Pumphouse Drama

By Anthony Weston

As all assiduous readers of this blog will know, in early September we had a dedicated workday/workshop to raise the slipstraw walls of the pumphouse. Terry, Joe, Randy, Amy, Sean, and me, all of us led by NC’s cob guru and HM advisor, Greg Allen, got ourselves thoroughly clay-covered and all literally had a hand in the building of walls between the frame structure that I have been patiently assembling with the help of others — most recently George. You can see the first steps — some cob beginnings, and some of the forms for the first layer of slipstraw, basically straw coated with a thin film of clay — in the first photo. 

But then did the wall go up! By the end of the day, Greg had begun plastering and the walls were close to the top. Check out the second photo. It’s going to be beautiful! 

We quit just in time for Anthony and Amy to finish packing up before rains came — in fact we just slipped in this workday before a run of rainy days. And then things really got serious, when the forecasts for Hurricane Florence called for possibly 60 mph winds and days and days of heavy rain. What to do? Slipstraw should not get very wet. Normally it’s protected by the plaster that encases it, but we’d just started and the plaster was partial and itself not yet dry. The answer you can see in there third photo: I wrapped the whole thing up and put on a layer of serious tarps, thoroughly strapped down. Greg’s good advice!

In the event, Florence was not so bad. I have been able to take off the tarps and the wrapping, let it start drying out again, and am resuming work again before I head off to join Amy in Chile. In fact if anyone wants to join — helping put on the roof especially — I expect to be at it all weekend (29 and 30 September) and would welcome the help — just let me know. Regardless, though, stop by and have a look next time you are on the land. The stone bench built into the front is meant for sitting — give it a try!

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