Archive for October, 2010

It seems we’re always racing time, or the weather, or some other factor completely outside of our sphere of influence. It’s a typical October in Alberta, which means we’ve had our first (second and third) snowfall. It hasn’t snowed in a few days now but we haven’t hit above freezing temperatures either and the acreage looks like a veritable winter wonderland. It’s beautiful really, but not entirely conducive to outdoor work- at least not until we’ve more fully acclimatized.

We’ve just about finished plastering the buildings for winter. A few half decent days and we should be done. And we need to get some above freezing weather (forecast for next week) to finish the last row of bags at the front entrance. Other than that, we need to finish temporarily roofing the structures and fit the windows so that we can work indoors through the winter.

We have plans for a rocket mass heater in the living room, as well as a greenhouse sunspace, and have cabinets to build, a bathtub to form, and pipes for greywater reuse to lay out. We’ll also need a part wall in the kitchen. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting. One of these days I’ll get around to writing out a handy ‘to-do’ list but in the meantime…

We also have plenty of outdoor work to complete, including moving tons of earth (quite literally) to build up the garden around the kitchen and living room areas. Because of the sheer mass of the buildings, and the materials we’re using (primarily the earth beneath our feet), the zone immediately around the building on the south side will be different than elsewhere on the property and we hope to be able to grow plants that would not otherwise do well on the property. The ‘surround garden’ will also further shelter the building from some of our more extreme temperatures.

Add to which there are the day to day tasks and preparing for winter- clean up (long overdue), preparing the garage and shop for indoor work, reorganizing materials, covering the last of the raised bed gardens, and so on. (And this doesn’t even speak to the commitments that we have off the property…) It could be overwhelming but strangely it’s not. I think I’ve finally found my ground in this pioneer lifestyle and have come to appreciate the work, even the sheer amount of it. Maybe it’s because I can’t think of another time in my life when the work that I was doing felt so right. And maybe it’s partly due to the fact that my body has had time to heal from the abuse heaped upon it during the building season. Either way, I’m feeling good about it.

Section of kitchen still to be plastered

West side view

Southwest view

Southeast view, from front

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Some of you may be wondering where we’ve been these last few weeks. We’ve decided to abandon the earthbag building in favour of digging a hole in the side of a hill. Holes are notoriously cozy, animals have favoured them for years as comfortable living spaces, and we think this will get us into a natural building that much sooner. So we’ve been busy dig, dig, digging.

Okay, I jest. We’ve been hard at work getting the kitchen and living room domes to level so that we can put in the second floors and cover them for winter. That done, we’re working on the front entrance which I expect we’ll be done by end of weekend. Then we can work on the floors.

We’ll be using lengths of the telephone poles that we were fortunate enough to have donated as centre columns and we’ve purchased some inexpensive round wood that will converge at the centre, something like a wheel configuration. From there we’ll nail down our floor and then tarp the whole thing for winter, while we work inside.

I’ll post photos of the building once the floor is up, with any luck in the next week or so.

We’re also working on the plaster and it’s coming along, if not “nicely” well enough. And we’ve continued to collect materials, the best find of which was a woodstove for $75. It’s in beautiful condition and I can’t wait to try it out.

Well friends, thanks to those of who’ve been kind enough to search us out and ask where we’re at. As always, we appreciate the support and community! And on that note, I’m off to plaster…


Ready for plaster & second floor installation



Front entrance should be up to level this wknd

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