Jul 27, 2016

Summer of a Bunch of Stuff--Greenhouse update

So, my friend did a post recently about how this is a summer of miracles for her and her family. It has been one for us too, but I don't want to steal her title, or her post, so I'm just going to say: this has been the summer of a bunch of awesome stuff.
We've gone swimming in the pond almost every day,
We've found and raised monarch butterfly caterpillars, and realized that our pasture, with its russian olive trees and milkweed is a veritable Monarch paradise--something I wanted to build, but ended up with accidentally. Miracle, for sure.
We've fallen alseep during parades
Taken a million cute selfies with baby Fruitsnack on Mom's phone We've also made huge progress on the greenhouse. Our family reunion was held here this year, so Jeff and I quickly and frenetically gathered materials for the family service project, which was to start the process of plastering our cob walls inside. Just so you know, cob walls are earthen, baked walls with a limestone plaster finish. THey retain heat well, they're cheap to make, and they are natural. This is why we chose cob for the inside of the greenhouse. It does mean, however, that all irrigiation needs to be drip, or in-soil. SPray irrigation would wear away the walls too much. Cob can handle humidity, and some wetness, but not constant wetness. Still, we evaluated all the options, and it was the best choice. Finished, a cob wall looks something like this.
Rounded, natural. Earthen. Yes, there's a bit of whimsy to it. ANd yes, Whimsy did weigh in our choice :) Cob is made of sand, clay mud, and chopped straw. SO there was our other hitch--there is absolutely no clay to be found in any of the gravel pits, or from any of the landscaping companies around here. Many who build with cob just use the soil from their own backyard, but our problem there is, we live on the top of an old caldera, in the wake of sand dunes. Our soil has very little clay. So, we traveled to Utah to get some.
9,000 lbs of clay. We worried ourselves over the pass on our way to Pocatello. But we made it
With huge amounts of clay, and inexpressible gratitude toward the ward members who have repeatedly loaned us their trailer. SO the next steps were, Tvyek paper in all the spots bare of it. WE got that up
And then, chicken wire, with wood spacers, to create the framework for us to put the cob onto the walls. Lots of nails to anchor it so it wouldn't sag. We did this very late at night the day before the project, with the help of my little sister's generous fiancee :)
I didn't take pictures of the process the next day, where a dozen people were helping sift clay, mix clay, sand, and straw, and later, press it into our wall, because I was doing it with them and mud+phone don't mix. BUt it was wonderful. We got muddy and messy, and....
we got a patch of cob up on our wall. IT probably doesn't look as beautiful to anyone else as it does to me. But I've felt it, run my hands over it, dozens of times in the last few days as JEff and I waited for it to dry so we could see how it will hold up. (really well, btw. IT's as stuck and solid as cement. This will work!!) In other greenhouse related awesomeness, we finished the outside, finally.
That's the east side, which remained unfinished as we focused on bringing baby into the world. Jeff was out there all spring, and it looks so much better than I imagined. And also
We nearly finished the north-south run of the celing. Still need the east-west run. Again, family helped, and friends. This project has been a labor of love in so many ways. We're getting there. Feeling it. WE're growing vegetables this winter, I just know it.