Thursday, June 21, 2012

Some Pepe Progress

This week we are lucky enough to have Pearl's dad, John (aka 'Pepe' or 'Peps') staying with us, toiling dutifully on our little house during the day, and washing our dishes and patting Cuddles the cat by the fire in the evening. It's been quite phenomenal to have him contributing to our home (again - he was at our workshop, too). I LOVE seeing the way different people work on things, what they're good at, how they face challenges and think through problems, and I LOVE that our home is being made by so many different hands!

Peps is quite the perfectionist. He likes taking his time, doing things properly and thinking things through thoroughly before he undertakes a particular task. I'm a little lacking in all of these fields, so I quite enjoy having a bit of the 'thorough' (as opposed to the 'gung ho') vibe on the worksite. It's also been amazingly calming for me, knowing that things are happening on our land during the day, when I'm at work. Most of the time I'm at work I'm more than a little bit antsy, unable to stop thinking about all the things that aren't getting done on the house while I'm spending my time writing grant applications and thinking up creative ways to get kids involved in re-using crap from the tip.
So what exactly has our Peps been up to?
He thoroughly cleaned out all the loose straw and clay and general crap that had accumulated inside our little house over the last 9 weeks (I can't believe it's only been 9 weeks!). It was important to do this so that there was no potential for decomposition under the earth floor, which could potentially lead to 'sinking' sections of the floor, which would contribute to cracking. This was a pretty immense job and, in true Pepe style, he went above and beyond the initial call of duty, excavating some of the accumulated inside clay seeking out little hidden pockets of buried straw. Yeah!
The Peps hard at work mattocking out potentially pesky straw

When this was done, he single-handedly wheelbarrowed in all of the gravel for the base layer for our rammed earth floor. No easy feat given that gravel, I have learned, is a pain in the arse to shovel. So we were more than a bit grateful for help in this regard. The gravel under the floor acts to stop any moisture that may seep in under the footings from creeping, via what's known as 'capillary action', up to the rammed earth. Because of the large air gaps left between the gravel pieces, moisture is unable to capillary up, which it could potentially do if it was just earth on earth, creating a damp floor - not really the look we're going for.

Morning sunshine on the under-floor drainage gravel

Then, he dug a lovely trench to drain any water that may collect in front of our water tank. This will have a bucket drain attached to it (yes, I will post a picture when it's done - very interesting if you're a drainage dork).

Neat drain - Pepe style

Our plan is to drain this water into a little pond in the veggie garden, which will provide habitat for frogs and lizards and birds and give us a spot to grow things like lemongrass, which dig being next to water.
Then he pointed out the totally spectacular sunset (we hadn't seen it because we were all huddled in front of the fire and/or busy cooking dinner and/or attending to children).

Quite outrageous day-before-solstice sunset

Then he did a spot of rendering, and today he lovingly de-nailed all the second-hand warehouse floorboards we scored for our loft. If it was up to me, I'd probably just skip this step. De-nailing? I know it's probably a good idea, but I just don't have the time or the patience to do a job like that.
So thank goodness for the Peps and his attention-to-detail ways!


  1. Oh Peps is described his perfectionist traits very well indeed. It sounds like he got HEAPS done. It is looking great...can't wait to see it.

  2. What a great Dad!! He's lovely, and the inside of the house looks amazing!