Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pouring Piles and various other activities

Well we got the damaged power line fixed. I found myself digging to China as I had to clear an 8 foot trench to expose the wire that just so happen to head straight down to the lowest part of the basement.

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After a lot of work lately we decided to have a sleepover in our new place. We slept over and had a dance. It just so happened to be about 80 KM winds that night but it was still fun to look at the stars from inside the house.

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Polly was super excited with the sleepover as you can tell.

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Roof trusses arrived finally. We are calling all friends of The Simple Farm within shouting distance of the place to come for a roof raising this weekend. I’m taking Friday off to try to get the bad boys up this weekend.

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I honestly thought that these would look bigger for some reason. I guess that’s what happens when the house is smaller than a lot of peoples garage. I just talked to a neighbor whose garage is bigger than our house by 200 sq. ft. ha.

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We ordered concrete for the piles for our deck. Milly was mad I ordered so much extra. Ahem, sometimes, just sometimes, I get to say I told you so. Look how close we got to finishing the piles. Yes, that says 9 inches. We bought a few bags of ready mix and poured the rest tonight.

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Here’s our pile holes all lined up after pouring. We raised the Sono tubes 6 inches off the ground so some of the concrete would come up as a good sized footer. We should have only raised it a few inches as our footing are like 3 feet thick. The concrete raised up really high on the sides.

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Thanks heavens our concrete driver was an old friend from high school. He didn’t even know we moved back but now he knows where we live so there is no excuses not to visit. Here he is looking all tough as nails next to his truck.

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We start them young here. Here’s Polly chipping in filling up our pile holes after the concrete sat for a while.

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Finally, we got 16 inch lag bolts to connect the top few rows of logs together to make sure the place doesn’t fall apart when we get the roofing trusses on this weekend. It’s a lot of work screwing in these every 3 feet around the perimeter.

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OK, one last thing. Here’s a little video of our sleepover/dance under the stars.

Once again, I’m glad I’m already married. Imagine if I had to try to pick up girls with my stiff legged, chicken dance moves?

Next activity, roofing trusses and hopefully sheeting to enclose the place before snow flies.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Won’t I ever learn

In case you were wondering, this is not a good thing.

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We were digging pile holes and hit the main electrical line into our house.

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Here’s a good look at #2 cable.

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Two foot section ripped out of the ground.

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I’ve always wanted a remote cabin that relied on solar power. I might get my wish after all.

Yup, should have listened to Milly and not gone so deep. Looks like I just might get to dig the piles by hand. If I didn’t get to do the basement by hand at least I can feel happy that I’ll get to do a few holes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Homemade Yogurt and Kefir

Milly is the dairy specialist but you are stuck with me to describe this process as I’m the one that doesn’t have anything better to do than write posts for your reading enjoyment.

We like homemade yogurt and kefir way better than the fluffy, candy like goop you buy at the store.

What’s the difference between yogurt and kefir?

Kefir is runnier and not as tangy as yogurt and is made by culturing kefir grains in milk. The kefir grains is bacteria’s and yeast (so says Milly).

Yogurt is also started with a bacteria culture. The start can be something you bye like Yogourmet or you can a culture from a previous culture of yogurt. garden 031


Side story:

In our younger days we taught high school in Western Samoa (go Manu Samoa). When we lived in Samoa we cultured yogurt for many months at a time that started from a regular yogurt we bought from the store. We only bought one yogurt as it cost an arm and a leg but it kept up a very nice yogurt we cultured on the top of our refrigerator. We used vanilla flavor to start with but eventually when we neglected the yogurt culture and had to start again we just used whatever flavor they had (cherry, lemon, strawberry all worked). The funny thing was we were only using powdered milk as our milk base. Pretty amazing we survived eating cultured lemon milk powdered yogurt.


I like the yogurt better than kefir but the kids lap either of them up.

Here is the steps to making homemade yogurt

  • Find 4 one quart jars
  • Acquire a gallon of milk. Raw milk with all the cream works great and we just so happen to have scads of it. If you use store bought milk I’d use the more fat versions but like I said above we did it with milk powder so I would assume it would still work.
  • If using raw milk heat up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. If using store bought milk you should pasteurize (around 180 degrees) then cool down to 110 degrees.
  • While the milk is cooling, mix culture with a little bit of cooled milk. Stir in culture mix to pot of warmed milk
  • Pour contents into 4 quart glass jars
  • Place jars in a location that can keep the yogurt warm (around 110 degrees). We’ve used the top of a fridge, an oven, the concrete steps on a warm summer day.


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But here’s our big secret to keeping the yogurt warm at a constant temperature. We like to fill up a cooler chest with hot water then leave the yogurt in over night. It seems to keep the yogurt at just the right temperature. I would guess one of those hay box cooker or insulating magic bag would work great as well.

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The longer you leave the culture to do it’s thing the stronger the yogurt gets. We usually leave it for about 12 hours. Depending on how you like the yogurt it can be done in as little as 4 hours. We’ve left yogurt in mistakenly for 24 hours and it tastes fine as well.

Steps to make kefir

1. Find Kefir grains. We got some from our friend Lucy and they have propagated for about 4 months.

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2. Pour in milk. We used to warm the milk up but we got lazy and tried it with cold milk and it works great.

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3. Let sit on cupboard for 24 hours or until it sets up.

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That’s it. Kefir is super easy and tastes pretty good.

So why make yogurt and kefir. The bacteria and microorganisms are super good for your guts. Google kefir and yogurt and you will see a plethora of research on how good both are for you.

We usually don’t eat the yogurt or kefir alone. We usually put a bit of organic sugar in suite our liking and often throw in berries and fruit to add flavor.

Here’s some frozen raspberries Milly was gnawing on tonight.

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So there you have it. Homemade yogurt and kefir. It only took a couple of hours to write this blog. But what else did I have to do anyways?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You people are so smart

It’s hard to fool you. I was hoping for more of the following:

  • Looks like glue
  • Looks like melted plastic
  • Looks like a science project gone wrong

It is actually Mozzarella cheese. We used this simple recipe found here.

It was pretty easy. Milly did most of the work before I was around to take pictures. We have made yogurt and kefir quite a bit over the past couple of years so this wasn’t that big of a stretch.

One gallon of milk made about 3/4 of a pound of cheese. We will probably move on to cheddar or some other type of hard cheese in the near future.

I like these guessing games. Can anyone tell me who and what happened here?

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Tendon was ok. And no real damage was caused but I almost passed out when I heard the details.

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Another hint on the person in question.

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I’m looking forward to the guesses on this one.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Finishing up the log walls

With much pain and effort we finished up the walls. We had the crane for another four hours (16 hours in all) and we put up the other half of the house. Elvis, Speedy, Greybeard, the log king (builder), Milly, Myself and Ringo were our assembly crew.

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Speedy decided to play fiddler on the wall.

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Another one of Speedy acting tough on the flatbed that held all the logs.

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As a whole the logs came back together fairly nicely. I don’t think they are as tight of fit as they were at the old location but I’m assured that when the roof gets put on most of the gaps will disappear.

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The finished product. We are now ready for trusses which will show up in about a week we hope.log house 495

I better show a picture of the Log King. He was pretty happy how things all went together. After we got the walls up he said “pretty good for the first time building a log house by hand.” I was surprised this was the first and only place he has ever done. Good thing he is from Norway and has log building in his veins.

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The Log King came in after all was said and done and pulled out a hand plane. I all but screamed for him not to do anything to the walls. I like the grey look. But there is another slightly more selfish reason why I didn’t want him to show Milly what fresh wood looks like.

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Her immediate response was “Looks like you have a long winter ahead of you. I like the planed logs a lot.” Curse his hide.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking down and putting back up a log home

Today was a big day for The Simple Farm folks. Today we moved our logs out to the farm. I don’t know if I can be as humorous as usual as I can barely move the tips of my fingers. I’m sore from head to feet. I only fell off the log walls once it was kind of scary as it was the very top log. Good thing it was in a corner as I just grabbed the walls to support myself as I climbed back up.

Rico came and helped with the big move. Thank heavens. If it wasn’t for him we’d probably be still tearing down. As it happens we actually tore down the whole contraption and put up six more rows of logs.

Here’s a bunch of pics from the day.

Rico and me on the log wall.

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Boom truck/crane operator.

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Rico chasing me around on the top of the logs.

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We had to pry up each log and put straps around each end. Not too hard of a job for two extremely tuff guys.

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Greybeard inspecting our work.

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Corner scribe on the logs.

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Ringo attaching wool in between logs.

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Ringo finding the right logs and helping to attach them to the crane.

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Six rows up. Pretty good days work.

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Cutting out a temporary door.

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Greybeard looks very pleased with the progress.

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