Friday, October 23, 2009

Recent Additions: Interior Walls

Looking down the Hall toward the front door

Kid Bedrooms

Master Bedroom

Kitchen, wall between the kitchen and the master bedroom

Looking down the hall toward the kid bedrooms

I thought I would take a moment to share some photos of the interior walls in the midst of their framing. They've been up for several weeks, but the big rain and roofing project has taken priority, and we are not yet back to framing. However, even at this point, the walls are exciting, because it now allows a visitor (or future occupant) to feel the flow of the rooms, and begin to feel the shape and dimensions of the rooms.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Roof Metal

Maybe I just need to whine a little that it's going slowly to enable a faster rate of progress, because yesterday we made a great push on the metal. We finished the north roof, and most of the carport, and started on the south roof before it got dark last night. Today we are rained out, but we'll get back to it tomorrow. It feels SO great to get so much weathered-in space.

Beyond roof, my house is full of people I love right now, dear friends who come to visit every fall. People are camped out, struggling to stay dry, but we all pile in to the yurt for dinner, collectively cooking, sharing music, laughter, play, and love. I can't wait to have our house available to house everyone under one big embracing roof.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Painful Slowness of Roofs

I realize I haven't written a lot lately. I'm sure you can all forgive me, once you find out that we had our first true storm of the season beginning last Tuesday morning. And guess which day our roof metal arrived. Yep, Monday. There were two holes in our roof that we couldn't cover until we got two particular pieces of metal. The subsequent trim, detail, and plywood in that spot took the better part of a day, and in the dark, Karl and Drew had to resign themselves to the fact that no more metal, nor tarpaper, would get onto the roof until the storm was over.

So we went into the storm without tarpaper on the north sloping roof. Which, though I've come to see wasn't the end of the world, meant that half of the house behaved rather like a sieve. And though the south roof was tarpapered, and therefore mostly dry, the entire house was wet, dripping down the north walls, through the skylights, and between each gap of plywood. It felt rather like an abandoned warehouse, except for a few glorious moisture eddies, where our remaining windows and our brand new woodstove were stored.

And, as luck would have it, Drew was busy with an aikido workshop this week, so work was slowed yet again. And FINALLY, late this past week, we have resumed laying metal. I've had a few moments to drill sling and feel like I am accomplishing something. We laid the tarpaper on the north roof on Thursday, which feels like a huge relief. It's lightly raining today, and the house is dry. We're pushing again, since we're supposed to have more heavy rains Monday. It appears the winter weather has fully arrived. I am looking forward to getting fully weathered in! After the roof is on, then it's clerestory windows, and doors, and then we're completely dry. I hope that can happen this week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Finishing the Wheat: A Backlog Post

This post has been on my backlog list for some time now. For convenience, I am linking to previous wheat entries: Walls and Wheat, and Eat Your Wheaties.

Way, way back in July, I harvested my long-awaited crop of hard red winter wheat, which was growing in two long beds inside the garden fence all throughout the winter. It took a long time to ripen, since we had a lot of cool, foggy weather in the late spring/early summer. But at last, I harvested it, and dried the bundles in the mudroom and in the open sun.

Now, this process is one of those lost homesteading arts that everyone in the old days knew how to do, but since no one grows wheat anymore, there isn't anyone around who can tell me what to do. I do have the luck of having a written source that describes how to "flail" the wheat, which basically involves beating it with a stick to get the grains loose from the dry seed heads. The ideal flail is a broom handle with a shorter stick attached to the end with a leather "thong", as the literature puts it, so that it can swing freely. You know, you get a little momentum going and it really whacks the stuff.

But since I haven't grown wheat before, nor has anyone I know, I don't have a flail. So I found a stout piece of redwood, left over from another project, with which to beat my wheat. I assumed it wouldn't be so hard, since the grain was pretty dry, but it actually took quite a bit of beating, and thorough beating at that, to get the maximum wheat grain out. Thoroughness normally wouldn't matter, but since I had such a small harvest, every last grain was VERY important to me!

Once the grain was flailed, I then winnowed the chaff from the grain, which involves a very high tech process of slowly pouring the grain between two containers outdoors where there is the right amount of wind. Pour too quickly, and none of the chaff blows away. Pour too slowly, or when the wind is gusting a little, and the hard earned wheat berries dive into the grass, never to be seen until next winter.

Wheat Berries with Chaff, ready for Winnowing

All told, my dear wheat harvest readers, I collected eight precious cups of wheat berries. Not even enough to make one batch of bread. Nor enough to sow the same amount I planted last year. Certainly, I made some gardening mistakes, which I will remedy this year. But still a bit disappointing. I'm aiming for a better turnout next year. Partly, this involves planting the wheat in the area where the chicken run was, hoping that the chicken poop will feed the wheat, will feed the people, will feed the bucket, will feed the fruit trees, will feed the chickens, will feed the wheat, and so on.

I've got some more work to do to finish closing those loops....