Sunshower Farms

Family Owned Kona Coffee Farm and Event Venue

Bathroom Addition

We have a bathroom in the barn! We have had it almost completed for a few months now, but this week it was completely finished with the addition of trim and the doors (we had curtains instead of doors for awhile, which was functional but not the most private). 

The building the bathroom is in literally did not exist last year. We had an addition built on to our barn/workshop area where the WWOOFer room is. Here is the initial framing for the lower level that will one day  be Doug's brewery space. 

The framing started off pretty quick, and in just about a month we had a second story. 

Here is what it looks like today with all of the siding on and the doors and windows installed. 

Doug and I really did not do much of the work on this addition in the way of construction, however I did do a lot of the designing of the space. One thing that I knew I wanted was an open-air ceiling over the bathroom. In Hawaii, we have a lot of mold problems, especially in bathrooms, because of the extreme humidity, so it was important to me to protect this bathroom from mold as much as possible. One way we did that was by installing screens in the gables to prevent bugs and then attaching aluminum grates instead of ceiling drywall to the rafters. This way there is open ventilation over the showers and the steam can easily escape. 

The aluminum sheets we choose are called union jack aluminum sheets. Ashley tested out a few different colors of teal for painting the panels and then painted them using the paint sprayer. 

We attached them to the rafters using metal screws. 

I wish that I had more pictures of the construction process, but at least I have these two which shows you a middle step once most of the drywall was up and the electrical and plumbing was in. After this our mason, Jim, did the tiling of the showers and floors and Chuck, our handyman, finished the plumbing and did installed all of the fixtures. 

When Ashley and I were working on the "design concept" for the bathroom, we decided to go for a rustic/beachy look and color pallet - light greens, blues and whites, wood elements and glass. One thing we saw at Lowes and loved was this mason jar chandelier. The $200 price tag seemed a little crazy for something we could make ourselves, so Ashley set to making a similar chandelier herself. 

Ashley made the chandelier using lamp cord and mason jars. She used pint and quart sized jars and both blue and clear jars. I think it looks awesome lit up and off  - and it is super cute against the background of the ceiling panels. 

Another design element that Ashley and I found were the mirrors. I knew I wanted something in our color pallet with more of an antique look and we just happened to stumble upon a standing tri-fold mirror at the habitat restore in the exact seafoam greenish color that we were using in the bathroom. Once Chuck cut the feet off the mirrors, they hung great and fit in perfectly with the whole vibe of the bathroom. 

Another thing we made ourselves out of a Habitat find were the vanities. These vanities were actually nightstands and Ashley fit them with an aluminum bucket to be a vessel sink and installed the drains.

The toilet rooms are not too exciting or interesting, but I did make sure to have windows in them for light and ventilation. 

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The WWOOFers also made some cool hanging planters out of jars for the windows. They attached them with fishing line so they almost look like they are floating. 

Last, but not least, are the showers. I wanted to use the hex tile in the entire shower, but there wasn't quite enough without having to special order tile so we did an accent wall in white squares. We also picked out a clear glass tile in a few different greens and blues and had Jim randomly place them into the hex tile design. I like how it adds a little pop of color. 

So there you have it, the completed WWOOFer bathroom! 

New outdoor kitchen

We have a new kitchen at the farm! It is an outdoor kitchen space connected to the barn. 

We have one other kitchen in the main house, and with 8-10 people using it every day, it was always so messy. We also never had enough fridge space for all of our food! So for awhile we have been planning to build an outdoor kitchen near the barn.

The first step was finding a good spot for the kitchen. We talked about a few different places, but one of the only areas with a high enough ceiling was this storage area next to the water catchment tank. In May, a few of our WWOOFers cleared out the area and then in June moved a shed that was sitting in front of it to the other side of the barn.

I wish I had some good "before" pictures, but the only one I could find was of this ATV. The area where we put the kitchen is just behind the ATV in the picture where that bags set is propped against the wall. 

Once we had a spot picked out and cleared out, the next step was flooring. We didn't want to do a gravel floor because I thought it might get gross when food fell on the gravel. Also, our dogs will literally eat rocks if they have food stuck to them. 

We thought about doing brick flooring or a concrete slab, but the cheapest and easiest option was to make a design out of slate pieces that we already had. We raked the whole area to be as level as possible and then laid the slate in a pattern that looked nice. Then we filled the cracks with sand and dirt to hold the rocks in place.

It ended up looking really great, and has been holding up well for the last couple weeks that we have been using the kitchen. 

Long-term, we would really like to have the cracks filled with dirt or moss. We tried "transplanting"  moss into the cracks, but it didn't seem to take. You can kinda see the green moss remnants in the cracks in the picture above. 

After we got the floor laid, the next step was to design the counter tops. I knew I wanted the kitchen to be durable for a lot of people using it every day, however I didn't want to spend a lot of money on nice countertops (well, or any part of this kitchen...haha). The space, although covered, is outside and a lot of the kitchen will need to be replaced due to wear and tear as time goes on anyway. 

I decided on 3/4" plywood countertops built around the existing support beams in the barn. For the supports on the two ends, I used 4"x4"s secured inside cinder blocks filled with sand. This mini "post and pier" system is how we built the shelving for our greenhouses over a year ago and those are still holding up great so I thought it would work well here too.  

We used a table saw to cut the plywood counters and then a construction grade wood glue to attach the counters to the apron supports. Before the counters were glued down, the WWOOFers stained them using some extra wood stain we had around. Then our handyman, Chuck, glazed the counters using a thick apoxy glaze of some sort. He said it is the kind you use on boats. Overall, I think the counters look and feel great, but it remains to be seen how well they will hold up. 

While Chuck and I were working on the counters, Melanie and Katie were working on putting together other elements of the kitchen. Melanie assembled this cabinet for the pantry. Originally I had planned to build a pantry out of an old refrigerator by taking the door off and attaching some kind of screen door in its place. We thought that would be the best way to keep out mice (and our dogs and cats). I put up an ad on Craigslist and Freecycle looking for an old/broken refrigerator, but when no one responded, we just bought this cabinet instead from Lowes. So far, it has been working great. 

Katie assembled the sink. I bought a laundry room sink with a cabinet - it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than a standard kitchen sink - but it needed to be assembled. Katie put together the cabinet, but Chuck did the plumbing. 

At some point during the couple weeks we worked on this project I got a call from a woman who had seen my post on freecycle looking for a broken refrigerator saying that she had one and if we came to pick it up we could take it that day. Even though we already had the cabinet built, I thought we could repurpose that cabinet or maybe return it if the refrigerator pantry worked out. Well, when we picked it up, we found out from her that the refrigerator wasn't broken, in fact it worked great! The only issue with it was that it would get an abnormal amount of condensation on the outside that would pool on the floor in her house. Because our kitchen is outside, any leaking water just soaks into the ground, so this refrigerator could be used just as a refrigerator! We have another refrigerator that we currently use to store produce that we were going to repurpose for this kitchen, but we didn't have to repurpose it when we got this one - such a nice surprise! 

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As you can see in the above picture, between getting the fridge and installing the counters, we painted the wood in the kitchen a light green paint that we had left over from something else. We also installed shelving - both a wood shelf that we rescued from the dump and painted and brick and board shelves. 

                                                               This is the back of the jeep filled with our awesome dump-store finds. 

                                                               This is the back of the jeep filled with our awesome dump-store finds. 

Once the kitchen was all built, all that was left was to fill it with dishes, appliances and food! Mark (one of our summer WWOOFers) and I went to the dump store (a thrift store that is at the dump - not nearly as gross as it sounds) and bought all of the dishes, silverware, glassware and utensils that you see below for only $23! An unbelievable deal if you ask me :)

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We had doubles of most of our appliances from when Doug and I lived separately so those things just moved from storage to the new kitchen. I did have to buy some new things though - like a mixing bowl set, pots and pans and knives. Overall, it wasn't too much and the whole kitchen was surprisingly inexpensive. 

Our WWOOFers have had a great time decorating the new kitchen and they are all really happy with it. It is great for them to be able to grab a snack without having to walk all the way down to the house or to refill their coffees while working in the barn. 

It is exciting to have a project fully finished in such a short period of time - we started it in Mid- june and had it completely done by July. I know I owe you loyal blog readers an update on a bunch of other projects and hopefully I will be able to post about those soon. Here are the statuses of those:

1) the barn bathroom - it is done and has been done for a couple months! We are just putting on finishing touches like the trim - I will get a post up about that soon!  

2) the brewery  - on hold indefinitely because we are not sure how we want to proceed with the space;

3) the deck - also ALMOST done - we want to build a pergola and are waiting on some lava rock slabs to come in to finish the counters;

4) the outdoor wwoofer "living room" - this is not even really a "building project" but it is a fun space the wwoofers have carved out and it probably deserves a blog post. I need to get them to clean it up first though! 

I think that's it! I am hoping to improve my blogging schedule and give updates on all of those things and more in the coming weeks.

Fourth of July

Fourth of July is such a fun holiday on the farm - we all take the day off (which is exciting in and of itself) and we grill, play a ton of lawn games, drink and light off fireworks. 

This year we started the day off right by setting up a 50 ft. slip and slide down a hilly patch of lawn. 

I looked up a few designs before we made ours, but we kinda did our own thing. First we bought a roll of 10'x25' 6mil plastic sheeting from Lowes. We spread it out in the grass and cut it in half down the middle giving us 2 5'x25' pieces.

Then, we duct taped those pieces together and added on our bumpers.

In my opinion, there is almost nothing worse than sliding off the edge of the slip and slide and not making it all the way to the bottom. So to prevent against that, we made bumpers with cheap pool noodles.

We duct taped them on the edges every so often on the way down the slide. Then once the noodles were tapped in and the plastic was attached to itself, we flipped the slip and slide so the noodles and the tape was on the bottom. 

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The best part of our slip and slide was the mattress we bought from the dump store. In Hawaii (but maybe in other states too?) all of the dumps have a little charity shop where things that are put in the dump (but that are nice enough to still be used) are sold. We bought a king-size mattress for $8 to be the landing for the slip and slide. 

We attached the mattress to the slide with duct tape and then we stacked rocks under the mattress to make it curve up at the end. To maximize our speed, we used soap on the slide. I got some Honest Co. body wash from costco that is biodegradable and it worked great. 

After we did the slip and slide for awhile, we busted out all of the food we made on Thursday. We had a ton of delicious sides and we grilled burgers and hot dogs. 

We also tapped the keg - Lemongrass Luau - a great seasonal from Kona Brewing Co. 

After lunch, we played a ton of lawn games. I really didn't get pictures of much after lunch, but there was badminton, bags, and wiffle ball (team Bells was victorious!). 

See how patriotic she looks in her ribbon?

See how patriotic she looks in her ribbon?

To end the night, we ate a great dinner of ribs, corn on the cob, grilled mushrooms and salad and watched the fireworks. It was a great day and a perfect way to celebrate America's birthday!

Farm to Table Events

The past couple weeks have been big for our farm with farm-to-table dinners and special events! 

Doug at the Ranchers' Dinner on his birthday! Everyone at our table kept giving him their wine because it was his birthday - hence the three wine glasses!

Doug at the Ranchers' Dinner on his birthday! Everyone at our table kept giving him their wine because it was his birthday - hence the three wine glasses!

On February 28th we were invited to participate in Sam Choy's Ranchers' Dinner. It was a wonderful event benefiting the Kamehameha School system and promoting local farms. Everything served was grown within 70 miles of Kona! Our farm provided the centerpieces for the event which was a small microgreen container sandwiched between two small wheatgrasses.

Even though it was a big crafty undertaking with the burlap containers and cute signs labeling the microgreens, I was so proud of how they turned out! 

Our microgreens were showcased on the three pupus (appetizers).

Our radishes (a mix of watermelon and daikon radishes) were on the beef tounge salad course. 

Finally, our flower petal mix was on the desert course - a delicious chocolate "cow pie."

It was so fun to see our produce displayed in the front on the restaurant as well!

We also participated by donating 200 bags of sunflower shoots and pea shoots for everyone attending the event to take home in their "ag bags." The ag bags were a wonderful way to showcase locally grown/raised food and we were so excited to take ours home! In addition to our shoots, the bags included  a pound of ground beef, a Hamakua mushroom sampler, beef jerkey, chocolate covered coffee beans, locally made jam and a head of lettuce. We were so excited to be part of the event! 

The second event we were invited to was the Kona Brewers' Pa'ina Dinner on March 6th. It was part of the weekly festivities for the Kona Brew Fest that was Saturday the 8th. The Pa'ina dinner was partially a showcase of beer pairings and partially a contest between five different chefs. Each course had a beer from Kona Brewing Co that paired with it. There were also 5 guest chefs who, in their course, had to highlight produce from a local farm as well as pair their course with a KBC beer.

Our farm was paired with the Chef Sam who made a delicious Ono dish with our shungiku and a Black Sand Porter cream sauce. He also made a beef course that highlighted our pea shoots!

We donated full grown shungiku, shungiku flowers, pea shoots and sunflower shoots. It was so fun to see our produce showcased in  the contest. Unfortunately, our chef did not win, but it was still really delicious!

Our cress micros garnishing this beautiful salad course!

Our cress micros garnishing this beautiful salad course!

The next event we were part of was the Kona Brew Fest! Although our farm did not have a booth at the brew fest, two of the restaurants we supply highlighted our produce on their dishes. 

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Connor, the head Chef at Daylight Mind Coffee Company, made a delicious pork rillette with our microgreens to garnish.

And Peter, the head Chef at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel, made an incredibly creative plate of abalone, marlin, guava ice cream and of course our microgreens. I am sure there were some other things on there too, but I could not tell you what! It was great though!

Doug was certainly enjoying all of the different beers at the festival! 

The final event we were invited to was incredibly last minute, but super fun! It was the Sam Choy's Poke Contest at the Sheraton Hotel. We were one of the featured farms and were able to display our products at the event. 

It was a great opportunity for us because there were so many great chefs and restaurants represented at the contest and this event was great exposure for our farm. 

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Our WWOOFer Audra and Doug talking to people at the booth.

Our WWOOFer Audra and Doug talking to people at the booth.

Although we did not sell any produce at the event, we were able to give out tons of samples, coupons for our farmers' market booth, FAQ sheets about our farm and products, and three different recipe cards. 

So many people stopped by the booth, including a number of important chefs, and we are really proud of how well our produce was received by the public. It was also a super fun event because of all the poke we ate. The cups below are just my empties... it was all so delicious!



Duck Update

As many of you know, on January 12th we got seven, 2 day old Pekin ducklings. 

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They were incredibly cute, small and cuddly. They slept in the WWOOFer room for about a week inside a plastic tote tub and were cared for by our WWOOFers.  After only a week they got too big for the tub so we moved them onto the porch into a 100 gallon white cooler. That gave them some more space and also kept the warm because the cooler was great insulation. 

During the day, loving their new house!

During the day, loving their new house!

At night with their heat lamp.

At night with their heat lamp.

While they were living in the white cooler (at about 2 weeks old), they had their first swim. They swam in a small plastic tub filled with warm water.

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Because they didn't have their real feathers yet (at two weeks they still only have down), we had to towel dry them individually. So cute! 

After about a week or so in the cooler, they were ready to move into the chick house. The reason they couldn't be in the chick house earlier is that they were too young and still needed a heat lamp on them at all times to be warm enough. But by 3.5 weeks, they were old enough to only need the heat lamp at night when the temperature dips below 70 degrees. We clipped their heat lamp onto their house and covered the roof with a moving blanket and a tarp to hold the heat in at night.

We set the chick house up in the garden near the house and had a hose constantly dripping water into their water dish. We put a rock in the center of their dish so that they wouldn't try to swim in the dish - if they get too wet, they can get too cold very easily. 

They loved their chick house! It was a big upgrade from the cooler and they had so much space! They lived in the chick house for about 3 more weeks - until they were 6.5 weeks old. By that point, they all weighed well over a pound and needed more space! We gave them a swim in a big cooler, and then moved them to their new pen!

We still hadn't finished building their "forever" duck pen. So we portioned off an area of the chicken coop and made them a little house and gave them a baby pool to swim in. 

See how dirty the pool is!? That is from only one day of drinking and swimming. Ducks are dirty animals!

See how dirty the pool is!? That is from only one day of drinking and swimming. Ducks are dirty animals!

They are just over 9 weeks old now, and they all weigh between 5 and 10 lbs. They have their full feathers and they love swimming in their pool. We had planned on eating at least one of them, but when we determined their genders, there was only one duck that we were sure was male. We need to keep at least one male so that we can reproduce more ducks, and we did not want to eat any of the females, because we plan to sell duck eggs at the farmers' market. 

Dan, one of our WWOOFers holding a duck.

Dan, one of our WWOOFers holding a duck.

So thankfully for our ducks, they all get to live - at least for now. Soon we should have their full pen completed (it is VERY close to being done now) and then they can move in there and have a real pond. I am so excited for them! 

That shadow over the pool is me filling up their pool with fresh water and taking a picture.

That shadow over the pool is me filling up their pool with fresh water and taking a picture.