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Randsco News

It takes time to create blog entries and not everything that happens, merits an entry. So, we've created this 'news' section, to keep readers up-to-date with our misadventures and accomplishments. Read about it here FIRST, before it makes it into a blog entry.

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Woodshed Project (Completed)

February 4th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [2nd Woodshed] Scott finishes the second woodshed amid project cost overruns & contractor delays. So much for "free" and "in one day"! ...

Woodshed Project Completed Amid Cost Overruns & Delays

Hutton House - Reporters walked around the newly constructed Hutton House woodshed number two. Originally meant to be made from completely recycled materials, Scott and Rachel opted to add plywood sides and a metal roof (since the original plan - no sides and a tarp roof - leaked like a sieve!)

"We are happy to have the second shed," said Scott, "Though it ended up costing more and taking longer to build than originally planned."

"It's now stocked nearly to the brim with milling debris, left over from when we bought the property. Yay! After four years, the pasture is finally 'clear'!" shouted Scott. (Mind you, Scott cut so much firewood last year that there is now a 4-year supply, stacked in wind-rows to dry - in the pasture!)

The original 'plan' for the second woodshed was to build it using 100% recycled materials and do it in one day. Though the project got off to a good start, it took longer to move the fence than originally planned and the project ended up taking two days, rather than one.

The "recycled" woodshed had no sides and only a (used) tarp for a roof. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that the tarp had a fair number of small holes, which Scott tried to seal using some 'Tuck Tape'.

Immediately after completion of the "recycled" woodshed, the weather turned inclement and it proceeded to rain for several days. Much to Scott's disappointment, the tarp leaked like crazy. It became obvious that a tarp roof wasn't going to cut the mustard. A trip to the building supply center was required.

The project took a more expensive turn, as we headed to Home Depot to purchase 1x6 slats, 10-foot painted, corrugated tin roofing, metal drip strips, 7 sheets of half-inch plywood and a variety of screws. Cost? $400 ... nearly 'on the nose' (or is that 'on the chin'?)

Like most public works projects, this one suffered from delays - at least the workers didn't strike! (all one of them) - and budget overruns! LOL ... We'll leave it to you to figure out the percentage overrun from $0 to $400. Ha!

Despite the overruns and delays, the project was finished within a month and that included an extra day day to move and stack nearly three cords of (soaking wet, recycled) cedar wood into the new shed. The woodshed creaked and groaned as it was filled with wet wood. Three full rows and a partial 4th row meant that the woodshed was nearly full.

"That should be enough kindling to last us for 5 years," said Scott.

Even though the woodshed is complete, it's not really. Because most of the cedar wood that was loaded into the shed is wet, Scott purposefully left off the back of the shed, so that air could circulate and allow the wood to dry. The new shed also need a few trim pieces and - of course - a paint job.

"Add that to my list of summer projects," said Scott, sarcastically.

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Updated: 14-Feb-2011
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Woodshed Project (Day 1)

January 8th, 2011  · stk

NewsBrief: [2nd Woodshed] Scott attempts building a second woodshed using only 100% recycled materials and doing it in one day. See how that works out ...


Hutton House To Get Second Woodshed

Hutton House - Reporters recently learned that construction crews are building a second woodshed on the Randsco campus. The news came as a surprise.

"We always knew we wanted a second woodshed," explains Scott Kimler, the construction foreman (the architect, purchasing agent and work crew), "We just didn't figure on building it right now."

Like many projects, this one was precipitated by "timing of events".

The Randsco pasture was piled high with wood milling debris when the Kimlers first took ownership of the 5-acre property. It's taken them four years to clear that debris and in the process, they were able to recycle a lot of the cedar wood, using it as kindling stock in their wood stove. (The last bit of the debris pile was cut into kindling stock just last weekend).

When Scott started moving the remainder of this wood and stacking it closer to the house, he thought, "A second woodshed would provide a much better storage option than this flimsy tarp."

Another project was born.

The building site selection process was easy: build the shed where the current - semi-dry - stack of kindling stock was sitting, next to the fence. "But what materials should I use?" Scott thought.

In an effort to keep the project scope, size and costs down, Scott decided to use 100% recycled building materials to construct a 10-foot long, 6-foot wide and 8-foot tall shed. (Our neighbor is a contractor and lets Scott pick through his building and remodeling "burn pile". Over the past 4 years, Scott has accumulated a fair bit of building materials. All hand-selected, moved, stacked, stored (somewhere). Lots of nail-pulling is involved, but recycling stuff is good for the environment, eh?)

Cedar 1x6 planks would be used to make an elevated wood floor that would rest on a sub-floor of 2x4s which would be supported by several large (8"x8") posts. The walls would be open - just 2x4 framing - and the roof would consist of a light-weight tarp. Simple, easy ... effective.

Scott is ambitious. He thought he could complete the project in a day and so, without the normal ribbon-cutting ceremony, he began work the very following morning.

The weather is always a factor here in British Columbia, but the day dawned dry, cold and clear. Temperatures remained below freezing all day, but it also remained sunny and bright.

With a steaming mug of hot coffee, Scott started the project at an acceptable hour - 9 AM. The first step was to move all of the semi-dry kindling stock, now stacked under a tarp. The 14x10 tarp had a few holes in it, but it looked like they could be repaired and used as the roof. After the building site was cleared, Scott grabbed a tape measure, to determine the exact location of the shed.

"Uh oh," he said, disappointed, "With the tree roots and such, there's no way I can fit a 10-foot shed into this space without it being cramped."

Stumbling block number one. What to do now?

"I know," thought Scott, "The fence takes an odd jog here. I could move the corner of the fence out a couple feet and there would be plenty of room. All I have to do is undo the welded wire mesh, dig up the corner post and push it out. No problem."

Right. Problem!

Once the corner post was out, the old fence disintegrated. Three posts needed replacing because they were rotten through at the base. It took Scott all morning to move, fix, tighten and repair the fence. The project didn't actually begin, until 1:30 PM. So much for getting it done in one day!

Scott pushed on, measuring and cutting 2x4s for the sub-floor. He framed the 10-foot by 6-foot sub-floor and screwed it to six 8x8 posts. For expediency, the 8x8 posts were set on the ground. No post-holes, no concrete piers. This will hugely reduce the life of the shed, but Scott was looking 5 years down the road, not 50.

"There's time enough to plan and build a proper woodshed," he thought, "A bigger one, built using better materials and one positioned after seeing how this one works out."

With the sub-floor in place, Scott added 2x4 joists, spacing them 1.5 feet apart. Several 1x6 cedar planks were laid on the sub-floor, screwed into place and then trimmed.

In the waning daylight, Scott snapped some pictures of the new shed floor and called it a day.

Tune in to see what happens on day two and learn how a one-day project turns into more (and more).

"Does this stuff only happen to me?" wonders Scott.

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Updated: 4-Feb-2011
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Ollie the Octopus

December 31st, 2010  · stk

In July, we caught a juvenile North Pacific Giant Octopus in one of our prawn traps. We took it back to the floating cabin for Alex to see. She named him "Ollie" and kept him as her "pet" for the afternoon. Ollie's story, with video, pictures and interesting facts about octopuses.

ollie the octopus

6-year-old Alex Meets an Octopus

One of the stories worth telling from Alex's summertime fun is the story about an octopus Alex named "Ollie".

The story begins as many of our more interesting stories do - at the floating cabin The Floating Cabin floating cabin barkley sound bc canada Picture of the floating cabin in the Barkley Sound. Located off the west coast of Vancouver Island and not far from the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. It's a wild, pristine wilderness area and wildlife abounds. Black bear, killer whales, sea lions, bald eagles, seals, sea otters, mink, cougar are among the inhabitants. There's oodles of sea food here too. Clams, oysters, prawn, crab, salmon, halibut, ling cod and snapper. It's an amazing area and we're lucky to be part-owners of this unique floating cabin. Click to learn more about the floating cabin (map, photos, etc). . The cabin is situated in the Barkley Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, very close to the Pacific Rim National Park. It's a wet and wild place, accessible only by boat and we love sharing it with family and friends. It was late July and Scott's folks were at the cabin. It was their second visit and they too, love the solitude, the wild nature and rugged west coast scenery.

We had taken the boat out to pull up our prawn traps, though Alex elected to remain behind at the cabin, on this particular trip. It's about a 10-minute boat-ride from the cabin to the traps and we usually check them several times a day, when we're prawning.

Pulling up prawn traps from the depths of the ocean sometimes yields sea creatures other than prawns. The most common of these creatures is also the least desirable - the dreaded slime eel About Slime Eels (Hagfish) pacific hagfish A slime eel isn't an eel at all, rather a very primitive fish called a Hagfish. They've been around for 550 million years. Because of their unusual feeding habits and slime-producing capabilities, the hagfish is often referred to as the most "disgusting" of all sea creatures. Hagfish have a sluggish metabolism and can survive months between feedings. However, hagfish often enter and eat the bodies of dead, dying or injured sea creatures that are much larger than themselves. Lovely, eh? More of nuisance to us, however, is the slime one of these "eels" can generate if agitated inside of a prawn trap. This slime encases the eel, the trap and the prawn and can take an hour or more to remove. An adult slime eel can secrete enough slime to turn a 20 liter (5 gal) bucket of water into slime in a matter of minutes. Yuck! Click the red-underlined link to learn more about Hagfish (Wikipedia) . This time, however, as Scott manually hauled up two traps from a depth of 250 feet, we noticed a reddish octopus in one of the traps!

Since Alex wasn't with us, we thought it would be fun to show her the octopus, so we carefully lifted it out of the prawn trap, put it into a pail of seawater and took it for a boat ride, back to the cabin. We were curious to see how Alex would react to this soft, eight-armed Cepholapod.

What follows is the story about Alex's encounter with an octopus, along with some interesting facts, video and pictures of these amazing and intelligent sea creatures.

Meet Ollie the Octopus

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Updated: 7-Jan-2011
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Big CSS Rollover Links

November 28th, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Big CSS Rollover Links] Randsco Labs unveils a new pure-CSS technique. The new technique utilizes large CSS rollover images to be combined with small target areas. (It inverts normal link behavior and provides for a multitude of innovative and new ways to style traditional links.

Big CSS Rollovers for Little Links

Randsco Labs Develops Amazing pure-CSS Technique

Randsco Labs - Reporters learned Friday that the rumors were true. Randsco Laboratories has indeed developed an amazing, breakthrough pure-CSS technique that combines large rollover elements with graphical links.

"Rollover links are nothing new," said Scott Kimler, Vice President of Research and Development at Randsco, "What is new are combining large rollovers with small target areas."

css rollover splatcss rollover for paintball store

Scott then demonstrated the technique and the assembled crowd clapped.

"The magic of this lightweight CSS code is achieved by harnessing the power of CSS directives in a unique way, taking advantage of built-in specificity hierarchy, natural z-index order and the ability of modern browsers to apply hover styling to any element," Scott explained.

The code was developed (and is currently deployed) on a Randsco Canadian-sponsor website - Nicol Street Pawnbrokers. On that website, the image is twice as large as the demonstration here and has a much more colorful "pop".

The technique is difficult to describe in words and much easier to show in a demonstration, like the one here. When you hover your mouse over the paintball graphic, an astonishingly large "splat" pops up, completely covering the graphic and surrounding elements (i.e., sidebar, adjacent links, images, etc).

"But ... and here's the tricky part," said Scott, "the link target area doesn't change. When you move your mouse outside of the paintball graphic, the splat disappears. That's the opposite of what normally happens and is the key to this newly-developed technique."

"This CSS technique allows an almost unlimited ability of developers and designers to style links, without interfering with neighboring links and other hover-able elements," said Scott.

Several reporters wanted to know when the technique would be available to the general public and Scott replied, "Soon. Right now our technical team is quite excited about the potential of this code and are eager to develop some uniquely-styled examples."

"Basically," Scott continued, "The geeks at Randsco Labs want to play with it a bit, before they release it into the public domain. They are hoping to transfer the technique to text links and utilize the code in some stunning slide-shows and other graphical displays. Once this work is done, Randsco Labs will summarize the technique in a White Paper and release it on the main company website. We're hoping to have this work finalized sometime during the first two quarters of the new year."

About Randsco Labs

Founded in 2004, Randsco Labs is the technical research laboratory for Randsco, specializing in XHTML and CSS web techniques.

Randsco Labs is responsible for popular pure-CSS techniques such as Photo Caption Zoom, popInfo and @font-face tutorials and more.

Randsco Labs occupies a small portion of the 5-acre Randsco campus, which is located on beautiful Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Randsco moved operations from Alberta to British Columbia in 2006.

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Updated: 29-Nov-2010
Web View Count: 10373 viewsLast Web Update: 29-Nov-2010
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White Power Chickens

November 23rd, 2010  · stk

NewsBrief: [Mo' Chickens] The Kimlers bring home 10 new laying hens • [White Stuff] The Hutton House sees it's first snow • [Power Outage] Snow in, power out - for 18 hours.

Mo' Chickens

Hutton House - Reporters learned today that the Kimler clan has added ten more chickens to their egg production company. These new additions more than doubles the number of producing layer hens, as the Hutton House is now home to 19 laying hens.

Rachel, Scott and Alex made the drive down to Duncan on Sunday, to fetch the ten young hens. All of the birds are of the famous ISA-Brown variety, which are bred as laying hens. All were purchased as POL (Point-Of-Lay) chickens, which means they are approximately 5 months old - at the point where they are due to begin laying eggs.

Purchasing point-of-lay hens is a change for the Kimlers, as all of their other ISA-Browns hens were raised from week-old chicks.

"Buying point-of-lay birds is more expensive," said Scott, owner of the Hutton House Hen Farm, "but we actually save money on 5-months-worth of feed, reduce our chances of losing stock due to illness or predation and they begin earning their keep right away."

The 10 hens were transported in the back of the Kimler Subaru wagon, to their new home at the Hutton House. There, they are acclimating to their new environment and getting to know the 9 older girls.

"It will take a couple weeks till the new hens become acquainted with the older birds," Scott says, "During this time, they'll be lots of clucking and pecking, as the older girls will make clear to the youngsters, who is in charge!"

Ah yes. The pecking order must be established!

About ISA-Brown Hens

ISA Brown is a hybrid Sex-link chicken, the result of crossing Rhode Island Reds and Rhode Island Whites. The ISA Brown is a hybrid, not a true breed. They are known for their high egg production (approximately 300 eggs per hen in their first year).

"ISA" stands for Institut de Sélection Animale (the company which developed the hybrid in 1978). In 2005, via company takeovers, the hybrid is now maintained by Hendrix Poultry Breeders. More information about the ISA-Brown can be found on the Hendrix website

ISA-Browns make great family pets. They are confident and not afraid to try new things. When they get older, however, they show their love by pecking you a lot!

About the Hutton House Hen Farm

Hutton House Hen Farm is renown for farm-fresh, free-range brown eggs, which are distributed to local Vancouver Island clientele. Sales inquiries may be made by clicking the email link.

White Stuff

Hutton House - The arrival of ten new hens to the Hutton House was coincidental to the arrival of the first winter snow. Nearly 5 inches of the white stuff fell, mostly on Friday night, but more fell on Saturday, Sunday and a bit on Monday.

Most of the accumulation occurred Friday night, however, blanketing the Hutton House acreage with a thick blanket of big, heavy, wet flakes.

"The thermometer has definitely taken a flight south this week," reports Rachel, who has had to dust off her car several times, in order to make tracks into town, "Temperatures are well below freezing and we have to keep hauling warm water out to the chicken run, so that the hens have liquid water to drink. There's nothing more difficult for hens than to have to peck at ice cubes in order to quench their thirst!"


Power Outage

Hutton House - Along with the arrival of heavy snow and winds, came the first power outage of the season. It started early on the morning on Saturday (3:30 AM), just as Scott was returning from a MVI call-out near the North Cedar Fire Hall. As he was sweeping snow off of one of the temporary tarp "garages", the lights went out.

The power remained out for approximately 18 hours. Fortunately, the Hutton House is heated largely by a wood stove, so the power outage doesn't affect home heating. Water, however, is an issue, since the pump, cistern and pressure tank are all powered by electricity.

The 2Kw gas-powered generator kept the television, lights, microwave and computer functioning for most of Saturday, enabling Alex to watch her Saturday morning cartoons and Scott to catch the Penn State Indiana college football game (Penn State won, of course!)

Power was restored at approximately 10 PM Saturday night, this after the family meal - roasted chicken, pan-fried potatoes and salad - was prepared largely on the outdoor barbeque (which has a side-burner).

Everyone was happy to have electricity - flush toilets, hot water, lights and a clothes dryer - though it did mean setting the time on several blinking clocks. Extension cords were coiled and remain at the ready. Rural life can be "rough"!

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Updated: 28-Nov-2010
Web View Count: 21634 viewsLast Web Update: 28-Nov-2010