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Hot, Hot Heat

July 6, 2011

Sorry for the slow post, readers. For whatever reason I don’t feel very excited to share about this weekend, even though nothing horrible happened. It was just one of the those very long, very hot, very tedious weekends where you feel like nothing much got done. In case you are wondering about the title, Montana is now getting upper 80/low 90s temperatures, which is quite the shock after our long, cold spring. Let’s recap:

Saturday: Straw. All day.

Mr. B thinks it is hysterical that I never thought about how heavy straw would be. Let me tell you, it is really heavy. Each bale weighs between 40 – 50 pounds. We needed 400 bales and each one was moved twice. Ugh. In books and movies about straw bale building they just say, “oh look, the straw is delivered.” This was not the case for us. As I mentioned earlier, we bought the straw now because there is hardly any straw to be had in the state. Straw is the by-product of grain production, which is harvested in August/September here. Right now it is haying season, so everyone is both low on straw (from last year) and trying desperately to get it out of their hay barns to make room for hay. We benefited from this by getting a deal on half our straw, but also ended up having to personally move it all because everyone is busy making hay. We will also be building our house with 18x14x40 bales and 18x16x40 bales because no one had enough for the entire project.

Straw fortress

One of Mr. B’s coworkers (Mr. L) came to help us move bales. Our truck is too small to pull more than 50 bales at a time, so Mr. L also volunteered his truck to the cause. His willingness to help us surprised me, and is a good reminder that people are on the whole kind and interested in helping others out. Mr. L helped us from early morning to evening, despite the heat, dust, long driving distances, and punishing work. I don’t think Mr. B and I could have moved all those bales ourselves. Many thanks, Mr. L.

After finishing moving bales, Mr. B and I went to a chain BBQ restaurant, ordered large beers and collapsed on the patio. We got a lot of strange stares for our filthy appearance and general exhaustion. We were also the only people wearing pants or close toed shoes on an 80 degree night.

Sunday: Sill plate

As I learned recently, the sill plate is the piece of wood that runs around the outside of the house on top of the foundation. It is the light colored wood in that picture. The bolts are set in the concrete, so we spent most of Sunday placing the sill plate and drilling holes. We also went grocery shopping.

Monday: Pony (or crib) wall

This is a wall that supports the beams mid-floor. Since we are using 2×12 beams instead of i-joists, we need something for the 16 foot wood to land on. This was one of those projects that seems quick (just build a 3′ wall) and ended up taking all day. The footer is neither straight nor perfectly flat, so it took most of the day to try and build a straight, level wall. Each of the beams in the wall had to be individually measured and cut. In the end though, we got a straight, level wall.

Looking hot and pissy

Making sure things are level and square, especially in the early stages, is critical for ensuring you have a level, square house at the end. It is also one of those “fiddly” things that drive me to distraction. Props to Mr. B for (mostly) not letting my irritation at all these little steps get to him.

Mr. B’s family gets into town tonight. They’ll be staying for about 1.5 weeks to help us make some massive progress on the floor and framing. If we’re lucky, by the time they leave we’ll have a framed house, framed roof, and a cement floor. Posting will probably remain spotty over that time period.  We still don’t have internet out at the property and I’m taking most of the time off work to help out. Keep checking though, since the pictures could be wonderful.

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