Sunday, November 16, 2008

Root Cellar Update

After having the wood for them down in the root cellar for several months now, I was finally at a point to be able to begin to build shelves. When the main root cellar structure was being completed, Michael suggested we leave the concrete forms, made out of wood, in place so that shelving and the like could more easily be attached. Needless to say, it was a good idea, because trying to put shelving up on concrete walls would have been quite difficult; and in consideration that there doesn't seem to be an excess of moisture in our root cellar, installing wood shelves seemed a fine option.

This is how I proceeded. I measured the heights of pint and quart jars and plastic storage buckets and decided to make the distance between shelves 18 inches (from bottom of the upper shelf to top of the lower shelf), to allow jars or cans to be stacked; and I decided to make the shelves 16 inches from the wall to allow for a 4 quart jar or 1 plastic bucket depth on each, and also so that I could cut a 4x8 board into 3 even sections for the tops of the shelves. From there in the actual construction, I attached shelf "arms" to one side to the wall studs (when logistically feasible, making sure each arm was level from the previous one), mounted the front 2x4, and then included four or five 45-degree angle 2x4s on the other sides of the studs for added strength.

After that, I worked on the shelf tops, which I had chosen to be made from OSB. This part ended up more like a puzzle (which for me was sort of fun! :) ), in that, I had to sketch out the cuts of each board so they would fit around the wall studs; I would also have to cut the ends off in angles so that they would fit properly one against the other, being that things were not square. In drawing the stud cut lines, I used a 4' level placed against each stud's side to get the proper angle off of the stud. The front and back shelves were a bit more complicated because I couldn't fit the board piece into final position: I had to draw in the cut lines based upon a left to right offset, so that, after the original lines were drawn, they would have to be "moved" over by that much offset. And then finally once the tops of the shelves were in place, I decided to shave off any OSB overhang of the sides of the shelves, so that, if I ever decided to add a front barrier piece of wood to keep things from sliding off, it would lay flush.

Here's a picture of the general idea:

And so, here are the shelves. I was able to move much of our canned provisions into the root cellar too:

Interestingly, given the amount of time it has taken to get to this point, this actually completes the originally planned work on the root cellar. Yea!

Once again, we are grateful to the Lord for His provisions of food and for being able to hopefully store that food long-term.

-- David

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hogs, Hogs on the Range

Currently, our only pig pen area is the place set up with the farrowing shed. One day if the Lord wills, we hope to have pigs as part of an animal rotation scheme. But until then, I thought it might be beneficial to try to allow the pigs in the farrowing area to semi-free range (allow them out of the pen but still keep them controlled) where there was grass and other eatables available. This hopefully would also help us cut back on the store-bought feed. Michael had done this with his pigs by surrounding a forage area with electric fence driven by solar power, and so I thought I'd go the same route.

For us, this involved pounding rebar stakes into the ground every 12 or so feet apart, pounding metal T-posts at the corners, attaching the proper plastic electric fence wire insulators for rebar and T-posts, and then running the electric wire. Here is a picture of the fence:

And here is a reverse pictured of the same area:

In running the first wire strand, I found that I needed to attach the plastic insulators for the T-post corners after running the main fence wire through them. If you wire them to the corners before hand, which I did and initially thought was just part of a good preparation process for running the fence wire, there was no way to then actually run the fence wire through them when running the wire off of a spool. So I had to undo and redo the wired corners as the wire was run by. Oops. I did however get it right on the second strand.

But once the wire was run, it was time to hook up the solar powered electric fence power source. Part of wiring it up was driving into the ground a 6' galvanized rod for grounding:

Oh Give Me a Home

In considering the distance between the ground and each of the fence wires, I set the plastic wire holders attached to the rebar about one middle finger to thumb hand span above the ground and then then same span above that for the second wire. Well, once we turned the system on and let the pigs out, apparently not only did we agitate them too excitedly for the moment, but the upper wire just said "doorway" to the pigs; and they both proceeded to hurtle between the two wires and off into the field.

Well, after chasing them back into the pen area, and with the obvious fence failure, I was unsure as to how to proceed. However, I decided to try lowering the top wire half the span between it and the lower wire; and also thought that when we would let them out we would try to make sure they weren't stirred up so much.

That seemed to help. Here they are discovering their new roaming land:

And...well, I guess things are all right now:

We once again thank the Lord for His provisions and wisdom, insight and help with the processes of building our homestead.

-- David