Thursday, September 13, 2012

17th posting - Adobe is on all the walls!

Thursday, September 13, my sister Valerie helped me start on the last wall with the adobe. 
Now that the walls are all covered with adobe, I can probably work on the roof this winter when we have decent weather. You can't do adobe work if it's too cold, but we typically have lots of nice enough days in the winter for working on a roof. The next posting will be when significant framing is done for the roof.
In this picture, you can see the north exterior wall still showing the earth bags. Valerie took the picture just before we started throwing mud!

By late afternoon the north wall was done.

A look at the interior of the cabin - it looks more like a cabin with the adobe on the walls.

My little adobe cabin, hidden away in the woods.

One more view from the southwest, looking northeast.

Monday, July 30, 2012

16th Posting - Adobe goes on the walls

With the walls up, it was time to put on the adobe. Some of the bags were showing stress from the sun - after all, it has been nearly 2 years since we laid the first bags!
On June 28, my sister Vaughn and I tackled the project. We mixed dirt, water, and straw in a portable cement mixer (powered by the generator) and made a nice sticky batch. We threw small handfuls on the walls, being careful to make sure rows and cracks were well filled in. It went surprisingly fast. That day Vaughn and I finished the entire exterior of the south (short) wall. Two weeks later an Amish family on tour with me spent one day working on the cabin (no photos of them!) and we finished the interior of the back (long) wall. The end of July Ruth, Bev, and Jacqui helped a couple days and we finished a couple more walls. Putting adobe on the walls goes much faster than building the walls, and it's a lot more fun!
Vaughn helps put on the first adobe on the southwest buttress.

The exterior of the south wall is finished the first day.

The buttress of the back wall before the Amish family tackles it with me.

This is how the mud goes on.

The completed back wall

Ruth and I work on the interior of the north wall.

Bev digs dirt and fills the buckets.

Reaching high to put the last mud on the interior of the north wall.

Ruth shows off the completed north wall.

Ruth takes down tarp so we can start on the front wall.

Pouring water into the cement mixer for the next batch

Jacqui likes digging in the dirt.

The south half of the front wall is the last part we finished.
That is the front door and the kitchen window.
The rest of the walls should get finished end of August.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15th Posting - The Walls are UP!!

The Walls are up..... and the rectangle wood frame (base for the roof) has also been built!
The beginning of May it was back to work on the cabin. Ruth from Indiana and Simon from Switzerland were here to get the last six rows of bags on the back wall. After Ruth went home, Simon and I spent a (hot) day building the frame around the top of the walls, which will later support the roof.
For now, the cabin is covered up again until I have a break between tours, hopefully a few days end of June. Top priority will be to get adobe mud on the walls, as some of the bags are finally showing signs of sun damage. It has, after all, been almost two years since the first bags were laid!

This much was left to do when we started on Monday, May 7.

Ruth and Simon are filling bags to go on the walls.

My niece Anne joined us for a day and quickly learned the art of being a bag lady!

After a long day, the sunlight was beautiful on my white cliffs.

The snow on the Tobacco Root Mountains gleam behind the Gallatin River.

My road is paved! I can't believe I have not yet mentioned that before, but last summer they paved the road  15 miles, all the way out to and through the valley. What an incredible difference it makes now in driving out to my land. You can actually enjoy the scenery instead of having to concentrate on a rough road!

This is the last row going on. You can see the bags are still rounded, before being tamped, and you can also see the barbed wire laid down to give the rows more tensile strength.

Here I am tamping down the last row of bags. Look at that blue sky!

Looking through the south window into the cabin. The last row is done and tamped down.

Simon did a lot of filling behind the back and side walls, and then tamped it down hard to prevent water from penetrating. It slopes away from the cabin. Eventually the dirt will be even with the top of the back row.

Ruth shows off the finished back wall. She wouldn't have dared miss placing the last bags.

On Mother's Day we enjoyed a barbecue at the cabin.

Even the dogs got to get in on the fun, cooling off in the stock tank and chasing the goldfish.

Tuesday, May 15, Simon and I built the wood frame around the top of the walls.
We used 2x10 lumber, two layers thick. The first layer was the most crucial, trying to square up the frame with right angles and the same distance across the diagonal corners. This was a special challenge considering the cabin walls are by no means square or even, considering the special nature of working with earth bags. 

After getting the first row framed, we added diagonal braces on each of the four corners, and then filled in the entire second row with another layer of 2x10's, fastening them solidly to the boards below. Also, down about 6 rows, we had laid wires on the walls numerous places, and these we now brought up to the top to tie down the lower layer to add stability. In addition we had long screws, about a foot long, which we drilled down through the lower layer deep into the bags. The wires and long screws prevent the frame from any movement in any direction.
We then put all the tarps and blankets back up to protect the bags until we can get the adobe on.