All posts by Earthship Captain

Maynooth Wildlife

So occasionally we manage to take pictures of things that are alive that aren’t plants. The following is a small collection of critters that we have come upon this year, so far. I will warn you right now, if you don’t like things that have more than four legs you might want to bypass this post.

Let’s start with the ant colony I discovered while sorting through my wood pile. They had carved up several pieces of lumber to create themselves a cozy little home. It also created a rather fascinating set of fins in the wood.

Perhaps some artistic wood person can find a use for something like that.

Remember that post about us having a new door installed on the trailer? Well while we were working on that this guy came to visit.

It kinda looks like a giant house fly, but actually it’s a cicada. It would fly around us any time we used a power tool, like the skill saw or drill. I’m guessing it was attracted to the noise and vibration, thinking we were a mate. I’m not sure I have seen one that close up before so this was a rather unique experience. We didn’t have much cicada noise this summer, what with it being so cool.

Next up, we have Mr. Dragonfly. This particular one was sunning himself on a fir tree. His wing span probably would exceed that of a hummingbird. We love these guys as they really help to keep down the biting insect populations during the summer.

Following that, we have Rita. She’s a big ass spider. If you know how big a dock spider gets, she’s about the same size.

And then there is Ben. He’s the same type of spider as Rita. They share the space inside where we keep the batteries for the solar panels.

I don’t know what kind of spiders they are, but I can say we have quite a few of them. Usually we find them in or near wood, especially in the fire wood pile. If you think the pictures of them are creepy, try doing an image search on the internet for “large brown spider”. That will make these guys look benign. The closest I found was a dark fishing spider, but these guys are no where near water so that isn’t right.

If you’re tired of bugs, we can move on to other things.

This, for instance, is a blue spotted salamander.

That’s Kat’s palm he’s resting on. You usually find them in warm wet places, like under a pile of decomposing straw bales, or perhaps your compost pile.

To top it all off, today as I was heading into town, I hadn’t gone half a kilometer before I came upon this girl.

She was just lazily wandering down the middle of our road. I stopped quite a ways back to take her picture and it took her a few seconds to realize I was there. After we stared at each other for a few more seconds, she turned and trotted down the road, after having moved to the right side. I was wondering if she had moved over to let me pass.

I followed her at a fair distance for a bit and then I just stopped and let her do her thing. She continued down the road and then scooted into the forest.

If you’re not from around here and you have no idea what that is, it is a female moose.

That’s all the time we have for wild life today. I wonder what will happen tomorrow.

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Autumn 2017, part 2

I was driving home today from visiting family during Thanksgiving (yes, that was today, if you’re Canadian) and it started out rainy, but as I got closer to home it cleared up and was a really nice sunny day. I also noticed that we have pretty much reached the peak of the second round of autumn colours so I decided to take a walk around our property and shoot some pictures to share with all of you nice folks.

Actually, this first one is from last Thursday (Oct 5th). It’s the standard view looking over the trailer roof. You can compare it to the other pictures I from my previous Autumn 2017 post.

Now we move on to today’s batch. There are some real doozy’s in here that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. All pictures can be clicked on for larger versions.

As I said, it was a really nice sunny day and we’re big into the golds and bright oranges now. There are still some reds around here and there, but most of the reds happened earlier.

I also happened to be up at the family cottage during the last week of September and I snagged this awesome sunset picture over the lake. It also has the extra added bonus of having a flock of geese flying through it. You will most likely need to click on the picture for the larger version to see them, though.

Finishing the trailer door

If you’ve been following along, we installed a new door on our trailer back in September. Although the door was fully functional, there were still several details to take care of before it gets too cold. These were finishing and insulating the new interior step and insulating and covering the framing on the outside, both of which have now been accomplished.

Let us begin with the interior work first, as that was completed first.

I laid down some vapour barrier and then cut some pieces of rigid insulation. This time I used some 1.5″ (38mm) rigid insulation I had lying around as left overs from other projects. The rest of the floor in the trailer is only 1″ (25mm) but this was a small space and I had enough of the thicker insulation. Why not, as they say.

After filling in the floor space with the rigid insulation, I wrapped the vapour barrier around the end and covered the top of it. This means we have two layers of vapour barrier in the step. I tuck taped it all down and made sure all of the gaps were covered.

After that, we needed to put a floor on it. We didn’t have any more of the laminate flooring left from doing the rest of the trailer, so we had decided to just buy another box of whatever laminate and not care too much about it matching in colour. Well, as it turns out, some friends of ours had a left-over box of laminate from a previous project so we bought it from them for $20.

And voila! New floor installed.

But wait! That’s not all. We also put in some fancy trim pieces to make it all snazzy looking. This was stage one.

Stage two involved finding something to go over the top corner edge that you can see is still exposed and quite sizeable in the picture above. They have these nice finishing strips at the hardware store that are about 8mm (5/16″) thick and 51mm (2″) wide. I couldn’t get a corner piece of molding to cover it as the gap it needed to cover was too big but I essentially made one by using two pieces of the aforementioned finishing strips.

We also added a metal bullnose cover to the outer edge against the door.

It turned out pretty nice, if we do say so ourselves. There may be some other fiddling around the old door to clean up the look, but that will be further down the line. At least we have a proper step with insulation and flooring now.

Next, it was the outside portion that needed some work. This is what we started with.

There is the basic framing with a plywood cover over it. You can also see that the plywood doesn’t cover the whole thing. That is what I did first: finish covering the top and both sides with plywood.

With the plywood installed, I pulled out the spray foam and made sure that all gaps between the framing and the trailer were filled.

After that, it was vapour barrier time again. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that stage, but I wrapped both sides and top with 6mil before continuing on to the insulation.

Here is a picture of the insulation going on. The right side and top are complete, but the left still needs to insulated.

I had a full sheet of 25mm (1″) rigid insulation that I cut up for the sides and I found enough pieces to do 51mm (2″) on the top. I taped up all of the seams and it started to look pretty snug.

Over top of the insulation we put more plywood sheathing. We did that so we would have something solid to attach the finishing pieces to.

Because the door is made of cedar, we went with cedar tongue-and-groove to finish the outside. It didn’t take much, just too full bundles to cover all of the exposed parts. I also added some trim around the outside.

Some other stuff that we don’t have pictures of is the weather stripping we installed around the door jam to seal it and we added a rubbery-plastic door nose thingy underneath the bottom of the door so there isn’t a big gaping hole to the outside world there any more.

Overall, we’re really happy with out it turned out. Kat plans to add some varnish on the new wood as well, so that should protect it from the elements. As long as we can get that part finished before it gets too cold.

Work Weekend at Dash and Y.P.’s

Yes, we need to keep up with our Earthshipping so this time we spent some time the past weekend (Sep 23/24) working at Dash and Y.P.’s simple survival model Earthship. We weren’t the only ones helping either. There was a whole gaggle of friends and neighbours who had shown up to lend a hand. As a result, a number of things were accomplished.

Here is what it looked like from the back when I arrived on Saturday morning (Kat arrived a bit later).

So, if you remember from the last time we were here, Dash and I had been doing the fill in at the back between the domes. Since then, the rest of the fill was put in place, all of that was covered with four layers of rigid insulation and then a double layer of vapour barrier put on top of that.

When I got there, I was helping out to finish with the vapour barrier up around the skylights. That’s this area, in case you forgot.

Everything was covered with heavy dew from overnight so we had to try and mop it up as best we could before tacking it down. You don’t want to wait for the sun to dry it as that takes too long and it was stupid hot on the weekend. We got up to 36C with the humidex (97F) which makes it uncomfortable to work in.

Anyway, we split up the teams and others were taking care of the vapour barrier and I was put on rigid insulation carving details until lunch. Dash and Y.P. provided us all with a pizza lunch from the local diner so we were all well fed, but with the heat, it really reduces your appetite.

After lunch, we all gathered together to tackle the EPDM waterproofing layer that was being put over top of the vapour barrier. One of the key things about this layer is that it have no holes and you try to do it in one piece without having to create a seam as that can create a weakness in the seal. Needless to say, the rubber sheet is big, heavy and unruly to deal with if you only had one or two people.

Here is a picture of the group contemplating the roll of EPDM.

EPDM stands for Ethylene-Propylene-Diene-Monomer, in case you were curious. It’s essentially a pond-liner-grade rubber sheet. We unrolled it, cut it to length and then had to haul it into place. Here you can see me helping with the hauling (Kat was taking the picture).

With so many people helping, it didn’t take too long to get up over the lip of the roof and, more or less, into position. It certainly would have been a daunting task without all of the extra help.

EPDM is not the nicest stuff. It off-gasses in the sunlight and it has this fine powder-like coating that comes off so you and your clothes get covered with it. It really makes you want to take a shower.

Being short on showering facilities, and it being ridiculously hot out for the end of September, we all decided to go for a swim. It felt a bit odd with it being so hot out and seeing trees with their autumn colours and you’re swimming, but it was quite welcome.

That was it for Saturday, but I went back on Sunday to help some more. I had managed to pre-cut all of the first layer of insulation pieces on Saturday, so all we had to do was finalize any spots that still needed to be covered with vapour barrier and then start installing it.

Here you can see the first few sheets after they were put in place.

You can’t really see it as the corners are in shadow in the pictures, but there were some wood blocks installed in strategic places that we needed to trim the insulation around so it would fit so it wasn’t just a matter of slapping in the pieces and calling it a day.

There will be four layers of that rigid insulation so it will be well covered. The EPDM will go over that up to the top of the roof peak at the front.

As I mentioned earlier, there were quite a few of us helping out and not all of us were working up on the roof. Some were working out front.

You can go back to my previous post I linked above to really see the differences, but the plywood was put across the angled part and the doors were installed. Both the top and bottom sections had their plywood on, but they removed all of the top pieces so they could be stained and then reinstalled. This is to protect the wood over the winter, as they probably won’t be getting to putting the flashing on before then.

They also covered their fancy doors with cardboard to protect the windows and finish from harm during construction and moving things in and out of the building.

I couldn’t stay as late as we did the previous day on Saturday, as I had some errands to run in town. Y.P. had to head back to Toronto anyway so we quit at 13:00 for some late lunch. Did I mention it was stupid hot that day too? Well, it was.

Dash and Y.P. are now that much closer to having their Earthship fully enclosed. It will be a great day when that happens and I am very happy to have been a small part in making that happen.