Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hot sun and cool ideas at the MREA fair

Lisa and I attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Fair in Custer Wisconsin this past weekend. This is an annual event that began 20 years ago for the hardcore solar power enthusiasts, but has since diversified into "all things sustainable." With hundreds of workshops and exhibitors (not to mention AWESOME food and live music venues), there is definitely something for everyone here. We took in all three days, learning about everything from medicinal herbs to straw bale construction to bio diesel engine conversions...lots of ideas to keep us busy back at Green Gate! Here are a few pics. Note the solar panels and wind towers in the background. Here is the alternative fuel/vehicle area. They had a variety of rigs converted to electric, veggie oil, bio diesel, etc.
I, of course, spent a lot of time in the natural construction area, where they were demonstrating straw bale, cord wood, straw-clay, earth block, and whole tree methods...
...Our next guest house is already taking shape in my mind.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Back inside the barn.

The last task prior to the upper floor installation was to frame off the stairwell. For this I installed a 4X10 header, supported by a post on one end and the ledger/joist at the other. I also added a center post, which seemed more aesthetically pleasing and will provide a sturdy attachment point for the future stair railing. The floor joists were notched and set into the mortised header. I used a housed mortise where the header met the post for additional strength. It also looks cool! A pair of angle iron pieces (dug out of a friend's pile of scrap iron) and some huge bolts connect the header to the wall- the only mechanical fasteners used in the timber joinery. finally, ready to put in a floor...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Project no-mow.

I do not like mowing the lawn. Ours is actually more of a weed and dandelion patch than it is grass, and requires considerably more care and attention than either of us want to give. And this is unfortunate, because we have quite a lot of it. So in conjunction with our gardening effort, we are aiming to get rid of as much of the lawn as possible- what we don't turn into vegetable and flower gardens will eventually get converted to no-mow turf or wildflowers... and yes, this will definitely be a long term project. We started last week by renting a "sod cutter" from our local hardware store. This machine quickly became my new best friend, and by the end of one afternoon a big chunk of the yard had evaporated. After putting down some fresh soil, Lisa got to work planting all the vegetables that have been growing in our house for the past 2 months. In this photo, she is working on squash, zucchini, cukes, and THIRTY SIX tomato plants (this is not a typo, the girl likes her 'maters). Our sod removal project continued up to and around the old pump house foundation. On this end of the new garden space, I put in raised beds (made from cedar slabs given to us by our local sawyer friend) and surrounded them with wood chip mulch. Then we planted them with every vegetable we could think of, and a few we've never heard of (anyone tried claytonia?).Yum.

And the Deer Will Play...

What... ...the garden is finished?