Sunday, September 20, 2009

Electricity, Plumbing, and a New Hatchet

One of the complications of burning lots of wood, besides obtaining the stuff, is getting enough kindling to last you through the winter. I used to scour the wood lots for scrap pine, which works the best, my opinion, because it's cut, dried, and free. You can't beat that. Pine or hemlock branches would work, but they don't store very easily, and I like to have it all squared away before the season begins.

With the economic downturn, I'm finding that there isn't as much scrap to be found. Whenever I go to Britton's they don't have much, so I had to come up with another plan. It dawned on me that I could make my own kindling with an axe and a hatchet. I use the blocks of hardwood that are too small to split and stack and chop them into thin slices, except that at one point, I actually broke the head to my hatchet. When I checked various building and supply stores, none of them carried replacement heads, just hatchets. Oddly enough, they sell the handles, but not the blades. I ended up getting a new hatchet, and I have to confess, the thing works beautifully.

Yesterday my Mentor came over with his buddies who happen to be an electrician and a plumber, as well. Bonus time. They were really cool guys, and after going over the floor plan (did I mention that it all begins with a floor plan?), they had some thoughts and suggestions, and once again, the project moved forward a little more. As I'm finding, and my Mentor indicated this would be the case, every small step forward opens up more issues that need to be dealt with.

The plumbing seems in order, but there are some electrical issues, the biggest of which is the line leading to the barn. He mentioned that it would be adequate for a bare wire to be there, but you really want it protected within an electrical pipe. If that was not the case, then a trench was in order. It fell on my shoulders to find out. I got my trusty Martha Stewart shovel and dug a hole by the side of the barn, and sure enough, the wire was not encased in anything. This complicates things and makes them simpler at the same time. Now we have to deal with the wire, another issue, but at least we know what needs to be done and don't have to waste time trying to figure it out. And, I got to use my shovel and dig in the dirt and feel like a real-man.

One area where I faltered a little in the real-man department is that I didn't end up fixing the light switch like I had planned. Too may choices through me off. I was a little disappointed in myself for not doing it myself. For the record, I was going to try, but he was here and more than happy to do it, so I figured, why not? And, he did it in less than a minute.

What threw me off was that there were too many choices, and not all of them made sense. I figured the black wire on the switch went to the black wire on the wall, but no, it goes to the white wire. The red wire goes to the black wire, and even then, it didn't matter which red wire, there were two of them. This confuse me, and about the only thing I was sure about was where the ground wire (the green wire) went.

Anyway, he did it quickly and could have finished with his eyes closed. What was really interesting was that he didn't want me to shut down the power at first, but when I argued in favor of it, he finally agreed, but not for the sake of his own safety, but for the sake of the dimmer switch. Apparently surges can destroy them. That's what life is like when you deal with real men. Also, when I told him I didn't know what breaker controlled that room and had to shut down the entire house, they all laughed. I was a little embarrassed, but what are you going to do?

One final note, I am preparing to rescue our lawn. I got a seed spreader, and went with the cheap one, which I could and probably will regret. My understanding is the thing to do is spread fertilizer and grass seeds in the Fall, and keep your fingers crossed. I got the spreader at Home Depot, but balked at getting the fertilizer and seeds there. I'm going to Longacres instead, because they seem more local and conscientious. A lot of the commercial stuff is filled with chemicals and herbicides, and we have to consider our shallow well. When I pressed the guy about this issue, his answer was he'd never heard of a problem. Thanks, but no thanks, I'm going natural, and if it doesn't work, at least the weeds are green.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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