Monday, May 31, 2010

All Work and No Play

Scott said from the beginning that we would have more visitors in Torrey than we ever had in Logan, and that is proving to be true. Over the Memorial Day weekend we met Ann, one of our two new neighbors and John and Linda, two visitors to our blog and now friends who live about five minutes away. They invited us for dinner and conversation at their place just off of Sand Creek Road. The trailer that came with their property is a delightful shade of pink that Carol, their neighbor, will be happy to see disappear once John and Linda have built a replacement.

In less than a week we have completed 12 of 16 girts, corrected three errors from last fall's work and realized we need to order a few more timbers to replace some that have twisted so much over time that we don't have the skills to use them and others to replace mistakes we've made.

As the week ended, Phillip and Paul had roughed in the plumbing for the the house, and Tyler and crew had completed the first phase of the floor. Now we can actually walk through our "house" and visualize where we'll be standing to cook dinner and where we'll be sitting while we enjoy the incredible Torrey skies.

The cats have made themselves at home. They venture confidently between the kitty clubhouse Scott built in April and the yurt. We even dare to let them roam around during the day as long as there is no loud construction underway and as long as we can keep our eyes on their wanderings. We were introduced to Carlene who will be able to feed our cats whenever we are out of town.  It's nice to know someone who loves cats as much as we do.

Tomorrow we continue working on timber in hopes of a July raising,  but you know that saying, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?" We cannot imagine even a single dull moment here. We've got to keep our noses to the grindstone, but the wildflowers are so beautiful that we'll take time to take pictures in the afternoon and the next morning before heading north for a few days.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day Three - 2010

Wayne Bingham, our architect, wanted to come help us work on timbers in early May. That wasn't going to work for us because Scott hadn't been able to complete the things that HAD to be done before any moving of animals and Mary could take place. Instead, Wayne and his wife came today and will be here for four days because that works for their schedule. Really Scott and I were thinking that still wasn't the best timing for us, but when your architect wants to be hands on (at no charge) why would we say no. Besides, we enjoy Wayne's company and truly appreciate his opinions and forthright demeanor.

So this morning at 8:00 they showed up ready to help. Still, it had been so long since either Scott or I have done ANY timber work, we could hardly remember how to hold the chisels let alone know what to do with them! Also the plumber was showing up today to get the pipes in the ground so the cement contractor could get the floor ready for concrete.

The plumber is also the person who will be installing and designing the solar thermal hot water heater and the radiant heat floor. Last fall we discussed his plan and the only way we could see to make it all work was to take half of the closet space in the bedroom and turn it into 300 gallons of hot water storage. Neither Scott nor I were happy with the design but it seemed like the only "solution."

Luckily, today Wayne and the plumber were here at the same time. Wayne had a few great suggestions and now we have our closet back and a better plan. The best thing? It might not even cost more than the original design.

Once the plumber got started on the day's work, Wayne, Scott and I began a discussion of the changes in the timber frame design. These changes came about last fall when Adam and Jake (timber framers Wayne hooked us up with) came for our very own personalized weekend workshop. Because Adam is an expert (owning his own company and building timber frame houses full time) we took his advice. And his ideas were good, saving us labor and speeding us along the way. But Wayne wasn't exactly dancing with joy that we had changed the plans he had drawn for us and that had already been stamped by the engineer.

After all was said and done, we realized that mistakes were made by all. Wayne mis-drew part of the plans which caused Adam and Jake to change the layout of our truss in a fashion that changed multiple other parts of the design. Adam and Jake laid out wrong sized mortises. As a result, Mary and Scott made mistakes by following the mislaid mortise template, but mostly Scott and Mary just messed up. After being waylaid by dark forces that accost novice timber framers, we have been put back on the path of righteous house building. Really we hope to have no more days like today. Even though good things took place, it was very stressful!

As we talked about the changes and Wayne could see them with his own eyes, he was mostly okay with all of them, but the suggestions he made were valid and we will incorporate them as we continue with the timber frame. That means we have to go back to timbers we've spent far too many days working on already, and make repairs that will only guessed it...more time.

As the day progressed, Wayne commented to Scott that he realized we were committing a lot of time, interest, work, thought, emotions, not to mention money, into this house. And Wayne was also emotionally invested in the project. That made Scott and me feel really good because that means Wayne still likes the design, the changes, the research, the learning and the conversations that are taking place.

Weather wise, there was a dusting of snow on the yurt when we got up this morning, but the day turned lovely with sunshine and finished with yet another oh-so-frequent beautiful Torrey sunset. The winds are decreasing. Let's hear it for decreasing winds. It looks like it should get up into the 60s and 70s. Maybe this brutal spring wind will be over.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Here Again

Even though Scott has come to Torrey twice since the start of spring to work on gearing-up projects, we didn’t really consider the building season started until we were both here together. Hooray! Here we are and we're ready to start.

Friday we unloaded a huge amount of gear, enough, we hope, to get us through August. That gear included three llamas and four cats. The llamas remembered the pasture from last year and were ecstatic to be back. How could we identify ecstasy in a llama? When they dashed to the top of their respective hills and snorted into the wind, we recognized joy.

As for the cats, they were totally unimpressed by the long drive and equally unimpressed with their new digs even though Scott had spent much time and effort building them a summer camp condominium. Perhaps the roaring Torrey wind had something to do with their hasty and wide-eyed retreat into the corner domicile. If cats wore ruby slippers and could click their heels together, they’d all quote from Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Friday and Saturday we organized all of the equipment in the garage and yurt. Scott spent last night reviewing our timber frame notes. It seems like we have forgotten everything and will need at least a week to get back in the groove.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A New Season

Despite the sixty-plus-mile-per-hour gusts of wind and the snow that made for challenging work conditions, Scott’s first two trips to Torrey this spring were very productive. We packed the flatbed trailer to the limit with project supplies: our  Kubota tractor, a used refrigerator, a soil screen, a wood-burning stove and new trees.

Last year we discovered that the new street lights in Torrey are poorly shielded and spill light onto our property a block away. As soon as possible, we planned to plant trees to screen our house from the glare. Just in time to place the once-a-year order, we learned about the Utah Association of Conservation Districts' Conservation Tree Program. For a minimal cost, we purchased ten 5-foot tall cottonless cottonwood trees and five 18-inch tall Colorado blue spruce trees. In a few years, they'll grow into a welcome light and sound barrier. Besides these trees, Scott has also planted a Honey Crisp Apple tree and a Chestnut Crabapple tree north of the yurt (the beginning of our orchard) and four more cottonwood trees to the east of the yurt. Now a Fat Albert blue spruce (a dwarf variety) sits in our driveway waiting for our next trip south.

The stove will be a welcome addition to the yurt. We'll no longer need to huddle around our valiant but undersized propane heater every night trying to warm up enough to go to sleep. I can hardly wait to say, "It sure is hot in here."