Construction Journal Entry Week of 5/27/07

5/29-31/07 I went up to the property for 3 days: Tuesday through Thursday.

I arrived at 12:50. It was 75 degrees out. When I moved in there was a message on the answering machine from Earl. I called and left him a message that I would be at the property until Thursday noon.

After moving in, I watered the potted sequoia trees. Three of them are really thriving and have a lot of new growth. I took a picture of them. Dan Cress had told me that the best time to transplant them is in the early spring while they are still dormant. I figured that I had waited too long this year so I decided to leave them in the pots until next spring and then transplant them in the woods somewhere.

I got the chainsaw out and bucked up the two pine logs that had fallen onto the roof a couple winters ago. They were right in the way of making the back deck and staircase so they had to go. I checked them first to see if they contained any good or useful wood but they didn't. They were ponderosa pine and the bark had been left on so they were starting to deteriorate. I really didn't have a use for ponderosa anyway. I bucked the logs into 3 or 4 foot sections and stacked them up by the privy.

Next, I went up and ripped the butt log that I had scribed the last time I was up. Since my ripping chain was ground down so there isn't much left of the teeth, and since I didn't want to go to the trouble of changing the chain anyway, I decided to try ripping using a regular chisel point chain. I sharpened it up good and gave it a try. As far as I could tell it worked every bit as well and as fast as the ripping chain did. It didn't take me long to rip the entire log.

There was still time left in the day so I got my long chain and used it as a choker and a harness and skidded one of the half-logs down to the building by brute force. Once the slab was down by the mixer, I rigged a come-along to a bolt in the cabin wall which I put through one of the holes I used for the scaffolding. Then using this come-along, I winched the slab up next to the building under the eaves.

On the way in for the night, I fed one Steller's Jay by placing peanuts on a rock and standing back 20 feet or so. I also saw a couple chipmunks but I didn't have the patience to wait for them to get up the nerve to take peanuts. I was beat from the work, hot and sweaty, and ready for the shower.

Earl called in the evening and we had a nice chat. He said he had been back since February but he had missed me each time he came by to see me.

On Wednesday morning, three Gray Jays greeted me right after breakfast and I fed them some peanuts from my hands. I took the chain back up and skidded the second plank down to the building and used the come-along to winch it up alongside the other one. I was really happy with how those planks came out. I took some pictures of the planks and fed the jays quite a few times.

I needed to decide exactly how wide the deck was going to be so that I would know how many planks I needed to rip. I rigged up a plumb bob hanging from the roof eave and measured the distance from the drip line to the pressure treated sill. It turned out to be 61 3/4 inches. If I allow a foot for the columns and for the setback from the drip line, that leaves about 4 feet for the deck surface. Since the planks are about a foot wide, that means that ripping two logs will give me four planks which will be just enough.

Next, I went back up to the log rack and used a come-along and chains to lift the second log up onto the ripping rack. I set up the strings for scribing and got one side scraped and scribed before lunch.

During lunch, I heard the gnawing again in the ceiling near the central light fixture. I took the fixture down and using a straw, I squirted a bunch of ant spray up into the ceiling. That seemed to have worked before so I tried it again. I still for the life of me can't figure out how anything as big as a mouse can get up there. After lunch, and a nap, I went back to work in the woods. I scribed the second line and took the scribing strings etc. back to the cabin.

While I was there, I got to thinking about the surface of the deck planks. I was thinking of leaving them in the rough chainsaw finish rather than gwizzing them. But then I wondered how hard it would be to scrape them by hand and I wondered what the surface would be like. I got a scraper and tried scraping the slabs. I was surprised at how easy it was to get a pretty nice smooth finish. Of course it didn't take out the deep chainsaw scars, but I'd say it removed 80% of the saw marks or more. I decided then and there to scrape the deck surfaces by hand. I scraped both planks and was pleased with how they turned out.

Then I went back up to the woods and ripped the second log. In the process, Larry came up to see what all the noise was about. I stopped work and went back to the cabin with Larry and showed him my recent work. We had a nice visit. He also admired my new pickup. It was the first time he had seen it, or even knew that I had gotten it.

When I went in for my shower and dinner, I could still hear the gnawing. I am at a loss as to what to do about it.

On Thursday, the three jays were back again as well as two chipmunks. I was able to feed both chipmunks from my hands. I scraped the two new planks up at the ripping station and then I stained all four plank surfaces. I figured I might as well protect them right from the start. I wish I had done that on my other log work. I took pictures of the scraping and staining processes. I fed a Steller's Jay on the front porch while I was sitting up there about 10 feet away. Maybe those guys can be tamed after all. I left for home at 2:00.

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