Friday, January 1, 2010

The cabin

It began as a joke a little hut / shack idea while waiting for dinner to finish one afternoon. I had found a neat little book on simple outdoor structures, (the name fails me now, but it is a great little book) and was leafing through it and suggesting wacky ideas for the guys to build me one of each item in the book in typical female fashion . I came across a cute little standing stick "cabin" like structure and I mentioned that we needed a little cabin. What we ended up with was nothing like what the original book plan was and is a close relative of an authentic pioneer style cabin.

One of us was a tree surgeon, one a construction worker(not a builder) and I a dairy farmer. The tree surgeon was apprenticing with a local builder,so he had limited knowledge and he sketched out a basic model of what we were plotting out. The next day he came in with "the plan". This "plan" was merely a piece of notebook paper with stick logs and some basic measurements in order to keep it a non permitted issue(12x14 + no utilities ). The only real thinking on the build we did was to figure out approximate numbers of logs needed and diameters. Later, this was basically thrown out because it evolved into what the pics show.

Long story short, no real experience, no real plans, just trying something in our own head first, talking with the others and a whole lot of testing it out in the process of building. The locking of the logs on the ends was the biggest issue( a lot of rolling the log into position then rolling it back out and cutting more in order to get them to fit like we wanted.) Working with the logs as we went was important. We originally tried to number each log as it would go up on the cabin, but it didn't work out that we used them in numbered order. Some logs just fit other logs better than others so it was more trial and error to get the smallest cracks between the logs as we could and to have them each be level after a new layer of logs was added.

As far as resources, other than the lil originating thought book, we used none. We had a little experience between the three of us but not more than an average joe would and as you can see I am not very good at explaining how we did it because I really don't know how three bumbling hippiehillbillies were able to accomplish it in the end. You could always come n visit n have a look see and draw some plans up from there.

The cabin measures 12x14 and it has the loft that is half the size. It is a dry cabin and no electric either. Power source now is candle with switch to solar when money (roflmao) allows. There is an outhouse nearby and a"shower" . In front of the cabin is the kitchen for use up there and a small herb patch. Eventually we would like a barrel and rock oven as well as a guttered water collection system. It will be a completely self contained lil survival residence.

All the trees were taken from here on the property and measured between 5 and 10 inches in diameter on average. The larger ones went at the bottom and they got smaller as we went up. We used a chain saw to cut the trees and we skinned them green. The main beams were also taken from here out of a tree that fell when Ivan came thru a few years back. We did buy the rough cut lumber that is used as we could never get in contact with a small mill to come here on the property and mill them for us. I dont think most would suggest using green logs to build with and skinning is easier when dry and they are much lighter.

To skin the logs we just duct taped the handle of a machete and sat on the logs that were usually propped up on one end and then when we completed a side would simply roll the log. At the time we could not find a draw knife anywhere near us , we found them just as we were finishing and decided the machetes were fine .When we first began the logs took about an hour a piece, by the time we finished we could do 3-4 an hour.

The cabin is not sitting directly on the ground, it does have a pressure treated foundation etc underneath. At some point we would like to jack it up and build a small crawl space under and insulate the floor. The floors are rough cut lumber as well as the loft floor, gables (i think thats what they are called) and roof . This was the largest expenditure we incurred.

At about 6 or 6 and half feet we stick framed and used the rough cut lumber to finish the gable then insulated the inside and used tongue and groove to finish. The roof is not insulated and is shingled . We wanted tin or shake but because of both financial and time constraints we went n got mix n match cheap shingles n made a pattern. (I was pattern designer, not a roofer ) The roof I believe, if remember correctly is on an insane 13 /12 pitch whatever that means... Ideally eventually we would like to build a frame over the top of the existing roof ,insulate it and then at the very least put a metal roof on it. We would love a shake roof of course,however i dunno about splitting all the shingles and cedar shake aint cheap. We also talk of putting a living roof on it.

The only power tools we used were the chain saw and a drill for the core holes for the 16 inch long spikes. There was no special blades used on the corners or anywhere else. We used approximately 125 pounds of spikes to hold the logs. (don't ask why lol). To tie the windows and doors in to the structure we drilled pilot holes then put some big ol spikes down through the logs. From there we used conventional framing for the door and window casings and left a lil bit of room for shrinkage and settling.

The windows in the loft area are both old recycles. One we found on top of the mtn and another we got for 5 bux at a flea market. we originally bought two windows for the lower area for 5 bux a piece but decided we wanted windows to open and close for summer months. The door was an old one hanging around that we cut about 8 inches off of and hung upside down. The "knob" is a mutatedblobthing from a tree.

For the chinking between the logs we originally used foam that is used for sealing cracks etc in construction. We went this route because we used green logs so we knew it would take a while for them to stop shrinking. We would just fill in cracks as they appeared. I also used the foam to seal the gaps in the floorboards as the rough cut lumber shrank. We again for monetary reasons chose to use a cement mixture to chink. We scraped the foam down and then chinked over the top and smoothed it out.

Under the cabin we treated with borate products and we have those stick in the ground termite contraptions around the perimeter. As the cabin was being built it was washed periodically and water sealed. For the first three years it was done at least once a year. Now we will switch to every 2-3 yrs . We figure 15 gallons should keep it protected for a while.

To build to date , we figure it has about 1500 hours into it. With the trim on the outside and in that still needs to be done there is about another 100 or so hours. It was basically built by three of us. I wasn't much help above 6 foot. (Me n ladders are dangerous). There were a few others that helped when they were passing through but the majority of the work was done by the three of us. None of us had any experience in building before and several hours were spent pondering just how to get a log to fit right and lifting and dragging logs or scraping . We all said we would never build another but lately we have pondered the idea a lil bit and think that if we had a tractor and about 12 sets of hands we may... we have even pondered the notion of having a "camp" to build a cabin, kitchen and "bathrooms" over a two or three week period.

The kitchen is directly in front of the cabin and also framed with logs. It is also 12x14. There is a tarp and stick roof at this time but am hoping to get vines to create it more like an arbor this year . There will also be a rail to one side of the kitchen and the funky rock pile in the pics is the beginnings of a new barrel stone kitchen. To the back of the rock pile is a small herb garden with most of a kitchens everyday herbs. We are going to gutter one side of the cabin for a rain water collection system and storage.

I hope this gives you an idea of the process and how we did it. It was a lot of work and quite frankly had we had to build it in a summer and grow crops raise animals etc, we would have probably died our first winter. We actually spent over two years building i , it sat dried in for well over a year before we finished it to the point it is now.

total price was about a 1000 dollars. The insulation and foam we used was free. The wood stove and pipe kit were also free.

Here are a few pictures of the cabin, outhouse and the kitchen at the cabin. I am working on the photo blog of the building process and will post it later.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

home made all purpose cleaners

Many like to start the new year off with a nice clean house and many have goals or resolutions to begin using more earth / people/home friendly cleaners in the household . So, in honor of the resolvers and cleaners....

Here are several all purpose home made cleaners. Try one or all and see which one you like the best. All work as good or better than anything you can buy commercially and are much better for you health wise than the chemical laden, toxic products on the market. If you are an allergy or asthma suffers one of the first things you should do is eliminate the chemical based cleaners from your home.

You can also save money by mixing up your own cleaning solutions, these products can all be made for literally pennies rather than several dollars. for those that like to have a stock pile or prep, it takes much less space to store the ingredients to make hundred of gallon of home made cleaner than it does to store all the pre-made products.

Non-Toxic All Purpose Cleaner
1/2 water or colloidal silver
1/2 vinegar
4 tablespoons lemon juice
10-20 drops tea tree oil
spray bottle
Combine all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle. Has a tea tree/vinegar smell. (If you don't like the smell of tea tree oil, try lavender or citrus.) Shake your to mix. Use this all purpose cleaner anywhere as needed. Non-toxic and organic so it is safe for daily use on door knobs and toilet handles, switch plate covers etc.

Amazing All Purpose Cleaner
1 teaspoon borax
2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon washing soda
1/2 teaspoon vegetable-based detergent (castile soap)
2 cups very hot water
Combine all ingredients in a plastic spray bottle.Shake your new homemade all purpose cleaner to mix. Use anywhere as needed. Strong enough to wipe out germs and viruses. Use daily on door knobs and toilet handles, especially when a family member is sick.

all purpose cleaner
3 tbsp. vinegar
1/2 tsp. washing soda
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil based liquid soap (castile)
2 cups hot water
Mix ingredients in spray bottle or bucket. Apply and wipe clean.

Homemade Spray Cleaner Recipe

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
Mix in a sprayer bottle

In the kitchen, use vinegar-and-water spray to clean counter tops, lightly soiled range surfaces and back splash areas. Works great on stainless steel surfaces, no streaks.

In the bathroom, use vinegar spray cleaner to clean counter tops, floors, and exterior surfaces of the toilet.For really tough bathroom surfaces such as shower walls, pump up the cleaning power by removing the sprayer element and heating the solution in the microwave until barely hot. Spray shower walls with the warmed generously, allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse. The heat helps soften stubborn soap scum and loosens hard water deposits.

Baking Soda. Dissolve 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water for a general cleaner. Or use baking soda on a damp sponge. Baking soda will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.

all-Purpose Cleaner:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda (or 2 teaspoons borax)
1/2 gallon water.
mix. Store and keep. Use for removal of water deposit stains on shower stall panels, bathroom chrome fixtures, windows, bathroom mirrors, etc.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

home made laundry soaps

There are a zillion or so versions of home made laundry detergents and soaps. Some recipes are not completely home made but instead are "watered down" versions of a commercially available variety. This method works well for those that have to sneak in frugal ways because folks you live with "need" the store bought versions.

For this method all you do is buy your box of powder and and then “dilute” it with baking soda and borax! use about 1/4 cup per load.

for all the other methods there are keep in mind the following..

Home made soaps will NOT suds like store bought soaps will. The suds are not the cleaners, they just make things look cool and we believe it is the suds doing the cleaning

Fels naptha, zote and other castile soaps are the best choice when mixing bar soaps

Try to use the non scented and non colored bars of soap is you must use something besides the above mentioned soaps

These recipes are generally gentle enough for baby and people with skin trouble.

super washing soda can be made by baking regular food grade baking soda at 400 for 20 minutes.

Borax is often known as borateem or 20 mule and is normally in most large stores.

Those with very hard water may have to adjust the recipes to have these work well for you

for the liquid soaps a five gallon pail with a lid is the best storage container. The powder recipes are generally a bit smaller so any air tight container will suit for storage.

keep in mind there are even more frugal ways of cleaning laundry, just look to mother nature and the world around you Tannin makes a wonderful "soap "on everything but whites. Saponins also make excellent very frugal cleaners.

If you need a smell to your soaps or detergent add a few drops of essential oils or you can find fragrances in craft stores.

Recipe 1
1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

Recipe 2
Hot water
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1/3 bar Soap (grated)
In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat. In a 2 gallon clean pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated soap mixture. Top pail with cold water and stir well. * Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

Powdered Laundry Detergent – Recipe 3
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

Recipe 4
Hot water
1 bar (4.5 oz) Ivory Soap – grated
1 cup Washing Soda
In a large saucepan add grated soap and enough hot water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is melted. Fill a large pail with 2.5 gallons of hot water, add hot soap mixture. Stir until well mixed. Then add the washing soda, again stirring until well mixed. Set aside to cool. Use 1/2 cup per full load, stirring well before each use (will gel)

Recipe 5
2.5 gallons Water (hot)
1 Bar soap (grated)
3/4 cup Washing Soda
3/4 cup Borax
2 TBS Glycerin
Melt bar soap over medium-low heat topped with water, stir until soap is melted. In a large pail, pour 2.5 gallons of hot water, add melted soap mixture, washing soda, borax and glycerin. Mix well. Use 1/2 cup per full load.

Recipe 6
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Washing Soda
2 – 2.5 gallons hot water
Melt grated soap in saucepan with water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is dissolved.Pour hot water in large pail, add hot soap and washing soda. Stir very well. Use 1 cup per full load.

Recipe 7
2 gallons Water (hot)
1 bar Soap (grated)
2 cups Baking soda
Melt grated soap in a saucepan with enough hot water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until soap is melted. In a large pail, pour 2 gallons hot water. Add melted soap, stir well. Then add the baking soda, stir well again. Use 1/2 cup per full load, 1 cup per very soiled load.

Powdered Laundry Detergent – Recipe 8
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)
Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub. Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe 9
1cup Vinegar (white)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stir in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding). I used 1/2 cup per full load with great results. Mix well and store in sealed container.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

last harvest of 2009

Today I harvested what will most likely be the last of our outdoor 2009 harvests. We have extremely cold for her weather moving in over the next few nights and I successfully made this the longest grow season to date and with no outdoor covering of any plants. Must be the global warming

That said with the low temps expected in the next few nights it is highly likely I will also lose what is in the GH, so I made a good harvest of what i could from in there and will hope for the best and see just how well the row covers and blankets , tarps etc do on what is growing in there.

The carrots were from outside as was the green onions ans several herbs that I also harvested. The greens and turnips were from in the GH.

I have a few beans up in the loft ready for picking and more greens are ready to harvest from there as well but they are a different post altogether.

Monday, December 28, 2009

more fun for the littles--make and play dough

Play dough and clay are other essentials in a home with children. Not only is it fun to play with, it also stimulates their little imaginations and keeps them out of our hair when needed.

Again, I do not see the point in buying this stuff and not having a clue what sorta crap the stuff is made from when we can make it just as well at home, for much cheaper and the enjoyment factor is greater because the kids can help make their toys.

The first recipe is completely edible and safe,,(think peanut butter balls ) for even the littlest of the dough eaters
Edible Play Dough
1 (18 oz.) jar Peanut Butter
6 Tbsps. honey
non fat dry milk powder
Combine Peanut Butter and honey. Add dry milk until desired consistency. You may also add cocoa for a chocolate flavor.

Homemade Play Dough
1 cup flour 2 tsps. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1/2 cup salt
1 cup water with
food coloring
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly until a firm ball is formed. Knead a few minutes. Store in an airtight container. This needs no refrigeration and will last a long time. koolaid or food color can be used to tint the dough. It is not edible although it wont kill you either.

No Stick Play Dough
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 small pkgs. unsweetened
powdered drink mix
1 Tbsp. alum
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup salt
2 cups boiling water
Mix dry ingredients. Add oil to boiling water and pour into dry mixture. Stir until soft and pliable. Place in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated when not in use.

Bakers Clay
4 1/2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 ½ cups water
Mix and knead. Shapes may be baked for 1 hour @ 300 degrees and paint when cool.

fun for the wee ones-- make and paint

Since it is the time of year for school closings and too many holidays, I thought it would be fun to dig though some of my fun recipes for kids to make and play with. One of my favorites has always been finger paints.

Every child needs to have some finger paints for arts and crafts activities. Heck, I personally think all adults should have some too . I don't however see the need in going out and buying most of this stuff at an inflated price when we can make the same things at home for pennies, while knowing what the ingredients are.

The first recipe is probably better for kids that are old enough to know they shouldnt eat the paint but it does make the better finger paint of the three recipes. The second two area good recipes for the tiniest of artists and are completely edible

½ cup cornstarch
3 Tbs. Sugar
2 cups cold water
Several drops of food coloring
1 drop dish detergent
Plastic cups
Mix sugar with cornstarch in a saucepan. Add water and mix. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the mixture starts to boil and thicken. Take the pan off the heat, cool, and pour into plastic cups. Add a few drops of food coloring and a drop of dish detergent. Mix, then and enjoy!

Jello Finger Paint

any flavor jello
enough boiling water to make it a goo consistency for finger paint.
Use your normal finger painting material or glossy paper. smells good too :)

Kool-Aid Finger Paint

2 cups flour
2 packs unsweetened
1/2 cup salt
3 cups boiling water
3 Tbsps. oil
Combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Kids love the color change.

Happy painting!!

country gravy mix

Here is another basic mix that is nice to have on hand for when you need something quick. Not that making country gravy is at all hard to do or time consuming but mixes are nice to have when camping, hiking or when you just don't feel like measuring things out. You will need a large airtight container to store this recipe as it make a fair bit of mix


10 cups all-purpose flour
4 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup garlic powder
10 teaspoons paprika
10 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
5 teaspoons salt
Mix all ingredients well and store in a tightly sealed container. When you want to make gravy: discard all but 2 tablespoons of the grease from either bacon or sausage (or melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter) in a skillet.
Over low heat, mix in 1/4 cup of the Country Gravy Mix. Stirring constantly, cook about 2 minutes. Whisk in 2 cups water, scraping browned bits off bottom of skillet, stirring constantly.reduce heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes. Serve immediately

I like to add a splash of liquid smoke and a splash of tobasco or other hot sauce to my gravy just before serving

Sunday, December 27, 2009

bunny hut updates -poop trays

We got or should I say manthing got the second smaller inside hutch done last week. So now the bunnies all have nice, proper, inedible bunny houses.

We then had a brainstorm and remembered we still had some old incubator trays hanging around and they looked like they would fit near perfectly under the new huts to collect the poops. . These make perfect poop collectors since they also have holes in them allowing the urine to pass through.

When it is time to collect poops I just go down through and either lift the trays and empty into a bucket or I use a dust pan and scoop them in the pail. The Urine falls on through to the leaves and begin the compost process. I just add new leaves as needed to keep any smells at bay .

When the bunnies slop their foods it also falls through and the hens wander about underneath eating the food so their is no more waste of feed either.

When I cleaned the trays today, it had been collecting for four days.The two cages filled an entire five gallon pail with poops for fertilizer.

Our next step in the bunny housing remodel will be adding a large worm bin under the two out door cages of bunnies we have. This will give us a 6 foot long by over 2 foot wide and 2 foot deep worm compost system with virtually no upkeep or care. It will also collect the bunny waste from those two cages, keep odors to a minimum,make useful amendments, provide oodles of worms and maybe at some point give us a small income from marketing a few worms.

the bunny pics