yesterday) about “stepping lightly on the earth” do you happen to know what the EPA efficiency rating is?

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      • Bill says:

        I don’t know, but i have that info somewhere. We don’t have any nearby neighbors who might object to the smoke (which smells no different than any fireplace chimney smoke). By heating with fallen wood from the farm we are using a renewable energy source rather than fossil fuels. More sustainable and environmentally friendly, imho.

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    • Bill says:

      I’m an advocate of bartering and alternative currencies, even if I haven’t been very good at practicing what I preach. Unfortunately my skill set doesn’t barter well. 🙂

      There is a water envelope and the heated water goes to a heat exchanger in the house. Basically the stove heats water that heats the coils that produce the heat that is blown through the house heat ducts. Or something like that. 🙂

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      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Okay, pretty much like the heater in your car then… Thanks! Maybe you should try the barter for vegetables thing too? ; )

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  4. bobraxton says:

    impressive

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  5. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Love the Drive Shed too – ‘specially that red metal – and hoping that you haven’t been looking for that tube of caulk that’s roosting on the strapping/wall support at the left rear of your “furnace” ; ). We use wood to heat an airtight here… So, is it hard to control the draft on your setup?
    (SO many questions!: )

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    • Bill says:

      Very observant. As you can see, I didn’t tidy up the place before taking the picture. Organizing the shed and barn are winter projects that we haven’t gotten to yet. That is a tube of caulk I was using to try to seal the hole where the stove pipe goes through the shed roof. I need to find a better home for it.

      When the water temperature drops to 175 a vent opens on the door and a fan blows to heat up the embers and crank the fire back up. When the temperature reaches185 the vent shuts and the fan goes off. That process repeats all winter.

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      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        As to the caulk, well “cleaning up” was not what I meant; more like “hiding in plain sight”, LOL! I remember Grampa walking around looking for the glasses on his head (or the pencil tucked behind his ear; ) and as far as having an internal “auto-blower/bellows” – I was wondering what the wiring on the door did, too – well that’s the height of luxury to me! It’s all hands-on around here… I’m the one who stokes the fire and damps it down; although, there is a thermostat built into the [secondary layer of the] firebox which determines when the circulating fan kicks on and off, the rest is all manually controlled through the fine art of guesstimation by repetition; )
        Seriously though, after 20+ years of living with this stove, it’s all about the look of the fire: colour of the flames and speed at which they move; the smell, amount and colour of the smoke; the wood: knowing the moisture content/how old is the wood: standing deadfall will burn fast and hot almost like pine – while good oak can take up to five years to season and “check up” properly; even the weather can make a huge difference: if there’s a big storm coming, and I have a little too much ash in the tray under the stove, you can tell by how the smoke will draw up the chimney. Or, it’ll be even worse if, for instance, your fire is below grade, in a basement; or if your chimney pipe is less than two feet above the peak of the roofline; the chimney is in need of a sweep out, or if one of the stove gaskets needs replacing…
        There are SO many things that can affect a wood-burning stove’s performance, it’s almost like having another entity in the house, but one I can’t imagine living without: )
        Oh, and good luck with caulking that flashing around your chimney pipe too (at least it’s all outdoors and not inside; )

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  6. I like Linda’s (Shoreacres) point. We try to hire local folks with their own businesses when we have work done on our property. It’s like buying from local farmers. 🙂 –Curt

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  7. associatedluke says:

    We’re having a gas water heater installed today. The old one went out. Now I could have done the work, but I am super nervous around gas and would bought all the gauges and things to make sure all the seals held. Much happier paying another person with the skills to do it. And I got to take time and talk to those dudes. Made a connection. Never a bad thing.

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    • Bill says:

      DIY is great and I’m an advocate of trying to be as self-reliant as reasonably possible. But obviously there are times when it makes best sense to rely on experts to get the job done right.

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  8. avwalters says:

    I’m jealous of the shed. We’ll be doing a pole barn, as soon as the house is habitable. We thought that would be this past autumn, but our delays mean that our equipment (and it’s getting to be quite a collection) will have to spend the winter outside. Not a crime, but ideally one cares for big-ticket items in a manner to make them last. Here, we can get snow so deep that before you can use “it” you need to find it. The latest is a 60,” 3 pt, snowblower that should make short work of a 400 foot driveway. Now all we need is snow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      My grandfather used to say you can never have too many sheds. We added sheds to a couple of the old tobacco barns on the place and I thought initially that would be all we needed. We were keeping the tractor in the barn at the time. But soon those sheds were occupied and we needed a big shed like this one. It’s closer to the house, so easier to police, and turned out to be an almost ideal location for the heater. We still have some implements that stay outside year round, but it shouldn’t hurt them.

      We have no need of a snowblower. Thank goodness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        I’ll tell my husband that you can never have too many sheds. Of course, I’m holding out for an earth-bermed greenhouse and chicken coop. I suppose, for him, that’s the downside of a retired builder moving to the country. He’ll be kept busy.

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  9. EllaDee says:

    That’s an impressive shed. Our shed has been a topic of conversation for many years, to DIY it or get someone in. The G.O. is quite capable of building it but time & logistics need to be considered. Finally he has come around to the idea of in his words “throwing money at it” but I think it will be money well spent and we’ll have a shed where & when we need it rather than making do until he can get around to building it. Your boiler is fabulous. More fabulous is its use. We have, but not functioning, an old boiler salvaged from the demolition of a big old farmhouse which connected to pipes functioned for hot water supply and as well as heating the whole house. Eventually it will resume its purpose in part, heating the G.O.’s shed.

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    • Bill says:

      When we built the house we put in a tankless hot water heater because it was more energy efficient. The boiler doesn’t work with that kind of hot water heater, so we can’t use it to heat the water. We still have to use propane for that. I have a friend who uses his boiler for hot water too. That does mean, of course, that you have to keep it going year round. We only run ours in the cold months.

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      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        I’ve been kicking the idea around of a tankless water heater ever since first hearing about them. I know the price has come down somewhat since then; what do you think of yours so far?

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      • Bill says:

        They’re energy efficient, which is a good thing. The two drawbacks on ours are that we can’t use our wood boiler to heat the water and we can’t set the water temperature higher than 120. Of course there are some that do go higher, just be aware of that if you’re considering getting one.

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      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        Thanks!: )

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  10. It’s true that this is part of deciding where you are comfortable letting go of certain aspects of DIY. Sometimes it’s just about the time and effort, as with your shed, sometimes it’s about a specific skill set – though I could probably manage the oil change by myself, I get my car serviced regularly so that the other systems and the brakes can be dealt with by someone with the right tools and training. He or she does it faster and better than I could.

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    • Bill says:

      I’m still taking my truck in for service, but at least now I’m doing my own basic service on the tractor. I had to learn that. Like everything else I think it’s a question of applying good common sense. I think there are plenty of things we’ve become reliant on others to do when we’re actually capable of doing them just as well ourselves. But at the same time, there are things we really ought to leave to the pros.

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  11. Leigh says:

    That is a great shed and what a great idea to but the boiler there. We’re still in the working away and earning to get established phase. Not sure if we’ll ever progress beyond that except in our dreams.

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    • Bill says:

      We’re not yet where I’d like us to be, but we’ve come a long way over the years. Some of the things we’re doing now were just dreams to me a decade ago.

      Like

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