Friday, November 28, 2008

Yankee Ingenuity

Over the course of the last century, A family of 13 developed the farmstead that Lisa and I now call home. Only a few of the siblings are still alive today, and we are fortunate to have gotten to know them. Last year, one of the daughters (now almost 90 years old) shared some of her photos showing life on the farm. One of my favorites is this shot of the sawmill they built on the property, which was used to mill all the wood for the original barn. The description on the back of this photo simply stated, "Yankee Ingenuity". The summer house in the background still stands today, now hidden in a grove of trees about 100 feet behind the barn. A couple years ago, my dad and I bought a small sawmill and have used it to turn dying trees into useful lumber rather than the usual firewood. A few weeks ago, we set it up next to the new barn so I can start reincarnating the 70 year-old barn timbers into their new forms (posts, beams, kitchen cabinets, flooring, tabletops, doors, stairs, furniture and trim!). Our sawmill is setup only about 50 feet from where the old one had been. My dad also borrowed me his bench planer, so along with my table saw and router I am now setup to produce just about anything I could possibly need to finish the project...Green Gate Lumber Company is born!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Painting party

The family came over for a day of volunteer painting. We coated all the drywall with AFM HPV Primecoat to provide the code-required vapor retarder and act as a basecoat for the Bioshield Clay Paint that will go on next. It's starting to look like a home! THANK YOU for the help, everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Heat on!

Someday, we will have a central heating system (perhaps solar, geothermal, or a wood pellet boiler) that feeds hot water to the barn, house and any other buildings we have by then. But that 'someday' is a long time from today, and it is getting cold outside. So I bought a electric micro boiler and related plumbing to put together a heating system for our in-floor hydronics. Midway through the assembly process, my workspace looked like this: I clamped all the plumbing components to a board that was screwed to the wall of the utility closet, directly over the stub-outs of the in-floor hydronic tubes. I also added two branch lines to feed the upper floor bedrooms and bathroom this winter. The system was fired up yesterday (surprisingly, leak-free!) and is slowly pumping heat into the cold concrete floor...

Monday, November 03, 2008

The New White House (just in time for election day!)

Since our deconstruction of the White House left the well casing exposed, I needed to make something to cover it up before winter. It only needed to be about the size of a doghouse- just enough to cover the well pipe and provide shelter for the pump's electrical control. I was able to build a framework using lumber scraps that were salvaged from shipping pallets (got them from the local lumberyard). I dressed it up with leftover barn siding, and covered the removable roof with the leftover metal shingles.
Despite it's rich and noble history, the old White House had seen better days. It was too large and full of holes. It no longer fit our needs and was little more than a source of embarrassment when anyone looked our way. The new White House is a much better fit for us. It is small, efficient, and respectable. It fits in with the big picture here at Green Gate, a fine replacement to the old White House. And of course, no lumber died to make our new White House!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

More of the same.

Using the same raw materials as before, I continued the landscaping around the raised bed gardens on the back side of the barn. Sorry, we harvested all the kale, lettuces, mustard greens, radishes and carrots before the photo was taken.