Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Pillars of the Earth!

If all the fancy whiz bang of the modern age has gotten the better of your attention span and reading just isnt your thing anymore then check out the new feature here at Modern Natural:


      As for the rest of you ...

You could say this has been the most productive weekend ever. You would be exaggerating but you could say it if you wanted to. It would sound really supportive and I would be very grateful for that sort of encouragement.
Even still, it was very productive

On Friday we started the base of the rubble trench foundation*
* That's Friday the 8th of August, 2014 for all you Earthbag historians who might be visiting from the future.
The base of the foundation trench was laid with large rocks, collected from the dirt we removed from the trench. How very very practical! These large rocks make a firm base on which to layer the smaller rocks and allows for any water that collects in the bottom of the trench to flow freely out of the drainage pipe. Our soils in this area are very heavy clay which can get really mucky when it rains and of course it rains a lot here in the Puget Sound area. When everything is packed down this will be an extremely strong and stable base.The heavy clay is also the reason I decided not to use a layer of filter fabric in the bottom and sides of the trench. The clay would just pack against the fabric working against the purpose of drainage in the long run. Its a calculated risk. *fingers crossed*


People have been writing me emails telling me how cute my dogs are. Well, truth be told those aren't actually my dogs. They just keep showing up and I cant make them go away. I have tried to run them off but they are very fearsome and ferocious. I am especially afraid of the little brown one. I have called her "Sawtooth". She is obviously the leader, the brains. The other one I will call "Dead eyes". When he looks at me I can see him trying to decide how good I might taste.  I believe the only reason he has not eaten me yet is that Sawtooth has some sinister plan for me. I sleep with one eye open...

So if you can get past your fear you will see that beyond the dogs the first layer of gravel has been laid over the rock base. Every 4 inches or so of depth the gravel needs to be packed down so that all the edges begin locking and bonding together.

On Saturday  I set the pivot for the compass. In building a round earthbag wall it is almost mandatory to have a compass in the center of the circle. The swinging arm of the compass will make it possible to get each row of bags perfectly fitted to the previous row and to maintain a level finish to the tops of the bags after they are packed down.

The compass was made by burying a 3 foot length of PVC in the ground then placing a chain link fence rod into the pipe. I used dirt and small gravel chunks to prop the metal rod as close to perfectly vertical as I could get it, then filled the small gap with a bit of cement to fix it in place. The swinging arm will be mounted on on the vertical pivot with a hinged bracket of the type used in chain link fencing gates and be held in place by a brace clamped below the swinging bracket to prevent the arm from sliding down.
I borrowed and modified the design of my compass from the book Earthbag building by Donald Kiffmyer and Kaki hunter, a must read for anyone interested in learning this process.

The foundation also got one more layer of gravel and is now ready to have the drain pipe put in place before the final layers fill the trench to the level where the bags will begin.
So, we are one more step away from starting the walls!!!