November 29th, 2014

I’ve got a section of our bedroom – about 6′x3′ for crafting space. I have a lot of sewing supplies alone – not to mention everything else! The first step was to build cabinets for wall storage and get some stuff off the floor. I went budget with pine face frames and door frames. The stain was Olympic Elite Fog. It was much more like a paint than stain – I don’t think I’d buy it again, but it worked OK for this project.

The finished cabinets. They’re jammed full of fabric. Guess I should do some sewing!

Back in Time…

November 29th, 2014

It’s been awhile since we posted about the house! Moving back in time….

In March we decided it was time to upgrade our 3/4″ plywood countertops. As nice as they were we had a couple more sheets of chalkboard from a local school to use. The existing plywood was a great template and backing.

It all started with the angle grinder. Effective but messy work.

Then we glued the slate to the plywood. I can’t remember what we used – maybe liquid nails? We clamped and weighted down all the pieces.

A little more drying indoors…

And installed!

We sealed the countertop with a food-grade beeswax polish.

Now it just needs some maple trim along the front. The counter has held up very well over the last several months!

Waterwheel has landed on our property

October 6th, 2014

Have been thinking about a water wheel even since we purchased this property. It was even a tick on the checklist of things the land needed to support. Water energy is by far the simplest most dependable energy source our area has.

When i started researching water wheels the ones that were most highlighted by books and internet pages where the high speed pelton style wheels. Where you divert water from your stream run it down the hill in 4″ pipes and then run it slowly down to a nozzle which creates high pressure and spins rapidly the enclosed waterwheel to generate electric. So at first I was thinking one of these BUT after a bit of time (probably years) keeping these thoughts in back of head some of the draw backs seem to come to the for front.

Keeping water under pressure and not leaking seems to be a constant maintenance issues. Pipes will leak …possibly settle..have to bury them under 4′ (frost line) of dirt. The nozzle itself wears out and needs to be replaced. B/c of the reduction of pipe size will trap sediment and eventually clog. This is more of an issue with an open stream where as ours comes out from a spring however it would still happen.

Another thing that kept coming to my mind was that I was diverting all this water from feeding land and the animals. It just seemed like to generate electric did not have enough merit alone.

Cost: The pipe and complexity of a closed system like this is high. I could dig it but I still needed the pelton wheel and pipes for 170′ of run that is not cheap (relative to my monies). Another issue was b/c of the way our electric pole lies in relation to where the electric generation would happen. If I collected at the bottom of the hill electric lines to get it back (300′ ish) would be very high.

The final was I decided the i wanted get mechanical work done with out even using electric. Effective with out batteries and without the efficiency losses of converting to electric/battery/inverter/tool.

The long winded conclusion .. low tech wins :)

Well i could go on about plans to build one which were way in the future basically b/c you need to buy axles and bearings (300-400) .plus all the time and energy and material wood wise to build a true wheel of significant height to do some real work. So I (very) periodically would check various sites such as ebay and craigslist. The other day i found it. It didn’t look like much..rusty bent I had a had a chance! I watch with no bids happening and some people watching. I bid and got it for a very descent price of 100 dollars! A 9′ steel 12″ wide old skool waterwheel located in vermont. So 100 bucks…another 100 for gas..another 60 volentarily paid to have him and his wife load it with a bucket loader and two days to load and unload. It will be a bit before we get it installed but now at least i know how to build site to fit it. I was very excited and still am. It needs so work pushing a few things true again but the metal was much more solid then the pictures led me to believe so that is good. Come to find out when his grandfather purchased the land it was powering a wood mill and most of these did back in the day … ( and could again). I hope to use it for everything (maybe hook it up to pto shaft for an easy adapter to get to many attachments?) and when its not being used for that it will run a electric generator to lessen our electric bill.

Just got done watching gasland II

September 15th, 2014

Here ya go big rant comin! . If you use natural gas you are the problem!! Also in this video our corporate sponsored gov’t doesn’t believe it needs to honor that same Constitution that created it. At this point you can wave the flag all you want..but guess what ..the people don’t own the gov’t anymore…we have sold out to our new corporate masters. Our culture is void. It has no imagination of a future that doesn’t involve cracking the fuck out the earth..watching mindless tv. and numbing ourselves with devices of choice. Here’s the thing, the only way to beat this is local action…your action..our collective actions. I’m not talking playing the games..those games are rigged. Learn shit…live life..step outside this wall of fear that we build. Take care of the land take care of each other. At the root of this lies the faith of the dollar and our complete dependence on it. This piece of paper that I watch everyone slave for (including myself to a degree..all though less and less over time( b/c I actually believe in something better) . Its bullshit. Its a sign of a people who cannot take care of their needs through themselves and their communities. Little Money Lesson: See the Federal reserve (not our gov’t) creates this money and LOANS it to us WITH interest. It has not been backed by anything real like gold for a long time. Its backed by nothing. The NEAT thing about this is that there is NO WAY to pay the interest back..not enough money was made!! So this national debt that keeps growing that keeps enslaving future generations is all part of a rigged game of voluntary enslavement . We really need to create more community..more food made organically ..more low tech environment based solutions. solar based energy solutions..more heating with wood. (here i am trying to not just state the negative but provide some way forward). To not be so fucking entitled like we are owed something for just existing. Guess what to cure cancers you have to change..have to look for answers. To wake up from the self induced coma. Doing the same things a taking pills and waiting for a magical fix is not going to work. Look at us were fat and broken..we cover it up with chemical made make ups (inside and out)..heath care costs are huge… but maybe we don’t have to go this route. Maybe we don’t have to be helpless. We can barter and trade. We can live efficiently. We can think about the actions we take and what REAL effect they have on the world and environment around us. We can have pride in that we are at least trying to go a different way. Real wealth lies in the land and people that surround us. The music that fills our ears. The food we feed our families. The water that purifies. The money that we hold so dear…the money that defines classes…creates separates us. This game is rigged you cannot win.. the outcome is predetermined. The only way to win is to not play (or at this point to play as little as possible). How should we define rich? That security the dollar bills signify is false…what happens when its deflated to the point where its worth nothing. When the stocks and 401k lose 3/4 of their value overnight. why are people concerned about the economy well b/c maybe deep down they knows its not real wealth and they have put all their life energy into it!. The competition and the relationships we have sacrificed to get these shiny toys and the false sense of security that says we are someone important… Its not real…or at least it doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to be.


April 20th, 2014

Fun, birthdays and celebrating spring!

Fall Photo Review

January 25th, 2014

Checking Off

January 25th, 2014

With the colder weather we’ve taken a break on siding to finish up some projects inside the house. In November we passed our final electrical inspection! We had been waiting to close up the T&G walls in the bathroom and kitchen until this was done. We had made a few additions since the rough-in electrical inspection we thought he might like to see. So nice not looking at wires anymore!

We’ve been trying to be creative with storage using space in the 2×4 walls. It’s worked well for our towel and medicine cabinet in the bathroom, and the spice shelves in the kitchen. In the kitchen we had talked of putting windows in the horizontal space above the wall. We decided to T&G the whole wall to get it finished up, leaving the possibility to add a window above the bathroom door later on. I’ll probably build some tall upper cabinets in the kitchen. We’re likely going to extend our storage space over the bathroom, but the details are still up for debate.

We had planned to use a recycled shower door as our bathroom door by building a wood frame around it. Until one day the glass shower door just exploded. Luckily no small people were hurt and we hadn’t installed it yet. Guess it flexed too much while being stored. So, out we went to buy a new wood door. Adding the frosting to the windows was a bit of a pain, but I really like the 10 window look. We stained it with one of the rejected siding color samples and ordered a gate latch. Surprisingly the frosted window is actually a code requirement. Seems silly and would bug me if I hadn’t planned on frosting it anyway.

Our remaining tasks to get a temporary CO are kitchen countertops (we just have plywood now) and the water test. Pretty short list! Once we get the temporary, we have 3 months to finish the siding. We have a bunch of siding stained and read to put up, so we just need some nice spring days to finish that up. I’ll be very happy when the whole building permit part is complete!

Here’s a view of the fireplace and brick wall as it looks now. I’ll add a couple more feet to the brick wall eventually so all the area with uninsulated pipe has brick behind it. Cozy!

Heating Results (so far…)

January 25th, 2014

We recently got a thermometer for inside of the house, which has been fun to watch. Here’s Jeff’s thoughts from heating on a recent winter day…

So today we woke up to -11(f) outside temp! . We woke around 8:00am to the interior temp of 52 . Fire was tended until we went to sleep the previous night ( 8-10pmish) I noticed that this is the lowest the temp as its gotten so far inside the house . It seems to hover more near 54 on most winter mornings in the am when we wake though (we always let fire die at night) Its Jan 22nd and we have went through 3/4 cord-ish of misc wood from our woodlot. some shimmering aspen/a bit of shargbark hickory and scraps from building. This might be the first year ever that we have heated our home from our land, that will feel good.

The small woodstove usually takes the temp up 10-15 degrees? This makes for a comfortable habitat (interior temp feels comfortable at 62 , 65 if we want to keep it toasty). The house on windy days is tight. Humdity is good now most all the time, if to high can be vented through the higher elevation rear earthtubes/opening window/running the fire. This does not seem to be to much an issue unless its one of those days where is foggy and damp outside of day. The insulation umbrella is not done yet so extending that should have a major impact of THOSE type of days.

The biggest weaknesses thermally is the windows and doors, surprise. We have vinyl double glass windows with a low/e coating on most windows. These windows were from old projects and auction. These are the points of radical extremes meeting. From the moist and warm of the inside to cold dry outside. when conditions are so, creates condensation and freezing on really cold dry nights. Some windows we have stuffed a 2″inch piece of insulation in (north windows). This helps a bit but is not a completely solid air seal.

The doors are even more challenging! I tried to be super tight when building them. So much so that I’ve had to shave them down like 3 times. Wood moves, its just way it is. So i’ve tried.

The conclusion at this time is that we need storm windows and doors on exterior of current doors and windows. All the way round!! I have two re-purposed sliding glass doors for the main doors I hope will work. This will allow us in the summer to remove our current wood doors and just use storm doors of glass? OR to open the interior door in winter when sun is shining and get gain then when sun then when sun moves interior door door can be shut retaining gained heat.

For the windows I am thinking build a lightweight wooden frame holding a clear poly/vinyl material that is fairly thick . This should be able to be mounted very tightly against wooden exterior frame with some form of threaded screw or bolt. Duct tape as a gasket if needed. The materials we have in the “resource center” so it should be negligible on costs. This should also increase solar collection being point of collection is not tucked 5″ in the window frames anymore. The interior windows ( our current mounted ones)all are operate-able can be used to create beneficial convection currents when open and sun shinning. Or a tight seal against outside environment. At night put down the tight insulated curtains. Maybe a magnetic tape and a nice thick felt? So that would make a total of 3 “layers” spanning a distance 13.5″s and a variety of surface types creating wave changing properties? ( the last one i’m guessing on but it makes some sense).

Its 9:00am here and the house currently sits at 58 degrees and 78% humidity. Outside -10 and still. There is a semi clear sky so some solar collection also happening a bit .. Some reflective gain from sloped “front yard”. A small fire of a few small chunks and some coals in the middle.

So overall i’m really happy… caustically optimistic with tweaks it can be taken to a new level and finishing the skirting insulation/membrane layer make it better still.

Update: its now 1:00pm and the temp inside temp64 degrees. Its been slowly climbing.The wood stove has been going ..burned 10-12 sticks of 2″ x 16″ wood.

line poem

November 22nd, 2013

underneath all used forms of man made societal structures is an earth that is alive and breathing.


November 15th, 2013

change …. constant…. flowing …. through structures of attempted permanence until it succumbs and is something new again