Masonry and the Mason

If you are going to have a wood stove you need a heat shield that will soak up the heat from the stove and radiate it out to the room.  This is super easy to build when you have a generous soul living with you who has been a stonemason for most of the time that you have been alive (I might have just made up that fact but he’s been a stonemason for a very long time).  So that’s what our episode is about today: the building of our stone wall that will be behind the wood stove out of stones we had in our yard by our Farmer in Residence Tim Peregoy.


At our Annual Benefit in Chicago on December 14, 2013 we were able to show off all of the progress on the Caretaker Residence as of that week. Check it out!

Since this video we have seen significant change to the inside of the residence with the addition of interior trim and cabinets.

More on those later.

Tiling the Floor (and Update)

Tile Man Carl beasts through the living room floor in this video. He worked this brilliantly whether there was a camera recording him or not.

The tiling and interior painting are almost complete. The trim is being painted by a professional Interior Painting company considering we didn’t want to potentially spill paint all over the new tiles, so we got it taken care of properly! Also, the Alderson carpenter contracted for the job is chomping at the bit; ready for his turn in the Caretaker Residence. The siding crew completed a few weeks ago and the roof is in progress. The biggest awesome is the Solar Hot Water tanks that have been installed on the south side of the house just below the greenhouse. This morning Miriam asked me how we get water to be hot. I replied that unfortunately we burn coal to generate electricity and convert that to heat that heats the water. I added that we would soon be saving our beautiful mountains by heating our water directly from the Sun. Hopefully those of you who support our Mission and our Community express more excitement about that possibility because she seemed thoroughly unimpressed.

Paintin’ the Res

Led by Katherine Beyers and Jenna Cucco the Caretakers have been taking care of business painting the Caretaker Residence.  With the great help of the Fitts parents, the Ruggabers and the Nazareth Farmers we are almost ready to call in a carpenter to trim the house.  Check out the beautiful colors in our new video!

Chicken Noodle Sup-erior Walls

How Superior are these walls?

These walls are so Superior that when they do push-ups they don’t push themselves up, they push the Earth down.
These walls are so Superior that when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone he had three missed calls from these walls.
These walls are so Superior that they can cut through a hot knife with butter.
These walls are so Superior that they won American Idol using only sign language.
These walls are so Superior that they counted to infinity…twice.
These walls are so Superior that they won a game of Connect Four in only three moves.
As one can see we have installed the superior walls into the hole creating a basement and a solid foundation for the rest of the house.  Caretakers joined Mark’s workers in flattening out the gravel in the basement to prepare for the slab of concrete to be poured.  A rough estimate done by one caretaker was that each person moved 972 buckets of gravel.  This estimate, however, is so rough that a shark brushed against it and was sanded smooth.

Coming soon:  The pouring of a concrete slab to create a basement floor.

Caretaker Residence Video Update (Sept16)

Oh no we haven’t forgotten about you.  You want to know what is happening with the Caretaker Residence, and rightly so.  You have invested yourself in this project and this community.  But as entertaining as I may be there are some levels of tedium that even I cannot make you care about. Nonetheless, great progress has been made on the Caretaker Residence. Mark Solak and his crew, the Caretakers and Summer Servants, and subcontractors have been rocking and rolling this new house.

So here it is: the updated tour of the Caretaker Residence by Matt Hubbard (probably the quietest he has ever spoken in his life).

Radiant Heat Floors Preview

In early July the Bethlehem Farm caretakers, Summer Servants and high school volunteers lifted a female African elephant onto the second floor of the Caretaker Residence.

Wait…that sentence should have said “lifted the equivalent of a female African elephant….”  Actually they brought 10,000 pounds of play sand up a ladder to the second floor. You may think this sounds amazing that the second floor is beach themed.  I’ll admit, it ran through my mind as well.

Unfortunately, the sand is merely part of a super efficient heating system that runs throughout the floors of the Residence.  It was poured into the floors around the PEX tubing that runs throughout the 2×4 sleeper boards. Once covered in sand the PEX and the sleepers were entombed under OSB floorboards.  Altogether these comprise the Radiant Heat Flooring system. When in use, hot water (from solar hot water heaters) will run through the PEX and heat up the sand.  5 tons of sand will hold that heat into the house and radiate it from the floor upwards.  Imagine stepping barefoot off your bed in the winter and having warm tiles underfoot while only using a fraction of the energy of a conventional heating sentence.

Caretaker Residence: The Mark Solak Edition

In this video, Project Manager Mark Solak gives us the low down on the Past, the Present and the Future of the Caretaker Residence construction.  If Jacob Marley had been as efficient an orator as Mark, he could have saved the other three spirits the trouble and just given Scrooge the info himself.