by Tom Bender


 Okay. I stood there, looking in through the non-existent door, standing in cow shit almost up to the top of my barn boots. Three-quarters of the roof was gone, sidewall metal flapping in the wind. They’d tried to do a re-roof, got a quarter of the way. Rest of the metal lay rusting on the floor.

1 2

“Hmmm,” that little voice inside said. “Pay attention! Long side faces directly south. Angled south roof sitting there waiting for glazing. Concrete floor, I think, under the cow shit. Could retain heat.” OMG . . . I think we’ve got a greenhouse half-built!


Umm. That hadn’t been on the agenda in buying the farm. But neither were a lot of problems and possibilities and things that have manifested! What’s there? What IS this? What’s possible? What do we choose to move forward in what way???

The magic wand took a little while to manifest, but the greenhouse sits there today. The process went pretty well. I’d long had a way of working that said, “Never do ONE thing. If you do, you’re missing an opportunity.” Digging a hole? Hmmm. Where is that dirt NEEDED? Dig-a-hole/fill-a-hole gets a lot more done!


54  7 So. Off came the south wall metal panels. One by one, on went the panels again – patching up missing, rusted, smashed-up walls elsewhere. They filled in the old exterior door to what is now the tool room of the barn. Closed in the west door of the greenhouse. We don’t need to drive a tractor through anymore to scoop up cow shit. Patch the north wall. Made a new sliding south door for the main barn.









Okay, Cartm, here we come. Wow. They “happened” to have a bunch of used windows, close enough to the right size. Wave the magic wand, and we have a glass greenhouse south wall, looking out at the meadow, the sun when it appears, and the elk.



Yeah, I know. The roof. Ol’ Bender got pushy here. The trusses were already rotting, and some pieces needed to be replaced. “If we dilly-dally around, we’re gonna lose it.” So we found a source for good plastic roofing, figured out how to attach it for our extreme winds, and so the screws wouldn’t rust away. Day by day, the roof grew, and soon we had a dry place to stand “inside”. Straddled across between the trusses, reaching with our 10′ arms to get that last screw in, way over there. A gravity hot-air vent formed in the north roof area. The roof is on! We’ve got a greenhouse! Now, what are we gonna use it for? Still needed some fill-in on the south wall, but that happened.

8 The old stall-boards wandered out along the creek to become sitting benches.


Left to right: You?, Judy Sorrel, Richard Mastenik, Georgenne Ferdun, Gareth Ferdun

The greenhouse was filled with plants for the first big restoration planting along the creek well before the greenhouse happened.



April 2006 078Email at some point: “Tom requested that we have an abundance of flowers and foliage visible as you enter the greenhouse. “Fill that south bay with flowers & hanging plants”. . He would like to see our buildings snuggled into a wonderful richness of plantings, rather than a view that is work worn, bashed down, depleted.   Color, extravagance, possibly edible landscapes.”


It’s been through several new lives already.

DSCN2294Work space. Growing garden starts, school-kids space, native plant nursery.






10 Upgraded with insulation, water-filled heat-storage columns, electric fans.

What next? . . .

Still don’t have the hot tub in place.





About lanedemoll

I was one of the Founding Board members of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust, 2002-2005.
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