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Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Milestone!

The big adobe wall is finally done! This part of the project took a lot more time than I'd anticipated - there were a lot of adobe bricks to lay! The most number of courses we did in a day was five, and that was really pushing it. More often than not, we only got 2 to 2 1/2 done. It's pretty amazing to see it! You can now see our emerging house from the highway, which is pretty cool.

I had really hoped to have the roof up this year but since the adobe wall took so long, it's looking like that probably won't happen. Oh well, one has to be flexible! We have decide to keep going with the adobes. We have two trombe walls that need to be laid so I will start on them later this week. We are expecting possible winter weather this weekend so we shall see how far we get. At least these walls are only 8 courses high (as a posed to 20!) and only one adobe wide so they should go faster. I will really have muscles by the time they are done!

So my new goal is to have the roof up by spring. If the weather cooperates, maybe that will happen.
This shot shows the adobe wall with the foundation for the studio/office in the foreground.
Here's the wall from inside the house. It will be a wonderful place to hang out with plants in the windows.

You can now see our "house" from our road.

Whew!!!!!




Sunday, November 20, 2011


Progress
We are making slow but steady progress on our adobe wall. With just two of us working we are only able to get 2 or 3 courses done a day - especially since they're double width. We finished the banco part today so the rest should go a lot faster. It's hard work but fun to see part of our dream take shape!

This is how much we got done after 2 days work.

Day 3 - banco is looking good.

Day 4 - window bucks are in. Should be faster going from here to the top.

Here's the banco at the end of day 4
I finally have a window seat!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Going Up!
After 5 months spent in or on the foundation ditch we are finally starting to go UP!
Here are the first two posts up where the adobe wall will be.
We can finally see something above ground!

Playing With Mud
Now it's time to play in the mud! Story polls are marked (those are the two posts on either side of the adobe wall marked where each course of adobes will go), gringo blocks (those are the wooden boxes that will replace adobes on either side of the windows to give something to attach the window bucks to) and window bucks are made - we are ready to go! Since we are laying adobes in November we only have about 4 hours of working time each day. We can work until 2 but then have to stop to give the mud a chance to dry out some before the cold night. (If truth be known, I'm not sure my body would make it lifting adobes - 30+ pounds each - for more than four hours at a stretch!) Fortunately it looks like we are going to have good weather the next 4 or 5 days so hopefully we can get the whole wall up.

Gringo blocks

Window bucks. The wall they are going in is in the foreground.

Here is the footing that the adobes will be stacked on. The black is asphalt to help protect the first course of adobes.

Here is Rick mixing our first batch of mud.
It's been a while since I took my adobe classes and I was not sure how much I'd remember but as we worked it all came back to me. Sort of like riding a bike!

Here I am laying the first adobes in mud.

Here's the first course done! The first 4 courses will be double wide for the banco (seat for those of you outside of NM) that will be in the sunspace. Once those 4 courses are done, the wall will become one adobe wide and the adobe laying should go much faster.

Two courses done! Time to stop for the day.

Pretty exciting to see this wall going up!







Wednesday, November 9, 2011


We Have Cement!

Today dawned bright and cold. I'm happy to say that I managed to get some sleep last night but was pretty excited this am. Our helpers, Henry and Keno, showed up at 9:30 and the first cement truck was here by 10. Then it was off to the races. Thanks to Ramey, Bob and Kennedy, things went very smoothly and quickly! Nary a hitch! I guess all my hard work finally paid off. Four and a half hours later, all the cement was poured, J bolts and rebar installed and tools cleaned. In three days we can remove the forms and start laying adobes!!!

Cement truck arrives!

Rick hitches a ride.

Ready . . .

set . . .

go . . . . .!

And we're off!

Rick setting J bolts.

Done!!!!

and done!!!!!


Finishing touch - the rocks are from Pine Gables in Lake Lure, NM. One of my favorite places owned by one of my favorite cousins.




Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Inspection - Done!
We had our footing inspection last week and passed! Then my friend/teacher/mentor Quentin Wilson came by for his "inspection". I was just as nervous about that one as the "real" one!!! He gave us his stamp of approval but suggested we add more bracing. So - it was back to work for me. I doubled the number of braces and then spent a couple of days back-filling. Also had to add a 20' length of rebar bent and attached to the footing rebar to act as a ground.

Here's Quentin

Here's Quentin performing an "inspection" with the help of Tex.

With the inspection passed it has been time to give serious thought to the next step. Because we have one long adobe wall, we realized that has to go up before the trusses can go up so in conjunction with putting up the posts and beam, we will also be stacking an adobe wall - and hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can start on that next week. We ordered adobes and they arrived last week. Five or six years ago I took a number of adobe classes with the above mentioned Quentin which were wonderful and helped me to realize that building a house is not rocket science. It gave me the confidence to take on this huge task. I helped on a number of projects for other folks so to finally get our own adobes was a real trip. This is really happening!!!

The adobe truck arrives!
Adobes with Pedernal

Yesterday our friend Ramey came over with his tractor (we don't know what we'd do without you, Ramey!!!) and smoothed out all the dirt mounds in preparation for the arrival of the cement trucks TOMORROW!

Ready for cement!

Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of our moving up here to Otra Banda. Tomorrow will see the pouring of the footings - a huge step and one that brings us closer to realizing our dream of living in our own hand-built house! It all feels a bit surreal.