Addition Early-Spring Progress

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I took advantage of the early-March warm-up and got the addition concrete floor sealed. I used Eagle Armor Seal, a glossy, low-VOC, water-based urethane on everything but the shower, which got Eagle Natural Seal, a waterborne penetrating water repellent that keeps the anti-slip texture of the sponge-finished concrete. I used my infrared digital thermometer to verify that the slab was at least 50°F per the instructions. It ranged from 53 to 57 throughout the 7-day process: 1 day to shop-vac and wet-mop, 2 days to dry, 1 day to do the shower floor, and 3 days to lay down 3 coats. I used an 18” roller which made pretty fast work of it.

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The finished product after two weeks of curing — we are quite pleased with the results. This was also a major bottle neck to moving forward with the baseboards, galley cabinets, and loft flooring. (The flip side is that I am now the major bottleneck!)

Happy Easter!

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We dyed a mix of white and brown eggs

PWS KWVHOOKS2 is On the Air

“Huh?” you might be thinking. Well, I spent my Christmas gift money on something I’ve been thinking about getting for years. PWS = Personal Weather Station and KWVHOOKS2 is the Station ID that Weather Underground assigned to my new Ambient Weather WS-1200-IP OBSERVER Solar Powered Wireless Internet Remote Monitoring Weather Station. Since we are going to be installing a solar hot water system soon, I splurged and got a station that includes UV and solar radiation readings. This system streams outdoor temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, UV and solar radiation, and indoor temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.

You can see the current data over on the right sidebar, and you can peruse historical data (not much yet, just it installed yesterday!) by clicking on KWVHOOKS2 over there as well.

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I mounted the all-in-one sensor array on the corner fence post next to the terrace gardens — it is one of the few posts that is still rock-solid, and is also a reasonable distance from the house.

The Threat of Ices

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The latest winter storm brought us about 1.5″ of snow, several hours of sleet, then many hours of (freezing) rain. The result: about an inch of hard frozen slush (on top of the several inches of hard-frozen snow still remaining in places from the last storm). Starting around 2 a.m it started crashing off of the back roof in thunderous reports as it glanced off the veranda railings and then shattered on the frozen snow in the back yard. Now the sun is partially out and melting is happening big-time, so we need to watch the river for flooding.


“Sheba, shotgun!”

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That’s a new command that our dog Bersheba loves to hear. To give her a break from the rambunctious puppy Satie that we have saddled her with, we let her ride shotgun when we drive to town to go shopping. On this day, even though it was only 35° out, she still had her head out the window for much of the trip.

Snowzilla Aftermath

It took me another 3 days to dig us out to the point where we could get a vehicle on the road. My back-of-the-envelope calculations are that I moved at least 10,000 cubic feet of snow — around 640 feet of driveway by 8 feet wide by 2 feet deep, more or less, give or take.

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My main goal Monday was to clear the lower drive all the way to the dirt road (which the road crews had just plowed.) This includes getting to the gate to let the dogs out to run around a bit. Satie agrees with this goal!


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By 11:30 I had the dogs out and had gotten most of the way to the road. The F150, I am hoping, will clear itself once things warm up next week. Another 2 hours and I got out to the road. I then loaned the tractor to a neighbor who lives down the dirt road so he could plow out his driveway so 3 people could get to work the next day. (Have I mentioned lately how wonderful it is to work from home?)


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I started Tuesday clearing out a parking space at the upper end of the lower drive. I then started on clearing the main road in front of the mailbox. Note in the picture near the mail box that the Post Office was back on the road, in this case delivering an Amazon package handed off to it from UPS.


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For the upper driveway I had two choices: start at the level-ish end, which, though, is not really level and is *very* close to the steep stone wall drop-off, so I went with starting by going down the steep drive entrance. I fully expected to get stuck. I did. Note in the picture that most of the snow has blown off the house roof. This happened in thunderous whooshes during the storm. Our new metal roof apparently is much slipperier than our old roof, with its (dozens?) of coats of paint and caulked repairs, which would hold snow for days/weeks.


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To get unstuck, it took some hand digging but I had gravity on my side. It was slow going, only got 1/3 of the way to the garage by day’s end. Lots of slipping and sliding on the icy surfaces created by the tires compressing the increasingly-wetter snow in the just-above-freezing temperatures.


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On dig-out day 3 I continued pressig towards the garage. By lunch time, including hand digging, I had reached the car in the garage. Note the snow looming on the roof — it slides off in big sheets, which is one reason we wanted the car out now, before more snow piles up in front of the door.


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In the afternoon I tackled the remaining upper drive. It was quite close quarters with tress and bushes on both sides. (I was glad the snow had already blown off the branches, no snow down the back of my neck!) As expected, it was a challenge finding space to dump all the snow.


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3:30pm Wednesday, all done!

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Today was cleanup day 1 from the monster East Coast winter storm that ended last night around 8 p.m., after pummeling us with snow for 32 hours.

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Today was a gorgeous sunny day. Never got above freezing, though.


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Having the tractor on the addition ramp was good in that it was most definitely nice to be able to just hop on the tractor and get started without any hand digging. This was too much snow to use my usual push-and-veer technique. I had to scoop-and-dump, which involved a lot of 3-, 4-, and 5-point turns to get the loads to a place where I could dump them.


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I measured 34″ of snow in the drifts near the house, and 24″ in a more open place. This was after a pretty windy night and several hours of sunshine, so who knows how much actually fell. (Other than, of course a lot).


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My lunch break was triggered by my getting stuck. This light snow compacted down to a hard slush in the intense sunshine. All it took was me venturing just a little too far onto the 10° slope at the side of lower drive to start slipping sideways. After lunch I hand-dug around the tractor and dumped some wood-ash for traction. It took 10 minutes of judicious use of the loader bucket to lever myself back-and-forth, but I got unstuck.


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I had two major goals today: (1) get out to goat shed to check on the dogs — check! …


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… and (2) clear a path to the woodshed — check! — since we burned through most of the wood we brought in on Thursday.


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By the way, the dogs were fine. The covered portion of the southern portico was dry and warm with its deep bedding. Bersheba, though, was clearly tired of the company of puppy Satie, but I did not get the tractor as far as the gate so she will have to wait until tomorrow for an outing.


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Speaking of the gate, it opens inward, so I was not looking forward to trying to open it. It looks like the dogs have helped me out in that regard. (“Shovels? We don’t need no stinkin’ shovels!”)


This all took me a total of 6½ hours, including breaks. Tomorrow, I want to clear the lower driveway out to the dirt road (a challenge in that it is uphill and sloped to the side), and then get around to the upper driveway and start getting that cleared out so we can get the Mini out of the garage at some point.

Ready for the Storm

The prediction is for a “possibly historic” snow storm in our neck of the woods, with snow measured in feet and high winds as well, starting tomorrow. We have spent much of this week preparing — getting hay in for the goats, filling holes where our dog Bersheba digs out (so as to make sure she is here tomorrow when she and Suddy will get locked into the southern portico of the goat shed with plenty of food), removing the last of the construction debris around the house, etc. Here are the fruits of our labor:

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Plenty of wood in for the living room wood stove.


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Plenty of wood in for the kitchen wood stove.


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A reserve cart of wood and our tractor-PTO-driven generator on the front porch (I will get them covered tomorrow morning before the storm starts).


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We ran out of time and energy to get all our latest load of wood stacked, so it will be buried under snow for a while.


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New for us this winter, I have the tractor parked on the new addition entrance ramp so I can just hop on and start snow removal, no hand-digging my way to the garage!


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Having the tractor (and a lot of my shop tools that are now in my new shop in the addition) out of the garage mean we are able to get the Mini Cooper under cover.


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My new shop, on the other hand, needs some TLC! Note, though, that I put most of the big stuff on dollies to make it easier to rearrange.

Happy Holidays!

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‘Crete at Last!

The concrete finishers arrived at 7 am this morning, and the pump lady showed up shortly thereafter. The first of two concrete trucks (this pour is about 17 cubic yards) rolled in around 7:30.

Here is a short time-lapse view of the end of the first truck’s worth of concrete being poured.

One question that has come up is how long it will take for the concrete to set/cure/dry. “Setting” is the process of the concrete hardening to the point of being able to be floated to a smooth finish; generally speaking this takes several hours, more or less. “Curing” is the chemical process of the concrete fully hardening; after a week or so the concrete is around 70% cured and can safely be walked on, but it takes a month to reach 100%. It is still not “dry”, however, as that process takes, by rule of thumb, one month for each inch of thickness. So this slab won’t be fully dry until spring.

I intend to stay off this slab for at least a week. I am not yet sure whether I need to wait a month or 5 months before putting the sealant on it, more research is needed.

The Concrete is a-Coming

After a number of delays, we have been told that our final concrete pour for our addition (the finished great room floor) will finally be happening tomorrow. Here is a (probably boring) walk-through showing our prep work.

New Puppy!

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Meet Satie [sah-tee] our new 9-week-old Black Lab mix. Mixed with what we do not know.

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We got her as a companion Livestock Guardian Dog with Bersheba (left) because we are going to retire the aging Roy (top) from LDG duties to become an indoor dog starting this winter. Satie has LOTS of puppy energy — she is blurry in almost every picture I took.

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She is already keenly interested in the chickens — if you look carefully you can see a chicken on the right, kinda hard to spot amongst the similarly-colored leaves. Unfortunately, she is still small enough that she can wriggle through the fence in some places, so supervision in the pastures is a must.

Addition Ready for Final Concrete Pour

Well, almost, still have to do the final cleanup. We are trying to arrange the final concrete pour, but with winter on the way the concrete tradesmen are very busy trying to get their outdoor pours done.

This pour is about 1068 square feet and will be 4½ – 5 inches thick. It is being poured on top of a suspended concrete slab subfloor. We want to add mica flakes at the end of the pour to add a bit of sparkle. From what we understand, this means trowel-finishing the entire floor.

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Here is the floor plan of the two slabs to be poured. Click to embiggen.

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Our lower driveway will let the concrete truck back right up to addition entryway.

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The concrete pump hoses will enter the addition via the exterior door at the top of the ramp. In this and subsequent pics you will see tools and supplies that will all be gone shortly.

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The vestibule, being closest to the door, will be the last space poured. The concrete will be poured to the top of the 4-1/2″ triple sole plate. The wallboard is already up and painted so we used blue tape and rosin paper to protect it. The space for the yet-to-be-installed 1×8 baseboard provides a space of bare studs to ease with the concrete finishing.

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Just inside the great room from the vestibule there is a staircase to the walk-out basement. The concrete finishers can use this for access as needed.

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The great room and under-loft rooms have 5/8″ pex heat tubing attached to the subfloor. At the upper right is the bow windows and at the upper left is the loft staircase the the concrete will need to flow under.

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A better view of the loft staircase corners where the concrete will go under it.

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Looking towards the loft. On the left you can see the stone chimney and the dumbwaiter enclosure.

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The galley kitchenette. Except for the bathroom toilet and shower drain, all drain pipes are in the wall.

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The view in the bedroom of one of the two closets. You can see more detail of the heat tubing — it is the zip-tied to poultry netting that is stapled to the sole plates. Tapcon screws and various brackets have also been used to help anchor everything down so the tubing does not float up. To the left you can see in the bathroom where the tubing goes through the subfloor to connect with the manifold in the basement.

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The curbless walk-in L-shaped shower. This will get troweled to a semi-rough surface to avoid slipping in the shower (sponge finish?). It will flow under and up against the granite walls and slope down to the drain at the end of the ell (not shown).

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The water closet.

Addition Update, Day 434 (Ouch!)

As I said in an earlier post, we got delayed in our construction over the summer. We got a six-month extension on our building permit, so mid-December is our new target for completion. Still lots to do, but now that the hot weather has broken I am able to get more done. My #1 priority is to get the heat tubing in place so we can schedule the final concrete pour(s). (#2 priority is to get the rooftop solar collection tubes up.)

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Here is the 1000′ roll of 5/8″ Uponor AquaPEX tublng I am putting down. The make-shift support of sawhorses, pipe clamp, and 4″ PVC pipe is working OK, though at first it took two people to unreel since the roll weighed in at 86 lbs.

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The first step was to put rosin paper up to protect the painted walls from concrete splash when the final pour is done. Next was stretching out poultry netting that I will attach the tubing to with zip ties — not really sure about this method but I read about on the Internet so it has to work well, right? Right?? I started with the trickiest of the three 300′ tubing loops, the one under the loft. Among other challenges was the fact that we had to thread the loop through the wall between the bedroom and galley kitchen.

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It took 4 days but the first heating loop is now complete. (FYI, I HIGHLY recommend that you not wait until you are in your late 50’s before undertaking something like this!) The only hitch was that I had miscalculated the layout and end up with some left-over footage that I had to get a little creative with around the bedroom closets. (Besides from the one time I kinked the tubing, but that is exactly why I chose PEX-a rather than -b or -c: you can fix a kink with a heat gun or hair dryer).

`Maters

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Our tomatoes did OK this year, even though we largely ignored them and they did get some sort of blight. Here are 20 lbs of mostly San Marzano Gigante 3 Tomatos ready to prep for canning.

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7 quarts, ready for the pressure canner.