July, 2006

Attack of the Killer Moth

Summer has brought an outbreak of the Spruce Budworm, whose larvae feed primarily on the new growth of the spruce and fir. The result is a brown tinge surrounding the trees; it looks especially bad when the light is right (as above). The trees should recover if the outbreak subsides, but a majority may die if it continues for several years. There was an educational meeting at the Bridger Canyon Fire Station, where we found there is little that can be done in the short term. The best we can hope for is a very cold winter followed by a hard frost in May. Other remedies tend to be very expensive and of doubtful value on a large scale. Long term solutions include dramatic thinning of the forest (which is needed anyhow) and planting a variety of tree species. The problem is affecting trees for hundreds of miles around us. This pest, coupled with day time highs in the low to mid 90's and little rain, has greatly increased the fire danger this year, so we have spent some worrisome nights watching dry lightning flashes.

Our latest weapon in the weed war is a field and brush mower we are using to cut down the large patchs of Canada Thistle and to control the Hawthorne bushes in areas we do not want them. The areas we can use it are limited by the steep terrain (it's a 375 pound, 15HP, self-propelled handful). We also got the snow blower attachment so we can use it in the winter to keep the construction site clear.

Visitors this month were Ruth and Denny and Barbara and Jim. They have been added to our Attila's Gallery. We took a three-day trip with Barbara and Jim to northwestern Montana and Glacier National Park (a first for all of us).

July 11: [1.2MB movie] Great quantities of structural fill are needed throughout the foundation and slab area. Large trucks have been delivering fill for a couple of days, and an excavator is used to load the fill into a hopper that feeds a conveyor belt on a boom so the fill can be placed and compacted precisely where needed to support the piers for the East end foundation. At the West end, the new lower floor will be 21" higher than the old one, so much of the fill can just go over the old slab.

The eastern part of the foundation is not done, but that is just crawl space, so the slab for the lower floor at the western end was poured 17 July. After this picture was taken, the slab was cut into 3' tiles; when it cures, it should take on a variegated appearance like tile. The outline of the Wine Cellar is visible just right and below center. The 1st Mechanical Room will be where the pipe is sticking out of the slab left and below center. It will be about two weeks before the eastern foundation can be completed. We're hoping that framing can start in the second half of August. The "2nd Mechanical Room" is visible at the extreme right; the final pour for it finished 26 July.

Be sure to check out the Main House Progress

Parting Shot
Timbers in Preparation

What appears to be the arched timber for the Entry takes shape in Victor, MT — courtesy of Montana Idaho Log and Timber.

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