Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sweat equity

We have been attacking our to do list (current sidebar somewhere), and wanted to post some photos.

Here is Solomon working on creating a little retaining wall to parallel our gravel driveway. There was a new well installed on the property before we moved in, and they left tons of sand, and we have been trying to grow grass here ever since. Otherwise, the sand ends up in the house. The railroad ties were already on the property, so he is just moving them into place. Gideon is watching and admonishing Solomon, "Be careful!"

Once we had the retaining wall set up, the girls and little boys worked on transporting and installing sod along the perimeter (along the railroad ties) so we could get some head start on the lawn we hope will grow. Here is Joanna, carving out a sod-block-shaped trench, and Sammy, not doing anything particularly helpful, but trying anyhow. Sarah is the family expert on laying tile, sod, rocks, etc, but she is not shown here.

Ben, out in the front yard, digging sod out from where we are expanding the strawberry garden. It was perfect timing, since we could use the sod in the new grass area. He did excellent work cutting the sod uniform and thick. Noah would bring the broken bike trailer back and forth, transporting the sod, which he stacked into a nice, neat "Tower of Babel" near the installation area.

Sarah and Hannah are cleaning up the area in front of the garage/Zak's shop, where we had stacked wood for the winter. It had been layered in ice and snow through our long, snowy winter, and is finally accessible. Interspersed with the wood are various tools, silverware, gloves, angle iron, etc.

Sarah was also cleaning up the inside of the shop, so Zak could get the rest of the bus benches cut for Solomon. That is why Solomon was doing the other projects!

Here you can kind of make out the driver side of the bus, with the three bench unit: front, middle (two benches back to back), and rear. You may notice we made the middle bench shorter; Zak's idea to improve communication during commute. That's why we had the delay, he had to modify the bench. Now Solomon is working on the last one, going on the other side of the aisle.

The bus design couples elegance and functionality.

While Zak was waiting for the shop to get cleaned up, so he could cut pieces for Solomon, who was doing landscaping work, while he was waiting for Zak to cut wood, Zak was printing the materials we wanted to have for our book table at the conference. That required some fancy fingers on the computer, as the computer controlling the printer is Linux, and the program controlling the booklet layout is in Windows, or something like that. I miss DOS.

Hannah had inventoried what we had left, and made a print list for Zak. Now, she is collating and binding literature for the upcoming homeschool conference, ak, about a week away! She is going to head up doing another batch of homemade paperbacks too, with Gorilla Glue, Lord willing.

Sammy is using his can smasher, a gift for his 5th birthday. It is not a normal "kid's gift", and we realized upon unwrapping (and fortunately, before installing) that it can also be a finger-remover without extra precaution: we have installed it against a shelf on one side, and put a protective barrier on the other side. This prevents you from sticking your fingers in the right or left side, where they would be amputated! No mishaps, and lots of fun work for Sammy!

Susanna and Bekah were doing alot of pickup in the backyard, as the snow melt revealed our huge, sprawling firewood pile we began to gather last fall. We are racing the spring, as the grass will eventually grow back, and around, and through, the wood, if we don't get it off the grass.

We have secured a push mower (as in, kid-powered), and will need the lawn very twig-less in order for that to work. Everyone is excited about having a weekly slot to do that. We expect it will take 30 minutes a day, all week long, to mow the whole property with a push mower.

Abi and Susanna are working on snow peas, which we can plant "as soon as the soil can be worked." They said the ground was very cold! We have this wire fence all around both gardens, so plant peas on both sides of the fence.

The combination of lots of wood- and sheet-metal screws being swept out of the bus all the time, with very expensive bus tires, is something we are trying to avoid. We invested in a new magnet sweeper, and it's guaranteed to bring up something at any moment of any day. Sammy here is working for a couple of packs of gum for all the kids to share. Price: 20 pieces of metal.

No, Sammy, that doesn't count.

With all the cars in our driveway, parking has to be well-planned and executed. Having a second bus in your side mirror as a landmark to steer by makes it alot easier!

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