Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap.

Yes.

Oh ya.

It’s true.  The guru of Earthbag Building, the daddy of dirt, Dr. Owen Geiger lent me his expertise for drawing up some floor plans and a side view for my root cellar.  Running the Earthbag Building Blog Fan Page on facebook, definitely has had it’s advantages.  I just enjoy doing it, but it’s nice to be rewarded for it with plans. (free.)  It’s already cheap to build this way.  But free plans….and building with dirt….it just makes the title so appropriate.

I call it a root cellar(it’s not one), b/c it’s easier to call it that.  It’s really a cool pantry/deep freezer.  There will be low humidity, unlike root cellars, which are based on their lower earthen temperatures, plus very high humidity.  Cooler temperatures, plus low humidity means I can store things like flour, wheat, some vegetables/fruits, dry foods like pasta, dried fruit, dried veggies, etc.  The deep freezer is what it sounds like.  It will be a second, more insulated room.  I may end up bringing an extension cord in to the root cellar to put a real deep freezer in there.  It will run much less energy than a normal deep freezer would b/c the temperatures will already much lower than normal.

I may not use a conventional deep freezer, but instead use the insulated room with either dry ice, or a zeer pot.  I’ll experiment with them first, anyway.  But I’m excited to actually buy a quarter cow, or half cow and freeze it for our future.

I am going to start digging today, when it warms up just a bit.  This will likely be a weekend, or night project over the next little bit.  But people are welcome to come visit, help, learn, or spectate.  If you spectate, I might throw a shovel at you.  I’m really dreading digging this much.  I’m wondering if I just need a back hoe to dig it up in an hour.  But I’m cheap.

For the readers out there in North Carolina, if you want to help, e-mail me at lukeanthonymailATgmailDOTcom, or call me at 980-322-9330.  Come out and learn for free! I’m not gonna charge like some people do.

P.S. If you didn’t read it, take a look at Owen’s blog post about this root cellar, too.  http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/free-rootcellar-plans/

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Talking Dirty

Alright, so the time has finally come, my not so devoted readers.   The time has come for me to get my hands dirty.  I had mentioned in a couple monotonously redundantly obnoxiously repeating posts that I wanted to build a root cellar.  Well, with the help of some really cool facebook friends on the facebook groups I’m a part of, I decided to go with a 3 part underground pantry/cellar.  I have decided to get all the best parts of what I want all in one fell swoop.   I will build a cool pantry (medium humidity), a freezer room for storing  frozen meats, veggies, etc, and a root cellar will be added like a humid pantry, later when it will be more necessary. 
    So my plan for this, is to build it mostly underground, with a metal corrugated roof.  The roof will be super insulated.  The walls will be earthbags, possibly with re-bar.  There will be two rooms.  The majority of it will be the cool pantry, a 1/3 will be insulated even more with earthbags filled with earth and perlite (most likely).  I will go about 6-8 ft underground.  There will be cellar doors that swing open to lead down with steps.  There will be at least two rows of shelving around the cool pantry, likely re-inforced to handle large amounts of cans. 

     I hope to finish this project by the winter.  We’ll see how that goes.  I am receiving some help from a very knowledgable source, which I will wait till later to talk about.  The final drawings I don’t know if I’ll post till later, but I’ll include this rough draft.  The inlet pipe is a bit out of place, b/c I didn’t draw the roof over it when I was doing this drawing.  Also, you cant’ see it b/c it was cut off, but the cellar doors will face north.

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New News from a Noob

Week 2 of living in the new home!  We’ve been loving the new home so far. 

It was weird when we first stepped in.  Nicole and I both felt like we’ve already lived there.  Not that we could imagine ourselves there, but that it’s like a part of us had already lived there.  It was a strange feeling, but it was really cool.  What’s also strange, is that our stuff fits and looks better in our new home than in our old townhouse. 

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the stuff to set up though.  I have so many ideas, and I’m not sure where to start.  But as many things as I want to add to the house, there are also problems that need fixing. 

1. The showers are either made for cardboard cut-out people, or midgets.  My brain may be small, but the rest of my body is made to… dance!  I mean I got to move this booty in the shower, you know!  Ok, I don’t really dance in the shower…often.  But I MIGHT if the mood hits.
2. The toilets clog if the AIR is stuffy.  Let alone if you try to flush down a smidge too much TP.  Let’s not get graphic here, there might be children reading your mind, reading this blog.
3. The kitchen has no pantry, and a very little amount of counter space.  What is a prepper to do?  Man I store boxes worth of stuff, so I’m very limited.

But the things that I’m excited about doing are:

1.Making a root cellar/cool pantry/deep freezer out of earthbags.
2.Making a cob oven.
3. Making a man-cave out of earthbags.
4.Making a yoga gondola.
5.Making a permaculture’d out garden.  I’ve got lots of design ideas I need to implement, and fruit trees I need to put up asap.

My hands are eager to get muddy.  I mean, you should know that by now, the blog is called I Dream of Dirt.  I mean, can’t you read?  If you can’t, you couldn’t have got this far, but to those who can’t read, why are you here?  I mean, seriously.

I really am yearning to get some earthbag learning.  Some cobbing, some wattle and daubing, oh snap I’m about to start a rap.  This rhyme is past it’s prime.  So let me get out quick before I make you sick.

Seriously, why can’t this blog be serious?  Gosh! Whew, here we go.

I really *sigh* want…to get some stuff done.  At the moment I’m a drone on the death star.  Just doing my job.  Working for the man.  *hoh….* *pahh…*  And it is exhausting. Supervisors flipping out about imaginary numbers being different than normal, customers houses smelling like dog shiz and 30 years of smoking, other management lying to fire people for fun, corporate slugs wiping their slime all over our business, doesn’t that sound like the death star to you?  It at least has hints of star wars drama.  Don’t think about it too much.  It’s a stretch.

I’m hoping that all this natural building activity that I plan on doing will catapult me into doing more things with it.  My whole goal in my career is to free up time to spend with family, still do enough to support them by doing what I love.

Anyway that’s the update, cupcake.  Hope you enjoyed it, now I’ll Sigmund Freud it…

Your subconscious wants to see a picture of the house.  Did I just read your mind?
I’m not telling your child what you just thought about your mom.
Lol…I’m sorry.  My mind makes these jumps, probably no-one will get the Freud reference, but I made myself laugh, anyway here’s a picture of the house:

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New Home

Well, it has been decided and it is 99% official, but soon to be 100% official, we’re buying a home in Charlotte.  With much debate, we eventually decided that staying here for a while longer is for the best.  But the good news is, I have lots of ideas about the new home that I can still build like I want to. I’ve got a half acre, so that should do pretty well…

So, here are the things I’ve decided to do.

  1. Build a man cave out of earthbags.  I’ve always wanted a pool table, but I know as soon as I get one, I won’t use it.
  2. Build a root cellar out of earthbags.  This will probably be done first.  We don’t have a big kitchen, and I have a lot of storables….a lot.
  3. Build a yoga gondola-like structure, so that Nicole can retreat to it easily.
  4. Start a permaculture’d out food forest.  The word-theme for this grand idea will be “sanctuary.” I.E. it will be a safe place that’s ‘holy’ in it’s own way (not a religious kind of way).

I am hoping that this experience leads me to be able to do more w/this type of building.  I would love to keep doing stuff with earthbags, maybe for a living, but while also freeing up time to finish a couple children’s books I’ve been writing.  It’s a tough world out there, and boy is it hard to start a business.  But I’ve got tons of ideas.

With earthbag building, and simple solar solutions you can do a lot of good for cheap.  I just wonder if some of the Carolinas are progressive enough to handle the ideas.  I imagine the way the economy is going, people are going to have to break off their blinders and see what else is out there.  I imagine the natural building business taking off after the economy tanks in the next year or so.

BTW if you’re wondering why we’re buying a home now, while I think the economy is going to tank soon, think about this; We’re going to pay less than we do for rent now.  We will have our own yard to grow food on.  Rent will go up more than likely, but our rate is locked in.  If one of us loses our job, we can still afford the mortgage.  The seller is paying nearly all closing costs.  There’s no HOA.

Anyway, this is a step in the right direction.

 

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Don’t get down, it’s an UPdate!

Well hello dear reader(s?).

Happy to….virtually see you?  Idk.  Anyway I’ve got lots of interesting updates that I’m excited about.  Let’s go down the line…

I finally got some good, bigger tomatoes that I can throw on a burger or eat bruschetta-esque.  I actually took some pictures. 

Then I took these bad boys, threw some balsamic vinegar, mozzarella, and seasoning on it.  Wham, bam, thank you mam.  It was good.  Here’s proof of the endeavor:

Could’ve had better lighting, but eh.

Moving on, I was very happy to finally receive my long-awaited birthday present.  Guess what it was?

Did you guess a beer making kit?  If you didn’t…you don’t know how to read…pictures.  That’s a pretty serious problem, you might want to work on that.  If you can read it, you’ll notice it’s an Irish Stout.  There’s more stuff there than you can see, b/c it’s in the bucket.  But I’m gonna learn how to make beer!  Woohoo!  I’m excited about it.

Now, the heart-warming news…I’ve been supporting a little guy in Kenya for a couple years now.  He was 3 when Nicole and I chose him.  He looked pretty sad in his first picture, but I just got my FIRST updated picture and SOME FORM OF CONTACT from him through an interpreter.
Now, before I go on talking about how cool it was, let me first say that it’s particularly frustrating to be told you’re going to get pictures and updates from someone who you’re supporting, but then not get it.  I understand he can’t read/write a ton yet, or when I first started supporting him.  He was 3 when that first happened.  But I mean World Vision was telling me they were going to send stuff back, and that an interpreter would read my letter to him, and he could say something back.   B/c I was asking him if he liked to play any games, how many brothers and sisters he had, stuff I know if an interpreter asked, he could comprehend.  Maybe I’m being out of line, and expecting too much, but this is the way that I feel, and you can do squat about that except for read it and send me hate mail.  But don’t hate.  Let me get to the part that I’m happy about.

When we first started supporting Odhiambo/John, Jude (our son) wasn’t born yet.  So, there were a lot of things I didn’t appreciate coming from kids as much.  But now, Jude draws a scribble, and it’s instantly on our fridge.  There’s something special about little drawings coming from kids that make you proud of them.
Well, anyway Odhiambo/John drew me a bunch of pictures. :]  I couldn’t get a good picture b/c they’re very light.  And it was drawn on the glossy paper World Vision gave him.  They really could do better, I’m not sure World Vision really gets that we actually want contact with these kids, not just colored pamphlets, but I was happy to get it.  Anyway, here is his picture, 5 years old now.

In the actual picture, you can see his face well, but this is a picture of a picture.  They spelled his last name wrong, it’s Starnford.  But I’m happy to have the picture and the drawings.  I wish they would get him to smile, but I don’t know what his life is really like.  They don’t go into much detail.  They did say his village was pretty aids-ridden.  So I’m not sure how good his quality of life actually is.  I hope it’s getting better with my small aid.

__________

The last thing, is that we may be deciding to stay in Charlotte after all.  We’ve gone back and forth, back and forth on it.  Don’t get impatient, reader, you’re just reading, this isn’t your life!  It’s mine, fool!  Get yo mind right!

Woah, sorry for yelling at you. 😉 It’s just people don’t understand, you know?  The wifey wants security, and I am damn well going to give that to her.  Whatever it takes.  So right now, it looks like it means staying for a little while longer even though I’d rather be somewhere else.   We’ll see what happens, but we may have found a good house for us.

But what that really means, is an earthbag man cave, an earthbag root cellar, a possible earthbag shed, a cob oven, and maybe even some aquaponics.  Awwww ya.  Oh, I got ideas, baby.  A permaculture opportunity for a 1/2 acre plot, paying less per month than we do in rent w/no yard.  So I’m not compromising too much actually, so it’ll work out.

Plus the house is like, totally super cute.  Like OMG.

This concludes the Updates.  Later dudes.

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A Few Ideas

    Within Natural Building, there are a world of possibilities I can see for a new business model.  I just haven’t mustered the courage or the financials to capitalize on them yet.  Let me show you what I mean.

  1. Wraps (cob or earthbag/thermal mass wrapping around a building) could help stabilize temperatures for very poorly insulated trailers or homes.  There would be initial cost, but it could off-set high energy due to a/c bills.  Also, it would make the buildings heavier, thus safer in tornados/hurricanes which normally destroy them to smithereens.
  2. Replacing trailer parks in general by arming the communities with knowledge of natural building “how-to.”  Charge for workshops, but if a land owner could allow coded (a struggle, but hey.) earthen structures to go up, then he could either sell them to the person, or hold homes that a person is much more likely to take care of.  Remember though, these homes would still have to stay around 10-30k for trailer park sized income communities.  But with earthen techniques, this could mean 800-2000 sq ft houses.  Which is..umm…AWESOME.
    Building this way could also grow an organic community rather than just throw a bunch of one demographic into one spot with neighbor-phobia.  Imagine if everyone helped each other to build their house.  They’d get to know their neighbor, and they could help them build their house or next addition.
    With encouragement, a shared garden could go up.  With knowledge, people could put in permaculture.  If you could invest just $1000 into one ‘would-be’ trailer park, and turn it into a sustainable, exciting community that could generate some stable profit as an investor/land-owner, wouldn’t that be worth it?
  3. Ovens, room additions, gondalas, benches, rocket stoves, sculptures, fences, etc…. The list could go on for small ways to make money steadily for earthen/natural building. 
  4. Things could even extend to permaculture education techniques; hugelkultur, solar orientation, swales, blah blah blah, or solar panel, bio fuels, wood gassification, wind energy, basically energy solutions.  Knowledge is power, information is gold, right?

So the question is where to start and then how to get there.  All of these ideas are great 1st market hedges against an economy that may fall off the cliff here shortly.  Of course there are obstacles to consider with each of these.  I hear of others wanting to get into this field from the earthbag builders group I’m in on facebook, and some on the facebook page I admin (Earthbag Building Blog Fan Page).  So I know it’s not just me.  I know about others that are in these fields, but I’m not personal friends with.  I did have fun w/Scott Howard of Earthen Hand Natural Building (earthenhand.com).  I was able to go to have a beer w/him and talk a bit.  I think he may have just felt bad I flew from Charlotte to take his class, haha.  But he was a really cool guy, and I expect if I keep chasing these ideas, then we could work together on some project at some point, b/c he mentioned he would.

     But I tell you what, the more I get into this stuff, the more I love it.  But implementaion and experience are the real teachers, and I am excited about the possibilities.

If anyone else is looking to do this kind of stuff, or is starting to, or already is, I love feedback!  Later!

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Dad Gum

What in tarnation is all this heat here for, man?  I get dad gum tired of all this heat and humidity scorching up my plants, man. 
My squash has been murdered by ravenous squash/stink bugs.  Straight up tomatoes are getting blasted by blight, I think.  Jalepenos are short as all get out.  What I thought was my cilantro, might not be.  Mother-in-law accidently pulled up my ground cherries, thinking it was weeds, luckily I have a couple others left.  I just ain’t getting nothing right, no how.
I’m bout to smack this heat and humidity in it’s face, except for it smacks me every day first.  Heat index has hit 120+ a couple times.
Hence the southern scramble of words. (Plus I watched an episode of Looney Tunes w/my son, Jude, this morning, and it had Yosemite Sam in it :] )
It’s about the only time to sound like your southern.  Don’t worry it’s only for this post.
K BYE
I’ll bring good news about the garden later.

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