Friday, November 13, 2015

Field Stone Foundation Pier for the WellHaus

To start the WellHaus we took a look at the slope to determine where the lowest point was, and that just happened to be the Northwest corner. As this is the lowest point, it will be the tallest pier. With the finished height targeted at below 30 inches we are looking to establish enough height so that the  on the mountain side remain above grade. This also will allow us to have a deck that does not require a balustrade.

To determine where our corners would be we needed to take into account all of the restrictions and conditions present. Knowing that we want to stay under 200 square feet we selected the site and upon analysis we decided the site condition really only allowed somewhere near 200 sqft. With that in mind we took to configuring out plan, a rectangle is the most efficient shape for a work space.

Step 1- Draw it out!
Pier Detail
 Step 2- Set your forms. Pull centre from your batter boards and measure your height. For our rebar risers we're gonna go sustainable ( ok ok cheap) and clean up the site by breaking the bricks length wise to use the holes as rebar holders. Tie the rebar together with wire and drive four 3 foot sections of rebar into the ground per detail section.

Pier footing form

Step 3- Mix and pour your concrete,

Poured concrete footer
Step 4- Go and find some stone!

Stone pile

Step 5- Watch the Laying a Fieldstone Pier video 

Fieldstone pier
And there you have it! The cast concrete capstone was also made on site. The final step here will be to screw a temporary skirt board on the framing to create a form to pack high strength grout between the capstone and the framing on the inside corner. Notice the "Floating Column" making a cameo appearance! More on that later! Cheers. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Time Changes

The memories of Summer still linger, stored with a smile as to not forget the warm dry sunshine. What a great Summer though, the Fall harvest was early and Autumn waited for the calendar to filp to October. The rains are upon us and as one might predict came with the remnants of a hurricane off the Pacific.

With Day Light Savings kicking in, it's dark before 5 o'clock which doesn't leave much time to be working outside. With that in mind I feel less guilty about sitting at the computer so I hope I'll have more time to write, edit and publish. It seems as though blogs are out of date and I get more traffic on my Youtube channel than I'll ever see on here.

Regardless! I have a whole summer of projects to document, so I'll try to spend equal effort in writing as videography.

This will be the first Winter since we switched out all off our lights to LED's. That should be a huge cost savings but more importantly, BRIGHT! Next on the list is the exterior lights and now that it's dark so early I'll have to be getting on that.
Because this is ugly

Because this is efficient

Becauase Damn, now I have to paint the ceiling

It's nice to not have those voids where the compact fluorescent bulbs were. Also, the CFL's took awhile to warm up in the winter, it was kinda of like a slow glow that was easy on the eyes in the morning but good luck finding anything before work.

Oh yes, I have more projects to show but the sun is out and that is rare so I better be getting on.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Ivy War

The Great war started like all others before it. After a few initial contacts the differences between the two sides were slowly magnified, like a scientist zooming in with a microscope so close that the resemblances of what was and what is became vastly different. A small grievance that evolved into contempt, pitched battles, proxy wars and ultimately direct open conflict. The slippery slope and the fog of war compounded the decent.

As I looked across the landscape I was annoyed by an incursion into our territory. After scouting and an investigation I had found the enemy had penetrated deep into our area and was establishing a foothold. What I thought was an establishment of agreed upon lines was actually the launching pad for their offensive. Having spotted this just in time I was able to beat back the incursions and reestablish the front lines.

This is how these things start and slowly unravel. I went to battle at first with light weapons and now it has become a series of pitched battles, tactical warfare with strategic purpose. Having taken out my first salvo, I descended into the woods. The Ivy had worked its tendrils into every garden bed and taken over the hill. They had taken the high ground and were choking us out with a patient siege and war of attrition that we could not sustain. I broke the siege by cutting them off at the base.

Jason Kotarski
Thus the battle begun. The small hatchet and machete struck the first blows. The ivy fought back, grabbing ahold of my foot and tripping me causing a tumble. I didn't even notice the Ivy had allied with the Blackberries causing a mess to my fingers, hands, arms, and face. I ratcheted it up a notch and invoked fire to burn through the root mass that had strangled the landscape to death. I hacked and piled and torched small circles to the earth and tilled the ashes and tinder to the soil. I was moving the frontlines of the war and in these circles I planted our counter offensive. The ivy had strangled the native species and specimen plants leaving behind a green carpet of landslide danger. The counter offensive was to reinforce our position and entrench the battle lines.
Jason Kotarski
The enemy had infiltrated our transportation corridor necessary for supply lines and reinforcements. The rocks were to be our foothold and we had to press the advance.
Jason Kotarski
We spotted the enemy position and plotted our attack. We would wait for a Saturday when the enemy would be vulnerable and waited for the sun to set to mask our movements before we sprung our trap. We had flanked the enemy and were advancing on two fronts in a pincer movement to divert the attention of this infiltrator. They were deeply entrenched in their position and we invoked Sun Zhu as we planned to hold our ground. It was hand to hand combat, grappling and twisting, pulling and wrestling to yank them from the trenches. 
Jason Kotarski
 The southern flank had succeeded but we knew we would be tested on this side again. By only attacking the exposed positions we left the main forces to regroup later. We need to establish an observation post to monitor the situation.
Jason Kotarski

The initial pitched battles are showing signs of stabilization with new habitation in the controlled sectors. These are becoming excellent rear guards to sustain our Forward Operating Bases (FOB).

Oh adversary Ivy and your proxy Blackberry, we will defeat you and on the fourth day of the month of July we will declare our independence and watch you burn in the flames of our success!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Washington Wine and Cidre for a stormy day

It's the weekend, it's the Ides of March and although the month arrived like a sophisticated polite lamb, the weather is a bone chilling driving rain that we almost forgot about this Winter. The early spring and beautiful weather allowed us a jump start on the garden and the orchard! In addition to the blueberries we added two Apple trees (Honeycrisp and Gala) two Pear trees (Bosc and Anjou) and two Cherry (Rainer and Bing).

In anticipation of the next harvest it's time too bottle up last years harvest. I don't really like bottling but with this weather it seemed like a good idea. So we have one Beach Plum cidre in a farmhouse style, slightly sour and a bit funky with a low ABV. The next is a Green Plum cidre, traditional with a little more kick to it. The last is Barbera that I had the opportunity to harvest last year in Yakima.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spring Time!!! Mason Bee House

As the Winter thaws and the blooms are budding I started building Orchard Mason Bee (Osmia Lignaria) Houses to put around the yard and hopefully the whole neighborhood should anyone ask for some. Super simple and straight forward, to start I drilled out a block of wood and capped it with some cedar for a roof.
Jason Kotarski

If I get the chance I will try to pick up a pack of cocoons with larvae. I am going to try several variations of the houses and see which ones get the most action. This one is near the blueberries tucked up against a tree for rain protection and facing the morning sun.

Jason Kotarski

With an ample supply of water and mud, I hope these little friends move in and help us with the garden! I'm excited to see how this year's harvest goes. We expanded the blueberry patch this year with four more bushes and are looking at four more next year.