Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December 16 Update

Hi Folks,

Its been a while since I sent out an update, so I thought I should.  Since the last post, we've ordered and received a nice Napoleon wood stove for heating the insides during construction, and we're set to install it TOMORROW!

That's very exciting, since we can start working on the insides once we have a source of heat.  Eventually, we'll be installing a very cool (warm) solar heating system with dynamic high-mass thermal storage (see, which will allow us to get a high percentage of our heat and hot water without combustion, which is pretty darned incredible -- stay tuned for more about that.  For now, we need to burn some cordwood to heat the place so we can plaster the insides, run wires and pipes all over and get the interior finished.

Here are a few photos of recent progress:

View From South

Here's the current view from the south (minus the snow).  We have windows in and temporary doors installed for the construction period, so we don't bang up the permanent ones.

The south facing roof has been kept open for mounting the solar thermal collectors, but we're re-thinking that placement, and will probably mount the evacuated tube collectors on a ground mount to the Northwest side of the house, just south of the barn (behind the house in the view above). 

Lime Wash

Cracks in the clay plaster were sealed up for winter, and a partial lime wash was added to add weather resistance against driving rain and snow.  This will be covered in more than an inch of additional plaster in the spring, but helps keep the weather out for now.

West Entry Porch

Nick Jackson (with lots of help from Siera the wonderdog) has been framing up a little entry porch from left-over timbers. 

'Nuther View

Nick did a great job creating this from 150-year-old stock.  This is now sheathed with White Cedar roof decking, (and 8" of white snow),  and pegged together with White Ash turned pegs.  It will eventually have a waterproof roof surface.

Ben Bevels Bales

Here Ben Graham is using a Lancelot chain saw wheel on an angle grinder to bevel the window openings at 45 degrees.  This helps them let in more light, and to spread that light out over a wider aperture when seen from inside.  OSHA regulations require me to inform you that I had to plead with Ben to remove the full-coverage face mask for the photo-op.

Insulated Tater Boxes

Remember all that excess loose straw?  Ben took some home to mulch his garden, and we've been covering up the raised beds to put them to bed for winter.  We leave our potatoes, carrots and parsnips in the ground, and cover with about 12" of straw.  When we need some, we go dig 'em up.  When the house is complete, we'll have a root cellar, but until then, this is a pretty darned handy way to store root crops -- hey, I'm getting hungry!


While I was covering up the potato beds, I couldn't resist the temptation to dig up one mound with my hands to show what's down in the earth -- beautiful potatoes!  These are pretty typical of the results we had this year, and we were really lucky -- many people lost most of their potatoes to the Late Blight, or "Irish Potato Famine Blight" -- which is what happens when we start shipping infected plants all over the country and planet through greedy agribusinesses.  Local food doesn't need to be shipped up from far, far away.  These are Kenebec Potatoes, part of a group order of seed potatoes from the local Groton Growers Market, and supplied by a local organic source.  Some of these are 6" long, and most are still healthy -- whew!

I'll try to update things a little more often over the next few months.  A lot will be happening as soon as we get some heat hooked up -- its now down around zero degrees (F) at night, so not much work gets done in that sort of cold.

Coming soon:
  1. Woodstove!
  2. Electrical Work!
  3. Internal Plaster!
  4. Plumbing!
  5. Floors!
  6. Roof insulation!
  7. Let's get going!
Clear skies,


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