Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wire unrolling day

We unrolled 3 big spools of wire for the electrical service. Shown here are Brian and Mischa wrangling a spool. It was a hot sunny day and sunburns all around. Once the main wire was laid out we started sleeving the conduit.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Big materials delivery

Today we received a substantial order of building materials. Other than that and cooking and setting up a tent, we took it fairly easy today. With our volunteers on hand we now have more than enough to keep us busy, starting tomorrow...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kuti A plumbing, spring visitors, storm

This evening we had quite an impressive storm - several inches of rain, huge bolts of lightning and thunder, wind - awesome. The sky was a rare orange-gold color, and highly variable. Towards the West the sunset was still visible, towards the east dark, grey, threatening. Overhead like a boiling cauldron.

Monks and laypeople showed up today as well. We now have 4 visitors.

Over the last few days we did some more purchasing, including a $6K order to be delivered by our friends at H.Depot in Omak, we put up all the available cedar boards in the ceiling and gables of Kuti-A, but ran out of wood before we fininshed. Also the sheetrock in the main room went up. Today I plumbed a greywater line and supply and hung a sink in Kuti-A, and cleaned up the site. A monk sleeps there tonight.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Some plumbing, and a Not so good Barn Cat


Today we got a lot of plumbing done; Roger put in 150' water line to the first Kuti in a 4' trench (12 hours of digging!), and I laid out the pipes for the greywater lines. I'm missing a dozen or so fittings and will have to wait until Tuesday to get them as there are no open hardware stores around until then.
I also pulled up a bit of the decking on the north side of the barn and ran an electrical conduit (grey 2") across the barn crawlspace for future use to run power from the forthcoming barn sub-panel down to the first Kuti.
In doing this bit of work I discovered a massive mouse-stash. The barn mice have been busy stashing food in this one convenient corner of the barn under the floor. I found about 2 pounds of dog kibble (from Snoozer's days), chicken scratch feed, (from a bag in the barn) and several pounds of CAT FOOD, stolen from the barn cat, "Kiddos".
Kiddos is an American short-hair, spayed female, looks to be about 4-5 years old. She has a reputation for catching mice, but apparently the mice have been getting away with regular food-snatching forays. Pictured here is our mediocre barn cat, looking fairly harmless.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Big shopping, found water, hare

Yesterday we went shopping in Spokane and dropped a couple of grand on building materials. We're not done yet, have to have another order pulled for us by our vendor(s). We're spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave.
Today we received some additional information on the layout of the service lines and based on that were able to find the water to the barn; we're very pleased! But time is flying by and it seems not much actual progress is happening. The days are too short or we're too old or something.
In the evening, after calling it a day, a snowshoe hare hung out in the front garden to greet us. He's brown now that the days are longer, with just a little bit of his white winter coat still showing. He froze on the gravel for me for a good 3 minutes while I took pictures.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Barn septic tank access lid location

The tank access plate is about 12" down from the surface, a few dozen feet to the south-west of the barn. It is a 8x12 concrete lid with a pull-loop fabricated from 12-gauge copper romex cable.
Its location can be triangulated with two tape measures. It is 37'-6 from the west post of the south barn awning, and 20'-6" from the frost-free water tap to the South of the barn.

The Hunt for the Water Line, Trenches

Yesterday we got the last window in Kuti-A installed, plus finished the interior walls and put in a trench for greywater. At the end of the day a hose blew out on the backhoe.
Today the trenching continued. Roger's Deere backhoe got a good workout, after minor repairs.
We went looking for the water supply cutoff valve to the barn by scratching (shallow excavation) in front of the rollup door. The valve is probably there, but we just couldn't find it. After excavating about 250 square feet we gave up and decided to tap into one of the lines connecting a nearby frost-free water tap.
Next we went looking for the septic system cover and found it on the first try. As expected it appears unused, but it is full of water suggesting that the local rain and snow-melt accumulates there, probably because the access port is in a depression. We'll mound it up when we re-bury it.
I started wall layout in the barn for the central facility but quickly ran into several small issues. First I'm getting a cold or something and feel pretty awful. 2nd there's a perforated pipe that vents the underside of the floor deck which runs exactly where I want to put the main waste stack. Will have to re-route it. Next we went to put in a trench for the greywater line and started by scratching down along the side of the building to find the base of the foundation. We were assuming a poured foundation and quickly discovered that we're dealing with a a wooden foundation the first I've ever seen. That was good news in a way because now we don't have to drop our greywater line very deep to go below the base of the foundation, we can go right through the side of it. On the other hand I reckon a wood foundation won't last as long as a concrete poured foundation would do. Next we went to dig a greywater trench and ended up cutting the sewer line.
A mixed bag day for sure.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hammers start to swing

I (Brian) arrived on site on Thursday evening and after a day of review and planning, today Roger and I started swinging hammers. We re-set the loft in Kuti-A, built 1 interior wall, installed two windows, and purchased a bunch of stock to build the interior walls in the central facility.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The plan for Spring Building

With the planned arrival of 3-4 full-time meditators in July, we've changed direction on accommodations a bit. We're setting aside the plan to build a second kuti similar to the 1st, and instead we're planning to put set of 4 very small single-room cabins and a central bathing/office/cooking facility at the barn. We only have 3 weeks to get most of it done and fortunately we have some volunteers coming to help. We're also going to run grid electricity to the barn so we can power the workshop, office, and laundry/bathroom/kitchen facilities for our visitors.
Brian on site 5/15, start work on 5/16. Visitors on 5/29. Brian leaves 6/6.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Construction and garden

The porch and steps into the VIP kuti are now done. The porch, covered, is approx. 6'X8' with a set of steps from the ground to the porch and another set from the porch into the kuti. The roof was a bit difficult given that the existing roof on the kuti is a very step angle thus not allowing a continuation of that angle for the porch roof. The level of the porch had to drop by nearly 2 feet to give the needed head room. The rafters for the porch are bolted to the main roof rafters and are also strapped to the kuti walls. All in all a sound and strong system if not the prettiest.

In the garden the strawberries seem to be making it and I am waiting for the first planting of lettuce, onions, carrots and radishes to come up. We have been having a few days in the 70's alternating with days in the 50's. I have had to cover a few nights as we are still getting some freezing temps. I will put out the first round of plants, that have been started inside, this next week. Temps are projected to be in the low 80's by weeks end with over night temps staying in the low 40's.

Most all of the 110 trees/shrubs that were planted this spring are showing signs of life and many of last years plantings as well. It will be another week or two before it's possible to know for sure who will make it and who won't.

Brian will arrive late Thursday to help with the 2008 building season. We have some very ambitious plans for this year. Finish the VIP and add four smaller kutis. Install a central bath and kitchen facility and run electricity to the shop/bath/kitchen building and on to the VIP kuti. The electricity will require digging about 800 feet of trench to bury the lines. I have a backhoe so that should be mostly machine work.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Garden for the hermits

I put in 80 strawberry plants and 25 asparagus plants today. I also have several varieties of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, 6 different peppers and two types of tomatoes waiting for it to warm up a bit more before putting them outside. There will also be peas, green beans, corn and potatoes in the garden. This garden will be for the hermits that will be staying with us.

Construction work begins tomorrow now that the garden is pretty well lined out.