Friday, February 26, 2016


I've been planning to paint my walls white since before my house even arrived. I actually had planned to do that in the first few days after it arrived and before moving anything in. But then my house arrived and I got my first lesson in the fact that propane appliances, including heater, may require electricity to run at all. Because it was the start of winter and below freezing, I couldn't really paint until the heat was up and running. And by that time, I needed to move in because my lease was up on my temporary place. 

Then it was winter and due to condensation, painting damp wood seemed like a bad idea. Then it was summer, and I was so busy with gardening, hiking, and working, that painting just never happened. And then it was winter again, and the dampness returned about the time I got more free time, so no painting again. Then I got my wood stove. No more condensation. None at all. All the wood in my house including around the windows, is totally dry to the touch. Hey, it's winter, I have a little more free time than summer, and I have dry wood to paint now. So I got started today.

I know it's not what everyone likes, but I love plain white walls. They make my surroundings feel clean, bright, open, and calm. Some have told me not to paint my beautiful wood, and while I love wood, my house has so much of it, that I really would like some variety. Plus, every time I see photos of any house and instantly think, "I like that one!" it's always a color scheme that is mostly white with natural wood accents. And I've thought this for years now. But still, just to be sure I wouldn't dislike my choice, I thought I'd paint my little bathroom first. Giving me the opportunity to change my mind and not paint any of the rest of the house if I didn't like the results.

But I love the results! I just wish I'd made the time to do this earlier. I thought I'd leave all the window and door frames natural, but I like this white so well, I'm wondering if I'll just paint them too. For sure I plan to leave the ceiling as natural wood. And the floor will be staying the natural cork color, so there will still be plenty of natural wood colors either way.

The new color makes everything look brighter and fresh I think. 

Now before you get worried about me painting inside in the winter, dry wood or not, you should know something about this paint. It's totally chemical free and has no toxic odors or anything. I used it in the past in another house I lived in and loved it. I'm actually using paint leftover from that job now. Almost 6 years later, the paint still seems to be just fine. Which is great since this stuff is kinda expensive, though totally worth it.

I've never done much painting, but I quickly realized that taping everything I didn't want to paint took more time than the actual painting. 

I am just using a single coat and thinning the paint with a 50/50 mix of paint and water. This leaves all the wood grain showing through as you can see here. And I really like it. I have to work the next few days, but hopefully I can do the rest of the house soon. I just have to decide how much of it I want to turn white.....

And P.S., a side benefit of having a composting toilet? When you want to paint your bathroom, you can just pick it up and set it in the living room so it's out of the way. And even use it right there when you need to! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Random February Life

In case you were wondering I'm still here, I've just been busy working a lot. I've had a few random odd job offers on top of my normal work schedule and they have kept me pretty busy. But hey, I've got a loan I am trying to pay down in record time, so odd jobs for some extra cash are a good thing. Plus they have been things I enjoy like snow shoveling or dog sitting.

The last few weeks have been pretty sunny with very little new snow. I've seen some stunning alpine glow sunsets on the mountains surrounding my area.

We've had some beautiful hoarfrost mornings where everything is covered in a  delicate network of lacy ice crystals. At least until the sun burns through and touches them.

And then we've had quite a few unseasonably warm days. Close to fifty degree F. for several of them. That has compacted and shrank the snow piles around my house a lot!

The kitties all seem to be getting along well and enjoying life together. They all show up on the porch when I get home or wake up in the morning. In between I'll see them perched in the tree branches, stilling on logs, sprawling in the sun, snoozing on top of my van, hiding out under the house, or curling up in the little igloo I built them. 

They've caught a few mice as the snow has started to recede and expose the mouse tunnels. I'm not sure if Wynn actually has caught her own yet, or if she's just watching the bigger boys and then playing with the ones they have already killed. Either way, I'm thinking there will be way less mice moving into my van this spring compared to last!

Manipi has now lost the tips of his ears that he'd gotten frostbit in his wild runaway adventure. But they seem to be healing up just fine, not bothering him at all, and he doesn't even look as weird as I thought he might without them.

Luther I thought would end up as the boss cat just due to his size, weight, and youth, but Manipi has kept that spot and when he wants to go or be anywhere, Luther moves over for him. It's been amusing to watch them sort out their hierarchy. 

I've had friend's over for dinner. We enjoy a meal as close to totally grown and preserved by me and off this ground as possible for the middle of winter in WY. No I didn't make the wine.

But someone had asked me for photos of eating the things I grew or preserved this past summer. Here you go. Elk burgers (from this ground and that I processed along with some friends), sprouts (I grow these all winter), pickled beets (that I grew and pickled), dill pickles (I made, but only a few of the cucumber came from my garden), Danish christmas cabbage (I made with the cabbage I grew), and avocados from a friend's back yard in CA. The fresh tomatoes just came from the grocery store.

Hanging out and talking by candle and wood stove light makes for a relaxing evening.

My little stove is still doing a great job of keeping my whole place toasty and warm.

I've seen more amazing big wildlife. Like this line of mostly sizable bull elk walking through the one heavy wet snow that we have had recently. 

These two had the biggest racks.

And more moose, chewing on willows and then bedding down and eating snow.

I'll do a real report on that wood stove soon, but at least here is a little catch up on life here from my tiny house!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Expanding Family at Fy Nyth

And then there were three!

Manipi is doing well. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know his story. (If not, catch up on past installments here and here.) He's put on a lot of weight and seems very comfortable around my house. I've never tried to force him to stay since he came back, and he's generally never gone more than a few feet away. Since he's recovered his health, every now and then he'll go for a little stroll part way down the lane and back, but that seems to be the extent of his desire to wander now. And he is still slowly loosing those frostbitten tips on his ears as you can see. But overall, he looks amazing considering how close to death he was when he first came back!

Wynn has also been doing well in the large space she's had to roam in my friend's shop. She's grown up a lot and become good friends with another rescued formerly feral cat named Luther (my friend's choice of names, he thinks the cat looks like a Lex Luther) who's been living there too. He's a huge long haired black tom who I was slightly afraid might try to kill her. Instead, when she first showed up, she hissed at him and he ran away from her for several weeks before she finally decided to be nice to him. Now they are together all the time. 

I've always hoped to be able to bring her back to my house at some point, and a few days ago, that's just what I did. With her new buddy Luther in tow. Right now it would be hard for any of the cats to run away since the snow is hip deep on me. So I thought this would be a good time to try to get them all settled in together. First I put out three sets of food and water so hopefully none of them would get into a fight over any of those things. Luther and Manipi looked at each other for a few seconds and then both went to eating right beside each other with no complaints.

Wynn, on the other hand, decided to be a drama queen. She peered out of the crate at both of them just like this for hours without deciding to take a step out.

The boys made themselves comfy on the porch and just let her watch. Luther took a stroll around the house, the driveway, over to my little shed, and seemed to approve.

It's about time Luther has some stuff to run after and chase to get a work out. Living in that shop he was just getting fat. He's probably the biggest normal domestic cat I've ever seen and all that hair just makes him look bigger! He went from the porch, to under the house, to perched on top of the ladder that's still sitting behind my house from installing the pipes for my wood stove. Then he decided he needed a higher perch and settled into a tree branch about level with my window tops. He's always liked high perches I think because in the shop he would hang out on top of a tractor cab most of the time.

Wynn finally got brave enough to get out of the crate around dusk. She really is the prettiest one of the three I think.

She took a little walk around the shoveled paths and then hid under the house too.

Manipi is under there too in this photo, but too far back in the dark to see. Later Wynn crawled into my little shed and decided to hide out there. This morning, she was curled up back in the crate. Manipi was under the house which is where he normally sleeps, and Luther had made his own bed under a fallen log at the base of the tree he'd been perched in earlier. They all seem to be getting along ok which makes me really happy! So now I have three pets.

Yes, I know, it looks like I'm on my way to being a crazy old cat lady. Really, I'd like to think of it as just expanding my homestead. The next critters will probably be chickens and maybe a few turkeys in the spring...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Have A Fire!

Yesterday I lit up my new wood stove for real for the first time! The final parts and pieces we were waiting on finally arrived on Monday. That evening, I got everything ready, and yesterday my friend helped me put everything together.

In case you missed my last few posts, my new wood stove is a Mini CT12 from Grey Stove Works. I decided to add a wood stove to my house for several reasons. First, I have access to plenty of free firewood right around my house thanks to lots of standing dead trees, many of them beetle killed. Removing them helps lessen the wildfire danger in the area. And this is certainly cheeper than buying propane. A wood stove does not require electricity and my vented propane heater does to run the fan. So this will greatly lessen the drain on my battery bank in cold weather and thus the amount of gas I buy for my generator to top those batteries off on short and snowy winter days. Lastly, wood heat produces a very dry heat, helping out greatly with reducing condensation and the resulting mold issues that tend to plague very small spaces. So, I decided a small wood stove would be a great addition to Fy Nyth.

Here's a short video tour of my first fire burning, and some details on installing the stove. Below, there are a lot more photos and a description of the whole process. 

The stove is set up to use standard 3'' pellet pipe. The two main brands seem to be Dura Vent and Selkirk and they both seem to be good. I went with Selkirk just because I was more easily able to source all the parts I needed from them from where I live. Above and below you can see what the pipe looks like. 

It has a double wall and fire braid set inside each connection. All the parts were silver, but I wanted them to all be black just because I didn't like the look of silver pipe coming out of a black stove.

So I bought a couple of cans of heat safe black spray paint and used my friend's shop to change the color on all the pieces.

Next I needed some kind of fire shield to protect the walls around my new stove. My local welding shop made this shield for me. It is made from 1/8 inch steel and weighs enough to be very stable all on it's own as a free standing piece. 

It's up on small feet that allows air to pass under it keeping the heat moving and preventing anything behind it from getting too hot. And the L shape on the edges holds it out from the wall, again so that nothing nearby can get too hot. I forgot to snap a photo, but I did spray paint this whole shield black as well.

Next, I needed a hole in my wall for the stove pipe to pass through. Even though I've now had several holes drilled through my wall for things like a new propane line and the cables coming in from my solar panels, it's always a little scary to put a large hole in a perfectly good wall. I could have gone through the roof instead, but in my experience, any kind of a hole in a roof eventually develops a leak and I wanted to avoid that possibility.

Here you can see the hole for the wall thimble being cut out from the interior of the house.

Look at all that great spray foam that makes my house so cozy and tight!

After repeating the process on the outside as well, I had a huge hole in my wall!

Here you can see the thimble installed. It allows the pipe to pass through the wall but keeps all combustibles far enough away to be safe. Hence the large hole in the wall.

All the pipe parts snap together. It is a bit hard to do this, but once put together, the joint is very secure.

Here you can see that thimble from the outside and the pipe running up above the roof to get a good draft going. Drilling the hole and putting everything together took less than two hours.

Now it was finally time to light it up! So I stacked my wood in there and used a bit of newspaper to ignite the pile. It started up with just one flick of a lighter.

It took off right away and has been burning great since a few seconds after we finished the installation.

After a bit more than one day of use, I will do an update with my thoughts on actually using it and a full review of it's performance. So far, I like the little baby a lot!