Wednesday, May 28, 2014

PALLETS: More Of The Same

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we've been radio silent.

Over the past two weekends, we've done just what I've been talking about for, what? -The last FIVE POSTS. So I will spare you the redundant details and keep it short and sweet. 

Sooooo much of this....blaahh

Plenty of saw dust!
We spent a couple weeks just ripping apart pallets. Once we had all that wood stacked up, we spent another week simply de-nailing, chopping and squaring ends and ripping down to a consistent width. This past week (well partial week, I was in Colorado for work) we spent time planing all of those boards. Hundreds of them...and we don't even know how much this batch of wood will cover!

One story/lesson I will share really quick: The planer we have was purchased in late June 2013 to begin prepping the barn boards for the ceiling and other pieces. We planed A LOT of very wide, very long, VERY hard pieces of old wood. I remember the lovely surge of wonder and joy as each old rough gray plank passed through and emerged a flawless, gorgeous, bright wood surface. Those memories had faded a bit by the time we pulled the planer out last week. We started planing the boards and it went fine for the bulk of them on the first day, but then with more consistency, the boards came out with certain areas scuffed. We thought maybe the knots or grain of the wood had something to do with this. We would run them through again. I'd also been away from the planer too long to remember how damn loud it was and how long each board took. 

We filled two large jars with all nails we pulled.
-Well mostly Dan. :P

After the fourth board in a row came screaming out the other side with scuffs, I signaled Dan to cut the power. "When was the last time the blade was changed?" I asked. Dan's blank stare gave the answer. Despite his aversion to taking a break from the work (we've had so many interruptions lately- graduations, going away parties, travel, weddings, RAIN...), we headed to the box store to buy new blades. Upon returning and insisting we consult the manual for blade changing tips, I learned we could have simply rotated the blades we already had. Oh well! Now we have our back ups.

Dan's irritation for the time spent acquiring and changing the blades melted away instantly as the first marble smooth boards effortlessly, and quickly I might add, zipped through the planer. There were no harrowing protests from the machine either. Suddenly planing boards became a pleasant and rewarding experience again. I began to see the positives once more and reveled at the 20 plus species of wood we had. I am a tree lover/nerd through and through so maybe it's just me, but I am fascinated by the sheer variety in color and pattern of different woods. People use some preeeeetty nice wood to make pallets. Better for us! We finished the remaining boards and retouched a few others in about 50% of the time it took for the first batch.

 I guess the lesson here is: Do things right! Don't hold off on replacing tool parts because you think you will save a little money and eek out one more use. We would have wasted so much time and effort (not to mention wood that wasn't even smooth) if we had tried to keep milking those blades.

The first peek and how our siding will look!!

Next up, we have to notch the boards to create a ship-lap style. It was a long road to this decision, as it is important to install siding that effectively sheds water and doesn't let it build up or get between the siding and the house. We did a small test run with the table saw, but we called it a day after that. Dan's Dad has a blade that will get the job done with more accuracy and a cleaner finish- not to mention significantly less time. We got the tool from him last night, and hopefully the weather will allow us to get cracking on those boards before the weekend.

Look at all the variety! And this purple and green wood!!

Oh, and our solar power system arrived by freight truck while I was away. MAN, THOSE PANELS ARE HUGE. We have been a little frustrated with how long the pallets are taking, so I have avoided the solar power system on purpose. We need to build a rack for the panels to be mounted on. Hopefully this weekend we will get some boards up on the damn walls! I think once we see just a few boards in place, we will get the gusto to power through. THEN we will deal with the racking. 

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Sawdust for the composting toilet! Waste not, want not!

Ship lap style pallet siding. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

What A Hump Day! (That's a good thing.)

Our version of a romantic date. :) 
We hope all you people that are moms and people that have moms (that covers everybody, right?) had a nice weekend! 

The work continues. Dan has been steadily collecting and dismantling more pallets. We have had a few runs of luck at the pallet place that takes them apart, but we are finding the wood is better quality from the ones we take apart. 

On Saturday, we were told it was going to rain- so rather than sit home twiddling thumbs, we decided we would do something we don't do all that much lately- go on a date! Naturally as we got ready to go the weather cleared up and became beautiful- but it didn't take much to convince each other to keep to the date. ;) Since it was so nice out, we improvised. Our romantic date consisted of take out in the back of the pickup, parked in the back mall lot. The lot is abutted by large chunks of granite and trees, so it is kind of nice back there. We enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine, then headed in to watch our movie. 

Of course, as soon as the movie was done the sun went away and the weather predictions started looking more accurate. We resolved to work anyway. After returning home and changing clothes, we jumped in. I started the disorienting job of organizing the wood pieces...somehow. Dan continued ripping things apart.

I finally decided on sorting out all of the wood, loosely, by width and thicknesses. We finished up just before the rains started. On Mother's Day, we put together a little pen for Wendy outside. Once we move to the farm, we plan to make a secure area for her outside. We figured it would be better to adjust her slowly, so we've started putting her outside while we are home for a few hours at a time. I don't think she's a big fan of it right now, but TOUGH! We aren't about to have her stay inside with her own personal fan blowing all day- not with solar power! 

Sorted....sort of..

Just yesterday, Dan started ripping all the pieces of wood down to a 3 inch width. The pallet pieces came in all different widths, but the vast majority were around 3 inches or could be cut to this. It definitely feels good to start seeing a stack of uniform pieces. Next up after ripping: filling in all the nail holes with putty, then planing the boards so they have a smooth face. 

It is certainly a lot of work, but it's free and it's recycled. Two factors that make it very much worth the effort!

Yesterday also held other exciting things! A lady from a prominent television network wanted to interview us via phone on Tuesday. She liked us so much that she wanted to do a Skype interview and consider us for a possible show!! Needless to say, it was exhilarating just talking with her! This might not turn out to be anything, but just sharing our story with someone and receiving such a positive response felt great. She really liked us! We will hear more next week on what her team thinks!

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Our Spot On The Farm Is Ready!

Our cozy nook is ready- now if only we were too!

This past week and weekend, we have worked steadily on the pallets and we also cleaned out our spot on the farm. Dan was true to his word and worked on pallets every day last week-- that weather permitted-- and that was about two. Regardless, we are making headway. Mario, who I am beginning to think exceeds the term, "Wealth of Knowledge", has given us yet another gem of advice. 

Apparently, he worked in the pallet business for a time too! Could we have a more perfect neighbor for our project?! I doubt it. He explained some of the details to Dan about how pallets are put together, the types of nails, and so on. He then provided Dan with a much more effective crowbar and also gave us the name of a place that actually takes apart the pallets and gives away the wood. WHAT.

The catch here is that many people enjoy this free wood- especially when used for heat. We've made a few passes so far, but each time they were cleaned out. Hopefully as the weather continues to warm, we will have better luck. We still have access to the fully assembled free pallets, so either way, we will make it happen. 

Smudge fire to keep May flies away.

Cleaning out the spot on the farm was quite refreshing and fun. It was a beautiful breezy day, and the smell of sweet grass filled the air. We worked cheerfully as we grunted and heaved and hauled large dead tree trunks and broken cinder blocks from the space. Just the day before, Michael, one of the owners of the farm, had pulled the old trailer out of the space. Now that this was out of the way, we could do the fine tune clean up. 


We envision a cool outdoor patio.
"Envision" is the key- haha.

Once we had cleaned up the majority of debris, we assessed the ground. It was a bit sloped and uneven in several places. It needed to be leveled out and I quietly groaned at what that meant in terms of two people doing this by hand. That thought was interrupted, however, as I heard a tractor engine come rumbling up the knoll. Michael came through and in about 10 minutes time we had a nice even piece of land! Woohoo!

Some of these logs were huge! Luckily Michael had a
chainsaw on hand too!
Just spending that one day out there filled us with a heightened level of appreciation for the farm, how beautiful it is, and how lucky we are that we get to stay there for a time. 

We ordered our solar power system yesterday, too. It kind of hurt a little- $6200- after getting used to no credit card payments. But, looking at the bigger picture, this gives us mobility, independence, and brings us one step closer to a more sustainable lifestyle. With very few other bills to cover at this point, we will pay that off at a much faster rate. 

Hooray for tractors! -Check the goat on the wall in the back...

The spot's open, the solar power system is purchased and on it's way, now it's up to us to get that siding on in the next few weeks!! Thanks to the rain we've had, the ground is still pretty soft. We probably won't be able to move The Pod until it's closer to June. I guess that's a good thing since we need the time!

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All clean!