Monday, August 8, 2011

Recent homesteading adventures of all sorts

One of us is less of a morning person than the other. Can you guess who?
So, we have been working on our floor, silently. The floor that has taken months and months. If you recall, we had a pitch problem after our platform sat out in the full sun under tarps for weeks before we got our yurt raised. We finally scrubbed and scraped all the pitch off, and then sanded it smooth. Because we were determined to finish our floor in the least toxic, and most natural and local way possible, we made our own floor oil/finish by mixing 3 gallons of walnut oil with 1 pound of beeswax. We first heat-treated the oil by stirring it at 160 degrees (F) for 30 minutes, and then chopped up the beeswax and stirred it in until it melted. That worked beautifully and gave our floor a lovely finish. It did not stop the pitch, however, and we still found ourselves in a bit of a sticky situation. So...
we eventually got everything we needed to make our own shellac. Did you know that shellac is made from bug spit (essentially)? Yes, so we got dewaxed platinum shellac flakes (apparently they must be dewaxed to seal pitch) and very pure denatured alcohol (nearly methanol-free; apparently methanol is the nasty stuff) and let them soak together for 24 hours.
We made 1.5 pound cut by mixing 3 pounds of shellac flakes with 1 gallon of denatured alcohol, letting it sit until the flakes dissolved (stirring a few times throughout the day helps a lot), and then adding the other gallon of alcohol after straining out any organic solid matter through cheesecloth. This covered our floor 2 1/2 times. Now we're just waiting on some pure citrus solvent so that we can make paste wax to protect our lovely shellac finish. Apparently shellac is what everyone used to use in old houses until the 1920's or so when it was replaced by polyurethane. It turns white when it gets wet (coasters are meant to keep these white rings from appearing on shellacked tables, for example), and waxing it helps to prevent this.Meanwhile, we've been busy with other things. In an effort to eat up our overflowing garden full of zucchini, we made zucchini chips in the dehydrator with salt and pepper (and curry powder on some). They were great! We also took a tip from my mom and steamed some and then pureed it and froze it to use in making creamy soups this winter. Zucchini is so versatile and lovely, isn't it?
In case you were wondering, Jake has had some lovely naps...
Jon is nearly finished making our toilet, and it's gorgeous!!! You can see the box to the left of him, and here he's painting the top of the box with shellac.
Kathy, Erin, and I picked, shucked, and processed five wheelbarrows full of corn.
It took all day!
And Kathy and I made a delicious corn and zucchini salsa along with black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lime basil from the garden...
Beets are being harvested...
and rainbow carrots too!
and two days ago Jon and I started moving furniture down to the yurt! It doesn't look like much yet, but just wait. Soon, we hope it will! We're just trying to figure out the floor plan at the moment, and having things down there helps a lot. It's amazing how big everything is in our tiny little space! Straight ahead on the right you can see the folding screens which are marking what we envision will be our bathroom walls. The kitchen is just to the right (you can see the island piled high with stuff)...
We'll see how it all unfolds. Right now we're taking our magic carpet to Vermont!

1 comment:

  1. Hannah (and Jon!) - Your yurt looks gorgeous! As do all of those incredible veggies. YUM. I am so impressed by all of your thoughtful and diligent work on your sweet home. I hope to someday come and dance in the grass with you.
    much love