Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Started on the Earthen Oven....

Here you can see another project underway, the Earthen Oven. This will be a wood-fired clay oven with a brick floor. Nothing too fancy, just a first attempt and good practice for working with clay and stone. I've gotten the two layers of foundation 'urbanite' down, mortared together with a clay and sand mixture (which won't stand up to a flood, but it's off the ground, and I'll plaster over this stuff anyway) Still, it's pretty solid stuff.

The radio is there for size comparison. the base is about 4 feet in diameter. I'll be trying to put a bit of a bench there in the front.

This is in the bend in the road/driveway, at what would have to be called the old kitchen spot. It's a great spot to catch the sunset most of the summer.
Some other stuff we've been up to:

So, besides moving dirt most of the day, we've also been putting that dirt in places that make sense. Readers will remember Dominic, with the big tractor...well, he hasn't been here for a while, so we're back to the wagons and wheelbarrows. In this first picture, you can see where the old 'road/driveway' was, on the left of the photo, and the new path/driveway/road on the right side. this leads up the house spot, and has all that topsoil as berm/retaining wall. there's also a retaining wall underneath that pile.

This is looking the other way, where you can sort of see the retaining walls I built, the little ramp (that the hose and broom are on) and the urbanite stairs that I just laid down.

Here I've numbered the different parts to notice:
1. Dominic put a big pile of topsoil and clay right there, and I ended up using it to build a whole new section the road, including the retaining wall, backing up spot, and ramp (#2). #3 is on the 'hand poured' part of the new road, and note all the wood chips, which we got from our neighbor's pile for free. (with their permission, of course) Manzanita chipped up.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Freezer is done!

Got the door on, the latch made, fired it up, and made some ice. Bo-yah! Looks bulletproof, doesn't it?

here you can see my great latch system:

and the latch doubles as a 'door leg' when it's opened.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Wagon Review:

As you can see in a recent post, we've been using a 4 wheeled wagon to haul dirt around... that is, until it gave up one wheel and basically fell apart. This was after two different times when I reinforced two different parts on it... So, I called up my neighbor, Hiram, who is not someone who is doing a lot of heavy lifting around his place these days, and asked him if I could borrow a couple wagons that I had seen laying around his place. He said take whatever I wanted, so I grabbed two different kinds.

The 'heavy hauler', which is actually quite light, and is available at OSH stores for $37. It was working pretty well for a couple of days, but the wheels started cracking, and it's a bit hard to steer and not hit your heels while you pull it.

This old home-made thing is certainly sturdy, and it having the load so close to the ground makes it easy to load up and move heavy things... but the wheels are too thin; they dig into the ground so that it's too hard to pull. I bet this could move anything on pavement.

So, we bit the bullet and spent $120 at a big (orange) box store and got the 8 cubic foot, two-wheeled wheel-barrow. so, far, so good. I'll let you know if anything falls off it.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Geology Fun.

Here you can see the different sorts of soil we're working with as we dig. There's a crumbly yellow sandstone, a light brown clay, and the dark top soil.

Moving mud...

As we're digging, we hit veins of clay, so we're saving those for the cob mixtures, whenever that happens. We put the clay into buckets,

Carry the clay up to a spot where we'll have good access to it when we'll be mixing,

and dump it out onto some cardboard, just to keep the under soil from mixing in.

Melissa swings the pick pretty well:

Here you can see Melissa working hard, and see how we've marked the area that we (have already now) are going to dig out as part of the first (lowest) level. We fill the wagon, then dump it behind that madrone that is behind Melissa, as we're starting to create the patio area with the fill.

Here's me dumping the wagon:

yes, it's very heavy
Freezer making project...

Gets underway! Regular readers remember the goat adventure, and will be pleased to see that I'm finally getting around to doing something with this box I risked my goat-chewed hide for. I've started by putting a wooden front frame on the box, so I can attach other stuff, and am adding insullation left over from under the yurt:

Then covering that insullation with plywood, to keep it strong, in place, and protected from the elements, as this thing will probably always be outside. and, it won't look so WT sitting outside somewhere if it's wood rather than sheet metal. I'm still deciding on door design.

Close up of the extra insluation.

As usual, I'm just using scrounged wood and materials. Mr. Recycle, they call me.
Old School Construction....

We've started digging and working on the hole where the house will go. After the fun with the bobcat, and Dominic coming out and working for a while, it seems we've got to get down to it with a pick and shovel.

To set our plans onto the site and have a rough idea of where the walls will be and where we still have to dig, we had to figure out 'solar north' as opposed to magnetic north. I did an old boy scout trick to figure it out:

you put a stick in the ground pointing at the sun, making sure there is no shadow. Wait 20 minutes, and the shadow points east. 90 degrees from that is solar north. Line them up!

$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 ...