James Whitelaw

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since Nov 23, 2016
Upstate NY on cusp of zone 5a-5b Sandy Loam
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Recent posts by James Whitelaw

Perhaps the better use would be as a decorative object that you can hang planters off of.
6 days ago
A distinguished eye doctor (wrote textbook that is still highly regarded) who examined me once gave me three tips to healthy eyes;

1. Wear sunglasses when outside as much as possible
2. cover your eyes with a clean warm wet towel periodically to moisturize and rest your eyes
3. Wear purpose designed glasses for computer work.
1 week ago
Trying to envision what a 35,000 sq ft straw bale structure would look like. [edit; mis-read, you meant Cubic foot] You mention shopping, eating and sleeping. Do you a rough idea of the occupancy numbers you anticipate? Are you planning a commercial kitchen as part of the project? Is the building planned to be in year-around use and if so how will it be heated during the winter? How many bathrooms are you thinking of? How large a parking area would be needed? Where would the water falling on the roof in a season to (potentially over a million gallons in a year by my calculation)? For perspective a commercial building can cost up to $10-$20 a square foot.

One aspect of building a large commercial building on farm land is regarding taxes and any agricultural exemptions currently held. A large building encompassing a commercial venture, even if loosely related to “Permie” activities, could easily be construed as a conversion from Agricultural to Commercial and require payment to recoup past taxes and interest that were exempted. Most States have these type of claw-back provisions, mainly designed to preserve open farmland and prevent wholesale conversion of exempted farmland to housing or industrial use.

Does the town have easy access to zoning and planning meetings and can you research? Knowing what struggles and back and forth arguments regarding zoning have occurred in the past can provide guidance and while often deadly dull to read should be interesting to anyone wishing to avoid being shut down well along in their project.

One avenue that works well is to have an engineer familiar with the local codes consult on any construction. Often a consulting engineer can fulfill a lot of the inspections along the way to prevent delays and misunderstandings by overseeing authorities. Knowing someone who was in the hospital for two weeks due to an un-permitted deck collapse at a party, I fret not about such regulations.
2 weeks ago
Found a small, slightly faded framed watercolor in the trash once. Upon closer examination I discovered it was by an artist-illustrator who died in 1933 and, this is the weird part, who we already had a painting by!
2 weeks ago

Below is our shed and while yes, you could theoretically build the equivalent shed for half the cost (discounting your time and effort), but consider: The better versions of these types of structure that I purchased was made in a factory where jigs and forms are used to fit everything together, so the build is of very high quality. I understand the folks who make the board and batten sheds in PA do not make the vinyl or metal types of sheds which are made by other families.

Go to one of these places that sell these (scope out what’s in-stock first online) and make a close inspection of how they are built, the materials, etc. something like ours  can easily have a roundwood lean to added onto the side to expand storage space. Another less expensive option might be to go with a Run-In style horse shed and adapt that. Not having a floor might actually be better to allow for insulating, radiant heat, etc.

2 weeks ago
Weight on the rear wheels while towing is calculated at “tongue weight” as opposed to towing capacity, i.e. the weight on the tow hitch. My vehicle has a Class III hitch with a 2" receiver and 4,500 lb towing capacity and 675 lb tongue weight capacity. The weight over the hitch can change depending on how the weight is distributed in the load.
3 weeks ago
If interested that diagram is called a Sankey diagram and there is an app you can download that allows you to enter values and achieve the flow diagram

Here is an early example (Napoleons march to Moscow & retreat) that is frequently used to illustrate the method of displaying data;

3 weeks ago
Paul, congrats on your plans. Those parts of PA are pretty indeed. If I was in your place wanting a small structure I would consider buying a readymade Amish shed or cabin if I could afford it. We have one, a wood board and batten model (10 x 14’ I think) and were very impressed with how well built and sturdy it is. They delivered it on an ingenious trailer that can position it exactly where needed, though placing onto raw land could be problematic without a sturdy road depending on the terrain. The delivery guys were pretty gung-ho and said they would place it anywhere we wanted if we wanted it moved in the future.
3 weeks ago
No specific recs, but for mowing a friend has a riding mower that lost the ability to mow, requiring replacement of the mower deck, a shaft, etc. that equaled the cost of a cheap mower, but the engine was still good. What he did was to get a three part reel mower that he pulled behind the still functional small tractor that had the mower deck removed. He honestly preferred the results of the reel mowers, giving a very nice manicured look and was faster than the original mowing deck. The drawback was you need to stay on top of the job as a reel mower as longer grass will lay down instead of being cut (I think it preferred mowing 4” grass or shorter, so that is a major factor. He had a neighbor who brush hogged his field the two times his lawn got too long for the reel mower. His lawn looks like a golf course and he puts zero inputs into it (admittedly living someplace where lawns like to exist helps).
4 weeks ago