The 57 acres that comprise Cedar Ridge Farm are located in the beautiful rolling hills of South Central Kentucky. My wife, our four children, and I are on a homesteading adventure as we work toward increased self-sufficiency. We grow much of our own food and enjoy being in touch with the agrarian roots of our lives.

One of the major projects we have undertaken is the building of our own home. The house we're building has three major distinguishing features: 1. we're building it without incurring any debt; 2. it is a timber frame structure; and 3. the exterior walls will be plastered straw bales. We live debt and mortgage free, and building our house with that approach makes perfect sense. Large timbers in a home possess a beauty and project a sense of strength, stability, and warmth that we want in our home. Straw bale walls provide insulation and make ecological sense. This blog is a record of our home-building project.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The digging continues . . .

Yesterday was a beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-70s. So, I had some more shovel work to do.

Before I began on digging for the block wall footer, I had six fruit trees to put in the ground. We ordered several fruit trees from Adams County Nursery along with four other families, because, if you order 25 or more trees, the price per tree is basically cut in half. As it ended up, the price for each tree averaged right at $12. And, these are nice trees, too. We ordered several from them two years ago and will order some more this fall for next spring.

I used the post hole digger to help dig the holes for the fruit trees. While I had the tractor running, I went ahead and dug a series of holes along the east side of the house to help with digging for the footer on that side, as it was to be the next side to be completed. After getting the trees all set, I started digging. In the photo you can see my older son helping out. He and his younger brother have helped with the digging and moving dirt from the trench. The concept of digging is one that they seem to love, but when it comes to it being a form of work, they have a much more difficult time. I had already dug out the trench around the corner at the time I took the picture.

I had several sore muscles from my digging the day before, but I figured the soreness would work itself out as I continued with what needed to be done. So, I dug for several hours. It's a slow process when you have to move tons of dirt a shovel-full at a time, but it does get the job done. By the end of the day, I had completed the east side and along the front of the house. I still have sore muscles today, but that just goes along with such work.

About ten feet from the front of the house, I stepped the depth of trench down eight inches. The house is on a slightly sloping site, and I dug the trench along the back as deep as I reasonably could (about 30 inches or so). I want to keep the footer deep enough along the sides and front, and that requires that I make them at least one block deeper there.

As I've been digging, I've decided against a rubble trench with a drain. The ground here drains very well -- there was no moisture below the first few inches, and we've had enough rain recently that if there was a problem with drainage it should've been apparent. So, I'll just pour a footer along the bottom of the trench to lay the concrete blocks on.

As I contemplate digging the root cellar and terracing the hill behind the house, I'm wishing for a backhoe. I may see about hiring some of this work done. Although it will cost money, it will also save some time and a lot of work.

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