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the first wofati - allerton abbey- version 0.7  RSS feed

 
Bill Kearns
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Bill, I thought your place was drier than that!

Please tell me more about this pic!


Yup, much drier at my place.
This earth sheltered (pit) house was built by my friend Kyle somewhat north of Colville, WA a couple of years ago.

Here are the build sequences and a gallery of pit houses from around the world from whence Kyle got inspiration:

Pit House Gallery

Initial Pit House Work

More Pit House Construction

Getting Close - Moving Into the Pit House

Completely covered up (in the background):
 
Len Ovens
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Bill Kearns wrote:
This earth sheltered (pit) house was built by my friend Kyle somewhat north of Colville, WA a couple of years ago.


A nice read, really enjoyed it. I really liked what he had to say about finding out what kind of shelter was used in the area you are building in. He shows variations from all over the world, picks ideas from all of them, builds.... and then in the end finds that he would have been best to stick with the style native to his own area which is both climate and available material specific. The idea that these are really "high tech" dwellings that have been perfected over years of testing is great. Perhaps one of the things we need to be careful of is for me to not build a wofati on my property based on what works best on Paul's. I need to see the differences on my site and build accordingly. It is both warmer and wetter here. So while the large earth mass may work well, the earth covering may not. The plastic layers may help with that.... but then again

I am thinking more and more, to build a number of very small (10x10 or 8x12) test buildings, living in each during the winter. (even living in more than one at a time) then think about how I want to build something bigger.
 
Len Ovens
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Wow, this thread seems to have dried up and died.

I know that wofati two is well on it's way, and the first really hasn't had a long term try out.... but, what was learned from it (so far)? Is it finished? what will it be used for now? Will it be monitored at all?

What was/is it like living in it? It must have worked reasonably well if a second is being built. Aside from size, were there other downsides?

It has been occupied through at least three seasons now. Winter comments? (understanding that the surrounding earth may not have reached terminal temperature) Spring comments? Summer comments? (cool?) I am most interested in the Mass temperature buffering effectiveness.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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The earthen berm on the first wofati was not fully in place for the first winter, so it has not yet been tested over a winter in those terms, despite Tim's family living there over winter.

We plan/planned to finish the earthen berm this July - August on both the first and second wofati. Though we have been delayed by the dump truck being out of commission for 3 months, and the track hoe needing some attention, as well.
 
Ray Cecil
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Has there been any updates on this lately? I'm interested in seeing how it has finished out, if at all. Thanks
 
paul wheaton
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We wanted to finish with the umbrella in july.

One of the things we learned about the site was that while it is sloped, it has a gentle slope. And, in order to be a wofati, it MUST be an above ground structure. So the wofati was built on the ground, but that leaves not enough dirt for three feet of dirt to cover it. So we will need to bring the dirt from a little ways away. Maybe 200 feet away. Fortunately, we have a dump truck.

(if the wofati were built on a slope of more significance, the excavator alone would have been able to provide dirt)

In april, our dump truck went to the dump truck doctor. The doctor said it would be three days. At three days they said "tomorrow" and on that day they said "tuesday" and on tuesday they said "thursday" and .... After three and a half months they returned it in a condition that was even worse. Our own research found something we could try ourselves. That didn't fix it. So then it went to another dump truck doctor. And we are still waiting to hear from them. In the meantime, we have picked up a smaller truck to do the dump truck thing.

The excavator needed to have the bucket repaired, so it was brought to basecamp. Repairs are complete. To get back to the lab, the excavator needs to get on its trailer and be pulled to the lab. But the new truck does not have the correct hitch type. So it has been ordered and will be welded on this week. Once the hitch is on, the excavator and dump truck will immediately go to the lab and bury wofati 0.7.

 
Ray Cecil
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Thanks for the update Paul. Man...if I was only there I would have fixed that truck. I am a machine designer. I design machines that put together big trucks like that. SOme of our machines go to Caterpillar, John Deere and Case. We also make stuff for Peterbuilt and Frieghtliner trucks.

Now, all I have to do is get my wife, mom and dad and my friends to move to Montana! lol. That will never happen. Mom and Dad are stuck in their ways here in Kentucky.

Some friends of mine and I are planning our "laboratory" here in Kentucky. There seems to be very few permies around here. Salamander Springs near Berea has a great example of a permaculture for profit farm. You should check them out. We are about 2 hours from them. We are visiting in October to observe their practice to form our business model.

My wife and I are considering the WOFATI. However, she cannot get over that "underground" idea. And to be plain honest, its cool, but doesn't have much curb appeal. Which I know isn't the point. But nevertheless it has to have some refinement for my wife to approve.

Paul, I design using Solidworks and Inventor. If you ever need anything modeled up, or construction prints made let me know and I will try to give you a hand.

Ray
 
paul wheaton
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Just to be clear, a wofati is an ABOVE GROUND structure. It is part of the definition.

As for design stuff, I think we have standardized on sketchup for everything.

Yes, Ray, it would have been grand to have you here. The mission was to replace the injectors. The new truck is a different style - something that folks here could probably mend. Whereas the kenworth is something that is too big for us.

 
Ray Cecil
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paul wheaton wrote:Just to be clear, a wofati is an ABOVE GROUND structure. It is part of the definition.

As for design stuff, I think we have standardized on sketchup for everything.

Yes, Ray, it would have been grand to have you here. The mission was to replace the injectors. The new truck is a different style - something that folks here could probably mend. Whereas the kenworth is something that is too big for us.



Yes, I understand and have read the definition. However my wife still thinks of it as an underground structure. I am worried about water penetration still. How will you keep roots from poking holes into the tarp layers over time? What happens if you do get a hole someplace and you have to repair the membrane? Do you have to get an excavator in there again to dig out around the leak to patch it?

THis may be a wild idea, but has anyone ever throw in the idea of adding a second wall to allow access behind the interior walls for membrane repair? Or is it crucial for the outside earth to be in close contact with the interior walls?

Thanks
 
Jason Marlow
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Roots only go where there is moisture. As soon as it hits a surface that is dry the plant won't waste any energy trying to penetrate through it. So when roots come into contact with pond liner or polyethylene it will detect that no water is in that material and so it will begin to try to find away around it. It's kind of like what happens when you take mature plant out of a flower pot and all the roots are tangles up but retain the shape of the inside of the pot. It's the same principle.
 
Ray Cecil
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Jason Marlow wrote:Roots only go where there is moisture. As soon as it hits a surface that is dry the plant won't waste any energy trying to penetrate through it. So when roots come into contact with pond liner or polyethylene it will detect that no water is in that material and so it will begin to try to find away around it. It's kind of like what happens when you take mature plant out of a flower pot and all the roots are tangles up but retain the shape of the inside of the pot. It's the same principle.


Thank you Jason. That makes sense.
 
kadence blevins
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So this wofati needs person(s) to live in it this year? Any updates on whats in it/ how many people/ etc. about it for people who may be interested?

Even considering it is not really all completed to pauls ideals i would really love to see a sort of diary done from people living there about pros/cons, temps, whatever as they live there. That would be great (:
 
Justin Jones
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kadence blevins wrote:So this wofati needs person(s) to live in it this year? Any updates on whats in it/ how many people/ etc. about it for people who may be interested?


Jesse is currently occupying 0.7. The new couple, Mike and Violet, are moving in next week. They will be building/hanging partitions in the two wings for private space with kitchen/living room in the middle 200 sq. ft. Might be possible to squeeze a fourth in there, probably as Jesse's roommate.
 
Justin Jones
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Work continues...

I took this picture from inside the excavator seat. I am sculpting the thermal dirt with an I-beam. In the second photo the crew is working on laying down the billboard material in 5 layers.
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Jason Sergeant
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This is a view from the back of the wofati. the slope is almost established, and then we put on sawdust and tarps.
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Olenka Kleban
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Some winter views of the first WOFATI- 0.7.

These pictures were taken 4 weeks ago when the Lab was lush with fresh white pow. There's a big thaw going on this week though, especially today.
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Cassie Langstraat
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Here are some more pictures of the inside of wofati 0.7.








 
Julia Winter
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So, this is the building that is the center of the ant village, right? A communal kitchen, a book library and tool library?
 
paul wheaton
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Yup!

Jocelyn hurt her back tidying before art got there. Sue and Jim have now spent the better part of a day cleaning after art was there. Art is coming back to take more pics.

 
Andrew Schreiber
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What a Beautiful interior space. Good job Everyone!
 
paul wheaton
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Now is the time to plan an upgrade for 0.7 to test the ATI.



The mission is to be SUPER certain that the uphill wall and the downhill wall are sealed and insulated. Without sacrificing livability aesthetic.

My first thought was to add a second wall about three feet out. The overhang is about five feet, so the outer wall could get wet - but I am okay with that. Then, next winter, we could move bee hives into that space. Bees like to keep their hives at about 96 degrees, so they would, effectively, heat that small space. We could then say that this is a bee-heated house which would be fun to say.

Ernie and Erica are here now. Yesterday we went up there and I presented my idea. Ernie felt that we should do something solarium-esque. Maybe it would go about a foot or two outside of the overhang. The bee hive thing would still be a possibility for the future, but this would make the space far more usable while meeting my requirements. Further, the inside wall could then be a light colored cob - thus insuring a good seal. He also made several points about how it would improve the beauty and the livability.

All of these ideas are being bounced around as a suggestion for the larger wall on the uphill side - pictured above. But all of these ideas would be carb-copied to the other side.

A proper solarium faces south. Since neither of these sides faces south, then this would not be a real solarium. But it would be something resembling a porch with a lot of light.

 
Jesse Grimes
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I like the idea of the solarium. I was thinking of something similar for my structure in the Ant village. Not only is it a buffer between the cold winter air and the warm air inside the house, but it is just a pleasant place to be. I once lived in a condo where the bottom floor was just one big living room and a kitchen, with no windows on 3 sides. Thankfully, on the north side of the room, the sliding patio doors had been removed and the patio enclosed with a glass solarium. It made the place seem huge and let a lot of nice natural light into the space, plus my sister was able to grow about 100 orchids inside our living room. This was in southern California, so it was probably a good thing that the solarium faced north, as it never got direct sun which would heat up the house too much.

In this application, with below freezing temps, the inside wall is definitely needed. Not being south facing, I don't think there will be much of a heating effect for the house, but it will be an insulative buffer so you may be able to get away with larger windows on the inside wall, letting more light into the house. On top of that, it will also be a nice "mud room" where people can take off their boots and shake out their jackets before entering the house.

I seem to remember something in John Hait's book about a convection current that can develop in some air spaces, like if you put a 6 inch gap between window panes, thinking that the air will act as insulation. The heat from inside the house will start a convection loop within the air space, effectively pulling heat out of the inside glass and transferring it to the outside glass. I'm not sure if this effect would happen in a larger room such as this one, but it is sure something to look into.

It looks like it would be easy enough to tuck a slanted section up under the overhang, connected to a vertical wall a couple feet out from there. You could frame in proper windows or just use polycarbonate. Glass is probably more fitting, but you'd need to find a lot of salvaged windows. It doesn't seem like you would need to worry about sealing it up too much water wise, as it is effectively an outside space.

I'm curious if you extended the watershed insulation umbrella out in front of this wall. if not, then you've got a short cut for heat to travel out of your insulated mass. This would be a great time to install one if it's not there You could even extend a deck out over it, making a nice outside space for the summer time and less mud/ice in the winter.

I'm definitely looking to collect on some bounties once I arrive at the lab. This is one project I would love to work on.
 
paul wheaton
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I think there would be a convection current. But that's no big deal. The important thing is that it assists in the insulation of the wofati core. So when the outside temp is 20 below, the temp in the "glass room" is, maybe, 20. Inside the wofati, it is as if the outside temp never drops below 20.

I think it might be good to set up a two foot tall, well insulated wall that will define the bottom of the glass, and then set up some sort of large doorway. It might be wise to do some sketchup stuff.



 
duane hennon
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yaranga

A Yaranga is a tent-like traditional mobile home of some nomadic Northern indigenous peoples of Russia, such as Chukchi and Siberian Yupik.

A Yaranga is a cone-shaped or rounded reindeer-hide tent.[1] It is built of a light wooden frame covered with reindeer skins or canvas sewn together."



The word yaranga comes from the Chukchi language.[2] In Russian use, the terms chum, yurt and yaranga may be used interchangeably

" built of a light wooden frame covered with reindeer skins sewn together. A medium-size yaranga requires about 50 skins.

A large yaranga is hard to heat completely up. There is a smaller cabin called a polog built inside it, that can be kept warm and cosy"




I think it was a NOVA special
that I saw about this guy
who was tracing the genetics of the Native Americans
and was trying to trace them back to Asia.
This lead him to try and find this group of "reindeer people" in northern Siberia.
anyway to get to the point
He found a group who lived in these yarangas
it was 40 F below outside
inside the first layer was above zero
but inside the inner tent, heated only by body heat and oil lamps
it was about + 50-60F
these were mobile and they were moved almost everyday
because there was little for the reindeer herd to eat
and the herd had to keep moving

so it would seem a house within a house
if properly done
would make sense
 
carol-anne besler
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Wofati 0.7 is no longer. No longer named 0.7 that is. Behold, Allerton Abbey! Named as such in honor of a wonderful jetpacker: we love you!

Allerton Abbey is getting a big face lift in the coming month, stay tuned for all of the upcoming renos. Super excited!
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Jesse Grimes
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One of Paul's priorities this summer is to get wofati 0.7, hereafter referred to as Allerton Abbey, completely finished in a correct manner so the annualized thermal inertia concept can be properly tested this coming winter. In order to do this, the uphill and downhill walls need to be re-done, well sealed and insulated, so that the winter wind will not pass right through them as is currently does. This is going to be done with straw bale walls, and some very thick doors. Ernie and Erica are coming out this coming super week to lend their natural building wisdom to this part of the project. In addition to the walls, we will also be installing a watershed/insulation umbrella out from the new walls, and building a deck over each of these. This will be tied into the straw bale wall and the wing walls, which are also going to get some insulation added, completing the insulation/watershed umbrella for the structure as a whole, and keeping the thermal mass nicely dry and insulated. There is also going to be a ton of cob work done on the inside and outside of the building, and everyone is welcome to come get their hands and feet into some cob during the super week. I have taken on this big project, and will be documenting the progress her in this thread. We got started a couple of days ago, so here we go:

First things first, I uncovered the outside of the downhill wall, which had been buried in dirt.


Next I removed the facade.


The we took out the old windows. The structure had settled on top of them, so we had to remove most of the framing just to get them out.


The old windows, in bad shape.


Next we removed all the old framing. This was the small mountain of screws that was holding this wall together.


How's that for light and airflow?
 
Jesse Grimes
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Today we did some earthworks with the tractor and shovels, to remove the excess dirt that had been covering the downhill side of the structure. It had been filled in incorrectly, and was actually sloping towards the house in spots, bad idea. We removed a lot of dirt, and reshaped it all to slope away from the walls and out. There is still some shaping to be done to make a final bed for the insulation/watershed umbrella to sit on, and then that will be covered with soil, and then a deck. For now, we just left it roughly shaped until we can get the straw bale wall built, and work out how to tie the insulation umbrella into that.

The work close to the wall was done with shovels. The tractor bucket makes a very nice wheelbarrow.


Here's the slope when we were finished. It was hard to get a picture of the whole area with the contrasting light, but here you can see the new slope, as well as the old line of the dirt on the posts, sloping back towards the wall we removed.
 
Jesse Grimes
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Paul's plan is to set the straw bale wall right on the dirt, relying on the idea that once the new umbrella is in place, water will have to wick down 4 feet, then over 6 feet, then up another 4 feet in order to reach the straw bale. I leveled and packed the dirt where the wall will go in preparation for this, but I am waiting until Ernie and Erica get here to start on the wall. In the meantime I have been gathering up materials, and today I made a few test balls of different cob mixes.
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The packed earth foundation
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Raw materials
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Sand and clay
 
Tim Skufca
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I believe you are a bit off if you think these bales will be out of moisture hazards. Just being under the "umbrella" doesn't keep blowing snow and rain away. I would build up a stone and gravel base under the bales to give added security. Straw bales and cob have zero tolerance for moisture.
 
Ty Morrison
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I second the observation: 4 inches of gravel under bales = cheap insurance.
 
Jesse Grimes
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Tim Skufca wrote:I believe you are a bit off if you think these bales will be out of moisture hazards. Just being under the "umbrella" doesn't keep blowing snow and rain away. I would build up a stone and gravel base under the bales to give added security. Straw bales and cob have zero tolerance for moisture.


This has all been discussed, but being the mad scientist that he is, Paul is intent on putting them on the dirt. There are 5 foot eves protecting the walls, so that helps. I imagine after Paul and Ernie have a discussion about it the whole plan will change, so I am just doing other parts of the project until then. I have been thinking something along the lines of a gravel foundation, but the important part is that the insulation layer of the straw bale needs to tie into the insulation layer in the umbrella, with no gaps for heat to escape through.

This afternoon we did a little work on the outside wing walls. They were never insulated, so we are stuffing wool in between and behind the logs to add some insulation after the fact, and then this will be covered by cob. I have been using a narrow stick to shove the wool into the cracks. It is surprising how much wool these cracks will gobble up. Also, I now smell like a sheep.

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wooly wood working
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a fluffy wall
 
Jesse Grimes
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Yesterday Ernie and Erica got here, and we're able to have a long *ahem* discussion about putting the bales on the dirt. The result was a compromise in which we will lay down two tamarack logs with wool stuffed between them, and then dead men buried beneath all of this to wire the straw bales to. I took a long walk with Ernie yesterday looking for the right tamaracks, and he explained how all of the 100 year old houses around here are all built of tamarack. This is because it is more rot resistant than the other local woods and it also shrinks less while drying. He also explained a lot about proper forest management and selecting for stronger, healthier trees. I am really thankful to be able to learn from such knowledgeable people as Ernie and Erica.

Brian came by Allerton Abbey and we also discussed how to properly mount the super large and heavy door that he is building. There will be a lot of shock force when that door is closed, so we have to account for that. There is also very limited space between the 40" door and 48" window for all the framing and straw bale, so it will be interesting. I'm sure we will learn a lot from this wall, which will help on the next 3 sections of wall we need to build on the uphill side.

Right now I gotta go dig up some dirt for cob mixing, which Carol-Anne is helping to facilitate. I can't post any pictures as I am out on the lab, but I will get some up when I am at basecamp next.
 
Jesse Grimes
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Wow! What a day. I've been running around almost non stop gathering up materials and tools to get everyone going. I loaded a few yards of "ready mix" cob material into the dump trailer in the morning. It turned out to not be a great mix but it should be adequate for the rough cob work, filling in the cracks. Then it was time to grab a couple sections of the Tamarack trees I felled yesterday evening. Curtis and the tractor helped a lot with that. Then it was off to the lumber yard to pick up some dimensional lumber for the door framing. Now I'm back at basecamp picking up some tools to build the frame. Somewhere in there I managed to dig 4 holes with a post hole digger to set the dead men into to secure the wall, including one 5 foot deep hole to receive the door frame post with a dead man beneath it.
While I was running around, back at Allerton abbey, Erica and the crew were mixing up a bunch of batches of cob, stuff g a ton of wool into the wing walls, and putting the first bit of cob over the cracks to see how it will do.

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Burr and Raul stomping out some cob.
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Fred stuffing wool into the wall for insulation.
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Curtis bringing in the foundation logs.
 
Jesse Grimes
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We got a lot of work done today. It's good to see it progressing. I started out the morning by carving a tennon into the top beam, where the door catch beam will slide into to provide a sturdy connection. Then i put together an I beam which will serve as the catch for the door. The cob crew started out by sifting shit! Cow shit that is. Old and dried out, then soaked overnight, it makes a great fiber for the cob mix. Once the beam was done, I used a draw knife to carve a sil into one of the Tamarack logs we prepared yesterday. This will sit on the outside at the bottom of the straw bale wall, so the silver will direct water away from the wall. Ive never used a draw knife for anything but peeling bark, but I found it very efficient for planing off strips of the wood. Next I cut round notches in the front foundation log so it will sit tight against the posts. This was another first for me, cutting round notches, it was fun to try but I'm certainly not going to build a log cabin anytime soon. Thankfully the spacing worked out that only one of the foundation logs needed to be notched. While Carol-Anne worked late into the day applying more cob to the cracks, I hammered a ton of nails into some small tamarack logs to serve as dead men which will tie the foundation and straw bales to the ground. As the light was fading I was pounding the last dead man into his final resting place.

Pictures aren't uploading right now, so I'll get them up tomorrow.
 
duane hennon
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hi Jesse

"The cob crew started out by sifting shit! Cow shit that is. Old and dried out"

well for relaxation and entertainment
something like this then is not too far fetched...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dung-spitting-contest-northern-ireland_55ae6aebe4b0a9b9485290c1

Dung Spitting Competition Is A Crappy Way To Prove Yourself

............

"Visitors to Irvinestown's 37th annual Lady of the Lake festival last week in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, were treated to a new event: a dung-spitting competition.

It was exactly what it sounds like. Participants took sheep excrement into their mouths and tried to spit it farther than their opponents."


 
Burra Maluca
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I've taken far too many photographs of Allerton Abbey over the last few days and my mind is on overload, so I'm going to do a bit of a photo-dump here and probably come back over the next few days and add comments and explanations as needed. And maybe put them in the right order, too, as they seem to have got themselves a bit jumbled up...


























































 
Burra Maluca
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Day 1 at Allerton Abbey





















































































































 
Jesse Grimes
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Pictures from yesterday.
20150723_115215.jpg
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Shit siftin'
 
Jesse Grimes
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More pics
20150723_191033.jpg
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Notch cutin'
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Dean man nailin'
 
Jesse Grimes
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Today was a good day. A bunch of people showed up last night, including Cassie and some of the permies.com staff, and Zach Weiss. In the morning we got the door catch beam set into the ground, which involved hitting a bunch of nails into the bottom of it and digging a ditch out from the post hole, so that the beam could be swung into place and up into the tennon joint. Zach came just in time to help us get the beam in place, then we filled the hole and ditch with a mud plug, which will dry into a big hard mass and hold the beam in place at the bottom. Then Zach helped me get the bottom logs in place and leveled, it was great to have Zach around with all of his building experience. Once the beam was set in place and squared, we realized there wasn't enough room to fit the window in between the beam and the existing post. So Zach carved a but more space out of the post using a nifty tool called a lancelot something, which is basically a chainsaw chain on a grinding wheel, or a wood grinder.
There was still more accomplished today while I was giving a tour of the lab which was scheduled weeks ago. Ernie made it back out to the site to check out the new carpentry, and he directed everyone to fill in between the bottom logs with wool and a layer of cob on each side. The cob will prevent rodents from burrowing in between the straw and the plaster layer. They also fit a third small section of log into the doorway to help support the lintel, and flattened that off with the use of 2 hatches and 3 timber framers. Finally, Ernie talked to everyone a little bit about the construction of straw bales and how we will be coin about creating the shapes we need to fit around all the framing. He made it clear that this is not a regular straw bale workshop, as we are skipping all the basics and moving into advanced techniques to fit the space we are working with.
After that, I had a lovely dinner at Paul's with all the permies staff and guests, followed by a meeting with Ernie and Erica in which we talked over what we will be doing tomorrow and the specifics of certain tasks. Finally, I headed down to the shop to fabricate a couple more bale needles out of metal. I kind of felt like I was making swords as I sharpened the tips on the grinder. I even got a bit of welding in.

Wow, after typing all that I realize it has been a very long day and we made a whole heap of progress. Pictures tomorow, now off to bed.
 
Ruth Stout was famous for gardening naked. Just like this tiny ad:
paul's patreon stuff
https://permies.com/t/60329/paul-patreon-stuff
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