Tag Archives: cutting trees

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?

Springtime 2018 Action

After April, we have been really looking forward to some warmer weather. Fortunately, spring has finally arrived and things are warming up quickly. The snow is all gone, the lakes and ponds are ice free, the trees are all in bud and the spring peepers are in full roar.

That means it’s time to take the plastic shield down. Here is a before picture.

We decided to make it easier on ourselves come winter and just roll it up so we don’t have to go through the whole pain of trying to reinstall the shield from scratch. This also means we didn’t have to find somewhere else to store it either.

It also made the job much easier and quicker too. Here it is all rolled up and bungied into place up at the top under the eaves.

Kat also took the pick-axe to the ice pile that was in front of our water cube and released it from its frozen prison. We now have access to it again and are actively collecting water to put in it.

With the snow having all melted, we were also able to take a few loads of tires that we had down by the trailer up to our master pile. You can’t do that during the winter unless you want to walk them up the hill wearing snow shoes. Yeah, not my cup of tea.

The other major project that we need to get moving on is firewood for next winter. We like to do this in April, but with Kat being away and the weather not cooperating we’re working on it now.

Here is me last Saturday wandering into the forest for our first set of trees.

This is what we managed to harvest that first day.

Since then, the usual routine is to get up in the morning and split what is ready to be split. After lunch we either go up and cut more trees or work on processing the logs down into reasonably sized pieces.

It was during this processing phase where we ran into a snag: the chain broke on my chainsaw. Here you can see it wrapped around the log I was cutting at the time.

No injuries were sustained, thankfully, but now I have a chainsaw without a chain. If you’ve never worked with a chainsaw, let me just say that there are a huge variety of sizes, cutting features, tooth frequency and brands. Figuring out what the specs are for your saw is the first step. Then you need to find somewhere where you can get it.

I looked online and finally found the one we needed at Amazon, but they only came in packs of 3. We drove into town yesterday to see if any of the local shops would carry the size we needed, but the local saw chain selection is mighty slim. I ended up ordering the pack of 3, but now we need to wait for it to arrive. Unfortunately, this means the black flies and mosquitoes will more than likely be out in force by the time it arrives.

In the mean time, we have split everything that was already processed except for three pieces that I can’t get the axe through. I have a splitting wedge somewhere around here, but I haven’t been able to locate it yet.

Here is a picture of the start of the new pile. This was after the second day, so it is not up-to-date.

Life does have it’s ups and downs. Fortunately this situation isn’t all that bad. I’m sure we’ll get our firewood finished eventually. In the mean time, we’ll just have to find other interesting things to keep ourselves occupied.

Land Clearing Event

Yesterday, we hosted a land clearing event in the hopes of having some of our vast number of trees reduced so we can figure out where the house is going. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us and it was a rather wet day.

Jay, from the Mallorytown Earthship and Patty, another member of the Earthship Ottawa Meetup group made the long trek up here in the rain to help us remove trees.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any action shots of the work being done. When it’s pouring rain, you don’t really feel like pulling out your camera and taking pictures.

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Jay brought his chainsaw and Patty brought her bow saw and snips. I used the brush saw and between the three of us, we cleared another section up where we had started last year. I have to say the new blade I put on the brush saw worked really well, once you get it attached properly.

Jay’s chainsaw though, was a bit under powered for serious tree felling. It’s a Poulan he bought from Canadian Tire. If you didn’t have it fully revved when you turned it on its side to do the cuts to take down a tree, it would shut itself off. Either there is something wrong with it, or it just isn’t designed to do that.

In any event, after a very soggy afternoon, we came back down to the trailer where Kat had been preparing our evening meal. Here we are enjoying it thoroughly.

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What did we have, you may be asking? Well, we happen to know a really good baker and we had put in a request for some fresh ground, whole wheat, sourdough pizza dough. Say that fast a few times. Fresh ground means she ground the wheat herself.

Kat took that and made our favourite pizza recipe, which uses a Thai peanut and hoisin sauce as it’s base, with chicken, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, peanuts, cheese and fresh cilantro. Here is a close up.

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The fresh dough made it awesome, I must say. We all ate our fill and then Patty and Jay had to start their long treks home. It’s unfortunate that all us Earthshippers are so far apart, but really nice that we’re willing to take some time to drive out and lend a hand when we can. We have a pretty good community going.

Today, after all that rain yesterday, the sun was beaming through the leaves of the trees and all the mist. Kat managed to capture a decent photo of it.

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A little more progress has been made.

Forever onwards

So, Dave, now that you’re home did you relax this weekend?

Actually, no. We went over to Philippe Charmet’s Earthship build on Saturday and helped out there. It felt quite a bit different when there isn’t a crew of 60+ people all working around you. Much more laid back.

We had been over to Phil’s place last year when he was just starting. It’s much further along now, as far as the walls are concerned.

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You can see Phil over Kat’s shoulder there on the left.

Phil has some guys he hired, plus a few of us volunteers who showed up. We were working on doing packout between the tires. Here is a picture of Mark and Carol hard at work. They are members of the Earthship Ottawa meetup group. They regularly post meetups for builds and other fun activities so if you’re interested in this stuff, and close to the area, you might want to look it up.

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As you can see, they’re up to seven courses completed of tires. His design is a bit different than what we’re used to, but hey, gotta try new things right?

Here is a picture of Kat saying to herself, “Didn’t we just do this last week?”

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I also have been wanting to finish hooking up the composting toilet which I worked on today. I needed to connect the overflow pipe and the vent stack. Both of those are in place now and we’re just waiting for the glue to dry on the joints and the spray foam insulation to harden. I put the starter stuff in the composting bin and with any luck we’ll be in business tomorrow.

Which is good because Phil is coming over tomorrow to help us cut trees. There may be another tree cutting party a bit later, but I haven’t confirmed that one yet. We also still need to finish off the roof, put up the solar array, rip off the interior paneling in the trailer so we can insulate it, insulate and skirt the underneath of the trailer and then make sure we have a tonne of firewood ready for the winter.

Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us.