Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner! Snow Day, December 8th, 2009

Need I say more?

Oh, alright then.  Homemade whole wheat blended banana-outmeal pancakes, with brown sugar,  ginger, cinnamin and cardomom - fried potatoes with onion and garlic - and sour dough slices with homemade gravy.  Those hot sauces go great on the potatoes!  This is day 2 of me cooking dinner.  Last night was indian: chicken curry and bhindi masala!  Sorry .. no pics ..

December 9th, 2009 - SNOW DAY! =)

Nothing like a snow day!  When I was a little boy, it was about the best thing ever.  Now as an adult, it's still about the best thing ever!  Oot where we live, it's very serene when it's a snow day, after a blizzard.  Virtually nobody on the road, save those 'jobbers' with their 4 wheel drive plow truck on their way to or from work.

For me, it's the start of the big test.  Proof that this grand experiment is worth the sweat that I and my friends and family gave to get this green house up and running. 

Here is the garden dome with a cap of snow on top from the recent blizzard.

Inside the dome, the temperature is pretty OK.  You can see the snow load on top.  One of the reasons I implemented a geodesic dome was because of it's natural structural stabilty.  Several hundred pounds of load are evenly distributed amongs the struts and vertices.

... and the temperature is quite nice!  Not very sunny today, so the boxes didn't get to heat up too much.  But it's a nice temperature for kale and swiss chard.  :)

Panarama of the inside of the garden dome.  There is some 'bending' which is an artifact of the panarama function of the camera.

... aaand a panarama of the front, after having spent 2.5 hours snow blowing and shoveling!

And lastly, a play, choreographed by my beautiful daughter, Lillian.  

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, Dec 6 - 2009

It is starting to get cold up here.  And, although my understanding is that chickens are pretty hearty little creatures who are pretty cold tolerant, it's in our interest to do as much as we can to hedge against the wickedly cold days that will soon come upon us.  So, we had to seal up the chicken coop as best as possible in advance of those very cold days ahead.

The sides of the chicken coop that were once open have now been filled with hay and boarded up.  The sides that were against the interior wall of the garage have just been packed with hay.  This will create a good air pocket to insulate and give the chicken a nice, cozy place to live when the weather gets bad.

Jason, up on top of the chicken coop, securing mylar backed foam sheets to the top of the coop.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dec 5th, 2009 - first snow, finishing up outside

Well, the first snow of the season arrived a few days ago, depositing a few inches of the white stuff all over Dane County. This spells the end of the majority of my outside work, the remainder being put off until it gets warm. There is still a good deal of work on the dome greenhouse that must be done, but it will have to wait.

However, we did get pretty far on the project. We've got a good deal of the moisture abatement underway; the rest can wait until Spring. I finally got a door on the dome. At the very least, I can plug some of the crack where drafts infiltrate into the warmer interior.

In the last few weeks I got more mesh on the outside of the tire foundation and dug a big trench along the outside perimeter, where we will lay gravel and drain tile and apply plaster to the mesh to repel water.

Saturday morning, just before 10am.

57 deg in the dome, a whopping 72 in the covered beds!!

Everybody inside seems to be doing quite well! You can even see condensation droplets on the inside of the window frames.

When we finally harvest, I will post Katie's recipe for Goddess Kale Chips. They are incredible!

Winter chickens.

Here is a cool shot of our house from across the ridge. That's us waaaay down there!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Halloween 2009

Aiden and Lily in their costumes. This was a funny picture because Aiden *insisted* on taking a picture with this pose, with his head cocked in that direction and his eyes looking off to the other side! What a little actor!

Aiden, beginning to crack up because Lily is immitating him now!

Jason now joining the fray with his "hippy" costume.

Halloween this year was quite different than any that I've ever been witness to. For the most part we stayed at home and did things with our direct family, rather than going to town for Trick-or-Treating. We decided to make candy bags and then go hide them in the woods for the kids to find!

Lily decided that some candy bags ought to have little ghosts inside them! Cute! Aiden would not allow these little cut-outs into his bedroom because they freaked him out. :)

Here is the crack-team at work, hiding the candy bags in the woods!

Boo! A stealthily hidden bag of candy.

Aaaaaaand there off! Off to find the candy!

Lily found one!

A nice afternoon in the woods.

The next day, Sunday, we spent the afternoon and evening at Nana's new property located out toward New Glarus. We are really happy she bought this place.

We did pretty much the same thing at Nana's house, only her woods and property has a lot more space! We hid pumpkins, too, and eventually started a fire to cook over, where we made spiced apple cider, corn, potatoes and dogs. Quite a lovely day.

A panarama shot of Nana's field.

The kids in the field, but shot from the other side.

Nana's meadow, gazebo, and fire pit just before sun set.

Full moon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 28, 2009 - This Old (F'ing) House

This ooooold house. It has it's "charm". I have discovered that there are places in the house that let fresh air from the outside blow right in. The air blows into the house between some of the walls downstairs, which pipe-lines it right into the rooms downstairs and the floors upstairs. This is a somewhat recent discovery and it has been on my "short list" of things to take care of since last March ... so ... here it is October, nay - November ...

Here is a shot of the 'big room' downstairs, with evidence of my most recent endeavors: sealing up the big room. To the left, you will see the 'Shrine to Mountain Creek' (actually, I have started to finish framing) ... to the right of that there once was a door which was insanely leaky ... i didn't have any drywall handy so I just said F-it and patched in plywood. I mean, really. Who care?! And in the background, you will see the opening I made, exposing the main culprit ...

The exposure of The Main Cuprit. Behind this wall, inside of this hole, is where air from the outside is blowing inside. It is insane. The air inflirtration is coming from where an addition was attached to the house right out side this big room and Jason's bedroom. The addition was made to shelter a fuel oil tank and act as a sort of mud room/entry room. It just was not done well and as a result air from under the eave of the addition comes right into this space between the big room and Jason's room and to all sorts of spaces between the floors upstairs. THUS! Finishing this project before it gets too cold will be essential to saving energy this Winter.

This is a weird angled shot. Looking inside the wall now, we see to the center-right the opening to the awning/ceiling of the mud room addition. The mud room has no insulation, so the wind from outside essentially blows right in. If it is 10 degrees outside and blowing, that is blowing directly into this space, which is right next to Jason's room and the Big Room. There was a bunch of insulation stuffed up and around here, but it was not nearly enough to stop the wind from literally blowing right in the house.

Honestly, I can't believe we didn't explore this sooner.

A cool thing though was finding these little 'cave paintings' drawn on the 2x4s that were used to frame the inside of this crevace.

We do get a lot of mice in this old house ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 19th - 2009. Getting the last bits tied up

It was a beautiful Sunday. Bright with possibility and irregularly patterned with persistent criss-crosses.

Last weekend we took the opportunity to till under the gardens. That morning, Dad and I drove out to Lone Rock to pick up a few bags of rye with which we intend to make bread and also use as a 'green manure' - a term of which I only recently become aware of. Hopefully, it will grow up instead of weeds in the Spring. Then it will be tilled under prior to planting.

The last remaining plants. Rutabaga. We'll get to them soon. They can stay in the ground all Winter long I believe. Might wanna Google that up.

Chicken. Some chickens actually eat eggs. This one eats eggs. It's a disturbing sight I am told. I don't want to say it, but this one here might end up in a pot. Might be an opportunity for Jason to learn how to do all that otherwise I may return to my vegetarian heritage.

And now to the dome. Check it out! The layout is more or less set in stone. I would like to add 2 more water barrels. The barrels are to help save up heat during the day. We've salinated them to give them a lower freeze temperature. I need to find out where the maximum saturation point line meets the lowest temperature line ... we'll see.

This is the big experiment. We dug about 4 feet in the ground where this bed is. It wasn't dug as a perfect square simply because it was a giant pain in the rear. It ended up somewhat conical the deeper it got.

The bottom 8 or so inches is crushed lime stone to help draining. Water drainage really shouldn't be a problem, but we put the limestone in to be thorough. And because my wife said I should. After that we put in about 2 feet of horse manure. We added some of our awesome chicken poop to it, too. Follow that with 18 inches or so of soil mixed with some of the horse manure. What should happen is the horse and chicken poop layer will continue to digest, thus creating heat.

The heat will be trapped in the raised bed by this cold frame.

The cold frame is simple. All of the raised beds are cut identically, so we just lifted another raise bed on top. The glass panes are windows that I saved when we replaced many of our existing crank-out windows. I despise crank-out windows with the heat of a thousand white hot suns. But, the windows themselves were perfect for this purpose. They just slide or lift right up.

I dunno. As I look at this picture now I think I can see some flaws. I probably should have built the beds to perfectly match the windows. Doh! I'd get more sun, too, if the box was wider. They should do just fine for Spring and Summer gardening, though.

Here is a lemon balm that we've been keeping in the green house. Seems to be doing well!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monarch Butterflies!!

Lillian has been very busy throughout the later summer, learning about insects. In particular, she has been interested in butterflies. She has managed to find a handful of Monarch caterpillars, which she captured and brought into her little grow house. Here we have four Monarch cocoons, one of which is about to bear a butterfly!

The cocoons are quite beautiful.

A Monarch butterfly!

... our newborn Monarch butterfly released! Can you find it?

Aiden and Lillian being silly.