Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The excavation is done. Next we'll lay the site out again for the outline of the foundation walls and get some trenches dug for the rubble trench foundation.
The temporary dam I built at the spring out of clay is still holding. I've had to patch a couple of small holes but that only takes a few seconds. We have a good 2 feet of drop where the pipe is now. With a longer pipe we could get 3 feet of drop and use a ram pump to get the water up to a holding tank on top of the hill the spring comes from. Then from there it would be down hill to the house site. Gravity might get it there.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Today we started on a cover for the grill area using cedar posts. We're going to try lashing top posts to hold some sort of cover. And I have the blocks for the grill ready to go tomorrow.
We stuck a rock in the "spout" of the spring's "bowl". There is a ton of clay dirt around from the excavation, so we packed it around the rock and a pipe that extends the waters flow to a lower area where I can put a bottle. I laid rocks in the soft mud for a little walk way and the water continues on it's flow down the wet weather creek. I know it's probably very temporary, but it was fun and just an experiment. We'll see how long it lasts. The pipe angle in this picture was wrong. We changed it and really increased the flow. A bucket of clay was left for repairs. I can't wait to see how long this will last.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
If you are outside a good bit of the day; the sun, bugs and poison rashes can make this part of the year challenging. Look around and you'll find plant neighbors that our great-grandparents formed a partnership with to help make this season more enjoyable.
Right now the Swamp Roses (Rosa palustris) are in full bloom. Those are the pretty, pink 5 petal roses you see growing wild in arches along old fence rows and homesteads. If you are fortunate enough to find these beautiful flowers away from cars and where pesticides and herbicides have not been sprayed, then it's harvest time. Rose buds and hips are a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, Niacin, Bioflavanoids, K, E, polyphenols, pectin and Selenium. This is great for energy and combating fatigue during the hot summer. Rose petals contain as much antioxidants as green tea, making them a healthy, caffeine-free beverage (instructions below).
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I'm playing with these burdock vinegar wraps. Burdock poultice is good for poison ivy, like I said, but I didn't have any around. All I had were the wraps. When I applied the vinegar wraps the the older poison ivy on my arm, it felt great.
I have new patches coming up though and I wrapped them for a long time with the burdock leaves. The new poison ivy was irritated by that. Not too much, but enough I won't do that again. So I went to the creek and chewed up a bunch of violet leaves to put on there and we're back to normal again. Well normal for someone with poison ivy.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
We've been living in the RV full time for over a month now, I think, and the biggest lesson we've learned about this project is that it takes much longer to finish a step than we ever thought. By now we thought we'd have the site excavated already. Using those old beams for the barn slowed us down quite a bit, but the barn is finished enough to called done. The only things left now are an interior wall, more shelving, a little bit of floor and a door.
Equipment breaks down quite a bit and so has our truck. I'd say Murphy and his law book moved here with us, but that's not accurate either. Some big stuff has broken down and the weather hasn't always cooperated, but overall we make more progress every day and our bodies are holding up to the daily work and heat.
We have internet and enough power for the laptop. Jeffrey is about done with the outhouse, we have guests coming soon and that was a top priority. The build site is cleared and we were able to move things around to accommodate trees and a large raspberry patch.
Our sun danzer chest fridge showed up this week. We don't have the power to run it yet, but it's great as a big ice chest. Two bags of ice lasted almost two days in there and the temp was at around 0-5 Celsius.
I really like my last design for the house, but with as long as everything is taking, some of the complicated things are going to be scaled back. The root cellar and cistern are no longer right at the house so that the back North wall is now clean and simple. We have a good sized storage room in the house, so I won't have to get into the root cellar every day anyway. The root cellar would have to have been at a deeper excavation level than the house, it sticking out of the excavation site would have blocked the equipment getting in (so more trees would be taken out) and the drainage was going to be rather complicated to keep the house protected from the cistern and from water accumulating where the root cellar and house were going to meet. The animal house was going to be accessed from a door in our storage room so I could feed the animals easily during bad weather. Got rid of that too. That posed drainage and other grade complications so it's now also detached.
Seeing how long everything was taking, we explored the idea of having the walls poured instead of stacking blocks. We thought everything in Missouri has been so cheap so far, so why not check it out. When we got some of the over the phone preliminary quotes we were so excited. Then when we had contractors come out and give us a real quote, well that was quite different.
It would be close to $11,000 for poured walls. It would save us a huge amount of time, but eat into too much of our budget. We're back to dry stacked block with surface bonding. As a compromise, we contacted a few local people to help us stack. So we'll be moving along a lot quicker with help.
Originally we were going to use 12" block for the walls that would come in contact with berm. We're not digging into a hillside though so there is no back pressure to deal with. We are excavating to about 3-4 feet and then we'll back fill to the roof. Every 4th core will be concrete and rebar filled as well as 3 feet of every corner. We talked to Rob Roy and other contractors who have built basements (this is basically a basement house) about our specific project. With the size of the house and other considerations, 8" block will be fine. Thank goodness because that is a good bit lighter than 12" block!
We've been following the thread of an owner-builder and he's doing basically the same thing. His photos are great and he's not hidden his mistakes. So there's been a lot to learn. I have to get all the drawings for the house re-done as soon as possible because we are excavating Monday and there have been so many changes. I also made sure that the length and height of all the interior and exterior walls are the size of the block (actual dimensions) so that we don't have complications of having to create forms for the gaps. If it works out like I hope, each wall ends at a full block or half block. I had to move all the interior walls around in the design, but not by much more than a few inches.
Not all the work is hard and I am really enjoying the wonderful plants here. The swamp roses are in bloom now and I'm watching the hips on the Sweet Brier roses. I've enjoyed harvesting the petals and making all sorts of things. I've started writing about the many wonderful things you can do with roses and I'll post when the vinegar and other experiments are done. The raspberries are everywhere and we've been snacking on them every day. The self-heal grows like crazy and you'd think we were drunk mowing as we are cutting paths and swerve to avoid patches of flowers.
I got a touch of poison ivy on my forearms, but I've been hand clearing all the spots so that big equipment wouldn't come through and bull doze down everything, so it's to be expected. I still have jewelweed broth cubes in Judy's freezer from last year, but over did it with the cubes and was applying every time I felt an itch. That has dried my skin out a bit and last night when I itched, I wrapped my arms instead in burdock leaves that are stored in vinegar. Ahhhh. The redness on my skin that was around the poison ivy is gone and so was the itching. So I can now reduce the amount of Jewelweed that I use and hopefully my skin won't be so dry.
The burdock wraps also instantly took the sting out of a wasp sting that Jeffrey received and then one I got on the bottom of my foot a few days later. It's a great first aid treatment and we keep it on the counter. To make some, pick large burdock leaves, you probably have some around your yard or house, roll up and stick in a quart jar. Fill with organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and set out so you can quickly grab in case of a "knuckle buster" as Susun Weed calls it, or a sting or some poison ivy relief. It wraps around ankles and forearms so nicely!
I'll try to update when the excavation is done. For now, back to work on re-doing those drawings.
Here is the before photo of the excavation site.