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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Using a "misery spoon"

I finished the trim on the front of the cupola this morning. That didn't take long. So, I started on the next part of the project: digging a trench around the frame.

It was afternoon before I started digging. I drove to my friend Gill's house this morning to borrow his pto-powered post hole digger. I used it when digging for the pier footings two years ago. With the 12" auger, it helps to loosen the soil, making the digging easier. So, I borrowed it to use it for this part of the foundation.

I started on the back of the house. This will be the deepest trench because there is a slope toward the front. The only problem was that I couldn't get the tractor behind the house to use the auger except on the ends. The hill that rises just behind the house was too steep for me to comfortably maneuver the tractor and auger into position. I had to accept being able to drill three holes on each end.

I worked for about 3 hours with the shovel, a tool that someone once called a "misery spoon" for good reason. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow. I expect I'll work out some of the soreness while digging. The trench for the footer that will be under the concrete block wall I'm putting there must go all the way around the house.

The foundation for this will will employ a rubble trench. I'm going to put rock and a perforated pipe for a drain in the bottom of the trench, and then more rock. On top of the rock I will pour a rebar reinforced concrete bond beam six or eight inches thick. Upon this I will lay concrete blocks to the desired height. This concrete wall will help support the straw bale walls and the inner side of the wrap around porch.

In addition to the trench, I'm going to dig for a root cellar. This will be located under the pantry and mudroom. Then, I need to terrace the hill behind the house before I can frame the porch because the hill is in the way. Originally, there wasn't going to be a porch on the back, but there is now, and I've got to move some of that hill. It can be done with a shovel, one scoop at a time.

More digging to do tomorrow, and the next nice day, and the next, and . . .


Jennifer said...

We have really enjoyed reading through your blog! It’s quite interesting and informative.

My very creative and innovative husband who builds for a living keeps saying things like, “impressive”, “very creative”, “Now that is really interesting”, “good idea”, “wow!”.
We're looking forward to watching the progress!

dp said...

Thanks for your comment, Jennifer! I like your husband's comments. You all are welcome to come visit and/or help at any time!