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.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The first coat of plaster is complete

workers during the mud party

Yesterday we had a very successful work party. The goal was to get the rest of the first coat of plaster on the exterior of the bale walls. In order to help us reach that goal, several friends showed up to get their hands dirty. working on the downstairs north wallWe had 41 people here, counting the children and adults. There were between 13 and 17 individuals working on the plaster during the day.

It was an enjoyable and profitable time. The volunteers worked diligently throughout the day. We did stop for lunch which was quite a feast. One individual commented that it was worth coming just for the lunch!

Work upstairsI told everyone that people actually pay hundreds of dollar to participate in a plaster workshop similar to what we were doing. I didn’t want to host a workshop, though. I wanted friends, not strangers, helping on the house.

We got a lot done. The plasterers kept me busy at the mixer mixing batch after batch just to keep up with them. By the end of the day, almost all of the wall surfaces were plastered. There were only a few small sections at the top of the wall upstairs that still needed some plaster.  I was very pleased.

This morning, I went over all of the surfaces that were plastered yesterday, checking for soft spots that needed pressed into the bales or places that needed more mud. Overall, the job done was excellent! There were very few places that needed my attention.

I then mixed up a batch of plaster to finish the sections that were not completed. There were a few places on the front wall of the kitchen that were not finished a week ago. I didn’t intend for that to be done yesterday. So, I finished it today. Then, I went upstairs on the porch roof and finished the small sections near the roof line.

So now, the entire first coat is complete. The plaster is drying nicely. The weather has been very good for drying. Although we could use some rain, for the sake of getting the outside plastering done in order to close up the house before cold weather, the weather couldn’t be better.

Here are some photos of the newly completed walls:

downstairs north wall downstairs east wall downstairs south (front) wall upstairs east wall upstairs west wall upstairs north (back) wall

I intend to start in earnest on the second coat of the straw bales tomorrow. I will have to play with the mixture to find the right sand-clay ratio and proper wetness so that it will trowel on smoothly.


Wade said...

Hey Darryl, sure is coming along nicely. Nice to have friends and family come an old fashion barn raising...although this time it was with mud. Great job'


Ruth said...

Darryl, That is SO awesome! :) You must be really pleased with your progress. I'm glad your Plaster Party went so well. :)

curdy said...

Really looking great!

dp said...

We really enjoyed the mud party. We are blessed with so many wonderful friends! It's exciting to see the house coming together with the progress.