Journey in the Woods

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Believe me

I've still got hopes to get some bees this spring, so I'm making more bee boxes, in the Warre, or top-bar style.  I've started doing some simple notches for the bars rather than try and use small nails to hold them in place. (they need to be a specific distance from each other)
So, every so often when I find a handful of boards that will work, I pop together another box.  I'm going to have to build another roof structure soon. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

the indoor apple drier

A shot of how we strung the metal cooling rack as it held the trays of apple slices that we dried. We're now completely through all the free apples. Melissa is holding the final jar.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mustache Party

Spent two weeks building a goatee:

Then got out the hats and started shaving:
 and drinking:


I thought we had a lot more of this 'cop'mustache, but this is the best one where I was trying to be French:

 and then English:

 and like I always say, it was a Charlie Chaplin mustache before Hitler ruined it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The outside heater project

So, I wanted to build a wood-fired water heater outside the house on the west patio where I could plumb it into the house system.  I started out cobbing together some chunky old urbanite to make a base, and threw a bunch of trash in the center just to get rid of it:
 The base got flattened off and then sat there for quite a while.  I wanted to get the 'firebox' up to about mid thigh, for easy loading.
 After FINALLY getting an old non-leaking water heater, I was able to get it up onto the base without too much trouble.  This photo is from my beginning plumbing work. (I'd already filled up the tank to check for leaks)

Here's a shot of the tank sitting on the base with the trench for the pipe going to the house.  You can also see the ropes going to the trees to hold it up, as it was just balanced on 3 urbanite chunks that I had cobbed into place.  Seemed quite stable, actually.  I was a bit worried the wind would move the trees and be a bigger problem.

And then I cobbed up a firebox, using the old 'sand mound as the void' technique, like one normally does with cob ovens.  I have since pulled out the sand and had a fire in it and did heat the house.  Oh, and yes, there are 2 temp/pressure release valves, so I won't be blowing anything up with steam power here. 

 The only trouble is the circulator pumps on the radiant floor system use more electricity than I anticipated, about 2.4amps each, and there's 3 of them (one is really the most useful, but still).  Not sure what the next step might be.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Plainly Better

Still in this day and age, you can find old tools for cheap at 2nd hand stores and get them working again.  I found this at a thrift store for $2.25, all rusted up.

A bit of work later and some sharpening, and it's looking pretty useful. This low-angle block plane has an adjustable mouth, something I've not worked with before, but from what I read, seems to be a big deal. Should be fun to do some work.  I love using old stuff.  

Friday, January 04, 2013

hot and cold

Did I mention the new freezer is in and running? Here it is with just water jugs for thermal mass.  As I get food to fill it with, I pull out the jug of ice and put it in the fridge to help that stay cooler.
 I'm still not convinced this is a good stove for us.  It's cute, and burns wood, but doesn't really put out that much heat. I'm thinking of adding a flue damper just to see what that might do to hold heat in. 

Winter Activities

When it was raining and a good time to stay by the fire, Melissa worked up the crib with a new cover, using some old cloth she had found at her grandma's house:
 Then, as it hasn't rained in a few days, I finally got to fixing up the last bit of the urbanite patio area - the west point.  When we get more, we'll have an edge go around the west side, behind where the wheelbarrow is in this photo. Then we'll fill in the 'pad' with small pea gravel or crushed granite. 
 More to have something to do with breadcrumbs than to feed the birds, I built a quick little feeder the other day out of some scraps.  it's just tall enough that the dog generally doesn't get his nose in it, but I think I put it too close to where he likes to sit in the morning, making it tough for the birds to check it out. 

And, just for fun yesterday Melissa and I went on an exploratory wild mushroom hunt, and came back with a lot of samples we didn't quite know.  Check the tennis ball on the left for size comparisons.