Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/3/09

5/3/09 Ellen found another giant sequoia tree in our yard that I had evidently overlooked. It was still in its pot but was buried in the swale. There were actually two of them, but the other one was dead.

5/5-7/09 I went up to the property for 3 days, Tuesday through Thursday.

On the way, I stopped and returned the two borrowed plug wires to Mike. I had had a new set installed in the truck. Bert and Ernie followed me from there to the property where they got their usual dog biscuit treats.

The gate was open when I got there which presented a puzzle. I was sure I had closed it when I left last time, yet everything looked as though I had simply forgotten to close it. After trying to remember what I had done the previous week, I couldn't be sure. I remember backing all the way to the outcrop just to check it out, and then I must have just driven past the open gate forgetting to close it. I was probably preoccupied with the sound of the engine missing.

After moving in and having lunch, I transplanted the twelfth sequoia tree that I had brought with me. Since this one was a lot bushier than the rest, it wouldn't fit in the same nylon sleeves. Instead, I made a cylinder of chicken wire and fastened it around the tree with three pieces of rebar pushed into the ground.

I had decided to give all the sequoia trees names so that I can refer to and report on them individually in the future. Ellen helped me finalize the list of names which includes the names of people who have been the most help in the log home project, or in the case of Dan, the guy who provided the trees in the first place. The names are Andrew, Bill, Brian, Cam, Chuck, Dan, Dave, Earl, Ellen, John, Larry, and Paul. Since I hope these trees outlive all of us, and since I hope we all live to be 100, I have decided to make name tags for them which also will survive all of us. I'll make them of copper letters soldered to copper plates riveted to steel fence posts. Last week I made the letters; next week I'll make the plates.

In the process of planting the new tree, I realized that my axe was woefully dull - mostly as a result of using it on the roots while digging part of the water pipe trench. I spent some time at the grinder trying to sharpen it back up. In the process, I broke the wire to the grinder, so I will have to fix that one of these days.

Next I went into the loft and reconfigured the scaffolding. I took down the planks and guard rope I had used to reach the Grid C2 RPSL and I moved the scaffold tower back under the gable peak so I can begin chinking up there. I also replaced the 2x4 guard rail that I had removed. Then I nailed half of one seam on the Grid A wall.

Before I quit for the day, I set a trap for the packrats and I covered the plug wires in the truck with pieces of hardware cloth. For the trap, I used the same steel refrigerator drawer that I had used before, and I used the same Paiute Indian deadfall trap trigger mechanism I had used before. But instead of a piece of plywood underneath, I used the glass door of an old IBM 729 (I think - it might have been a 2401) tape drive. That way I would be able to see what I had caught without opening the trap and giving the packrat a chance to escape. The plan was to fasten the drawer tight to the glass door with bungee cords before I turned the whole thing over to look inside. I set the trap under the front porch, which made it awkward for me to set it.

On Wednesday morning, the trap was sprung so I wrapped the thing together with three bungee cords and turned it over to see inside. I was disappointed to see that it was empty except for the sticks I had used for the trigger mechanism. The three peanuts I had used for bait were gone. That meant that either the packrat was able to lift the box off and get out, or that he ate the bait without setting off the trap and then pushed it down from the outside. I was very disappointed. Now what? I thought about using rat traps and killing the critters but I didn't like that idea. I decided to try again the next night and proceed on from there.

I looked under the hood of the truck and was happy to see no mischief there. There were some leaves in there but I couldn't be sure whether they were new last night or were old. I threw them out so next time I won't be confused.

It was 40 degrees and raining. A good day to work inside. I built a fire in the stove and went to work in the loft. I started by insulating the Grid A1 corner. All the wires were in place there so it was time to get the insulating done. I also insulated the seam containing the EMT for the electrical outlets, and a few other places where some seams needed insulation. Then I nailed two seams in the Grid A wall before I quit for lunch and a nap.

After lunch, I nailed the Grid A1 corner and most of the Grid A wall. I kept the place cozy warm by burning some of the green vine maple firewood I had cut last week. It burned slowly, but that was just the right amount of heat. It gets too warm in the loft if the fire is very hot.

Before I went in for the night, I set the trap again, but this time I set it right on the front porch deck. That made it a lot easier for me.

On Thursday morning, it was 40 degrees again but the rain had almost stopped. When I went up to the cabin, I was happy to see that the trap had sprung but I didn't know what to expect. I wrapped the three bungee cords around the trap and turned it over. I was sort of surprised but glad to see a fairly big packrat staring up at me through the glass with his beady eyes. I was very happy I had caught him. Now I would just proceed on my original plan of catching them one at a time and relocating them. Since I was going home this day, I decided to take him around to the other side of Nason Ridge and let him go in the ditch on highway 2. I took some pictures of the trap and its contents, and loaded it into the truck where the packrat would have to wait for his ride to his new home.

I built another fire in the stove and went to work finishing up the nailing of the loft walls. Then I rearranged some boxes on the first floor so that I could get at the log wall in the bedroom closet. This was not chinked or nailed yet, and a couple places even needed to be insulated. This was as far as I had gotten before the weather had stopped me that last time I worked on chinking.

I nailed two of the seams in the closet, and then I spent some time relaxing and enjoying the warm stove and the view, and listening to the rain pattering on the metal roof. As our scoutmaster had remarked last time he was sitting by the same stove, "It just doesn't get any better than this." I agree. I packed up and left for home at 1:00. On the way, I let the packrat off at his new home as planned.

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