Josh Huorn

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since Jul 04, 2015
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Eastern Mass, western Montana
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Recent posts by Josh Huorn

This morning was brisk! We can feel the wind blowing autumn air in and it's a reminder to get moving and get a house built.

Yes Tom those are definitely some little sunflowers there, the idea was that the beans planted all around then would trellis up and use the sunflowers for support, buuut the beans and peas are still kinda small, the swale filled up a bit during that big rain and soaked in for a couple days, definitely worthwhile earthworks.

The past weeks efforts to gather materials has been fruitful and I have a mix of Douglas Fir, western larch and ponderosa pine to build with, the larch will be used for posts in the ground as I've heard it lasts for a long while in the soil before rotting, it can last even longer if the end is burnt crispy before it goes in the ground. Ben helped me wrestle a bunch of posts around the fire pit this morning and we're just about ready to dig some holes and get em' in the ground. Thanks Ben!
Oops, meant to add a pic of these beans coming to life, and check out this blurry photo of an excavator bucket repurposed into a mailbox!
Hey Tyler lots of peas and beans have emerged and continue to grow through the summer heat, this squash just recently started putting out flowers! Hopefully there's enough warm weather left for them to ripen a fruit or two.

I've heard that the majority of effort going into a natural building project is gathering the building materials and this is where my focus is for the next week or so, felling trees for posts and beams and peeling the bark right away, it always seems like slow progress but every day I look around and see a few more logs ready to be assembled.
We just had a movie night and watched Ben Law's Timber Framing, wow the precision of his joinery is impressive, it got me thinking about how I might go about fitting all the pieces of this log cabin jigsaw puzzle together without using metal fasteners.. Maybe a lofty goal but it sure seems doable
That is in fact the same header we hauled up on top, once we got that big thing up there I really wanted to keep it! The large overlap is intentional to have a larger "ship lap" esque joint which was recommended for these beams. Yes Paul has inspected this most recent work and contributed $$ to my peanut butter fund

There are now three main things to do to finish the berm shed;

1. Bury the roof with material. The tarps on the roof are all covered so this just looks like a big pile of sand and lambsquarters from the road, right now it's anywhere from a few inches to about 2 feet deep. To finish burying we need to get it to about two feet across the back wall with gradually less as we get towards the drip edge.

2. We need to find a way to divert any water that falls on the shop roof, either onto the berm shed roof to water the growing things up there OR along the parking lot heading over to arakkis.

3. Drainage. Currently rain water trends to puddle towards the back corner underneath the fan-roof, Paul would much prefer everything under the roof remain dry. One oft-discussed method is the idea of digging a drain under the drip edge and routing all water to a crossing pipe that runs under the berm to the road. A potential problem with this approach is that, over time, the drain may become clogged with sand (there's a lot of sand blowing around here.)
Another way we might complete drainage would be to lower the level of the road and parking lot around the shop so that any rainfall would flow away from the been shed and shop and end up in arakkis. Paul thinks lowering the driveway and parking lot by about a foot should accomplish this.
Hey Rob that tripod sure made quick work of pulling those beams up into place, thanks for lashing that thing together! After a little chainsaw work the new replacement beams lapped in together pretty well, we also cut saddle joints into the posts for the beams to rest in, they ain't perfect but seem to be functional keeping the logs from rolling anywhere.

Ben,Jesse and I also replaced some of the smaller, broken beams with much larger timbers, in the second picture you can see how we put two new posts in, using all-thread rods to hold em' to the original posts, holding up a much stronger new beam.

We used saw mill cut offs to cover the drip edge and give a more natural finish.
Sweet there's lots of little sprouts emerging from the swale mound! The lower layer of mulch has been staying good an moist while the pine bows are casting a bunch of shade and maybe keeping water from evaporating in the hot sun, there a couple sections with a thinner mulch cover and it sure looks like plants are doing better where they have more mulch.


2 years ago
The berm shed is coming back together, it survived the winter and just needs a few more things before it's all put together. This experimental structure has housed electric vehicles, a tractor, stacks of straw bales, dimensional lumber and I'm pretty sure someone was camping under there during the last month of classes here, certainly a multi-use building

To get geared up to finish this project I thought I was getting a good deal buying a used Stihl chainsaw from a pawn shop for a great price, before I bought it I made sure it started and ran OK, like most Stihls t started first pull, it wasn't till I got out here to the land that I realized the carb needed some adjustment to get any power in a cut, and then I realized the adjustment screw's were stripped out, oh man. Trob was a student or here for the PDC and the AT and, after working on the saw with me he ordered up a new carb off amazon, thanks Trob! The new carb did it and the saw was going strong for a few minutes until the chain popped off, woops, then we found the bar that guides the chain was all worn out and i had a broken clutch spring so it was off o the store for a new bar.
Got back, put a new clutch pack in, put the new bar on with a new chain and Mike was in the shop while I was putting everything together and noticed I was missing a little needle bearing and a clip that holds the sprocket on, OK, one more trip to Missoula where I'm really starting to get to know the people in the parts department at the Stihl dealership, those guys are awesome for keeping all this stuff in stock.
With half a saw worth of new parts Mike helped get the saw all dialed in and running strong, 1\16th of a screw turn at a time, thanks Mike!

All this to say, in hindsite I probably would have been better off buying a new saw, but it's all good this one runs great now and I learned a whole bunch along the way, now to get moving!

With this gasoline+powered sawdust+creating machine in hand i dawnwd chaps and harvested the future posts and beams that will support the last roof section and reenforce some other areas that need attention.

The beams going up were definitely too heavy to walk up on ladders, and the corner is too tight to get the tractor in, after some head scratching mike, trob, and Erica came up with the idea that resulted in two logs acting as ramps screwed into the posts the beam was going on top of, then trob tangled up a tripod with roofpoles and chain that we hooked a come along to, after wrapping the beam with chain it was a pretty smooth process of cranking it up the ramps.
In the picture I'm using the cant hook that Idaho Sam donated to turn the beam to line up the lap joint, the hook was sharp and worked great, thanks Sam! We were also fueled on a breakfast of the eggs you left for us, doubly productive contributions!

Benny pealed and helped wrestle the last beam into place and we were able to use an extra long 3\8" drill bit to bore holes through the lap joints into the posts and then pounded rebar in to hold it all together.

Whew, I think today took care of the most difficult part on the to-do list, thanks to many helping hands, thanks everyone!



2 years ago
Howdy everyone! After a winter break I'm back at it at Paul's place, during this past week we've been blessed with several days of water falling from the sky! Rain is such a rare occurrence around here we have to hold onto as much water as possible when we get it. Ben, Kai and Sean gave me a hand putting this water-harvesting swale in during a nice drizzly afternoon, Ben used an A-frame to find contour (level) while I followed with a pick axe forming the ditch. The downhill side is a soft mound of soil for water to speak in and plants to put their roots down into. We seeded with a mix of white clover, sunflowers and a couple pounds of 13 bean soup mix from Good Food Store, I've had great germination from their beans and peas before so we have high high hopes for these nitrogen fixers.


Howard Story taught another awesome Permaculture Design Course here that concluded last week, one thing he emphasized was the importance of promoting a wide variety of soil life from bacteria to insects, one of the ways we can quickly boost soil biodiversity is by introducing bacteria colonies with inoculents, Tom gifted me with this bottle of Effective Microorganisms which I'm getting down into the skill into the swale, these little guys will help build soil and provide nutrients to our plans, thanks Tom!

2 years ago
I've read of pumpkins and squash being planted in and around the knotweed to shade it out, not sure how effective this will be
2 years ago
my first thought was, "well here's a kick in the pants to get some updates out!" Thanks!
new pictures coming soon..

Paul Alfrey wrote:In late April we made the first comfrey cut of the year, weighing in at 23.60 kg from a 13 m2 bed. After weighing we chopped the material and compressed it into a 120 L barrel weighted down with heavy stones. We'll leave this for 2 - 3 weeks resulting in a liquid concentrate that can be diluted 15 to 1 with water, and used on the crops at flowering/fruiting time.



Great idea!
2 years ago