Monday, September 30, 2013

What a friend we have in cheeses!

An awful pun, but not my line. I stole it from American environmental author Ed Abbey. As far as Aimee is concerned, it's right up there with "our feet are the same", my usual pun on auf Wiedersehen, German for good-bye. It makes her groan with disgust every time.

Aimee's cheese project had an outcome much more successful than my puns, though, a bright shining victory, even if it did take an inordinate amount of time to come to fruition. By my reckoning, it was fully three months before we got to taste the sage Derby, while the Cheddar and Gouda may take up to another year!

While I consider myself a Yorkshireman, I was born in Derbyshire, in the city of Chesterfield, so during this aging process my prospective favorite was the sage Derby. My opinion was confirmed, especially when it come out tasting like a dead ringer for Wensleydale, a proper Yorkshire cheese of great renown! 

Go figure. 

But quite amusing.

To make matters even funnier, Aimee, who as a died-in-the-red-white-and-blue American has of course tasted neither cheese before, insists that it is indeed a proper British sage Derby, although it rather conspicuously lacks the mottled green colour and smooth texture. 

As a well-trained husband, I know when I'm beaten. I gave up the debate after only one or two attempts to convince her otherwise. In any case, I much prefer Wensleydale to Derby, sage or otherwise, and so I'm quite happy eating my Wensleydale, while Aimee is also happy eating what she thinks of as proper British sage Derby. Despite the obvious opportunity for confusion, especially if we ever have any British visitors, this is otherwise a perfectly acceptable outcome for me, because Wensleydale, along with many classic regional British cheeses, is virtually unobtainable in the United States, as well as my all-time favorite cheese. 

I should mention that my first house was in Bedale, "capital" village of Wensleydale.

The only problem with this is, I have to figure out how to make her make more, much more, of the otherwise failed sage Derby that is secretly a quite successful Wensleydale, whereas if she ever gets wind of the fact said cheese it is actually nothing like a sage Derby, she will likely never make it again. 

Luckily, she never reads the blog. Don't let on, dear readers. In the interest of cheesiness. Stick with me here.

In other news, we have a swinging chicken. I'm not sure why a chicken would like to swing, but this one does, apparently. The problem is, getting a picture. Both times I've spotted the phenomenon and gone inside to get my camera, by the time I got back outside, the bird had flown, or, at least, hopped off the swing. Aimee got this picture with her "new" camera.

Both the previous articles were under the heading of entertainment, but the last one I want to talk about was sheer bloody hard work. Hard graft, as we say in God's country.

The problem of fitting a sewer for the bathroom in the new extension had been bothering me intermittently for months now. I was able to get the plumbing permit for this important utility on the basis of a forty-five foot run of four-inch pipe with a one eighth inch minimum drop per foot, and I'd been buying hardware and setting aside fittings for quite a while now in readiness, but I knew that required drop might be difficult to achieve, given the fact that there were two joist beams in the way, beams that I had personally placed with my own two hands.

I should have known I would have had no choice but to cut holes in the joist beams, but it was just killing me to admit it. No carpenter likes to have to cut into a structural support as important as a joist beam, especially one he made himself. 

It was Saturday afternoon when I first figured out what I needed to do. (That's only about six months of intermittent work on the problem!) I could "spot" the joist beams to the solid rock floor of the crawl space just about anywhere I wanted, making a post-and-beam out of what had been just a beam. If I did this close enough to the foundation wall, these two new posts could take the load easily, allowing the beam to be cut on the short side. I would then finish up with a joist beam of only a few inches effective width, and therefore much reduced strength, on that short side. But, if the span was only a foot or two, this wouldn't matter. Even a couple inches of beam width can carry a full live and dead house load if the span is only a couple of feet. If I then reinforced the short span to the new post with a triangular plywood gusset, we'd be in yet better shape. "Belt and braces."

Once I'd figured this out, I just had to run the forty-five feet of sewer. Easier said than done; this would take quite a bit of scrauming around underground, but the conclusion would be inevitable.

The worst part was the crawl space under the kitchen, where I had to wiggle myself through about a one-foot gap, then over the new pipe, then work at full stretch with my head jammed between the kitchen floorboards and the dirt to fit a 45 degree bend. At least this section required no pipe hangers, since the pipe sits right on the dirt floor throughout. Part of the basement wall then had to be demolished to make the connection to the existing bathroom sewer. (The rubble was used as handy hardcore to fill holes in the basement's concrete floor.) And then Aimee had to be prohibited from using the toilet or sink for about an a hour while the final connection was made and the glue dried. Since she was already tired and ticked off from a busy day for her too, probably exacerbated by the intermittent mining songs emanating from below -- she hates my singing -- all this resulted in me being "punished" by being rather high-handedly given the job of completing her tomato canning project!


So, by the end of the day I was tired and achy from all the scrauming, as well as filthy, encrusted with glue, my hands died purple with plumber's PVC primer, and smelling vaguely of finely aged human poop, and I still had to can nine quarts of tomatoes and clean up the kitchen thereafter. 

(Although her Aimeeness was, in her defense, cleaning the floor while I was earlier watching TV.)

And I keep going over the calculation in my head: if the floor of the extension is at the same height as the floor of the existing house, and if the sewer pipe is twenty-five inches below this floor at the connection, and fifteen inches below at the new "glory hole" in the extension (pictured), then I have ten inches of drop in forty-five feet, which makes just under a quarter of an inch a foot. 

In contrast, forty-five eighths of an inch would be just over five inches of drop.

Those are the numbers the plumbing inspector will want to know.

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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