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.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mixing concrete & filling voids

It’s been raining a fair bit since last Thursday, making work on the house more difficult. I was able to finish stacking all of the blocks (490 of them) before the rains settled in.

Today, we had a break from the rain, but more is forecast for tomorrow along with the possibility of rain every day for the rest of the week. So, I took the opportunity to continue working on the root cellar. The project for today was to fill some of the voids in the block walls with concrete.

In all I mixed 22 bags of concrete mix (80# each) and filled 12 cavities. Each one has a length of 5/8” rebar embedded in it the full height of the wall. At the bottoms of most of the filled cavities, there is 18” of rebar that is embedded in the footer. At the top of each fill, I’m placing a 1/2” j-bolt/concrete anchor with which to bolt on a wood sill. I will mill the sill out of cedar, and it will be 4-1/2” thick – this brings the height of the wall even with the bottom of the first floor girts.

Today’s work went well. The biggest problem is the mud. This is some sticky mud because of all the clay in the soil where I’m working. I wore muck boots and didn’t worry about the mud mess.

With more rain forecast for tomorrow, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get back to the project for a couple of days. I still have the surface bonding cement to trowel on to the walls which I’ll start as soon as I can.

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