July 28, 2008

Building Begins

This past weekend started off horribly. On Saturday morning we woke up at 6:30am to get an early start on the day. Jared left to get the wood we would need for building while I stayed at the campsite and did some planting. I saw the fox running along the big rocks so he must have staked out our property as his territory. My Shasta Daisy had 4 beautiful blooms on it. Later in the morning once we had unloaded the truck, the horrible weather began. Thunderstorm after thunderstorm washed away all hopes of getting anything done. My parents came to Rock Pile Ridge later in the morning for a visit and to give us a hand with the initial construction of the floor of the bunky.

We had bought a generator that was on sale this week, and it is really great! It is light, quiet and very handy for using power tools in the woods. Jared managed to get some of the cuts done for our beams during brief breaks in the weather, but the rain wouldn't stop long enough to do any serious building. If we hadn't bought the generator it would have taken him a lot longer to get anything done. Another huge time saver was the fact that my parents came really well prepared for the work we had to get done. They brought us saws, a nailer, and all sorts of useful little tools that we really need to buy ourselves. I am so happy that they came to give us a hand because otherwise we probably wouldn't have gotten as much done as we did.

My dad also brought his chainsaw and cut down some trees that we couldn't handle with our little hand saws. He took out the big dead clump that has been bugging me since we bought our property (the one that partially fell over during the winter) and also some trees that needed to come down. Thanks to him, we now have firewood that will last us for a while. The clump was turned into a planter for a few perennials once I discovered that the inside was home to a huge colony of ants that had turned the rotten center into soil. It looks pretty neat, and makes a nice focal point along our path. Or anyway, it will once we clean up the logs that are currently lying on the pathway. Later in the afternoon I spotted the fox again, running back along the big rocks. I got my mom and Jared to come with me to look at him, and I observed that he is definitely not Little Red, but a smaller fox with more black on his back. He was watching us closely and grabbed up a squirrel he had caught and took off into the woods with it. This explains why we haven't seen many squirrels and chipmunks around lately. We decided to name him Blacky, and I hope I see him again.

Sunday brought beautiful weather, and we all worked really hard to get as much done as possible. My dad showed us step by step what to do and assisted us a little, but made sure that we did most of the work so that we could learn. Jared made the cuts, and once everything was lined up and clamped together, I used a nailer to secure everything. That was a lot of fun! Once we were finished I couldn't believe how incredible it looked, and how small the bunky is really going to be! At least we will have a nice view!

We ended up staying at the property until after 6:00pm on Sunday, so by the time we got home it was pretty late. We had no choice but to take advantage of the good weather and stay on schedule. Jared felt good about what we accomplished, but I am really feeling the time crunch. We have about a month to get the shell of our bunky up so we have somewhere to stay during our honeymoon in September, and with the way the weather seems to be every time we go to the property it seems like Mother Nature is never going to give us a break! Next week we plan on putting down the floor.

July 13, 2008

Many Little Projects

Our weekend started with some excitement. We arrived at Rock Pile Ridge around 11:30pm on Friday and had a visitor check us out in our campsite... an inquisitive red fox! It looked smaller than our Little Red and the tail was less bushy, but any fox that visits us will always be Little Red. We were excited to watch him as he walked through the woods not that far from where we were sitting and look over at us like he was wondering why we were making so much noise at him (we were saying "look it's Little Red!"). The stars were bright and the night was very cool. We didn't go to bed until about 3:30am.

Saturday morning (very early) Jared woke me up to come see a deer that was walking along our pathway. I stumbled out of the tent (still asleep) and wandered over to The Rock where Jared was sneaking around to get a photo of the deer. He got one, but it was lousy. All I saw was a brown thing bounding through the forest with a white tail waving like a flag. I went back to the tent and fell asleep. Later that morning Jared woke me up again and we started to work on the piers. We are both so impresssed with the results of last weekend. Pretty good for a couple of rookies! Jared had laid a straight board across our forms with a level on it and the bubble was right in the middle.

We had some trouble leveling our next two forms (the string level we got had a piece of plastic in the hook which was throwing it off) but finally we sorted it out. Jared mixed the concrete and I compacted and leveled it off. We had just the right amount of concrete to finish the piers and once we completed them we were so excited because they look really good, and now we can begin working on the floor of the bunky! Jared is happy he won't have to work with concrete anymore, or at least not until we build another larger cabin.

Jared had some plywood left over from making the concrete forms, so we decided to create a counter near the barbeque, that would have room for firewood underneath. This idea was really great, and it is easily one of my favourite things we have done to improve our campsite. Jared loves it too. It's the perfect counter height, it's nice and long so there is lots of room, and because of the way the ground slopes one section of it is perfect for sitting at to eat. When we put a tarp over it, the firewood underneath our counter will stay nice and dry. Jared always has funny ideas, but I really liked his idea to set up a bar when we have people over! We were about to try eating dinner at our new counter but it started pouring rain. It rained pretty good for a couple of hours then it stopped. I went to bed early on Saturday night but Jared stayed up and he had some company. The flying squirrel was raiding our bird feeder again and Jared said it hung around for at least an hour. The funny part was the pictures that Jared took of it because the squirrel was hanging upside down by it's feet and eating the sunflowers with it's front paws.

This morning we did a few more projects. I cleaned out the cave and organized all our stuff. It felt good to rake out all the leaves and sort our things. It looks like we have a huge cave now. Jared created a vegetable garden by cleaning up an area and digging up all the existing plant material. He had bought 8 tomato plants in Wilberforce the day before so I planted them in the new vegetable garden for him. Something ate Jared's dill, and his chives are non-existent, but the pumpkin seeds he planted are starting to grow their true leaves now. My own gardens look really great too, and I was excited to see one of my Astilbes blooming. I got Jared to help me cut down a tree in one of the campsite gardens, and he gave me a hand with a little project I had been wanting to work on for a while now. I took some interesting sticks that have the bark peeled off and tied them to 2 trees in the garden which I will eventually top and keep as posts. The effect I am going for is not complete yet, I still want to get some curly willow branches and weave them vertically through my horizontal pieces to create an interesting screen. Then I can grow Clematis and we will have a privacy screen to hide our campsite from the road a little better. It turned out pretty cool and I can't wait to finish it.

The bird bath we made last week also turned out really well. It has an interesting shape, and the bowl looks neat too because of the rock we used to form it. I had a couple of cast iron birds in the garden and I propped them on the sides of the bird bath. The result looks like something you could buy in a store. I am really happy with it because it looks really neat and it's something that Jared and I made together. We stayed until late in the afternoon because we didn't want to go. There was a nice breeze, and the bugs weren't bothering us very much. The sun was shining and the birds were singing. Today was an absolutely perfect day at Rock Pile Ridge.

July 5, 2008

Concrete and Horse Flies

Today we went to Rock Pile Ridge for a day trip with the intention of finishing our piers. We stacked all the remaining blocks and filled them with concrete. The deer flies and horse flies were insane! They surrounded us in a swarm and although we killed dozens they seemed to multiply and it was very difficult to work in that condition. The horse flies were especially bothersome and a couple of them managed to get a bite out of me before I swatted them off. Two of our piers are now complete. We constructed forms and after leveling them to perfection we filled them with concrete. I was in charge of smoothing the tops and I did a really great job - even Jared was impressed. We didn't have enough clamps to finish the other two piers and it was getting late, so we postponed them until next weekend. We had a little bit of concrete left over so we decided to make a bird bath. I also fertilized my gardens with Miracle Gro slow release fertilizer to give my plants a boost even though they are doing really well anyway.