Louis Vuitton Meets Granberg Alaskan

We called one of our favorite and most majestic Ponderosa Pines at Sahalee Louis Vuitton, or Louis for short. The way it caught the light on its richly textured bark emanated luxury and royalty, much more so than the pedestrian handbag designs we see in the high fashion carousels. When we first moved to Sahalee, Louis sheltered us when we took care of our personal business before we had a potty. It became a warm and friendly companion to us that summer. Sadly, Louis was bit with the bark beetle a couple of years ago and we had to take it down.

Enter the new 36″ Granberg Alaskan Saw Mill to Ben’s livery. We knew that we had other beetle kill pondos to fell on the property and that the moody blue-tinged wood grain would be much better put to use as planks or dimensional lumber than hacked into firewood, so this purchase was an investment in future building projects. First, however, Ben set to work on learning how to run it properly and Louis was number one in the practice line. (The video of him dropping the hog last year has been mysteriously lost, sad to say.)

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Confessions, part 3

Seven years ago, I confided some hidden and sometimes unsavory truths about the off-grid yurt life. I’m not real sure why it took so long to put more of my frustrations and failures down before now, but I’m feeling compelled to share what’s behind the smiles and reveal more of the darker side of our sunshine-filled days here on the Continental Divide. Honestly, reading my first two entries makes me both chuckle and sob. What I thought were serious problems now seem so inconsequential, like dirty feet (chuckle), and some of the very important plans we had in mind then for our mountain-side homestead are still left to be actualized, like water catchment (sob).

I confess…

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Mud Walls = Mighty Fine Living (Part II)

Continued from Part I.

The east side of the backroom saved us from the complexity of the laundry nook, but had it’s own deep set of challenges. Namely, the exterior wall is farther below grade and sustained a lot of damage from water saturation. Adobe walls need to breathe, allowing air to ‘move’ within and around the natural material so that moisture can escape. If built right, earthen structures can survive thousands of years. There’s some great information about capillary rise in adobe walls in the book, Adobe Conservation: A Preservation Handbook, a source we could not do without on this project.

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Mud Walls = Mighty Fine Living

This adobe rehab project in the back room at Casablanca took about nine months, from August to May, and spun off the bonus endeavor of installing a french/curtain drain along the exterior wall to help divert moisture away from the adobe (stay tuned for a future post). In the end, we are pretty happy with the results that addressed years of neglect and water intrusions and put us one step closer to having a more functional space. Read on to see the transformation!

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Super Ger Urgh Replacement DIY

One of the benefits of living in a yurt is the many options for DIY repairs that can save money and exercise practical skills. While authentic Mongolian gers are made of traditional natural materials not found at the Home Depot, our ‘Yurt Daddy’ Yves encouraged us upon set up of our Super Ger in 2016 to not be afraid of innovating and making fixes with more conventional hardware store items. As much as we’d love to keep the authenticity of the horsehair ropes and other original equipment for time eternal, this was one more repair where we took Yves’ advice (after upgrading to ratchet straps). Read on to see what we did this time!

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Super Ger Canvas Replacement

Traditional Mongolian gers were covered with animal hides with a regular cycle of replacement. The modern version from Groovy Yurts offers water resistant canvas with a lovely decoration. This natural cotton material helps the yurt to moderate humidity inside when combined with the natural felt insulation (and an optional modern moisture barrier in our case). We first setup our Super Ger in 2016 and then moved it to the big deck in 2017. Left in place under the intense New Mexico skies for the last five years, the canvas on our yurt started to show wear in a number of ways and required a total replacement. Read on to see more about yurt life.

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More Adventures in Adobe

Completing the bathroom renovation at Casablanca to include some basic self-taught adobe repair was truly gratifying, but I knew there was a lot more to learn about finishing earthen walls (without special treatments for wet areas) since we have several more rooms to renovate. I decided to enroll in a proper adobe plastering class (online) and live owner-builder workshop with Adobe in Action at the end of September. Read on to see the pics and find out more about what I’m learning now!

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Skipping to my loo, installment deux

If you were following us in 2016, you might remember the bathroom breakthrough we had when we brought our outhouse online. Since taking on the little project we are now calling ‘Casablanca’ in town right before the orders to shelter-in-place came down, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time learning about indoor renovations and plumbing. Almost exactly one year to the day, we’re finally able to reveal our second perfectly posh potty- complete with running water!

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For the love of dogs DIY

There is no way we could live life on the daily without a dog door. Like, really, no way. We had a dog door in Florida, and at Sahalee, we keep the door open almost year-round and the pups go freely in and out as they please. When we started working on Casablanca, there was no fence and no free will allowed for any of us. We worked to remedy this immediately after Sweet Pete came on the scene. Mostly just to preserve our sanity during lockdown so the young one could be out of the house as much as possible and not feel neglected if no one thought to let her back in.

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Tearing Down Walls at Casablanca

A major component to the passive solar sun porch project was letting all that warm, bright sunshine fill the main living space so that we can save costs on direct natural gas or electric heat in the wintertime. There was a plastered wood plank wall between the living room and kitchen dividing the main living space into two rooms with a small passageway, making it real hard to circulate warm air without having a heater in each room. Simple solution – Tear down this wall!

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