Monday, February 22, 2010

Outhouse Relocation Campaign

This is a pretty self-explanatory set of photos, but the background is: we are using our slightly ailing Ford 8N, Polly, to move our shiny new outhouse to its final resting place.

Loading the outhouse on the forks.

She didn't tip forward on her nose...but she did stall out.

After adding a beefier strap, heading uphill through mushy snow.

Stalled out again, in our future garden!

Delicate work

Wave a level at it, and maybe it will sit flat?

Aaaaah...pooping in style, not in a cesspool.

Valentine's Day Roofing Party

On February 14th, Elsie and her father John plotted and executed a glorious roofing workday party. In attendance were the five of us North Branch Farmers along with Elsie's dad, her mother Ellen, neighbor Annie, Uncle Roy, and our friends Lao, Danielle, and young Elizabeth. In classic NBF style, quinoa and stir-fry were served at the luncheon, accompanied by wholesome, imported North Monroe drinking water. A fine time was had by all, and Annie's dog Rudy apparently did not die even after having eaten a quarter of a bar of Dagoba New Moon 74% Organic Dark Chocolate. Let's just be glad he didn't find the Eclipse and Xocolatl bars that were also within doggie reach.

It was a good thing the roof workday happened when it did, because previously we had been encountering numerous obstacles that incited bouts of cursing, swearing, throwing things, and abandoning the roof mid-panel-installation. Thanks to our guest crew's soothing temperaments and can-do attitudes born of many years' experience, we made slow but steady progress throughout the day and worked out many of the kinks that had been challenging us.

Elsie spent much of the day roofing our outhouse; it came out beautifully and we now have the confidence that at least one of us can complete a roofing project start to finish. Never mind that the outhouse has 1/320 the area of the barn roof. It looks like Annie is handing her materials and Ellen is prepping drip edge in this shot.

Elsie seams the outhouse roof while John looks on.

Towards the end of the day, Gib and Lao--with assistance--set up a roofing station on the west end of the north side of the barn roof, working back towards the other set of panels that stopped at the peak of the silo connector.

Panel #2 up! The sun was starting to go down, so we soon packed up shop and called it a day. Thanks to everyone who so kindly shared their Valentine's Sunday for the benefit of the North Branch Barn!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Recreational Activities

Hello to our family and friends, and thanks to Mick and Bee for prodding on the entry-writing front. I would like to offer an official Interweb welcome to Gib, the long-awaited newest member of our household, and I hope to be channeling his excellent writing skills, which you may sample at, here. Seth and I returned a week ago from our sabbatical month in beautiful North Carolina and are rushing headlong, with our co-farmers, into the noble drama of barn-house-land caretaking.

Sunday the 7th of February was a busy day. In the morning, while Elsie and Tyler killed trees with chainsaws for firewood, Seth and I almost completed our NEW OUTHOUSE.

Now, we would choose to use an outhouse anyway for many logical reasons, but the reason we need to have one right now is because of our septic system, or lack thereof. In December, our sinks wouldn't drain. Seth took apart the u-bends under both sinks, and they were---to our amazement--clear! So as he dismantled plumbing in the basement farther and farther from the sinks, he discovered that the pipe where all the drains joined up had clogged to about a half-inch diameter opening, down from the two-inch diameter pipe. No wonder things weren't doing so hot. And in the process of exploring the plumbing, Seth noticed that a cleanout-access to the drain from the toilet was backed up to within inches of overflowing into our basement. Seth and I thought, "We need to get this septic tank pumped." We placed a five-dollar bet: Seth thought the tank would be shot and need replacing, and I thought it would still be usable. So we dug up the lid to the tank, called the pumping company, and waited for the weekend to be over to find resolution to our wager.

Come Monday, the pump truck arrived, lifted the concrete lid, and pumped out hundreds of gallons of sewage to expose not a septic tank but what the pump-man technically termed a Cesspool: a pit in the ground lined with rocks. No separation of liquids from solids, no obvious pipe out to a leach field of any kind. All bets were off. So now we throw dirty dishwater on the lawn, take bucket baths, and are looking forward to our classy new outhouse. Elsie says it can even have a standing-seam metal roof to match the barn.


Top view, pre-roof and pre-seat.

After lunch, the five of us took off on snowshoe for a two-hour tromp through the woods. Gib talked to us about sustainable forestry practices, and Seth climbed a leaning dead gray birch for a chaga mushroom. It was beautiful and cold and I found traces suggesting we have a LOT of critters in our woods--deer, rabbits, porcupines, foxes, and probably musk oxen and polar bears too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Money in the Bank

Oh yeah, baby...

We are gonna be warm, and our hay is gonna be dry.