As with all things we do, our project to install our woodstove at the executive deer stand has gone slowly. About a year ago, some friends helped me cut a hole in our perfectly good roof and feed a stovepipe through it. Emily thinks we stalled like that for a year, but I prefer to think of that year as all-season, extreme weather testing. Finally, in the last few weeks, we found a little room to breathe in our schedule and finished actually attaching the stove to the well-tested stovepipe!
The funny thing is that we actually bought the stove about 4 years ago. Four years ago we were optimistic on how long it would take us to build the cabin…”oh, about 6 months, right?” Yeah…right…
Anyhow, we fired up the stove with the first fire and it was glorious! Although it was an unseasonable 70 degrees, it will still absolutely wonderful to enjoy its heat. I was a little ridiculous, but I bet I ran back and forth outside ten times watching for smoke in the chimney…I just wanted to see it work! Of course, it was a good fire so didn’t produce much smoke which was good and bad I guess.
And what will we burn in this stove you ask? We just happened to have to cut down a few trees at our house. The lumberjacks left the tree cut up in sections, but unsplit on the ground where it dropped. All together, I think we had wood from 4 or 5 trees. We burned a bunch in the firepit but still have a really good pile of wood….or actually, several really good piles.
At first, I wanted to buy a woodsplitter but decided to rent one instead…right decision. We knocked out splitting a lot of wood in a weekend and hauled it to our woodshed at the deer stand over the course of a few weeks…
So, now we can let it snow and blow. Assuming we can get near the cabin, we can be plenty warm!
I was just looking over the progress we made on the cabin over the LAST 4 YEARS…geez…it has been that long. It seems like we progressed by leaps and bounds at first but now we are crawling along. Of course, I also cannot tell you the last time we were out there so it’s hard to expect progress from afar. Anyhow, a month or so ago, we made it out for a few hours and got a few things done. Pictures aren’t great but we added a few finishes to the place.
If we need cooling, we will use window units but so far, the white roof and thick insulated walls have kept the place pretty pleasant on all but the very hottest of days. Each room has a few fans now and that makes a huge difference in moving air and keeping us comfortable. It should help with heat int he winter as well.
Speaking of heat in the winter, we are nearly finished with the rock behind the wood stove. Of course, the wood stove puts off a lot of heat so the rock will act as a heat sink and also shield the wood in the walls behind it. I love the way the rock looks and it is easy to install. We have a bunch of wood from a tree we recently cut down so in a sick way, I am sort of ready for a cool day when we can light up a fire to test our new chimney and rock. Hopefully that will all go well!
Most of the drywall and ceilings are up and ready for finishing now as well. There is a lot of stuff that is almost done but just not quite. I hope that this fall will, if nothing else, result in a more predictable if not less busy schedule so we can get out to finish our work. I’d like to be able to really enjoy this place some day!
The field in which we built this place is just beautiful! I cannot wait to sit on a porch swing on the front deck and just look at the beautiful scenery!
It seems like we have been working on our cabin for a hundred years. I guess it hasn’t been that long, but if I had hair, I am sure it would be a bit grayer than when we started. Nothing has gone wrong, but it is just a slow process for us to build the whole place by ourselves. We finally decided to help a little with that exact problem. Some folks who live up near our place are skilled at roofing and other things of the like and were willing to help us get a roof on the porch that my brother and I framed up a year ago.
We sort of do work as it seems necessary, and lately, interior things are taking precedence. We framed the roof a year ago because I need strong backs and weak minds to lift the beam that holds the porch roof out at the end of the porch. My brother was in town a year ago and fit the bill nicely so we framed it up while he was around. The roof itself was not critical and was low on the list. The lumber we used for the frame was treated wood so it had no problem being in the weather. We finally figured that although the lumber didn’t mind the rain, we did. When my neighbors agreed to do some roofing, it seemed like a perfect opportunity and they did a heck of a nice job roofing our porch framing! It is absolutely wonderful to be able to get out of the rain when we work out there now!
In addition to the porch roof, the guys got up on the roof of the house itself, a 10/12 pitch roof, and poked my chimney pipe through so we can install the wood stove we bought two years ago. We had to use an ugly orange silicone boot to seal the pipe opening from the weather but I guess it doesn’t look too bad. It’s on the side of the house you don’t really see much anyhow. And for the ability to have a wood fire to keep us warm, I can handle the looks!
While my friends worked on those things, Emily and I continued hanging drywall and bead board on the ceilings. It is sort of miserable work hanging any sort of wall covering, but we are mostly pleased with the results. It’s not so bad working inside this year as we also got our baseboard heat installed. I wired in a total of 5 baseboard heaters to the house and it keeps the place evenly and toasty warm! We will burn a fire when we are there, but the main source of heat will remain electric.
With the improvements we have been making lately, it actually feels like we could almost live in it pretty soon! I am so excited to be able to head out to the place and just goof around! I know we will find endless projects, but it will be nice to have a place to go and relax between projects! I expect we may even spend a little time with all of our neighbors enjoying the wood fire in the winter and the front porch in the summer!
We’ve been moving very slowly at the deluxe shed lately. It’s all wired and mostly insulated. We are just finishing up the crappiest of the insulation now. Where the stairwell comes up to the second floor, there is, of course, a large opening. We built a wall on one side to protect the opening (rather than a banister), but haven’t gotten around to the wall on the other side. Still, I needed to get the ceiling insulated so I was left with a problem…how to insulate the space over the stairwell.
Luckily, I am foolish! We have on loan a “board” made out of aluminum that is meant to be used on ladder jacks. It is designed to be placed on stands of some sort so one can work over spaces just such as the one I have! Only one problem remains…I only have one wall so I couldn’t lay the board across the gap evenly. Much to Emily’s dismay, I just put a step ladder on the other side. The ladder has absolutely no extra width so we had to perch the board carefully. Emily held it as I bounced around on the board and we got the insulation done!
We still have to finish the drywall and a few finishing touches in that area but I should have the second wall built when that time comes around. In the meanwhile, I will just hang around and get things done as best as I can!
As you might remember, we did a lot of work earlier in the Fall in order to get electricity run to the deluxe shed. Let’s see…that was…um…September! It was still hot then. The sun was still out enough to work an 8 hour day in daylight. You know…it’s been awhile!
I was patient for awhile and I called, with my most polite voice, every week trying to determine when we would have power at the cabin. Finally, I felt compelled to express my frustration to the designer for the power company. He was a super nice guy and always very apologetic and polite to me…but I was frustrated. Finally, just last week, the power company came through!
Isaac and I drove out to the place and spotted the new transformer hanging from the pole…could it be? A Christmas miracle? Well, that might be an exaggeration but I was pleased and delighted to see it in place in the same quarter and year in which we started this process…barely…but still, it was there!
We popped on one breaker at a time to test my wiring. To my delight (but not surprise…I am a good wire-er after all) everything worked just fine! We have lights! We have plugs! We have heat! Hooray for electricity!
I was walking from the parking lot to my office the other day when I glanced up and saw the power pole that serves our building. I usually try to ignore ugly stuff but for some reason, I decided to look up when I heard the flapping of wings. Air-borne rats (aka pigeons) are dangerous creatures when you walk underneath so I wanted to be able to dodge their bombs. So, I looked up and noticed this monstrosity hanging on the pole above me. It always makes me wonder who decided it was a good idea to hang so much stuff on a single pole and who the unlucky person is that gets to work on that mess. It’s funny though, how important electricity is in our lives…why else would we tolerate such a mess?
Anyhow, I am still without power at the executive deer stand. You may recall that we installed the meter base and trenched the conduit in September. The system was inspected without problem and we have been waiting ever since. I know things like this take time and I also understand that this installation is rural and somewhat hard to access, but it’s not that hard to get to.
I have talked with the power company guy several times and he is very nice and very apologetic but I surely wish I could get good news soon! We have spent time the last few visits wiring the interior components in hopes that our work will somehow bring about the electric elves to fire up the connection to the power company. I am losing faith in that idea but we toil onward! And really, it’s ok. I think the exterior plugs look nice and the porch lights around the doors look classy.
We added a big spotlight at the peak of the roof to scare off raccoons and zombies and other magical creatures. For now though, I am still powerless as far as power goes. We have done well building the place using only a generator but once I got the meter base set, I can barely function without “real” electric. Funny how that works isn’t it?
That tie-in finally happened! It took a tremendous amount of work, a lack of good sense and a little liquid courage but we raised a beam on which the roof rafters would rest. Once that was done, it was all down hill. I ended up buying 12′ long boards for the horizontal boards that came straight out from the house. The angled boards that form the slope of the roof were 16′ long though I really only needed to span 14′. Unfortunately, our big box home improvement stores don’t sell 14′ boards.
Anyhow, all of that is to say, we got big boards and they were heavy so I am glad my brother was here to help. I ended up getting treated lumber because I could find it (sometimes stuff is hard to find in a big box store…including helpers who know where all the things are located) and because it was only a few dollars more expensive overall. Treated lumber is almost always wet from the treatment process so weighs a lot more than typical boards. Did I mention stuff was heavy and that I was glad my brother was here to help?
So, we got the basic frame up and, one of these days, we will add sheathing and tar paper and metal to finish this thing off. I am mostly excited because I think it makes sense why we left the gap in the siding now. I know people who live up by our place think I am crazy but at least this one weird thing now (hopefully) has an explanation! I just need to connect the decks and I think that will button up a lot of the remaining questions!
It seems like we have been caught up in stuff lately and we haven’t been able to make a lot of progress on the deluxe shed. Last weekend we spent all day Saturday doing stuff so I thought I would share an update.
The electrical installation passed inspection. It’s around a 3 week wait for the electric company to run the line from the pole to my meter but I am on the list now! That will make many things different and easier as we work on the place. Eventually we will add more solar and make a run at being off-grid or rather, grid tied but a net producer, but that will have to wait.
Now that the decks are mostly up (but there is still a lot to do…like hook them together and add a railing), we can finish a lot of the outside work we have been putting off. In particular, at the rear of the building, the floor is 9 feet off of the ground. Without a deck, installing the door and siding was going to be a real drag. I mean, I added the sheathing and built the walls, etc clear up to the peak (around 30 feet in the air) without a deck, but I decided I would not be doing that any more work on the back without a deck.
So, with the deck in place, we installed the back door and are about to finish the siding. It’s amazing how much nicer the siding makes the back of the place look. It was pretty well protected from the weather by the house wrap but its lifespan has officially passed even though it looks in good shape. A few more hours and we will finish the siding as well as the soffit and fascia.
You can notice from the pics that I still have to enclose the area under the house. That has to happen before winter as I now have pipes in place that will freeze without protection. Enclosing that space, adding a door into the “basement” and getting a heat source wired in place are the remaining things that must happen before snow flies. My brother is coming in a few weeks and I plan to take a few days off of work to see how much we can accomplish. I’d really like to get this place to a point that we could actually enjoy it some this winter even if it gets cold! We have the best sled riding hills around!
The big project we were working on last weekend when we met our anonymous friends was a ditch digging exercise to remind me why I am so thankful that I do manual labor as an option, not an occupation. A buddy of mine brought his excavator over to help dig a trench in which we buried conduit to get electrical service installed!
As you might guess, working without electric all this time has made our progress slow and difficult. I mean, we have a generator but it’s not quite the same as having a socket on every wall we can use. Having a way to cool drinks and pump water and turn fans would be really nice. So, this project is a huge step forward and one that I will be glad to finish.
An excavator definitely makes ditch digging easier but there is still a good bit of manual labor that goes into getting a proper ditch dug and conduit and wire installed. I guess I am sort of built for manual labor. I mean, I am well enough and strong enough to do it but golly am I glad it’s only now and then. Anyhow, we got the conduit in place and I installed the meter base, an outside disconnect and the panel inside the house.
Part of the requirements that the inspector will verify is that there is a proper pull-rope inside the conduit. The conduit is buried a little more than 3 feet deep so do-overs aren’t really an option. They require a poly rope be installed so they can yank the supply wire from the pole to the meter. In my case, that distance is around 50 feet and there are 3 ninety degree turns. You may be wondering, dear friends, how I got the pull-rope into the buried conduit…with a shop-vac of course!
I stood at one end and created a seal of sorts with my hands around the vacuum and the conduit pipe. On the other end, Emily fed in a thin string which was pulled by the suction. We flipped it all on and waited. Pretty quickly, the thin string popped out the other end. I attached my pull-cord to the thin string and pulled it back through…voilà! A pull-cord installed!
This coming weekend, the inspector will come review our work and give the go-ahead for the power company to make the hot connection…I can’t wait to get power in the place! I am not sure we will be ready for Christmas in the cabin but we should definitely be ready for the 4th of July!
We have recently noticed, as we build the back deck on our cabin, there there seems to be a lot of extra…poop on the deck. I guess it literally is a poop deck as the other decks do not seem to have as much. It’s the deck highest off of the ground so I figured this would be the domain of only birds.
Sure, other critters can climb but I am not sure why they would climb just to take a poop (although, if my poop deck is becoming a “destination” in the wilds, maybe it would be worth the trip). Some of the evidence is very clearly from birds (apparently big birds), but some trophies seem like they might be from other sources. Dear friends, do you have thoughts on the source of some of these poops?
Anyhow, the poop deck is nearly completed and I couldn’t be happier with that progress. Additionally, we added a door that opens onto that deck which makes it doubly nice. We had always planned to add a door so it was already framed into the studding. I just had to cut a huge hole in the sheeting and install it. Once we get railings, it will be a really pleasant place to sit and watch for whatever creatures see the worth in taking a poop with a view!