Peeps ‘n’ Pups

peepsnpups

Ok, so they are not really pups any more (but, hey, alliteration!), nevertheless our two dogs Roy and Bersheba both like to participate in the barn chores.

Peeps 2015

2015Peeps

Our new chicken peeps arrived 10 days ago — 15 Dark Brahma pullets and 2 cockerels. In the past we’ve had Light Brahmas. We hope that the darker color will make them harder for predators (especially hawks) to spot in the field.

Interesting “insulation”

More renovation fun as we have the old house re-sided. We are having the west and south sides of the old house redone. These walls are wood framed (4½”) with interior wood lath and plaster, and exterior clapboards right on the studs. No sheathing, no insulation (well, almost, see below). We are adding fiberglass batts, then OSB sheathing, house wrap, and the same HardiePlank siding we used on the addition. So we are going from R-1 to R-12+ in insulation.

The north side is covered by the new addition, and the east side has the verandas on it and the wide horizontal exterior boards are in good shape so we are leaving those alone.

WallsBrickIn

As we suspected — since I encountered them when I ran new phone wire 15 years ago — some of the walls in the old house were packed with soft, unfired clay bricks. Brick Nogging is what it is called.

WallsBrickNone

Only half the house had bricks, no reason why that I can think of. We also decided to remove the old window trim — it had some architectural interest but was in pretty tough shape. Besides, the same trim is on the inside of the house where we get to look at it.

WallsBrickOut

Bricks out. You can see a little fiberglass under the kitchen window; this and the new wood were part of a repair by a previous owner of the house.

WallsCornerBrace

Interesting craftsmanship in the wood-pegged, half-dado corner bracing. They also alternated hefty and thin wall studs (and floor joists as well). The horizontal wood strip under the windows is the back of the chair rail that runs around all the rooms.

In for a penny …

… in for a pound, as the saying goes. The addition looks so good it makes the main house look, well, bad. So we are going ahead with re-roofing and re-siding it. The roofers started this morning, and here is the progress after less than 3 hours.

reroof1

Peering through the attic door, all the old metal is off the back (east) side of the house.

reroof2

New metal is going up.

Addition Solar Heat Plan

The underfloor hydronic heat in the addition will consist of 3 zones with 4 loops total: basement 1-loop zone, great room 2-loop zone, and under-loft 1-loop zone. Each loop is 300′ 5/8″ PEXa tubing. The expectation is that the great room zone will the most active. The intention is to run each loop at 1.75 gpm, 90°F water in, 75°F out, which should produce 13K BTU/Hr/loop. So the system should produce 26K BTU/hr in “normal” great-room only mode, with an additional 13K each available in the under-loft area and in the basement.

After much research, I have decided to go with this 800 Liter Solar Water Heater System from Duda Diesel. We will be adding the Turn-Key option and upgrading to Freeze Protection tubes so the collectors can handle routine temps below 14°F (which, based on this past winter, I would have to say that we get). The choice between evacuated tube and traditional flat-plate solar collectors was difficult. The reasons why I chose tubes include: lower weight and individual components for easier rooftop installation (we do not have enough non-floodplain sunny areas for ground-based collectors); space between the tubes provides a lower wind resistance; purportedly better performance on cold and/or cloudy days. My concerns are mainly related to the fact that because the outside of the tubes stay cool any frost or snow can take longer to melt than with flat plates. Oh well, a grand experiment awaits!

The heating is a open direct system, with a 211 gallon solar storage tank supplying the underfloor hydronic heat, as well as preheating the water for a standard domestic hot water heater. The 211-gallon solar tank has a built-in heat exchange coil for rooftop solar collectors and an electric heating element for backup. It is not at all certain whether the electric backup, combined with the large thermal mass of our insulated suspended concrete slab floor will be sufficient to keep us warm during extended bad winter weather (but I am quite confident that we will remain at most chilly, not frozen!). Our backup plans include the fact that we still have wood stoves in the old house (our only heat for 17 winters.)

The solar collection side is a closed-loop system with a glycol mixture to prevent freezing. The collectors will mounted on the addition’s east-facing 5/12 pitched (22.62°) metal roof. They will face 11° east of south (the orientation of the house itself) and be tilted up at a 45° angle.

Click on any of the images below to see a larger version:

Solar_heat_schematic

Schematic of the hot water and heating system.

RooftopSolarConfig

Location of the rooftop solar collectors. I hope that placing them close to the addition gable end will minimize blocking snow build-up.

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Solar heating schematic from the east. Total heat tube (supply plus return) is about 150′.

solar_elevation_north

Solar heating schematic from the north.

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The two-zone, three-loop main floor underfloor heat tubes. I need to re-do the loops to put a couple in the bow window floor area. (Our original plans called for a window seat in that area.)

underfloor_heat_basement

The underfloor heat tubes in the basement. Placing all the equipment in the mechanical room on the right will be tricky. There are two water tanks, two expansion tanks, and two sets of controllers. Plus I want to plan for a battery bank for future PV solar electric, and the bank will go into a vented box (I have a 3″ PVC conduit in place for that.)

Underfloor Heat Components [already purchased unless noted otherwise]

Winter’s Last Gasp?

We got 6½ inches of snow last Thursday, followed by an arctic blast, and then, finally some unseasonable warmth. Today is a typical cool and rainy March day. We are certainly ready for Spring.

AddnSnowAerial2

View from the air Sunday. As you can see, the siding is just about done on the addition. The insulation sub is supposed to be here this week to to finish spraying, batting, and blowing. Then next week, now that the bitter cold has broken, the rest of the wallboard will go up. Then on to chimney cleaning and sealing, and wallboard mudding. In the lower left you can see the trails that the goats have made in the snow going down to the spring run for water. Their shed is in the upper left.

SnowGoatCompoundAerial1

The goat shed compound. From left to right: the Airlock (has gates to/from the Dairy Paddock, the Lower Driveway, and the Southern Portico); the Southern Portico (used variously for goat feeding, penning up new moms with their kids, penning up lactating goats overnight away from their kids for morning milking, and locking up Bersheba when she has dug out until we can fill the latest hole); the Main Shed; and the Northern Portico (The driveway half is for storing square hay bales and dog food, the Paddock side is the dog feeding station.) Behind the shed you can see the top half of the Apothedairy/Barn/Garage.

Addition Progress Report, Week 32

Slow progress lately, working around the snow/ice/cold, but progress nonetheless. The plumbing rough-in is done, as is the main floor electric. Stairs are in, drywall about 75% up but not yet mudded. Exterior siding also at 75%. Next week, hopefully, wallboard should all be up and the attic insulation should be in. Then after the cold retreats we will get a portable electric furnace in and start the wallboard mudding and chimney coating (probably satin polyurethane.)

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The north end siding is done.

Addn_Staircase

The stairs are in, taped and protected. You can see the gap under the lowest step that the final 4-1/2″ of concrete floor will fill.

Addn_GalleyRoughIn

Plumbing and electric rough-in is done. In the galley we will have two sinks, both with wall-mount faucets.

Addn_WetWall

This section of wall between the main floor bathroom and bedroom is packed. From left to right: 4″ conduit for rooftop solar hot water pipes, 3″ conduit for future propane H2O heater power vent or PV solar battery bank vent, lav DWV and supply, loft WC DWV. The insulation is for sound dampening the bedroom.

Addn_GalleyElectric

All the main floor and loft electric cables run from the basement next to the galley water pipes.

Addn_Manifolds

Our plumbing is a home-run system with all fixtures fed individually from manifolds. On the right wall is the manifold for the underfloor heat.

Addition Progress Report, Week 29

AddnSiding

The addition siding has been going up, slowly but surely.

AddnSiding2

The clean lines of the addition make the old roof look pretty sad. When (If ??) the addition is done we will probably go ahead and replace the roof on the old house so the entire roof is the same age.

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This is the view of the inside of the vestibule.

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We recycled the vinyl replacement windows from the old addition.

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Here you can see the fanned ceiling in the bow window is almost done.

Also, some of the plumbing has been roughed in and most of the basement wallboard is up, but pics will wait for another day.

Addition Progress on the Inside

Over the holidays the roofers completed the metal roof, and the insulation sub did round one on the inside of the exterior walls: sprayed 1" closed-cell urethane foam followed by fiberglass batts. Then last week the general contractor crew came in and did some wallboard. They did what they could while still leaving space for the plumber, who has been delayed. Once the plumber is done with his rough-in, it can be inspected and then the wallboard can be completed and then the insulation as well. This week (once the ice melts) the siding sub will start putting up the HardiePlank siding.

AddnWallboardPano1

A panoramic view from the loft of the insulation and wallboard.

Addition Progress from the Outside

Christmas Eve day was busy around here with four different construction-related visits: framers, to complete a few odds and ends; electrician, ditto; a debris-removal visit; and an inspector, who OK’d the framing and electric. The day before the roofers got started on the metal, as seen below from the pasture.
AdditionFromPasture

Goats Kids 2015, Early Edition: Two More

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Two more goat kids in past several days. Since kidding is early we are very grateful that it has been relatively mild weather.

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Goats Kids 2015, Early Edition Rounds One and Two

For unknown reasons.

For unknown reasons, our rutting season started early this year, so our 2015 crop of kids has already begun. Here are the first two, one born this morning (the tawny one in the back) and the other a couple of days ago. Both first-time moms seem to be doing OK — we have them locked ion the southern portico of the loafing shed with their kids to encourage the bonding process.

The kids are under the attentive watch of our sole remaining chicken — the rest were killed in a series of fox attacks in the early fall, and this one decided to move out of the hen house down in the obviously dangerous meadow paddock up to the loafing shed with the the goats and the dogs. She lets the goats kids play with her … well at least she tolerates it much better than when our dog Bersheba “plays” with her.

Addition Progress Slow But Real

Well, for the past month there has been progress. All the windows and exterior doors are in place. The first round of electric wiring rough-in has been done. The roofers should be here (maybe this week) to put the metal roof on. Next up is the plumber.

AdditionFromLoft

From the loft, looking down on the east-facing bow window and the sliding glass door onto the lower veranda. The electric rough-in has been done. In the foreground you can one of the two required floor outlets by the future loft railing. In the distance you can see the wood blocks supporting the great room outlet boxes — we are putting most of the wall outlets near the floor in the extra-wide baseboard.

Addition Windows Start Going In

AddnSomeWindows

As this work week draws to a close, the addition ends up all the West windows in place and some of the North windows as well.

Taking Real Shape

AddnSheathingEast

The new addition is really taking shape as the sheathing goes on. This is the view of the east (back) side of the house from the pasture.

AddnSheathingWest

The west (front) side.