Time to move to Plan B…

Last week, early in the stage of digging out the footings for my building, we hit a large rock. We decided it wasn’t worth trying to get t out, as it wasn’t even wobbling when we got a pick underneath it.. in the process of doing some digging today, I unearthed more of it and so far, its about 1.5m long! It’s bloomin’ massive! I took a photo.

As you can see (hopefully) the rock starts by the tyre, and goes up past the end of the spade! I marked it, so its the white streaks. Unfortunately, I was planning on laying tyres there, but I will have to raise up the next course a little with flat stones and just build on top of it. Ultimately, it won’t affect my plans too much (though I have to redirect my drainage pipe around it as a result), and its reassuring to know that my building will be on such solid footings! However, It’s a reminder that I need to be adaptable to my plans. If I hit something like this in an area where I can’t just work around it, it will cause me serious problems getting it out! Given my house is just below an old quarry, I will have to keep my fingers crossed as I dig!!

Volunteer Day 2 – June 9th & 10th

After a successful day in the garden this April, I have look ahead in my calendar eagerly estimating the next volunteer date. Unfortunately, I’ve got a busy month coming up, and I will be unable to organise any events in May. However, early June is looking good for getting into the real meat of the work, and I’ve set aside the second weekend of the Month to get some digging and more tyre ramming done.

I’ve made an order for drainage fabrics and waterproof lining for the back of the garden, so I am hopeful that by the time that weekend comes around, I will be into the stage of digging out the drainage ditches for the back of the building, and looking to get a few tyres rammed as the foundation of the building. There will also be plenty to do with regards to digging out roots and back filling some of the ditches I’ve got in the garden.

So. thats the dates set. I hope people are able to make it, and with the summer on its way, the rain might have stopped by then, and we will have a thoroughly beautiful weekend! Looking forward to meeting new people and seeing old faces there!

Tyre Wall Decorating

I just had to post this photo. I have been wandering around the internet in my spare time, and I am a fan of the website www.pinterest.com¬†(though I’ve not got an account yet ūüôĀ waiting for an invite!! **EDIT: I have joined! My link to my wall is on the right!**)

Its basically a site where you can post things you like on a wall so you can collect a scrapbook, for want of a better word, of the things you like. So, in need of inspiration for how I will make this tyre wall look attractive on the outside, I searched “tyre wall pinterest” on google and got some brilliant ideas!

Check out some of these photos. I’m going to try a combination of these to break up the long wall, and make it stand out in a nice way. Lets hope I have some spare time in the summer for it! If you have any ideas on how the tyre wall can be decorated with a low budget, let me know!

Straw Bale Thoughts

Though I’ve got plenty to learn with Straw, I can use this post to collate any thoughts on Straw Bale as a building material and any dos/don’ts that I can think of.

Shaping Bales

As long as it’s done properly, there is no reason why you can’t build yourself a circular straw bale building. Shaping bales is reasonably easy with the right tools, and we even resorted to chainsaws to cut notches into the bales. I found as a buliding material, it can be quite forgiving with regards to accuracy (though thats not an excuse to be inaccurate!) so playing around with the shape and edges is good fun. Just make sure they are tied well, and packed in so as not to be too loose in a wall. You have to remember that over time, they may settle, so a tightly packed bale is of the upmost importance.


Covering bales

To withstand the weather, you would assume that bales need to be plastered as soon as they are put on. I was surprised to find that this is not the case. While is not necessarily advisable to leave bales uncovered, as long as there is a decent roof covering, they should be able to withstand weather, given time to dry out. Water does not soak in, unless it ends up at the top of the bale, with gravity pulling it in. The photo below (taken in March) shows a bale wall that was built in September, and was still in reasonably good shape despite going through the winter. There had been development of some patches of damp, especially above the door frame, where the fold of plastic had caught water and allowed the straw to sit in it. Also, the lack of an overhanging roof meant that the walls were not as covered as they should have been, ideally.


Chicken Wire

When plastering the walls on the straw bale course, we used chicken wire to cover the bales, and assist in the plastering. There was a split with regards to if this was a good or a bad thing. You can see in the photo below the chicken wire.

For the first course, it certainly made plastering easier, and probably would result in the use of less plaster. However, I thought that it might result in the plaster not tying itself into the bales quite as well, and though it is more effort to get that first course of plaster into the straw, the knowledge that it is mixed directly into a bale, and not with chicken wire would be better for me. In areas where the chicken wire strayed from the bale, I felt like the plaster might end up leaving a hollow part of wall, which could result in potential long term weakness. (This was addressed by pinning the chicken wire into the bales at these points, but I remain unconvinced!)

Plastering – Clay vs Lime

to be continued.

Volunteer Day Success!

Just posting to say a big THANKS to everyone who came along to Satuday’s volunteering. A few of my friends from Cardiff, Pontypridd and the Rhondda came along and joined Martin, who had travelled from Bristol to help out. The weather forecast was not the greatest, and so I understand those who were thinking of coming, but decided against it. Fortunately, we had a good Saturday, and with the gazebo set up in the back for shelter from any brief showers, we managed to get a nice cool day with generally a lot of sunshine! I even got a bit of sunburn!

The before and after photo shows how much we dug out and rammed into all those tyres that got done. I’m massively chuffed with the progress thats been made, and I’m going to crack on over May and see if we can sort out another weekend in June, this time with some cheerful weather to suit the attitude of all the people who came along. I’m looking at the 9th and 10th June for the next weekend, so I’ll send out an email soon. Until then, I’ve got a inspection looming in work, and some writing up to do for the Ecuador trip, not to mention some coursework to complete for my NVQ in stewarding! Busy times ahead.

Thanks again, and hopefully see you soon at a future event!

Volunteering Weekend 21st/22nd April

Briefly, I am back from Ecuador and it was amazing. I want to post about it, but I need it to settle in first, so I’ll give it a week or so. I also have an inspection at the college looming, so I’m going to be a busy bee towards the end of this month.

I wanted to make a post about the volunteering this week, so people know whats going on. I’m still waiting on more accurate forcasts, but the weather seems on and off. I think it might be a little wet on Saturday morning, but the bulk of the day should be dry. Hopefully Sunday will be dry too.

So, we are going ahead! I’m going to get as many tyres as I can this week for people, and here is a rough outline of plans:

Arrival: Aim to arrive around 10am or later. I’ll give people a briefing so you know the general idea of whats going on, and where everything is.

Tools Needed: At the very least, bring yourself and a smile. If you have a shovel or a sledgehammer, bring that along too. if you are driving past a garage and want to bring some tyres, make sure they are 175’s. (Ask the garage man and he will be happy to give them to you!)

Food Needed: I will be sorting out a BBQ and will have some stuff for lunch, but if you bring snacks you might find that helpful for your energy, if you have a particular requirement for food, let me know and we can try and sort something out.

Getting here: If you need to know where I live, you need to contact me and I will sort out directions. If you have already sent me an email, I’ll get something out to you tonight or tomorrow with regards to directions. (got to get hold of my laptop, which I left at my parents!)

Times: We will probably work from about 10am to 12:30 then have some lunch, then go from 1:30 to 4:30 and have a BBQ. This is all very rough, and I suspect people will have lunch when they feel like it, rather than stick to a schedule. Its a work party, not a work day. Ultimately, you may arrive when you like, and leave when you like. The plan for Sunday is much the same for Saturday if you are up for it, but I suspect we will get the bulk of work done on the Saturday.

Weather: If there are any drastic changes in the weather, I’ll send an email out to participants and post here so keep checking your emails as the week goes on! I don’t think much will change though. (Fingers crossed!)

Questions?: Get in touch with me by sending me an email at alun.king<at>gmail<dot>com.

Cheers all, see you on Saturday!