Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fire Wood

My friend, Ken "the Faller Feller", and his wife, Charlene dropped by today to fall a pile of the dead bug wood trees near the upper pond.


Nice to see a pro a work. He made it look easy. The wood is very dry and cracked, and some of it is dangerous. Not a great place to be when the high winds are blowing.

In a couple of hours we had a great start to the winters wood. Of course the cows had to come rushing over to see what the fuss was. But they ambled away when they noticed we didn't bring any cow treats with us. Xena was with us but got so spooked by the trees crashing down she took off and high tailed it back to the house.

You can see the blue stain left behind by the action of the Mountain Pine Beetle. It is actually very nice looking. Some entrepreneurs were making furniture out of it, calling it Denim Pine. Unfortunately this wood is too cracked to make lumber out of but it will burn just fine.

A couple more days work and we should be warm all winter. And that's a good thing. Jo-Ann made the mistake of saying it probably was good exercise.. Well only another 10 or so truck loads..

It didn't get much above 5C(41F) today, and we are hearing about snow in the upper cut blocks. So winter can't be far away. A local farmer says not until the end of October. Hope he's right.

Written in Concrete

Of course as we approached "Pour Day" the weather got bad. And the road slippery. My concrete anxiety heightened, apparently a common phenomenon to anyone who plays with the stuff . The day before the pour it cleared up a bit and we had a strong West wind which dried everything up greatly. It's only the top couple of hundred feet of driveway, thin on gravel, that poses a problem. It jollied me right up to see the cement truck chunder up the driveway with no apparent problem.

My brother Tiny, and his son Conrad, who is a contractor in 'Rupert were on hand and made the job look easy. I had a young, local friend helping - and Jo-Ann say's it looked like he did most of the heavy lifting. Thanks Joal.
Boose checking it out no doubt. I keep telling her she is going to have a pretty neat house when its all done.

Here's a picture for the relatives: Me, Conrad and Tiny. The grinning means the pour was done.

The pour itself only took about an hour. Finishing, and the wait between, took several more but in the end I had a flat concrete surface to start working on. Some how it managed to get some cat prints in it.

Next is to put the ceiling on so I can install the overhead doors and framing so I can install the side door, then wiring, then insulation, then walls, then heat, then paint. It does tend to go on. But I will sure be enjoying it this winter. And Boose who resides in the current "Blue" shop. And Jo-Ann who is bitten by the DIY bug.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Roota Veggies

We had a hard frost last night and the tops of the Roma tomato plants were looking a little sad so we decided to do a bit of harvesting.

Look at the size of this turnip. Jo-Ann's big discovery today was that fresh from the dirt turnips, cut into french fry size, are a delicious snack food. Who need Jicama.


We still have about four tires of turnips left to do so should be pretty well setup for a while. We also have a couple of tires of beets and eight tires of spuds. If I can squeeze some time in after the garage pour I am going to build a cold storage room in the basement.

That of course, will entail moving about a thousand boxes of vitally important stuff. That if some one were to steal away with it all, I would not have a clue what the heck was missing. Some kinda lesson there.

Were getting excited about the pour Friday. The concrete people phoned and confirmed a date. I ordered way to much cement but tomorrow I might make some molds for concrete patio slabs. Always handy to have around the place. Or simply put a slab around the side of the garage for campers.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bending Iron

As usual my estimating skills need a lot of improvement. It took me all day to get the ground leveled and the rebar and wire mesh in place. I sprinkled water on the gravel and then packed it for about an hour.

Then the plastic went down. Of course the side walk superintendents were in attendance.

Xena:( to Boose) " Your sure your going to like to sleep on this plasticy stuff? I get to sleep on the big bed.."

Jo took pity on my groaning and decided to give me a hand bending iron and cutting tie wires, and answering the question" what did I do with the sledge hammer?"

Finally we got to sit back and admire the handiwork. We are a couple of pieces of rebar short and will pick some up today to complete tieing the mesh to the rebar and finish the apron at the door way.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On the Level


Tom brought his fancy, self leveling, laser up and we used it to level the grade of the garage before we install re bar and wire mesh. I am putting in nails to mark the level line produced by the laser. Bit of a trick trying to get the base uniformly flat. Fortunatly Tom had his skidsteer which is a lot more powerful than our old Case. I have use of a tamper to flatten it out and it sure makes a solid base. Today I will play with getting it a bit deeper and add plastic and pressure treated 2 X 6's around the perimeter. Then bend some rebar and install the wire mesh. We are going to pour next Friday.

The side door is ready to go in but it will have to wait for framing which will happen after the floor is poured.

If I manage to get all that done today I will be thinking about making some cold storage to house the crop of root-a-veggies. Or maybe build the door for the ceiling storage area..

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sometimes I wrap my Head in Tin Foil

But it really works better putting it around the inside of tires to maximize the growing season. Here is how I do it. The first step is to spray the inside of a clean cut truck tire with 3M super 77 contact spray.

Then I line the inside with heavy duty tin foil and smooth it out as best I can.


I also do the tire lid. It will help reflect light back down onto the plants. The white fabric covering the centre of the tire is agricultural fabric. It lets the light and rain in. I can also use plastic but if you do you have to be very careful not to let the plants burn. Its glued on with acoustic sealant, a messy black stuff that doesn't harden.
The reflector " riser " tire gets put over the ones with soil in it and the reflective lid goes on top. I have drip irrigation that waters the plants. The temperature in the tires was close to 33C yesterday. Maybe a little to hot but the average temperature is rapidly falling despite the fall heat wave.
I am doing an experiment here with some Chantilly carrots . I want to see how long they will actually grow for. Last year we did a similar experiment, without the tin foil lining and we had plants growing in October. Just like little mini green houses.

Harvest Time

The frost has been here for a couple of days, not in a row, but twice in the last week and yesterday I took the day off from construction to work in the re-tired garden. We started to harvest some of the Yukon Gold spuds and some Chantenay carrots.


As you can see from the pricture below the Cows are back.

These belong to our neighbor who is pasturing them here. The Read's never bothered pasturing their herd here this year so the grass is pretty high. I was up in the upper feild behind the pond and the grass was over my head when I was sitting on an ATV.

Great harvest of spuds. Now to get the cold storage happening. We are putting aluminized tires( next post) over some of the crops in order to extract the last of the seasons sunshine.

As we harvest the spuds we are getting the tire garden ready for a fall planting of fall rye, a cover crop that we will dig under come gardening season again in the spring. Well, with the set up we have a little earlier - Say late April. I am adding some well manured soil from up near the pond, to the tires. I will also add some dolomite lime at a later date.

Today I am on deadline to get the garage ready to pour concrete.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Drott it all

A friend who is a heavy duty mechanic showed up yesterday to do an oil change in the Drott Skid shovel. It froze up a winter ago because it had water in the transmission oil. We drained it and flushed it out several times before filling it with new oil. We also changed the oil in the final drives, one of them practically empty. Just bad maintenance.

Up and running trying to get that oil circulating. This machine can move a lot of snow. Or gravel. Or the clay mountains at the ends of the tire garden.

Not that we put it out to pasture, like it looks in this pic, but really it didn't have to be right next to the house. It's not like some one is going to steal it away in the dead of night. I think we are starting to realize that we have enough land that we don't have to keep everything within fifty feet of the house. The nearest neighbor is a couple of kilometers away and were not exactly crowding the fence line.

I want to get the area clear of heavy equipment and put a gravel pad in for visitors. And I need the room to push snow away from the driveway and buildings.

Hopefully today I can get the last of the tyvek up and start to clear out the garage so that I can level the base getting ready for seven yards of 3000 psi, fiber filled concrete. Wow, I am getting excited, a level heated space to work in over the winter, or spring, or summer or..whenever the urge hits me. The garage door is in at the hardware store waiting to be picked up. but first it would be good to have a flat place to assemble it. Also I need to get a ceiling in before I hook up the door track and lift springs.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Perspective

Xena: " C'mon Dad, leave that mouse alone and let's go play outside.."

Ewe: " Mouse? Where's the mouse?.."



Dad: " Guess I will go and smooth the driveway, we have company coming..."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apple of my Eye

As part of this dream of mine to grow a lot of, or all of our food, we planted a couple of apple trees and a cherry. Amazing to me the apple trees actually bore fruit. I am going to have to get them off pretty soon before they start attracting bears. They are busy now frantically stuffing as much calories in them as they can before the winter hibernate.

On another completely different note, I recently got a shock when I heard about the practice of Gold Farming. Nothing to do with growing anything you can eat. It's a huge industry that provides virtual items to online gamers. The "Gold Farmers" were mostly Chinese but have now farmed out work to the Vietnamese. Lower costs. Hard to wrap my head around this one. Wait, it all would be in my head.

I sometimes get the feeling that online gaming, virtual reality, is the coming of the "Hollodeck". The down side to that is: if it becomes a "reality" the imaginary would subsume reality. We can buy imaginary clothes for the emperor.

I think I'll go eat an apple. One I can taste.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Things We Do

This post is for my Daughter Sara. I think we need a food intervention. Yesterday we went into Fraser Lake and had "Chinese Food" at Joe's. $33 of the ghastliest, insipid, overcooked, minisculed portioned excuse for Oriental cuisine we have ever tasted. What was I thinking. This time it would be different? It wasn't. I doubt if it ever would be. Today we're going to see if we can score some tofu at the local Safeway, and hopefully some Bok Choi. I have a cast iron wok. I know how to use it. I must redeem our taste buds.

White Out

Well, white on. Trim that is. I have now put a couple of coats of white stain on the trim of the Shop/Garage. It was just too cold to use paint. But the stain looks pretty decent.

Today I am going to spend an hour touching up ladder marks etc. and then start inside with insulating the Top beams and getting ready for Tyvek.

I have done a rethink on the floor and am waiting to get an estimate on concrete. It looks like the concrete may actually be cheaper than wood. And probably stronger.

It's firewood season around these parts and everyone is charging out to the various forestry roads to get the winter supply. Last night after a meeting I went with a friend of mine out to a pile of house logs he had skidded to a local road. Despite log marking and signs asking people to not cut the logs some lazy thief had chopped up one of the logs for firewood. This was in spite of someone catching him and pointing out that the logs were definitely not waste wood. Hard to imagine. We added some more signs nailed to the logs and he is bringing in a log picker truck on friday to get the logs to a local mill before the wood rats get it all. My friend is a faller and I made a deal with him to have him come and cut down my winter wood from the bug kill near the upper pond. He is also going to take down the dead pine near our driveway.

When we first saw the place that tree was still green, all though close inspection revealed the bark already falling off. I really love the tree in the winter when it gets hoar frost on it. However it is now pretty dry and will soon pose a danger so it is time to recycle it. I will plant a Spruce from the " Christmas Tree" field to take it's place. I guess in sixty years or so it might just match the old Pine.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Cover Up

It was perfect weather yesterday. After about four days of caulking I finally got to spray the garage. Having an arial lift sure helps with the high parts. A lot easier than standing on a ladder. Xena loves going for rides in the lift. The lift is kind of persnickity so I don't go up very high with her aboard just in case I have to crawl down the boom arm.

That wood was thirsty. This coat, the first of two, took almost 20 litres ( say five gallons) of solid stain. What a stunning difference.


When it warms up a bit today - in an hour or so, I will put another coat on and maybe later in the afternoon be able to start the trim. Makes all the prep work really worth it. The weather can get pretty brutal here at times and I think the garage/shop is going to appreciate the new coat. When we got up this morning it was only 2C (35.6F)



I have pretty much decided that the garage/shop is going to be the Shop, with the ability to bring some of the rubber tired equipment in for repair in a heated environment. I am not all that sure than my current shop can withstand another winter without collapsing. I have decided to go with a pressure treated wood floor rather than concrete. The decision was based on a couple of factors: The wood is half the cost of concrete, and I can do the work myself. I was going to install a window but have decided against it. In such a small shop, 24' X 16' I need all the wall space I can get, and the roll up door takes one wall, and windows generally are the most energy in efficient parts of the structure.

Jo-Ann is already planning some of the projects she wants to build. It seems not being able to take shop in school was one of her life's regrets. We'll see how she does with kitchen cabinets..

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A real Caulk - Up

To say nothing of a bit of a screw up. Spent the last two days doing that. Caulking all the nail holes and cracks and putting five pounds of 2 1/2 inch screws into the siding. When they built this place they didn't use ring shank nails only common 3 1/2 inch ones and they will easily pop out, so everywhere they used a nail I put a #10 outdoor rated robertson wood screw. It really tightened the place up. I want to hurry up and get the garage/shop painted and the overhead door installed, but the old board and batten siding needed some tightening up before I pump 20 litres of solid stain on it. And of course the weather has to cooperate. I've given up trying to use acrylic latex because it wants to have +10C (50F) and that just isn't going to happen by the looks of it. So I've gone to solid stain for both siding and trim. I haven't tried to use stain as a trim medium so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out. I will spend the rest of today putting more caulk on the siding, all the nail holes and anywhere I can see light from the inside but according to the forecast Saturday will be the earliest I can paint. I also need to do some minor carpentry around the beams. If I get going I may be able to start on the tyvek weather wrap today also.

In this photo the green coloured areas are where I have sprayed a copper napthalate wood preservative. The white blotches are a combination of acrylic and polyurathane caulks. What you can't see is the four tubes of brown polyurathane and hundreds of feet of backer rod sealing the board and battens. The open spot next to the ladder leaning up against the side is where the side entry door will go.

This project has been a real learning experience as far as the patience needed to get a good weather proof job. Like anything in life, it seems to be the little things that add up to a successful project. The other thing I have learned is that If I pray for patience, the Big Guy doesn't just give me patience, but plenty of opportunity to practice it. I guess that's the better way. Otherwise after about twenty (O.K maybe more..) prayers I would be walking on water. And that's been done.

Xena enjoying a brush off. That's a very stiff plastic "railway" broom I used to brush the fibers off the side that was left over from the pressure washing. Her pad injury has healed now and she's back to normal.
This is some detail of the "mouse stops" I put on the inside. I will use the same technique, 1/4 inch galvanized mesh, for bird stops at the side soffits. Keeps the critters out but let's the wall "breath".


Had a great sweat last night at Stellaquo. I always enjoy them but the one last night just "hit the spot". It seems to have helped with the congestion from the sans mask spraying of the copper naphthalene and sure left me, as always, mellowed out.

Time to go - I smell a brunch of local eggs and Mennonite sausage..

Monday, September 01, 2008

Take a deep breath

I did a really dumb thing yesterday. I was painting the bottom foot of the garage/shop with a petroleum distillate wood preservative. Now that the board and batten is going to be closed I want to make sure that the bottom foot is waterproof. It was getting late in the day and I was in a hurry to get the waterproofing on so it would dry. I was using a hand held sprayer to apply the copper colored liquid. I didn't bother walking 50 feet to my painting equipment shed and getting a solvent mask. Bad Idea. My lungs feel like I smoked a couple of packs of cigarettes. Rest assured I won't be playing with solvents again without wearing the proper personal protection.

Tomorrow I will do some priming, weather permitting. Before that I will need to caulk all the bigger openings and holes in the siding. Then Tyvek, and spray foam in all the corners and behind the posts. Then R40 insulation and vapour barrier. And then maybe the door and a floor. A lot more work than I imagine- but a lot of satisfaction too, taking that old piece of crap and turning it into something useful and weather tight.