June, 2009

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Big equipment on the ranch today

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

This is a part our septic rework in process. Should be done in a couple days.

Rush hour traffic

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Playing with my new HD camera (for work, of course)….

The slab becomes a floor

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

As much as things went badly yesterday, today they went splendidly.

We got up 5 again to stain, and today the weather was clear. We set out to the property and began work. I’ll let the pictures and movies tell the story. (One minor sidenote: The rain seems to have brought up some of the Quikrete. We had to scrape and wash down the slab *again*. So Quikrete wasn’t the perfect crack patcher either. Maybe there isn’t one. Anyway, it’s good enough.)

[coolplayer width=”600″ height=”400″ autoplay=”0″ loop=”0″ charset=”utf-8″ download=”1″ mediatype=””]
Staining the Slab

(The color on the movie is a bit dark and orange. This picture shows the actual color.)

More pictures are here.

We just love Soycrete. It was so easy to work with and gave beautiful results.

We also did the final stucco coat on the greenhouse columns. This came out really nice too. For me, a lot of this was a practice run for the house. The color turned out really nice, and I would definitely use something similar for the house. (We will be going with a slightly different stucco, one that is plasticized, which we discovered since we bought this first batch, helps prevent cracking).

I finished the stucco two different ways. The first was more of a rough finish. The second was smoother (achieved by misting and sponge troweling it pretty aggressively). While we liked both, I think we’ll probably go with the smoother look. We may do either a different texture or even color on the “architectural details.” (Those are the parts of the exterior walls that stick out a bit to look more interesting.)

It might be faster to grow our own lumber

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

As I write this, Brad is on his way to Animas to give the contract (and accompanying big check) to the panel people and then to Deming to deliver plans to the person there who will be drawing the panel plans. We are hoping to be able to get these plans to approve before we leave for DC for NECC next week so that they can begin manufacturing. [Postscript: There is yet another problem with the panel manufacturer that might further delay things. Oh well.]

This has been held up for several weeks due to issues with the windows. Upon trying to get quotes for windows and doors, we learned that the window dimensions in the plans are not standard as we’d asked for. (Big surprise.) Everything has been further delayed by the fact that it seems to take weeks and multiple phone calls to get quotes on anything from anyone. I’m not sure what the lesson is on all this, but if we’d quoted out some of this while we were in the design phase, we might have found this out sooner. Of course, it would probably have taken even more time that way, so I’m not sure. At any rate, this is certainly as frustrating as I was warned and anticipated it would be.

The boys are due to arrive here July 3. The panels will not be here by then, but we have other things to work on, such as moving the driveway (it currently goes through our main house) and clearing areas for the pump house and patio. Hard work that should keep them all busy.

Brad and I got up at 5 this morning to stain the slab, but it was raining. It’s rained several days this week, not hard or long, but big winds and violent looking clouds blowing through. It appears that monsoon season has started, much to everyone’s glee. Hopefully, it won’t rain too much during July when we are hoping to get lots done.

We have also been making progress on the greenhouse. We’ve painted the wood beams and will be doing stucco this weekend.

And Brad finally cut apart that lovely insulated barrel contraption around our water lines. The bottom third was filled with dirt.

thar be turtles!

Monday, June 15th, 2009

No, it’s not talk like a pirate week… I’m just excited to finally see a turtle.

We been hearing about the desert turtles since before we moved here. There are signs warning you not to run them over. There are roads out here are named after them, “Turtle Run”. There are even signs proclaiming love for the turtles. I never see them though… until yesterday.

I was driving back from our property when I saw a rock in the road that looked a lot like a turtle. I stopped to take a look and indeed, it was a turtle. Wow! I have a hard time believing they survive out here. It seems so hostile and they’re so small.

Here’s what one looks like in the road.

And here are a couple of close ups.

(In this picture, I crossed a line and he scrunched up.)

It was another interesting day for wildlife. I got a couple of nice vulture photos.

Where the wild things are

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Apparently, they are at P.D.’s place. P.D. is our neighbor to the west and north. If you look at our place on GoogleEarth, you’ll find P.D.’s place by looking for a large (forty acre) square that is greener than the rest. This is what twenty-five or so years of fencing does out here.

So we ran into P.D. today and he asked if we’d like to see the bob-kittens. I didn’t even know he had bob-kittens-of course! After Karen and I finished the sawing portion of the concrete scoring, we drove over.

P.D. was waiting and helped us park so as not to disturb little guys. More little guys it turned out than just bob-kittens. There were also baby screech owls. Until recently, there were also baby roadrunners. (Best guess is that the momma bobcat got them. Their roost was less then ten feet from the litter of bob-kittens; doomed from the start I’d say.)

The first thing P.D. showed us was the screech owls, mom, dad and three babies. The mom and dad sat in different parts of the tree, but all the babies huddled together. P.D. said that in an hour or so flying lessons would begin. This is serious business with a bobcat living downstairs.

Next we went to the carport–about twenty feet away. The roadrunners are still roosting there despite their loss. P.D. called out to let the bobcat know we were there, but she was no where to be seen. We looked carefully over stacks of stuff to see the kittens. They were pretty well hidden. I took some pictures but none were very good.

All in all, super exciting. That P.D. is a good neighbor to have.

Last is Karen looking dirty and tired after hours of work on the slab, and very very happy.


Catching up

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

I have been working around the clock to finish a couple grants (relatively low $, but local, which should facilitate actually having some time to build a house) and haven’t had much time to write, so this is a “catch up” post. Here are some updates:

We’ve continued working on the slab and now have most of it scored. (We’ve gotten a lot of use out of the generator Barry gave us. Thanks!) We’ll likely be staining next week.

After much research on concrete crack repair, we decided to get an injected polymer kit. It basically works like epoxy with two parts that you mix and inject into the cracks. It’s supposed to chemically bond into the concrete, becoming stronger than the concrete itself. It’s expensive but seemed a lot better than Quikrete.

Well, it was a fiasco. The stuff comes in a two-chamber tube that mixes in a caulking gun and comes out through a tube, to which you can attach a nozzle for hairline cracks like ours. When we started using it, the stuff immediately solidified in the tube after we had done less than a few inches of cracks. There was one $40 tube wasted (or rather solidified). It was maddening. We suspect that the heat here caused it to immediately react. The next time, we refrigerated it first, but it was still dodgy. We ultimately decided just to do the bigger holes and cracks with this and do the rest with Quikrete. I had bought a few special tools to do the cracks, like woodworker’s syringes, but it turns out that just smearing it on with my finger worked best.

With the plans approved, we’ve been finalizing the construction budget and getting lots of quotes. Some of this has been fun (like looking at beautiful glass double patio doors) and some has been awful (like finding out all our beautiful windows and doors will cost close to $20k). I am more than a little scared of this all costing more than we have planned (or have), but I am including plenty of pad in the budget.

Many people we’ve talked to have not bothered to get back to us with quotes. It’s good to know that the economy isn’t really as bad as we hear. Ha ha.

I talked to many roofers about our planned membrane roof, only to find out that membrane roofs are apparently not used much for residential construction; they’re pretty expensive; and no one wants to come to the middle of nowhere to do one (and a small one at that, as I’ve been told repeatedly). We’re probably going to go with a metal roof like everyone else here. We met another couple who built their own house (similar style to ours), and they put on their own metal roof and love it.

No other major changes in plans, so we’re ready to proceed. We’ll be ordering the SIPS for Tumbeweed in the next few days. It’s a little scary, but good to be getting going.

Jonathon and Harrison are set to come out in early July. We’re looking forward to their arrival and help.

The compost experiment continues. It is seeming hard to keep it moist with the heat and dry air here.

We attended the first ever Douglas Farmer’s Market. The farmers down the street from us have a stand there. It was really great, and much better than driving to Bisbee for the farmer’s market there. Also, since we have to go to Douglas every couple weeks anyway, it’s convenient. They hold it in a beautiful park in town.