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Daniel Ray

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since Feb 04, 2014
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food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
Stevensville, Montana; Zone 5b
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Recent posts by Daniel Ray

William, Kelly Hart, author of Essential Earthbag Construction, recommends that posts be placed on full masonry supports. you can place concrete piers within the foundation or elsewhere to support that type of structure. Alternatively, I have seen structures spread the weight of such posts like a top plate on a strawbale wall distributes the roofs weight to the walls. I would recommend following Kelly's advice, he is the expert after all.

The drainage doesn't have to be huge, just enough to let  any moisture migrate out and sink into the ground. The one that I built was on a flat site and I dug a drainage trench 15 feet out from the house and a few feet deeper than the foundation trench, then backfilled with rubble to allow a lot of moisture to drain through.

Drainage bags are just that, gravel in bags. make sure you double bag those as the gravel tends to pierce the bags, this is just that first layer and once they are plastered over, the bags will never degrade.
1 week ago
I would suggest a rubble trench foundation with a stemwall (footer) that lifts the walls of the ground by 1-2 feet. Use earthbag building for the stemwall, it is super low cost and easy to build.

For the rubble foundation, get a load of gravel from the nearby quarry and fill up your foundation trench with that and your urbanite pile. The urbanite might not be enough for an entire stacked foundation, but it will certainly take up a lot of room in the trench. Since you have a lot of moisture, make sure you run a drain pipe out of the foundation to sunlight--or give it an adequate drainage area if you are not on a slope.

Fill the trench up to about 6" from the top and then do a layer of double bagged drainage bags--i.e. bags of gravel mix. That is your first layer and will drain into the rubble trench. Then do subsequent layers of earthbag with a good earthbag mix--your local quarry will probably have a great roadbase mix which is usually perfect for this application if your own soil has too much clay content.  Build your cordwood wall and then do a nice lime/cement plaster over the exposed bags--they will last multiple lifetimes.

1 week ago
Light straw clay would work well too, the metal framing is okay if the temperature fluctuation inside the house won't be too great. If the wall is located near a heat source I wouldn't recommend using the metal as it may well crack the wall over time.

Also it is best to tie the framing into the natural material of the wall too, using deadmen to key into the light straw clay will greatly increase its strength. This might be more difficult to do if you are using metal.
2 weeks ago
Hello all you super interesting Permies! I'm always looking for interesting presenters at the North Valley Public Library in Stevensville Montana. Bring your skills and teach our community to live more sustainable lives.

Examples of what I've done in the past include Strawbale Gardening, virtual green homes tour, canning, fermentation, kombucha, composting, humanure.

The sky is the limit, so if you are interested and have interesting hobbies and knowledge--send me a purple Mooseage and lets educate the community at the Library!

2 weeks ago
Much easier/quicker method is simple wattle and daub. Just build vertical posts with 2x4s or cut your own poles from excess trees laying around. Then weave more poles/sticks/bamboo/vines/anything that works.

Alternatively copy what i did (see photo) and use 2x4's for the posts and then use lathing strips to create a surface with many gaps.

Daub over this material on both sides with a wet cob mix, i like it a bit higher in clay content than normal and lots of fiber. Once this dries just plaster over like normal and you have a very sturdy wall.

3 weeks ago
Congratulations on your property. Since you just bought the land I would suggest finding the best location for a structure if you plan on having one and work on small things around this area. The benefit of starting with this small task is that it gives you adequate time to observe the property, you can't have enough observation. Map, record, think through a thousand ideas for every square foot and then do it all over again.

I agree with Hugo, think about the water potential and build off of that. Water is life  and will be the backbone of your property.

Good luck, sounds like an awesome property with tons of potential.
1 month ago
Matt's stove is awesome, but I don't know about how much space it will heat. I thought it was designed for a smaller space than 900sf, but I could be wrong. If we are lucky Matt will see this post and comment.

I built a batch stove of Peter's design--heats 800-900sf between 62-72 for 24 hours on a single load of scrap 1x4 pine I have for free. Since it is a workshop I suggest the batch load stove since you want to actually get work done and not tend a J style rocket. It is so easy to load of the batch and have heat lasting all day and into the morning.

Barrel is long lasting. I think Ianto has a rocket he built that is 20+ years old and still in use.

As for looking to the vertical instead of a horizontal bench, just consider doing a larger vertical masonry bell--could be cob or brick or something else, just build up instead of out.

Check out the applications section of Peter's website here He has a pretty vertical heater in his shop that might do the trick.
1 month ago
I'm on board just for Tim Horton's and the legal weed, but only if  Montana changes to Montachewan. On the more serious side, a trillion won't do anything for national debt and they would probably just use it for steel slats or something.
1 month ago

I prefer Strawberry, and a weird jar of a  friends' home-made grape "jelly" that I eat when I'm desperate for sweets.

so true. I have 2 opened. One is an awesome cranberry jam my father in law made last year and one somewhat strange plum jam a patron at the library gave me that I eat between cranberry containers.
1 month ago
Hi Ivar,

sounds like a solid plan. Check out some of the cob fireplace/walls they have at cob cottage company like this one

you can bury all sorts of waste into your cob walls to take up room as long as it won't decompose or lose its shape over time. My first house I buried a broken toaster and waffle iron in the walls. extra urbanite is especially helpful for taking up room in cob walls.

For your chimney I would just find used 8-10" single wall chimney pipe and use it as a form for a cob chimney. You can get it set in place, then just cob around it.

Good luck and post some awesome photos of your project!
1 month ago