As the seasons change, so do our household to-do lists. Fall brings the harvest, fun holidays and family gatherings, all things pumpkin and apple, and, of course, the changing of the leaves in many areas of the country. Those leaves, however, contribute to most of the autumn chores. Here are some tips for outside fall clean-up:

Mow Your Grass: Before you put the lawnmower away for the season, trim it one more time. This Old House recommends going down to one and a quarter inches for the last cut of the year. Shorter grass prevents disease.

Fertilize Your Lawn: Fall is a good time to replenish your soil with nutrients it might have lost over the warmer summer months.

Pick Up Leaves: Raking and cleaning up your leaves prevents wet foliage from suffocating your lawn. That can lead to disease, and we want healthy grass! Use a tarp for easier gathering, and then bag them up and dispose of them how your local community prefers. Or you can also add them to a compost pile if you have one.

Check and Clean Gutters: Just as you remove leaves and debris from your lawn, do the same for your gutter system; this will prevent any damage-causing build-up in the winter.

Clean and Store Patio Furniture: Fall clean-up isn’t limited to yardwork. Clean off any outdoor furniture, and then get it ready for the cold weather by storing it away or covering it. 

Outdoor structures are so diverse! On our blog, in the past, we’ve featured a few creative uses for outdoor structures, including home offices, potting rooms, and chicken coops. This month, we introduce another idea: the home gym. It’s a like a permanent gym membership!

Maybe your house doesn’t have enough space for your equipment, or perhaps you just want a sanctuary separate from your living quarters that allows you to get out of the house—even if it’s just a few yards away.

The investment of this on-site outdoor gym will vary. For instance, you might already have an outdoor structure on the property that you can transform into a workout space. Or, perhaps, you already own a few pieces of exercise equipment. The size of the shed may vary, too—but make sure you get one spacious enough for the type of workouts you typically do. Either way, this is a project that can pay off if you’re committed to your fitness routine as gym memberships can be pricey!

You also have many options for designing your outdoor shed—you can certainly leave things bare bones, or you can completely finish the shed by adding siding, flooring, windows, storage, and then painting and decorating.

If living a healthier lifestyle—mind and body—is important to you, but you don’t necessarily want machines, you can still create a retreat where you can do yoga, meditate, or aerobics.

Other considerations: While electricity is not a necessity, you may wish to run power to your outdoor gym for several reasons including air conditioning to keep you cool or to hook up a device to view workout videos (a TV/DVD player, computer, or internet-ready TV—in which case you may also need wi-fi access).

Setting up an outdoor gym in a shed or other outdoor structure can be an exciting project, and there’s an option to fit varying budgets. Most of all, this type of retreat will encourage healthy habits right at home!

Look for us again this year at the 2016 Rockingham County Fair during the week of August 15-20. This event has grown to be one of the largest county fairs around with plenty of activities and events for the whole family… and don't forget all of the delicious fair food! We hope to see you there. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

Here is a bit of info from www.rockinghamcountyfair.com. Check out their page for the event list and schedule.

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ABOUT

[Newspaper article from 1949.]Newspaper article from 1949. 
The first Rockingham County Fair was held at the Linville Ball Park, August 31 – September 3, 1949. Many smaller fairs were held before 1949 at Ed's Park at Rawley Springs, in Harrisonburg on the Whitesel-Sit lot, and at the present location of Memorial Stadium. From 1950-1951, the fair was four days long, from 1952-1963, five days long, and since 1964, the fair has run for six days.
 
The fair has been held at the present site on US Rt. 11 since 1980.
 
The fairgrounds currently account for 111 acres of land, including a 21,000-square-foot exhibit hall. In addition, the fairgrounds include a barn complex with more than 80,000 square feet under roof, providing for a capacity of hundreds of hogs, sheep, goats, beef cattle, and dairy cattle; a farm museum; a building for horticulture, flowers and farm crop displays; a building for poultry/rabbit exhibits; and numerous food concession buildings run by local civic organizations.
 
There is also a 4,000 seat grandstand, which seats an additional 2,500 at ground level. There is parking on the grounds for over 7,000 vehicles, with parking capacity expanding in 2014.

This month, we’re dedicating our blog posts to a few of the many ways you can transform your outdoor structure from an empty shell usually meant for storage into something practical. In the first of this three-part series, we’ll look at how you can turn your storage shed into a backyard office.

Today, many people work from home, whether they’re a solopreneur or a remote employee for another company. Sometimes, though, finding space in an already-full house can be a challenge. Or, if there is indeed a space available, sometimes it’s not a quiet or out of the way as you’d like.

Enter the storage shed. If you have the land available for one, ready-made outdoor structures provide a fantastic shell in which to make a home office. Start by replacing or adding new doors and windows. You’ll need to install insulation and a wall covering, like drywall or paneling, and flooring. Add some trim work, paint to your liking, decorate, furnish, and your interior is set.

One of the most important considerations for turning a shed into an office would be power and connectivity. You’ll most likely need to be connect to the Internet by line or wi-fi, and, in some cases, you’ll want to also have access to a landline phone depending on your communication needs. Power outlets are important—try to think ahead of how many you might need: computer, printer, chargers, lighting, air conditioner/fan, etc. And you want to make sure you’re comfortable in whatever the whether – heat and cooling is important.

Here’s an example of an IBM employee who turned a 10×12 shed into a backyard office – complete with a little bit of humor. 

The tiny house movement is real. With reality shows, books and blogs devoted to these small abodes usually no larger than about 400 square feet, it’s clear there’s quite a buzz about downsizing your living space—and stuff. But is a tiny house right for you and your family? Here are some reasons a tiny home might—or might be for you.

You’re Looking to Live More Frugally

Many people are attracted to the idea of living in a tiny house because of the potential cost savings. While buying or building a tiny home is an up-front investment, it’s one that can pay off over time. (Plus, you’re not likely to be tied to a several-decades-long mortgage!) According to Tiny Life, 68 percent of people who own a tiny home do not have a mortgage. Aside from the total cost of the home, one of the biggest areas of savings in in utilities. According to CompactAppliance.com, the owners of tiny homes spend about $30 to $50 in utilities each month. Tiny homes also cost less to furnish and decorate.

You’re Environmentally Conscious

Another appealing aspect of tiny homes is a reduced carbon footprint. If fact, many people choose this housing option so they can live completely off the grid. If you’re still hooked up, the cost savings are tremendous. Think how many fewer lightbulbs you’ll need. Your appliances will likely be smaller. Overall, you’re sure to use significantly less energy than a “normal-size” house.

You Have a Small Family (And You’re Not Claustrophobic)

According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average tiny house is 186 square feet. Think about what that means for how close you’ll be to your significant other and, if you have them, kids or pets. Most everyone desires some kind of privacy from time to time, so think about how you will handle the extreme close quarters. If you have small children, remember that they will grow up and need more space eventually.

 

There are many others things to consider before you purchase a tiny home such as your lifestyle, your work commute, and where you will live. In fact, perhaps the biggest obstacle for potential tiny home owners is finding a place to put your home. Do you want it on a foundation, or do you want the freedom to move around the country as you wish, such as staying at RV parks?

If you want a feel for structures that can be transformed into living quarters, stop by Valley Structures and take a peek. 

According National Geographic, more than 60 percent of a household’s water use is from yards. Another brutal statistic? We can lose up to three gallons of water per day just from one leaky faucet or hose.

Never before, especially with the constant droughts in the western United States, has such an emphasis been placed on water conservation. We can all make changes to how we care for our yards and gardens. Here are some ways in which we can save on water—and not all of them have to do with limiting our use of water; there are many strategies to consider!

Find your baseline; in most areas, an inch of water per week is adequate to water plants and grass. But perhaps you don’t need to do this yourself; the rain might take care of it for you! Pay attention to rainfall counts in your area, and do an experiment yourself by putting a measuring cup in your yard. This will give you a more realistic view of how much water your property needs.

Think about xeriscaping—this somewhat new term (or at least in it being a widespread trend) refers to adding plants that can survive in extremely arid areas. By adding plants that can tolerate drought conditions, you’ll add to the variety of plants you have from an aesthetic standpoint too, while also reducing the number of plants that need water. Add a little Arizona to your Pennsylvania!

Recycle water. There are a number of ways to do this; a cistern (water barrel) can collect rainwater, which you can later use to water plants and your lawn using a hose attachment. Be sure the barrel is covered to prevent evaporation, and monitor closely for mosquitos; that’s the one downfall of having standing water. Other ways to recycle water is to get out of the habit of dumping unfinished water or leftovers from boiling water for vegetables—use that to water your greens!

Finally, remember that mulch locks in moisture and native plants require less water. 

This month we at Valley Structures are excited to announce that we have made some new and exciting changes to our Economy line of storage sheds. This line has been popular ever since we introduced it last year. These barns will offer you the same amount of storage space at a reduced cost. They are available in the Barn and Cottage style. You will be able to add, change, or move options if you would like based on your needs or backyard requirements . For instance, if you need a loft for additional storage or reinforced flooring, we can add these options to better suit your needs. On the taller sided buildings, you have the option of placing your doors in the side of the structure.

Here are just a few of the specs:

LP Smartside Silver Tech siding, painted to your choice of color, 5/8 plywood flooring, one window standard.

They will be available in eight, ten, and twelve foot widths and up to twenty feet in length.

As with all of our other sheds, we manufacture each one at our plant located in Dayton, Va here in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Every Economy Shed is constructed with the same attention to detail that our standard sheds include. We have a large inventory at our sales office in Penn Laird, Va. which is always open to the public. Stop by or give us a call anytime to schedule your shed delivery!

Fair time is upon us once again! (It's hard to believe how fast time flies) We will have our buildings on location so be sure to stop by and see us! We will have someone there manning the display who can help you figure out what would work best for your farm or back yard storage.

Here is a little info on the Rockingham County Fair from their website.

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The first Rockingham County Fair was held at the Linville Ball Park, August 31 – September 3, 1949. Many smaller fairs were held before 1949 at Ed's Park at Rawley Springs, in Harrisonburg on the Whitesel-Sit lot, and at the present location of Memorial Stadium. From 1950-1951, the fair was four days long, from 1952-1963, five days long, and since 1964, the fair has run for six days.
 
The fair has been held at the present site on US Rt. 11 since 1980.
 
The fairgrounds currently account for 111 acres of land, including a 21,000-square-foot exhibit hall. In addition, the fairgrounds include a barn complex with more than 80,000 square feet under roof, providing for a capacity of hundreds of hogs, sheep, goats, beef cattle, and dairy cattle; a farm museum; a building for horticulture, flowers and farm crop displays; a building for poultry/rabbit exhibits; and numerous food concession buildings run by local civic organizations.
 
There is also a 4,000 seat grandstand, which seats an additional 2,500 at ground level. There is parking on the grounds for over 7,000 vehicles, with parking capacity expanding in 2014.