The Great Wall of China…some 5,000 miles…well that’s not quite what we’ve built this week. However, at the start of the week it did feel like a project of that proportion, with ridiculous quantities of material to be hauled up the hill by hand: rocks, sand, cement, wood, and one’s own body, weary from 5 weeks of toil. Nonetheless, progress has been made – impressive progress if I say so myself – and we’re nearly to the top of the stone section of the wall, hopefully being ready by early next week to set in the upright posts.
The process of laying the stone foundation has several steps. First was a layer of the largest possible stones, positioned in the bottom of the foundation trench. Then, the next layer was dry-laid (without mortar) for fit, before removing the stones one-by-one to apply cement beneath and around each individual stone. The layers continue in this fashion, each layer several stones wide to accommodate the breadth of the wall – 18in at the bottom, 12-14in at the top – on which the [vastly oversized] upright posts shall sit. Once the posts have been set on the wall, one final stone layer shall be set, thereby encasing the base of each post securely in the wall.
The posts, also, must be prepared. The are being garnered from tree trunks and limbs of varyingly appropriate size, and of course none are quite straight, and they come in whatever lengths they grew…and are covered in bark. Firstly, I pick my tree or limb. Then, I take my wonderful 18″ chainsaw and fell it to the ground, trimming off any side-branches and trimming it to a fairly straight length, within reason. The fun part is in taking a hatchet (small axe) and a small sledge hammer to the bark, peeling it off in satisfying strips, leaving a beautiful, bare length of wood, all ready to be used in a wall. Ahem. When it works like that. The majority of the time the bark does not in fact “peel” but must be chipped away, one meticulous hatchet-and-hammer blow at a time, and then be attacked with a grinder in order to attain a somewhat smooth finish. Here’s a video clip of the process going well:
The door frame also had to be built, which required my somewhat rusty carpentry skills to be put to use. All is well and I still have 10 fingers and toes! Thus far. My mortice-and-tenon joints aren’t very pretty, but will probably still be the strongest part of the entire house. Had anyone ever thought to teach me the finer aspects of carpentry, they might now be proud of me, but instead I may take all the credit for myself! Perhaps I shouldn’t mention that tall people aren’t allowed into the Nid: the doorway is only 6’1″, not the standard 6’8″…long story.
It’s nearly 2 weeks since I had a day of “rest”, and I’m tremendously worn out so that’s all for now! I must mix a drink and psych myself up for lots of cementing tomorrow morning, and then my biggest yet batch of bread on Saturday – orders can still be placed until noon on Friday, using the order form on the Products page.
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