The Anne of All Trades Blog

Barn Renovation

This was a VERY long overdue project on the homestead, in which I tore down a wall separating our heavy use area in the barn and put in individual stalls and sliding doors for my miniature donkeys and Nigerian dwarf goats. I used all reclaimed lumber from a Parkour studio in Seattle which was torn down, and my neighbor donated the stall doors he was tearing out of his own barn to the cause. Between this project and the French Drain system I installed in front of the barn in October, the animals are far better set up going into winter this year than they ever have been before. With these upgrades, I’m hoping hoof rot, worms, and other minor illnesses resulting from staying damp all winter will be a thing of the past.

These farm projects are of an enormous scale. They are hugely demanding both physically and financially, but it is a major goal of mine to give my animals the best life I possibly can. They unselfishly give me so much unconditional love and affection, and bring so much joy to our lives, I feel it’s the very least I can do.

Posted on December 9, 2018 .

Tusk Bookshelf Build

This summer, I was honored to be invited to teach at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. I taught a basic joinery class, in which we built a japanese style Tusk bookshelf. I had to build one to prepare for the class, so I decided to bring along a camera while I did. This is a great project to practice all kinds of woodworking joinery including hand cut dadoes, mortise and tenon, and, with a few simple design modifications, dovetails.

Posted on December 8, 2018 .

Making Cheese... and Dough... Pizza!

Learn how to make cheese at home with just TWO ingredients, milk and cheese! One of my favorite things about homesteading is having fresh milk every day, but that milk adds up QUICK, and cheese is a great way to use up that milk, get some delicious fresh cheese, and enjoy a great byproduct as well, whey.

This is my favorite recipe for cheese for Pizza, and to that end, I’ve included the recipe for my favorite pizza dough below as well. And, while we’re at it, my Pizza Oven video as well.

Posted on December 7, 2018 .

Making My Own Woodworking Tools

When I first started getting really into handtool woodwork, I realized if I learned basic blacksmithing, I could make my own handtools, so I set out to make all the tools I'd need to turn the trees I fell at the farm into heirloom quality furniture. I forged a drawknife, a carving axe, several carving knives, chisels, an adze, splitting wedges and made my own shavehorse. Check out those videos on my channel. Green woodworking, and riving green wood for furniture is an important skill to learn because it teaches a lot about wood grain, wood movement, and why wood "acts" the way it does. Becoming a blacksmith was just a means to an end for me, and another step towards sustainability and self-sufficiency on my homestead. I'm incredibly thankful for the instructors and facilities at Pratt Fine Arts Center for the opportunity to learn forging and metal work. If you're in the Seattle area, be sure to check them out- http://www.pratt.org

See the video below!

Posted on December 6, 2018 .

Honey Harvest!

After 4 years keeping bees, I’ve finally been able to harvest some honey! This is really “part 1” of the Honey Harvest video, because I’ll be making another video next week showing how to extract and process the honey with a centrifuge. I’m hoping to keep more hives at the farm next year, and am excited to have found a local mentor who will coach me a bit more in the process of keeping bees.

Posted on December 5, 2018 .

Building a Chicken Coop

As some of you may know, I’ve been keeping our chicken flock in a lean-to off my woodshop for the past three years. It was meant to be a temporary solution, but three years suddenly went by, and they were still in there. My shop always smelled like chickens and my roosters made for quite the soundtrack in all my woodshop videos. I’m very happy to say the birds have an awesome new space of their own, which means another super awesome thing: The lean-to off my shop can now be turned into a blacksmithing shop! Some awesome benefits of this new Growing Back To Eden style chicken coop are that it’s very low maintenance cleaning-wise, and that the chickens now have an important “job” on the farm: Stirring our compost pile. A single bird can move several yards of compost per day, and if you know anything about composting, you know how important it is to keep the pile turning. Enter: chickens, and a whole lot less time spent with a pitchfork in my hand. The compost also generates heat, which will help the chickens throughout the winter.

This is a fairly open coop design, and wouldn’t be ideal in a high predator population area, but thanks to our amazing flock watchdogs, the alpacas and donkeys, we haven’t lost a single bird to a predator in over two years.

Check out the build videos below!

Posted on December 4, 2018 .

Building a Roubo Style Frame Saw

This week, my friends Steve, Jeff and I made Roubo style frame saws intended for resawing and veneering timber by hand without a bandsaw. This is a great project to practice basic woodworking joinery and carving, and if your new year's resolution involves a gym membership, skip the gym and make some veneer with one of these beasts! You can get the frame saw kits we used to make these from Blackburn Tools: http://www.blackburntools.com/new-too...

Posted on December 3, 2018 .

BIG things are happening...

For those of you who aren’t following me on Instagram or YouTube, and even for those that are, it’s high time I gave a little update. I’ve taken on some major projects both on the farm and the woodshop over the past couple of months.

The farm has gotten a major makeover, with a new roof on all the buildings, a new chicken coop, more work on the tiny house, and a huge excavation project putting French drains around the barn and in the livestock’s heavy use area. I’ve also been renovating another building on the property that will become a metal working shop for fabrication and blacksmithing. The barn interior also got a makeover in the form of new stalls for the animals, and they are SUPER happy with both the dry land in front of the barn (thank you french drains) and the clean, warm stalls inside the barn. All those projects have been EXTREMELY time, effort, and money consuming, and have really stretched me, but I’m thankful the work is done, and even more thankful for the friends that showed up to help with various projects and made them a whole lot more fun. I’ve learned these past few months that I can work physically harder, and fit way more into my days than I ever before thought possible.

As is always the case in the summer months, my furniture production schedule was basically non-existent, but I did manage to eek out a few things- some hand forged tools, a bookshelf, a Roubo style frame saw, and, in the after hours of a class at Greg Pennington’s shop in Tennessee, I was able to get the bones of a dining room chair together, which I finished up at home. Next on my workbench is finishing the modern rocker that I made in class that same week at Greg’s.

As some of you may know, my husband Adam was in a bicycle accident in August. He is healing up well, and with a bit more physical therapy, should be back to normal by Christmas. It’s great to have him feeling more himself again.

There is a WHOLE LOT of awesome stuff coming down the pipes over the next couple months: a woodshop tour now that the space is fully complete, a Christmas craft special, harvesting the rest of our 2018 honey, the completion of my fabrication shop and blacksmithing shops, completing my Modern Rocking Chair, the first in a series on my 1953 Chevy truck, and a whole lot more. Looking forward to sharing it all with you, stay tuned!!

If you haven’t already caught my last couple of videos, check them out below:



Posted on December 2, 2018 .

The 3100 finally has a name!

IMG_1972.JPG

In June, I had the incredible opportunity to buy my dream farm truck, a 1953 Chevy 3100. My grandpa and I had always planned to restore an old truck together, but he passed away before we got the chance. When I graduated from University, I restored a 63 mustang in his honor, but I had to sell it while I was living in Asia.

IMG_3722.JPG

This truck seemed too good to be true, and for a couple of months, it was. As it turns out, when I went to register the truck, there was a title issue which prevented me from transferring the title into my name. I’d done my due diligence, from as far as a lay-person could tell, everything was in order with my purchase, but when I went to register it, all kinds of red flags started going up. To make a very long story short, I’m now on a first name basis with everyone at our local and state DMVs and there have been endless visits to their offices, endless paperwork, and lots of phone calls. The whole situation has been very frustrating in and of itself, but most frustrating is the fact that I can’t start any of the major renovation projects on the truck until the title is clear. That said, it being an old truck, it does need a little fiddling here and there to keep it running in the meantime, and of course I’m happy to oblige.

IMG_0235.JPG
IMG_7123.JPG

Earlier this week, my little buddy, Chairman Meow, who’s been shop and farm cat extraordinaire for seven years, the cat who followed me like a dog, slept at the foot of my workbench in the shop, and ran to greet me when I pulled into the driveway, passed away suddenly. Chairman was my first pet stateside, a gift to Adam and I while we were engaged, and to say we were very attached is an understatement. He was a constant in our young marriage, he made the move to the farm with us like a champion, and he lived the best life a cat could live, and none of that made it easy to say goodbye to him.

IMG_0458.JPG

A few minutes after I got the news about Chairman, however, I got the call that the truck was finally mine. I decided to name the truck the Chairman in my little buddy’s memory- a reminder that even on the hardest days there is a silver lining to look for.

Posted on October 8, 2018 and filed under Adventures and Updates, Blog.

Reflections as I turn 30

joseph carr.jpg

This post is in partnership with Joseph Carr Wines. They have invited me to share my journey and to celebrate it with a glass of wine.   

It’s 1:30 a.m., and I’m sitting in the rocking chair I built last winter next to a roaring fire in the woodshop, drinking a glass of wine, listening to the rain outside and looking at the bookshelf I just finished building across the room.

My thirtieth birthday is this week. I’ve done my best to pack as much life into the past 29 years possible. I have a few regrets, but also a whole lot of hope for the next chapters. I’ve traveled the world, worked on fishing boats, behind bars and computer screens, started businesses, failed, and tried again. I picked up a few hobbies and turned them into my livelihood. I’ve reinvented myself multiple times in multiple places and built new lives from the ground up in each new locale.

Seven years ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was sitting on my favorite bench playing my mandolin on the waterfront in Taiwan, where I was living at the time. I was sure exactly Who I was and What I was going to do with my life. A recent university grad with a degree in International business and a solid grasp on the Chinese language, I was going to be a business tycoon, traveling Asia and making money I couldn’t even have imagined as a poor kid growing up in rural Montana. I was going to live in a high rise in the city, with every modern convenience, and dang it, I was probably going to be famous too. What. A. Joke. 

My adult life has been a hilarious dichotomy, a constant struggle between my insatiable ambition, wanderlust, and the discovery that, in fact, I was not built for city life, board meetings, business plans or untold hours in front of a computer screen, I was made to live on a farm, surrounded by a close knit community, working with my hands.

Every year, life has sped up. This past year seems to have gone by especially fast. That might have something to do with the fact that I did more this year than I did in the six years prior combined. I built my dream woodworking shop between 7pm when I’d get home from work and 2am when I’d fall in bed dirty and exhausted. I shored up walls, became proficient with a sledgehammer, pulled wire, hung insulation and sheetrock and hung lights. I quit my job and went full time working for myself. I traveled to Europe twice, crisscrossed the US teaching and speaking, attending conferences and building relationships. I milked goats and trained donkeys and planted the biggest garden I’ve had yet. I found a soulmate kind of friend and we built a tiny house together. I built shavehorses, barn stalls and outdoor kitchens, whiskey cabinets and writing desks, workbenches and tool chests. I carved spoons and turned bowls. I forged tools, knives and hinges, welded table legs and steel frames.

In 2014, I started a business that failed miserably. There are a lot of reasons why, lack of self-discipline, poor business planning, high overhead, and an as-yet unidentified struggle with anxiety and depression that was getting out of control. I remember feeling so overwhelmed. I was too “busy” for everything I know to be important- family, friends, animal snuggles. I laugh about that feeling of “busy-ness” I had then, now because I cannot, for the life of me, tell you how I was filling my time. I was working twenty hours a week, had a couple pet bunnies and a few raised garden beds. No kids, no debt, no real responsibilities of which to speak. Today, I’m running a business. I’ve got a four acre farm, a half finished tiny house, a 5,000 sq ft garden, 50 animals, I’m writing a book, building furniture and releasing videos and creating social media content like there’s no tomorrow. Do I sometimes get overwhelmed? Yep. Exhausted? I might as well get tattoos under my eyes, these bags are never leaving. But I’m not busy. I’ve realized there is no truth in the statement “I don’t have time for…”

I’ve tried to eliminate the word “busy” from my vocabulary. I’m learning to reframe my thought process to understand where my priorities lie. If I don’t have time for something, it’s because I don’t value it enough to make time for it. I have learned this year that I am capable of infinitely more than I ever thought before. I have a finite amount of time, but even now, am only utilizing a fraction of it productively, and that is exciting to me. As I look toward year 30, I see a whole lot more dreams being realized. I see my business growing and the scalability of my projects increasing. I’m immeasurably grateful I get to live on a farm and build awesome stuff and hang out with so many truly incredible people. I’m proud of the success I’ve found by 30, not in the financial sense, but rather in the “figuring out what’s important” sense. I’m willing to reinvent myself as many more times, learn any more skills I need to be able to live in such a way that the way I spend my time reflects my priorities: building community, being available to family, actively engaging my body and my mind, and being able to stop, smell the roses, watch sunsets, bake pies and indulge in miniature donkey cuddles because Buddy, that is the stuff of life.

It’s now 2:30am and the fire is dying down as I sip the last of the cabernet in my glass and get ready to call it an evening. I love this #sharethejourney campaign Joeseph Carr is hosting and am thankful they’ve given me the chance to sit back and reflect this week. My 20’s sure were a wild ride, and I expect my 30’s to be even better.

Posted on September 19, 2018 .