Saturday, October 13, 2012


Shortly after my last blog post, Rick had to go to California for family and work.  He was gone a week and returned to multiple work deadlines which curtailed our house building adventures for a bit.

But - there were things that I could do.

The first thing I did (after cleaning up the house site) was to do some plastering tests. Our current thinking is that the outside walls will first get a coat of earthen plaster about 1" thick, then a coat of earth/lime plaster with a final coat of lime/sand plaster. Since one of our main objectives is to use as much local ingredients as possible, my hope was that the dirt on our property would work for our plaster. To have something to compare it to, I also wanted to do a test using the same dirt we used for the mortar on the adobe walls. I know we don't have a great deal of clay in our soil so to make the plaster sticker, I added horse manure, sand and chopped straw. The only difference between the mix of our dirt (with less clay) and our friend's dirt (more clay) was that I used more manure in our dirt.

Here are the two tests - our dirt on the left and our friend's dirt on the right.

Here's our dirt plaster today after three weeks. The bale is sitting just about where the wall will be. We got 3/10" of rain yesterday and there's very little degradation that I can see.

If we decide to bite the bullet and put the walls up before hard winter weather sets in we will have to get one good coat of plaster on the outside to protect them. We have 2 foot overhangs, which will also help protect the walls.

The other task that needs doing is instillation of the soffit vents. This entails cutting 22" pieces of 2x6, attaching screen and then installing in the space between the trusses at the roof line. These vents will allow cooler air to circulate through the roof helping to minimize moisture buildup under the roof.
This is a picture of a 2x6 cut to the correct width (many of these were spacers we used when installing the trusses - just recycled) with the screen stapled to it, ready for instillation.

Here they are installed.

I had originally wanted to drill 3-2" holes in the wood to be covered by the screen but we just didn't have a drill powerful enough to do that and I couldn't justify spending the money on one just for this.

This task quickly become one of my most least favorite task so far!  For every soffit vent I had to climb up and down the ladder at least twice - if I was lucky!  I have managed to get close to half of them done so far.  Luckily they are not critical at this point so I can take my time.

The next BIG thing is the straw bales!  If we didn't get them this year, it might be this time next year before we could get them so we decided to order them and store them under the roof in the house.  If we decide we have time to get the walls up, they are ready.  If we decide we need to wait until spring, they are protected under the roof and will be there when the weather warms up.

So we called a local guy we know who has gotten us building-grade bales before and placed an order for 700 and set a date for delivery. We also lined up 2 or 3 guys to help us.

The day we were supposed to take delivery we got a call saying the truck had run over something on the highway, blew two tires and cut an air line! The delivery guy promised to get them to us in a day or two. The day or two turned into 8 days!  The folks we had lined up were no longer available so it was up to me and Rick to move them.

The idea was to back the truck next to the house and off-load directly into the house. The trailer was too top heavy and the land by the house too uneven for that to happen so the trailer had to be parked in our driveway.  This meant the bales had to come off the trailer onto our truck which we then drove to the house and unloaded!  Thankfully the trucker was able to leave the full trailer with us so we had some time to unload!
We collected all the wooden pallets we could find and set them up in the house for something on which to rest the bales.

The bales finally arrive!

Here's a view from the top of the bales looking at the house.  This was a VERY big pile of bales!!!

Ready for work.

We found the chutes & ladders approach to work the best.  I'd climb up the ladder and move the bales onto the chute where they'd slide down to Rick who would pile them on the truck. Rick found that as he went and got better at stacking the bales on the truck, he got to where he could get about 40 bales in one load.

The first load in the house.

Our straw dog.  Tex really loved climbing on the bales.  The challenge was keeping him from peeing on them!

Rick and I spent two days moving bales. We did about 5 loads a day and managed to move about 200 bales. On the third day, we did two loads then our friend Steve showed up to help.  We did a couple more loads and then our friend Ramey (of truss angel fame) showed up and helped us get the last 4 loads (two in our truck and two in his truck) done! It felt like a miracle to have our friends help! I really didn't think we'd be able to finish on the third day - and wouldn't have without them!!!

The LAST bale!

A well deserve break!

Here's what a full load looked like on our truck.

Just in case.

After three days of moving 700 bales there was straw EVERYWHERE!!!  The truck is still full of it!

My hands really took a beating and I was wearing gloves!  I could hardly bend my fingers in the morning after moving bales the day before.  Sure was glad to see that last bale get unloaded!

Now it's back to the roof. In the last two days we've managed to finish the roofing on the south hip. We have the valley and the hip on the NW corner and the ridge cap left to do. Today was windy and cold but tomorrow looks to be sunny and warmer with little or no wind.  Let the fun continue!

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