Wood and Stone

A site to track our progress as we build our FirstDay Cottage Canadian house kit. Come on in, get a cup of coffee, set a spell and follow along on our journey or join in if you like. Check back for the weekly update (usually by Wednesday when things are going right) to see what we are currently up to!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pop-up goes the camper!

All around the mulberry bush...

We now have slightly upgraded on-site accommodations! Thanks go out to Margo and Walt (friends of my parents), who gave us their pop-up camper for practically nothing. It takes me back to my childhood, when we spent some part of every summer vacation camping in my parents' Coleman Brandywine pop-up. The one we received is a 1986 Coleman Laramie, which hadn't been used for a few years.

Pop and Walt drove it up to the site for us, along with a bunch of equipment Pop has been accumulating for us for this project, including a table saw, a radial arm saw and a chop saw. They also brought the water cooler from Pop's office, which he just moved out of. We'll need to level that somewhere and maybe secure it so it won't tip before we can use it, but the 5 gallon jug should keep us from having to haul quite as much water up once we get it set up.

Once it arrived, we opened up the pop-up and set it up to survey the condition. Except for a minute when the cranking mechanism froze and we couldn't get it to rise further (fixed by application of brute force), the raising of the trailer was pretty smooth. Aside from the smell of mothballs (which has been accumulating for a number of years) and some nut shells stashed inside the locking door by a crazy chipmunk, the trailer is in pretty good shape. We removed the mothballs, but it'll need to air over the next week before trying to camp in it.

Camper, sweet camper
This weekend we started setting down the sill plates. This involved a little bit of cutting of wood and lot of playing the measure, remeasure, lather, rinse, repeat game. Over and over and over and.... By the end of Sunday, we had all the sills laid out they were not square yet. I need to call FD and get some advice on how to do that, and we'll finish up next time.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Making the grade

We just spent the last 3-4 days working on grading our lumber. This process consists of looking at each face of the structural lumber, determining if it is good enough that you'd like to see it in your house every day, seeing which side the crown of the wood is on and how big of a crown it is, as well as measuring the width of the lumber, since not all lumber is cut evenly. Then you mark all of this information on an end that won't be seen, lather, rinse and repeat.

A stack of freshly graded wood.
One should re-stack the lumber during this process in order to provide plenty of airflow so that mold doesn't grow and the lumber can continue to dry. We found lots of fun with knots, some few dead ants in a pile we never took apart, and ant holes in a pile of lumber that we didn't have ants in. The curious thing is that the board with holes were distributed fairly evenly. Let it suffice to say that we have taken to disposing of any board with an ant hole in it.

Tomorrow or Tuesday they should be pouring the floor. Also, we had noticed a deficiency of lag bolts on the north wall. When we checked, there were only two bolts drawn on our plan (each a foot or so from the corner) , so it was followed. Our excavator has agreed to drill the holes and put in new bolts. We marked those today on the wall so he knows where to drill. Once the floor is poured and the sill bolts are in, we can start making some visible progress.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Wonder Twin powers, activate!

A special thanks to the twins! Grandma Lana and Aunt Sandra watched the kids for quite a bit of last week and even pitched in to help with the carrying of lumber while we searched for rogue carpenter ants.

Aunt Sandra pitches in.

Grandma Lana getting in on the fun

We are happy to say that no ants have resurfaced as of yet, though the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dead-ant, Dead-ant....

Since Wednesday we finished the steps to complete the floor for the pour, except for stuffing the boxes with towels to keep the concrete out. I spoke with the foundation contractor today, and he anticipates being able to pour the floor early next week. Once that is done we should be able to start in on the basement posts.

The first shipment of building materials
Meanwhile, we moved on to start grading the lumber. Our first shipment of materials arrived on May 25th, but we were busy getting things ready for the floor slab to be poured. One of the first things we need to do before building is take the dimensional lumber which makes up the posts and beams and determine which pieces match in width and crown, and which ones have bad sides we need to hide. After getting started on that we decided to take a break and move some things into the storage container.

A possibility we hadn't even countered upon struck us when we moved a roll of Typar and found, to our horror, a mass of writhing carpenter ants on one of our precious piles of lumber! A storm was rolling through, so we wrapped things back up and beat a hasty retreat (being out in the open up in the mountains during a thunderstorm is pretty sobering). A call to FirstDay gave us a recommended course of action, which we started implementing the next day - kick the pile apart and go in (RAID) guns blazing - kill 'em all, let nature sort them out - then salt the earth.

In all reality, we picked the pile apart (kicking a pallet full of 2" x 6" by 14' decking apart is not as simple as all that), smashed every ant we could catch and sprayed the rest down with insecticide. Then we spread diatomaceous earth around everything. The DE was pretty tough to find in mass quantities, but our relentless search found a feed store in North Bennington that carries 25 pound bags. When we asked them for two of those bags, they asked if we were at war. Of course, we replied "Yes!". We certainly can't let them have the lumber we need for our house.

The magic of DE in motion.
Before leaving for the night we were treated to the sight of an owl perched on the power line on our property, checking around. Owls are supposedly good omens, and we are taking it to mean that we got the ants.

We spent the next 2 days moving the adjacent piles of lumber in search of infestations, and making our land look like a dumping ground for some sort of crazy bakery - white flour like stuff everywhere. Luckily, it seems that A) the ants hadn't been there long, despite their sheer numbers - the decking was mostly intact - only a handful of boards had been chewed, which we are planning on getting rid of promptly. I think maybe we encountered a swarm that was trying to move in and hadn't gotten far enough to cause much in the way of real damage yet (I hope). B) All we have seen since then are solitary refugees, no organized resistance.

As Henry Mancini's song says, "Dead-ant, Dead-ant, Dead-ant dead-ant dead-ant dead-ant dead-aaannnnnnt....". Let's keep it that way.