Saturday, October 30, 2010

Back to the Trenches

Brother Tom came up this morning and dug a trench to take a large electrical cable to the greenhouse.  This means that I can have 240 volt power in the green house. Right now it's running on a 110 volt extension cord, not the most electrically efficient method.  A small baseboard heater on a thermostat will prevent any freezing disasters.  I have a conduit run to the green house from the main house but the armored and waterproof Teck cable was too big to pull down the 50 meters of  1 1/2"  poly.  Instead we direct buried the cable and will reserve the conduit for some Cat V cable to take data and internet out to the green house.  What would a green house be without WWW and control signals?

Doesn't matter how much earth moving machinery is used, you still need someone wielding a shovel.

I kinda look like one of the Sand People on Tatooine 
The after picture.  Thanks to the excavator, skid-steer and pre-positioned back fill sand, the job only took an hour and a half.  I know it's going to take the electrician longer than that to connect both ends of the cable..
Just admiring our handiwork
That walkway to the green house looks rough but its six inches of crushed gravel on a geotextile bed.  No mud on the walk!

Now to freeze proof the waterline at the Animal Shed ( the shed formerly known as the Blue Shed) Call the electrician in to connect the cable ( and we know how slow he can be - almost as bad as the painter), Insulate the windows in the house and green house and get another three cords of wood and we're in great shape for winter.  Won't happen today.  Progress not perfection.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Painting by Frost

Our first  discussion this morning was concerning when to  light the "Big Kahuna",  our large wood furnace waiting in the basement.  Soon we will need to feed it large rounds of pine, but this morning we'll see if the upstairs heater can banish the chill.  Outside our world is  a  white painting .

 The morning fog retreated up the Eastern Cliffs revealing  a thick frost, turning  the tall grass in our yard to white feathers.  The Poplars are resplendent in their new garb, a fashionable white and grey.  Everyone is wearing it this season.  Cleo returned, somewhat quickly, from her morning walk with a tiara of snow crystals on her head   and a firm vociferous conviction that now, right this minute, it was  time to come in the house and check in with the cats.  And perhaps the state of her bed  from which she can lounge and watch the warming flames  in  the living room heater.

Some how in yesterdays pre- snow cleanup I seem to have strained my back.  Jo-Ann managed to torture a leg muscle getting out of the skid steer.  We look quite the pathetic pair, hobbling and moaning around the  still warming house this morning.

I still have at least another day before all the snow lanes around the yard will be clear of the summers building materials and  accumulated sundry items. A pile of metal ducting, sure to be of use somewhere, Pallets that need to be stored, the "some day I will need this" Piles.

 Last night it got to -11C so I imagine the piggies might enjoy a bit of a warming fire.

I am in an expectant mood lately.  Snow will soon be here and Daughter Sara's due date has passed.
We're still on the hunt for a freezer for the falls meat.

Porridge will provide a start for today.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What a Joint

Closer inspection reveals that our 1994 Ford Aerostar AWD van was suffering from a Constant Velocity joint failure.  It is our second vehicle and has taken the place of our Toyota pick up while we save some money to get it fixed.  So spent yesterday with brother Tom and a friend replacing the joint assembly.

We were outside in 5c weather and I was glad for my heavy insulated work coat, gloves,vest and thermal pants.  And very grateful for friends that are better mechanics than me.  And had the right assortment of tork, allen, impact drivers, jack stands and sundry other general hand tools it took to make the repairs.  It was quite a job and provided plenty of opportunity to wonder about the designers of vehicles.  Why they would use so many different fasteners in such ridiculously difficult places to get to.

I am starting to believe the reason for that was indeed the automotive designers revenge on mechanics after coming home to find an auto-mechanic in a compromising position with his wife.

They heavy rains have revealed that I may have been a bit optimistic in thinking I was going to have a mud free driveway.

It's a lazy dazy day with the fire singing in the living room heater and a steady rain drum beating on our metal roof. We're having a late breakfast of pancakes made from flour we hand ground from raw hard red winter wheat.

They have a nutty, fulsome flavor with a stick to the ribs earthiness.  The doggies think the pancakes with just a bit of butter and strawberry jam is just about the next best thing to cow tongue.  On a scale of 1 to 10 that's about a 20!

We've been wanting to try grinding our own grains after watching a demonstration by a neighbor.  While cleaning out a part of a storage shed I discovered a box that had a hand grinder in it.  Score!  A heavy duty, nickel plated machine that will last for quite a while.  It was made in Median  Columbia and has attachements for meat and we also think for making oats flakes.  The newspaper it was packed in was from 1973.  It had an advertisement for a hand held four function LCD calculator for $99!

Raw Hard Red Winter Wheat on the left, Whole grain, no preservative flour on the right!

 We bought a bag of Oats and will try that experiment later.  Hope you had a restful weekend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Blog Change

So somebody in China has figured out how to get past word verification to dump a whole pile of crap on my blog.  So you don't have to read this junk mail I have implemented the review before posting option.  Hope that cuts down on the crap.  I am not sure of how it was done.  Maybe a simple cut and paste.  Hard to believe somewhere on this planet there is someone who is making money by pasting spam to Blog posts.

Where will it end.    Sometimes I just hate the WWW.  

Spent the last couple of days making two trips to Prince George to pick up a free freezer in order to store  dog food ( variety cow. ) On the try yesterday our Van crapped out - possible CV Joint- and we had to limp home sans freezer.  Today the truck we borrowed lost its turn and brake lights- fortunately simply a blown fuse.  This has been a tough year on us vehicle wise that's for sure.  And as it turned out the "free" freezer was a small one not the 21 cubic feet one we were counting on.  Ah well the free freezer  only cost us about a hundred bucks in gas..

Maybe the Amish with their one horse powered buggies have something..

Perhaps the pets would enjoy smoked meat..

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Canned Dog

They piggies are slurping up goodies like cheese, mashed potatoes, apples and Cream that come in number 10 cans.  The dogs favorite is the Cheese.  Cleo demonstrates the proper method of getting that last tender morsel from the can.
Oh, Man! This is Goooood!

While checking in with the piggies and chicks this morning I noticed that the window Boose, the cat looks out of was broken in and her cat box and flowers had been overturned.  she was sitting on a chair looking most disgruntled and couldn't wait to get back to her luxury, electrically heated, catnap pad.

Come on Dad!  The draft ruffles my coat!

This was a very old window that was broken.  I just fixed it up with some caulk and a piece of plastic.  I couldn't help but admire how the window was built.  The craftsmanship of the putty holding the glass in place.  The little diamond metal points that secured the glass while the putty set up.   I don't know how old this window was but something tells me it could have predated me.  I tried to fix up a puttied window last year and had a hard time finding the putty.  I wonder if the new high tech, triple glazed, high e, argon filled window I put in the kitchen will hold up for sixty years.  I doubt it.  It seems we don't buy anything today.  We just rent it.  Or make payments on it.  What, in todays, world of toss away consumerism,  is made to last? Oh yah, payments..

Got the side landing and skirt insulation installed in the Green house.

 Even managed to spread a few loads of nice crushed gravel so walking to the Green house isn't an exercise of wearing ten pound mud laden boots during the wet times.

 Like now and in the spring.

We're  waiting for the cucumber harvest to start in the green house.  So far they seem to be doing well: this one looks about supper..

Hope you don't get in any pickles that can't be solved with a fork this week..

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trimming Down

Well, up and sideways.  We got the barnwood trim done on the front windows of the Green Haus.  Looks nice and makes it more weather and water proof.

 If I get a couple of warm days I may even be able to do some caulking.  I also managed to gravel the path to the G'haus and a camper parking pad.  Complete with geo-textile that a  friend dropped off. The next action is to finish insulating the skirting around the Front and sides ( the backs done) and then move inside for window covers and thermal shades.  O.K.  Those would be second hand quilts from Value Village in Prince George - but they all match - and the price was right.  Just need to invent some kind of pulley system to get them out of the way to let the Sun in.

A friend let us use his dumping trailer so we spent three days dumping our pit gravel on the soft spots on our driveway.  After thirty five loads and a day of grading with Tom's skid steer we have an all weather, mud free drive.  A big cornerstone and job off the 2 do list.

Our Piggies are growing like gangbusters. Slurping up Pig rations and reconstituted freeze dried food.  Their favorite  so far is cheese with mashed potatoes and some salad oil on the garden greens.
You want a piece of me?? That would be Sweet Cream all over the face...

They have developed a rash which was causing them to itch which the Vet says is "Greasy Pig".  The solution is to give them a couple of shots.  One to deworm and parasites and a series of five of penicillin.  We're learning Pig Jujitsu the hard way.  A twisted little finger, skid-marks on an elbow, Jo-Ann's right pointer finger had a nail ripped off.  My pride is a little damaged but not as bad as the piggies.  We tried a new technique today by using a piece of plywood to work them into a corner, and it was more effective than charging around the pen after a couple of porkers with their pig sirens going full blast.  We're having a cup of tea now to wash down the ibiprofin.  The pigs are enjoying some stove top soup and spuds with Garden greens. The sun is shining, it's a beautiful Life.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Take a Side

Or siding.  Blessesd with three days of warm sunny weather and the arrival of a willing friend we managed to complete the outside framing, add insulation and siding.

 Of course we had to have a few coffee breaks to discuss job progress.

The siding and two by fours and insulation was salvaged from a house that we tore down this summer.  Diverted from a landfill or burn pile.

The insulation is now up to R50 and the way the wall is framed there are thermal breaks between the insulation inside and outside.  It has made a huge difference in temperature.  With the HPS lights burning it was -2 outside and 18c inside.  And that's with out having the 45 gallon drums all full.

Now we are trimming the windows and doors with one by Barnwood.  Mostly 6 1/2 inches but some of it 13 inch planks.  It will probably have to wait until a warm spring day before it gets stained.

To celebrate we took a day off and went on an Agate hunting trip.  The Volcanic strata around here is a boon to rockhounds.  Replete with agates and even opal.  The vistas are pretty easy on the eyes thats for sure.

The Dogs loved the "Big Pond".  Xena even went swimming after sticks.  Cleo roared around like  hippo snapping at waves. Lot's of exercise for them.  We weren't the only ones sleeping like babies that night.

Something about being in the outdoors just goes to my head.

Heres an Agate in situ.  Tough to get out but worth the effort.

Some of them have a beautiful blue iridescence to them.

Winds up, weathers warm, time to slop the hogs( Well sweet corn them..) and complete the trim on the green house.  Hope your having a week that warms your heart.