The Straw has landed!

I was worried about the day arriving, given the bad weather, but I’m happy to report that the straw bales arrived from the supplier in dry conditions and are now under a sturdy roof for the winter!

I was meeting the supplier at his farm, and drove to my friends farm, who had kindly agreed to storing them for the colder months. The drive from Abergavenny to Brecon was fairly short, but we had already delayed the delivery from last Tuesday because of the bad weather, so we rescheduled for Friday, with cloudy (but dry!) sky as our forecast.

I drove from Abergavenny saying small prayers that there would be no suprise rain. Some of the clouds were pretty dark and imposing, but the Met Office didn’t let me down, and no rain fell! By the time we arrived in the farm in Brecon, the sun was out, and we loaded the bales into the barn quickly and easily.

It’s worth pointing out that straw bale takes up a lot more space than you would think – I calculated the space beforehand based on an average bale size, but in reality it was a lot more than that!

Anyway, its good to have it all safe and in my possession, and my mind can now turn it’s attention to finishing the tyre ramming, plastering the walls and doing the roof 🙂 I’ve got a busy winter planning these things! Sorry I don’t have any photos of the straw, I should have taken some, but I forgot my bloomin’ camera!

Rammed Tyre Foundations: Installing the french drain

So, this weekend just gone, I had another successful volunteer weekend. With a good lead up to the weekend, we had a scorching Saturday, and managed to get the materials in place for the french drain, which will serve the purpose of directing any run off away from the walls of the building, and prevent it from building up behind the retaining wall.

The general principle of a french drain is that you sit a perforated pipe in a trench, and cover it with gravel. Any rainwater will then filter down between the gravel, gather in the pipe and drain away. A good website showing how it is done well can be found here:

What made my installation a little more complicated is that I wanted to add in a waterproof membrane to ensure one side of the drain didn’t let any water through to the tyre wall. So I had an installation more like this diagram:

Installing a drain looks so clean and fuss free on other websites, but I found the practicality of it to be much more difficult!

measuring out the length

We first out had to measure the membrane, which was 2m high. We rolled it out along the trench line and gave some slack to be sure everything would fit.

folding the membrane

With the distance cut, we folded the membrane in half and tucked it down into the dug out trench. Because we were going around corners, and, on the front of the wall especially, the trench was not evenly supported either side, this was a lot more difficult than first imagined!

Laying the pipe

Finally, we tucked in the pipe and started throwing stones on top to hold it all down. Work on this is currently ongoing, so I’ll post photos when it’s all done!

Straw Bale Supplier Confirmed!

Good news can sometimes be hard to come by, but I’ve had one great day today!

I got a call from my straw supplier last week, who said with rising costs of straw and hay, he was unable to store my straw over the winter for me. While I found this unfortunate, I understand that it isn’t easy for the people dealing in this industry – it isn’t exactly run for eco-builders! So over the last week, I set about trying to sort out where I can store 100 bales of straw until Easter.

Fortunately, my parents have a spare garage, and with a bit of maths, we worked out the straw would fit like a glove into the space. Not ideal, as they are planning on selling the land the garage lies on, so I had it as a backup. Today, I managed to call a friend who owns a farm, and she was able to fit my straw into her barn for the winter!

I’m taking the delivery of the straw next Tuesday, so I’ll post some photos then. It’s both equally scary and exciting, as I’m doing this on my own, no advice to call by, just instinct and knowledge from past courses. The straw will be stored until a good week of weather around Easter time, and then I’ll move it to the site, and finish the building with a solid roof on it before any rain comes in! Exiting times.

Other good news – I’ve got the Bristol half marathon on the 30th September, and my training is going better than I could have planned! I’m hoping for a sub 1hr 40min time, so we shall see how it goes!