Friday, February 29, 2008

Earthquake Prep

Since we our pantry is just a bookcase with jars in it, I decided I could make little walls for the shelves, so that if an earthquake shakes things up, the walls would hold the jars on the shelves. So that's done. I think they look pretty good.
The Supply of Urbanite

Here you can see where I gather the concrete chunks for the foundation. We used to pick carefully through here and find the good sized flat ones, but now we're just looking for fill for under the floor... so it's easier. I bet I've done a dozen loads from this spot. It's a horse ranch between our place and town, so it's an easy stop before coming home.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Doesn't seem like a big deal, but...
This little faucet that I finally got hooked into my veg oil barrel will make a big difference. I had a plastic on on there before, and had always had trouble keeping the hose connected. Turns out oil is a little slippery. huh.
Anyway, it doesn't really deserve a picture here, but there's actually always stuff like this I'm doing around the place; a bit of improvement every day.
Hardwood Cutting board

My buddy Mike said that he really only uses a cutting board for limes for beers... and doesn't like to haul out his big one just for that. So a while back when I was out in the woods collecting firewood, I sliced a chunk off this big old, dead, downed, madrone log. Some tablesawing, some routering, a bunch of sanding, and a little oil; a drinkers cutting board. (It's about 5" x 3") I will report back as to how well it holds up.

Melissa starts Gardening

Time to get the potatoes in! I had dug these first two tiers of the upper garden, and intend to do about two more, but since we've got the seed potatoes, and it's time, Melissa went to work. I'll have to get the deer fence up around this area in about two or three weeks.

Melissa also decided she'd try a batch of seeds; all sorts of stuff, from peppers to echinachea (sp?) flowers. We actually had to keep the seeds in a container of moss in the fridge for a month beforehand. We'll see how that works out. Here she's sitting on the edge of the 'cold box', which I set up last spring to have a little head-start green-house type thing. This year it has gopher fence under it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making Sawdust.

Well, it's been a couple weeks on this project, and I'm not done yet, but I'd better get some photos up about the millwork I'm doing.

Down below the garden (the lowest, west-est part of our property) there's a pile of old growth redwood tree tops that were possibly left after the logging done around here 100 years ago. This isn't the best picture, but it's hard down in the woods to get good light.

I set up my mill, and my rain tarp, and started making beams for the house timber frame

Here you can see how gigantic these logs are as I'm working on finding the good parts of these old, sometimes rotten logs.

The mill holds a lot of weight. Here I'm cranking up the bed of the mill to find the spot the chainsaw can cut through the log as it glides along the rail

The beams you can see in this picture are about 10" x 10", but they aren't I'm not done yet. One thing I can say though, is that I do know how to make sawdust.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Little Generator House.

I spent a day (afternoon of one and morning of the next) building a little generator shed up by our well. It's actually on the other side of the road, on my neighbor's property, and we share the water rights to the well.

I wanted to have a shed up there because my neighbors have 2 gas generators and only use one occassionally... and I have to drag our gas generator up there when I want to fill the water tank. (we fill it about every 6 weeks or so- I only let it get down to 3500 gal).

I figure I can talk the neighbors into putting one of their gens into this shed, which not only protects the generator, but the well head, and the electronics that go along with the well. The above picture is from the road, looking east.

The above is looking west, at the side with the door. Yes, I used pieces of an old car tire as hinges for the door.

Here it is with the top and door open. With the generator sitting on the white part, we should be able to just walk up, start it up, and flip the pump switch... I'm probably going to figure out a way for an extended exhaust pipe/muffler to go off into the woods, so it can be run fully closed. (it ain't air tight or nothing)

Got the Lister Generator up on the 'stand' Again

Here you can see the 700 lb cast iron diesel generator now sitting on it's platform again, after a long trip, and then time in the trailer and other spots. Notice how I've added 3 9 foot long railroad ties to the base of this platform... and the thing still jumps around a bit.
That's the rain barrel and fuel cans in the background. In the way back you can see a few smaller logs Melissa peeled a couple weeks ago.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rain, sunshine.... Mushrooms

Chanterelles, actually. With this sporadic rain, then sunshine, it's perfect mushroom weather, so I'm doing checks in all the regular spots. I found two fresh chanterelles and brought them in for dinner.

Fried them up in a little butter and put them on pasta with onions and zuchini. I love finding free food in the woods.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Filling in the foundation

Using all that gravel, we're bringing the subfloor up to level, leaving room for the clay floor and radiant heating system. So as to not waste urbanite and especially so as to not run out of gravel too soon, we're burying the urbanite chunks we didn't use on the wall to take up space.

We're also throwing down the old mortar bags just to keep them out of the trash. Maybe with their little left over powder they'll help preserve the gravel better. whatever.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Yep. More Gravel.

Another 22 tons delivered yesterday. Drainage, we will have.
Back Door Box Block

Since the gravel sub-floor has to come up quite a ways, I lobbied Melissa to get to put a trap door type thing under the threshold of the back door. I got the bit done that will hold the gravel in, so now we can start loading in gravel to bring it up level. Check out those bolts and brackets!
Another perfect loaf!

Besides all the work around here, we still manage to get some great looking bread out of the oven. That is exactly the look (and taste) I'm going for in a bread.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Building in the floor

Now that the exterior stem walls are done, we're going to fill in the inside with vast amounts of gravel and rock to bring the floor up to level, and keep our little mud house out of the rain and water.

Here you can see the box I made which will be a trap door cooler in the kitchen floor. We'll tile the inside, and make some sort of attractive doors for it.

In this picture you can see slim sticks on the right against the wall. The tops of those mark the eventual floor height, and while it is a difficult to discern from these photos, there is quite a slope... that all needs to be filled in. That's one reason I came up with the cooler in the floor idea: to take up space so we don't have to fill it all in with gravel.

You can also see the various piles of extra urbanite laying around. I'll work those into layers of gravel as I fill this area in too. They'll take up space, and lock the gravel in place well.

Note how a 5 gallon bucket will fit in the cooler. Good to have storage!


WOW! what a sense of accomplishment. Of course I had no idea how long it would take, or how many trips we'd be making, for rock and for mortar, but, we're basically done.
(there will be a few more mortaring mornings for buttress footings and interior wall footings, but that's hardly anything.)
Using the cost lists that Melissa keeps of all our expenses, I can get a pretty good estimate of how many bags of mortar we used. We bought some from 'a large box home supply store' but mostly from our local lumberyard (a price difference of $4.50 to $7.50). Any guesses?
About 240 80 lb bags. Yes, almost 10 tons of mortar...before the water is added, plus the rocks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Melissa is Appealing

We got another tree onto the pile this week, and Melissa has attacked it with the 'draw knife' chisel, getting the bark off. Yet another one of those tedious, difficult tasks that Melissa handles easily. In this picture you can see the weirdness of the green/black model on the other logs from last summer, compared to the one Melissa is peeling today.

Start of New Garden

Here's the first two tiers of the new garden site... it's up by the veggie power tower, so we tend to call this little meadow 'the oil field'. You can see a big pile of composted manure above the tiers, which is on top of boards and cardboard, killing the weeds so that it's easier to start the garden.

I had hoped to do a simple 'no till' technique, but then I realized the slope, and the need for gopher wire necessitates the whole tier process.

Still moving the log....

When Melissa helps by cranking on the winch while I lift with the farm jack on the end, we really get some distance.

Here it is at the balance point on the crest of the hill, with the end starting to lift off the ground.

Did I mention this thing is 54 feet long?

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Glove issue:

As readers know, I have glove issues. I can't find a decent pair of gloves that will last the length of time I think they should. I do give them a good workout, but sheesh. Here's a picture of me, with new $39 (ie fancy) "pro landscaper" gloves. Actually, I bought these in July, and wore a pair out, and I was in the hardware store and had them in my pocket and showed them how beat up they were, so they gave me a new pair. Since they were new, and I saw where the wear had been before, I took medical tape and taped my fingers. This picture was taken Dec 29th. I don't know why I look sunburned.

The picture below was taken today. Same gloves, 40 days later. The tape worked for a while, I actually redid the tape about 3 times, before I got tired of that. Obviously, I'm lefthanded, but I'm working on that. I'd also like to point out those are different sweaters. 40 days? come on!

Remember that Tree in the Road?

well, now it's firewood. The neighbor boys (it was their tree, after all) took some of it, but I carted a majority of it about halfway down my driveway and split and stacked it.

it's really beautiful wood, and burns fabulously.

it also splits really well when it's green and wet, which is why I got right on that. Notice that I used a 'dolly' (the blue thing) to move the logs, 2 or 3 at a time down to the stack.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Getting Mortar Done...

Melissa and I worked on the almost last layer of the house wall foundation this morning. We're able to do three 80lb bags of mortar between breakfast and lunch... or until it starts raining, whichever comes first. Here's Melissa working on the west wall.

Later that day, it got wet and cold, so Melissa stayed inside and wore, I think, every piece of clothing she owns. Note the hump from the hood of her down vest under her sweater. (we didn't have the fire going at this point in the day)

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...