Journal: December 4th, 2010

Wow, it’s December already? Crazy. But, hey, it’s December and I’m still here! Last year, I only stayed until late November, so at least I’ve lasted longer this year. We’ll see how much longer I can keep going though…

I continue to make slow but steady progress on Hut 2.1. When I resumed work on Wednesday, the first order of business was to clear up the interior so I have space to work. Then, I spent at least a couple of hours mulling over the Chimney Issue.

Yes, the Chimney Issue. As I read the instructions that came with the chimney mounting kit, I realized that there were significant issues with putting the chimney where I had planned to put it. I was hoping to put it on the gable side exterior wall of the structure, and since the roof overhangs by about 6″ on that side, I assumed the chimney would clear it without a problem. Well, as it turns out, the instructions on the mounting kit explicitly prohibit such offsets, and judging by the big bold letters and the number of exclamation marks, I’m inclined to begrudgingly abide by this one. But, if instead of clearing the overhang by offsetting the chimney, I do as the manual says, and poke a hole in the overhang, that creates a whole other set of issues since now I’ll have a hole in the roof, half way up.

So, I decided that it would be easier to just put the chimney elsewhere. But where? I knew the chimney had to stick out the eaves side, or, I could use a different chimney kit and go through the roof, instead of out the wall and up. If I were to go through the roof, it’d make sense to stick it out the extension, since the roof there isn’t done yet. (Also, the kit doesn’t support steeply sloped roofs such as the one I have over the main section of my cabin, while the extension roof has a much shallower slope.) But the extension was supposed to house the bathroom and the kitchen, and if a stove were to go in there, the bathroom would have to go where the stove originally was supposed to go. On the other hand if the stove went on the Northern eaves side in the main section of the cabin (not the extension), the chimney would be dangerously close to an oak tree, thus creating a fire hazard.

At the end, I found the one logical (and safe) place the chimney (and therefore, the stove) could go: on the Southern side in the main section, with the chimney going up through the eves. I then decided it still made sense to move the bathroom to where the stove would’ve gone, which leaves the entirety of the extension available to be used as a kitchen. I’ve always wanted a nice big kitchen in my house, so I’m quite pleased with that change. Unfortunately, moving the bathroom meant I had to swap a couple of window frames, because the bathroom must have an opening window, and the window frame in the new location had been sized for one of my non-opening windows.

Long story short, I spent the better part of Wednesday evening cutting out window frames and putting up new ones, so that the right windows would be in the right places given the new layout. Overall, though, I’m quite happy with where things will end up being. Thursday night, I put up some horizontal crosspieces in vertical spaces between studs, posts and window frames. These pieces will add considerable strength to the walls, but really, I put them there to use as shelves (and it’s easier to nail those pieces in now, before the walls are covered). Last night, I got some more OSB sheathing up, and I should be done with that in another day or two. Then, the windows will go up, and at that point, the structure should be fully enclosed. Insulation will then go on the outside, and hopefully I’ll have a reasonably comfortable place to live.

My biggest concern is still the weather. This week’s been reasonably warm, with temperatures staying within a narrow range above and below freezing. It snowed about 5 inches a couple of nights ago, but much of it melted away the next day, when the temperatures climbed back up above freezing. The main concern is the dirt road that leads in and out of my property. It was pretty slick coming out today, and I lost control when my car slid down hill a few feet, but fortunately it stopped before hitting any trees. Other than that, I myself am keeping warm, though my feet are almost constantly cold, thanks to my leaky boots that are constantly wet from slushing through melting snow, and my double-layered wool socks have been soaking through. It’s impossible to keep my socks dry, so instead, I’ve just been wearing wet socks whenever I need to go outside, and switching to dry socks when I’m inside. Obviously, this could be a losing strategy for my toes if it gets much colder, but seems to be an ok short term solution. In the long run, I’ll apply a liberal coating of water proofing spray onto my boots the next time I’m in the city and they’ve had a chance to dry. Or maybe Santa will bring me nice winter boots… Overall, though, despite cold feet, my spirits are high, and I am happy to be doing what I’m doing. It’s beautiful up here, and working on my cabin at night, after dark, when all is silent but for the hissing of my propane lamp, engulfed by its warm radiance — it is a divine experience, worthy in and of itself.

News flash! I setup a new Twitter account: @laptopandarifle. This one’s linked to my Verizon phone, which gets coverage up on my property, so I’ll be able to post updates via SMS. So, go ahead and follow that, if you want up-to-the-minute updates from Serenity Valley.

15 thoughts on “Journal: December 4th, 2010

  1. If you’re talking about leather boots, don’t use the spray-on seal, it will dry out the leather and it doesn’t last long. A better choice is Sno-Seal. Heat the boots up to 150 in the oven, and apply the Sno-Seal very thick, put the boots back in the oven to melt it in. Reapply if it doesn’t completely cover. Three REFORGER exercises in wet German snow, weeks in the field each time, never a wet foot.

    I also recommend that you rotate boots every day, drying out the spare pair near the wood stove (but not too close). Combat boots are cheap if you need a second pair — can even find them used for $5 at the thrift store if you really need to go cheap. Treat them with Sno-Seal twice a year, and once a week with shoe polish.

    Lastly, always wear wool socks, as they retain heat even when wet, and always wear clean, as dirty socks are poorer insulators.

  2. Do you have chains for your tires? You need something! Have you checked at the local hardware store for little packets that heat up when you smack them? They can fit in your boots and keep your toes warm for hours. I don’t know if they are still available as I haven’t been in snowy areas for about 10 years but they used to keep them by the registers in the hardware stores. In Japan, the kids would put them in their pockets to warm their fingers when in their unheated classrooms. You don’t want to be losing any toes.

  3. Pingback: Tiny House Living , Archive » Issue 69 – December 6, 2010

  4. There is something about confronting challenges in the friggin’ cold to make a soul sing…always worked for me 😉
    (Lovely picture by the way)

  5. For keeping warm & dry in sloppy conditions Muck boots are great. They keep your feet warm even in real cold.

    Your hut looks great!

  6. For short term, try putting plastic shopping bags on over your socks, then put your boots on, voila-waterproof layer. Hope Santa brings you Sorel Bear boots, I have the girl version, never have cold or wet feet.
    The pictures are georgeous.

  7. R:

    I grew up in Minnesota where the cold is unavoidable in winter. I learned how to star warm incorporating layers of natural fiber. It would seem that you are already using those ideas. When I moved to Kentucky I wanted to get out of the city and try farming so we did. We have lived in the country now for more than 15 years. I tried to avoid the expense of the high priced Muck Boots because I just couldn’t rationalize the price to the probability to damage while in the barn or field. However, I finally made the decision to just bite the bullet and get those $75 boots this year. WOW, are they nice and are they warm. Don’t underestimate the difference in your level of productivity when warm and dry. I can’t believe I waited so long. I’m glad I finally broke down and paid for the right tool for the job when I bought these Muck Boots from The Muck Boot Company.

    Take care of yourself up there…


  8. Keeping warm is vital, including your feet. Buy a good pair of boots! Good boots are a long-term investment. They are worth it!

    Look around, you can find a good pair cheap if you look around.

  9. Pingback: Journal: December 7th, 2010 « Laptop and a Rifle

  10. Pingback: Journal: January 16-19 « Laptop and a Rifle

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