Riding the Log

Some people go to the gym for exercise.  Some people are adrenalin junkies and go white water rafting or bungee jumping.  Here on the mountain, or abroad for that matter, we don’t subscribe to such extreme ‘sports’.  Our work around the house pretty much suffices for our exercise… AND adrenalin fix.

When we were away on our road trip we had a tree fall near the house.  It was only 6′ from the house itself, so we were lucky it fell the right direction… particularly since we weren’t home at the time in case it fell wrong.

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Now for the task of getting rid of the fallen tree.  The tree measures about 50′ long, 30″ around at it’s base.  We limbed the tree to rid it of all the scraggly branches, and cut the root ball off.

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Most people would cut it on the spot and carry up logs for firewood, one at a time.  But that would be too easy.  For us though, this beautiful cedar tree can make great lumber for projects.  We can slab it and make shelves with it, or lathe it and make salt cellars.  The possibilities are endless…. particularly if it is kept whole.

The tree sits down a fairly steep incline, so the task is to get it up the hill … without of course hitting the propane tank, pizza oven, or rocks.  We have a 2′ space we’ll have to thread it into.

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So we rig up snatch blocks in a tri-pull configuration to snake this 50′ long tree around several trees to thread it between the propane tank and rocks, using the winch from the truck parked up hill.

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We use tree branches as rollers to help finesse it up the hill.logride_IR.jpgtripull2_IR.jpg

When the truck starts sliding over the chalked tires and lumber toward the hill we have to stop to chain it forward to a tree on the top of the hill.

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John winds up having to ‘ride the log’ jacking it away from the propane tank to situate it through our small opening.

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As a fire fighter with chain saw and sawyering skills, he looks like the poster dude for what NOT to do in those Forest Service training video’s he watches.  All is fine until he is bucked off the log as it makes an unexpected turn toward the propane tank.

We turn to steel ‘rollers’ to get it up the rest of the way.

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Whew!  What a chore.  But we got it up the hill, rode the log, and got enough adrenalin to spare.

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Bird House Condo

What do you think of when you think of retirement?  Relaxing?  Golf?  Travel?   Not having to work!

For me, it is doing exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it.  Not having to report to someone else or appease another for the sake of work.  These days I surround myself with people I want to be around and do the projects, travel, and hobbies that we enjoy doing.

Since retirement, we have worked harder than we did at work… and not pushing paper or on the phone at a desk job.  We have built our home, and large projects which require jack hammers, cement mixers, shovels, picks, and tractors.  The back breaking type of work that yields noticeable large results… but keeps you sore and often hurt.

I have hoped for a day that we can do just this kind of project in retirement… birdhouses!  Simple, small, fun and fulfilling.

We opted to make 3 different size bird houses for a ‘bird house condo’.  We’d make them out of metal… cut them with the plasma cutter and weld them together, then paint them fun colors.  Colorful fun!

layout_IR.jpgWe started with cardboard templates and marked them onto our sheet metal.

plasma cut clos_IR.jpgThen we cut them out with the plasma cutter, along with the accouterments (flowers and hearts).

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Then we set them up..   .corner set_IR.jpg

… and welded them together

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hous_IR.jpgWe hammered out roofs….

Then painted them.  We dug a hole, poured 3 bags of cement and installed a post.

We built a ‘receiver’ and mounted the bird houses on the receiver and installed them in place.  For good measure we put a snow gage below them so we could measure the snow in the winter.

I think they came out pretty good…. we enjoyed designing and building them… and they are fun to look at it.  You know… I think we are finally starting to retire.

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Retaining Wall

So if you have been following me and my blog, you are probably aware that this blog is one of three blogs I try to keep up with.  I have my foodie blog, krittersmenu.com; and my photo blog, kritterspix.com.  Maybe you follow just one or all three.

This blog, kritterspaw.com, is my general blog.  It is more travel and project centric.  Having said that, I haven’t posted a lot of projects lately.  So if you’re following, you’re probably wondering what happened after that massive pizza oven project.  Well, don’t despair, we haven’t hung up our hammer or power tools.

When we first built our cabin in the woods 5 years ago, we designed and built a bridge to literally ‘bridge the gap’ to our house.  You can see that video here.

While the bridge incorporates several safeties to assure there are no ‘surprises’, we have found that the ledge of the moot is crumbling and eroding with the weather shifts.  Thus, we have embarked on securing the wall.  Admittedly there are many different ways to approach this problem statement, and we debated many of them.  What we decided on was a rebar and wire mesh lined with landscaping cloth, anchored on the stable land, and filled with rock.

wire walli.JPG This re-bar wall winds around the solid land dirt crumbling wall.  In all it’s over 60′ long.  The re-bar is in; the wire mesh, and landscaping cloth all installed.  It is drilled and anchored to solid ground, and now awaiting to be filled with 25 ton of crushed red granite. blk cloth2i.JPG

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Believe me… pictures don’t do it justice.

Next up, we will plasma cut metal animals to ornamentally grace the wall.

 

 

Salt Cellars

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As we continue to finish up the pizza oven exterior (currently working on the pizza oven doors), we shift our attention to the ‘accompaniments’ to the pizza oven.  Not only will be have to develop custom drawers and ‘tool rack’, we’ll have to develop the tools themselves (pizza peel, brush, etc.) and a system to break them down for storage.  Alas, we are not quite there yet.

But we did find time to make salt cellars for the salt, crushed red pepper, and oregano condiments that will accompany the pizzas once they are finally coming out of the oven.

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We made several… out of red heart cedar… and spruce.  They’ll make great details for our custom pizza oven.  I’m ready to make pizza… too bad our pizza oven isn’t.

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More Gourds

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I had some lingering gourds sitting on the bench that needed to be worked so that the bench could be cleared for the next project — shelving units for my office.

So I sharpened the pencil, heated up the wood burner and got to work.

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I wanted to do designs that were colorful and different.  I wanted them to be fun and professional looking.  I also wanted to take better photos of the finished projects.  What I have learned in taking photos of them, is I have a lot to learn about studio lighting.

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My photographer friend, Maureen, turned me on to LimoStudio Lighting, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009F37LW8/ref=pe_385040_30332190_pe_175190_21431760_3p_M3T1_ST1_dp_1 .  For under $40 I got a tripod and soft box lighting.  Using it is another talent altogether… one that I still need to work out the kinks with, (though I am improving).

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I do like the way they came out.  The colors and designs are original, fun, and professional… just as I had hoped.  Time to put the gourds away and move on.

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