Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Constructing the Yome

We got the call two days ago that DJ and Kathy were ready to put up the structure of their yome, so this morning we scurried North.When we arrived they were busy packing straw into the spaces that would be under their floor. This went over the foamboard they had placed inside each of the 8 wedges that made the platform.
We covered it with a vapor barrier, and stapled it into place...
and then got to work fitting the plywood on top like a big puzzle. It's amazing that when you work it out right, you can make the entire platform out of 8 pieces of plywood, plus one small (20 inch) extra octagon in the middle. DJ and Kathy figured that out themselves by making a to-scale replica and trying things out. That's more patience than I possess!
after screwing down the plywood (which will later be covered with a big round rug),
we got to constructing the roof. That tiny ring on top of the ladder goes at the top of their roof, and each of the rafters screws into it.
It didn't take long to get them in place!
The yome's bones are constructed from a bunch of 1.5 x 1.5 inch pieces of wood with eye hooks in the ends. These all get threaded together on large nuts, and fastened into place with washers and bolts. Cleverly, the eye hooks at each end are screwed opposite each other, so if you need to tighten or loosen a length you can just turn the board after it has been attached to its neighbors.
After getting the perimeter of the roofline attached to the rafters, we tightened it all up...
and then we put on the roof fabric, stretched it into place, and popped through that tiny hole to screw it down around the doughnut.
Kathy zipped around putting extra weatherproof paint on any visible holes...
and Jon attached the roof vent while we got ready for the next steps.
Now let's take a moment to gather ourselves because the next part of our day was kindof crazy. So crazy, in fact, that we have no pictures. There were no extra hands, literally.
Basically, the deal is that you put the side poles together with the roof poles, and start raising the yome from one side, moving around in a circle methodically as you attach the floor poles that hold it all together. Theoretically, this should work fine, and in the book they even say it can be done with two people. I have NO IDEA how. We worked around in a circle, and about halfway around one of the first floor poles broke and the whole structure came off the platform. We had to backtrack and start over... a number of times.

It was challenging for us, but our little buddy here didn't seem to mind the repetition in his day. He made dozens of trips from the feeder to wherever he was keeping his stash, and by the end of the day had it emptied. Check out those cheeks!
So, in the end (after dark, with flashlights) we got it! Tomorrow DJ and Kathy will put up the side walls, and then hopefully it will be done!After some time to reflect, Jon and I both agreed that it was easier to raise the yurt. But knowing what we know now, hopefully it will go more smoothly the next time we put up a yome. Regardless, we're really excited to have DJ and Kathy nearby, and grateful that we had the chance to help out in the building of another kind of alternative living space!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

off the beaten path

Jon said to me last night: "I feel like we don't ever do anything fun."

What? Oh no! We can't have that. While our days have been fulfilling in their own right, we've been working so diligently doing yurt-related projects that we have forgotten to change it up occasionally and to make sure we're also taking in the wonders of nature that we love so much... we needed a change of scenery!
So, we decided to go canoeing today. We headed off to the Royal River where it flows under Penney Road in New Gloucester...
and this made him SO happy!
It was so quiet, just the sounds of the wind in the trees, nearby birds, and our paddles on the water.
Gliding by lots of wildlife (and jumping out occasionally to transport the canoe over fallen logs that blocked our way through)...
The arrow plant leaves were perfectly pointy, and they were blooming, just for us (and for you, mum).
We stopped a lot to check things out...
And we were silent enough that a great blue heron flew just over our heads on his way upstream. And a belted kingfisher carved his darting path in the air overhead and beside us.
A couple hours later we landed at our destination under the Intervale Road by Pineland Farms. Jon grabbed the bike out of the canoe and pedaled the few miles back to grab the car.We think the next leg of our canoe trip will start here... (can you see the canoe between the pillars?) we had so much fun that we plan to go often. Eventually we hope to make our way all the way down river to the ocean!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A place for organic matter, finally!

So, I've been working on these compost bins for weeks! Not because they take forever, but because I get distracted easily. But today Sasha came to visit (yay! Do you remember her from Mama Roja? She lives here in Scarborough, not too far away, and gosh it's such a blessing to have her nearby!) and it motivated me to finish this project that I have been putting off.
So, we hemmed and we hawed, and we hammered and we sawed...
and by the time Sash had to leave, it looked like this- pretty good, huh?
Jon helped me cut some old pieces of roofing with tin snips... and I did a bang-up job getting it all nailed into place (literally)...
So, now we have a dry (enough) place to store the organic matter we'll use for our composting toilet and our compost bins! We'll fill it with bags of sawdust, decaying leaves, grass clippings, etc. Any organic plant matter will do for the compost system. We'll probably just use sawdust for the composting toilet inside the house. Luckily there are plenty of lumber mills around with all the sawdust we could need!
And do you see the finished Nearing-style compost bin to the right? I will put the next one to the left of the dry matter storage area, but we likely won't need it for a year or two. For now, we'll be using the one on the right, filling it first 1/3 full of organic matter, and then digging holes in the middle to dump our humanure buckets and compost into (being sure to keep it level as we go). We can add more sticks as needed to make it taller as our pile grows!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

la toilette

Jon has been building the most gorgeous toilet for our home...Working in the basement is nice because it's cool down here, even when it's in the 90's outside!

and we have all the fun equipment he needs down here to rip, cut, and bevel our barnboards (from Hutch and MaryAnn's old barn down the road) to make it unique.
Our toilet is basically a wooden box that a 5-gallon bucket will fit inside.
When all is said and done, it will have a lid that is on hinges. The toilet seat will be attached to the lid. And that's pretty much it.Voila: a composting toilet that is sturdy, portable, and small enough to fit happily inside our yurt!
We haven't got the seat yet, but it's on its way. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our New Breakfast Nook

John Bolton came to see the yurt yesterday, and put a bug in our ear about the 'next project'. We ambitiously decided that today was the day we would do something grand.(I love seeing this big swath of garlic drying in the sun! Some for the farm stand, and lots for us at home.)
Our faithful companion: the Farmall Cub, who helped to haul the parts we would need out to the site.
Oh goodness... so we got out the beams first, and measured to determine where we would need to dig.
We decided on a very moderate six holes instead of the previously planned upon (and unnecessary) eight.
We dug the holes, filled them with gravel, set and leveled our piers, cut our 4x4's to be level, and screwed in our beams. And it worked like a charm!
We decided to make our little porch off-set from the door. This will allow us easy access to the inside when we're carrying water etc, which will be nice. It will also give us a spot (that's not in front of the door) to sit and eat our breakfast in the morning shade, which we're looking forward to!
A few last finishing touches...
(and some punchiness after a full day in the hot sun...)
and we were done!
The bonus? It's a whole lot easier to get into the yurt now, which will be nice the next time you come for a visit!