Journey in the Woods

Friday, October 31, 2008

Acorns, the next side project





It's a big acorn year up here, apparently only happens about every 4 or 5 years, so I couldn't resist seeing if I could get some food out of them. We gathered up about 4 gallons or so, just from our property, and had them laying in the sun to dry, but now that it's raining, we've got them in baskets by the fire.



I read the book on the traditional method of leaching and grinding the flour, so more as that progresses.

Apples, Dried

This is what 40 gallons of apples looks like after going through the dehydrator.


Although, we did have two pies and gave away a bag to the neighbors... so almost 40 gallons.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Still Pegging, Brackets.

All the pegs are in now, and in some cases I still have to go back and saw off the ends. Sort of debated about leaving them stick out....


But decided I liked them cut clean instead.


I'm still working on the brackets that bolt the posts to the footings. They need a bit of tweaking, and it turns out I don't have enough of the lag screws to do the job anyway.
A lot of people think that these brackets are to hold the posts up, but really, they're there to hold the post, the whole bent, *down* to the big concrete footing. It's earthquake protection for hopping, and moving from side to side. They wouldn't hold them if they wanted to topple over... but they won't do that as they are all hooked together... like a table with 15 legs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008





Baking Day


We fired up the earthen oven today and got some baking for the week done. Lasagna, a pie (a prize for who can guess what kind) and yes, a whole wheat crust, four loaves of bread, two jars of garlic rosemary crackers, and a sugar cookie made from extra pie crust. Oh, and I have to go grab the small butternut squashes right now!

Started Pegging!

We've finally got everything in place to be able to start putting the hardwood pegs into the joints. After setting up three different winches to squeeze the joint, I climbed up and started drilling the 1" holes for the pegs today.







It's amazingly satisfying to pound those pegs through the log with my big wooden mallet. Only 68 to go!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Finally Got a Container!

I tried getting one of these for about 6 months more than 2 years ago. (In fact, it might have been the very first blog entry) and today, my great neighbor, Misha, brought one over and helped me put it in place.


It came from Oakland, where he takes these boxes off the back of moving vans and then makes the truck into a dumptruck. I only had to pay his driver for his time. Misha GAVE me the box, and then brought over his tractor to help me move it into a good spot.







Tomorrow, Melissa and I will spend some time leveling it.

Here's Misha and Maxim, his dog, enjoying a litte food after the box got put in its place.



Apple Time!

I saw an ad on craigslist for 'horse apples' and thought the guy might be a good source for manure. Turns out he, as a seller of fine apples, can't make money from the ones that have fallen on the ground, and used to feed them to his horse. His horse is gone, and we hit it at just the right time. There were tons of perfectly good apples everywhere. We stopped picking because we were tired and out of bags, not because we couldn't find anymore.



They're almost entirely red delicious, and since I haven't built an apple press yet, and they don't make great cider anyway (so I'm told), we decided to dry them. I built a quick solar dehydrator out of some scrap lumber, some old curtins and a sliding glass door, and we started slicing.







We're going to dry a batch, then slice up another, and keep going until we're prepped for winter!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Going, Going, Going... UP!

As the farm jack continues to show it's infinite worth, we kept bringing up the cribs and jacking a bit at a time. It was getting pretty high, and it was a bear getting the jack up and down each one.



Then we hooked up a bunch of ropes to the top beam, put a pulley in a tree and hooked the metal cable to the chain winch and started pulling it up that way.








And then it was UP!











Today we got the post footings in the right spots with some extra winching, and Melissa did all the work of moving the cribs out of the way.





It looks pretty good. And big.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Got it on the ground!

We're now in the position of having the 'feet' on the ground, and *just* need to stand it up. The ropes are hooked up to a metal cable that runs through a pulley in a redwood tree to the north of the house.


The ropes will NOT be enough to pull it up. We'll have to keep pushing from below.


We're also putting the girts in place, so that when the middle section stands up, they'll lock right in. They're heavy too, so that'll take a while to get in place also.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Moved the Cribs, moving the Bent

Melissa reorganized the support cribs yesterday, so that they are now supporting the lower beams, which will give us a good leverage point to pop this thing upright.








we're able to do this in part because it's now at an angle that gets us inside the house, and these cribs should be good enough to get us all the way up.

They're pretty tall, and Melissa did a good job of building them like ladders, so we can climb up and add to the tops as we go.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Moving it higher...

We continue to build up the beams, moving them skyward, while trying not to let anything fall apart.





The farm jack continues to be one of the best tools on the property. There's so much wisdom in doing things 'little by little'. We jack it up a couple inches, then build the 'cribs' out of 2x4s and old scavenged lumber, then re-set the jack and do it again.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Got the Generator hooked up

The fuel filter is attached and not leaking, the fuel lines are cleaned out, and the water tank/radiator is hooked up, full, and not leaking. (yes, that's an old water tank I got from someone for free and painted to match the gen)

Next stop is the alternator!

Bee Stung Dog

Our mighty hunter, who spends much of his afternoons snapping at wasps tangled with a bee yesterday. How do I know, you ask? His lip swelled up something fierce. This picture looks a bit like I'm holding his lip out, but that's just the swelling.




The swelling was pretty much gone by bedtime, and he didn't seem to be in much pain.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

How to build a compost pile Water Heater experiement
Really, it's all about the compost.

1. have a spot that's about 3'x3'.


2. Lay down some greens. Could be weeds, but I use leaves from small trees I'm cutting anyway.


3. lay some brown stuff on top of that. I use last week's pile, and dry, fallen leaves. Wet it down. (with waste water, of course)


4. Repeat the layering. Here you can see the sort of branches I use. I just cut off the leaves with a machete, or rip them off by hand.



A close up of last week's stuff.


Here's my experiemental water heater process. This is a 5 gallon jug filled with water, being built into the pile.

5. Cover your finished pile with straw. Here you can see the cap of the jug with a temp gauge in it.



RESULTS SO FAR: after 48 hours in this pile, the water has reached 115 DEGREES! I am so going to use this method to heat my house.

Moving the Bent into position

Melissa and I are getting the bent up to a level plane, which we will then gather neighbors and get their help in tipping it upright.

To get this massive thing up, we're lifting one little bit at a time, with the farm jack, and then sliding some more support wood underneath it.







We've still got a ways to go, but it's slowly climbing up. The worst thing is, we keep running out of junk wood to use as supports!