It’s been a weird month

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I cut 6 more trees

I measure trees by their diameter (straight across the butt of the log), while Julie measures the circumference (with a tape all the way around the butt of the log).  Either way is fine, but since she’s picking the logs, we’re going with her measurement. The idea in the beginning was to stack logs from biggest circumference to smallest circumference. We got started on the second level, and were at a point where the circumference was about to drop below five feet. And then get skinny dramatically. There were still some big ones here and there that we could cut on our property and next door. Julie identified four that were at least five feet around and asked me to cut them. It was now or never. I cut a couple more that are also pretty big.

That was about a week or so before Thanksgiving. I cut them down, and then started moving them over to my racks for peeling. One happened to be back in a swampy area, so I ran into some problems moving it- couldn’t get close enough with the tractor- even with my 60′ cable. So I took down a pulley off one of my lifting poles and used that for mechanical advantage. It worked, but I broke my rope.

I also bent the forks on the tractor again, and re-welded them, and then bent them again. I have some new 5,000 lb forks from a forklift, but need the ok from my neighbor before I weld them onto his frame that I’m borrowing.

I got all of the logs racked, but it took about three weeks to peel just 4 of them- too cold for the bugs to help, and the sap is like glue. I have some huge calluses on my hands now, because manly. Yeah.

fixed the other truck

Meanwhile, my 1979 Ford F150 was having problems starting. I fought with it all of Thanksgiving weekend- I replaced the starter, the alternator, the ignition switch, and the spark plugs and wires. The only thing left is the cap, but I found out through a great shock (literally), that it is working fine. Only mechanics will laugh….

I needed it running reliably because I’m about to replace the motor in my Toyota pickup. But now it purrs like a kitten, and starts every time.

ordered a new motor

I bit the bullet and ordered a new motor (professionally rebuilt long block). Had to put it on the credit card, but don’t worry, selling the truck will pay off the credit card as well. I’ve been putting this off for almost a year. Last year, you’ll remember I had a valve crack in it, and replaced the head gasket. I guess it also messed up the crank. I’m motivated by the idea that it’s still worth a few thousand $$$, so fixing it will help us fund the roof of our home, which is probably the single most expensive part of this project.

 why we hate “daylight savings” or “not daylight savings”

My boss lets me work 6:30 – 3:30. In the winter, this means I have about 1.5 hours of daylight after work. It might seem like a waste to go out there, only to be able to work for an hour, but every little bit of work I can do is  progress. Other LHBA members have to stop work altogether because of snow, so I don’t really want to complain. In the summer, I have almost 6 hours of daylight. If we wouldn’t “fall back”, I’d still have 2.5 hours of daylight in the winter. I realize that in the winter we are actually on standard time, but I’d give up an hour of daylight in the summer for an extra hour in the winter; who’s with me?

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Still progressing

Last weekend, we burned some brush, and put up a log on Saturday. It was bitter cold in the morning, and windy all day. My lips are still chapped from exposure. This was the first log of the 10th course. We are about 12 feet off the foundation, and about 15 feet off the ground. It was pretty straight but had a long bow in it. While I was lifting it, one of the ropes broke right up near where it was tied to the tractor. It just snapped right off the front of the tractor. I saw a poof of dust, and the log falling. Nobody got hurt, and the house and log are fine. I pinned half the log, then hooked up a chain to the tip and had Julie pull it with the car to get the bow out. But it was still up about a foot off the one below. I went to grab my chain binders to bind it down, and I guess they got stolen. Kinda upset at that, and that we couldn’t finish that log. Went over to Harbor Freight that night for two new chain binders and a chain. This week, I finished binding it and added some more pins.

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where do we go from here?

I have a bunch of vacation I have to use at work before the end of the year. Had a big project over the summer/fall that I needed to help out with that prevented me from taking vacation days, but it is winding down. I only have to come to work for 3 days for the rest of the year. And I still have more time from this year, but they let us carry over 40 hours from year to year.

We keep going. The new motor comes in this week. I want to get that job done, and get on with stacking. I ordered new rope, since the existing rope is getting pretty frayed. However, we are getting closer. I may have to hire a trac hoe to come pull my ridge pole out of the woods. The RPSL’s and the ridge pole are the next big items we have to install when the walls are done. After that- I took some measurements on my sawmill- I’m about to turn my 12′ of track into 28′ of track, and will then cut some rafters out of some “still growing” logs.

That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for all the likes on my wife’s video! Comments here are appreciated as well.

 

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On the edge of change

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I keep bending the forks

I love this tractor, but I also realize it is 50 years old. I’ve now replaced or fixed:

  • the steering column
  • at least half a dozen hitch pins or linch pins- they pop out or fall out.
  • a flat tire
  • ignition switch – fixing this also fixed the charging and oil light from coming on all the time.
  • light switch
    • But now I would like some rear lights- I was hoping for some red ones so I can “legally” drive on the road that have removable red covers so I can use them as rear work lights on my property, but I can’t seem to find any.
  • bent steering rod
  • bent forks:
    • added strength members
    • straightened
    • added support beams to existing splines
  • lift arms- replaced one side with new arm support, welded the other- twice, now.

I feel like I’m in the home stretch- I’ve got almost all the heavy trees from the neighbor. I still need to cut a bunch from my property, and I need to get about 20 straight little ones for the rafters. But I almost feel like I’ve strained the tractor to its breaking point and need to be very careful not to get into some major issues- like I thought I was in a few weeks ago on a Friday I took off work:

I was moving a brush pile, and knew I was low on fuel, but I thought, “just one more run, then I’ll go get some diesel,” and the thing promptly sputtered and died right there.

I grabbed my chainsaw fuel can, knowing it was almost empty, and went to fill my chainsaw tank. But the chainsaw was full, too.

“Okay, so I’ll cut some trees to use up some fuel,” I thought. Did that, then emptied the fuel can into the saw tank. Got in my car, drove up to the gas station to get a gallon of diesel. Came back, put it in the tractor, and it started right up. I went up to the gas station on the tractor and filled the tank, then came back to do more work. On the way back, however, the tractor felt a little weak. But I hooked up a tree and tried to skid it over to my property. The tractor engine got weaker and weaker as I went. I got halfway there, and the tractor gave up. I tried to start it, but it was acting like it was begging for fuel.

I finally got it across the street with the help of another neighbor. Then, Mr. Maples came out to look at it, “I heard you sputtering over there.” We worked on it for about two hours, and couldn’t get it started. He thought it was the fuel pump. I had to leave and meet my wife for something, so I decided to come back on Saturday. Mr. Maples had already been working on it. I felt bad and started to apologize to Mrs. Maples, but she stopped me and said, “Look at that smile on his face- he loves doing this kind of stuff. You give him something to look forward to.”

With Mr. Maples help, we got it started: air in the fuel line is bad for diesels. And I learned that there are no glow plugs on my tractor (and for the uninitiated curious, no spark plugs either). The cylinders in the engine fire solely through compression. The fuel pump is completely mechanical- and has three pins inside that are timed off a gear from the front of the motor. It is quite ingenious. A few days after getting it running, it sputtered and died again. I remembered reading online somewhere that the fuel pump requires a certain amount of oil. Yes, the fuel pump requires oil. I checked its level, and sure enough it was low, so I added some. It runs fine, now.

There is no way I can repay the Maples for all of their help and kindness.

It was so, so dry, but now…

It’s been cold and wet. Moving trees during a drought is hard with my setup. Moving trees through wet weather- fuhgetaboutit. We’ve been having quite a bit of rain lately. It takes a minimum of one day of sunny weather after the rain to get going again. Two days if I’m moving logs.

Here’s the forecast for this week:

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It was light outside, but now…

I’m not only watching the weather, but Daylight Savings is not saving me, nor is there very much Daylight….

I have a very generous boss at work: he’s pretty laid back, sometimes checks on us while not wearing shoes. I asked if I could set my schedule for 6:30-3:30, and he said ‘no problem.’ I get off at 3:30, and on good days, get to my property at 4:00. With daylight savings, that gives me about an hour of sunlight. I’ve considered only going out on Saturdays, but if I can clear one brush pile or move one tree every night, that’s something. We really want to get this thing done. With the current federal gov. administration, we were feeling that the potential for constriction (EPA, taxes, Agenda 21/Agenda 2030, etc.) was real, had the outcome of the election been different (hey, they really are regulating cow farts in Kalifornia, so the “Agenda”s mentioned above are not that far fetched). Not that the election results signaled any drastic changes, but we now feel like there is some breathing room. Don’t get me started on how far away from the Constitution we actually are as a country…But I digress.

The shortest day of the year is coming up. After this, we start getting about 3 minutes of daylight every day until June:

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Doesn’t seem like much, but remember during the summer when the sun when to bed around 9:00 pm? I was getting a lot more done.

I like Christmas but….

I don’t like the hustle, bustle, pressure, and rush. I just finished with the Christmas orchestra at my church (playing flute and saxophone), but now I have to ramp up for the choir performance on Christmas Day. I’ve got 8-9 songs I have to learn on piano.

I’m also making some presents (8 knitted hats) for my sister’s family that I have to get in the mail this week.

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My wife is taking care of all the other gifts for family. She is quite amazing.

 

 

20161214_153819_zpsyuqiurzm1The edge of change….

The most exciting development right now is getting our utilities installed. This is a huge development. Whereas right now, we have a piece of land with logs, getting utilities installed means we can apply for a building permit. It means commitment. We are on the cusp of paying for this. It will be a major step in this process. There are a few things we have to nail down before we can apply:

  • we have to apply for an address.
  • we have to submit a map with the future location of the home marked on it.
  • we have to make sure our home is close enough to the street to ensure the sewer line has a proper grade.
  • we may have to install some type of power pole for the utilities to connect to.
  • we have to pay $5,000 to get the water, sewer, and power.
  • we have to submit a front elevation (view) of the house.

Like I said, utilities will change everything- the build will shift from slowly moving logs to digging a foundation, pouring concrete, and then stacking logs. It’s time to get excited.