Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Attaching corrugated sheet metal to a shed roof

You know, I was kind of hard on Mr. Sleepy Home Depot Guy in my last post, so I will offer this in his defense: he did give me one piece of useful information, and that was to use a special lag screw designed for attaching sheet metal to roofs. The lag screw comes with a rubber washer already on it, so that when you screw it down, it seals the hole you have just made. He also picked out a bolt head bit for my drill drive that would fit the lag screw, both of which are shown in the photo below (click the pic for a closer view; bolt bit is on the blue drill drive):

Very handy. Thank you, Mr. SG.

Other than that, my questions seemed mostly met with a puzzled, vacant, vaguely cranky, straining-to-be-polite-to-the-customer-because-I'm-basically-a-nice-guy look, as in, "Lady, why are you making this harder than it has to be?"

Or perhaps it was, "Lady, why don't you ask your husband?"

Or, to be fair, maybe it was merely, "Lady, I haven't had my coffee yet."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cutting corrugated sheet metal

Honestly? The guy at Home Depot was not a font of information about attaching a corrugated sheet metal roof to my shed. Case in point: When I asked him how to cut the sheets to size, he looked at me drowsily and said, "Well, you gotta use snips. It's the only way."

Snips?


SNIPS?

I think not, Mr. Sleepy Guy. If I'd used snips, I'd still be cutting those sheets, four days after starting, and cursing like a drunken sailor the whole time.

Clearly, this callow young man did not know about Girl Empowerment Tools. To wit: my trusty, much-used reciprocating saw* with a fresh 18  tpi (teeth per inch) metal-cutting blade, shown here, shortly after making a cut:

Friday, February 19, 2010

Radio Silence: Chickens at work

I've recruited the girls to help me finish up the shed construction this week, so we beg your indulgence as we go into radio silence for a few days.
"Whether or not you look good in safety glasses should probably be the least of our concerns right now."

Monday, February 15, 2010

How many academics does it take to raise a shed?

I mow my tiny prairie grass lawn three times during the summer, and the other 362 days of the year, that big ol' lawnmower takes up valuable space in my wood shop--as does also the leaf blower, weed whacker, wood chipper, Walu's spare commuter bike, assembly benches, and various other sundries rarely used but needed often enough that we don't want to get rid of them.

I've wanted a tool shed to house all this junk these seldom used items for fifteen years, but I could never make up my mind about what kind to get or where to put it. Should it be a kit, or should I build it from scratch? Should it be wood, or metal? Or given that I already have a backlog of chores to do, maybe I should just pay someone else to build the whole thing. And if someone else builds it, where should it be located? Should it be in the southeast corner of the farm? Behind the wood shop? Which direction should it face?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pearl and Henrietta: Snowpocalypse 2010

"First of all, that was last week. And second of all, you are a chicken, not a groundhog. So would you please quit worrying about whether or not you can see your shadow?"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Really, Mr. Snow? Really?


That's a photo of my shed-to-be on the trailer, as seen this morning from our kitchen window.

The shed that Walu and our neighbors were going to help me raise this weekend.

Under newly falling snow.

Brothers and sisters, I know I have no right to complain about a little dusting of the white stuff, not when the rest of North America is buried under eight feet of it, courtesy of Snowpocalypse, 2010. But this is LBB, people. 

LBB, of the 300 sunny days a year.

This. Is. Not. Right.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The staging area, early morning

That's a picture of my seed-starter trays, sitting on the countertop in my study, awaiting the day I will fill them with peat, seeds, and water. It's tempting to do it now, simply because I am tired of the cold and wet and gray, and starting the seeds would make me feel like there is an end to it all. I know in my head that winter days won't go on forever, but my heart and my head don't alway speak the same language.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tree Pruning, Part Three: Revealing the grace

A tree left alone in nature will grow however it grows, and for the most part, it will do just fine without any human intervention. So except for those circumstances I outlined in Thursday's post where pruning is necessary either for the health of the tree or to protect property, the real reason we like to get out the pruning tools is the same reason we like to poke sticks into steaming compost bins--because we are gardeners, first and foremost, and the acts of gardening are part of a tender, ongoing conversation with the natural world. So then should our tree pruning reflect that.

The photo above and the ones immediately following are a few trees around town in which I think pruning has enhanced the form, or growth habit, of the species, and revealed the inherent grace:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tree Pruning, Part Two: Making the cut

There are many reasons to prune a tree. For example, a broken limb, such as the one in the photo above, should obviously be removed for safety's sake, but branches should also be removed if they are crossing each other, since repeated rubbing between windy branches could damage the bark, a tree's protection against disease.

Trees also are often pruned to allow more light to reach planting beds or lawns below, or to remove branches that hang dangerously over property or electrical lines, or to cull branches with a weak junction to prevent future splitting. And finally, my personal favorite reason to prune trees is to allow the form and shape of the species to show through at its finest.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tree Pruning, Part One: Safety

A flock of chain saws has moved into the 'hood over the past few days, and we can hear them chattering amongst themselves like the low, muted, FM-voiced mating call of some oddly manic species of bird. It seems that the ice storm has plunged us straight into pruning season, so I thought I might share a post or three on the subject for my friends and neighbors who might be thinking about taking down a branch.

My father taught me how to prune trees many years ago, and I've enjoyed doing it ever since. There's something very satisfying about shaping a tree to grow in an aesthetically pleasing way, so much so that when I run out of pruning chores around my own house, I am hard pressed not to carry my saw with me and lop off errant branches on neighbors' trees, or trees on campus, or along public medians...

Before we get into the nitty gritty of what to remove and how to do it, however, let's cover a few safety tips--some taught to me by my dad, and some I've learned the hard way.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Lemonade report

On Saturday two off-duty firemen left a flyer on my front door offering their services in storm damage clean-up, so I gave them a call. They admitted that they didn't have a lot of experience in pruning trees, but were gracious enough to let me supervise. I do have a lot of tree pruning experience (which is why I am happy to pay someone else to do large jobs) and I'm sure I was extremely annoying, but they were kind enough not to let it show.

Here are some before and after shots: