Just How Crazy We Are

We might be crazy. We might be ingenious.  But of all the possible adjectives to describe us, I think everyone would agree on “resourceful.”

Any respectable vegetable farm needs cooler space – lots of refrigerator cases or a walk-in cooler. We don’t have the place to put refrigerator cases right now (a barn is on the wish list for this next year) and so we decided to build a walk-in cooler, made possible by this nifty device called a Cool-bot. We needed something we could insulate and then air condition with the Cool-bot set up. Neither of us have a benevolent aunt nor a trust fund, so building something from scratch was not an option. We looked around the place for what we might be able to use as a shed-like space. What did we find? Two steel-framed structures that my father built 20 years ago to use as dumpsters for his construction business. (Doesn’t everyone’s father build steel-framed dumpsters when they need one?!?) Rest assured, these structures haven’t seen trash for at least 15 years, and have just been resting peacefully in what I like to call the “resource” area. Here’s one on its way to its new spot as a cooler:

Our plan was this: we have two of these structures. Invert one over the other and we’ll have an enclosed space. Sweep out, add insulation, install cooling unit, and voila: walk in cooler. Between that vision and the final product, however, was the daunting task of actually flipping one of these very heavy things on top of the other. It is very fortunate that we don’t have any actual employees and therefore weren’t subject to OSHA during this process. I held onto the children and the dog and took pictures from a safe distance. Here is what ensued:


I did not get a photo of when the thing slipped and crashed to the ground the first time they tried this.

Some chain re-adjusting happened here: 

Yes, that’s our very humble house behind the walk-in-cooler-in-process. This is the shady, north side of our house that isn’t useful for much but is a perfect place to put something we want to stay cool, and it’s near the shady area under this tree that we use for washing and packing produce.

Successfully inverted and stacked! Just one more push and the two units were flush.

Some framing work was done and insulation and a door added.

I don’t have a photo with the door on – that will have to come later. But the cooler has been up and running for a few weeks now. We still have to add the second layer of insulation, and then we’ll put on some siding we had milled from trees that we took down. Here’s the milling:

The stack of lumber half-way through:

And the lumber now drying:

Once we get the cooler complete we’ll put the siding up, which will match our shed:

Right now it’s a redneck-cooler eye sore, but it works well, and will eventually look a little classy. Meanwhile, things have been growing well and we’ve enjoyed all the conversations with interested folks at our market booth. We won’t be at the South of the James market this weekend (we have a family event to attend) and my father and brother are being kind enough to take our produce to the Brandermill market. Stop by and tell them hello and enjoy some vegetables, flowers, and fruit (blueberries from Swift Creek Berry Farm at the Brandermill market this weekend!) that our lovely cooler has kept cold.

2 thoughts on “Just How Crazy We Are

  1. I love it! The “resource” area. Janet, you were always an optimist 🙂 Looking good and keep up the blogging 🙂

  2. Awesome! I love how resourceful you are. I’ve been in Charlie’s (Victory Farms) cooler/shed and it looks really similar to this. It’s hard to believe he’s able to cool it with a window AC unit!

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