Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Strawbale Chookhouse Photo Story

Crossing the Hawkesbury River via the Webb Creek Ferry at the town of Wisemans Ferry.
I didn't know there are two ferries at Wisemans.

The slab with gravel and a bale. It's an Octogon so a chook can't get easily cornered by other chooks,
and as octogons look nice and provide us with a challenging learning experience to make bent walls.
Making a half bale from a whole bale.
The needles poking out of the bale are used to pull string back through the bale and tie it off.

The octagonal A-frame roof structure. One full A frame, and six half A frames to make an eight sided roof.
Four of these half A-frames needed pointed ends to fit tightly together.
The end of the first weekend. Here we have Frank Thomas, Richard, Salman, and Wolfgang.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Strawbale Chookhouse

Why a chookhouse
Well why not. Chooks lay better if kept warm in winter and a strawbale house will do that well. And it gave us a chance to learn the basic techniques on a small scale.
The bales and roof are on at the end of the first weekend.
Wall rendering still to come of course.  

Why Strawbale
Strawbales are cheap and locally available and provide incredible insulation. Their resistance to heat transfer is around R10, which geeks will recognise iss a high value. They will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter. The walls will be sealed with render to stop the straw decaying and make it rain proof and fire proof for 3 hours, but the render will enable the wall to breathe too. The low level of moisture in the dry straw of a new wall, will mostly, slowly, be expired.

Even better, in the distant future if you want to knock the building down, the raw materials are not hazardous and can be reused or left onsite.

An octagonal concrete slab was built 3-4 weeks prior to construction. On top of that, a loose gravel base contained with a wood frame around the edge of the slab. Bales, placed on top, were mostly bent and occasionally cut to fit the octagonal wall shape 2 bales high. Planks cut to fit were placed on top of the bales which were then strapped with wire vertically and horizonally through the wall. The wire was tied together with gripples which compressed the bales to no more than 10%. This makes a surprisingly solid wall. We repeat this with two more layers of bales and then put on a wooden A-frame roof which we also build from spare materials on site.

Next week we will render the walls and finish the roof and trimmings and I will update you then.

Where is this Chookhouse?
We built this chookhouse at Bandusia Country Retreat at Upper Macdonald / St Albans, where Penny Peytt and Frank Thomas ran a workshop on this topic.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Irrigation System Is Go

Summer at ARCG can be quite hot and dry putting our plants under stress and so we have devised an improved drip irrigation system. The existing system depended on someone turning on the solar powered pump which would run for 20 minutes before the battery ran out.

Our vision is to make several improvements. We are only funded by membership fees and so we are making most changes using materials that have been donated to us over the last few years.
Firstly we will add a new tank at a higher location in the garden to use as a continous drip feed system. We will use our pump to transfer rainwater from the collection tank to the drip feed tank. We will increase the pumping time by adding an additional second hand battery. We will also be able to fill the tank with town water if or when needed.

We will salvage what we can from the existing and donated drip pipes to create a new system with a greater feed area. The Addison Road Centre is arranging to clean out the roof gutters as they are overflowing with leaves. The leaf guards don't work perfectly and we lose water over the gutter instead of into the tank. Hopefully they will also trim our over hanging tree.

Once this updated system is in place, I'd like to run and additional gutter pipe from a neighbouring hut to our collection tank as there is more rainwater that could be put use.

Also follow me on Permaculture Global Network

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Why Permaculture?

The aim of Permaculture is to develop a permanent, sustainable and flourishing planet earth. It is about acting in ways that work for all of us and all life on planet earth. The Permaculture Ethics and Principles provide a framework to act, design and create in ways that work eternally for life.

I aim to work with my local community to make it a better place to live, using innovative, sustainable permaculture solutions.

Some ideas that inspire me are:
  • Edible Forest Gardens or Food Forests
  • Nutrient Recycling through composting and worm-farming
  • Native and Natural Bee Keeping
  • Landscape Water Harvesting: 
  • Aquaponic Systems: Fish, vegies and no waste water  
  • Earth and Straw Buildings
For more on my activities, see my other sites and profiles: