6 weeks ago the deliveries began – large tractor trailers arrived on 3 occasions bearing heavy and/or awkwardly long boxes. “I guess there’s a greenhouse in there, or something”, the driver would tell us. The bulk of the structure (20 foot metal poles, a 120 pound roll of plastic, box after box of heavy-duty hardware) arrived in the middle of that April snow & ice storm. Of course it did. I subsequently got a crash course in driving our tractor on slush and ice, while the truck driver said encouraging things like, “you should probably wait til your husband gets home.” I did not. (Who has time for that kind of nonsense?)
The first thing that needed doing was to lay the rails on which this rolling behemoth would travel, requiring a long shallow trench to be dug, and a good few days of banging on a boulder with a sledge and pick. Once that work was done we could begin building the house itself. We’ve put up a number of greenhouses in our years farming. Heck, we’ve moved our propagation 3 times! In the construction of a stationary house, each hoop is attached at each end to a post that has been driven 4 feet into the ground – very solid. Each hoop of our Rolling Thunder house stands on metal wheels that slide on the track, needing to be braced 4 ways before we could move on to the next. This novel need for bracing was a lesson we learned the hard way:
Our first day of putting up hoops was sunny and beautiful. We had friends helping, things were moving along briskly and spirits were high. We put up the last hoop in a line of 19, and as we stood there smiling with pride at how efficiently the day’s work had gone, the entire structure came crashing to the ground quite literally around our ears. It was dramatic, and traumatic – I screamed and fell over. Jonathan didn’t say anything for a long time. The ridge pole was destroyed, and our hopes were (temporarily) dashed, but when we look back on that moment now, it is purely with the relief that no one was hurt. The last few hours of that day were spent in runs to the hardware store for replacement parts, planning how to start over and better the next day, and occasionally yelling in chorus at the sky to relieve some tension.
So then we did it right. It took a long time. But boy oh boy is it beautiful. Our tomatoes, which had grown much more quickly than usual with the warm weather in March, were screaming to get out of their pots and into the ground. They’ve recovered remarkably since we were able to plant them on May 1st, slowly going from chartreuse to deep green as their roots were released into the soil.
We’re looking forward to all the benefits this house will afford us over many years to come: extended tomato harvests from healthier plants all summer, & growing green crops through the winter, to name a few. I am thankful that we succeeded in getting the greenhouse up… and I hope never to have to do it again.
Up next – the new wash station! We’ll keep you posted.