Kenneth Elwell

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since Jan 01, 2018
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Artist/Designer, Maker.
Metalworker, Blacksmith, Machinist, Welder, Woodworker, Builder, Farmer, Composter,
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Boston, Massachusetts
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Recent posts by Kenneth Elwell

Could you keyline plow the slope? Especially near the top, to capture/slow the runoff so that it could absorb?
Or maybe trench out some clay on contour and replace with a sandier soil? Like a swale, but filled back in even with the original grade.
Both might be unnoticeable, just looking, it would appear "flat", but water would "see" a different reality.

I don't have Mark Shepard's new book "Water for Every Farm" but maybe that's got something useful? "Restoration Agriculture" has a section on keyline design.
6 hours ago
I prefer sunsets to sunrises. I like the moon and the stars more than the noonday sun. I love a midnight full moon in the dead of winter when the snow squeaks underfoot, and it's so quiet that you can hear the snow landing. I love the summer solstice at dusk, there's more daylight to be outside without getting burnt.

11 hours ago
We got two new dogs exactly a year ago this weekend. Our front yard was an overgrown mess of shrubs and weeds, and the beginnings of some raised garden beds. I removed the shrubs and transplanted elsewhere, finished the garden beds, added a fence to enclose this side of the yard (only 25' x 20') and laid sod on a ~8' x 20' section.
The grass abuts the fence and garden bed on two sides, the other two sides are woodchips, 3' border next to the house, 1' along another fence. All around the garden beds are woodchips.
I am very happy with the woodchip border! I wish that was what I did all around the grass, since mowing wouldn't also involve trimming.

Maybe a woodchip border would be acceptable?
And also the fence line might be a difficult high traffic area with the dogs "on patrol"? or it might be a difficult shady area to grow a "lawn"?
Anyways, a 4' border could significantly cut down the "lawn" area required.

You could also plant some trees or shrubs to provide for shade for the dogs, and mulch with woodchips around those (again reducing the "lawn").
12 hours ago
Both an edit to my earlier post, and regarding Glenn's observations:

The current design, with rafters only at the ridges and also supported in the centers of the beams (rather than over the posts) is both:
A.) Not as strong as having the roof load directly bearing on the posts.
B.) complicating the addition of more rafters, since the plane of the roof and the top of the beam (beams, actually) are not equidistant, due to their 22.5* angle to the roof edge (in plan view).

If instead, you unfasten the roof, and rotate it such that the ridge rafters do bear directly over the posts, then the additional rafters would simply rest on the beams. It is possible that you could, or might need a small bird's-mouth cut in the rafters at the beams, but likely could get away with simply resting them, especially if you reuse those framing connectors.
14 hours ago
Matthew, I would begin by adding eight "headers" between the rafters, such that they follow/support the joint in the OSB roof deck. From those headers, to the eaves, I would add two (maybe three) additional rafters.
If two more are added, you will have approximately a 2' span at the eaves; if three, it would become more like 18" span (the only issue being just how long that header piece ends up being, to allow for a spacing that looks even).

Another thing that would help is if the rafters were held back from the edge by either 3/4" or 1-1/2" to allow for a fascia board. The fascia would be nailed into the ends of all the rafters, and help to support the roof edge.
1 day ago
R, the real hack is the timer that you set... 45 minutes, 20 minutes, 5 minutes, whatever suits the task. Pomodoro technique is name for it (after the popular tomato-shaped kitchen timer).
It's a mix of beat-the-clock, and/or permission to get some reward after the time, and a framework to focus on only one thing for that time, which begins...NOW! tick, tick, tick...

I find that without an actual timer, that just knowing a stop time makes a difference over an open-ended time to "work" which often drifts to other tasks along the way, maybe at the expense of the first task not getting accomplished.
One trick is to begin some "preparatory task" like clearing your desk, or gathering all the supplies, then since you're ready... it's easy to keep going.
Another trick is setting some limits, such as only wash the knives and spatulas, not the pots and pans, or only clean the table top, not also mop the floor... Which makes it not seem endless, but then while you're there with soapy hands, maybe you do wash some more.

My mother did quite a lot of the housework within the framework of laundry machine cycles. Washing bedding, vacuuming, making beds again, cleaning bathrooms, washing towels, washing floors and dusting, washing cleaning rags.
Her other "pomodoro" revolved around flipping LP records.

Music is a great way to drown out distraction, also to set a pace. It also doesn't invite looking away to a screen, so for tasks that rely on sight rather than muscle memory, music can be safer.
4 days ago
I look at your photos, and I'm thinking "I AM NOT A ROBOT, click all the photos that contain a litterbox." and I'm clicking pretty much all of them. LOL.

I'm guessing you mean the new soil/compost/rock edged beds, not the shredded paper/mulch/flower beds, right? And that it's a "problem" since these beds are for food?
A temporary cover of bird netting, or wire fence, just an inch or two up, would make it weird to walk on or not quite possible to "do their business as usual". We had a farm cat that liked the freshly prepared beds too, but we're a flower farm, so there.

Nothing wrong with those flower beds, by the way, you've got room for growth or more new plants...
Thyme is small enough and low growing that it might tolerate being sat upon. Lots of different varieties with different flavors, could be fun to place different ones in different blocks.
If the holes aren't topped up completely there would be some space for the thyme to compress without being crushed.
You could also cap off some seating spots with patio blocks or stone flagging, and plant next to them so you could still touch the herbs and smell them, but not sit on them directly.

r ranson wrote:While we're talking about cloaks and capes.

Super hero capes - functional or just to help show that they are moving quickly?  

Others have noted some truly magical/utilitarian ones, but many are also heraldic devices, part of their whole "uniform/suit/costume" or "identity/secret identity". Recognizable with it, difficult to be seen as, or even be the hero without it.
2 weeks ago
Direct solar heating is the way to go. Michael linked to builditsolar, a great resource! Go do a deep dive on the solar heating projects there!
One that might fit your "stand alone" criteria is a "sun grabber", which is a unit that fits into a slightly opened sunny window and hangs down below the sill (not unlike a window A/C unit) it's a passive (thermosyphon) device, although you could power one with a small PV panel and PC cooling fan.

The air, interior, and furnishings of your house become the "storage", and your house might get a bit warmer than you might have set the thermostat for, but the boiler/furnace/heaters won't run at all during the day (you've also turned down the t'stat) and then it takes longer for the heater to get called for heat in the evening.
2 weeks ago