Ponderosa Fall Update

November 17, 2015

Oct 17 2015_with Gido and BabaThe new Baba and Gido are back home on the Ponderosa.

Nov 6 2015_Squirmy wormy





To the left is a recent picture of the little guy. He is growing like crazy. We miss our daily dose of Jacob cuteness and cuddliness but we have lots of projects to keep us occupied.




Generally, I like to wait until a project is completed before posting it. However, lately it seems like nothing is getting completed. We have lots of projects on the go, but nothing done. This is partly due to how Ken likes to work – whatever strikes his fancy at the moment – and partly due to the power situation this time of year.

We are only five weeks from the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Generating enough solar power is tricky for us, so our work projects are more focused on our current power situation than what we would like to do.  When the sun shines we are using power tools. On cloudy days we are out in the bush with the chainsaw cutting wood or working on indoor projects that don’t require power tools. And lately sunny days have been rare.

Below is a summary of the projects on the go.

Basement work

composting roomThe house has a full basement but not one that will have any living space. The basement holds the two cisterns – which are both full right now holding 2,300 gallons of rainwater. It also houses the central composting unit for our composting toilet system. The unit has been installed and the main floor toilet is hooked up to it. The composting unit will be housed in an insulated room. Since the composting process will work more efficiently in a warm room, our plan is to divert excess hot water from the wood stove fired hot water system through the concrete pad under the composting unit. The room is all framed and partially completed. The concrete pad is in but the hot water heating coils not yet hooked up to the hot water tank.

root cellarThe only other thing the basement will be used for is as a root cellar. The room is built and insulated and full of potatoes, beets, carrots, geraniums and apples. The ventilation system is in, providing cool fresh air and keeping the root cellar cooler than the rest of the basement. We will see this winter how well it works.




pantryAt the bottom of the stairs, Ken has built shelving units for me to store my pantry items. I have a well stocked pantry in the kitchen, but living in the country I have taken to keeping a fairly large stock of my staples. All my extra beans, pulses, grains, spices, nuts, dried fruit, etc are kept handy in the basement. Its better than  having a store down the street. He still has a few more shelves to build to store all my garden preserves – canned tomatoes, pickles, jams and juices.


We continue to put up drywall finishing off rooms. The media room (the open room on top of the sunroom was first branded as the yoga room but now Ken has decided to put the TV there), one of the dormers and upstairs walkways are drywalled but the taping and mudding will wait for later. Still lots of drywall to put up.


skinning log in living roomThe cathedral ceiling will be finished in pine boards. While I was away for the birth of Jacob, Ken had a few friends over and they completed most of the ceiling. The great part about this, besides the fact that I didn’t have to work on to of the scaffold, was that the scaffold could now be removed from the living room. But with the scaffold gone, Ken now figures the living room is the perfect big open space for skinning logs.

You can see the ceiling in the bannister picture below.



After hours of studying the building code and researching on line, we are ready start construction of the bannister surrounding the opening over the living room. We have decided to secure the posts by dropping the posts into the joists below and building joist bays to hold the posts in place. As we have already finished the ceilings in some rooms on the first floor, that means removing pieces of the plywood floor on the second level to expose the joist system. A bit of extra work but it seems to be the best method of securing the posts.

bannister_Nov 2The posts on the south, east and north side are all up, the west side still to do. We are using logs from the property, mostly ones  that were cut down by the beavers. The corner posts go floor to ceiling. The railings and spindles will also be wood from the property. I will post later once the bannister is near completion. (You can see the partially completed ceiling in the picture to the left. We completed just enough to get the corner posts in.)



When you heat with wood there is always wood to bring in. Everyday we haul in a load or two, some dry for use this winter and some green for splitting and drying for next year. The beavers have been busy taking down trees this fall and we have not been able to keep up with them. We collect the trees they cut down as they only haul off the small top branches for winter food. The wood sheds are slowly filling up.

Trail Making

We have several trails around the property, through the bush and around the lake and marshes. While we collect wood we take the time to blaze new trails through the bush. They serve double duty as they make it easier to haul out the wood now and later will become part of our trail system for walks and snowshoeing.

As you can see we are busy like beavers, with no shortage of projects to work on. Today was a gorgeous day and so we spent it hauling in firewood. Tomorrow we are supposed to get snow and high winds, so we will stay in and work on the bannister. No telling what we will do the next day.




About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
This entry was posted in Basement, Construction, Food, Gardening, Living Room, Water. Bookmark the permalink.

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