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With the 10th Anniversary of our purchase of the property looming, it’s good to know that at least one of us may get to the Harn before we reach this major milestone.  I am glad to be preparing to move North for the winter… though some think I’m crazy!  Most people around here fly south for the cold season but I believe winter may end up being my favorite time of year at the Harn.

So is the Harn ready?  Well…  We’ve had electricity for some time now.  Not that it means much since space heaters probably won’t cut it as a viable heat source.  But we did get the heat source for our Rocket Mass Heater installed so can generate heat!  However, the “Mass” is still in progress of being added, so much of our heat ends up going out the chimney.  Here’s where we were for most of the long summer:

In the last month, we’ve been able to get much farther along and now I feel I have a fighting chance to store enough heat to not burn through a giant pile of wood this winter.  I am hopeful that we will make faster progress with the Mass additions as we’ve nearly finished the thermal cob additions and the structural cob will be easier to make in abundance due to the fact that it has straw to punch up the content while adding strength.

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In the end, the first duct will become a bench seat for the kitchen table while the second duct and the one leading up to the chimney will constitute the back for the bench.  It’s my first cob project I’ve done on my own and so far, I’m thinking it’s going well.  I am sure there will be some tricks to forming it all the way I want but hopeful I will be able to make it all work in a way that looks nice.

The other issue is water.  In the last month, we had professional gutters installed (seamless!) for water catchment.  The equipment we ordered from Rainwater Harvest http://www.rainharvest.com/shop/ was installed on the North Roof as our downspouts.  This equipment included a leaf guard, which pretty much does what it says, keeps leaves from going into your downspout, or in our case, the piping to our cisterns.  The second connection was a diverter system which pulls the first few gallons of water from the roof into a pipe that keeps this water (with a few bird droppings and the like) from going into the cisterns.  Dan and I got the leaf guards in place with the gutter installation guy but did not get all the remaining piping in place to capitalize on the massive rainfall that came a couple hours later…  We still had to prepare all the piping to get from the end of the gutter to the lid of the cistern, which also meant cutting holes into the sides of the steel building and holes into the cistern lids.  This took some time.  What we did manage in the meanwhile was to create a leak into the bedroom window where the concentration of all the water from the NE roof was forced into the top of the window frame!  I was able to quickly push the 10’ PVC pipe up to the leaf guard to divert the water down to the ground instead!  We were able later that day to get this line to the East cistern installed and the next morning were able to finish the West lines.  Both cisterns were ready for rain, which we got in the next week.  We also got more last weekend and, by last Sunday, we had 4” in our cisterns.  We’re on our way to water independence.

We did figure out the gutters are just giant leaf grabbers.  So this weekend we installed gutter guards.

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We still have some insulating to do to assure we don’t freeze all that water we’re collecting.  That should be taken care of in the next week or so when we have the Spray Foam guys out.  This weekend we were able to get the attic gable wall in place to have a place to spray foam to create an envelope of warmth.  We hope our friend Wyatt will soon be pouring a little more slab in our garage area so we can add a utility room/closet that will give an access through the bedroom to the cistern area.  This will house our water heater and give us a bit more storage space, since I still have much downsizing to do…  Plus, once I start canning, we will have a place for storing food.

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We also need to get a freezer in place as our tiny fridge basically has room for some ice and a half gallon of ice cream but not much more.  Eventually, we’ll add a washing machine too.  But for now I can always head to Lobo’s and do laundry while I watch the Vikings.  😉

We’ve got other projects like making saw bucks so I can get a bunch of wood chopped this winter. http://www.wikihow.com/Build-a-Sawbuck-for-Cutting-Firewood  And we’ll have to put the garage back together once we get the spray foam completed and the slab poured.  We have taken out our pallet floor and the shelves of materials and such but we’ll get everything back in place soon.

I did get four more buckets of clay dug so I’m ready to add more mass to the stove.  With eight buckets prepped, I should be able to make quite a bit of progress and, perhaps, I will get more clay dug before everything freezes.

And really great news! Thumper, my grouse had disappeared in July,  just after the fox showed up on the scene. I had been missing him so.  But Saturday, as I dug clay, who should appear but a lovely grouse. And he thumped right where his dad (I assume) used to, on the back side of the clay pile.  It made my heart sing each time he thumped his wings.  I’m hoping we have him around for some time to come

I foresee the move involving still quite a lot of work but in the end, I hope to find a lot more reading being done, soups being made, and tea in nice warm mugs being used to warm my fingers.  I’m hopeful both kitties will be able to make the move with me so I have some company.  And, come spring, we’ll get Dan on site as we start our Permaculture Homestead Life!

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