Monday, December 14, 2009


I recently got in contact with an old friend . We used to climb mountains and work together when my wife and I lived in Colorado. He is one of the most devout and dedicated people I have ever met, a great artist and musician as well. His painting is an abstract of the Neversummer mountain range in north central Colorado. We climbed a beautiful mountain named Mount Richthofen there. It made such an impression on me, as did he. I am lucky to have this painting and to consider him a friend.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lost duck returns

About 6 weeks ago we lost one of our 2 older ducks when I forgot to close the rear hatch of the coop after cleaning. In the morning there was only 1 lonely duck, and signs of a struggle near the river. However, last week our neighbor called and said she saw one of our ducks in the river near her house.

The ducks are well known for wandering the road and stopping traffic. Actually I like that. Especially cause it slows down the damn dump trucks.

The neighbor and another in their 70's succeeded in capturing it, only to lose it as they handed it off to our daughter. The next day I set off in rain, armed with 3 umbrellas (which they hate) and 2 butterfly nets. I set a barrier of umbrellas just above the small falls, and herded the missing duck towards the umbrellas. Then trapped it against the wall and grabbed it, put it in a pail and closed the lid.

He was sentenced to 48 hrs in the pen to remember where home is.

Here are our new ducks, we lost one early on.

In other homesteading news: I've officially given up on field #1. It will be used by the neighboring field's owner from here on. I am relieved. Today I dug out the fig, lemon, chestnut and tangerine trees and brought them here. Don't know how they will fare in this climate though.

Now I can work on field #2 which is in front of our house. This time I am actually going to (cough) buy (cough) black plastic mulch and even some super heavy agri-sheet mulch. . No more messing around. In between rows will be laid cardboard boxes from the supermarket. These are harmless, free, and will degrade back into the soil soon. That is IF the neighbor will let me use it again in spring. Have to get the tiller over here soon and make everything look nice.

Monday, November 9, 2009

First family hike

Now that wonderboy is big enough, we are able to hike as a family. We climbed the nearby mountain just behind the house, it is 5 mins to the trailhead by car. We can hike it right out the door, but this would add another hour each way at least.

Parts of it are quite steep. He did great and never once asked to be carried, whew. He did however need promises of snacks at each rest stop, which worked like a charm.

The elevation gain is 400 meters over 1.6 km. ( 1200 feet in 1 mile )
The equivalent of climbing Bear Mountain NY, from the Hudson River, a decent climb.

This mountainous region extends uninterupted except for rough woods roads for thousands of square kilometers. It is the end of the spine of mountains that runs from 大山 Mt. Daisen in Tottori, past Hyounosen 氷ノ山 in Hyogo. It would be possible to walk all that way, occasionally encountering a village or crossing a paved road.

On the way down the forest floor was literally littered with beautiful acorns.

They say they are too bitter to eat. But I am processing them now to remove the tannin. If this works, there is possibly an enormous food supply lying in wait. Shelling the nuts was easy enough. Put them in the oven at 100C/200F for about 10-15 mins. and they will begin to split open. Take them out and give them a squeeze, the shell will split in two. After several boilings they were still too bitter. The other method is to put the shelled acorns in a mesh bag in a fast moving stream, which we have. I will try that if continued boiling fails.

boiling out the tannin


end result:about 6 cups of honey roasted acorns. Some are a little bitter, like the skin on a walnut, but not bad. The boiling out of the tannin was time consuming the way I did it, in small batches. I probably changed the water 12-15 times. A larger batch done on the stove in my large brew pot would work better I think. Again there is also the stream method, which I really want to try next. Have to get out and pick more acorns soon.

PS - after shelling split the nuts into halves or quarters.
you don't need a rolling boil to process them. Process until the water is clear and the nuts begin to lose shape a little.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

climbing wall

I picked up a box of holds cheap when I was in the states and finally got around to making the wall today.

the first route up, aptly named "green road" by supergirl, rated 5.8 by yours truly

wonderboy on sites the 5.8

supergirl flashes "green road"

2 more routes to make, but first, tomorrow we will all go climb a real mountain

Friday, October 30, 2009

guess what's in the box?

take a brick off the stove and wrap in an old shirt, replace when cool

cut a 1" slit, 5 inches long, 3\4 way up a PET bottle


Sunday, October 18, 2009



mochi maki can be dangerous, they're little rice cakes as hard as hockey pucks

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chimney cleaning and stove maintenance

It's been so cool I've alread used the stove twice this month. Time for the first cleaning , gasket replacement and catalytic combuster replacement

All the goods

Nine- 90cm rods all the way up

Digging out the main gasket

Clean, fill with cement, lay in new gasket

some heavy creosote on top of the ceramic refractor

200 bucks worth of broken catalytic

I can't remember if it's 2 years or 3 years old
brand-new, all stainless combuster
I hope this puppy lasts at least 5 years

all cleaned up, ready for the top

Friday, October 9, 2009

Well the worst part of the typhoon passed far south of us. The old section of roof on the playhouse blew off, it needed replacing anyway. The new caulking is holding up well.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oh boy here we go again, this one is packing serious winds. Hopefully it'll knock the stinkbugs out haha.

I got the irrigation channel pretty well blocked off in 4 places, but unfortunately didn't have time to get the south side windows covered with plywood. They should be ok, hopefully the winds will lessen as it gets near our area.

The lates forecast says 250mm or rain for us. 500mm or more for more south and east of us!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Log Home maintenance: chinking or caulking checks

Now that I've got the new addition and old southside stained it's time for some more maintenance. Chinking is sealing between logs, caulking is using a sealant to fill in upward facing cracks, or "checks" in log walls.

When we first moved in we had some water leaking in around the 3 south facing windows during heavy wind-driven rain which occasionally pounds the south side. For about 3 years the carpenter couldn't stop the leak. Finally the carpenters son was able to do it. Now for the last 2 years all has been fine with the windows. I attempted many times to caulk the checks around the windows, and the frames themselves inside and out during that time.

Now that all but the kitchen, south facing log wall are pretty much overhung with eaves or roofing, I can focus on the remaining trouble spot. (The north facing rear of the house is in pretty much mint condition, paint wise.

However: here is a big upward facing check that I improperly caulked with silicone sealant. The log pro's say don't use silicon. You must use non-silicone based, read -very, very expensive stuff.

So for 5 years now this check has been gathering rain into the log, oh sh*t.

I did a borate treatment when the home was built, so hopefully this will help if too much water got in.

I don't see why silicone isn't acceptable, maybe the pro's just want you to buy their stuff? They say silicone will not seal properly and moisture can pass where the silicone adheres to the check.This was done about 3 years ago? looks good to me, if it fails I can always replace it.

This one is completely sealed, I see no gaps for water to enter, forget the aesthetics

fully sealed , but will check into caulking and chinking more on the net

The new extension of the front porch roof. Before we used to get good and soaked running into the house on rainy days, which is often.

The front all stained. Reaching the peak was lots of fun of course. First I had to remove a large hornet or wasp nest. This took 5 days. They were not happy in the least. The nest was melon sized and just under the peak beam. I wore a netted hat and improvised bee suit of rain gear while doing the entire upper section. The worst was of course painting the peak, and wasps would return looking for home. All the while waiting to be stung on the back or neck or somewhere, and not fall off the ladder while instinctively swatting the bastard. Oh and it was nice and windy too of course. But the new addition makes it so much easier to get to the peak now. Before my 8 meter ladder made it only to between the peak beam and the window.

Next: stain the dormers, deck floor, top rail and deck stairs!