In February no work happened on the house. Peter was first at a Biodynamic Agricultural conference in Switzerland followed by other commitments and the very cold weather and snow made it very difficult to do any work anyway!
In March things started again but with a very small team but it will grow as the weather improves and gets warmer. We have primarily been working on filling in the wooden stud-work of the internal walls with the clay-slip and straw described in the earlier blog called ‘Starting to build inside’. This work is now nearly finished except for a few panels we are leaving until water pipes have been put in.
So lets go through the process with some pictures from my phone. I apologise for the quality of them which is partly due to the dust and dirt a farmer/builder manages to get on his phone!
The building site in the February snow.
The straw stayed dry though.
Here we have our old concrete mixer being used for making the clay slip. Some subsoil, from the house foundations, is shoveled into it and water added. When it has mixed for a while the clay has dissolved into the water (clay slip) and it is tipped carefully into the ‘black’ plastic container. The stones and rubbish left in the mixer are then tipped out and a new batch made.
This is mainly Terry’s job, seen here putting in the water and switching it on.
Terry then transfers the clay slip with a bucket to the container next to the machine we built to mix and coat the straw with the clay slip. We put in loose straw at the top end and throw a bit of clay slip in with it. A wheelbarrow is parked at the lower end which fills with the clay-slip straw and which is then wheeled down to the building.
Terry switching off the machine as his barrow is full.
The dampened straw is then stuffed down between the stud-work, which has 2 feet high plywood screwed onto it, and well tamped down with a stick. When it is filled to the top of the plywood another piece of 2 feet high plywood is screwed on and filled up.
As it gets higher it is handy to have Terry’s help to pass it up.
Here is another section of wall being done. One can remove the plywood below as soon as the next one has been filled. This allows it to dry, which we think will take a number of weeks to do through the whole wall. As it drys the clay coating the straw goes hard making the wall quite solid. Later it will be plastered with a clay/sand/cow manure mix. The wall is left quite flat by the plywood.
Here is the completed wall with the plywood removed.
This is ready to be filled in. Here you can see the blue wooden battens which have been screwed onto the stud-work. The straw is tamped around them and ensures that the straw stays firmly in the stud-work and cannot be ‘pushed’ out.
Here is the same wall filled in.
The same wall showing the large 1500 liter hot water tank in the ceiling. That is the reason for the closely spaced stud-work below the tank as it will have to carry the weight.
Nino has been building the wooden frames in the two bedrooms ready for the windows to be fitted into later on.
Putting in a little wood insulation between the timbers. The windows will be triple glazed!
Here we put in a small section of the earth floor, where the wood burning stove will sit, as an experiment to see how it does and how badly it cracks etc. It is made from the farm clay, plastering sand and chopped straw to stop it cracking.