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, April 22, 2009

Plaster samples (part two): testing

The plaster samples we applied to a test bale earlier took a while to dry because the bale was in the garage without much air movement. They did dry fine, though. So, I took the bale outside yesterday afternoon and, with the help of some fine younguns, tested how well they adhered to the bale and their strength.

Both samples dried nice and hard. They really adhered to the bale well – no problem there. The mixture that was 2 parts sand and 1 part clay had a grainier texture, and sand could be rubbed off of its surface. The addition of wheat paste might have helped bind it together a bet more making it less likely for sand to rub off. I hope to try a sample with wheat paste soon.

I made a short video documentary of our testing process:

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