Progress continues as I prepare to head north – though we’re running out of weekends!  We basically have three left before I plan to move so hopefully we’ll get it all done. Dan made a trip on his own in mid-October as I had business in The Cities for Rec Lab and was able to keep us on track… but the snow will be falling soon!

On our last joint venture north, we started building the utility room (that is on the slab Dan and Wyatt poured the previous weekend).  On Friday, I ran to town to get the final lumber for our project and Dan wired and installed the heat lamps in the cistern room, wired the outlet for the freezer, and did some other buttoning up jobs.  Then I had to head to the Hostel to take care of guests.  Saturday we were back on the project, building the long and short walls for the 7’ x 10’ utility room/closet.  We realized we needed some long screws so Dan headed to Bagley for them while I prepped kindling wood for our stove.  There is SO MUCH WOOD in our forest that I can easily gather all the needed kindling.  This will be a recurring job but I’m glad to see it will just be a matter of picking up sticks from the woods, not chopping kindling from larger logs.  In an hour or so I gathered several boxes of fire starter pieces; probably enough to last for 30 or more fires.

We got up the two walls and headers that will hold up the ceiling and were ready for that final piece to enclose.  We built the frame of the 10’ x 7’ ceiling and figured out the cross-bracing.

We decided to add the hardy board to the bottom side and install lighting boxes prior to putting it up in the air.  It’s easier on the ground, no?  [I claim full responsibility for this idea.]

On Sunday we were wrapping up this work and decided to also put in the insulation and the small section of the floor that will be the top of the ceiling over this space.  We forgot about stopping with only the small section of “floor” and went ahead and added the two other pieces of 3/8” plywood flooring on that top side of the ceiling section, basically making a fully formed pre-fab ceiling panel. [Yes, with virtually no hand holds.] By the time we realized it – as we were looking to try to lift it in to place and realized it was now WAY too heavy for the two of us to lift – we were screwed.  What to do?  There was no way we could get this up on manpower alone.  Dan decided that, if we could get the section up on to the bed of the truck, it would be halfway there.  Then maybe we could lift it up onto the wall structure.  OK.  Good plan.


We quickly realized that, if we could barely lift it on the ground, trying to lift it up while on ladders, even though it was closer to the destination, was not realistic.  We were able to get the one end of the roof section ¾ of the way to its destination by having Dan lift on the end while I propped it up with ladders.  We were even closer to done!  But still so far…dscf0020

OK, this is the point where I warn you to NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!  You can see in the above photo that we’d wedged a board between the roof section and the edge over which it needed to go for us to push it into place above the wall sections.  Are you having the same idea I did?  Yes!  Back up the truck and allow the roof section to slide up the board and into place.  Exactly!  Again, I DO NOT RECOMMEND YOU TRY THIS. And I will admit that at one point I had the thought, this is how people get seriously injured… This type of Redneck Engineering would constitute, as Danny puts it, a “Hey, Watch This!” situation.  “Hey, Watch This!” are often the last words of many a daring adventurer.  So, did it work?

Well, here’s where we were after backing up the dscf0022truck almost as close as we could get it.  (You may not be able to see it in the photo, but I’m expressing some optimism that this will work.)  Dan got back in the truck and we backed it up another 4” and we were even closer.  While we don’t have video or photos of the process – we REALLY need a videographer – I can attest that there were moments of concern that we might not make it.  But we did, as one or both of us would lift and push in one moment and then one of us would hold the weight steady while the other adjusted position, we finally were able to push her over the top and get enough weight onto the walls.  We were golden.

We pushed and shoved and lifted gently to get it into final position and then were able to nail everything in place.  Viola!  We started insulating the walls and adding backing for the walls.  Dan wired in the lights before we closed off all the outside lighting while I continued to add insulation.


I’m just grateful we went with the lower ceiling height (walls are about 7’ tall) as we’d never have gotten this piece up to an 8’ height.

This week had me going up on my own mid-weekshirley to the Harn as our cat Shirley had reached a point of multiple daily seizures which often meant falls.  I decided it was time to put her down before she started suffering too badly.  So I took her in to Dr. Hartsell who was so wonderful about the whole thing and then headed up to bury her on the property. [Note: I got a wonderful condolence card from Dr. Hartsell.  He is really the best vet ever.] My bad news – finding a dead mouse in the trap in the Harn – was Shirley’s good luck.  I buried him with my Warrior Girl.  She made it almost 20 years so I figure she earned a good burial with a little bounty.  There’s another mouse story if you read on… but don’t read it if you are squeamish.  Oh, guess I should have put that warning further up.  Hopefully Shirley’s last photo was not too much for anyone!

I was able to get more done on the utility room build so Dan could finish it up when he headed up for the weekend.  Here’s my progress – you can see I decided some nailers for shelving would be good.  Also got all the insulation cut for Dan.


Mouse Story:  While I was sleeping Thursday night, I was awakened by a scratchy sound.  I knew I was no longer alone inside the Harn and figured it was another mouse.  Though it sometimes sounded bigger, I figured a red squirrel would be a lot more all-over-the-place so discounted that theory pretty quickly.  The repetitive sound had a plastic undertone and seemed to move around but was all in the NW corner of the space, where we figured there was a possible infiltration point.  I wondered what was being chewed and where.  I knew I had to be quick to catch the suspect in action so I waited for the sound to recur.  Then I slowly and stealthily snuck from my nice warm bed, walking barefoot toward the area and stopping at the edge of the small rug to listen again.  The sound was separated by long silences and the recurrence was erratic.  I finally heard it again and quickly clicked on the small solar light I had aimed at the area and watched for any movement.  Nothing.  I walked closer, moving the light around and watching to see something running for cover.  Nothing.  I got close to the place where the trap was and looked down.  Bummer, a live mouse in the trap – but no hope for survival long-term as his back legs were on one side and the rest of him was inside.  Lucky for him, he was able to eat all the peanut butter in the trap so at least he got a last good meal.

I apologized for his dilemma and took him outside where I released his body from the trap and quickly smacked him with a rock to put him out of his misery.  Hopefully someone will cash in on the snack I left.  The next morning, I pushed the foam in the corner back in place and blocked it more securely and hopefully we will have no further visitors.  But I also reloaded the trap just in case.

Dan’s trip this past weekend revealed that it looked like my blocking was effective as there were no more mice in traps.  He proceeded to finalize this part of the construction zone by enclosing the utility room in the garage, cutting in the door to the utility room from the house, and finishing out the wall boards in the assumed area of infiltration.  I am hopeful this will end any mouse encounters inside the living space.  He also worked to get all our lumber inside above the utility room so we are a bit more organized in the garage area.  My hope is to continue this organization of things when I head up in a couple weeks.

Next weekend, we work on changing the inside living space from a construction zone to a bedroom by continuing our organization of the garage area.  With all the spray foam done, we can re-install the pallet floor and our shelving to recreate the workshop area.  We will also get the freezer in place and clear out a bunch of food from Mom’s freezer.  Boy will she be glad!!  I am looking forward to having a good place for food storage to minimize trips to town.  I’ll maybe start work on the layout of my utility closet and possibly will get some more cob thrown on the Rocket Mass Heater.  Lots of stuff to do but, from now on, most of it will be inside work.  Except for sunny days when I will continue to work on wood gathering.  Or snowy days when I work on digging out… but only if I absolutely must.