Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today, after a breakfast of raisin toast and Earl Grey tea, the kids and I headed off to Candelo for a day of learning. One of the many great things about living in an at-least-partially-forward-thinking rural area is that there are heaps of opportunities for learning about innovative ways to manage your land. We've only been here 6 months, but I already feel like I've been exposed to so many great ideas, and have met so many really inspiring people who are all working towards making their properties more than just 'sustainable' or 'organic' - they're actually working towards making them regenerative. Today's field day, 'Grasses and Grazing - Managing Pastures for Better Outcomes' was held at a farm out at Candelo, which is fighting the good fight against one of our resident noxious weeds - African Love Grass.
Farming-types. Love grass to the left
(No, I did not photo-shop that fluffy white cloud)

Luckily, we don't have any of this at our place, but it was awesome to hear about the ways people are utilising native grasses and combinations of slashing and animal-management to eradicate and control the weeds they have on their properties.

I was particularly interested in anything to do with managing native pastures and weeds through the use of animals such as goats and sheep, since this is something we're looking to get going at our place, both to service our own lamb-y meat needs, and also the demands of the local Muslim population, who are keen on something like a pick-your-own berry farm, but of the halal goat-meat variety. Pearly's already devising outrageous lamb dishes, like last night's hum-dinger, Pearl's SCPA Lamb Stew (recipe coming soon!!!).
Some goats hard at work in the love grass
But of course it's not just about having a bunch of ruminants roaming the acres eating whatever they feel like. We have some awesome regeneration happening in the form of self-sown acacias and eucalypts and angophoras: these will all need to be fenced. And then there are the native grasses. Microlaena stipioides (weeping meadow grass),  Bothriochloa macra (Red grass) and Themeda australis (Kangaroo grass) are the main ones at our place, interspersed with a fair bit of kikuyu (boo! hiss!). This is the bit where it gets tricky, because you need to manage your animals so that they only eat when the weedy species are setting seed, and the good stuff is strong enough to withstand extensive chowing. Even more complicated, this changes throughout the seasons, so you have to be pretty much on top of your game, if you want to achieve your desired outcomes. After seeing the results at the farm today, though, I'm feeling up for the challenge.
Our main weed issue is fleabane, a dreadful, hideously ugly plant with (alas) wind-borne seeds. When they're big (think about 2 metres high) nothing eats them, but there's a possibility that goats and sheep might eat them when they're little. I reckon it's worth a go.
I grew up with goats, so was always pretty keen on getting some to be our lawn-mowers, but now I know even more about them, I'm even more convinced that they are the way to go. For example: Did you know that the goat's rumen (first stomach) operates at a higher temperature than other animals', so weed seeds are sterilised and don't sprout from the goat poo???? I thought this was an excellent piece of information... And I also learned that, even though GOAT stands for Got Out Again Today, a solar-electric moveable mesh fence will keep them contained. This is what's used by the dudes who run Rent-a-Ruminant. I figure they'd know, but I'm also open to tethering ours, depending on the number of goats and the area that needs work. I'll tell you one thing though - our goats are probably not going to have flash houses like this little cutie, though I reckon I could get into sewing goat-coats.
But of course this is all a ways down the track, and at this point we're pretty much focused on getting our little house to lock-up and moving out of our (enormous) rental place.

The issue of getting our Little Strawbale finished was hammered home to me this afternoon when I noticed quite a lot of smoke coming from the western hills, right in the vicinity of our place. I do have a dreadful sense of direction though, so wasn't super-concerned at first. But as we drove closer, I realised "Hey - that really is near our place". We have been regaled quite a few times with the delightful story of a strawbale house at Cobargo that was burned down by arsonists. Strawbale houses, when rendered, are pretty much more fire-proof than any other building material. But when they contain exposed straw (like ours) they're pretty vulnerable. By the time we turned into Peak Hill Road I was absolutely convinced it was our place on fire, and broke into horrible sobs, imagining having to walk into the cafe and tell Pearl that our dream was over. But then we crested the hill and I realised, with immense relief, that the smoke was actually coming from our neighbour's burn-pile, not 200 metres from our little house. Obviously, those moments were horrendous, and really hammered home for me the fact that we need to get the joint rendered. NOW. I slapped on 2 barrow-fulls then and there, while Olive stripped naked, paraded in the sun and caked herself in clay and Oscar slept in the car, clutching a sausage he'd picked up at the field day. Tomorrow, more of the same. I don't want to rest til all our bales are safe!
On the pre-bed reading list tonight? Managing Native Pastures for Agriculture and Conservation. Oooohhhh....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Clay fun on a cold and windy day

This morning we ventured to our land, and our little unfinished straw bale, as a family. For the first time in two weeks, it was just us. 

It was a freakishly cold and windy day and I guess we wondered, is this a portent of winter to come? Yes it was windy on that hill but inside our little strawbs we felt pretty secure, snug and warm. We started the day with the modest aim of finishing the first layer of clay render on the back interior wall. We almost made it until Oscar, in a fit of enthusiasm, tipped the water out and we had no more water to make more render. By that time, the sun was getting low on the far hill, our arms were aching and we decided to call it a day with a necessary detour home via Coles for  ice cream and red wine. 
With a healthy clay render, everyone can be involved.
It felt odd working on our home, just the four of us. Odd and good at the same time. Oscar noticed the absence of a collective with his plaintive cry, "All the people, gone... all the people, gone.."Annie and I wondered how we'd go working on the house, just us with our little kids. People warned us it would be hell. But actually, it was fun. Productivity was low to medium but still, we felt like we'd all contributed and clay rendering is just so damn satisfying! I'm sure there's a beautiful analogy somewhere there about the joy derived from building a handmade house from the earth. Also you can't really get much more kid friendly than clay rendering, so kids are all hands on for the inside, though the outside render involves lime and a bit of cement (to make it weather proof) so is less for the kiddies' involvement. We're on the first layer, with two more layers to go, so rough and cracked is a-ok. Some little kiddy inscription just adds character and will actually help with the application of the subsequent layers by providing a 'key' for the 2nd and 3rd layers to attach to.
Annie working hard on the tricky window areas
Always time for snotty kisses
The noticeable absence of a collective today provided us with a moment to pause and reflect on the awesome and mammoth effort that got us to where we were today. Really, it's overwhelming to think about the love and generosity and fine assistance we have been showered with these past weeks. So next up must be a roll call of thanks. But for now, it's ice cream and wine and fruit stewing on the stove with vanilla bean... and maybe, hopefully, completing the paint removal from the old windows and french doors we are using in this little straw bale... Golly gosh they are beautiful! Don't fret, windows and doors to feature in a future post.
Annie, a little bit Deadwood today
Cost of clay, lime and cement for internal and external render was $2700. Most of that was the clay, which is annoying, given the amount we found on site when we excavated. At least we'll know for next time!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Nesting neighbours

And here's a post, with some lovely lovely photos of yesterday's rainbow, from our soon-to-be neighbours down the road, who will also soon be living the dream in their own tiny little house. Yay for tiny home-made houses!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The little strawbale house at the end of the rainbow

This evening Frank left our building site for the last time. As we loaded his truck and pushed the cement mixer up the hill, an amazing double rainbow appeared in the sky, perfectly framing our little house and boggy building site. Even though I was exhausted (it was my turn to render today) I felt happy. Frank was pleased with our progress and I was too... though I have to admit I will be happier when the first layer of render is completed.

We had a small cohort of workers today, as most of our team returned to Sydney town, but we did what we could, making a start on our internal rendering which is being done using clay and sand. The lack of lime and cement was a joy to behold - that stuff is hard on the hands, and quite a few of us a nursing lime burns. Bukhari, in particular, excelled with his rendering skills, even impressing Frank!
My rendering, on the other hand left quite a lot to be desired.
The curvy, irregular edges of the window opening proved very difficult to attach the fibreglass mesh to in the straight way it was 'supposed' to be done.
So I did what any good seamstress would do - I made some darts! This helped, but not quite enough. I figure it wasn't a total disaster though, as the only comment I got from Frank was "that's not really how we want it to be", sans any request to re-do it. Good enough for me! I figure I can fill it in later...

Frank was busy building the frames for our gable ends.
In my dreams, these had been made with strawbales: My vision for our little sleeping loft included nice, deep rendered window sills and little niches around the place. In reality though, our decision once again came down to a combination of exhaustion and the daunting prospect of all the tasks we now face in order to complete our little house. But that decision wasn't made until after Frank and I climbed up into the roof space and he started running through all the thing we needed to do in order to infill the gable ends with strawbales. I very quickly, and very easily made the decision to say goodbye to strawbale gable ends when Frank explained that, if we framed and clad them, we could have them framed and ready to go by the end of the day. Yes please!
One end (the western, most exposed end) is now 'clad' in leftover resiwrap, awaiting the application of whatever we decide. At this very point in time I'm leaning towards reclaimed corrugated iron or fence palings. We will definitely be having fence palings inside - I have collected a ton from the tip and from freecycle, and am very keen to use them for some cladding action because I think they're beautiful!

But now, some beer, a little read of my pasture cropping book, and some sleep. Ahhhh....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

more roofing and rendering....

Today the weather was gentle and we continued with the project, the seemingly endless project of roofing and rendering. 

This post will be short as my body aches after eight hours of rendering. In particular, my right hand feels like it will never again work properly. We're almost there...though what I actually mean is that we almost have the first layer of external render complete. We are tantalisingly close to this first goal. Regardless, completing the first layer will feel good. And I am told, that we have new friends in the area conscripting crews to come help us with further rendering. Oh what relief. Oh what kind generosity! I'm feeling pretty decisively that next time around we do whatever we need to do in oder that we can use Frank's render pump. While the slow, quiet and rhythmic pace of hand rendering is pretty delightful. The sheer physicality of it makes me feel happy at the possibility of a more automated approach next time around. 

Late this morning, the clouds rolled in over the southern hill, the air felt moist and cool. It was lovely.
By the end of the day we had a roof. A beautiful gal roof. The 45-degree pitch did pose some challenges for Frank and Morag. A roof at this pitch is not so common and so it took longer than anyone expected.

As night fell, we had a roof and an almost-rendered exterior. We'd managed to rescue Frank's truck and trailer from the quagmire of clay-y mud that we were building in and we felt sore, tired and a little snappy. But as Morag and I drove home and I felt the cold night air on my face and I saw the sky alight with stars I felt so good, so grateful, so joy-filled and so excited for the progress over the days to come.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Roofing and rendering

By the end of today we had half a roof and a wall full of render.
Pretty exciting stuff! I think the speed at which we're moving is making the week move so slowly. It feels like we've been at it for weeks! Yesterday was supposed to be the last day of the workshop, so today was the day people were supposed to leave. And we did lose a few of our crew today, with more leaving us tomorrow, which is fine of course - people have their families and jobs and lives to go back to next week, and many people have a long long drive home. But this understanding doesn't mean it's not hard to say goodbye. It's been such a huge, emotional week, with so many bonds being created and strengthened, all to the soundtrack of drills and generators and cement mixers and circular saws and cries of "Oh no here comes the rain!".

Today our roofing crew were hard at work defying gravity and generally hopping around at a ridiculous height attaching rolls of Enviroseal roof wrap (for condensation reduction) and giant sheets of corrugated iron.
We ended up choosing just plain galvanised iron instead of one of the colourbond colours, which wasn't an easy decision after I'd read an article about the environmental benefits of white roofs. After reading the article we had a few days of considering white colourbond, but in the end we went back to our original plan of good ol' gal.
Our reasons? 1. Gal lasts longer - colourbond is a coating, gal is a treatment, so although they both have the same guarantee (20 years) all the dudes at Steeline Pambula told me that gal will definitely last longer. 2. Gal is cheaper - an important consideration given our teeny tiny budget. 3. Gal looks better - we like the old school shed-barn-farm-watertank kind of vibe. 4. Breaking news: Frank has just informed me that gal is also safer for collecting rainwater on account of the fact that UV breaks down the colourbond coating and releases chemicals into the drinking water.
While the roofers were roofing, us ground-dwelling folks got started on cobbing the gaps between the strawbales.
Cob is traditionally a mix of clay and straw, but we used lime and straw with a bit of cement to help it dry quickly. This was mixed up in Frank's cement mixer, the straw was added in the wheelbarrow
and mixed up by hand
(let me tell you, the ergo baby carrier has proven indespensible on the work site!) then shoved into the cracks to make a smooth surface for the render to stick to.
When all the gaps were filled, and we'd all learned a little bit about the importance of wearing protective goggles when using lime, we started on the first coat of render. Frank explained his method for using the hawk (the square platform you use to hold the mixed render) and trowel to put the render on the wall,
then my dad explained his 'alternative German' method, then us amateurs amalgamated the 2 and did our best just to get the stuff to stick to the wall.
I figure by the time we get to the 3rd and final coat, our method will be down pat.
If you've ever read Strawbale Homebuilding, you will, like us, have gotten the vibe that hand-rendering is by far the worst bit about strawbale building. We got this vibe, and had intended on making use of Frank's rendering machine. Our lack of town water supply, however, put a kybosh on this idea, as the render pump needs good water pressure to operate properly. Plan B: A 1000 litre pallet tank on the back of a ute, a cement mixer and some hands. We managed one wall this afternoon, so I'm actually feeling OK about the process ahead of us, though I am hoping we can get quite a lot done before everyone goes home and it's just me and Pearl and the kids slapping the stuff on.
After the first layer of render is applied, a 30cm strip of fibreglass mesh is applied around all the vulnerable bits (window and door frames, corners and footings) and mooshed into the render.
This is to strengthen the render (a nail in that render can hold 30kg!) and also reduce cracking. Then the whole kit and kaboodle is cross-hatched with a straw fork to make a 'key' for the 2nd layer to attach to.
I felt pretty relaxed leaving the site today, with half a roof (the other half is still covered in plastic), a wall of almost-completed render and remaining exposed areas covered in tarps, knowing that every day it's getting safer and safer, and more resilient to any pesky rain that might crop up.

We have Frank for another couple of days, and today Pearl's sister Hannah and her husband Bukhari arrived with their 2 (gorgeous) kids to help out, so I reckon we'll make OK progress, though we are, of course, feeling sad about the impending departure of our beloved friends, and we're all just a little bit tired.

Friday, April 20, 2012

" I love our little house! I don't want to live anywhere else!"

Thus spoke Pearl as our first truss was lifted into position and we caught our first glimpse of our beautiful little hand-made home. Indeed, it is a glorious sight, and pretty much wiped out the memory of the last few days' tears and fretting and nervous tummies.
This morning, after the fog lifted, we saw blue blue skies. We rejoiced, we did good weather dances, we hurriedly ate our porridge so we could get to the land and assess the damage. Frank brought his moisture-meter and we tested all the bales to see if any needed replacing due to water damage. The internationally-recognised theshold for safe moisture levels in building bales is 19%. Most of ours were pretty good, but we had one pesky one, in the top row, that was testing around 20%. Luckily for us we didn't have to totally dismantle any walls, and Frank was able to just pop out the 'infected' bale using his enormous strawbale mallet (affectionately known as "the pursuader") without even moving the top plate. We felt pretty good. I'm pretty sure all of us had at one time or another considered the prospect of having to rebuild entire walls due to damaged bales, so to get away with only replacing one was super!
Our reading of strawbale books had led us to believe that strawbales could not get wet AT ALL. Many a strawbale book and article told us: "moisture is a strawbale house's worst enemy!". That is true, but not the extent we had assumed. According to Frank (and let's face it - if you can't trust Frank on these matters, who can you trust?) strawbales can get a little bit wet on the outside of the bales, but not at all moist at the 'heart' of the bale. This is the bit we tested with the moisture-meter. The water-shedding capacity of our bales was also aided by the fact that they have been laid on edge, meaning that the cut edge of the bale is hidden within the wall, and the exposed edges act kind of like a thatched roof, shedding the water off rather than sucking it up like a straw.
We very quickly completed all our walls, and manhandled the top plate into position - including a 5-person uphill tug-of-war to move the massive thing 20mm to make it perfect - all before lunch!
Spirits were high as the sun shone on our quick progress, and immediately after lunch we lifted the first truss into position. You will notice the trusses are blue. This is because they're made of treated pine. Getting pre-fab trusses was something we were always going to have to do. With no building experience, and no money to pay someone to build a properly-framed roof, pre-fab trusses were our only option. And you know what? We're pretty fine with that, not least of all because it meant we were able to get our roof up in one day today, especially given the precarious weather conditions. Our trusses have a very wide bottom chord, which will act as the bearers for the floor of our sleeping loft. They were especially engineered for us to make the most of that roof space while still being structurally sound (obviously) but also aesthetically pleasing. Our roof pitch is 45 degrees, which is a tad unusual in Australia on account of us not having to shed snow from our roofs all that frequently. Some people also think it looks a bit funny. And while I do concede that our house looks rather like a gingerbread cottage, and also rather like the kind of house a 4 year old would draw, we love it to bits and wouldn't have it any other way.
All this rain we've been having has really made a HUGE deal of the whole roofing exercise. Now our strawbales are safe from thunderstorms and rain, which is a relieving thing indeed. It was also lovely to see our little house take shape - no amount of whiz-bang CAD pictures could possibly compare to seeing the little "gingerbread cottage" taking shape on our very own block of land. And the love!! I know I've mentioned it before, but seriously - it's astounding! Especially given the circumstances. So much rain... so much sticky mud. People are showing up every day with their hearts and their bodies geared towards helping us build our dream. It's overwhelming, really. And even people we barely know are pitching in, bringing us meals and baked treats for the hungry hoards.
Morag, Frank and Matt spent much of today atop our top plate, which is no mean feat given it's about 9 feet off the ground.
This gave me the heebie jeebies as I'm really not keen on heights - I forced myself up a ladder today to help attach one of the trusses but was really quite useless on account of not being able to let go enough to use the hammer. So to see all our dear ones fairly trotting along the top-plate carrying all manner of heavy items really reinforced the feeling of love we have for this whole project.
As the roof went up today, Morag asked me, "Do you love your little house?" and I replied, "I do, but I love you more". And it's true! To build a house with someone, to pitch in and do all the multitude of tasks both big and small that make up a house-build, is really something, and I hope against hope that one day I can return the favour, not just to the people who have helped us this week, but to anyone who needs it.
Today was supposed to be the last day of our workshop, so tomorrow we're losing some of our workforce as those who had traveled to be with us return home. But some are staying on, and many locals have offered to give us a hand with the rendering, which is our next big job.
The rain is supposed to stay away for the next couple of days, which would be lovely, though there is slightly less urgency now that the trusses are up and tomorrow we'll have a proper roof over our precious 4 walls.
Cost of the trusses was $2500.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 4 = fully slow bo

This is the sky we saw as night fell and we felt hopeful. This day was spent eating too much cake and drinking too much tea. Some of us ventured into town to the library or red cafe or the Candelo bookshop. We also spent a little too much time nervously watching the sky and seeking too many weather forecast updates on our iphones. We felt nervous when told of early river flooding for fear we wouldn't be able to make it to our land tomorrow. We cooked up a delicious dinner and shared it with family and friends. Frank has told us he will meet us at the land tomorrow at 8am and we hope to finish the bale walls and get the roof on. It might just be...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kind of like the Somme, only not...

Last night it rained all night. Hard. Olive wasn't feeling well, so she and I slept on the couch in the loungeroom so as not to wake up Oski and Pearl. Needless to say, not much sleeping was going on in our flat-roofed house - the rain was so loud!! Made louder, I'm sure, by the anxiety surrounding the safety of our beloved strawbales.

This morning Frank emerged from his bedrom, late, still in his pyjamas, putting to rest any fantasies we had about going to work on the house today. The best we could manage was an hour or so making sure all the quagmire-y bog-puddles could drain freely, and adding about 50m of black plastic to our coverage attempts. Our little tiny house now looks like something Christo lost interest in halfway through. Many tears were shed this morning as I counted our losses, but then all was put into perspective when Peps pointed out that the whole situation was probably like the Somme, our little house being like a French peasant's house that had been partially blown to bits. But of course it's not like that at all because we haven't lost our house (just a few bales, and some insulation) and no-one was approaching us with guns and/or bayonets. All plusses.

Also, when we returned home from the house-wrapping, mum and Jen were ready with egg and ham rolls with Pearl's homemade tomato sauce. We are surrounded by the people we love (all congregated cozily in the loungeroom now, reading and doing crosswords and chatting quietly), so it's kind of just like a wait-for-the-rain-to-end party. Frank's gone home for now, as the rain is forecast for a few more days, but he's on call for the minute the rain clears.

Now, we wait, enjoying each others' company and reminding each other to look on the bright side.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 2 = wet

We returned home this evening with heavy hearts and very soggy, muddy feet. Today, day 2 of our strawbale building adventure, the rain came down. We frantically covered and uncovered the bales as each burst of rain came down, and sheltered under whatever random piece of building material we could find.
Our uber-clay soil was very soon transformed into a slippery mush, and a last-minute path of gravel was laid so we could get around the building site semi-safely (seriously, that shit is slippery!).
The kiddies, meanwhile, rejoiced in their new textural playground.
Rain during construction was by far my biggest, if not my only, reservation about load-bearing strawbale construction. Non-load bearing strawbale houses get their structural supports and roof first, so all the bales can be stacked safely out of the weather. This was very appealingly safe-sounding to me, and I was always more inclined towards this method of building. But when we decided to build our tiny 'practise' house first, we realised that the size of it (6x4 metres + loft) meant that it made heaps more sense for it to be load bearing. We decided to take the gamble, and today we paid the price for our risk.

We did get a small amount of work done today though, in between huddling under the little lunch marquee,
and managed to get 2 of the walls stacked to roof height, and part of the top-plate on, but it wasn't nearly as much as we had anticipated. But we are learning so much! And still managing to have some fun, though I must admit that today was probably one of the most stressful days of my whole life. I don't get why people feel the need to do extreme sports for an adrenaline rush - just build a load-bearing strawbale house in the rain for some excitement in your life!

We also received our roof trusses (and finally got a feel for how big our sleeping loft will be),
our roof insulation (no conflict!), roofing iron, guttering and ridge-capping and our clay and lime (we ordered the clay before we realised what our entire block was made of - oops). The clay came on the back of a truck that had no unloading device, so we had to unload all 72 x 20kg bags of clay and 55 x 20kg bags of lime by hand. But we started a little chain gang-type line and got them unloaded and re-stacked pretty quickly!
As I write this, our spirits have lifted, thanks to some stew, warm spiced cider and cake, and we are all trying to ignore the sound of the rain falling heavily on our roof. My thoughts though, are with our strawbale walls, excruciatingly close to being finished enough to put up the roof, but for now protected only by a few strategically tacked tarps.
I can only imagine the state of our driveway tomorrow - we had 2 cars stuck in the quagmire today, which were pulled out, by hand, by the burly blokes on the worksite. As Pearl says though, there is nothing we can do about the weather. If our build isn't complete (or not as complete as we would have liked) by the end of this week, we'll just have to work it out. And I know we will. And at least, at the very very worst, we'll have a whole heap of wet straw to use in our veggie garden beds.

Total cost of strawbales, fencing wire, and gripples (for compression of the bales and securing them to the bottom plate and each other) was $1400. Ironically this is the biggest part of our building, but the cheapest!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"How could one team have so much talent?!"

These were the words that came out of Frank's mouth when he measured the levels on our second course of bales. Awesome!!
This morning, as Frank and I drove up to the land, I felt like he was about to give me the result of an exam - the bottom plate exam. The result of said exam was "Fantastic", "This is excellent", "one of the neatest jobs I've seen" and "I'm going to take a photo of this". After starting the day feeing extremely nervous, I soon settled into things, even experiencing tears of joy when we saw the strawbale truck chugging up the road. Ahhhh.... But how could I not feel joyful while building our little house on a perfect autumn day, surrounded and buoyed by the love of so many friends and family members. Seriously, if you're considering building a home, this is the only way to go. We worked so hard!

We cut and re-tied bales to make half bales, which we tucked around the windows and doors.
We cut channels into the bales to make space for the battens which are used to compress the bales and attach them to the bottom plate, every 2 courses.
Morag and Steve made the door buck, attached it to the bottom plate, and then braced it to keep it plumb.
Nassim assisted with the compression by walking around on the bales.
Kiddies read stories with Jaije and played on the rendering sand (now mixed with dirt: we're ordering some more) and climbed the bales.
We stacked bales and whacked them with a giant mallet to make sure they're straight, and tied them with wire and tensioned and compressed them with gripples.
We chiselled recesses in the ends of our hardwood top plates and our not-so-hardwood battens, so that they would fit together neatly.
We put in our window bucks and then, at the end of the day we covered it all with a giant truck tarpaulin to protect the bales from dew. As the sun started sinking we all felt pretty happy and pretty tired and pretty surprised at just how much we achieved in this day's work!
We're looking forward to tomorrow, though I'm a little nervous about the insulation arriving as the insulation we chose is contrary to Frank's recommendation. It's a tricky thing this insulation business, and has been by far the biggest headache. So much advice! So many opinions! So much information and so so many data sheets to wade through. In the end I think I was beaten down by exhaustion and the necessity to actually just make a decision and bloody well order the stuff. I don't feel like I ever could have arrived at a decision that would have ticked absolutely all of our boxes... So in the end I just did my best with the information available to me. But more about that tomorrow