Monday, August 27, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bunch of Progress?

So, another part of the retrofitting for the fridge exhaust system includes cutting into the cob wall to make a space for the new, fancy, low-noise exhaust fan that I got ($108). It works great, but needs to settle into the wall. I spent over an hour chopping at the cob wall for a 10"x10" square about 2" deep. Hard work.
 Meanwhile, the garden is growing away.  Melissa brought in a harvest of tomatoes and chives... the tomatoes are what we call "Mountain Tomatoes" as they are from seeds I've saved from  some non-hybrid (whose name I can't recall) and am trying to create a good tomato that will grow well up here and taste good. at least they are producing! I will report on flavor later.
 In other news, another step has been taken.  ha. This is the second to last step to be mortared in on the patio. Melissa spends bunches of time figuring out the proper heights, and then we both crank out the mortar work and get it locked in. One more to go!
 AND, I finally got the solar panels off the solar trailer and up on the roof, and rewired to the trailer which is off in back.  Things seems to be working excellently for those batteries. Now to get a chest freezer to hook up and use that extra power! 
 Finally, on a completely different page, we had some sort of beetle/worm chew it's way out of one of the madrone steps!  a while back we heard something in the wood, and applied a batch of bug repellent/killer (borax based) but sometime during the day yesterday, the little bastard ate it's way out of the top of the stair, leaving this mound of dust by the hole.  I hope it's the only one!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Retrofitting for GeoThermal

 yeah, I love retrofitting stuff. not. We've continued to have trouble with the fridge cooling system, as it seems to heat up too much in the back, without enough good air flow.  One problem is that the intake sucks in the really hot outside air, so I thought why not try and cool that air by running it through the ground?
 So I dug a trench through the west patio...
 Which really wasn't that hard, as most of that is fill that I put there only 6 years ago anyway:
 But the hard part - and the non-fill part, was up under the little deck, along with the water lines and the electric lines:
 and then I popped open the intake hole, removing the screen that I had plastered in there:
 Of course now that new water line was right in the way, so I had to go around it with my pipes:
 But after plastering it back into position, it seems like it looks ok:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


The Early Summer Red apples are ripe! I found one on the ground, so I knew the other two (?) were ripe. this is from one branch on a tree with 4 kinds of apples graphed to it. The green apple got knocked off the Granny Smith tree by accident,when it was too small.  
 This interesting guy wandered into the house while I was getting ready to make a cocktail.  I let him go back outside. 
 And here's the blackberry wine making, in progress... A bit of hose leggings getting the last drops of the fermented juice out of the 'must' before being bottled up.  Hope it works!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Fruit, Tank, Smoke

got another haul of wild blackberries when I went through town the other day... going to experiment with a bit of wine making.
 Did I mention we got a 4th water tank? that makes 20,000 gallons of storage capability.  The two at the top of the hill will be hooked up to rainwater collection off the future carport, so we'll have 100% free water supply.  The well will then be back up.
 Ripe Peaches! and the fruit looks good too!
 I've been thinking about my environmental impact with the earth oven... some would complain about us using wood as fuel to cook with, as it does put the carbon back into the atmosphere a bit more quickly than decomposition, and the smoke adds some particulate to the atmosphere that is also a negative... 
some might even try to make the argument about the 'limited resource" of wood...

Well, I can't argue much with the carbon thing, though geologically speaking, decomp at 5 to 10 years isn't really that big of a difference... and the truth of our situation is that we have an 'underbrush problem'; we have much more small sticks and brush than is healthy for any sort of forest, let alone the kind that tends to light on fire (and should, but hasn't for 100 years due to white people's insistence)

So, I want to at least attempt to address the smoke issue. Here's me with the typical bit of smoke coming out of the earth oven:
 Here's me with my new metal chimney I built out of an old stovepipe and cut some ventilation into... there's still a bit of smoke in this photo, but mostly, it's just clear coming out of the chimney.  The better draft allows for the smoke/particulate to be better burned up, cutting down on the air pollution.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


Woke up to a wildfire to our east - turns out some tweaker campers had a bonfire the night before and surprise! didn't monitor it properly and it got out of control. About 5 acres went up before they started getting it under control.  This photo is from about 8:30am.

 That was motivation for me to re-evaluate our fire safety (which we already think about a lot) and I decided to assess all the flammable stuff in my tool shed.  I figure if we have to evacuate, I will take any gas and diesel with me, but the old chemicals need not be a bomb waiting to go off.  
I gathered up all the stuff and laid it out:  
 Then I dug a hole deep enough and big enough for all of it, and am now storing all that in the hole... except for the white milk crate, which has all the really handy stuff.  The hole has space for the crate, so if we evacuate, all I have to do is throw the crate in the hole, grab the gas and diesel, and we're ready to go. 
Also, I think it would be just as easy to take the 3 small propane tanks with me rather than leave them to blow up as well. In fact, I'm going to move the 2 extra near my other fuels today. 

The second wildfire was smaller, but closer, and to the west.  Notice here that the smoke is (again, luckily) blowing away from us, which seems to indicate that the fire wouldn't come towards us too quickly.  Still, this is really close.  from our place, bushwhacking through the woods, I could walk to this fire in about 40 minutes. 

 Further motivated, I cleaned up the west patio of dry leaves, and trimmed up the trees to the north of the patio. Both clipping away from the house, and cleaning up around their bases. 
 Then, after sweeping the roof (which didn't have too much crap on it) I raked all the redwood needles and the few dry leaves away from the north of the house as well. Now that's a nice bare dirt area.  

Friday, August 03, 2012

Canning a bit

Yep. that's one jar of blackberry pie filling being canned over an open fire.  
We're like that here. boom!

$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 ...