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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Faith in Cordwood

The other night we had the chance to visit with Larry and Char Schuth.  They live in Rochester, NY but have a cordwood cabin just 15 minutes north of us.  They built their charming cabin in the early 1990's.  I had hunted Larry down through the internet and after we started some dialogue via email they had invited us up for dinner and visit.

We especially wanted to see their place because it is very similar to what we want to build.  It is a saltbox design with solar and wood heat.  It was great to look it over and ask tons of questions about the design and construction.  Larry was super helpful at telling us what went right...and how to creatively work around mistakes.  Char is a delight and made instant friends with all the kids (evident by the big hugs they gave her at the end of the night).

We were able to learn much from them, and even pass some information back their way, as they get ready to help their son put on a cordwood addition in Pennsylvania.  For others of you hoping to build a cordwood home I would recommend the book "Cordwood and the Code" you can order it off of Earthwood's website.  It will go a long ways with your code officer.

Thanks for a great meal...(Larry's "fall of the bone" venison was delicious)...and lots of great desserts (I think we cleaned them out of apple crisp and banana bread with chocolate chips)...and the beginning of a great friendship with a new brother and sister.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Home, Home on the (Free Market) Range

Well the time has come to put the old homestead up for sale.  It is definitely with mixed emotions.  This has been a very good home for us.  It is a great neighborhood and a great house.  We hope someone else thinks so as well.  But in order to make the move we have to sell this one first. 

I'm not sure we've shared this before but we are trying to make a mortgage free move - which means we need to sell our current home for a certain amount, pay off our current mortgage, and then have enough left to get the new home up.  So we've set the price - and now we advertise and wait for someone who is interested.


We've created a Facebook page for the house which you can see here:

Here is a short video of the outside of the house....you can see this at the Facebook page as well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Anyone Want to Play with Log(s)?

Now that fall is upon us we've got some last minute chores to take care of before the snow flies.  So, we're planning a wood cutting party!  Sounds like fun doesn't it!  I knew you would agree!


We have a pile of logs 27' wide, 4' high, and 124" deep that needs to be cut up into 18" lengths and stacked under cover.  I know, I know!  It keeps getting better and better!

Here's the scoop!
When: Saturday, October 6th 
Time: 8:00am until.......it's done
Food: Chilli Feast at noon

Chainsaw operators (BYOS - Bring Your Own Saw)
Wood Slingers
Wood Stackers
Coffee Drinkers! (why not)

Let us know if you think you can make it.  We love seeing you all and we've learned it is more fun to work as a group and get a job done in good time.  We also believe in helping you as well.  Let us know what projects you need help on.  We'd love to lend a hand.

Remember, there is no "i" in community.....oh....yes there is. 
Well there is no "me" in community....

...then again there is no "us" or "we" either.

 Oh well.....hope to see you all soon.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

15 Minutes of Fame

Hey!  We were in the paper! 
Actually we were at a Homesteading Weekend and happened to be
in the right place at the right time.

Here's the link to the online article as well as a picture of us.


The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.  

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I remember when we lived in the South one of my co-workers informed me she lived on Gravels Road.

"Oh" I questioned her grammar.  "You mean you live on a gravel road?"
"Well yes" she replied, "and the name of the road is Gravels Road."

Not quite understanding here I began to think that the "s" in gravels must have been preceded by an apostrophe, so I asked, 

"So is your road named after
someone with the last name of Gravel?"

She looked at me strangely, "No, we just thought it would be cute to name the road after what it was made out of."

"But it's made out of gravel," I replied.  "There is no plural for gravel.  One gravel is the same as a whole road full of gravel."

Another odd look from her followed and then in earnest she informed me that a road full of gravel was not just gravel but gravels.  Plural.

Who was I to argue....after all it was Virginia.

All that to say.....a few weeks ago now...the gravel road was finished at the farm.  Here are the quick stats:

-900 feet of landscaping fabric.
-620+ ton of 1 1/2" crusher-run gravel
-9 tandem dump truck loads.
-Each truckload weighed close to 70,000lbs.
-12 1/2 hours straight of moving the gravel into place with a skid steer and by hand.
-1 very nice road to drive on when done.

Here we are, on a peaceful August morning, waiting for trucks.


First we laid down landscaping fabric.  This holds the gravel in place - not allowing it to get crushed into the mud and dirt of the road bed.  It's 12' 6" wide and 300' long per roll.

The truck would drive in and dump its load on the fabric.  I only put out enough fabric each time for him to dump a load onto....that way he wasn't driving over the fabric numerous times - which would have ripped it up. 

When the truck driver saw our bridge he was impressed....but a little hesitant...not being sure the decking boards would support the weight.  So he ran up to his sawmill (you know all truck drivers have a sawmill) and 1/2 hour later brought back 12 - 2"x10"x14' long boards.  We nailed those down and they worked great.  I watched as he drove over the bridge 8 times....at 70,000lbs. The boards didn't even flex!  I think we can say with confidence we've got a good strong bridge.

The whole family pitched in to spread gravel(s).

At first I thought we could move all the gravel by hand.....yes go ahead and laugh now.  After about 20 minutes I realized that was a joke.  I ran down the road to a farmer we know and asked to borrow his skid steer.  Thank you Arlen!  You saved the day!

After we spread the gravel with the skid steer we raked it out.  We were striving for a road about 4" thick.
The truck in action.  By 7:30pm that night we had 7 loads delivered and spread out.  The driver - who happens to live down the road from the farm - brought back two more loads on consecutive nights.  Finally all the gravel(s)?  were in place.

Next came the York Rake to put the level and smooth everything.  Scott came up to drag it for me and I have to say it was so beautiful when he was done that we didn't want to drive on it.

 A few days later we started spreading hay in the ditches.  This will slow erosion and give time for plants to grow in them.  Another farmer down the road donated some rotten hay bales to the cause....and Denise dug right in.

The road is done!  Finally!

Here are some before and after photos.







Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Gated Community?

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
-Robert Frost "Mending Wall"

So now I guess we have a gated community to take care of.

After the road was mostly in we had to put up a gate to keep the four wheelers and curiosity seekers out....we can't have THEM wandering around up there now can we?

Actually we've heard some horror stories of people having building materials stolen from the job site because the owner was not staying on the property and there was no gate.  We also heard, from the previous owner, that from time to time he would get people driving up the lane and doing "donuts" in his hay field.

So a proper gate was in order.  Ken and Terry were nice enough to help me...even though Terry was getting ready to go on vacation (something he detests doing).

Ken likes digging holes...and climbing in them.

Terry likes holding posts....and watching Ken work.