Thursday, November 29, 2012

Settling (for) some errors

As we enter our second year of living in the house, a few spots are showing where there's been a bit of uneven settling.  I believe most of these are pretty small and (I hope) mostly happening due to the difference in consistency of the limewashed plaster and the underlying cob.  I'm also hoping that when we whitewash again (next spring?) these cracks will get filled in to some extent and disappear. 

In my attempts to be a guide to anyone thinking about building a building like ours, and my strange drive to over-share, I thought I'd point out these flaws. 

First one is where the wood wall (with earth plaster over it) meets the interior cob wall.  Above the main bedroom door to the ceiling. Here's a full shot of the spot:

and here's a shot of the crack at the seam:

At the mid point in the living room couch - where it bends:

 There's a little crack.  This couch wall is only about 4 inches thick.

The most troubling spot, troubling because of how it reveals that my design of a major structure point isn't perfect, is at the apex of the arch over one of the bathroom windows, right at the NW corner of the house.  This is also one of the tallest spots, and thus the heaviest wall.  With all those tons of material sinking slightly, the thin arch above the window is the weak point. This is exactly what the books tell you to avoid. 

Here's the close up of that crack. Still, being the worst one, it's not that bad.  

Now that I'm typing, I realize there's a couple more that I didn't take photos of.  Between the steps and the end of the couch there's a small one, and the love seat armrest by the fireplace is come slightly away from the wall. Again, all should be filled in and covered with lime wash.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Melissa projects

Right before our trip to southern California, Melissa fixed up a back seat cover so Jack wouldn't mess up the seats too much.  It's actually made from an old comforter cover (that Melissa had repaired once already) and was even originally made of sheets (that is, it was already a recycled item). Works really well!
 Plenty of Time.  Melissa went through a tray of 'elfin tyme' and added them to strategic spots on the patio:
 the patio is slowly coming together:
 meanwhile, the persimmons are drying away under the eaves:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Video update on Lister

Since a big part of this update has to do with the noise reduction, I thought I'd spend the bandwidth and upload a video of the diesel gen running on veg with the new muffler set up. 

if you know these old British designed, Indian made cast iron, single piston beasts, you might hear a bit of a squeak on every intake valve move.  I thought that squeak was coming from the alternator with badly greased bearings, but I discovered it was simply the rocker arm (between valve and cam bars) was rubbing against it's spacer. A bit of grease later and the thing is even more quiet. 
Maybe next is a little shed!

Autumn work

Some various things going on around here as the weather turns cooler.  A batch of applesauce has been canned (from the scrounged apples at the close-by orchard)

 You can see both the solar dehydrator working and the patio settling in in this photo:
 Our own main apple harvest is in - we've been eating them right off the tree, but the majority came in right before the few days of rains.  Next year, 2 bags!
 Melissa did a crafty day thing with a bunch of ladies and has started to leave winter decorations around: 
 My favorite winter decoration is the drying persimmons!
 Remember the goat? We got some of the bones after the goat owner scraped off the meat for the grinder and spent a day making stock over the fire.  Turned out great! 

Friday, November 09, 2012

More Servas Guests

A lovely Danish family made their way up to the Journey last month.  We were able to give them an All American baby dress, as she was growing out of her travel clothes, and people have been giving us great stuff in anticipation of our 'project'. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Meat and Veggies

Jack continues to bring back pieces of a deer from the woods, one bit at a time.

Did I mention I helped the neighbor process one of his goats? quite a bit of work, as we tried hard to take the skin off perfectly. The whole job, from .22 in the brain to chunks on ice was 4 hours. Then he still had to do all the grinding the next day.
 And, for something completely different, last weekend we and our guests made up some maki rolls for a light snack.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

insane foodie project! Sea Salt!

I'm not sure exactly how this all happened.  Our good friend and neighbor Dave is something of a foodie, and he brought up the idea of someday going out to the ocean and collecting our own sea salt - it's all the rage right now. I'm almost always up for a DIY project, but even I thought this was a little bit of overkill. But, somehow on our last trip down to Santa Cruz, we met up with Dave and went up the coast a ways until we found a quiet out-of-the-way beach.  We wanted to use a rocky shore to avoid the sand, but that wasn't possible. Pretty soon, it became apparent that we had to get in the water pretty deep to get past the cloudy sand in the breaking waves.  So in I went:
Believe me when I say, it was cold, and quite a workout. 
 We got a total of 19 gallons (lost one lid somewhere) and dragged them all back to the car. 

 Dave did his on the stove, but I'm too cheap for that, so I boiled the 10 gallons over the fire for about 3 days (not at night) until I had a bucket of what looked like wet sand.  

The last step was to spread the clump out on cookie sheets and since we baked in the earth oven last night, I had a hot empty oven, so in they went.  I got 9 gallons of fluffy sea salt that I stuffed into 2 full sized mason jars. DONE!

$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 ...