Notes from Windward: #58

Part II

the woodshop starts to come together

Now it's time for Gray-box
Getting the first shipping container into place was straightforward enough, but the second was a more challenging proposition. The idea is for the two containers to create a twenty by forty foot space between them, and that required the second box be located parallel to the first, but twenty feet away. Given the precision of the come-along and rollers technique, that turned out to mostly a matter of attention to detail. Like many things at Windward, it required more patience than power.

The main problem with positioning the second container turned out to involve the need to excavate the bank so that Gray-box could be placed as far north as Red-box. It turned out that the bank wasn't square, and about twenty wheelbarrow loads of rock and dirt had to be dug out of the bank before the final placement. It wasn't a big deal, just standard pick and shovel work, but if I had picked up on the need to trim the bank before emplacing the container, I could have used the backhoe to do the work in no time at all. Oh well, that's how it goes.

Bob and Jerry
reposition a roller log
While we were getting the second container into place, Bob and I started to put Red-box to use. In time, we're going to build shelving, storage and workbenches inside, but not this time. So, as soon as the box was leveled, we started the process of socking away some of this winter's hay supply. Our dairy string is holding constant, but as the size of our flock of fiber sheep increases, so does our need for winter feed. We're expecting to go through at least fourteen tons of hay this winter, and that's a pretty big hay stack.

Well, we're able to report that a forty-foot storage container will hold almost exactly ten tons of hay. For a herdsman, it's a beautiful sight to see that much forage tucked away safe and secure. Sometimes our winters are easy and sometimes they aren't, but this winter our sheep and goats will be just fine, come what may.

Red-box and Gray-box
walling in the woodshop
While we won't be building-in Red-box this winter, we will be working on the other container. While I've been doing the detail work on Gray-box, Bob's been busy running the saw mill turning out a respectable stack of lumber. The container's forty-foot length translates into more than eighty feet of useable space. Arguably, Windward's most persistent problem has been the lack of sufficient weather tight storage and work space, and with these containers coming online, it really feels like we're going to finally get ahead of this particular problem.

More than just enabling Windward to be better organized, we'll also be more productive. Part of that will come from the efficiency of that improved organization, but an important new dimension will involve a new ability to do productive work during the winter months. A century ago, winter was the time when self-reliant homesteads turned their efforts towards making things for sale. No matter how self-reliant you might become, there are always going to be things you need (or want) to obtain from outside. In order to do that, you have to have something of value to offer in trade.

Some homesteads produced cloth, others produced door latches. It all depended on the skills and resources of the homestead. In Windward's case, there's lots of things that we can produce; in our early years, that's what we did almost exclusively. These past few years we've turned our efforts and resources toward getting established on raw land, but now that we've made substantial headway in that direction, it's time to start putting some of those resources to use. The woodshop will be our first facility dedicated to producing marketable products.

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