Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Snow Guards and Other Winter Topics

Posted by: Rick

The “front” of our cabin faces north(ish). I quote the word “front” because our use of “front” and “back” when describing the cabin is highly ambiguous. By the plans we used to build it, the front is where we have the screened-in porch and a set of steps leading down to the yard. And, the back is on the opposite side, of course. However, the driveway is at the back, along with the outbuildings and the door we use to go in/out about 90% of the time. So, that entrance is often called the front. And, the front is called the back. But, sometimes we call the back the front. So, it can be very confusing.

We’ve always used the front landing for a wine fridge 

Anyway, in the past we did not use the front steps to access the yard. It became impossible to use after the first snow or two because snow would avalanche off the metal roof and pile up on the stairs and landing at the top of the stairs. Since this side of the cabin faces north, we got very little melting, so the snow would continue to pile up all winter. Sometimes, one could even climb it up to the roof. The snow pile on the landing was used more for storage of wine (we just pushed the bottles into the wall of snow), than access to the yard.

Now that we have a fenced in yard area, it is really nice to be able to let the dogs out/in via the front door. So, we really needed fix the snow avalanche problem.

Lynne, illustrating the height of the front snow bank

Because several feet of heavy, wet snow would sit on the landing and steps for many months at a time, the railings and steps had begun to rot. They were actually dangerous to use. So, we had a contractor (actually, the guy who was the general contractor for the cabin build), replace the steps and railings. (The steps are done, but the railings are custom built and not yet installed as I write this.) And, we had him put snow guards on the roof to keep the snow from avalanching. 

Snow guards are small attachments to a metal roof that stick up a couple of inches and hold the snow on the roof instead of allowing it to slide.

We also had him put some on the back of the cabin above the new deck to keep the snow there from also sliding down and covering the deck. 

So far, they seem to be working great. We did not put snow guards where the solar panels are since I want the snow to slide away from them. I actually have to get on a ladder and use a snow rake to pull the snow off the roof below the panels.

Here, there are no snow guards. Note the snow overhanging the gutters. I climb the ladder to scrape snow off the roof and solar panels here.

Here, there are snow guards on the roof. Notice how disciplined the snow is.

We may not have really gotten any avalanching like previous years anyway.

We had gutters installed on the front and back, and the gutters were acting a bit like a snow guard in that the snow did not tend to slide off in huge chunks. Instead the gutters held it back. But, it would cover the gutter and start to hang off over the eve, and then form icicles as well as drip into ice pools on the ground or the steps or the deck. Very dangerous. And, not good for the gutters.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Timberrrrrrrr!

Posted by: Rick

We had a couple of 100+ year-old beetle-killed pine trees close to the cabin that we cut down recently. I guess the correct term is "felled". I don't think they'd have damaged the cabin or fence when the fell naturally, but they could easily have taken out dozens of still living trees and caused a lot of damage.

The trees are just to the left and right of the center of this photo, taken from our front porch.

Here is an "after" photo for comparison.

We hired a lumber jack (of all trades) to cut the trees. My saw looked like a toy next to the saw required to bring these trees down. One now lays pointing north along the side of the ridge, the other pointing south. He felled them in exactly the positions we wanted to allow for game to still come up from the valley and to minimize collateral damage. You can see videos of both trees below.

Jay (the lumberjack) would cut a notch at the bottom of the tree to direct the tree to fall in a certain direction (although with old dead trees with some rotting, this can be a challenge), then a cut from the opposite side to create a hinge arond which the tree falls. It took a lot of skill to be as precise and he was. His son, James, would also push on the tree with a long pole to direct it. All this was done in pretty high winds that were not blowing in a helpful direction.

While here, we also had Jay cut up the large tree that had fallen across our hiking trail last year. Here are before and after shots of that:

We'll get some great firewood out of that tree! And, we may use some of it to create an entry sign at the driveway. Maybe. Someday.

This first video is of the tree that was felled to the south. The video is a bit long because there were some problems getting the tree cut. Despite the use of a huge saw and wedges, the saw blade got bound in the tree and a second saw was called into action;

 

The next video is of the tree that was felled to the north. It went a bit smoother:

It is nice to have these trees down. The view from the porch is a bit nicer. And, we also now have a better view of the bottom of the valley where moose and elk often hang out. The beetle-kill epidemic from several years ago has certain changed the whole ecosystem around the cabin.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Barn is Finally Stained and Painted

Posted by: Rick

A little over a year ago, we had a preconstructed barn delivered to the cabin site. You can read about that adventure here. You can see from the photos in that old post that the barn was unstained and unpainted.

When we had the cabin restained this summer, we had the barn stained at the same time.

The barn. Stained but not painted, yet.

I'm happy to say that we have finally got the trim painted and now the barn is looking good!

The trim is now painted!

Another summer project complete.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Before and After (and In-Between)

Posted by: Rick

Picture of the cabin exterior "before". Note the dark stain and how it covers the chinking?

About a month ago we started the process of doing some rennovations on the cabin. A few years ago we hired someone to apply a coat of stain to the exterior of the cabin. We were in New Jersey at the time, so he did the work unsupervised. Our hearts dropped when we first saw it. He had used a very dark non-transparent stain and applied it in a way that it covered the chinking. The beauty of a rustic log cabin was lost to this big brown blob.

The "back" of the cabin. Note the hail damage to some of the lower logs. We were able to get our insurance company to pay for part of the restoration because of the damage.

In addition to rejuvinating the cabin exterior, we also wanted to enlarge the entry deck on the "back" of the cabin and add a fenced-in area for the dogs.

Now when I say "back" of the cabin, that is somewhat ambiguous and others call it the "front". It is the side of the cabin where we have parking and access to the outbuildings, but it is also technically (according to the cabin plans) the back. The front--to me--is the north-facing side with the screened-in porch. Anyway, this ambiguity causes lots of communications problems.

A few years ago, our entry gate blew down. It was two large posts with a cross-piece at the top. The posts rotted at the bottom and the wind blew it over. So, while doing the fencing, we also wanted to create a new and appealing entry.

Here are the "after" photos. Read on for the "in-between" story:

The cabin restored to its original beauty.

Note the new larger deck as well as a fenced-in yard where the dogs can play unsupervised.

The cabin restoration was about a three week process. The crew arrived on May 12th and worked through the 17th. During that time they were able to sand-blast the exterior of the cabin, getting rid of the old stain and then sand the logs down in preparation for three new coats of stain.

You can see the contrast between the old and the new in this photo.

However, the weather forecast was for a huge snowstorm. And, while the crew is accustomed to working in harsh conditions, there would be no way for them to shuttle to town and back each day. And, we could not host a crew of five workers for several days. So, on Wednesday the 17th, they took off for their own homes (most live in the mountains of central Colorado). 

And, sure enough we got snow.

In total, we got about 3 feet of snow over two days.

The crew returned on Tuesday the 23rd and started back to work. There was still some snow on the ground, but they were able to work around that.

Ready for new stain and chinking.

On the same day the crew came back to work on the cabin, another crew showed up to build the deck, put up the fencing and gates, and also build a new entry feature for the driveway. While the snow had melted rapidly over the weekend, there was still some snow that had to be moved in order to do the entry and fencing. Luckily, the crew had a skid steer with a bucket as well as augers to make easy work of that.

A 24" auger was used to drill a huge hole for the two vertical posts at the entry.

Up go the entry gate posts.

An early morning shot of the fenced in yard. It is kind of hard to see in this light, but we'll post additional photos soon.

Since we had a crew of pro stainers on site, we had them stain the barn, too. Now we just need to paint the trim. It will be the same dark green color as trim elsewhere around the cabin.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back

Posted by: Lynne

Sigh.

Two weeks ago while on a drive we came across these beautiful harbingers of spring: pasque flowers blooming a tad bit early. How exciting! However since then Spring has been playing a game of hide and seek with us. After we saw the pasque flowers, this came along.

A sticky, wet Spring snow that coated everything in white cotton candy. It was only about three inches or so.

That melted, then along came this slighlty more significant storm that dropped somewhere between 8-10 inches on us.

In between the snow melted and we could see patches of ground again in spots. And lo and behold on our very own land, we saw lots of pasque flowers struggling to bloom and also buttercups.

And just when we were getting used to walking around without putting on boots, a storm predicted to bring 1-3 inches of snow instead dropped a foot on us.

But the good thing about spring snows like this — they don't stick around for very long.. They pack a lot of moisture too. This snow did pretty much close up the roads for a couple of days and we had to take the Ranger down to H's house to pick up Lex when we FINALLY went to pick up our new travel trailer. While we were gone the logging company that is bringing out logs from further up the county road plowed the road, so coming home we certainly did not need the Ranger.

Here we are at the dealership ready to roll on home!

The trip home was uneventful and we both really liked the way it felt while towing, very solid. We picked a wonderful day with no wind (thank goodness). Lex handled the load extremely well considering the drive home is all uphill! Our lovely little home on wheels is now at its new home at the storage facility in Laramie. We've spent the last two days in town outfitting her for our upcoming trip. We still have a few things on our list that are needed, but we made great progress getting things put away. We are excited for the maiden voyage! It still does not have a name. Rocky and Woody have been thrown out there (because it's a RockWood model) but RIck did not like the connotation of Woody and I didn't care for Rocky. Maybe Roxie? We're hoping that spending more time in and around it will lead us to the right name.

In our weaving endeavors, I have finished my second scarf:

and Rick has mug rugs (aka coasters) on the loom. When finished they will be cut apart and the yarn intbetween each coaster will become fringe. So far he has five completed and he will just keep on until the warp gives out. We are loving the pattern this yarn is making! Can't wait to start using them.

So, I think that about catches you up on the month of April so far. So many fun and exciting things coming this Spring! Our trip to Albuquerque to see the family, Destin's debut in the show ring, the renovation of the outside of the cabin, Rick's Mom's visit in June .... all that is ahead of us in the coming months.

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  • Being a log cabin, with all log walls and 12” purlins every 3’ to support…

    Posted to: ‘Snow Guards and Other Winter Topics’ by Rick on 11/21/2017

  • Fun hearing about your unique mountain problems & solutions.  Is there any concern about increased…

    Posted to: ‘Snow Guards and Other Winter Topics’ by Glen Leinbach on 11/21/2017

  • No surprise that the concept of “vacations” for any but the rich is a 20th…

    Posted to: ‘Way Behind’ by Glen Leinbach on 10/14/2017

  • You also had a lot of company distracting you from your preparations!  Posted to: ‘Way Behind’ by Carolyn Clarke on 10/14/2017

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    Posted to: ‘Snow? Oh no. No. No. No.’ by Rick on 09/22/2017

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