Friday, 19 November 2010

Putting it up on Saturday

Hello all

Saturday is going to be a big day for our lottery-funded Green Care project in Slough - as long as we're not completely snowed in, we are going to put the yurt up. We need to do it soon, as it's currently being stored in
a polytunnel, which Rob (the maker of it) tells us is the most likely place for it to grow mouldy. Then we can light the fire a few times each week, and keep it in best condition. We will delay the cob floor till spring - when we
can do it properly.

So I'm hiring a van for the day because somebody on Slough Freegle is giving us a sofa, and somebody else is offering a load of logs free which we can go and pick up.

I'll also bring some soup and crusty bread for lunch.
And I'll have project money with me to reimburse any bus & train fares for people who would normally be able to claim it back (ie on benefits)

Wexham Nursery, SLOUGH SL2 4HE
All welcome!
We'll be there about 10.30 - 3pm


Saturday, 13 November 2010

Another dreary day - but action is on the way

Hello friends and colleagues, and others interested in our yurting,Here's today's report on another Saturday down in Slough.

First the bad news:
  • The covers blew off and the nursery staff had to take them all down during the week - following all the storms. I think we are probably not their flavour of the week!
  • The sand is all quite wet
  • Only two of us - David and I - turned up today
  • We didn't get as far as we would have liked (=rough cob laid)

Now the good news:
  • The yurt is on its way from Madrid and should be with us by Mon/Tues
  • The woodburning stove, ditto
  • We have 20 straw bales in a polytunnel for our circle of seating (left)
  •  And lots of tarp to cover it with - to keep it in its bales, so it stays fire-resistant 
  • I have the phone numbers of the people who supply yurt chimneys for the stove, and water urns to sit on top of them

And David and I managed to do quite a lot of useful work:
  • Sort our all the post-storm untidiness
  • Finish the sand layer with about 12 barrows of sand
  • Roughly enough for levelling the whole area to have a domed shape (below)
  • Worked out how to do the outer drainage ditch (above)
  • Made a sample of cob - and checked its consistency with the 'ball test' (right)
  • Tidied the site up 
  • Re-covered the yurt site with slightly tented tarps (to allow a bit of air, and hopefully drying), skewered and weighed down at the edges (below)

 Unfortunately, I got my jeans wet and filthy - so left them in the shed at  the nursery and drove home in my
underpants. And ran out of petrol. Enough said.

So the next jobs are in three different 'work streams', for the floor and drainage, the path and the yurt itself.
Weather, progress and item arrival will determine exactly how they fit
together with each other:

1)      Level the sand with a long wooden batten - radial from the middle.  Do it so the middle is about 2" higher than the edges - to make the dome.
2)      Tramp it down with lots of walking on it, so it's quite  solid.
3)      Make a good lot of rough cob, to be like a pancake 2 - 3" thick to go on top of the sand
4)      Spread it neatly, and smoothly
5)      Allow to dry. This might be difficult with the weather at the moment. If needed, and things come together at the right time, we could erect the yurt on top of the rough cob layer, with the fire in place, and light it for a few days to dry it out really well.
6)      Make a smaller lot of fine cob, to make the final layer of 0.5" to go across the top of the rough layer. Get it as smooth as possible, with a wet plasterer's float.
7)      Allow to dry. Method maybe as above.
8)      Mend any cracks that appear with fine cob mix, and let them dry out.
9)      4 coats of linseed oil - 100%, 75%, 50% and 25%, diluted in spirit. Allow to dry between each.
10)    Beeswax finish, and polish to perfection!

11)     Dig trench round whole floor - 6" wide, 8" deep
12)    Ensure damp-proof membrane runs downhill to take water AWAY from yurt
13)    Fill with gravel
14)    Planks over the trench outside the door

15)      Agree and mark out its course
16)      Dig it out 3-4" deep
17)      Edge with wooden sides and batons (like we have for the yurt floor, but thicker and stronger)
18)      Lay base membrane already in situ along the side of our site - will need moving
19)      Thin layer of sand
20)      Finish with thick layer of wood chips (from John Whitby's farm?)

21)     Allocate whole day for erecting it (earliest is probably Sat 25Nov), and gather the troops
22)     Obtain proper chimney and urn-boiler
23)     Put it up
24)     Get the stove in place (on the slate slabs that are loose on the site, laid flush into the earthen floor)
25)     Do the things with the floor (as above) if necessary
26)     Cover the floor with old rugs and carpet if necessary (if not able to dry enough until spring)
27)     Move all the 'furniture' in -  wrap the straw bales in tarps and rugs for the seating all round the edge, and a central table.
28)      Make it homely
29)      Use it regularly - for the TC's afternoon groups, and any other groups we can get going there during the week
30)     Organise our 'Yurt-Warming Party' - and get as much publicity and recognition as possible
31)     Think about our next projects - pond, solar electricity for lighting, partnership bids with SEEDS and others, second yurt, restoring secret garden, etc...
32)     Maybe ducks instead of geese?

So that's it for this week.
Do forward this to anybody else you think might be interested.
And Saturday volunteers will be welcome for at least a couple more weeks! (we do about 11.30 till 2.30 usually)


Sunday, 7 November 2010

Our first tent

Hello all

Today was good, but disappointing in some ways.

Mainly because my phone had turned itself off in my pocket, so I missed Andy's call from Slough station - so he went home again without quite
making it to the nursery.

The other slight disappointment was not getting as far as squelching the cob together - we now have everything we need there to do it (using the 'tarp method').

But - on the positive side - good progress was made:

- We have put the tented cover up - of 2 large tarpaulins to keep the yurt floor dry. Stretched on a rope across the plot, pinned down with skewers and weighed down with blocks and soil, we hope it will withstand the storms forecast for Monday. But the worst will happen is that it will blow off...

- We have laid the damp-proof membrane and firmly stapled it all the way round - with about 10-20cm overhang to ensure the yurt floor keeps dry.

- We have finished off our 4 bags of sand and probably need 2 more to lay the base for the cob - we did not have enough to make the 'slightly domed' foundation for it today. So I will order 2 more bags. We did do some stomping of it, though...

- Daisy and I went to meet our nearest farmer neighbour, John Whitby at Rowley Farm (about 2 miles away). He is bringing round 20 straw bales on Monday afternoon - which we will put into a circle to make the seating within the yurt. But he recommends covering it with fabric/rugs/canvas to keep the bales intact - so any old rugs etc will be welcome. He also does many interesting things at the farm, including making all the wood chip fuel for the nursery's main boiler - so he gave us a good show round. We also admired his 6 month and 18 month calves, and were invited along to his open day on the 2nd Saturday of June - which I'm sure it will be worth going to.

Today's photo is a view through our tented cover - and Jasper is the four-legged helper!