Monday, April 30, 2012

New Insulation Video!

The Blacksmith Shed was recently insulated after scoring poorly on an energy audit conducted by Building Performance Retrofitters (BPR).  What follows is a video demonstrating the methodology of making a building with a few air leaks super tight.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday Zen 5

In honor of all the tiki bar action that has taken place over the last few weeks:

"It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs, looking up at stars, and we didn't even feel like talking aloud."
-Mark Twain
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Now that the tiki bar is tightened up, its time to refocus efforts on the hunting cabin.

Bar Rail Manufacture and Install

Jay suggested a bar rail on the dutch door as a place to store a cold lemonade while in the bunk room.  I manufactured a rail out of ipe (sustainably harvested brazilian hardwood) to match the dutch door dividing inlay.  The bar rail has cocentric indexes for different circumference drinks.  Below are pictures of the manufacture and install of said bar rail:

And there was a concept...

Gave 'er the ol turn and burn treatment.

A little sealer...

Clamp action for the install assist.

Didn't have a lemonade handy so I had to make do.

Finished product accomodates bottles, cans, highball glasses, and coozied beverages.

Workshop and Bunkroom Panorama

I borrowed David's newfangled camera and took this panorama of the workshop space and the bunk room:

Workshop Panorama

Bunk Room Panorama

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Another Excuses, Excuses Post and Exciting Filler Material

BigTuna has been on a bit of a hiatus with Carter in final stretches of tax season so not much progress STILL on the blacksmith shed.   Luckily Carter's silly work engagements ended today and we do have the floor boards to replace some rotten areas,  the last two window sashes, and all the paint needed to finish the roof on hand.  We also expect to have a very productive weekend as we have yet another expert visiting the site and allowing us to use his expertise to make the shed more energy efficient - but that will be for next week's blog. 

For this week we have a slightly off topic, but no less exciting, TIKI BAR UPDATE!

Andy's raft project from last summer has been converted to a super sweet semipermanent fixture on the mighty Rappahannock River at Flintshire Farm. 

We did some grading to make a nice path down to the river edge for easy Tiki Bar access.  This is what it looks like after the fine grading, seeding, and straw.  Now we just need some rain. 

  We added some walking stones to make access easy for even the clumsiest of Tiki Bar attendees. 

We made a sweet ramp with steps so you can walk right on out to the party. 

 We made the ramp like a drawbridge so if the Tiki Bar needs to be removed for a flood or if you just want to unhook and float down river you can just pull the ramp up.

Natasha, Hudson, and I spent some family time on the Tiki Bar to make sure it was as nice as we hoped it would be. 
Check this blog frequently the check Tiki Bar party dates and to post drink requests. 

Till next week,
BigPerm out.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lanterns Arrived!

The Feuerhand Lanterns arrived this week and they are everything a lantern enthusiast could hope for and more.  Allow me to let you in on some of the excitement:

Hopefully, you too felt like you just discovered the Feuerhand #276 Cold Blast Lantern for the first time.


I felt like we were lacking in the decor department (ahem, Natasha) so I hung an American flag in the shop space.  The juxtapostion of old and new seems strangely fitting.  The Virginia flag will have to go in a truly prominent location...

Window World

Just to clarify, these window sashes are not from "Window World."

The Blacksmith Shed is in no way a vinyl palace.

Rather the post title is meant to be a reflection of the current, all consuming task of window work.  We've managed to complete about 3.5 of the 6 total windows.  I plan on trying to finish the .5 part this weekend with the installation of a missing window weight and a stick of casing.  I've attached some pictures to show the progress.  These four pairs of window sashes were dug up from Jay's collection of salvaged building parts.  We are going to have to look elsewhere to find the last two pairs as we've exhausted his stash.  Nonetheless, the Blacksmith Shed is looking better every little step along the way!

Bunk Room - getting ready for some windows.

One Sash...

Two Sash...

Three Sash...

Three point five sash...Notice the sash rope flapping in the breeze.  I'm installing the missing window weight and casing this weekend.

Prettiest girl at the dance.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday Zen 4

"The ornaments look pretty but they're pulling down the branches of the tree..."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

We got a Horticulturist!

Byrd and I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jason, the Horticultural Consultant for the Blacksmith Shed Project.  The following is an excerpt from some casual discourse between the three of us.  Byrd had broken out a dusty, 20 year old port and before we knew it the hour was nearly eleven and the conversation had never dulled.  The drink was good and the company superb.  

We pick up mid-conversation; following a lengthy greeting involving a complex symphony of handshakes, back pats, cigar smoke, and multiple good-natured vulgarities.

Big Tuna (BT):  Jason, you move through the forest with the deftness of a seasoned Patawomeck brave, read the trout waters with the clarity of the wily merganser, and dance the Rumba with a passion unbeknownst to the mortal man, how do you do it?

Jason (J): Just a passion for life my friend...I make love with each of my ideas before they become a reality.

Big Perm (BP): That's wonderful, Jason, but do you honestly feel that you are ready to take on a project of this magnitude?  How did you get roped into dealing with the Blacksmith Shed anyhow?

J: Being involved with a project like this has always been a dream of mine.  When I was approached and asked if I would like to provide some consulting regarding the horticultural component of this project: It was a no-brainer.  The native trees and shrubs in this part of Virginia are woven deeply into the fabric of our past; whether they served to provide remedies for the ailments that plagued the numerous indigenous tribes in our region, as the masts that carried the sails of the merchant ships that used to carry goods to and from Flintshire Landing, or simply as shade for our forefathers as they pondered independence from Great Britain.

BT: I, for one, am truly excited about the prospect of your involvement.  Our previous conversation about relocating native Sassafras as a means dressing up the site got me thinking.  Deer munch on sassafras leaves and twigs, right?  Perhaps the cultivation of the deciduous Flintshire variety will in turn cultivate good karma come hunting season.  Do you think that this next year will be the year that I finally harvest that elusive swamp buck that's evaded me for so long?

J: Only time will tell Tuna.  I will say that I only know of one man who has the answer for taking exceptional mossy horned monster bucks, and that is William R. H. Dickinson, who I believe is also involved with this great project to some degree.   (laughs) I am not sure if he incorporates sassafras into his hunting strategy or not.

BP: Ignore him, Jason.  I'm going to shoot the big boy and unless sassafras cures buck fever it's not going to help anyhow.   Let's talk about something that would be helpful though. Jason, can you recommend a creeping vine or plant that could be incorporated on or near the privy?  We are looking for something that could be used in case of a real emergency (blow out scenario).

J: I will say: the problem with creeping vines is their aggressive growth patterns.  I once knew an old fella who had got pretty deep into a bottle of corn liquor one night, went to the outhouse and passed out on the can.  His old lady found him two days later, still on the can and naked as the eyes of a clam, entangled in Kudzu vines that were growing around the outhouse.  These creeping vines grow fast and will choke out any other desirable vegetation in the area and will require constant control.  I would stay away from them.  Not to mention many are invasive species.

BT:  Well in that case, I'd like to see some aromatic flora incorporated into the privy plantings; plants that would really kick in during the high traffic seasons.  Any suggestions along these lines?

J:  There are a few varieties of native honeysuckle you may want to look into.  I would suggest coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens).  This species would actually satisfy Perm's desire for a creeping vine and your desire for an aromatic species.

BP: I think in the big picture it would be nice to provide an intimate setting that is landscaped in an aesthetically pleasing manor.  We do need to be able to mow yearly though.

BT: You getting soft in your old age Big Perm?

BP: Well, we need some cover plantings and this is the reason why we have a horticulturist isn't it? 

BT: I think that apple trees or other types of fruit trees would be nice additions.  And like sassafras, they might bolster the local deer herd. What do you think a good overall plan for the Blacksmith Shed going forward would be?

J: I would, of course, incorporate only plants native to our region and go for a layered approach with the landscape,  so a few canopy trees, some subcanopy specimens, and finally some understory species.  I would say your canopy specimens are already in place.  I would suggest flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) and eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis) for your subcanopy, and witchhazel (Hammamelis virginiana) in your shrub stratum.  The above mentioned species are shade tolerant and should do well under your existing canopy trees.  Fruit trees are a good idea, Tuna, and would contribute greatly to the landscape:  These would do well around the periphery where they would receive more sunlight.

BT: Mr. Mann, you may have very well described a setting every bit idyllic as that of Fallingwater.  One day your name will be synonymous with the Blacksmith Shed landscape design; just as Frederick Law Olmsted is to Central Park, Michelangelo Buonarroti is to the Sistine Chapel, and Kurt Russel is to Captain Ron.

BP: We may want to get the siding fixed before we get too excited.     

Special thanks to Jason. 
Naturalist.  Frontiersman.  Rumba Dancer.