Originally we intended to backfill only once, about half way through and then at the end when we bury the structure. But, the structure is going to be a bit higher then expected and working higher up becomes trickier, especially for two people … so … after finishing level 16 we decided to backfill again.
Work started yesterday when we pulled up the plastic cover and scanned it for tears and wholes. Most of it was in good shape (it got buried in some soil which protected it from the sun). We replaces one section that was torn and brittle.
Florin arrived at 10am and started by clearing a path (we cleared most of it by peeling away soil as we filled the tubes):
He brought soil into the tight corner with the front loader then used the spoon to move / push it into a place:
Then he came around the top of the site and started filling behind the structure
And with a bit of manual labor we the first corner was full
And moving gradually along the wall … until is was all full
… bringing us to the other side which had better access so that the front loader could be used to bring soil in
then we went back around to the first corner (which we left slightly exposed in case we needed to bring in more soil) … and buried it:
… it was done in 3 hours … and now again we get to work at “ground level” … this time all the way to the top:
It is amazing to see how quickly wild grasses and weeds went to work healing the soil around the site … and now, after the excavator, how bare everything looks again … we are already looking forward to bringing in plants to heal the site and help nature take over once again.
We tend give much attention to the growing walls, but we would like to acknowledge the unsung heroes of this project … the cans we toss up the walls to move soil from wheelbarrows into the sacks and tubes. We recently retired the first pair of cans … and here you can see side be side a new can next to a can that has moved ~25 cubic meters of soil (one can at a time!).
My sister, Orit came to visit for a few days and joined us for a few sessions … we now regularly sit on the walls to take in the sunset (horizon rising):
Istvan also visited with us briefly, showed us saturn in his telescope and joined us for a work session:
Liviu and Ana also visited with us and Liviu also joined us for a morning session (we forgot to take a picture … so you’ll have to take my word for it) … and we have finished levels 14 and 15, we are now working on 16 and the arches have started to form:
The arches have started to draw a finish line … the walls will be finished when the arches are complete and one additional level has been layed on top. Right now, my estimate is that 21 levels should get us there … but that will become more clear as we start to move up through the next layers.
We are currently inquiring about two options for a roof … more on that in an upcoming post.
We had one weekend of construction at the beginning of June with the help of Adi and Dan … we got 10 and half of 11 done.
We then paused because of my allergy-period and because we were busy finishing and launching the new Cutia Taranului website. In recent weeks we got back in the saddle, we finished 11 and 12 … and its feeling more and more like a place.
We’ve also put in velcros to which we plan to attach a grain storage and dispenser (planned to hold ~100kg of grains):
Sia, a new puppy who has been with us for a few weeks is getting acquainted with the site … and also has manifested a destructive quality … it seems she enjoyes tearing into earthbags and digging soil out 🙁
Today we started 13 which brought us to the levels of the rectangular door frames …. which means that soon we begin to form the arches on top of the doors.
And finally we have out overall progress indicator. This pile of soil is like an hour-glass … if my calculations were correct it should have enough soil to bring us to completion. When we started construction this year the pile reached out to where the mixer is currently standing so we’ve taken quite a bite out of it. It is nice to feel the space starting to open up and reconnect with the world beyond it.
I estimate we are going to end up with 19 or 20 levels.
And lastly some number I’ve collected:
- We are currently mixing batches with a ration of 4 shovels of sand + 12 shovels of clay soil. This fills an 80 liter wheelbarrow.
- A wheelbarrow is roughly the amount of soil that goes into a sack (1 meter long when flat, 80cm when filled to the max) … though we are using mostly tubes (not sacks).
- Each batch includes 2 wheelbarrows.
- Each wheelbarrow contains ~25 cans (3 liters in a can) … so it takes ~25 tosses to “move” a wheelbarrow of soil up the wall.
- Each batch (of 2 wheelbarrows) translates into ~1.5 linear meters of wall (we are using 50cm wide – when flat – tubes and bags).
- Which means that each can holds about 3 linear centimeters of wall.
- At the current rate Iulia and I (neither of us particularly strong) are doing ~2 linear meters of wall an hour (though we will slow down as we move higher up the wall).
- At this rate we can do a level in 3 or 4 days (we work at most 6 hours a day in two sessions … morning and evening).
We don’t have access to a variety of digging machines here (only to a stadard tractor with a front loader + diggins spoon) so these pictures caught my attention – digging swales and berms using a tractor with a combination of plows:
… and water it holds:
Three terms I found mentioned in the forum thread where I found this
- The moldboard plow sounds like something that is typically used by farmers in our area to break-up soil.
- I have not been able to find much formal informatn about a “drag blade plow” but as I understand it is used to move the soil after it is broken up by the moldboard plow.
So it is about repeting numerous cycles of loosening and shifting … how many cycles depends on the depth and width of the swale and the number of blades on the plow.
Lars and Robin are a beautiful couple I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times who live in Alunisu (on the other side of Cluj). In this interview Lars does what he does so well … gently and compassionately painting a comprehensive picture of where we are and where we can choose to go from here.
“Imagine if the financial sector would expand the definition of returns … and beside the financial return would also look at return of happiness and well-being of man and nature, then you can make money and capital into an instrument that serves the society.”
We use shells of soap-nuts, which I believe come from Africa, to make home-made soap used for dishes, laundry and general cleaning. We have been wondering about an alternative that can be grown locally. Turns out there is a variety of chestnuts called Horse chestnut which does the trick.