Sunday, June 16, 2013

Digging up the desert

We hurt.  A lot.  All over, but especially our legs, arms, backs, shoulders, feet, hands.... you get the picture.  Well, maybe not.  Here's the source of our pain: 

We changed this:

Into this:

Just Husband, Wife, 2 shovels, a rake and a pickaxe. 

It took about 3.5 hours to clear 75 feet of length to about 10 feet wide.  Unlike the original driveway that started out as an overgrown dirt track, we had to create this one from scratch through sagebrush, cacti, and these weird, green, pokey bushes.  Backbreaking work in the hot sun.  We're impressed and very proud of ourselves, if we may say so.

The reason for all this work was to provide a visual break between the us and the road.  In a word: Privacy.  Diverting the road was necessary for us to build a wall that will attract less attention to what's going on inside of the domestead.  There isn't much traffic on our road, but there's not much to see as you're driving on it and any activity out in the desert gets immediate and intense interest.  It's like the nosy neighbors and HOA people only with cowboy hats and rifles.  Everyone out there values privacy, but putting yourself out on display will get you attention nevertheless.

After a brief rest to eat some lunch, re-hydrate and put on some more sunscreen we started this:

Using tires to block the old driveway by connecting the courtyard to the dome.

We filled in the spaces between the tires with bottles, and then put a row of bottles across the top to lock it all in.  Next time we won't have to dig and get all tired out right off the bat, so we can spend the entire time getting this new wall up to about 5' tall. 

From the outside:

 And from the inside:



With any remaining time, energy, and / or materials, we'll finish putting the outer skin on the dome before moving on to other infrastructure projects like starting the wall that will encircle the entire domestead, digging the fire dome down about 4', finishing the bathroom, and building the shower!

Stay Tuned!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Close your mouth...

... when applying papercrete overhead. It doesn't taste good and you don't know what's in the water
: P 

Our main focus for this trip was to get all the panels of the dome covered.  It took some creative application of lath and phone wire, but we got that accomplished and all the gaps are now filled.  We still had a bit of papercrete so we started putting the outer skin layer on.  We got quite a bit covered before running out of time, but progress was made! 


The outer wall will eventually connect the courtyard to the dome across the driveway.  This means we'll have to divert the driveway around the west side of the dome.  Lots of digging next time...

During our breaks, we decided to put the plywood that we got for free from work to good use.  The old hexayurt and pentagcorral we were using for storage were starting to fall apart from the harsh conditions, so we built a new, giant hexacorral to store EVERYTHING!:

Empty bottles, building materials, tools, etc all fit nicely with a bunch of room left over for more stuff:
8' (2.4m) sheets of plywood make one big-ass hexagon!
Much more organized

We also took up a bunch more papercrete bricks for future projects:
Even though the domestead is increasing in size and we are adding more structures, we are trying to keep it as low profile as possible.  The point is to blend in with the natural surroundings from the outside, but to have an oasis on the inside.  It may stand out a bit now, but eventually, it will be barely visible to passersby.

View from the road:

Next trip: 
  1. Diverting the driveway
  2. Starting the connecting wall between the dome and the courtyard,
  3. Digging the dome interior down,
  4. Skinning the rest of the dome exterior
  5. ...