With the approach of Christmas and Holidays, I figured I’d give everybody a quick update and then resume normal posts after the first of the year. Here’s our Christmas update on our Nova Scotia homestead.
We made a valiant effort but fell short of being able to get into the house by Christmas. Although the weather had been warmer than normal, that warmth came with copious quantities of rain. Several 2 inch drenchings in December and then the cold finally arrived.
Temperatures have gone down to about 10F (-12C) and highs are in the teens and 20’s Fahrenheit. This has definitely slowed us down. Cold temperatures in conjunction with the shortest days of the year and our progress is painfully slow.
Speaking of painfully slow, the proprietor (yours truly) of “Somewhat Precise Homebuilders” was wrestling with a solar array mount while standing on top of a frozen pile of dirt on Tuesday. The pile was starting to melt as we were having a warm day and it was raining. The slippery goo was too much and he lost his footing, bounced off a boulder that was frozen at the bottom of the mound and really did a number on his ribs. A heavy coat and clothes likely prevented more serious damage. The proprietor is a hurting unit but will eventually recover.
The tent is somewhat comfy if sitting around in hats and coat with a wool blanket over our legs can be considered comfy. The objective is to keep the tent above 40 F (5C) morning, noon and night. Sometimes we can get it up to purgatory temperature of 55 F (12C) or 60 F if the temp outside is above freezing.
The roof is sheathed and getting close to being watertight. Part of the delay in getting into the house is I’m spending a great deal of time overbuilding. What I mean by that is on the roof, for example, one set of hurricane straps wasn’t enough for me. I installed a set on the interior as well as the exterior of our trusses to the top plate. It’s overkill, but we will sleep soundly regardless of wind.
Additionally, it wasn’t enough just to screw our roof sheathing down to the trusses. I glued it down, screwed and then nailed it. These extra steps take considerable time on a normal day but with the cold temperatures, it takes even longer. However… Bring on the wind! We will scoff and jeer even if “Really Honking” winds arrive. (Won’t we be embarrassed if the roof floats out to sea at the first sign of a gentle breeze!)
By comparison, when I was doing temporary camp work back in Saskatchewan, there was a time or two when we were doing construction at close to -40F. That was brutal. Fortunately this cold we are facing now isn’t so bad once my system kicks into gear
I can go out and start to work and my body is warm from layering on clothes but my hands start to freeze. Even with gloves on, my hands can get downright cold. Each morning it takes a little time for me to keep warming them and then finally my body figures out the hands need to stay warm and I’m fine after that. I can generally work without gloves at that point. My body adapts.
We are in need of sun and solar power. The countless cloudy days combined with a partial array are creating a power shortage for us. So while the excavator was here back filling about 2 weeks ago, I decided to have him dig the 6 foot deep holes for the sonetubes. These sonetubes are heavy cardboard and are a temporary form for the concrete. We spent all afternoon digging and arranging 8 tubes spaced 4 feet apart and 6 feet down. They were all set. And then the rains came that night.
The next day, the area was under water, the tubes were full of water and the cardboard was deforming and turning to goo. Ruined just like that! One step forward, two steps in reverse. So we had to have the excavator back and we planted plastic sonetubes. And wouldn’t you know it, it rained again that night and all the tubes flooded. I’ve pumped them out and now need to keep them from freezing until I can get a decent stretch of weather to mix concrete.
Johanna’s most prized possession finally arrived. The truck arrived to deliver her stove and the driver asked if I had a machine to get the stove off the truck. I said no but we’ll manage to get it off. He said there’s no way we can get that stove off without a machine. It’s 400 pounds!
Needless to say, we got it off although it was a struggle. I was mentally prepared with a game plan and then the stove arrived on a pallet that wasn’t oriented the way I was expecting. Out the window went plans A, B and C. We used mechanical advantage (rollers and levers) and as a last resort, brute force. We improvised and got it done regardless.
All our windows and doors are here. I can’t wait to start installing them. Even though the ceiling is wide open without vapor barrier and insulation, just stopping the wind from blowing through the open windows and doors will make a big difference in interior temperature.
The septic system is in. It is a standard septic tank with leach field but with our composting toilet, it will simply be a gray water septic system.
So there you have it. Close but no cigar. Hopefully by the next time I update everyone, we will be in the house. Johanna and I wish everybody a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays and let’s hope 2018 is a good year for us all!
Until next time, keep the dream alive! We wish you a great day!
Ron and Johanna
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