Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seven gallons of primer later..


Xena, checking out the paint job. " I don't mean to be nosey Dad, but you missed a spot over here..", Everyone's a critic. Boose found the only place that didn't have primer dust on it. " Will these reno's ever be over, I cant find my liter box.."

I put three tubes of caulk on the walls and ceiling. Today I will put paint on the walls. Later the ceiling gets two coats of gloss white acrylic latex.

Its +2c(35.6f) and the snow is melting like it was May. If anyone is coming up from the Coast, they could bring a couple of suitcases of snow.. Preferably the dry stuff.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Sistine Chapel Not

But a work shop yes. I started to shoot primer on the O.S.B. yesterday. This is obviously the most important part of the job - sitting thinking about working.

And then the actual painting. Seconds after this shot I stopped and put on my face mask. It doesn't take long to fill the room with acrylic paint fumes. The photographer left right after this shot when she realized what the white haze was.

It sucked up the acrylic latex primer like a thirsty sponge. If I would have done some research ( i.e. google) about painting O.S.B. I would have used different material. Like a stain blocker and perhaps a concrete block filler paint to even out the chip pattern of the O.S.B. I am noticing some bleeding through from some of the particles that O.S.B is made from. Hence the need for stain blocker. But it will still look a million bucks better than just bare wood chips.

When I checked the place last night before bed I was amazed how much brighter it was with just one coat of primer on it. Coat two today. Then two ceiling coats of acrylic latex white semi-gloss and two coats of acrylic latex eggshell 1/2 bone for the walls. Think white with the slightest hint of brown. A very light beige.

It's -5c (23f) here today with a brisk wind blowing. After a second coat of primer it's time to launch the skidsteer snow plow. But wait: there is more snow coming tonight.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Black Jack Shellac in his Frontenac Hat

With his trustworthy hound, Xena.

Off to the hardware store to get some more caulk. With my new knitted hat, my knitted dickey, my knitted sweater, and covered with my knitted Cowichan sweater. Toasty.

At the hardware store they looked at me and made some crack about " We can tell how cold it is outside by looking at you". To which I replied: " yah, but it ain't cold in here!" I used to have a voyager type toque that was made out of a soft fleece like stretchy material. For some reason it decided to leave home and Jo-Ann took pity on my constant bemoaning it's loss and knitted me up a facsimile. It's great.

We had about four inches of snow last night so it's time to plow again. I will put a coat of primer on the shop first and then do a run. The four inches isn't much but it was windy last night too and it drifts quite seriously across the upper road. And rule number one with snow removal: get it while its still fluffy..

Monday, January 26, 2009

Playing with my Caulk

With apologies to my friend Scotty. He is a professional painter and would never make that pun.

I managed to get most of the 2 X 4 trim in yesterday but I will need a full day today to caulk everything. Especially around the trim. It just helps keep the joints air tight and they look a lot nicer when they are painted.

Jo-Ann snapped this pic this morning about a quarter to eight.

She was complaining that she was getting cold standing on the veranda snapping pictures. I don't know why. It was only -27c(-16.6f) with about a 20kph wind, and she was fully dressed in her usual winter fashion: T-shirt and blue clogs. Ample winter wear. The forecast is for light snow with rapidly warming weather, supposedly +6c by Friday. Weird.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

-33c - Time to paint.

Were having a late brunch today. Enjoying the full sun shining under the blind that covers the big South facing window onto the lap top laden kitchen table. We're taking the morning off.

The shop project went well yesterday. We got all the O.S.B installed and the top trim, cut the attic door access and I even managed a trip to town to get four 16 foot pressure treated two by fours to use as baseboards. Just in case I have to hose the place out.

Boose is definitely the shop cat. Must have been when she came into our lives. She has taken up daily residence in the construction site. Not dismayed at all the cutting nailing and generally carrying on yesterday she sat curled up on my coat, in front of a small electric heater, watching the progress. From time to time, she would stretch and come over to where the action was at the moment to give it a cursory inspection and get a scrootch.

Today's plan is to clear out the place, sweep up, acoustic seal the wall plastic to the floor, install 2X4 baseboards and put plastic down over the floor so that I can get a couple of coats of primer on the walls.

Here's an email I received this morning from a friend. Kind of gave me pause for thought:

If you can live without caffeine or nicotine;

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains;

If you can resist complaining;

If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you any time;

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment;

If you can ignore friends' limited educations and never correct them;

If you can treat the rich and poor alike;

If you can face the world without lies or deceit;

If you can conquer tension without medical help;

If you can relax without liquor;

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs;

If you can have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender, sexual preference, or politics —

— then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog.

I am sure that Xena would agree - but she has too much humility.



Saturday, January 24, 2009

Board of Life

Well, shop really. And that board is O.S.B. or oriented strand board. Tom came up and we just about got all the ceiling and walls covered. Have nail gun will go through a lot of 2 1/2 inch nails. We were using Tom's wall board lift which sure made putting up the ceiling a lot easier.

It's quite amazing how covering up the vapor barrier and insulation with O.S.B has made the place warmer. It was -25c(-13f) yesterday and the little electric heater kept the inside temp at +10c.(50f) Not a bad temperature for working in. If we got a chill, or stopped for coffee I put the radiant, propane fueled heater on and it brought the internal temp to +20 or more in five minutes. And remember thats without the insulated garage door up. The opening is only covered with plastic vapor barrier on the outside and Tyvek on the inside.

Jo-Ann took this picture with her wide angle lens. It makes the place look a lot bigger than it is. Its only 24 X 16 X 9 feet high.

We are going to try and put the last few sheets on today and start putting a pressure treated baseboard combination up today. And then trim and paint.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Of Moose and Men

I just about have the Garage ready for OSB. But I decided to upgrade the service conductors so we made a trip to Prince to visit the Home Depot. As Mike Holmes says: Code just isn't good enough. And to have lunch at the Costco: Montreal Smoked Beef sandwiches, complete with pickle and fries and a large pop, all the sourkraut and hot peppers you can handle: Four bucks. What a deal. The next time we go we're thinking of taking a table cloth and a candle and really making the most of it. Jeez - you know your getting old when...

On our way out, just past our entrance from Savory road, we spotted these beasts up on a hilly meadow contentedly munching on the tips of Saskatoon bushes. Not at all concerned with Xena's barking umbrage in the van.

They really are fascinating creatures that look like they were designed by committee - but one that really knew what it was doing. They have an unforgettable bouncing gate and don't have any trouble navigating the little snow we have now. I think these ones spend most of the winter on or about our property. It is unbelievable how the bulls can move through the thickest brush with a full rack on. Something you really don't want to see first hand during rutting season. More people are injured by moose than bear.

Today we have -16c(3.2f) and a light, peaceful, snow falling almost vertically. All the hoarfrost has gone. It really was spectacular. Here's one Jo-Ann took:

Hopefully today she will post some more on her blog. I'm calling them The "whore" frosted bird house series.

I was hoping for a little snow to cover up the weird January melt. My Daughter Sara and husband Kevin, are coming up for a visit. Snowshoeing is on the list. And burning things.

Xena, ensconced on her window seat, is growling at imaginary beasties. Having a little down time. She was up at 5:30 this morning running around the pitch black yard looking for her toys and warning the L.E.D. driveway lights not to come any closer..

Sunday, January 18, 2009

These Boots Were Made For Walking..

In the really cold weather. Which isn't now. The above zero stuff has gone but were still only having -5c(23f)weather. Totally icy as I've described before. But something tells me winter isn't over just yet. I have several pairs of Cold weather boots. Unfortunately the working boots I use are about a size too small when I have a couple of winter socks on, which doesn't help keeping the feet warm. Especially when sitting working on equipment. So I have been in the market for larger ones. I bought the most expensive pair of footwear I have ever owned. They are Dakota Propac composites, rated to -100c.(-148f) I hope I don't have to put that claim to the test. They are made with Kevlar and tough oil proof composite material. If the bad guys start shooting I hope they aim for my feet! One of the good things to come out of the oil sands projects where they are de rigeur for the oil sands workers.

I also got a pair of Yak Traks for slipping over my hiking boots for warmer icy weather.


We have been using Ice Trackers that we got from Lee Valley. They Velcro on our boots but because we got them sized for our insulated winter boots, trying to put them on far smaller hiking boots is like wearing snow shoes. These are very good, well made with good soles and replaceable grippers. Sized correctly for the boot these things are the best we've found. But it is still possible to slip on watered ice if the foot isn't carefully planted so all spikes dig in. Coupled with a sturdy, sharp tipped ski pole.

We were on a week long winter hike once, and coming down a snow free mountain road that was so iced up we had to use our snow shoes (which had built in crampons on them) to keep from slipping on our asses down the mountain side. Slow but steady.

Speaking of which, I just can't seem to get off my ass today. I have been horribly depressed lately and breathing almost seems like too much effort.

But I have 70 sheets of 3/8 O.S.B to put in the shop to acclimate for a couple of days before covering up the now finished vapour barrier.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

West Wind


When we got up this morning at 6:30 it was +3C(37.4F) with a twenty Kmh warm West Wind. A Chinook . Talk about a snow eater. It's melting like spring. We cannot safely walk on the roadways without putting our ice cleats on our boots. And ski poles for stability. There is a film of water on the ice.

Great for curling - lousy for walking. The wind hasn't stopped since yesterday afternoon. The heater is off in the hen house.

Yesterday I finished pushing back all the snow from the banks of the road. It is now at least 30 feet wide, bank to bank. I also managed to get the Drott skid shovel up and plowed two parallel roads on both sides of our upper road to act as snow breaks. It's all very well to be able to plow snow - the important thing I learned quite quickly was: I needed to think ahead, where will all the snow go. We can't count on Chinooks like this one melting the stuff. This is just temporary anyway. My brother Tiny has kept records of the local snows for a lot of years. He does contract snow plowing in the area. Tom maintains that we get at least 10 snowfalls a year ( a snow fall being something he has to plow ) and so far we have only had four..

After breakfast it's off to the shop to clean up, finish the vapor barrier and get ready for OSB installation.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chain Gang

Looking South East at 8 am.

I managed to get Tom's skidsteer stuck in my driveway day before yesterday. Mine was out of commission with some intermittant problems. Yesterday morning we hooked the Drott skid shovel up to it and pulled it out. Hydraulic fluid was squirting out of a hose connection so I drove it the 7 K back to Tom's place. There we discovered the problem wasn't a broken hose but a leaky one. Easily fixed with a couple of twists of a wrench.

Lesson learned: Look at things without assuming.

My niece and her boyfriend, Brian, dropped by. Brian is a mechanic and he brought a tool case of automotive electrical connectors and wire. We cleaned up some of the wiring, dried out the distributor, taking care to ensure all the spark plug connectors were tight and Voila! I'm back in the snow removal business. We also put on a new set of heavy duty, spiked, equipment chains on the back tires. Huge difference. Once again the old adage: " you get what you pay for.." comes into play. I had some light weight chains on, but they were just modified truck chains. Just not up to snuff. The grab the ice and snow. I managed to plow out to Grandma's, which because of drifting I had given up on. And every other place around here that looked like it had snow in the wrong place.

Today Tom is coming up to help me grease the drivetrain and I will finish pushing the snow back at the start of the driveway. It is hovering around zero C. Weirdly warm after the -33 stuff. Rain is even predicted in a couple of days. This morning we had an inch of fresh snow and temps of -0.5. What's up with that.

With any kind of luck I might manage to make it back into the Shop project.

This morning were both on the kitchen table working on our laptops. I am blogging and installing Windows 7 on a virtual partition on my Mac. And dreaming about gardening. Can't be too far off right?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

On the Skids

Skid Steer that is. I am having problems with the Case. Intermittent dying, Flat tire and no horsepower. The blown tire was the easiest to fix. Off to Burns Lake and they managed to get the tire back on the rim. The rim was bent so bad that I ordered a new one which should be in next week. It's going to need a couple of tires also but that might have to wait for summer at 300 bucks a pop. After I changed the tire I tried to start the machine so that I could install a chain that went missing. No go. Nada. Tried all the jiggling, swearing, kicking maneuvers I knew and --nothing. And of course equipment always breaks down in the middle of the road.

Back into the house and Jo suggested trying to push the road open with the Drott. Because of a problem with the torque converter it will only run for about an hour and then it has no traction. But it started, reluctantly, and I was able to push a path to Savory road.

So we can get out without chaining up. It wouldn't make it back home so I left it at the turn around half way down. A single track out to Savory. Wide enough for the Toyota.
Numbered List
My friend Eddie, who is a bush mechanic, came buy - looked at the skid steer, touched the main distributor wire and bingo it starts. Who knows why. His theory is that " I have cold hands and she doesn't like it". I hate fixing things by magic. Seemed like success.

Any way he brought his malfunctioning laptop up and I diddled with it for a couple of hours.
Here's a shot of a "Breakfast of Champions":

I put a bunch of Anti-Bad software ( virus and spy ware checkers ) on it and set up a dual boot partition for Ubuntu 8.10 Linux. Unfortunately his particular laptops video chip set doesn't like the latest version of Linux so I will have to rebuild later. In the mean time he is back on the www with the XP partition.

At the end of a beautiful day, after I drove Eddie down the driveway to his truck ( too wide to make it up the single cat track. I wandered out to plow the yard and driveway with the skid steer and, you guessed it - no start. I did the usual poke and prod and got started but very little power. I practically had to push the thing down hill. After a couple of hours of this and intermittent stalling I gave up and parked it for the night.

I've ordered a new set of heavy duty spiked chains for the skid steer which may be in today. I've been offered a few suggestions about the intermittent dying problem. Most of which centre around drying out the distributor which was soaked by the hydraulic failure of a week ago. So today I am going to try a new cap, some ignition wire spray and check the hydraulic fluid levels. Fortunately I have a complete manual Jo-Ann found for me on eBay and it has pretty thorough maintenance procedures in it.

There is an old saying: " be careful for what you pray for". I think a prayer for patience slipped out a couple of days ago. I am pretty sure that I don't get what I pray for but I do get lot's of chances to practice it. Patience.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Don't Chicken Out

We had been in a white out for six hours when I heard the Rooster crowing. Memo to self: raise 2009 priority of getting the chicken shed closer to the house. Like just North of the garden, alongside the new green house. Oh - and add water.

Actually I am a little overdressed. I wanted to try out my new face mask that I got at the trading post in town. They are having a great sale on clothing. Buy two items and get one free. ( you only get the cheapest one free) I just about cleaned them out of heavy duty ( but light weight) thermal underwear. ( There Carol - I said "underwear"..)

It was still snowing when we got up this morning and the predictions say snow for the next four days so I am going to plow at first light today. This is a picture of the highway 16 web cam this morning.
Looks like the snow plow crew slept in. Maybe the headlights heading East are them.

It has warmed up to -4 with Saturday coming with +6. No, that's not a typo. Unseasonably warm for January. Maybe Mother Nature is deciding to pay me back for my derision of "Global Warming", with a bit of Endako warming.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

In the Groove

I went to plow the yard yesterday and the skidsteer wouldn't turn over...Turned out to be a blown fuse caused by the ignition switch turning and shorting out.. Add that one to the list: remove keyed ignition-- install a switch. I didn't have a 30 amp AGC fuse so off to town. Which required blasting through some snow drifts at the top of the road.

When we got back, always dicier than going downhill Xena had to go and check out what all the fuss was about.

Jo-Ann was with me which always makes it more exciting somehow. I think she can hold her breath for the whole upper length of the driveway.

After some electrical repairs I managed to get the entire yard and road all cleaned up and then the snow started again. Today we are in another snow warning blizzard. Tom came up and helped to change a couple of hydraulic hoses that were looking a bit dubious. And we managed to straighten out the rear cover on the skidsteer that had been bashed in and was dangerously close to the hydraulic radiator. Have 20 lb sledge hammer will swing if required. We wanted to get it done before I had to use the skidsteer to plow us out tomorrow. Tonight if I had lights on it. Add that one to the list.

Hopefully I can get back to shop construction tomorrow after I plow.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

In The Pink


Insulation that is. I finished the insulation of the garage/shop a couple of days ago. It's still not powered up but that's coming. It's foot thick, R40 fiberglass stuff. I liked the Roxsul stuff better but wasn't able to get it at the local building supply.

Even with a plastic tarp in place of the insulated garage door a small electric heater makes a 10 degree difference.


Classify this heater as sorta works:

I haven't found one of these small, 110 volt heaters that are suitable for 24/7 operation. They just burn out. I have a 240 volt one that does work and will use it as a back up for the shop. I have decided to add a wood heater to the shop. I have some freebie insulated chimney and will move the air tight from the blue shop to the new garage/shop.

Classify this heater, propane fired jet engine as: really works. It can take the insulated garage from -20 to +20 in about 20 minutes. It will get hotter but I usually shut it down at that point.

Today is put the lock on the door and clean up the joint in preparation for vapour barrier. And then OSB. Then some power and an insulated garage door. It will be very cool, er warm, to have a heated space close to the house to work on equipment.

We have a snow warning for today so I might have to plow the place if the wind keeps up.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Years Resolutions

Come on! Move the mouse.

When I got up this morning I found Jo-Ann sitting with Boose and Blackie. She was trying to teach them to get along. For some reason Blackie, the dominant male cat, takes great exception to Boose who has been banished to the shop. She has all the comforts of home out there, Electric Blanket, heater, sun lamp and when it gets cold I fire up the wood heater. And she will soon be moving to the new shop. Still, she seems to crave human attention. She has been sitting for an hour now between my arms as I work on my NYRL ( New Years Resolution List) and blog. With me holding Boose and Jo-Ann controlling Blackie, we had them nose to nose without any fur flying. Maybe there is hope.

Actually my NYRL is really, so far, a project list. A list of all things that I want to accomplish so that I can export it to my Achieve Planner for fleshing out: timing, material lists, who's going to do what etc. I have used planners, paper and electronic for several decades now and have found Achieve to be the most powerful and easy to use system.

Most of my projects are facilities or infrastructure improvements. Things that will help us to become more self sufficient. Things like a green house and shop, equipment shed. The list goes on. So far I'm up to 24 different projects. So the list is definatly multi year. I like to include things that are merely wishes also.

The only problem with this is that if I'm not careful my life starts to look uni-dimensional. Like a never ending to do list. So my resolution this year is to add a few more "smell the roses" items.

We really like to explore the back roads with our Boler and do some rockhounding but to do that we need to have someone reliable to look after the garden and chickens, ( pigs this year) while were away. The last time we did was a disaster. So this year we are going to hook up the water at Grandmas and see if we can get some one reliable living there. It's the best view on the property and were thinking of making it rent free to someone that is willing to baby sit when we go away.

Project for the day: Shift the trailor load of deconstruction material to the burn pile. I was going to do it yesterday but the road to Grandmas took three hours to bash through the snow drifts.

Hope your doing well this first day of 2009.