Construction Journal Entry Week of 4/30/06

5/2-4/06 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I stopped and visited with Marilyn on the way up and arrived at the property at 12:10. The trip over the mountains was beautiful. Nason ridge is about half covered with snow yet and with the sun shining on it, it was so beautiful I took a picture of it through one of the windows of the cabin.

After lunch, I planted 17 Giant Sequoia seedlings I had gotten from Dan Cress. He got them somehow connected with his work and he wanted homes for them. He gave me 31 trees last Fall. I had potted them and waited for the snow to melt at the property. I gave two trees to Paul Van Hollebeke and took the remaining 29 to the property with me.

I planted the trees just inside the property line starting at the high point of the property and working westward, down into the valley and up the other side to the big Ponderosa Pines at the top of the hill. Then I turned south and planted the last two of the 17 on top of the hill behind the privy.

This is not the natural habitat for these trees but it will be a good experiment to see if some of them can survive. Now with global warming, they may have a chance making it through the winters. Planting them was pretty hard work because the entire area is thickly overgrown with brush, including a lot of vine maples and I had cleared no trails in that area. I had the pots in a wheelbarrow and had to muscle it through and over the brush. By working downhill at the start, it made it possible to get the wheelbarrow through. By the time I got to the uphill, the load was lighter but it was still a lot of hard work. The work was made easier, though, because the snow was completely gone and the leaves were not yet out on the trees and bushes. I could at least see through the brush to figure out where I wanted to go.

I was surprise to find quite a bit of charcoal mixed in with the dirt in quite a few places. The area must have been burned over at some point. I was visited by a couple Gray Jays at one point, but I had forgotten to bring peanuts with me. I went back to the trailer to get some but I didn't see the birds again. I didn't see a single mosquito during the work.

After I went in for the evening, I put the screens back on the windows in the trailer.

On Wednesday, I planted 3 more trees on the side of the hill behind the privy facing the drainfield. The last 9 potted trees didn't have protective plastic meshes around them like the 20 I planted. Dan had advised me to leave some trees potted so that I could replace any that might not make it. I decided to do that with the 9. He said they could stay in the pots for a year or more. I set these 9 pots out on the ground and then, carrying two 5-gallon buckets of water, I went into the woods and watered all 29 trees.

Next, I made some measurements, did some calculations, and made some decisions about how to build the main outside staircase. I had learned the "Rule of 25" for stair design and convinced myself that the rule is a good one. The rule is that twice the riser height plus one tread width should be 25 inches. This makes sense to me by considering the extremes. If you have a zero or negligible riser, then 25 inches is a reasonable and comfortable stride. At the other extreme, if you have a ladder that is nearly vertical so that it has a "tread" of one inch, it means that the riser should be 12 inches. That is the typical spacing of rungs on a ladder. It makes some sense that between those extremes things should be linear. I decided to make the staircase with 7.08 inch risers and 10.84 inch treads which gives the desired 25 inches.

I started selecting rocks for use as treads at the bottom and got a start placing them. I will make the bottom few steps of stone because some of them will extend under the drip line of the roof and they will be covered with snow in the winter. I'll use log stringers and half-log treads the rest of the way up.

I noticed some carpenter ants crawling around the porch. I hadn't seen any at all last year because on September 2, 2004 I put out some ant bait. I checked the bait dispenser and found that it was completely empty. That seemed to explain the appearance of the ants. I have more bait at home so I put it on my list to bring next week. I think that stuff really works.

On Thursday, I varnished one window, one log between the windows, and the phony vent pipe log in the loft. Then I went back to work placing rocks in the lower part of the staircase. I am happy with how it is turning out. Before I went home, I swept out the trailer and beat the rugs. I left for home at 2:30.

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