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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mud in June

I’ve let a few weeks pass without posting, but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been working. Actually, there were two weeks that we took off from work on the house (not completely, but mostly) for a variety of reasons, including 005Anne and I celebrating our 22nd anniversary and my finishing up my summer classes.

We continued from where were left off in the last post by finishing in the hallway outside of the guest room and also plastering the walls in the main bathroom. Smearing mud plaster on the walls is not difficult. We just make sure that on raw bales or packed walls that the plaster is worked into the straw well. This first coat provides the foundation for the rest of the plaster, making it important that it is keyed into the straw well. Around the windows, this involves pressing the mud into the straw through the chicken wire used to curve the edges. The straw in these areas is mostly parallel with the surface. 007On the regular edges of the straw bales the ends of the straws are oriented toward the surface which is much easier to work the plaster into.

One difficulty revealed itself above the back door. Above the windows and the other doors, I used chicken wire to hold the straw in the right shape, but above the back door there was no where convenient to attach the wire at the top above the door. So, I didn’t use any wire and instead just shaped the edge of the bales. This part was fine. The problem was the board that I used to support the bales above the door – 011the plaster didn’t stick to it once it dried. I’ll have to remedy this later.

Once we finished the bathroom, we moved on to the master bedroom. We plastered in the closet, the walls in the bedroom, and in the master bathroom. We had all the walls except for a small section in the bathroom finished before we ended up taking off the two weeks.



Jessica said...

It's looking great! Are you going to paint or limewash the plaster once it's all up?

dp said...

Thanks, Jessica! The finish coat will use a white kaolin clay rather than the brown we dug out of the ground. I'm also going to make an alis (a clay-based paint) using the kaolin clay and will paint all of the walls. We want them to be bright.