Wednesday, July 4, 2012

2012 Family Farm-Earthship Construction Update

Solar Shower ProjectThe farm is at it again with multiple projects to create true sustainable farming methods. We have completed our solar shower barrel system. It's so easy to heat our shower barrel water for free and easily rather than using a gas or electric hot water heater during the summer months. When the time comes our shower will expand to two water barrel tanks to supply a larger water source. The barrels are filled by a water hose with county water. Many visitors asked, why not collect rain water? Well to answer the question, rain water is not a clean source and being in a hot barrel will lead the container to develop bad bacteria and algae. We need clean, chlorinated water to avoid a stinky mess. I think we are stinky enough after working in the fields and mudding in our home.
The chickens are running happy with their newly built reclaimed chicken coup that they will share withRunning Chickenmeat rabbits. Ewww.....I here the sigh already. Well I have MD (Muscular Dystrophy) and rabbits have the highest protein content over any other editable animal we consume. Half our chicken coup is for rabbits where the droppings fall below the cage, The chickens have access to roa,m under the rabbit to scratch at the droppings which reduces larva in their waste. So the chickens get protein (food) reduce flies and get to scratch around the grass. Is a small ecosystem of eggs and meat.
Many visitors come through each week asking hundreds of questions. It's a good thing I have 4 Reclaimed chicken coop projectchildren to keep my mind sharp which gives me patience answering their questions. I try to mix it up each time we have a farm tour, this allows frequent visitors to get a different approach each and every time they come out. So please keep those questions flowing.
As many of you know the Ohio Earthship project started back in 2008. Why so long? Well consider a traditional building method. (i.e) Recently we have helped build a barn, framed the interior, installed electrical wiring, drywall and about completed this project in nearly 4 weeks. Traditional building methods are used because it is a much easier way to build. Now take our Earthship, 1 summer to pack tires, another to pack more and install roof beams, another to mud the interior (still not finished) and another to pour concrete, electric install then finish mud plaster. It's a long process both compared traditional framing and Earthship construction with only 2 guys and volunteers. When you have a choice, bank loan and possibly building your own home whats the easiest route to take? Of course the cardboard box style housing which is Traditional construction.
Our Ohio Earthship project is coming to the final fazes of construction. We will hook to the grid starting off as we have planned to build as we go having a mortgage free lifestyle. As of now solar panels are a year or two out. Our reclaimed materials for the wind generator's are underway and we hope to be charging batteries by winter with wind mills. These battery packs will power our lighting system to give us some personal experience charging such a battery pack system before we go big and feed back the grid and utilize a back up battery cell for power outages. Hint the straight line winds which came through a powerful storm last Friday toppled our electric grid and water supply. A perfect example of how strong our Earthship really is standing up against a storm like this.
Many of our friends, family and lavender supporters have known us for some time. On June 25 we moved out of our traditional home to save money for the Eartshhip completion while we continue to finsih up the work. Our family of 6 has been living in our tent village (camping) outdoors until we gain approval from the County building department to occupy the home we have worked so hard to build. The storm that hit on Friday June 29, 2012 wiped out all of our tents and has forced us to be refugees from Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm. High temperatures, a heat wave and having all our easy up tents and living tent destroyed by the winds we have been blessed to receive a surprise from the Holiday Inn Express at the Roberts Center. They have given us several days to recoup and have a cool place for the kids especially for our Mesa man 7 months old.  While we work on our home every day. Being in a small community I have never experienced such and overwhelming sense of support from many different groups. People helped that I would never expect to. Amazing!
Our farm Earthship home is very close to being done. There are a few more steps to complete. First the interior electric lines need to be installed. The restrooms need to be framed in and toilet utilities installed. Plumbing has been installed and approved by the health department. We'll need a septic system installed, and need to complete a 2nd coat of finish plastering on the entire interior walls. We have about 16,  10'-14' walnut logs that need to be kilned dried and saw milled to finish out all the window trim and hallway ceiling. We need to install double doors for the west entrance (removed to pour concrete) and then build a simple retaining wall in the garage area to avoid debris to fall in the back room. The kitchen will need to be worked in (custom hardwood cabinets) and then the last three windows on the roof will be installed here in the next few weeks. Besides these steps the Earthship is move in ready so we'll be easily available to continue finishing the interior while living here.
Earthship Concrete Floor
This year 2012 we have poured concrete, installed 1500'+ of french drains on the interior and exterior of the Earthship. On the rear of the dirt berm we installed the french drain at the bottom of the berm. When we did this we started at the highest point and dug with a backhoe to the lowest point. So much water pressure has built up against the berm as we were digging we had to create a dam to hold the water back. Once the trench was complete we had the kids get little sale boats to float as we broke the dam. This was the point I realized digging these french drains 6' deep which brings the lowest point 36" or 3' below the inside finished floor was the most important step in saving this Earthship before we sealed it up. As the kids were patiently waiting we broke the dam and evacuated over 5000!! gallons of water off the back berm. Now no water can penetrate the berm and the drains keep up with the water flow continuously without 1" of water backed up. The interior french drains naturally daylight to the field runoff with two daylight locations for all drains. A successful drainage plan!
As of Tuesday 7/3/2012 we met with an architect and he seems very willing and on board to help us Earthship Festival 2012
get the proper design stamps for the Clinton County building department. The county has allowed us to build this far along without permits to avoid damaging the structure from humid conditions the structure was experiencing due to the above drainage repairs and the concrete installed with a moisture barrier. We are hopeful to get help from the architect and have him on board to initiate "The Sustainable Development Test Site Act".
Our next project will begin here in a few weeks were we will build our double toilet system that uses composting methods which greatly reduces our consumption of water resources. We will have heated seats for winter along with an on demand propane heater to turn on before heading out to the restroom. the composting toilet system works by using 1 toilet for six months. Each time someone goes #2 they will sprinkle a little lime and peat moss on their waste. The lime and peat moss decomposes the waste very quickly and reduces the flies that gather on non covered waste. After the six months of use we will switch and begin using the 2nd toilet for six months while the first bit of waste continues to decompose to nothing in the first toilet. Once the 2nd 6 months is up we will shovel out the left over dust in toilet #1 and have it ready to use. The 6 month rotation, lime and decomposition is important to using a composting toilet system properly. No toilet paper waste will every go in the toilet, this will be burned or thrown away.  The toilet system will be built using the tire foundation method at 4 tire rows high. This gives us room for easy clean out with doors on the back side. The restroom will  be 10' long by 6' wide and windows will face west for a great view of our natural growing fields. This also gives privacy as no structures or neighbors will see us inside. Thankful to own land!
It's an exciting time for Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm. Our journey is underway and our life of living while building has and will always be fun with ups and downs. Think of this as our past generations have always built as they lived when claiming a home. There were no mortgages, I want to own my home not be owned by a banking system. An experience that not many will ever get in their lifetime and something we will do anything for to survive. These experiences will give us stories, memories and plant ideas into every visitors minds. Please consider donating towards our sustainable efforts, donations do not need to come in a form of money only, we need materials, help, moral support and most of all good positive thoughts. Good karma!
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As always Peace, Love and Lavender! I'm gone shipping!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fall 2011 Earthship Update!

Dense Bottled Walls-Insulation!Summer ends and the fall leaves have fallen so fast I hardly see where the time has gone. Since the end of our 2011 Lavender Festival we have worked non stop to complete our Earthship project. Many people have wondered why it has taken so long? Well fact is the Earthship has more intense labor and continuous labor overall to complete. This is not the traditional home which make up nearly 99% of homes. Earthships require more labor and hands to complete in a timely fashion. Here on Peaceful Acres it has mostly been help from friends and family and a few random volunteers contacting through the website. 
Now in November the Earthship has new additions. One a concrete steel dome entrance on our West side. This wall structure has nearly 100,000 pounds of concrete, sand, mortar, beer & wine glass bottles and tires packed with dirt to form a brick. We have also included nearly 300 feet of rebar to reinforce the concrete dome. The top is 4" thick and will hold it's share of weight with the strength. The south wall is 22" thick of solid concrete poured between to bottle formed wall and extends ten feet from the last wood post of the Earthship. This creates a huge chamber of insulation on our west side entrance. The North side of the concrete hall utilizes 24" tire foundation with nearly twelve feet of dirt back fill on the exterior side. Creating the most R-Value for your money. Two feet of dense packed earth or 4-6" of R19 on cheaper traditional builds. We'll be able to give good statistics in a few weeks when we receive our HOBB Hall gravel compacted ready for concrete!
Weather monitoring system. 
Utilizing the HOBO Weather monitoring system will allow us to collect daily data on the outside temperatures, humidity, rainfall, wind speed, and inside Earthship temperatures and Humidity all from a single system. This research will allow us to test outside temperatures to inside temps and the bounce between certain weather extremes. Maybe a freak -10 snow storm. I guess this would be only in my dreams in Ohio. 
Back to the Earthship progress. The restroom additions added just before the festival have been filled with solid cobb mixture poured between all 2" x 6" studs. This forms a dense mud solid brick between the studs. The finish will consist of powdered clay, fine needle straw, sand, and a little mortar. The mortar keeps the mixture from cracking or falling out of the frame. It hardens just as fast as normal mortar mix making handling much faster and building up easier.
Next we have completed 1/4 way back on the edges or East side of the Ship, also the bathroom and the utility area. This wall has been framed with post and frame instead of traditional stud framing. Not only is it stronger but can be insulated much easier with recyclable materials. Our wall has 24 glass beer bottle per row in the first  8' of the wall. All bottles are mortared with our special mud cob mixture. When all said and filled we have a 12" thick solid mud and glass insulated wall. With an additional 2" rigid insulation and then plywood on the exterior. This exterior will be lathed with wire and then concrete plastered and possible dyed  to our likings. 
1" Thick gas filled windows!
The windows have also been installed but not yet completed. We will be sealing the windows in the next few days and knocking out a few odd things to complete the sealing. Our casement window utilizes a 5/8 thick gas filled insulated window and our stationary solid glass windows are 1" thick gas filled. These are all designed to insulate but allow the sun rays to heat the inside up. And the same with the summer temps, cool air in and hot air out. The simple reason why we are using the grounds steady 56F degrees to keep us c13" thick walls and color bottle glass art!ool in the summer and the suns rays warm in the winter. Natural Ac and Heat! USE IT!