the Beginning – chapter 12, I deleted the Nenana rant I had going

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 12
Oh, I am in so much trouble now. Seems that melting chocolate eyes are in my dreams now. Yeah, he is nice, yeah, he is thoughtful, yeah, he is very easy on the eyes. Hmmm, where is the downside of this? Town job? Wife or girlfriend stashed somewhere? No, he said he wasn’t married, so no wife as I don’t think he is a liar.
Well, those were certainly not my usual morning wake-up thoughts. I better get back to work. Pal and I take the pickup down and load up most of the firewood I have cut. I loaded, he brought me sticks.
My woodshed is looking so much better. It is almost entirely filled, new larger extension and all. I do have the little area inside for pet food and tools, but it is now holding at least 2 years worth of firewood. I grab the saw and go back down. I hate to kill so many trees, but I need to ring them for cutting next year to fill the space of wood used this coming winter. By the time I need to get started on the evening meal, I think I have enough ringed for the next season. Now I can relax a little bit and work around the place on other projects needing done.
I want to expand my ice cellar a bit or build another one which would probably be the best way to do it and not lose the ice I have from last winter. It makes great storage for fresh goods and helps out during the summer. I even have a place picked out to build another one. Mine is quite small as I was in a hurry when I built it.
When I get back to the house, I find an old tarp and drag it over to the area I want to dig out. I measure out the area I want to dig out and start by cutting around the edges with a very old chain and bar on my chainsaw, just in case I find rocks. The chain is beyond sharpening and has missing teeth, so I am not ruining a good chain and bar. Then I cut a grid through the whole area so I can remove each section of cover foliage onto the tarp and replace it over the ice house when I am finished. This is probably not a good use for the saw, but it sure speeds up the job.
I start at the edge of the bank of cut squares and carefully pry one loose from the thawing soil under it. I use the wheelbarrow and move it over onto the tarp. They won’t have to go back exactly as I removed them from the grid, but may fit better, if I am careful with them.
After a while, it is going really well and I have most of the foliage removed when Will and Shari come back from cleaning and planting at their place. They immediately want to know what and how I am doing this new project. So I explain how I am digging it out, making a gravel floor, and building heavy pole wall sections with rough cut boards behind the support poles. A vapor barrier and foam board insulation behind that and another layer of vapor barrier and another of foam board if I can afford it or find more.
The roof will be done the same way, only stronger as moose may walk over it. All the dirt I will dig out will be mounded over top of the whole works, the foliage placed back over it all and left open in winter to freeze as much as possible inside. The entryway will be a double door set up, like a storm lock. An outer door, a hallway and an insulated inner door. I am going to try setting some LED lights along the ceiling of the entryway and inside the room going to a battery setup and solar panels if I can. The gravel floor will be fine for melting ice in Summer.
I will put jugs and buckets half full of water in the room as I get them, so they can all freeze in winter and slowly thaw in the summer, keeping the room as cool as possible. As usual, I will also make an area to store a sleeping bag, tent and some food items in moisture proof containers so nothing molds or mildews and to keep rodents out.
If my home ever catches fire, I don’t want to be stuck out here with nothing in the winter. I don’t mention that I will also stash a gun or two and ammo out here. I like planning ahead for any emergency and who knows what types of emergencies may arise? This bank I am digging into is partly permafrost so if I am careful and speedy on my project, maybe I won’t make it thaw too much and it will help keep my ice house frozen year around. By using the old chainsaw, I am making great progress on digging out the space I want. The dirt is wind blown silt and frozen, so no rocks at all in it. It does work like sandpaper on everything, so I clean and oil the saw very well every time I fill the fuel tank. If I were building a root cellar, I would plan on leaving off the foliage and planting the roof to some nice plants for food.
Will wants to try doing this over on their place and Shari likes the sound of having ice all summer. I tell her for ice to use, they have to cut blocks of clean ice in the winter and store them up on pallets or something so they don’t get dirty on the gravel and insulate them with sawdust or something to keep them frozen and chip off pieces in the summer to use.
I don’t do that as I just keep soft drinks and juice out in mine and my drinking water near the door in it, in the summer. In the winter, my sun porch is cool enough to be a large walk-in fridge and the other porch is a freezer. I can keep some lettuce and greens growing on the sun porch, but not much likes it that cool. But it gives me fresh green food in winter and I do sprouts, too, for a change in my diet.
Will helps carry blocks of dirt to stack on the 2nd tarp I have set out and the hole is going much faster. I decide to slant the floor a bit toward the front, so any possible water will run out instead of pooling inside. My old saw blade and chain are about shot though. This would have taken me weeks at least to dig out by hand, maybe more as I would have had to wait for the ground to thaw and only managed a few inches ever couple of days in depth.
I cut a small trench from the lowest floor area out to the side to make a drain in the floor. Someday, I may be able to pour concrete and it would be easier to place a drain now, than later. I have the pipe, put it in place and put a can over the end sticking up in the floor and another over the outside end, just so we pay attention to where it is.
I mark out where I want the actual walls to go and start notching poles to nail in place for the framework. My stomach starts complaining and only then do I notice it is after midnight and I haven’t even had lunch yet. Twenty-four hours a day of daylight does mix up meal times. No wonder I am so tired and now that I am thinking about it, starved.
I open a couple of jars of white chili and get it heating up and go take a quick shower. I am really looking grungy from today’s work. The white chili is heating nicely, so I cut some thick slices of bread and butter it, then toast it on the griddle. Looks like I need to bake again, tomorrow.
Will and Shari come in just as the bread is perfectly toasted and we all sit down and eat. Shari has decided she wants to learn as soon as possible how to can. She really likes having a meal ready in just a few minutes. I can see we will be doing canning lessons soon.
When I wake up the next morning, I get right on the ice house job after mixing up a batch of bread dough
I have to hurry on this job or the bank will thaw and slough down. I haul all the junk plywood and boards I have piled out back over, and start putting them up on the outside of the pole frame we put together last night. Then I put a good vapor barrier plastic around the walls and then assorted foam board pieces. Then another layer of plastic to keep the foam board from soaking up water although it is claimed that it doesn’t. When I start putting the blocks of dirt back, I try to do it evenly, front, back and each side, so no side gets more pressure against it than another. The blocks are getting soft, so the easy work is about to end.
I remembered the bread dough I had left rising in the house and ran back in. Sure enough, it had over-risen and was flat in the bowl. I punched it around a bit, added some sugar sprinkled on it and hoped it would respond. While in the house, I fixed something to eat before heading back out.
Now came the fun part. Figuring out what type and shape of roof I wanted to put on the ice house. I wanted it to blend in a bit with the surroundings, so decided to try making it shaped a bit of a dome. One last chore for the poor old bar and chain on the saw. I cut out a hole in the middle of the floor, found a nice large flat rock and dropped it in the hole and went looking for a good spruce log. I had a nice 10 foot long one, on pallets behind the woodshed. I drag it over and then found the roofing compound. I liberally coated the bottom of the log with the tarry looking gunk, then wrapped it in some old rags and coated them, also. I tacked 2 2×4’s on the sides of the log, then slowly set the end over the hole and started raising the log.. As it went up, I kicked the 2×4’s along, to act as braces. Once the log was upright, I check it with a level and it isn’t too bad. So I tamp the dirt back around it that was loose inside on the floor, checking once in a while for straight. This is not a beautiful job, but it should work.
I checked on the bread again, and it didn’t look too bad, so shaped it into pans and left to rise again after turning the oven on to preheat. I would have to pay attention this time.
I drag a few more poles over to use on the ceiling, then put the bread in the oven. I take care of the chicks and open the little door so they could go out into the small run I had built for them. They are cautious at first, then all go out. They are starting to get feathers and look lanky. By the time they were all outside, I could smell the bread, so checked it. Still needed more time, so I picked up some in my cabin so it looked neater and put the dishes away. By then, the bread was ready to come out. So put it on racks to cool and went back to work.
Using the step ladder, I put the first few poles up on the post I had placed in the middle of the room. I spiked them in place on top the post, then went around the sides and evenly spaced the ends over the walls. As an after thought, I placed a square box to allow a chimney in future if needed, through the roof and nailed it firmly in place. I put it back by the back wall so it would be inconspicuous. Then I put a small section of insulated stove pipe I had found at the dump in and screwed it in place. While I was at it, I made a couple of vent boxes that I could close up with foam board so it wouldn’t get too warm in there, later.
I crisscrossed the roof with more poles, making it look like some primitive housing project. I hoped it would add strength to the roof, just in case a moose did try walking on it. Then I added some of the junk salvaged plywood and OSB. Tacking it down, here and there. I could walk all over the roof without it sinking in or swaying. I covered the whole works with vapor barrier and tacked it over the sides and ends of the poles after trimming them to length where they hung over. I used some more of the roofing compound around the chimney piece and wrapped the plastic tight against it, then rags and more roofing compound. I used a can of the fire retardant spray foam inside the wooden box against the chimney so it should be insulated okay. I would place a chunk of foam board over and fasten one to the inside of it unless I needed it at some time.
More foam board pieces and sheets on top of the plastic and yet more plastic. Then comes the dirt. My dirt chunks are coming apart fairly well now. So I brought the wheelbarrow over and use it to move most of the dirt up onto the roof. Then it is spread around gently to not puncture the roof materials. I think I will need to plant or build a fence to deter moose. The hooves may puncture, also.
By the time Will and Shari show up from their trip to town, I am ready to call it a day. I am not done, but I can see the end of it soon.

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4 thoughts on “the Beginning – chapter 12, I deleted the Nenana rant I had going

  1. Thank you! My husband will enjoy this description of building a root cellar. He’s been noodling abou it out at our cabin site off the Steese and this should give him some practical guidance. I’m in Fairbanks. Are you in Nenana?

    • You are welcome. I live out near Livengood. I’m bashing Nenana because they are trying to grab us into a Borough to pay off their stupid debts and still not learning to live within their means. They want clear across the Yukon River and down it almost to Ruby. Nice for them, if they get it, sucks for the rest of us roped into it because of their poor management problems.

      • I heard about that. Stupid idea! First, those of us who already live in a borough (FNSB) can tell them that it’s not going to work out well. Just a good excuse to extort money out of your neighbors for stuff we could do ourselves, if we wanted to do them.

        And Livengood and Nenana are nowhere near one another. It’s like the equally stupid idea of joining Delta and Cantwell into a borough from a decade ago.

  2. Well, the State moved our polling place from Livengood to Central. That is certainly handy for us. We did drive over for the primary in 2008, but by November? They have to be kidding, right? No, they are serious and voting absentee means votes don’t get counted until 2 weeks after the election so that really makes sense also.

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