Archive for the 'carpentry' Category

The orchard

Ken has gone on a bit of a gardening kick this year. So far he’s planted 150 strawberry plants, five rows of beans, six rows of corn, several native melon plants, several squash plants, six watermelon plants, four apple trees, and two cherry trees. The man does nothing by halves. This is all well and good when one lives somewhere where things… you know… grow. With actual dirt (not gravel), water that falls from the sky, and a manageable number of wild animals that also want to eat anything green. But no, this is New Mexico, so anywhere you’d want anything to grow you have to add organic matter to the soil, you have to water everything (by hand, with a bucket, if the irrigation system wasn’t designed for all this – which it wasn’t), and you have to enclose everything to keep out the voracious animals.

Hey, if it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun. Right?

So, because we have a herd of deer and numerous birds, if we hope to ever get any fruit whatsoever off of a fruit tree, it must be completely enclosed. So, we had to build an orchard enclosure. Thus follows the tale of the orchard enclosure.

A proud man and his baby apple trees.
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Digging holes. Don’t let this fool you, I dug a lot of holes too. Just no photographic evidence.
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Holes for the trees done!
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So, not only do we have to build an enclosure, it has to be designed and built as a timber frame structure because this is what Ken wanted. Which means that Ken hand shaped mortise and tenon joints on the end of each board. This is a very time consuming project, but hey, it’s his time, not mine. However, if you were to ask me, there’s a reason that screws and drills have been invented.
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Structure laid out and ready to put up.
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Fruit tree holes dug and amended. We have to do serious amending in order to get anything to grow in the gravel around here.
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Vertical poles set up.
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So getting all the poles fitted together with their respective mortise and tenon joints and pegs put together up 12 feet in the air with only the two of us was incredibly difficult. At one point a 2×4 dropped on my head. There may have been tears shed. It was not a good sort of a project. I may have proclaimed that I would never ever help him build another timber frame structure as long as I live.
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However, what does not kill us makes us stronger, and it eventually stayed together on it’s own with the help of many, many straps.
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Since, Ken has built a gate and enclosed most of the structure with deer netting and chicken wire to keep the deer and birds out.
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The apple trees are thriving, and haven’t been eaten by anything since Ken got the netting up, so it seems to be working. Those better be really freaking good apples.
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Shameless bragging about my husband

See this? This is my husband and the amazing cider press he built completely from scratch. Well, we had the motor for the grinder sitting around (if by any chance our old friends the Redheds ever read this, I think that motor came from your house…) but everything else he put together. Because he is a genius.
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Another angle. Look at those amazing pinned mortise and tenon joints! My contributions were knowledge of cider pressing to help with some design decisions, and making a mesh bag. Real difficult.
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Look, I can work it too! We got 220 lbs of apples from Ken’s co-worker’s (unsprayed) trees. It took us forever to make the cider because we had to cut so much out of all of the apples because of all the bugs. His coworker can be forgiven because they just moved into the house, but spray your trees, people. We ended up with 11 gallons of cider, six of which is currently fermenting.
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I think the plain, unfermented cider will always be my favorite though. Delicious.
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We got a shop.

First there was a bunch of rabbitbrush and cacti. Then some men came with a bobcat and made a flat spot.
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Then some other men came and drilled big holes.
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Very big holes.
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Then a frame appeared.
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A wall, even!
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Then we got concrete, and then finally we did some work ourselves, installing gutters. While wearing head-nets because the gnats were unbelievably awful.
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Given the amount of work putting up simple gutters turned out to be, I’m extremely pleased that we had other people come and put up the rest of the shop. This past week we waterproofed the floor, and all that remains until it’s fully completed is getting electricity installed. Minor detail, right?

Next project: Replace the engine in the truck. Fun stuff.

Warning! This post is about how I’ve organized my cupboards. It might be boring.

If Home Depot’s seasonal section is any indication, Americans spend Dec 26th on through January purchasing various plastic containers meant to organize all the stuff we purchased for Christmas. Well, Home Depot doesn’t know me! I started right after Thanksgiving! I’ve been doing some organizing I’ve been unable to do since we moved in two and a half years ago. This was facilitated by the arrival of my grandparents’… cabinet? Shelving unit? I don’t know what it would be called. Now it’s called our bedroom wall.

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Yes, we now sort of have a bedroom! This forms a wall, and I hung up some painters cloth as a curtain across as a “door”.
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While having a semblance of a bedroom is kind of nice, the best part is the STORAGE! This one piece of furniture emptied three cardboard boxes that we’d been living out of because there was just no place for the stuff to belong. This middle section was built to contain my grandma’s extensive sheet music collection (she was a piano teacher and church pianist for years), but my music collection is rather smaller. It’s nicely contained closer to the piano in the piano bench and another cabinet that my grandpa built. Now Grandma’s music shelves hold our towels and sheets, sewing supplies and fabric, and various toiletries and medicine-cabinet type stuff that doesn’t fit in our tiny bathrooms. I’m not sure I can come up with adequate words to express how much better this is than the cardboard box system. It is SO much better.

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Anyway, emptying those three boxes and installing the new oven (and thereby losing some drawer space) inspired me to tackle other organizational disasters throughout the house. It was kind of a domino effect, organizing one problem area led to the next and the next… So combine that with the tragic lack of snow in the mountains and the house is a lot more organized. I’d rather be skiing, but being able to find things is also nice.

From the laundry room.
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To the water-heater closet.
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To the bottom of the china cabinet
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(haha, just noticed the cat toy. Wonder who put that there?)
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To under the sink.
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I even built this custom rack for all those pesky boxes of bags and stuff.
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I also built dividers for the utensil drawer
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And dividers and sliding shelves (!!!) for under the stove.
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The latest project is cutting an access hole in the living room to the kitchen cabinet which exists behind the oven, but is totally inaccessible. Although this was my idea, I can’t take credit for the execution. Ken is our wall-cutter-into-er in this family. He did this tonight. He’s going to move the support to the sides of the opening, then put a cabinet door over it so we can store some more food back there. The lack of a pantry is a serious problem in this house.
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Other areas I’ve organized that weren’t interesting enough for pictures (given the boring-ness of the above pictures, can you even image how boring these places must be?!): The closet with the cat boxes, the new under-sink cabinet in the bathroom downstairs, the bookshelf upstairs, and the attic.

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few months at home. Is this major re-organizational effort something that has to happen because we didn’t arrange things well when we moved in and have now figured out what works better, or is this something I’m just going to have to do every 2.5 years? Here’s hoping it’s the former.

I made some furniture

Look what I made!
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I followed the instructions from¬†pretty much exactly, except I bought 5″ foam by accident (JoAnne was a total madhouse, and after waiting forever for our number to be called at the cut counter, we didn’t want to run and get the right size foam when we realized we had the wrong size) and didn’t use any upholstery tacks.

Her stools were a bit less expensive than mine, my wood cost far more than hers for some reason. Perhaps there are cheaper places to buy oak than Home Depot? Anyway, the foam is by far the most expensive thing, it’s normally something like $70 a yard, although I got it half off. I spent approximately $100 for the two of these. Not exactly an el-cheapo bargain, but I think they’re going to work great as laptop holders for us, and easily portable seating for guests. Much more utilitarian than the too-big coffee table we had in there (which is currently gracing our porch…).

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I think the biggest surprise was how easy the upholstering part was. It’s making my eye the piano bench, although that’s trickier because it’ll involve sewing. But I can sew…

If I were to do it again, I think I’d do the proper carpentry thing and use pegs glued in holes rather than nails and screws. It’s a pretty easy project, so it probably would be a good way for me to learn to do that. So far they seem rock solid though. Next furniture item I make I promise to try that method.

May 2018
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