Friday, December 12, 2014

Chainsaws to the rescue!

Serious windstorm the other day.  We rode it out on the boat without incident but when we got to the land, there were a few downed trees.  We had big plans to do some tree geo-location and a bit more driveway clearing when a neighbor stopped by and mentioned the downed tree on the road.  CHAINSAWS TO THE RESCUE!  An excuse was all Ken and Jason needed to break out the chainsaw and start limbing and bucking that guy - it was HUGE!

We combined javelin practice with removing the limbs to get them out of the road

And of course a little see-saw time as a distraction (Safety Pup was not amused)

Once one trunk came down, we just prayed that no neighbors would come screaming up the hill in a car and get decapitated by the other one.

Once the tree was limbed and bucked, we had the simple job of getting it off the road.  Ken's big tool for the job?  A dolly.

Fortunately, he also brought along his peavey

And of course the truck - gotta use the truck for this job.  The only thing we were missing was a tractor...

More chainsaw pics to come as we start doing some clearing, but it was nice to practice on a tree that was already down.

In other news, I planted my first Vashon garden!  Casey and I cleared a little spot and planted some garlic and red onions; hopefully it doesn't get overtaken by trailing blackberry before we get back from Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

House design evolution

It's a lovely thing to be able to build whatever you want.  It's also so full of possibilities that it's hard to decide anything at all.

We started off thinking that we'd build something tiny to live in, then build something bigger when we had the money and desire to have something more substantial.  Then the tiny house would become a guest house or studio.

Then we found that all of our house designs were morphing into the big house, not a tiny house.  So we went with it.  Jason spent a good part of our July sailing trip messing around on SketchUp (our absolute new favorite tool - also? FREE).   He came up with a kick ass design that we both loved.

We even loved it for 3 months (which is impressive considering we generally change our minds about every 1.5 hours).  Then we started questioning ourselves.  We have lived on the boat for more than six years, so do we really know what we want?  And if we build this ourselves, it's got to be more simple.  And, oh by the way, we both teach this thing called Agile which is all about doing something small, proving that it works and then adding on.  Maybe we should put our money where our mouths are.

So we started coming up with small house designs.  This is the latest (and just a rough-out).  We'll of course have to sit on this for a while and make sure it's what we really want, but so far, we're both crazy about it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Vashon Forest Stewards

So it turns out there's a nonprofit group on the island that not only helps you think about how to develop your land in a sustainable way, but they also have things like a sawmill and kiln to help keep wood on the island - so fun!

Dave Warren came out on Saturday to do a "forest walkthrough" with us.  The guy is hilarious and knows a ton of trivia about the island (did you know that Seattle's Best Coffee was originally named Stewart Brothers Coffee?  Apparently they had all of their "SBC" marketing material printed when they lost a lawsuit to Stewart Brothers Coffee of Chicago, so they switched over to Seattle's Best).

Besides crazy island trivia, Dave also has a ton of wisdom about the forests themselves.  Like what to look for to find diseased trees and which side of the house to keep the big trees to lessen the likelihood that they fall in a big storm.  For $50/hr, his knowledge was invaluable and it goes to the nonprofit, so it's doubly good.

We're so looking forward to getting some of our Douglas-firs (capital D because a dude named Douglas named them and hyphenated because he misnamed them - they're not firs, they are pines!) milled into giant beams for our house and keeping this thing sourced as locally as possible.

Thank you Vashon Forest Stewards!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Logger friends

I've started keeping notes of which of our friends has extraordinary skill in particular house-building areas.  Turns out we know people that do ICF's, cabinetry, siding, all sorts of stuff.  We're totally planning to use our friends.  In return, we will give them free Agile software development advice.  Or at least let them come stay whenever they want once we're done.

It turns out our friends Mark and Molly know a thing or two about dropping trees.  AND they have chainsaws (yes, multiple) despite living on a sailboat - they did pare their collection down to 3, and that was a giant win.  Our chainsaw lessons began last weekend.  I'll let you guess which face cut here is Mark's, and which is Jason's.

In addition to cutting some trees down, we also need to get the rootballs out - and after much YouTube research, Jason decided the best way to do this was with...the truck (it's a damn good thing we got that sucker).  He was in hog heaven switching that thing into 4 low. 

It was a great day AND no one got mangled by a tree - SUCCESS!  On the ferry on the way back, we started a new tradition: Ferry Beers! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Terrible burglars

Ken is the master of free shit and McGyvering those things he can't get for free. He has made wifi antennas from Pringles cans and AIS (a fancy boat tracking system) out of bear trackers. I'm not even kidding. The guy could kick McGyver's ass in a duct tape competition.  (Come to think of it, they do look somewhat alike...if only Ken would start feathering his hair...)

The other day, Ken wandered by a nearby street where the city was redoing the sidewalk. Most people would see useless, broken up chunks of concrete. Not Ken - he saw hole-filler.  He and Jason pulled a giant rock out of his driveway the other day (see, what did I tell you - McGyver in action).  Clearly said hole needed to be filled.

He and Jason went to re-appropriate a few concrete blocks from said construction site. Jason, however, makes a terrible burglar in his bright orange jacket.

Our big plan for this house is to learn the ways of the Ken.  We figure normally it would cost us a trillion dollars to build a house, and Ken could build it for virtually 0, so maybe, just maybe, we could use Ken methods and only spend half that.