Tag Archives: Reduce

House update: exterior backfill and slab footer leveling

We got the outside of the footers backfilled. Which also means we got our garage pad excavated since that’s where the dirt for the backfill came from.

Before we backfilled, however, we had to put rigid insulation around the footers. This helps to insulate the pad so that the house is easier to heat. We chose to go with extruded polystyrene (xps) since it seemed more durable to us. Also, our plans say it has to be at least R-7 and this 2 inch xps foam is R-10 and was easier to find at our local big box hardware store than the right kind of expanded polystyrene (eps). 

We also spent a couple days ripping our form bords down to the right height and reattaching them so that they become the forms for the finished slab. I like that we were able to reuse materials. In addition to the wood, we had put all the forms together with screws, which means we were able to save those when we took the footer forms apart and use them again. Once the slab is poured, these forms will come down and one more row of insulation will go down, then we’ll backfill the rest of the way. And I am sure all this wood will find it’s use on the homestead.

We rented an excavator that Pops operated for us. He’s a wizard in that thing! But then, that’s what he did for a living for 30+ years.

Excavating the garage pad (and getting us fill dirt)

The Hubs and I took turns operating the little bobcat we also rented. Would have been nice to have something a bit bigger, but that’s all that was available on short notice. We used that to move the dirt around the house.

Almost done with the exterior backfill

And since we had the machine there, we decided to finally move the huge boulders into their permanent positions. 

These gigantic boulders came out of the hillside when we excavated for our well. We knew they would come in handy for landscaping and retaining. So that’s exactly how we used them.

Play boulders


The new garage pad with big boulders as a retaining wall

Just a couple days after finishing the backfill, we took off on a big family vacation that has been in the works for two years. 

The Castle Rock Family at Mt Rushmore

We got back from vacation this past weekend, and now it’s back to work!

First thing our hired hand and I did this morning in was some rebar work that needed to be finished. It was one of those jobs that would have been easy to forget.

Then we worked on leveling up the forms. They were pretty close to level, but needed a bit of adjusting here and there.

The first thing we did was go around with a transit level and measuring rod and see where the forms were high or low. Princess Girl and Pajii helped out today as well.

A transit level is basically a swiveling scope mounted on a tri-pod. You make sure it is perfectly level by using the adjusters, then site through it to a measuring rod or tape measure.

The site through the transit

Once we figured out the measurement that was most common, we called that measurement “grade” and brought everything else up or down to meet it. 

Sometimes we had to detach the form from the supports and pry the form up a bit and re-attach. But for the most part, we had to get some spots down a bit. Because there was not enough wiggle room in the system to push the boards down, I came up with the idea to plane down the high spots. We would find two “grade” spots not too far from each other, put a chalk line on it, then use the electric planer to take off the excess down to the mark.

Princess girl was in charge of the camera for a bit – obviously!

It worked great!

Planing down the high spots


That’s all we did today. Tomorrow I am going to order some fill dirt and we’ll start backfilling the interior on Friday (gotta work my summer job on Thursday). Tomorrow we also have some more bracing to do on the forms now that they are level. Don’t want those suckers to move a millimeter!

Then, over the weekend, we start trenching for interior footers and plumbing! This progress is so exciting!

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A time for everything

A friend of ours was looking to re-home his chickens and rabbits.

So, who did he call to see if we wanted to take them? Why, us, of course! And it just so happened that THIS week is the week we needed to take them.

Despite the fact that we did not have a chicken coop. At. All.

And our rabbit hutch is in disrepair.

But did we let that deter us? Not a chance!

If you follow us on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the progress we made on a chicken coop.

First we gathered materials.

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We’re pretty excited that so far, we have not had to buy a single thing to put together our chicken coop. Most of the wood is reclaimed wood from a friend’s old play house and some shelves we demolished which we found on freecycle. A few 2×4’s are “new”, as in, never been used, but we’ve had them hanging around for a while. We’ll eventually need to put a bit of money into it for roofing and paint, but it won’t cost us very much. We feel so blessed.

Over the course of a few days, I worked to get a coop up enough that the chickens would at least have a place to sleep.

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My “office” for a few days. How blessed am I?!

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Making sure things are level and plumb.

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Putting on the floor.

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My co-workers for the day. Lot of help they are!

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Getting closer. This is what the coop looked like when we brought the chickens home on Tuesday at 2pm.

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Nailing on the roof.

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It took everyone to work to finish the coop before sundown.

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It’s not finished, but it will work for a few days to get us through till we have time to work some more on it.

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Time to bring in the chickens.

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Flower girl wanted to help, of course.

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Happy in their new home.

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Happy in their new home.

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They’ll free-range till we can get a run built for them.

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And the rabbits are living in a little box trailer we have till we can get their hutch repaired.

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This is April. She actually belonged to us several years ago till we gave her to our friend, who gave her back to us. She is the most docile of the group. The other 4 are her offspring, several generations removed. She is no longer a breeder since she’s so old, but she’s so sweet we’re not sure if we want to cull her or not.

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Sharing their meal.

And that’s our new adventure. I’ve had fun over the last couple of days trying to figure out what breeds of chickens we have. Eventually we want to get into breeding them, and doing so selectively. But for now, it’s enough that we have chickens again.

And the rabbits. Yes. That is three females and two males all running around in a box trailer together. Yes, that means babies in about a month. But the deed was done before we got home. They had all gotten out of their cages and were running around in the trailer with the chickens. Figured that since the deed was already done, it wouldn’t hurt for them to live in colony until we can get their hutch repaired. That’s our project for this weekend. And in just a month, we’re gonna have babies. Lots of cute, cuddly, fluffy baby bunnies. Just in time for Christmas.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Re-purposed garden boots/clogs

So, when we were in Nevada a couple weeks ago, we spent some nights in the trailer, and it became very evident that I needed to find myself some slip-on shoes of some sort. Putting on real shoes in the middle of the night to visit the outhouse is not fun.

They needed to be waterproof for the rain and mud we occasionally get there. But also because waterproof also means dirt proof, which is more my concern seeing as how our homestead is in Nevada, afterall. I hate tromping out to the outhouse and having to empty the sand and pebbles out of my shoes before coming back in the trailer.

So I started searching in various stores as I was in them. Not a concerted effort, mind you, just seeing what they had since I was there.

And then my wonderful hubby reminded me I had some old rain boots which could work. You see, the rain boots had developed a hole in the sole of one which, when worn in heavy water, leaked. General mud and dirt and dampness, however, stayed out. So they still worked just fine as muck boots, so long as I wasn’t standing in actual water.

But seeing as how I won’t be needing muck boots in the near future, and I DO need some slip on shoes, I made the change.

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It was very simple. I just took a sturdy pair of kitchen sheers and cut the tops off.

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Now I have a pair of clogs that I can slip on and off easily for use while living in our trailer. I didn’t have to spend any money, and I am re-purposing something which was “broken”.

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Recycling/re-purposing/re-using for the win!

Taking Home a Piece of the Northwest

A tree blew down out at the camp our Church uses. The iconic tree stood right next to the lodge and cabins. Thank goodness no one was hurt! When Hubby was out at camp a few weekends ago, he learned that they are having a hard time getting rid of the pieces of the tree. Where do you put a 100′ tree?

So, we decided to bring home part of it.

The girls and I drove out to camp today and after some back breaking work and a bunch of help from one of the camp workers, we got two large “rounds” loaded into our trailer.

“The Big Tree” as it was known around camp looks so sad lying on the field. 😦20160322_145414_resized

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A field of stumps.

20160322_145529_resizedThe stump at the bottom of the picture is the one we chose.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, get them stumpies rollin’! 20160322_150718_resized

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The second stump is about half the size of this big one.

So, what are we planning to do with these guys?

Well, Hubby wants to make a table like this one:

Only tall enough to actually sit around it.

I thought it would be cool to make some chairs like the following:

Or maybe a planter:

Or bench supports:

Or maybe just to play on:

If we could have, I would have brought some of the large logs home. But they are way too big and heavy. If I had a log, I’d do something like the following:

If nothing else, I think we might just have to carve our initials. 🙂Initials

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Can we get logs and stumps in Nevada? Sure we can. But whatever we make out of these stumps is going to have quite a lot of emotional significance behind them. We are bringing a piece of Camp, a piece of the Pacific Northwest, back to Nevada with us.

And that makes the aching back all worth it!

Daily Life #14 – Candles

February 8th

I made candles!

Yes, I have made candles in the past. The waaaaaaay past. Like, I was a kid and it was a school project.

And as I mentioned last week, I wanted to try making candles from scratch, including the wicks. So today’s project was to finish the wicks, and get the candles made so that I can do the burn test tomorrow.

Over the last week or two, I’ve been soaking and drying string in several different solutions. Today I dipped them in wax, let them dry, cut them to size, made little feet for them out of aluminum foil (worked with mixed results), put them in labeled jars, and poured in the hot wax.

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Waxing the wicks

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Homemade wick with homemade stand

A couple of these little feet fell off the string when they came in contact with the hot wax being poured into the jar. I have and idea of how to fix it next time.

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Homemade candles - I used the aluminum foil to hold the wicks in the middle of the candle.

It’s a good thing to put down some sort of protection on the counter, because candle making is messy!

I’m excited to see how they do tomorrow. When I get the results of the burn tests I will post a full report.

As for today, we enjoyed some rare sunshine and warm weather. So nice to get outside and soak up some vitamin D.

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Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Daily life #5 – Free Stuff and Crystals

I got to sleep in this morning! It was heavenly! And needed after several nights in a row of poor sleep due to not feeling well.

By the time I ate breakfast and finished my journal entry (which I started yesterday morning), showered and dressed, etc, it was time to take Scooter to the vet and do a bit of shopping. Later in the afternoon, I met a lady and took a floor mat she no longer wanted off her hands.

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Don't you just love my thrift store desk chair?

I love Freecycle! That or the free section on craigslist. I know there are even more free trading/swapping site out there. Have you ever used any? I highly recommend it. Not only is it a great way to find items you might need without having to buy new, but it’s a great way to get rid of items you know have a use, you just no longer want them. We’ve gotten quite a bit of good quality wood which we’ve used for several projects around the house.

And today I got a floor mat. I seriously would have bought one had I run across it on a store. And here I got it for free! (Well, I guess I had to spend a bit of money in gas to get it, but she lives near me, so it was minimal.)

This afternoon, I also checked on my wicks which had been soaking for 24 hours as the instructions said.

And I found this:

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The solution had crystallized! Weird, but cool. Not sure what happened. But I saw other instructions which said to soak for only 20 minutes. So I soaked another section of string for about an hour and it is drying right now. I left the crystal solution in there to see what it does if I leave it longer.

I plan to also try a few other options I have heard about and see what all makes a difference.

After dinner, I sat down with my garden journal and started planning my 2016 garden. As I said in my New Year post, I’m not going to be as ambitious this year, but I still want it to be organized. Basically. I was looking for what can be planted in a small space that either yields a lot on one plant (ie, a tomato plant), or is small enough that you can plant a lot in a small place (like lettuce). And of course it needs to be something we actually eat. And something I don’t have to tend to a lot.

When I have the finalized plan I will share it with you.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121

Daily Life #4 – DIY Mason Jar Spout And Carpet Deodorizer Recipe

So I’ve seen this tip on Pinterest several times and today the planets aligned and I was able to make one for myself.

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And by planets aligning, I simply mean that I happened to have the need for one right when I had a nearly empty salt container.

I finally got around to vacuuming today and wanted to use my homemade carpet deodorizer (recipe below). But I tend to accidentally shake half the powder on the carpet when I try to shake it out without some sort of top on the jar. I thought about punching holes in a jar lid, but then I remembered this tip.

All I did was use a sharp knife to cut the top off the salt container, then put it on the jar in place in the lid. It worked remarkably well! It is the perfect size for a wide mouth jar. In order to use a regular mouth jar, just trace around a regular size lid and cut it down accordingly.

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So, the carpet deodorizer recipe. That also is super easy.
-Fill a quart size mason jar about 3/4 full with Washing Soda (not baking soda)
-Add 10-20 drops of your favorite essential oils (we like orange and clove or lavender and eucalyptus), put the lid on, and shake the jar to distribute the oils.
-Shake the deodorizer on your carpet 15-30 minutes prior to vacuuming (test on obscure area 1st).
-Vacuum as normal.

Notes:

-Do not use baking soda, it is too powdery and tends to leave a white residue, thus why the recipe calls for washing soda. It still absorbs the odors of stinky carpets but is more granular. It can be found in the laundry isle of most grocery stores.

-You can fill your mason jar full, but then you’d want to dump the soda into a bowl, add the oils, mix, and return to the jar. Otherwise the jar will be too full to shake to distribute the oils. I prefer to just do it as stated above so I don’t have another dish to wash.

-I find that I use about 1/4 of the jar (roughly 1 cup of the mixture) per application. Depending on the size of your house you may have to use more or less. This is where the salt container spout comes in handy as I found that without it, too much sprinkles out and I invariably ended up using over half my mix for one round!

-I use this powder every other or every third time I vacuum, depending on how stinky the pets and kids have been. 🙂

I really like that this carpet deodorizer is all natural. No weird chemicals to worry about around my family.

So aside from vacuuming my house (finally!), and in between the daily tasks of taking care of the family, I started researching how to make candles from scratch. An article I read recently got my gears turning and Hubs and I got to talking about all those skills which we have a theoretical knowledge of, but have never actually tried. Like candle making. Did you know that you are supposed to treat wicks with something like boric acid in order to make them burn properly? I had no idea, and my minimalist side is wondering if it really  makes a difference. So my plan is to try a couple different types of wicks and see what the results are.

So in a couple days hopefully I’ll have a post all about making candles. 🙂

Princess Girl and I also got around to mounting the puzzle we finished a couple weeks ago.

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I cut a piece of cardboard the same size as the puzzle, we covered it in Elmers glue, then slid the puzzle onto it and slathered a bit more glue on the top. Then, when it had dried a bit, we covered it in plastic and put a box on top to keep it from bowing. Princess Girl is going to hang it in her room when it is finished.

And that’s how this homesteader spent her day.

Maridy

“I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 121