Wednesday, June 29, 2011

compost bins like the Nearings

Because there really isn't anything we can do for the yurt today, I decided to make our humanure compost bins. We'll need two, and a space for dry(ish) organic matter between them. Kathy made some great ones in the style of Scott and Helen Nearing, and we have a bit of pine forest to tidy, so I went to work. A bunch of hours and two blisters later, it looks like this:
I know it might not seem that impressive, but I actually have cut four longer 75-inch posts for the corners, and 30 shorter 50-inch posts for the bin sides. I will need 60 of these for each bin though... so I'm a quarter of the way there. It's a good start! And it was a really nice way to be outside on this gorgeous day without being way too hot.

Monday, June 27, 2011

the forever floor

Meet John and Jon:
They keep me laughing with their antics and comments...
John was so sweet to come help us AGAIN this weekend. Jon and I had been working on the floor steadily (on the dry days) since last weekend and almost had finished the first... ahem... half. I swear we were working on it... it just takes so dang long to fit all those twisty boards back into place!
Given that it took us a week to get almost halfway done, I hope you will be as impressed as we were that the three of us were able to finish it all up yesterday just in time for dinner! In only one day! Woah.
We finished the last board *just* in time for dinner, and had a great family gathering together around the campfire outside. I even got to make s'mores for Erin and John!

This morning I woke up all jazzed to get started...
We had high aspirations to finish raising the yurt with DJ and Kathy who had come to help us!
We knew we had to draw our 24-foot circle, so we got out the measuring tape... and discovered that our platform was too small in some places and too big in others! Uugh. I didn't plan on that!
DJ and Kathy have only been back from New Zealand for 5 days, and they are still adjusting to the time change...
but they rallied impressively. It was the most beautiful, sunny day, and remarkably hot!
After replacing the boards that were too short, we drew our circle,
and Jon brought out the generator attached to the BCS.
This enabled us to use a jigsaw to cut the perimeter of our floor. Here's DJ, hard at work.It was more work than we anticipated to actually finish the platform, but we finally had a complete circle,
ready for our weather stripping.
Careful to leave a bit more than an inch around the top, we screwed it into place. This rim will help to hold the lattice in place, and also provides a place for rain and snow melt to drip off onto the ground rather than coming into the house. And now we are done! There is literally no place to go but up!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our foam extravaganza...!

We woke up today and continued cutting strapping to lay across the beams. It will hold the styrofoam in place against the floor so our toes don't get too cold in the winter.
While we worked to get the strapping into place, Sue and Dan brought all of the styrofoam down to the site.
It was cut so that it would fit perfectly inside the beams.
Our plan is to lay our new styrofoam first, since it fits better, and then add the older stuff that was originally used on top. Once we finished cutting everything to size and fitting it into place, we headed inside for dinner.
We even made a few new friends in the meadow... mostly ticks, but I found this caterpillar on my pant legs too. It took some convincing, but eventually he agreed that outside was a better place for him than in.
After things dry a bit, we'll be ready to lay our flooring! Perhaps next weekend...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Look! We're waterproof!

Welcome to our house!!! It's level and everything! (Ok... well, maybe not EVERYTHING.)Today we finished digging our holes and filling them with crushed stone,
and then we made sure the piers and all of our 4x4 posts were level too, thanks to laser precision. We marked them and John Bolton cut them with the chop saw (shhh... don't tell Jon... he thinks we did it all by hand!)
We replaced them in the proper piers, double-checked our work, and screwed the skeleton of our platform together on top.
We were remarkably level-headed about the whole process...and it took a while!
But we kept at it...
and made sure to take occasional breaks for tea and cake with the Hooties
before returning to our diligent work.
We cut slats to fit between the beams and hold up our foam insulation...
and made sure to have fun along the way.
It sprinkled much of the day, but we didn't mind.
Neither did the sheepies... It turns out we're all waterproof! Who knew?
Buddy the sheep (he's the best cuddler) stuck around to keep us company while we finished putting together the skeleton, and then we headed inside for homemade pizza, thanks to Kathy. Delicious!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday: sunburns and a good foundation

It was a beautiful sunny day to start building our yurt, and Kathy was kind enough to put out our laundry while we got started.
Our first task: scything the spot our yurt will sit. We even cut a path for ourselves through the meadow!
Jon got the tractor up and running, and we loaded up the beams that will make the skeleton of our platform.I thought it would be a bigger puzzle to fit them all back together again, but thankfully Jon had numbered them all, so it wasn't so hard. We centered the beams around the area we hoped the house would be, and oriented it so that our door faces Southwest (because that was the best compromise between orienting it South-facing for best solar gain and fitting with the lay of the land).
Our friend John Bolton (around here he's just known as "Bolton") is a champ, and came to put in a long day of helping us. Here he and Jon are screwing our frame together. We needed to do this in order to determine exactly where our concrete piers should sit.We then unscrewed the whole frame and got to digging... there are 20 piers under the yurt in all, aligned with the beams of the platform. We knew that we needed to dig a hole around each pier that was at least 3- to 4-feet deep (below the frost line) or down to clay, whichever came first. Thankfully there was a lot of clay only a few feet below the surface!
It took a lot of elbow grease to get it done; Dick's old post hole digger came in SO handy...
After our holes were dug, we filled them with crushed rock in order to prevent future frost heaves from pushing up on the posts of our yurt. This should help us to ensure that our yurt stays level long into the future!
It took all day to get to this spot, but we now have half of our holes dug and filled, which isn't bad. Only 10 to go...