Outdoor Kitchen – Stage 2

Earlier in the year I wrote about how we had progressed on the construction of the first mortared stone masonary project: the Outdoor Kitchen

After much continued work around our other tasksΒ I am happy to say the the next stage of this project is complete, meaning all the stone work for the structure is done!

There was a fair bit involved to get to this point, first as soon as the walls were up to height Kellie and I donned our stunning protective gear and wire brushed the walls in preparation for pointing them.

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (1)

This was necessary as all our hard work was based on three sides on the work of the previous owner who had used a more lime rich mix for his mortar and it had therefore degraded quite seriously in some areas. No point doing all the work on top if the bottom falls apart over the next few years.

Then, having got completely covered in dust we proceeded to put back what we had just scrubbed out, but with new strong mortar. Then, scrubbing back the rocks to neaten up the joints….

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (2)

Click image for a larger version

The last photo in the series is after the acid wash, but before that could be done we had to actually finish the stone work – the walls weren’t the end of it, we needed to build the structure on which to install the large cement sink we were re-purposing out of the tiny laundry where it was far to big and put in a bench using a large piece of slate.

Kellie and I worked diligently at it but it was just to the point where we could put the sink in when Kellie had to move on so we said our sad goodbyes and work slowed noticeably.

Over the next month I worked slowly at finishing the structure and then finally (with heavy lifting assistance from Noven) the sink and the bench were in!

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (3)

Next step: Acid wash. Stinky (even with an acid vapour respirator), slightly scary but well worth the effort for the resulting clean stones.

Moving right along now that the end was so close in sight, I laid a small section of mosaic in the final join of the bench and sink to the wall. This will tie in to the mosaic using the same tiles in the slated area directly next to the structure.

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (4) Outdoor Kitchen 2 (5)

Finally the last step! Sealing the top of the walls and the area behind the benches to protect it from spills and the harsh environment. DONE.

Next steps: Plumb the sink outlet, lay the floor and then the roof and a resin top for the slate bench… I really hope to get this completely finished in the next few months… when we aren’t planting trees. In the meantime this is where we are at:

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (6)

This is the corner where the BBQ will be positioned. The utensils hook is an old garden fork I found half buried in the yard. I’m very glad it was points down when I found it and that it’s been reused where it’s not going anywhere now.

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (7)

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (8)

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The First Year

During the first year we did a lot of basic planning and I started learning how to build things and grow things. I had had some successful vegetable gardens in the past but that’s a bit different from attempting to set up 2 acres of arid land permaculture gardens with view to self-sufficiency…

111102 Gazebo (2) (800x600)

My brother came up for a couple of month or so and started some of the stone masonary for the outdoor kitchen/dining area but we couldn’t keep paying him at that point and of course he couldn’t stay for free so I moved on to other tasks111102 Shadehouse (800x600)

I started to build the shadehouse for the vegetable garden – this is vital out here with our hot summers so it was important to get it up as soon as I could. Using the bamboo on the walls has proven to be a fantastic solution for our high winds – they let the wind though without bending the structure too much. Β We also removed the old mostly broken clothesline soon after the photo to the right was taken

The summer v111220 First Harvest (600x800)egetable garden was the most productive I’d ever had at that point confirming my thoughts about the necessity of shade. We didn’t have much water, or a pump down the well, so the garden had to be very small but it was still lovely to have so much vibrant green just outside the back door.111220 Chickens (800x600)

We also got our first chickens – day old barred plymouth rock chicks. It was another set of skills again, learning to care for the tiny things. They grew very quickly though so it wasn’t long before they were living in a makeshift yard built off an old goat pen.

120926 Chook Yard (2) (598x800)

Later in the year, after losing those first chickens to a fox 😦 I started to build a more permanent yard for them out of recycled materials that were found on the block. I learned during that process that while it is all well and good to use recycled materials, sometimes it is not worth it for the frustration and structural instability of less than fantastic quality. The yard was a definite 120621 Play Area (2) (800x598)improvement though! We also added an English Staffy to our family to help with fox deterrence. Happily, so far we have had no further problems.

That year I also started to build a play area for our son in hopes that in time he would be able to play somewhat unsupervised while I was working nearby – hoping to increase my productivity, but also because, who doesn’t want a sandpit made out of old tyres, in the shape of a stegosaurus?

All in all, I didn’t get as much done in that year as I had sort of expected when I started, but partly that was due to the small one, partly due to my learning process and partly due to unrealistic expectations. Still much to be done!