Where have we been

So here we are at the last day of August and I haven’t posted anything in ages. Now it’s time to rectify that.

This is going to be a mishmash of a bunch of different things.

First, some projects that we’ve been working on.

If you recall from last year, we installed a new counter top around the sink in the kitchen, along with associated cupboards and drawers.

Notice that gap at the 45° angle where the bare wood behind is showing. We now have a new piece put in to cover that.

It wasn’t all that difficult, however I did discover that my table saw can’t handle cutting a piece of red oak 19mm (3/4″) thick at a 45° angle. The motor isn’t powerful enough to do the cut. I had to take the piece over to a friend’s place and use their table saw to do it. After that, it was stain and varnish as usual.

Next on the project list is our front steps.

When we put them in last year we only put one coat of varnish on them. They got all mucky during the winter, as you can see, so we decided to redo them.

Of course, we couldn’t take them all off at the same time as then we’d need to put a trampoline in front of the door to get in and out. So we’ve been working on it one step at a time, as it were. I have a spare piece of the same lumber that I cut to size and clamp it into position while we work on redoing each step. This means we can take our time and we can still get in and out of the trailer without issue.

Here is the first step after refinishing.

I put each step through the planer a few times to get rid of all the junk on top. Then we stained it. The stain we used was one we bought for some other reason that neither Kat nor I can remember, and when we put it on it was hardly even noticeable. We applied two coats of stain and then six coats of varnish. In the end, they have turned out alright.

We’ve finished two of the three steps and are working on the third right now.

In other news, wood shavings. We were getting low on bulking material for the composting toilet so we stopped at one of the many lumber mills they have around here and asked if we could have some. We filled up four large garbage bags from a mountain of the stuff that they had at no charge.

The only thing about those wood shavings is that they were wet and we didn’t want them rotting in the bags, or worse frozen into one clump come winter so I devised a method to dry them out.

I put a tarp in the truck bed and spread the shavings out on top of it. This did require several stirrings and a few days of good sunshine, but in the end it worked pretty well.

One of the last big things to rebuild in the trailer since we tore it apart to have it spray foamed, is the kitchen pantry. Being on a limited budget this year, we haven’t been able to go out and buy the materials for it. I did, however, have enough materials on hand to build the drawer that forms the base of the pantry.

Above is the spot where the pantry will be. You can see how I have already put in the side pieces on the left. The reason we are putting a drawer here is so, in the event we need to get access to the plumbing at the back, we can take out the drawer and still get to the clean-out in the pipe.

Needless to say, there was a lot of fiddling to get things just right as nothing is square or level and we need to make all sorts of cut-outs for the pipes and wiring.

Here is Inspector Fizgig checking out the work so far.

Further along, we have the final framing for what the drawer will be mounted to and what the pantry will be sitting on.

Why the double layer on the left side, you might be wondering? You can’t see all of the details of the back wall there, but the left edge of the pantry will actually not be up against the edge of the counter due to irregularities in the wall. As a result of this, I wanted to have something solid for the left edge of the pantry to sit on so I put a double layer of lumber on that left side. To cover the drawer there is going to be two layers of 19mm (3/4″) plywood for the pantry to sit on, so it should be pretty stable. It’s not going to be made of particle board so there will be some significant weight to the pantry, especially once you fill it up so I want to make it as stable as I can.

Anyway, I put the drawer together for the spot and then discovered that it was too wide. This is partially due to the fact that I thought the drawer rails were 11mm but they’re actually 13mm. Also, I was using lumber of different dimensions. The drawer front and back are 16mm (5/8″) but the sides are 19mm (3/4″) and somewhere I forgot to take that extra width of the sides into account.

At first I thought I only had to fix one side of the drawer as I hadn’t discovered my mistake with the rail thickness yet. I pulled the one side off the drawer (which isn’t fun after you’ve glued it) and I ran it through the planer. Note to self, don’t ever put plywood through a planer. It’s okay if you are planing in the same direction as the grain, but as soon as you get through that layer, the next one will have it’s grain going 90° to the previous layer and the planer will destroy it. I got it down to the right thickness, but it looked really ugly.

After putting the drawer back together, it was then I discovered the issue with the rail thickness. This time I used a table saw (again a friend’s because mine couldn’t handle the job) and cut 4mm off the side of the drawer. I ran it through once, then flipped it over and ran it through again so there was only a strip in the middle that I had to deal with. I used my reciprocating Dremel (or oscillating tool) with a cutting attachment to handle this, but it wasn’t pretty nor was it quick.

After all was said and done, I did managed to get the drawer installed.

We plan to put shoes and boots in it as we seem to have an over abundance of those lying around.

I have also been putting in a fair amount of time at the top of the hill where we plan to build the earthship. I’ve been working on clearing it and it looks like quite the area of destruction.

There was quite a bit of brush saw work to handle all of the small stuff. That was several days worth of work. Once that was done, I brought out the chainsaw and in two tanks of gas I had the entire section cleared.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a before picture. Now we need to do something with all of stuff that was cut. We’ll probably wait until November and just make a big bonfire. Can’t do that now as there are restrictions on having fires during the day.

Our garden is quite interesting this year, mostly because we didn’t plant most of the stuff that is growing in it. This picture was taken near the beginning of August and we have quite the huge squash plant going on there in the foreground. Behind that we have potatoes and tomatoes. Somewhere in there where you can’t see are the watermelons we actually planted.

We were away for a week and came back to this.

The squash has jumped out into the yard on one side and one of the compost bins on the other. The tomatoes have also jumped the boundary and started taking over the other compost bin. It looks like we’re going to have enough tomatoes and squash to sink a small ship.

Here is an awesome picture of some day lilies from our flower garden.

And just to put the icing on the cake, here are Gurgi and Fizgig hanging out together on the bed.

Everybody got that?

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4 thoughts on “Where have we been”

  1. Fizz & Gurgs look so cute together….Gurgs has quite the long tail! Going back to the wood chips that you bagged up and dried out.. what is the purpose of those again?
    Mom in AZ

    1. Well, we like to live like hamsters so we need something we can burrow into and make cozy like.

      Or, if you don’t believe that one, when you use a composting toilet, you need bulking material to help with the decomposition process. Wood shaving work really well for this, not to mention it totally removes any smell that you might have. So every time you do you business, you add a handful of shavings to cover everything. All of it eventually goes into a large 55 gallon drum that gets sealed for a year. After that you have what is referred to as humanure, which you can then use to grow plants.

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