Catio (Cat Patio) – the Start

Mocha the cat’s catio is now under way.

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This is the first time I have had an indoor cat. With eleven acres of forest it seems a shame to keep a cat indoors but it has now become a necessity with the increase of predators. The birds and squirrels will be pleased with the arrangement though! Mocha doesn’t show a tremendous interest in going outside but I think a bit of fresh air and grass between her toes will do her good.

The ‘room’ will be covered with wire mesh and have elevated cat walks, a tree trunk, platforms and a sleeping box if she is feeling adventuresome. Access will be through the living room window.

More later.

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Completed Shed

Well, the storage shed is finished. It was an interesting first project using my own milled lumber – a bit of a learning process I must say. Like any homemade project it is hard to put a price on it. The money I put out for the plywood roof and floor along with the metal roofing came to about $500. A pretty good price for an 8′ x 12′ building. Adding the time factor of milling the lumber adds to the equation and if a dollar value is put on my time then perhaps not quite the bargain. However, time is what I have and it was extremely satisfying using our own windfall trees (brought down in windstorms) and turning out a pretty fine looking building.

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Building Project

Over the past ten days I have been building a small (8 x 12 foot) storage shed from the first lumber cut on our mill. It has been a great project and very satisfying knowing most of the material was free and salvaged from our forest. I did use plywood for the sub-roof and floor and I will install a metal roof. Once all the exterior walls are boarded I will put 2 inch battens over the board joints.

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Composter Experiment

One of the secrets of good composting is to turn your pile in order to add oxygen to encourage the composting process. We have some snap together poly composters that are awkward to work with and we never seem to get around to the stirring up process so our compost is usually less than satisfactory.

A while back I saw the idea of a rotating composter (Family Handyman.com/Garden Composter). I looked around the shop and found four casters that someone had given me. I had one 55 gallon (208 l) barrel left over from my rain water collection system that I just completed and, of course, lots of lumber from my milling. I spent the past couple of days putting it together a composter based loosely on the mentioned plans. One of those great projects using scrounged materials where all it cost me was my time.

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The completed composter sitting on a sturdy rough cedar base.

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An old plastic squared pipe cut diagonally and bolted inside acts as stirring baffles.

An old plastic square pipe cut diagonally and bolted inside acts as stirring baffles.

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Handles are spaced evenly around the exterior to make turning easier

The wheelbarrow fits underneath to allow convenient emptying

The wheelbarrow fits underneath to allow convenient emptying. 

Milling Progress

Learning how to mill is going quite well. This red cedar is my largest piece that started out 6 feet long and 21″ in diameter. It is close to the maximum diameter the mill can handle although I can cut 10 foot long trees. The poor old tractor wasn’t too happy lugging this chunk around. I milled it down to 13.5″ x 13.5″ and then took off 2″ layers.

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The larger 2″ x 13.5″ pieces are on the left. They can be ripped into 2″ x 4″, 2″ x 6″, 2″ x 8″ etc. as needed. Some beautiful patterns coming out.

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The ‘before’ picture!

Latest Project

Over winter we always have a few trees fall due to windstorms. I usually cut them up for firewood but I always feel badly if the tree is better suited for lumber. I finally bit the bullet and purchased a small portable bandsaw. My son-in-law and I spent the past couple of days assembling it and I cut my first log today.

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Mill in a Box

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A seven foot piece of cedar that fell across our power lines this fall

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It takes 20 -30 seconds to cut each slice

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The finished product – four, seven foot 4″X4″ posts and some 1″x8″ cedar boards. The waste material will be turned into firewood or fencing. The mill will now be moved to a more permanent site away from the house.

Shop Evolution

In the early 1980’s we left our homestead to work elsewhere for 5 years. While we were away we had someone care taking the house and property. He had always wanted to build a log house so he started building a small building. Progress was slow and by the time we returned the log house had only three walls that were only 4 feet high. The workmanship wasn’t great but I thought I would utilize what was there for a woodshed and storage. I added windows, a roof and closed in the front wall. This evolved into my shop.

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Time wasn’t kind to the building. Our caretaker had built it on wood blocks and used trees that seemed particularly appealing to carpenter ants. The floor was dirt and it was very difficult to keep rodents out. It was dusty and cold in winter and not very conducive to getting much work done.

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Eventually the bottom row of trees started to rot and the walls slowly dropped so that my work benches all sloped away from me. It was time to do something.

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The building needed to be replaced but the one bright spot was the roof – I didn’t want to get rid of it because it was in good shape. So, I decided to build a new building, slightly smaller, inside the old building. The new walls were just half an inch below the roof.

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When the new shop was complete I chain sawed the old log walls out which allowed the roof to drop on the new walls.

This past weekend I did some more renovations in the shop which brought all this to mind. I got rid of an old radial arm saw that I no longer used and added some much needed bench space. I managed to get some free track lighting so I’m all set to go on some new projects.

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Christmas Lights

After forty years of living here we have seen such a dramatic increase in traffic passing our house, sometimes up to three cars a day, that I finally decided to put up some Christmas lights. I hope the deer approve.

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