Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Gravel is IN!

This is what 23 tons of gravel and one excited natural builder looks like:

We had to put some of this gravel into the trench, on top of the drain pipe, then 'tamp' it down. I made 'tampers' out of logs, and put handles on them. You lift up the log and smash it down on the gravel... over and over. Melissa is a very good tamper. How 'bout them guns?

I made a shorter, heavier one out of some Madrone, but one handle broke off as I was putting it in. They don't work as well with only one handle.

Here you can see the Eastern perimeter wall trench, with the first layer of gravel in, and tamped down. The waves in the wall will help it be more stable in case of an earthquake... and make it a more interesting dwelling.

Here you can see Melissa, tamping away on what would be the bathroom outer wall. (she's in the NW corner)

Making Mulch

Since I was caught sitting around waiting for the gravel delivery, I decided to make some mulch for my fruit trees. Keeps the weeds down, and holds in the water better, retarding evaporation.

Last spring I moved an old brush pile to make room for a stawberry patch, and after scraping out the good firewood, I still had a pile of brush to deal with. I piled it up out of the way, and now I've decided to sift through it.

Here you can see my glove and pitchfork on the brush pile.

I built a quick sieve from 2x4s and some chicken wire. Here it is sitting on the wheelbarrow, with a bit of brush in it.

I stir it up, taking anything that could be used for kindling out of it (I'll use it in my wood-fired oven, as that little stuff burns nice and hot) and am left with a leafy dry mulch that I spread around the fruit trees.
Now the drain pipe...

After the trench is completely dug, we've dropped the 4 inch pipe in, and connected it up so that any and all water will flow out to 'daylight' on two sides. Here's the western pointing drainpipe,

And here's the one going SW, through what will be the patio. Did I mention we moved the solar trailer to our future patio? It's getting great sun there, and our batteries are happy, healthy little things. You can see the tire of the trailer here.

Digging the foundation trench.

The outline of our place will have a gravel trench underneath it that will be 18 inches wide and at least a foot deep. It will also have a perforated pipe going through it.

Here's me, enjoying the fact that there's a slight bit of skill needed to dig a trench, rather than simply moving tons of dirt. You can see how Melissa has used fireplace ash to mark the lines that I'm digging out.

here you can see me celebrating the finished part of the trench.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cheese Update:

The cheese is now dry enough to get the wax coating, then sit for as long as I can stand it before I eat it. The orange stuff on the one round is from Hawaiian Sea Salt I used as the 'drying rub'... looks weird, but was easy to work with.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A few pictures from around the 'farm'....

Melissa does most of the watering, usually in the morning, but here she is on an evening watering run

Our first official cherry tomato (next to my knife for size comparison). it was awesome.

Giant mice sometimes go into the grill at night, and I finally went and got the camera. Note the size....

Friday, July 06, 2007

Finally dug the trench across the road

for the water line to the well. Didn't actually take me that long. I only went down about 5 inches, but this is just the 'supply' line that goes from the well head to the tank, and I empty it out every time AND rinse it out before filling up the tank.

This is the top of the well, with my new in-line shut-off valve, which works better than the garden hose thing I had on there before. Now my well officially does 5 gallons in 45 seconds. I believe that works out to 400 gallons an hour. nice.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More Work on the Do-It-Yourself retaining wall

We've got a few more layers on the wall, and I thought I'd show how we have the horizontal rebar in:

you can see the verticals, and the current (2nd) horizontal. It's really a pain to stack the rocks on top of the rebar.

Here you can see how I've tied the horizontal to the verticals with stiff wire:

This is the northeast corner, that will eventually meet up with the stem wall/foundation of the house... so we've been stepping it back and leaving the rebar stick out so we can attach it without having a straight vertical line that would crack right off in an earthquake. Yes, I will probably scrape my shin on that rebar sooner or later....

you can also see how we've got gravel underneath the wall (with 4 inch drainpipe) and how we're putting gravel behind the wall as well. drainage drainage drainage!

I Made Cheese!
of course, I don't know if it's any good yet or not, as it has to sit and cure for a month or so. But I'm also proud of my cheese press:

The milk jug has water in it as an (8 lb) weight. The stick pushes down on a little round chunk of oak that I cut from lumber I made from a tree I cut down. how cool is that? I thought I'd have enough for two rounds of cheese from one gallon (thus the two pipes) but I only ended up with about a 4 inch tall, 4 inch round chunk. Home made cheese. fun.

$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 ...