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Groundwork

I had hoped to start building a firewood shelter before the winter hits. My plan was to set six cornerstones, and to place three logs resting on those stones. Setting the stones is easier if the soil isn't frozen - but once that stage is completed, I could slowly keep on building through the winter, and hopefully getting the shelter completed before the next spring. Oh well, the temperature fell below freezing already in the beginning of November, there was a thin layer of snow, and all the smaller lakes got frozen over. I was thinking that maybe I could anyway start building, just placing the first logs on top of blocks of wood. Then, when the spring comes unfreezing the soil, I could use a bottle jack to lift each corner one by one, replacing the temporary supporting structure with cornerstones. Although, it would be a lot easier just to have the stones at their place before starting to build.

Last Wednesday the temperature rose above freezing, and we have had some rainfall. Almost all the snow is gone. And the forecast said that the weather will stay like this for a week or so. Now it was mostly up to the weather spirits - be it warm enough with some rain, the soil would unfreeze just enough to be worked with a spade. Unfortunately, for no apparent reason I developed myself a rather stinging pain in lower back. It was easier in the mornings, but got worse during a day, and made it hard to lift anything. Uh oh - I won't be able to build anything with this kind of pain in the back. Luckily, I got a treatment from a local colleague, which helped a lot. I had sauna, and I tried stretching and mediation - kind of a persuading my tense muscular tissue to relax. Saturday morning I felt still a little echo of the pain, to the left of sacrum. I decided to try building a little.

The soil was frosty, but not all frozen solid. A couple of hits with a spade and I could easily remove the top layer with all the grass roots. Under that top layer it is all sandy soil, which seems like good enough to support the weight of a simple building. Having a little break after every two stones I got all the six cornerstones placed, without the back pain getting any worse. Or, to be precise, since there is a slight slope, on the downhill end I had to place two stones on top of each other, to get it to the same level as the stones in the upper corner of the intended building.

I was happy with getting the project started. There was still some daylight left, and I wasn't yet too hungry. So I continued, trying to drag three of the heaviest logs to the construction site. Well, it was only four metres and it was slightly downhill, so it was relatively easy to get the logs there. The challenge was to lift each end of a log to rest on top of the cornerstones. Trying to keep my back upright, and lifting with my feet and hands, I managed to get it done. At this stage it is enough just to have them there at their initial places. Later on I can adjust their places with levers and a bottle jack. And, anyhow, after the building (hopefully) is completed, each spring when the soil is moist and soft, the weight of the building will probably make some of the corner stones to sink a little deeper into the sandy soil. But that can always be corrected as needed (by lifting the tilted side and adding more stones under the corners).

It was around 3 pm, all the corner stones and the first three logs were approximately there where they should be. Victory =) At this time of the year the sun sets at 3.30 pm, so there already was the first touch of the evening twilight. I came indoors to cook myself a proper meal. And to post this.

Cornerstones
Cornerstones
The main work done
The main work done
A happy homesteader
A happy homesteader
tags: 
diary
homesteading
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Comments

That is going to be one beefy shed. :D

The weather has been fairly nice here, but it's starting to turn nasty as I write this. I already plugged in the heater in the cellar to keep the pipes from freezing. :(

But deer hunting starts on Monday, so I guess it will be good for hanging the meat if it's not so warm, hehe.

Good luck with the deer hunting season!

I've been thinking if my newly renovated entrance part is going to need some sort of heating. Although there aren't water pipes there, but still I'd like the temperature to stay above freezing - otherwise if I leave my boots there they'll just freeze instead of drying =) That hasn't been a problem yet, but if we get anything like a normal winter, then I'll need some additional heating at some point.

Thanks!

I really like a kerosene heater for extra heating, though I don't like leaving one lit while I am sleeping. But the regular heating is enough to keep the part of the house I live in above freezing; the kerosene just gets it a little more comfortable so I don't have to wear a coat inside or burrow under the blankets, lol.

Hi Erkka. Random question.... What do you think about becoming vegetatian or vegan?
Greeting from Brazil!

Random questions are welcome!

I think I've been asked this before, and the theme has been discussed in fragments here and there in the blogs and comment threads. So I finally thought to collect that all in one place, writing a whole new blog entry about this particular question. As you can see, the reply turned out to be somewhat long and winding =) I hope it answers your question =) I also hope that no-one gets too offended by it, as I'd guess some people might find it provocating.

Although it might be self-evident now, but for possible future reference, this is a link to my reply post.

Wow, what great discussion! Great post = great discussion! Thanks for that. I became "fishtarian" at the moment. I decided to start slowly. In my cause I meant to stop eating meat for respect of animals, animals that feel pain. As far as Im concerned insects dont feel pain - do they? And I meant to kill animals to eat in the name of they tasting delicious. But of course if you live in a place where growing other tipe of food is hard, Im not against eating animals. BUt buying them in the supermarket to cook them? Doesnt seems right to me - since I actually stoped to think about it. Thats all!

Ability to feel pain is somewhat tricky to determine, as we can't measure it from the outside. I'm inclined to think that insects, trees and bacteria all have some kind of 'conscious experience', but the contents of their experience must be a lot different to ours. For sure, trees don't have plans, thoughts nor emotions the way we do. But they might have some other kind of sensations of 'light' or 'goodgoing' or whatever we simply fail to imagine due to limitations of our brains =)

Ah, but meat tasting delicious - that is a point of view that didn't come to my mind. Enough spices and some oil, and anything tastes delicious, so for me it is mostly about making sure to get enough protein etc. In which case fish is a safe choice. (I think the scientific research suggests that fish feel pain, too.)

As much as I dislike the idea of moral relativism, I don't know if there is any way to frame "things feeling pain" in a way that can be analyzed in such a way to come to an objective conclusion.

On one extreme, we can compare the reaction of an animal in pain to our human experience, and subjectively project that onto the animal, and come to the conclusion that killing animals is "bad".

On the other extreme, if I cut a limb off a tree, the tree reacts in a way to protect itself from death due to the limb being removed. The bark slowly grows back over the stub and eventually the wound is sealed away from immediate access by insects and such. Subjectively, we can reduce the reactions of animals, the "pain reflex" to exactly the same thing, a survival mechanism intended to minimize the damage inflicted on a living thing.

But both, and indeed any conclusion that lies anywhere in between, are entirely subjective. Personally, my own moral compass indicates that causing needless pain is immoral, but that animals are tasty, and eating them is part of the natural order. And who are we, to assume that we as Humans are so far above, so much better than, the natural order? That seems almost like hubris to me.

But again, that is all subjective, and no more valid or invalid than anyone else's conclusion. So I don't know where to go with it. I certainly respect anyone's individual conclusion, even if it greatly disagrees with my own. But I don't whatsoever respect a person who tries to force their own subjective conclusion upon me, unwillingly, be that through individual force, collective political force, or whatever. I have absolutely no tolerance for that. Objective conclusions, sure. We can use reason and logic to figure out what is right and what is wrong in those cases. But forced subjective stuff? No way, man. No way.

Reading back over that, it sounds more meany-faced than I intended. Please don't read any aggression into the above. There is absolutely none intended, towards anyone. :)

Hehe, your comment might appear as somewhat aggressive if you were directly blaming Gio or someone else for trying to force their moral reasoning down your throat. But, again, your comment seems to be more about your general frustrations of the problems of contemporary moral discussion. Which is fine, and I pretty much agree with your dislike of both relativism and force-feeding moral values. You are describing in a clear and understandable way the exact problems I think we - as members of the mankind - are facing, and why it would help to develop some new ways of thinking and talking about choices and consequences of choices.

Well, but instead of trying to tackle the broad picture, I'll just drop a comment on the 'argument by pain'. Personally, I've thought the argument goes along these lines;

1. It is nice to avoid causing pain to others
2. Many of the animals seem to be capable of experiencing pain - while they are alive
3. Dead bodies don't seem to experience anything
4. The meat we eat usually isn't alive anymore, so the meat doesn't feel pain.
5. But where did the meat come from? What kind of life did the animal have before it got killed?

And 5. leads one to prefer such animal raising methods which show some basic respect towards animals, not causing them unnecessary sufferings. And choosing such a methods of killing that they are as quick and clean as possible. The way I see it, this line of reasoning leads to one favouring responsible family scale-farms, like the one Mr. Polecat is running, and avoiding meat-factories where pigs are kept in so small cages that they develop nasty injuries.

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