Friday, February 06, 2009

One more step closer

Another day of simply moving timbers from one location to another, the house site. Still the more timbers I get on site the easier it will be to calculate what I still need, as well as to begin marking timbers for specific locations in the build.

Not all which have been cut are on site yet, but many more are. I have two stacks to move the final leg to the site, one already up on the ridge, and another composes mostly of smallish cedars (5-8 inch diameters) which are still down below, but which I should be able to move all at once using a truck rather than one or two at a time using the tractor.

And yes dear readers I am using machinery to accomplish some of the tasks necessary for building this underground log cabin. I was reluctant at first fearing a loss of some of the experience, including some personal association with each log, and the tactile sensation of moving each, but given that some of these timbers weigh several hundred pounds, and are best used whole where possible, I overcame this reluctance and realized that I will still be laying hands on every timber more than once regardless.

For those concerned with the environmental impact of using machinery, well that impact will be minimal in the big picture, and more than compensated by the energy efficiency of the U-house, the radically reduced energy costs in transportation (my timbers travel feet and yards, perhaps tenths of miles, unlike most dimensional lumber which travels thousands of miles.. ), and by the fact that I am using snags (standing dead timbers) , discarded timbers from logging, and timbers which otherwise would go to waste. To the last of these, some neighbors have given me three nice pine timbers which had to be removed so that they could build their shop last year. I have yet to pick these up but will soon. This is the ultimate in recycling: I am using that which others consider waste, in order to build my own home. In fact I am even using the polyethylene cording used to hold round bales together to cushion the backfill process. I am collecting that twine now, putting it into the otherwise discarded feed sacks, and when the time comes I will place these against the polyethylene on the outside of the shoring so as to protect the polyethylene sheeting from any punctures.

So I can say with some confidence that I have no apologies to make with regard to the environmental status of my home and its construction. Yes I could do it all by hand and perhaps buy a mule to drag timbers to the site, but I can guarantee that it simply would not happen under those criteria. Were that necessary, I would build a different sort of cabin which would require more use of wood for heat, and perhaps even some form of air conditioning..

Speaking of such concerns, I have been eying a spring fed pond and creek on the property for possible use for a micro-hydro-electric system. This seems to be a real possibility given what I have read about the modest needs of some of these efficient systems. Some require as small a drop as 4 feet, which is doable on this site. There are two downsides that are immediately evident: Rural electric is heavily subsidized with our stolen income (tax dollars) so electricity is cheap (thus everyone wastes it around here.. ) and the distance from the nearest possible generating site to the home site is significant. Still I am going to price this, along with some wind generation possibilities for which I do not hold out much hope given what I have read so far and given the sporadic nature of wind here. Solar remains a possibility, but of course is still very cost prohibitive. There might be the future possibility of some rebates, but I would be very seriously troubled about the idea of taking any such rebates from the feds given that it is not their money to give in the first place.

Still I am working at every opportunity to find ways to reduce my impact on the world (including other people) without sacrificing the important aspects of living.

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