More Time in the shop

I have managed to get a few more hours in in the workshop lately and turned out a chip and dip service and a nice 9.75 inch dinner plate that matches the cherry platter nicely.



New cherry platter

Woke this morning to the sound of rain on the old tin roof. The grass is green and glowing the the new beds I put I’m yesterday well watered. So I decided it would be a good morning to get into the work shop.

There was a slab of cherry wood leaned up against my band saw base that has been taunting me for weeks while I have been engaged in other tasks so I decided that this was its day to become something useful

So here we are a few hours later with a nice 11 inch platter finished with the home made olive oil and beeswax finish I have been experimenting with. Looking good so far 🙂


More planting

I have been taking advantage of the break in the rainy spell the past few days to do a lot of mowing around the gardens and tilling up some new beds. Today I got out the chipper shredder attachment for my BCS walk behind tractor and converted some rotted manure out of the sheep shed into easy to spread fertilizer for the new beds and to top dress some transplants I put in last weeks new beds.

I really love my BCS tractor its stout and reliable and the 11hp biodiesel powered engine has torque to spare. There is a wide variety of attachments for the BCS line of walking tractors you can do about anything with them you can with a big tractor it’s the main work horse on my homestead doing everything from tilling beds to bush hogging fields bailing hay and splitting my winter fire wood.

Another handy device is the earth way seeder there are a variety of plates available to match almost any seed and in well tilled soil you can plant accurately as fast as you can walk.

Here are a few pics of the days ventures







New (used) battery bank

This afternoons project was to remove the old bank of T105 batteries that have powered the work shop for the last 7 years and just don’t have the umph any more and replace them with a set of good used L16 batteries with greater capacity The used L16 batteries were donated to the project by Dina Hess from an upgrade of the battery banks on her wind and solar powered home Dina is a great supporter of alternative sustainable power. Below you will see the new batteries set up for testing before installation the battery bank installed in place and connected to the system the back end of the system combiner box charge control breaker panels for both AC and DC output and inverter and a short video of the batteries powering my lathe in the wood shop




Preserving the harvest

As important as growing your own food to eat fresh from the gardens is preserving the abundance for the months to come. There are various methods for this canning,freezing,air drying and dehydrating. Last evening a worked up some green beans,yellow crook neck squash and zucinni squash and prepared them for the dehydrator by stringing and snapping the beans and slicing the squash into about one quarter inch thick slices then blanching them in the steamer for about two minutes per tray full then patting dry with a towel and arranging on trays in the dehydrator. After dehydrating over night I turned off the dehydrator and allowed the contents to cool for an hour then vacume sealed the dehydrated produce for later us.

I like dehydrating as it reduces storage volume and I don’t have to worry about power failures thawing frozen foods nor extreme cold weather freezing and breaking jars of canned produce. I like to split my preserving between canning freezing and dehydrating. Freezing mainly meats,canning for fruits and some veggies as well as soups and sauces that will be ready to heat and eat quickly and dehydrate for longer term storage and items for slow food cooking.




New beds

I got out into the gardens today in spite of the heat and did some work. Tilled up the fallow side of the high tunnel in preparation for new beds and tilled up beds inside and out the small green house frame for both climbing and shaded plants as well as a row to transplant some grape vines into.




Concept introduction

A year or two ago I became interested in the tiny house movement . Most of what you see on you tube and other Internet sites are trailer based houses about 8 feet wide and any where from 12 to about 20 feet long. Being on a trailer frame allows them to be licensed as a camper and sited in towns with square footage restrictions on living space.

I believe there is a great need for small housing. There are many young people and young couples that are currently living with their parents because housing is to expensive for people with entry level jobs and if they could manage a house payment utilities to heat and cool a large space and maintain it over time could be prohibitive. A tiny house offers the chance to live in a house you own with operating costs that are minimal.

Now to me while the trailer platform gets a around zoning codes in towns and cities the foot print is just to narrow to provide comfortable room for moving about if you actually spend any time inside your house,so my design idea is based on a portable building shell of approximately 12 by 24 feet with a gambrel roof allowing for loft sleeping and storage space.

To further increase the efficiency of the tiny house I want it outfitted with solar PV panels for electrical production with batteries to provide power at night and on rainy days,a solar thermal collector for solar hot water with an on demand tankless water heater as back up. Add a modern composting toilet system and roof catchment of rain water and your tiny house is pretty much utility independent.

While such a tiny house would be very economical to operate on the grid not beings dependent on public utilities has some advantages dependable operation in times of natural disasters such as ice storms and hurricane or other severe weather that can tear down miles of power lines for instance and having services when you may not have much income is very important. In a tiny solar house of you find yourself out of work for a month or two your lights stay your fridge stays cold and your water stays hot so you feel like a human out hunting for a job or it allows you to work less so have more time to pursue your personal passions.

So I have set myself a goal to build a demonstrator house over the next two years. I want a demo unit that folks in my area and others can come and see walk inside turn on lights get a cold drink out of the fridge wash their hands with hot water from the sink and walk around and realize just how livable a small solar house really is.

The other side of tiny housing is employment a couple of people with a pickup truck a couple thousand dollars worth of tools and six months training can build these houses. You don’t need millions of dollars worth of heavy equipment and a huge crew of workers like large home construction. So many many people could be employed building this much needed housing

One of my ideas to raise funds for this project is to offer some of my wood turnings and other items I produce in my solar powered work shop for sale with half the funds going to the tiny solar house project fund and half going to the buy the hillbilly some gas and groceries fund :).

Tonight I am putting up my first offering,a cherry bowl turned on my solar powered lathe finished with five coats of food safe salad bowl sealer the bowl is 10.25 inches,in diameter and 4.5 inches tall. The price is $150.00 pictures included with this post there will be a $20.00 shipping and handling fee unless it goes to someone local enough That I can hand deliver it.




Paste wax proofs and application

Applied the home made paste wax to my two sample boards this morning allowed to stand half an hour and buffed out. Both gave a descent looking finish that seems to be durable. Upon curing the turpentine based wax dose not have any smell to speak of the olive oil based wax has a haunting scent of wild honey on a hot day so I decided to go with the olive oil compound for the chest and applied the first coat. The results look quite good for the first coat I will apply a couple more coats through out the day and see if the build up enhances the depth of gloss.