It has been a while since we have updated this page, life has thrown some hurdles at us over the past weeks and we are just dealing with some red tape and unexpected costs, especially on the vehicle front, it has cost a small fortune to get my 4 year old vehicle insured here in BC, and much of those funds had been allocated to building materials, so the shop project is on hold until next week when we anticipate acquiring some used metal roofing.
However we have been forging ahead on the chicken coop and it’s almost completely sealed up! It is a great space and the final finish details include: getting the egg collection door install, moving the electric fence, and getting the built in water and food containers to dispense. Also I have some creative mud work ahead of me, as I plan to install a piece of tree into one coop corner and earthen plaster around it, allowing the chooks to enjoy some branches, and make the most out of this little space.
We are also spending a lot of time these dark evening designing our land to better accommodate large groups for next season. We have acquired some really amazing industrial waste products which are ideal building materials and we are overjoyed with the opportunities which have now opened up to us, more on this later. By late winter we will be posting our micro building plans along with a calendar time line, so that friends and family can plan there trips around specific projects.
Life changed this week when we acquired a huge old concrete mixer which wasn’t working when we bought it, nor were we able to fit it in the back of the car.. luckily the sweet lady selling it also happened to have the perfect sized trailer (we have long been hunting for) for sale, we bought both along with a pot belly wood stove perfect for Dylan’s shop and headed home. Dylan within about 2 hours of playing got that old 4 cycle gas powered B&S motor roaring again! Daubing has never been so efficient, and what we spent in the purchase was less than the cost to a chiropractor and massage therapist to correct our aching backs from manually mixing batch after batch of concrete earthen mud. To date we have managed to close up about 75% of the waddle walls and the entire nesting box wall with another course of cans, some recycled garbage, and an old window. The man hours on this project have gone about 70 % to mixing and 30% to building… prior to our new purchase now we are keeping perfect pace to the mixer and running a smooth 2 man 4 bucket operation! Just a little time each day and the place is almost done.
Last week the chickens got another tier of the garden opened up and it doubled their grazing space and has provided them with a much safer and easily accessible situation for us. There have been a couple large hawks hanging around lately, and Dylan spent some time improving the overhead netting and added a large tarp to keep a good area dry. As they transition into the chicken condo the old tractor, (or tour bus as Mia calls it) will still be under shelter and usable for another rooster and his brothel. We are certainly going to have to get ride of a few roosters soon.. it’s just tough to tell which ones.. they are all so beautiful. I am hopeful that folks in this community will want them and we can get some hens next year.. otherwise poor James Brown is going to end up on the table!
One of my dearest friends in the whole wide world David spent last week visiting from Quebec and he put in some back breaking loads of earth moving and daubing with me. But it wasn’t all hard labor on his stay we also took on another round of pickling (and eating) beets and experimented with knitting using yarn we made from old T shirts… Mostly it was just wonderful to share our home and new lifestyle with him along with great conversations and some yummy meals!
Dylan is doing his CORE hunting course this weekend (mmm game meat), and Mia and I took in another fall fair yesterday in Castlegar. The weather was STUNNING! not a cloud in site, clear blue sky and it was hot hot… I think it got up to 28º! Today however is rainy again but we have a list of projects to finish up inside including yet more pickling, pretzel making, and I am going to take a stab at the hallway pile of my art supplies…* maybe!
Living in 600 some sq feet is challenging at times.. but nothing a little straw bale art studio wouldn’t solve!
The coop pictures may leave those of you who haven’t seen the structure in progress wondering what is going on… but as the final details are completed I will do a video walk through, which should clear up any question you might have. The chicken condo is made of 100% garbage bonded with 70% earth from our site excavation and about 30% cement GP Hydrolic… everything is setting up super hard and the perch sticks on the nesting wall are strong enough to hold Dylan!
Dylan finally took a weekend off from the workshop and we took in all sorts of local harvest festivities and did a little canoe trip with visiting friends Mark, Mel & Leroy down the Slocan River which is crazy low right now. But before the weekend he got the last of the 10 final roof beams up and in place, and as I type he is pegging in the last 4 poles. This will allow him to move onto readying the site for the final excavation (to move the bin into the hillside) expand the turn around road area, level the worksite, and provide us with more material for the rammed earth walls.
Last week Dylan tested a section of wall ramming the loamy sandy earth by hand into some steel forms we had around. The results were pretty encouraging, as we had planned to use sandbag but are now switching directions and exploring renting a pneumatic tamp to create free-standing non load bearing earth walls, likely finished with a portland plaster parging. Dyl will also get to work on the french drain, weeping tile and gravel trenches this week.
Mia and I are going to finish the nesting bucket coop wall this afternoon using beer cans and the same earthen concrete mix I used last week, which has set up really solid. On Saturday morning before our guests arrived Dylan and I started breaking down all the birch branches from the summer birch harvest into piles of unusable burn scrap, fire logs, and “wattle” material for the rest of the chicken coop. We have gone back to our original plan to play with wattle and daub (weaved stick walls finished with earthen plaster), and we now have a good sized pile of wattle to start playing with, and as my good friend David from Montreal is coming to stay for a while next week I am hoping to enlist his help in finishing the coop, and maybe finishing some canning with me too!
Finally we are eating grapes from our vines and soon there will be more than I can handle! I see grape jelly in my future, lots of grape jelly.
*If you look closely at the above picture you will see is Dylan is sporting a ridicules yet kinda sexy seventies handle bar moustache… the beard is gone and I am relieved about that, but I think I miss the goatee.
Apparently just 3, to see the roof framing complete!
I was going to call this post the last spike, but surely that is a lie, as there will be many more spikes before this project is complete, however ” a very important spike” just didn’t have the same ring. It is now apparent that Dave and Colin just can’t stay away, and we are as always thrilled to have them here. These 3 Fidlers are not only a very productive team, but a dynamic accumulation of skills and muscle and ideas who obviously enjoy so much playing with new theories and of course big tools. It must be something magical that happens when a craftsman father; carpenter and timber framer gets to help his son; a third generation carpenter build a wood shop out of trees (what else) with the help of his youngest son and the trio’s greenest woodworker! The boys erected their guest house on the front lawn and put in their usual extended weekend at our labour camp, which Dylan is lovingly referring to as “camp out for grown ups”
I am without a computer this week, so posting has been troublesome!
We have seen much progress down at the shop site this past week and a half. Dylan was really fortunate to have Mike come back out and help raise the centre ring and 4 roof beams! Sounds simple enough, but the process involved extensive rigging and strapping and heaving along with building racking and decking. Dylan invented a great fitting system to mate the centre ring to the roof poles securely. They guys also managed to get away to do some lake fishing and enjoy some good meals, none of which included fresh lake fish though 😦
While all this was happening I did a slap and dash in the ugly bathroom, which improved the spaces usability and esthetics somewhat. I added a before picture of the bathroom below. I however wouldn’t write home about the quality of work in the powder-room, as I had to paint over years of weird textured walls and drips, and hideous cabinets, but in keeping with out trailer chique theme this room screams palm springs 1968, I think! And the lovely yellow fixtures are only accentuated by the new subdue tones! Other than the bucket flush, this room is almost totally functional now, including the dryer which I had to use for the first time the other day while we were caught in an overcast rainy cold streak, which luckily ended yesterday, and today and for the week we have 28º forecast and today there is a stunning blue bird sky. Weather patterns have been funny, it seems every time folks from Calgary come visit we get rain, this certainly was the case when Beth and MJ stopped over last weekend. Hopefully the fam can buck this trend as they start coming back out tonight!
Mia got on a horse for the first time yesterday and she was thrilled about the whole experience! Back to school next week which I think we are all looking forward too.