Sunday, November 19, 2017

Finding Joy in Work and Play - Building a Shower Stall with Pallets

Strange title. I know. Tammy and I had the weekend to ourselves, and I told her early in the week that I really wanted to take a walk through our woods. It syncs my body, relaxes me, and frankly, feels like home. She readily agreed for the same reasons. She also suggested we get a couple of huge pallets I picked up at my office (after they installed new bathroom stalls) out of the garage and use them to create privacy walls around the outdoor shower.

We would work a little and play a little. It also gave me a chance to use the power I've been producing from the solar set up. Before I get started on the shower build, here's a cute picture of one of our neighbors. She's very kissy and friendly. She definitely loves Tammy.

Until we have a chance to ask her owner what her real name is, we're calling her Sugar because she's white and gives lots of sugar. Her breath smells like a hay bale, but the kisses are sweet.

Building Shower Walls with Pallets

Since part of this country experiment is about sustainability, we've been collecting pallets whenever we can find them. I found two 5X8 pallets in the parking lot at work. The building remodeled the bathrooms, and the stalls came on huge pallets. I got a couple of guys to help me load them up, and they've been sitting in the garage for a few months. We had an idea we'd use them to frame walls, but hadn't decided which walls they would become.

Saturday was cool and beautiful, so we decided to split the country trip into half work and half play. We loaded up the pallets and a jigsaw (my circular saw rusted in the constantly flooding condo garage; which make me mad), stopped  by Home Depot for some 4x4s and cinder blocks, and headed to the cabin.

The pallets were a little longer than we needed, so we decided to cut off one section. We'd set the 4x4 posts in the cinder blocks, fill them with pond clay, and then attach the pallets to the posts. This way the walls are portable/movable. None of this outdoor stuff feels permanent. At some point, we'll put in a small bathroom with plumbing, but we need to get the rainwater catchment system set up first. Then we can add a small septic system and retire the famous composing toilet.

Sizing the pallets gave me the chance to use a little solar electricity. It worked great. In fact, I highly recommend this portable system to anyone who has to do any off grid construction. 

It was crazy windy because a cool front was blowing in, and that's good. We would not have stabilized the walls if the wind hadn't knocked over the first one we built. The original plan was to slip the pallets over the 4x4s so that the walls could be taken apart as easily as they were constructed. That didn't work. There's nothing square about a pallet.  We had to remove the back slats and nail the pallets to the posts.

Then the wind knocked one over. We ended up using the removed back slats as stabilizers. The whole set up stood on it's own as we took our walk through the woods. As far as we know, it's still standing. We'll add metal siding the next trip out. I also ran out of nails because I didn't think I would need extra nails since the original plan was to slip the pallets over the posts. It's nailed together in all the right places, but I need to add a second nail at every attachment.

We'll also finish up a footpath into the stall next go round. We'll need to terrace the slope a bit to make walking around with wet feet less treacherous. The next big project will be installing a gutter that drains into a collection barrel next to the stall. I'll add a solar powered pump, and we'll have a nice, easy shower set up. My aunt suggested a propane, on demand water heater, and indeed! They make them for just this kind of setting. Off grid is getting pretty comfortable!

Rewarding Ourselves with a Walk in the Woods

With an hour of sunlight to spare, we took a walk. First, Tammy had a visit with Sugar, then we headed into the woods to look around.

I showed Tammy the other neighbor's deer stand, built partly our property, to shoot deer that bed down right there. That will get the sledge hammer next visit. Following the sledge hammer, I'll let that individual know he and his sons get a visit from the game warden if I catch that shit in action. We encountered one of the deer that live back there. We did some rock hunting in one of the wet weather creeks. We crawled through the under brush to the very back, remote corner of our place. The original stone used to mark the Northeast corner of the property, 100 years ago, is still there. 

We'll definitely leave several acres "raw" for wildlife and privacy, but slowly, we'll build a really beautiful country home. 

Note:  Sustainable living is a "serious" hobby for me. If my blog posts about "off grid" living pique your interest, start with a book or two. Have fun experimenting wherever you live. You might be surprised at how self reliant you really are! I started with a book and a whole lot of internet searches.

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