Archive for April, 2010

We moved a little over 5 tons of gravel this weekend, once again with a couple of shovels and sheer willpower (I’m sure that my body gave out halfway through and willpower carried the day). Our trench is probably a little over half-filled now.

Our original goal was to have the foundation and trench dug by the end of April but we added filling the trench with gravel when our progress seemed to be moving at such a strong pace. Then came the weather and blizzards, rain, sleet and wind warnings set us back about a week, but we’re still in good shape overall.

We will have to hire someone to trench the water-line because digging down 8 feet or more by hand, for about a hundred feet, would truly set us back but Shane may have a lead on a local guy so hopefully that works out. And once that’s all done and we’ve finished leveling the pad with gravel we’ll be ready to lay our first bag.

Exciting times! I’m quite looking forward to starting the bag work, and watching row upon row progress. The window for building is short out here. Not much time to get the whole thing up, especially given that we’re plastering the exterior with lime plaster and lime requires a good long time to dry in above freezing conditions, but we’re optimistic. ‘Determined’ might be a better word. We have a good jumpstart, so as long as we stay on track…

And on that note, I have work to do… Hope everyone’s spring is off to a good start!


Read Full Post »


this is the site, dug to foundation level with trenching started

We broke ground the second week of March. It’s been, well… It’s been real. Don’t get me wrong- it’s exciting- but digging has been hard going, what with a small hill to move and enough rocks to build yet another hill. We finally hit foundation level last week though, and really that’s not all that long considering there’s just been the two of us, a couple of shovels, and a pickaxe. 

We’re on to trenching, and if digging was a chore before I don’t even know how to describe it now. The ground is ridiculously hard and weather has not been cooperating. We had several days of weather warnings in the last week, with winds ranging from 60 km to 100 km/hr. And snow- plenty of snow. Thankfully it melted fairly quickly but they’re forecasting another 20 cm will fall in the next 24 hours. 

I’m finding some days (like today) a little discouraging. Hard to find the motivation when you can only scrape the earth bit by bit into a wheelbarrow. It makes for a long day when the progress is so slow. But I remain determined, and committed, so an off day here or there won’t throw me off for long. Shane, in the meantime, is focusing his efforts on our rocket stoves. We’ll require three in total- one for mass heating, one for water heating, and one for cooking. All variations on the basic model that will have to be built and tested prior to the actual build- so he’s got his work cut out for him. When I start to feel badly about all the digging I’m doing, I remind myself I could be stuck with the heating systems which seem- to me- to be a worse assignment. 

So that’s where we’re at. Sorry so long between updates. It’s a busy time. For those of you interested in steadier (albeit short) updates and the opportunity to interact with other natural builders, please see our Facebook page and sign up. The address is http://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Brigden-Alberta/Canadian-Dirtbags/128912733998?ref=mf

A clearer view of the rubble trench

And so digging was delayed for a couple of days...



Read Full Post »