leveling the ground


I have had a ton of you (my lovely reader friends) asking a ton of questions about our greenhouse.

  • Why did we do it?
  • What do we do it for?
  • Why Plants vs. flowers?
  • Why inground instead of on tables?
  • Why so big?
  • Why build it ourselves vs. hiring a company?
  • How do you keep it hot?
  • How do you keep it cool?
  • How do you water?
  • How do you feed the plants?
  • You do you use pesticides or garden naturally – how?

These are just a few you all have been asking me.  This wonderful spring month of March, I am going to try to share our reasons for doing what we are doing in the greenhouse.  What works and what doesn’t work will be shared.

I’m going to split this up into several weeks and just post on Saturdays about this.  My other posts will be about other Helberg Stories (farm or family).

leveling the ground

(The spot we picked to build the greenhouse.  We had started to level the land in this photo.  You can see the piles of dirt saved on the far left side)

The first question I am starting with is “Why did we decide to build a greenhouse,” which also goes with “Why so big?”

Most of you that are following me already know that we were raised on an 80-acre farm in Wisconsin.  The love of soil is in our blood.  In my teen years, the folks sold the farm and tried their hands at bars and restaurants.  My father had this dream of having a great, famous place that he could pass on to his daughters (He even named one Rachel’s Café after me…that almost worked, but that is a story for another time.).  Through bad timing and a tough economy, we ended up in Denver, Colorado. Yep, big city – by our standards “HUGE” city.

I was 21 when we moved there, and it was great fun at the time.  So many different places to go, people to see, parties to be had; it was amazing!  Then life happened, and I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl!  Her daddy skipped out on us because she was born disabled and he was not ready to be a father.  I made a decision at that very moment that I did NOT want her growing up in a big city.  I wanted to be back in the country again.

Time went by, as it does, and my daughter was in middle school (1 grade away from high school) when the Columbine shooting happened.  All schools all over Colorado, but especially in Denver, went to major lock-down security.  The kids had to pass through hired police and security details to get into school.  Once in it was locked up tight.  A very scary time for the kids and the parents!

I had my home; my younger sister had hers and mom had just passed away about a year earlier.  Our older sister was settled with her husband and son, but I was very unsettled with worries of my daughters’ safety.  One evening I approached my younger sister (I will call her “D” for these stories) D and asked if she would keep an eye on my daughter while I go to see farms with an RE Agent.  Instead, she proposed that we go in together on this.  She wanted out and back to farm life also.  Thus the search started!

After about three months and over 3000 miles, we found what we wanted.  We knew what was already on the property and in the house, but then we discussed what we wanted to do with our futures.  This is where the greenhouse idea came up.  We had several ideas that would take us from the current stage (me in my early 40’s and she in her late 30’, and my daughter about 14) to the end of our lives.

  1. We wanted animals – preferably ones we did not have to kill to make money off them.
  2. A structure that we could turn into some type of shop so that we could sell off the property instead of spending money to rent a store.
  3. A greenhouse to grow things in year-around. We saw the land that was already there but decided that adding a greenhouse would give us an extra advantage.
  4. We wanted to build this place into a perfect place that we could retire. Worried that Social Security won’t be available when we need it, we wanted alternative sources of income.
    1. Land and greenhouse for year around produce
    2. Goats for the fiber (hair) to turn into clothing items.
    3. Chickens for eggs to sell and meat for ourselves.
    4. We also picked Yaks for fiber, milk, and meat (This is another whole other story!).
    5. And we started with Angora rabbits – again for fiber to turn into clothing.

(This story is about the greenhouse.  Someday I will go into all the fiber animal do’s and do not’s.)

So; the biggest reason for the large greenhouse was to be able to grow enough food in there, all year long, to preserve for our family and us and sell extras for additional income.  Eventually, we planned to sell processed foods as well.  Ahh, best-laid plans of mice and men! It is good to have a plan in everything you do, just make sure you leave room for “life” to interfere – because it will!

I hope this explains why we chose the greenhouse and why we built one so big (yes, we built it ourselves – see blogs from 2011-2012 about this).    The next one will be how and why we decided to plant the way we do in there.

Please feel free to ask any questions and thoughts about this.  I love getting input and sharing our experiences!

setting the footer boards

(Leveled land covered in bindweed – yes we get TONS of the stuff – and 2”x12”x12’ boards used to build the footer/base of the greenhouse)

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I love to write. It is one of the constants in my life that brings me joy. I also love to tell stories, read, knit, crochet, weave, plant gardens, raise our own food, play game with my grandson and throw out my wicked sense-of-humor every chance I get (parents fault – they raised us this way, and I am very glad of it!). I have hundreds of great stories from my life that I want to share. Most are very humorous, some maybe not so much. I hope that all are found interesting. Some of the things that have happened to me in life are: • Growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. • Raising and creating 4-H projects for the fair. • Growing food through natural methods (no chemicals here). • Learning (via trial-and-error methods) how to process all kinds of foods. • The death of several loved ones: Parents, fiancé, grandson. • Living through 2 house fires (2nd of which cost me the one grandson). • Having and raising a disabled daughter (20 surgeries in the first 20 years of her life). • Surviving a rape and abusive x-boyfriend and now being able to talk about it. • Giving up everything and moving to another state with $100 in my pocket. • Giving up a steady well-paying job to buy a farm. • Learning and sharing how to really enjoy farm life. • Writing through all of it. These are just samples of all the amazing things I have experienced. I had parents that were amazing! They encouraged all of us to try everything, at least once. Mom tried to get us to enjoy the riches of the world – fine dining (got some great stories on those episodes), how to sit up straight and walk straight to be noticed. She showed us how to walk into a room as if you owned the place. The best thing she taught us was the fine art of storytelling. She grew up with only the radio era folk, so the art of conversation was everything. One regret I have is that I did not keep the letters between her and our Aunt Elaine. They were filled with family happenings and priceless! Dad was a different egg. He and mom seemed like such opposites, but no two opposites were more meant for each other. He was a big, strong, tough man that had been through war times and then something much worse – surviving three daughters! EEEK! Now, looking back, I realize why they both grayed prematurely – we three gremlins. The thing that stands out most in my memory of my father is his compassionate humor. No matter how mad he got at something stupid one of us did, there was always the little twinkle in his eye that told us it was ok. My little sister had him wrapped around her finger – she could do no wrong in his eyes. To best describe him is to let you know that his knick-name for me was “Dumb Shit.” To understand it you may have to watch old Archie Bunker shows – that was my dad. My sisters and I all have some type of talent. The oldest is the wet-noodle. She falls for any stray that comes her way. Then has to feed it and the world (she's an excellent cook by-the-way!) immediately. The youngest is the Artist. She can draw, paint, and/or create so many different things and she too has the passion for cooking. The biggest difference in the two is the first can’t even draw stick people and cooks using shortcuts. The 2nd does everything from scratch – art and cooking. Me, I’m the middle kid. I love to tear things apart and put them back together. I create from scratch – yarn, paint, draw, paper crafts, clay, wood and a number of other things. Cooking is not my passion, I will do it if I have to or if I get an inclination, but it’s not where my heart if. The one big thing we all have in common is our humor. So, my wish here is that as you read my blog (stories), you will find enjoyment in them. What is life if we cannot have a little fun in it?


  1. Interesting.

    But…. Question time…
    Why did you not think to have sheep? Would they not be better for clothing than goats?
    Not only that but you can sell the extra wool you don’t use yourself (And at the end of life you could slaughter the sheep for meat)

    And is Colorado actually as ’empty’ as it’s often pictured?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I knew you would ask some goodies: 1) NO SHEEP – too stupid and the goats we had are the kind that give “cashmere” fiber – yes, the sweater stuff – softer, warmer and get more from the fiber. The other reason for the goats is the meat. Boer meat is yummy!!! It’s more lean than pork and tastes much better. (The key is you have to let it get to room temp before cooking – go figure??!!) You “comb” the goat fiber just once in the spring instead of shearing the sheep. I was gives some free sheep wool once – never want to work with that mess again. So, compared to sheep, goats are much easier (both are stupid and you will always get the really dumb one that will bolt thru the electric fence instead of turn away – LIKE THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO..hahahaha stupid is as stupid does.) A goat is ready to eat in 5 months. Can also get specific milking goats for cheese. But we have a friend with a cow so no worries on that.
      Please define “empty”? Are you looking at the dry land? or just the fact that we are rural and have space around us?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Empty as in you can live in a place where there is nobody within an hours drive of you. That is how we often see the vast plains of the belt.

        And sheep are not stupid… OK… They are… But at least they are not goats.
        And what do you mean ‘taste better than pig meat’… Bacon, woman… BACON!!!
        You can’t get any meat better than bacon! The world shudders at the very concept!!!

        And I carded wool when I was younger.. Wasn’t that bad… Bit messy but it didn’t go so bad.
        Can’t comment on lamb, mutton or generic sheep meat… It’s a little too expensive for us so we have it only very rarely.

        Liked by 1 person

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