Projects, Projects & More Projects

I try to get some sort of home project done every year. Last year I transformed the mud hole outside our back patio door into a brick patio.

My sons and I excavated the soil down about a foot using shovels and our Whizbang Garden Carts. We put down a soil stabilizing fabric and carted in many loads of small stone and compacted it with a motorized vibrating tamper. Then we put in a layer of sand and compacted it. Over this base Marlene and I laid the paver bricks in place and I compacted them down with the tamper. Around the perimeter I laid up a low wall using flat stones from the creek bed behind our house. The stone retains a small flower bed. In the end, the mud hole was transformed into a pleasant area for summer meals (the back of our house is still sided with tar paper but we have a nice little patio). The following picture shows just a bit of the patio. It's the best I can do for a picture at the moment. Those new potatoes with peas from our garden look real good to me at this time of year.

I also managed to wire-brush the weathered cedar shingle siding on the front of the house last year, and paint on two coats of good-quality solid color stain. So the house is looking more respectable all the time. But there is still a lot to be done.

A few years ago a good friend told me that a local man I don’t really know asked him why I don’t get my house all sided and finished up. It’s been incomplete for almost three decades. The answer is simple... I do all my own work on this place. It takes time to get the work done. Time is short. It also takes money to get things done. Until the last couple of years, with the modest success of Whizbang Books, money has been in real short supply in this family. And I simply will not borrow money for things that are not a necessity.

A guy I work with gets exasperated with me because I’m adamant about not borrowing money for a bigger place. He says I should just get a mortgage like everyone else and buy a nice big farmhouse for my wife. “That poor woman!” he says, shaking his head. To which I laugh.

I loathe debt. Always have. Going into debt for a bigger, nicer house, with more land to work, doesn’t appeal to me one bit. If I could get a loan to buy land without putting my house up for collateral, I’d consider it. But I’ll not mortgage my home. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like a paid off little homestead.

Maybe, someday, the bigger home and more than 1.5 acres of land will happen. I’m continually working towards that goal. I pray for it. But I’m not consumed by it. And if it never happens, I’ll die content on this little homestead. When I was a teenager, I bought a poster that said “Very little is needed for a happy life.” I believe that.

Nevertheless, with spring and summer ahead, I’m thinking of this year’s home projects. This year I hope to get the back of the house sided and stained. That would be a good thing. I imagine it would make that man who is so concerned with the appearance of my house very pleased.

And I have enough of the paver bricks left to put a nice landing in front of the entrance door stoop. Right now, that’s a mud hole. We currently have a row of wood pallets, salvaged from the lumber yard, leading to our house entrance door. Picture that.

Then there is the roof shingles on the original section of house. They are almost worn out. I’d like to get that job done while I’m still nimble enough to do it, and before it starts leaking.

If I get all those things done this year, that’ll be quite an achievement.

Speaking of projects and getting things done, progress is happening with the Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe project. The parts have been cut and delivered to the machine shop for drilling. I have the nuts and bolts and such for putting the parts together. I am working to get my metal bending equipment and procedures in place. Once I have parts kits ready I will proceed to create a FREE step-by-step photo tutorial on the internet showing how to build the Planet Whizbang. The parts kit from me will not be a necessity, but it will make the whole project easier to make.

In other Whizbang news, I have stopped manufacturing HDPE featherplates for the Whizbang Chicken Plucker. I am now having these parts made by a small, local company with a CNC router. Last year I spent many a weekend cutting and milling round discs and drilling thousands of plucker finger holes with my drill press. At one time, my sons helped with this work. But it is tedious work and they were not so enthusiastic about it after doing so many. It is especially hard to stick with it when the neighbor needs help with his farming or the fish are biting or there are woodchucks to hunt. So now a computerized machine does the work. I still center and mount flanged shafts to the plates. And I personally package and ship all Whizbang orders.

The same computerized router will soon be cranking out HDPE parts for people making their own Whizbang Cidermaking Equipment.

I have a lot of irons in the fire (Oh, did I tell you I’m also trying to learn to play the banjo?). And working a full-time factory job really cuts into the time. To make matters worse, I need to take some time to figure out my income taxes. All of which means I must forgo blogging here once again—but only for a season. I will, however, present a new and different “Little Bits” daily series during my blogging break..... starting tomorrow.


tc said...


Glad to see you completed your patio project! I like to think I had a small part in motivating you.

Keep your commitment to stay out of debt. Your tar paper covering may even help to keep property taxes down. :-)

Anonymous said...

Where do you get your HDPE?

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Terry-
Yes, I remember reading your blog and it was inspiring. Your walkway is far more impressive than my simple patio.

I have bought a LOT of HDPE from

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info.

Sorry for the anonymous, but I could not get it to register with my google account for some reason.

My name is Sean Martin and I am a pastor in CT just starting out with my little homestead. I enjoy your blog and have learned a lot. I look forward to continuing the journey wiht you.


hsmama said...

Hi Herrick,
Have you ever thought of selling your place (I'm thinking that NY land is going to sell high) and relocating to a cheaper part of the country! You might be able to get more debt free land that way. Just a thought. ann from KY

Herrick Kimball said...

Thanks for the thought, Ann. I sure have thought of that, and I have written of it here in the past. I still do think of it. But I'm coming to the realization that rural land in upstate NY is reasonably priced compared top many other rural areas of the country. A couple years ago an exceptionally nice 90-acre section of woods and field a short ways from my house sold for $1,000 an acre. I did not have the money to buy it (still don't) but I regret that I did not pursue the possibility more. I'm finding out that kind of price is pretty reasonable. My hopeful goal at the moment is to make and save enough to buy the land of my dreams somewhere by the time I'm 60. If Whizbang Books continues to do well, it might happen. I wonder if I'll still be blogging then?

Tracy said...

"And I simply will not borrow money for things that are not a necessity."

Wonderful. I admire you for that; I really do. And think of what you are teaching your children about debt!