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.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Backfilling around the root cellar

I worked on the interior walls earlier in the week, getting three of them coated with the surface bonding cement – all but the long wall on the house side. So, yesterday, I began the process of backfilling against the walls of the cellar. It was nice to have the backhoe to use; it would’ve been overwhelming to do this job with a shovel.

I situated the backhoe behind the house near the corner of the root cellar and began moving dirt from the pile on the hill. This went fairly well. I could reach about 16 or so across the back edge. There was one problem: a few jerks with the hoe caused the bucket to slide over against one house post. I didn’t like that, of course. Initially, it wasn’t clear to me how to get it away from the house. I couldn’t back up because one rear tire was on the edge of the hole. I was able to move it without causing any damage to the house.

I was able to position the backhoe at a few different locations on either end of the cellar and put fill dirt in around almost all of the walls. I took it easy, knowing I didn’t want to knock into and mess up the walls.

On the house side of the cellar, there was about 14 feet of wall which the backhoe couldn’t reach because of the house frame. I had to use a shovel. Thankfully, the area to be filled here wasn’t to wide and didn’t need to be filled to the top of the blocks.

Here are a few photos taken after I finished today (the pvc on either end is for air vents):

house side root cellar root cellar looking down the back wall

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