This past week since returning from Burning Man hasn’t been too productive. It rained all day Wednesday and well into Thursday morning, which, though highly unusual for this time of year, and did rob me of my ability to heat up my solar shower, did relieve me of any concerns about irrigating my garden for the week. On Thursday, the temperature barely rose above 60F, and dropped to around 36F at night. I was hoping the growing season would last longer, but it seems likely that I’ll see frost in the not too distant future.
The sun finally revealed itself unabated on Friday, warming temperatures up to a balmy 70F. I took advantage of the nice weather to start working on the rafters. I’m using 2x4s, most of which were donated to me by Camp Warp Zone at Burning Man, and were once part of their shade structure (I love recycling lumber, and in addition to those 2x4s, Hut 2.0 contains pieces of my old bed as well). One thing that had me thinking a bit, was the spacing between the rafters. Hut 1.0 has trusses that are a gaping 36″ apart, with a 30 degree pitch, and it seemed to have done okay for this past winter (not sure how much snowfall there was). My original design for Hut 2.0 had the rafters spaced 24″ apart, but I wondered if I should do 16″ instead. I did a little research online, and found some data that seem to indicate that 24″ would be sufficient for my relatively short span and 45 degree pitch, so I decided to stick to my plans. I also paid closer attention to the 2x4s as I was cutting them and putting them up, to try and keep knots that can compromise strength away from the bottom edge, which isn’t something I’ve always done (but probably should). All in all, the whole task ended up being much easier than I’d anticipated, even working alone. After cutting each rafter, I just had to stick rafter hangers on the top-end, hammer in the hurricane ties onto the top edge of the walls where the rafters would sit, then it was just a matter of hammering in the hangers into the roof beam. (Here’s a close-up of the rafters + knee walls.)
The next step is to add a couple of diagonals to the roof beam to firm it up, then start laying on the roofing. I’m just going to use OSB, then lay insulation on top of that, then Ondura roofing panels will go on top of that. I’m planning on completely finishing the roof before working on the lower parts of the hut, since it’ll be easier to hang scaffolding off the sides of the structure if the walls aren’t there yet. Also, now that it’s rained hard twice, it seems like getting the roof done sooner would generally be a good idea.
In other news, my garden is in full bloom. Yellow squash that were finger length when I left for Burning Man had ballooned into giant fruit almost the size of my forearm. I’ve also got more green beans, and a decently sized cucumber. I also have a few egg plants on the way, and giant green tomatoes that have stubbornly refused to ripen so far, but hopefully will soon. The corn has also matured, but the ears are quite small. Planting corn this year was definitely a mistake, though they did a great job of providing shade to the beans, which was a minor unexpected benefit (I alternated rows of corn and beans, and the rows of beans that got good shade from the corn did much better than the rows that were more exposed).
As winds start blowing (or raining) hints of autumn through my camp, I’m increasingly thinking more about my next steps. I’m starting to run low on cash, so I’m rapidly approaching a point where I need to make a decision. Do I go back to work in the city, or do I have other options? We’ll find out soon…
It’s looking great to me.
When you mentioned “…or do I have other options?” My head started churning out thoughts about what you might need to do to stay through the winter up there.
Closing-in and insulating the cabin would be the first step. It wouldn’t need to look pretty, just have a real roof (like you mention above), insulation, and sealed walls/doors/windows.
Adding a couple gutters and a bigger rain barrel could also help you collect the extra water you’ll want.
I also remembered a post on the Bear Ridge Project on low cost food storage that might offer some ideas for making it through a winter on an ultra-low food budget. http://www.bearridgeproject.com/2007/12/basic-food-storage-how-much-is-enough.html
For heat you might consider one of these super cheap… albeit ‘not for indoor use’ tent stoves. http://www.walltentshop.com/CatStoves.html
But for a bit more money you can get something like the Morso 1410. Ziggy seems to like his just fine.
It looks like you have quite a bit of dead wood around but you might need a chain saw and to dedicate some time to collecting fire wood before the rain starts.
Hope that ramble helps. Tough choice. The practical side of me says that going back for one more winter working in SF is a good idea. My adventurous side says work like mad to winterize and give it a shot. You can always fall-back to working in SF.
Oh… in case you’re considering a hybrid approach… work from home… here’s a hot off the press post on remote online access. http://www.technomadia.com/2010/09/excuses-connectivity/
Thanks for your thoughts Michael. I’ve also been thinking about what it’d take to stay up there for the winter… I’ll be doing a post about what I’ve come up with so far in the not too distant future as well 🙂
Those veggies are very impressive……yummmmm. How are you keeping warm when the weather drops to 35*???
Sounds like you still had a productive weekend. Good luck as you consider your options for cash flow.
I know it would require a significant increase in power generation and probably some level satilite internet, but have you considered a contract position for 3 months or so? Most let you work-from-home.