Molly Surveying Job Site
For the past month we’ve been working on putting up the wooden forms for pouring the structural walls of our nano-scale butcher shop. These forms sit on the super insulated slab we built in September and beside the retaining wall we built in October. That all sits on what used to be the foundation of our old hay shed that we tore down this summer.
Headers to Lock Forms
Setting up formwork, especially very complicated formwork like this, is one of those tasks where you go on and on for weeks with preparation and then one day, all of a sudden, there is a building there. In essence we are creating a giant jello mold. Into that mold we’ll pour the liquid stone, the concrete, which will cure to form the hard structural walls of our building. The mold has buttressing, channels, beams, doorways, windows, pipe holes and wire runs all done in negative. It is also complicated by insulation to keep the warm areas warm and the cold areas cold – ner the twain shall meet. In the wall cavities run about a thousand pounds of steel work, rebar, to give the walls tensile strength.
Holly Locking Headers in Place
We are just about done with forming up. This week, weather permitting, we’ll have a pump truck come from S. D. Ireland along with several 10 cubic-yard trucks of concrete. Slowly we’ll raise the fluid walls, watching our forms for any sign of weakness. For this first structural wall pour we’ll just go up 4′ even though our forms go up 8′. After the concrete firms up, curing – not drying, we’ll then do the next four feet of height. Later we’ll raise the abattoir forms to 16′ for the tower.
Will Locking Forms along Base Plate
Doing the pours as a series leaves a little bit of a line in the middle of the wall, we’ll just call it the wainscot. Structurally that line will not matter. It is under compression and the rebar goes from the slab below to the roof above. The horizontal line in the wall will end up hidden behind the insulation and fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) wall covering so just you and I will know it is there.
Ben Grinding Threaded Rods
Our forms are held together with steel rods on walers which take the pressure of the tons of concrete. Some of the threaded rods we used in our retaining wall pour are not necessary at this point so Ben used the angle grinder to cut them short. This lets us recover the steel and eliminates the conduction of heat. Some of the threaded rod we can simply spin out of the concrete to recover and reuse in another part of the project. To that end Ben also oiled many of the rods.
Lifting Chiller Door Frame
The doorway from the abattoir to the chiller is 12′ tall. Think Spot high. Your typical pig doesn’t need that sort of height but the big boars can be the size of short legged cattle. The door frame is so thick because it is in the heavily insulated walls of the reefer space. Five and a half inches of concrete for the structural cross wall plus six inches of insulation make for an 11.5″ thick frame. It was quite heavy so we built it lying in place and then the three of us lifted it up on the base plates.
Ben in Doorway
Ben standing in the doorway makes it look like a house for giants. Ben is your standard height 12 year old so a good measuring stick. The forms next to him are 4′ high. The forms behind him are 8′ high. The doorway framing the 12 year old is 12′ high. A symmetry of numbers. I had considered going with a shorter door, chiller ceiling and rail height but realized that by going a few feet higher we gained a lot more aging space in the chiller which would be useful should we ever decide to do beef. By doing a barrel vault ceiling we’ll conserve on materials and gain structural strength without having to waste as much air space. The horizontal pieces of 2×4 across the doorway are for cross braces to take the force of the concrete as we pour.
Chiller Door Up
A view looking down the hill from our mid-level terrace. You get a little bit of an ariel view showing the floor plan layout with the three main areas: Administration to the south east, Abattoir to the south west and Reefer to the north two thirds of the building. In the reefer area you can see the interior 4′ forms are now in place. The insulation in that area is complicated enough that we’re just doing 4′ of form work at a time. To the right, beside the pink house next to the pink forms, is the lairage surround wall which is an extension of the above mentioned retaining wall.
Blue Sky Forms
Our last task of today’s job list was covering the open wall forms with plastic so the coming snow storm won’t dump in them. Some days are still sunny with gorgeous blue skies. Despite the bit of chill at least we get to work in beautiful scenery – shake that snow globe on some days like today. Keep thinking warm weather thoughts for us…
While we work on the forms we left a hole in the north wall so that we could easily carry materials into the work area. Fortunately a lot of the supplies were delivered right onto the slab by a crane truck from Allen Lumber in Barre, VT. That saved us a lot of lugging!
Outdoors: 31째F/18째F Partially Sunny, Breezy
Tiny Cottage: 65째F/54째F