Greenhouse Frame Finished

Finished Greenhouse Frame

Will, shown in the orange work suit, was the master builder of our greenhouse. The frame is now finished and solid. One of the last things he and Ben did was to put a beam that runs down the center of the greenhouse to divide the span. That is supported by the end walls and five pillars set on cedar posts driven 4′ into the ground. This should prevent any collapsing. The cost of the greenhouse is trivial compared to the lives that would be lost in such a disaster so we went to extreme measures to make sure we can survive any snow load. Built Vermont Winter Tough.

South Pillar Cap

Since the greenhouse is level but the land was carefully set to a slope of about two feet from north to south the pillars on the bay doors at the south end are roughly two feet taller than those of the north end. The stacked 2×8’s give it a nice shaped appearance and cut the spans a little.

Tractor Power Siege Tower

Soon our siege tower will have to find other work or face retirement. Do you have a castle that needs storming? Qualified siege tower looking for work! The siege tower attaches to the forks on the tractor’s lift arms so that our big butted wide base tractor can move the working platform around the inside letting us work up high, clipped in with a climbing harness for safety.

Center Beam and Supports

When I say greenhouse most people think of a closed in hot humid space for growing plants. This is a greenhouse frame and will have a greenhouse translucent plastic on it, eventually, but the front end will remain open for ventilation and all along the sides there are vents that can be opened in the warmer weather and if necessary closed during the coldest months of winter as needed.

The deep bedding pack will heat the pigs from below. The greenhouse cover will let in light and keep off precipitation. The closed north end will block our cold northern wind during the winter months but be openable in summer. Even in the winter the pigs will still spend much of their time in their winter paddocks which I use as summer gardens to grow food for them to eat the following fall and winter such as pumpkins, sunflowers, beets, mangels and such. In the warm months the pigs will completely vacate the greenhouse and I’ll grow things in there that would benefit from a little bit warmer climate than we have here on the mountain.

Initially we’ll be putting a simple tarp on the frame. One detail that the greenhouse kit company failed to mention when they sold us the greenhouse is that the temperature must be above 50°F to install the greenhouse plastic. They were supposed to have shipped it to us in November. By then it’s colder than that here in Vermont. They missed their delivery date and we got the greenhouse in December. By then it was much colder than 50°F by then. Today I got an email from their support people warning me not to put on the plastic unless it was over 50°F or the plastic would break. Thanks guys. Had they said something in the beginning I would have dealt with the problem then. Bother as Pooh would say.

This morning I ordered a large billboard tarp which is something we’ve used on other structures. And added cost and a two week delay. The billboard tarps work well and last for years, perhaps decades, but they are opaque. The pigs had specifically requested a clear bright sky in their new palace. Come summer, when it warms up to 50°F, we can install the proper plastic. Everything in it’s time…

Meanwhile, back on the farm, three sows decided they were tired of crossing their legs and couldn’t wait two more weeks – they farrowed twenty nine new piglets to join the world on Sugar Mountain Farm. Fortunately it was a warm day. Our record low farrowing is -24°F, that’s twenty four degrees below zero or -31°C for those so incline. A wind block of the south field shed, deep bedding pack generating 80°F through composting action and good winter sows make it happen.

Outdoors: 24°F/-14°F 4″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 64°F/59°F

Daily Spark: There is no Lite bacon. Praise the lard!

In Vermont where we are the annual mean temperature is only about 44°F.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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12 Responses to Greenhouse Frame Finished

  1. am in the pm says:

    Didn’t realize size of greenhouse until I saw Will pictured . Congratulations on completing the framework .

    • *grin* The greenhouse is our largest structure yet. While it follows our typical arched design it is done very differently with a low mass lattice instead of the massive masonry and stone we usually do. Next, we will cover over an acre in the Ark as practice before we dome the valley in preparation for the big trip.

  2. Tropical Grandma says:

    Walter, I just got worried when I heard about that plastic cover. Won’t it be awfully fragile, in your cold climate? Maybe even wind, not to mention sleet or birds or wind-blown twigs, would cause it to crack in very cold weather. I hope not! Of course, living where I do, cold seems really formidable. Maybe I’m overreacting.

    • According to the greenhouse company the issue is unfolding it when it is cold but once it is in place it is fine even in our cold weather. I see lots of these greenhouses around here that seem to do fine with the plastic cover so I think it will be okay. The plastic is not the poly used in construction but rather something specially made for greenhouse covers which is more durable and withstands the sunlight better. The inner layer has a IR reflective coating and an anti-condensation coating which is part of why we’re going with the inflated double layer even though our end walls are open. The inflation also helps with wind and snow loading. We have a pure sine wave battery backup power supply to get the blower through our many blackouts.

  3. charlie says:

    I would still buy a snow rake, never be so sure that it won’t collapse from a snow load.

  4. T.J. says:

    Man, you are taking that setback better than I would. Good for you guys. I’m a little worried the plastic will take some permanent kinks where it stretches over folds while it is stored for so many months. I don’t know if the company can answer that question, or if you can store it partially unfolded… But I’m just speaking “out of my hat,” I don’t have any experience with that kind of plastic ; ) Good luck.

  5. diane friedlander says:

    I work on a farm in Maine and we have many greenhouses and we get our greenhouse 6ml. plastic on rolls and have changed plastic in winter/spring on freezing cold mornings many times. I didnt know it ever came folded.
    Happy to provide more info if you like.
    The most important part of installing plastic is to do it when there is NO wind. We do it right after dawn on no wind days. Even a tiny 5mph wind can take that plastic up up and away.

    • The plastic is in rolls but it is folded on the rolls. The sheets of plastic for our greenhouse are 100′ long (roll length) by 50′ wide. The width gets folded onto the roll so that it fits on a 6′ or 8′ wide roll which allows for shipping. If it were not folded the roll would not be shippable. For a very small greenhouse tunnel it might be on a roll unfolded but that would be more like a row cover than a greenhouse. We’ll be waiting for a no wind day, no sailing away!

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