Monthly Archives: August 2009

Like Giant Legos

I missed an entry, but I have to say that it’s amazing how quickly time flies by out here, especially when you’re working from sunrise to sunset.

Visitor Lodge with roof plateIt took weeks of waiting for a dry spell to put the bales up.  It’s been a really wet summer here in Missouri.  July had twice the average rainfall and August hasn’t been much better.  As you can imagine, stacking the bales was extremely exciting and at first it seemed like we’d have the whole thing done within hours like.  However, we did run into our share of problems.

It’s been difficult juggling all of the details that go into designing and building a house as well as keeping up with a regular job.  We had to stuff between the bales because where the baling twine wrapped around the bales it was more compressed left gaps when you pushed the bales together.  This eventually lead to the corners of our walls bulging out, although it didn’t seem like it at the time, I believe the bales slowly moved outward as we banged other bales into place.

After we got it all up and put the roof plate pieces on top we covered it all for a few days of rain.  When I took the tarps off I disovered that a couple places had actually funneled water into our wall.  So, we started replacing the wet bales and as we were doing that I accidentally pushed on one of the walls and the whole thing fell down.  After most of the day getting that wall back up a gust of wind blew through and knocked half of another wall down.  As you can imagine we were starting to get pretty discouraged.

Over the course of the last few days we’ve finally gotten the roof plate lined up and assembled, as well as getting the wire tie-downs attached, and stuffing and closing up the rest of the roof plate.  It was quite a bit more work than I expected, but the walls are all secure and sturdy.  I haven’t tightened it down all the way yet which is going to involve trying to get it all level on top which it isn’t quite at the moment.

Anyway, it’s been really exciting seeing the building rise from the ground.  It has a real sense of space to it now.  I’ve improved my tarping technique dramatically so when this front comes through later today it should be all snug and dry.  Now it’s time to get everything together for the roof!

Liz making picklesIn other news we lost a couple of chickens to an animal.  The chickens finally figured out that they could fly over their fence and they got out one night and all but one got eaten.  We’ve since clipped the last chicken’s wings and it hasn’t been able to fly out any more.  We’d also been letting the guineas roost in the trees but the night after we lost the chickens we lost a guinea to something, probably an owl.  So now we’ve started feeding them in their coup at night and closing them in.

The garden is still producing like crazy and Liz has made several large batches of pickles, trying out different recipes to see which we’ll like.  We still have to wait another few weeks before the first batch will be ready.  We’ve got an overload of squash still and a lack of recipes or desire to cook it, but we just got some new cookbooks and hopefully that will open up some new ways of reducing our stockpile.  In the meantime we’re toying with the idea of spending a Saturday at the farmer’s market in town and seeing if we can’t unload some of it there.

Cooking some home-grown food including sweet cornWe have had some run-ins with pests in the garden but nothing too major until a couple weeks ago.  The deer finally found our garden and ate all of our precious sweet corn.  And let me tell you that was the best corn I’d ever had.  It was so sweet I’m pretty sure it could have been classified as a dessert.  Liz put up two strands of fishing wire around the whole thing.  It’s something we found in a Mother Earth News magazine that said the deer wouldn’t push on it hard enough to break it and wouldn’t jump over it because they can’t see it.  It’s certainly worked so far and I’ll keep you posted on how successful it is.

The other pests have all been bugs, and we’ve stuck to just picking them off so far.  We’re starting a bunch of flowers and plants that are supposed to attract the predators of those and other garden bugs.   We’ll also be building some other habitat for frogs, lizards, and other helpful garden creatures.  It takes a little while to build up their populations, but how easy will it be once they’re there and going.

We’ve been interviewed and photographed by the Missourian, a newspaper in Columbia again.  They say that we’re actually going to be on the front page some time soon and I’ll pass it on when that happens.  We’ve got a couple coming up from Florida next week and I think one of my friends will be passing through with some of her friends on a cross-country trip around the same time as well.