Creative Repurposing

Now that Spring is finally arriving, it’s time to work outside. We have been repurposing items around the farm to improve multiple areas at the same time.

The weather has finally given us a promise of Spring.

There is so much to clean up after winter and debris to clear in the dormant garden beds. But there are also many things we want to improve.

So even when there is still a chill in the air, we are outside working.

One of the most exciting things is when we can make improvements to the property with little to no monetary investment. Of course there are always things we will need to buy, such as mulch and bales of peat, but some of the changes involve just rearranging what currently exists.

Even better is when we can take care of two things with one task.

For example, we have a lot of wood scraps stored in the barn. And by stored, I don’t mean neatly stacked. I mean thrown into a pile from the doorway after tired muscles are exhausted at the end of a building project. All sizes and types of lumber pitched into an unruly heap. The slighest bump will send the precarious assemblage sliding into one’s shins.

At the same time these random bits need a new home, as fate would have it, the catdom also needs an upgrade.

First you may be interested in what a “catdom” might be. At Five Feline Farm, there is a fenced area stretching from the walk out basement into a grassy area which allows the cats to roam in the fresh air but be protected at the same time. The Purrfect Fence is specifically manufactured to contain and protect felines.

Over the years, some areas of the catdom have been overtaken by chocolate mint. It has even crawled under the edge of the greenhouse and threatened to topple it. After digging out as much mint as possible which included running into a hibernating snake, the ground was covered with black plastic to kill off any remaining mint or other vegetation.

Now a blank slate remained. Time to redesign the space.

This is a perfect time to put all those random bits of lumber in the barn to good use. With only a little imagination and a couple of hours, several borads were screwed together into squares and rectangles. The scraps are transformed into perfect planting beds.

Another area being re-invented is the old goldfish pond. We have a large number of rocks and stones that need to be moved out of this section. A few loads of those rocks placed over the plastic adds a nice decorative touch to the catdom.

In just one day, with a bit of re-imagining existing materials and some satisfying physical labor, the catdom has a new look, the pond area has fewer rocks and the barn is one step closer to organized.

As you remodel or revive areas of your property, before you buy new things, look around at anything you can repurpose. Try to imagine things in a new way, even a outside a conventional use. You might be surprised what you create.

Let us know what you find to repurpose around your house. You can also follow almost daily exploits and encouragement on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. As always our on-line Mercantile is open to meet your soap, balm and reading needs.

Decluttering Financial Records

If you have been listening to our podcast Farm Chatter over the past few weeks, you know we have been focused on ridding the house of clutter. (If you haven’t heard one yet, check out Episode 102-The Declutter Report.) One of those decluttering tasks was to purge old financial records.

Does anyone else have trouble throwing out bank statements?

Paid credit card statements?

Old utility bills?

How about the maintenance agreement on a product you no longer own? Ok, that one is easy.

But those old financial records are a different matter.

Set Up Your Own Rules

Use a rule that makes sense to you about your financial records.

Our general rule is to keep tax returns forever; paid bills, bank statements and tax supporting documents for 3 years. Other things like maintenance agreements, operating manuals, etc. are only necessary while we own the item.

Everything else found in the bottom of a box in the back of a closet can go.

Who knew so much paper could accumulate?

After the financial record purge, a 3 foot high mountain of paper was stacked in the floor. No one wants to just throw these in the landfill. What if a page with sensitive personal data blows across the road to someone’s house?

Out comes the shredder.

We discovered after about 20 minutes of constant use, the poor little cross cut shredder would overheat. It took about 3 days of on-again, off-again shredding to get through the pile. Now the 3 foot high mountain is a huge stack of trash bags full of teeny-tiny, itty-bitty pieces of paper.

Now what?

These could go to the landfill now without fear of personal data scattering to the winds. But we feel an obligation to recycle.

This paper is now getting a second life around the Farm. It can go directly into the compost pile but can also be used in other ways.

How about in the bottom of transplant pots for new little seedlings?

It can also be used as a soil additive in raised beds to help with water retention. A 2 foot by 8 foot raised bed may accommodate 2 or 3 gallons of shredded paper. Pro tip: add a little at a time and mix thoroughly through the soil. Wait a week, then add more if necessary.

What can you do?

—Even if you don’t have such a mountain of paper to shred, you can use what you have. You can always wad up newspaper in the bottom of a flower pot before adding soil and plants. This helps reduce the amount of soil needed, makes the pot lighter weight (especially useful when re-potting large plants) and assists with water retention.

—Always think about recycling whenever possible.

For more information or tips about things to do at your place, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

The January Declutter Challenge

Something about January feels like starting over. It is a new year and in this instance a new decade. Out with the old and in with the new. It is time for the January Declutter Challenge!

One way to start over and begin anew is to declutter.  This is not necessarily “in with the new” although some new shelving and cabinets may be required. Ours is more of an effort to clean up, reuse or repurpose as appropriate or find a new home for things that are just not needed any longer.

If you have been listening to Farm Chatter, you are aware of our challenge  to listeners (and now readers) to join in this declutter effort.

It can be daunting, but we have created a system.

Whole House Plan

It has been over 10 years since anything in this house had a real makeover. Throughout the coming weeks we will go through each and every room, sort out what occupies the room, donate what is not needed and re-organize what is left. This may eventually include refreshing paint or adding new color in other ways, but it starts with a thorough deep clean.

One Room At A Time

It is too overwhelming to think about cleaning three levels and 10+ years of accumulation of stuff all at once. That will lead to immobilization.

The antidote to this paralysis is to tackle one room at a time. Some days we have broken it down to even smaller areas: one closet or one kitchen cabinet. Think of the old saying about how to eat an elephant. One bite at a time.

20 Minutes a Day

Often what it takes is to just get started. Some times even looking at a jumbled up closet is too much to tackle. But committing to just 20 minutes a day is doable. Usually I end up spending more than that amount of time, but I know that if I can do at least 20 minutes, I have been successful for the day. Setting this small goal helps.

It may not be a fast pace, but every step is progress.  Each cabinet, closet, and drawer is one step closer to the ultimate goal of having a clean organized house.

Won’t you join the January Declutter Challenge?

While you are decluttering, don’t forget to save on shipping in our online Mercantile. During the month of January use the code SHIP25 for free shipping on orders over $25.00.


Goal Setting for 2020

It is that time of year when everyone is making New Year’s resolutions. There is something about the start of a brand new year that encourages people to begin anew.

At Five Feline Farm we look forward to the coming year, but are not making resolutions. We are setting goals.

The Farm Fresh Mercantile, our on site store will be closed January and February. We will use this time to rest, refresh, restock and finalize concrete goals for the upcoming year.

We may advance a new look to our farmer’s market presence; refining the variety of products we offer or changing up displays.

There may be new products available in our on line Mercantile, plus we are in the development stage of on line courses to teach how to live the Five Feline Farm way.


Some things, like our signature podcast Farm Chatter and the catalog of books from Five Feline Farm Press, will continue to grow and expand.

Watch for on Farm events. Look for topics we will present at various conferences and educational forums. (Our next one will be To Market, To Market To Buy a Fat Fig at the Coles County Master Gardener Spring conference on February 15, 2020.)

The year 2020 holds exciting prospects for Five Feline Farm. Keep coming back….it’s going to get interesting!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information.