End Grain Mold
To build our butcher shop we build molds and pour in jello. When the jello hardens we have a solid structure and can take off the molds. In our case the jello is concrete. Concrete is a very green, that is to say eco-friendly, building material – contrary to the bad PR being put out by some organizations. Concrete consists of a small amount of the binder, the cement which is made from burning limestone. Most of the concrete is stone and sand – the aggregate. This material is sourced locally just over the mountain from us. Local material, short transportation distance and once properly built it lasts for thousands of years with little to no maintenance. This makes concrete better than wood, especially for certain kinds of structures like our butcher shop which is exposed to a lot of water during wash down.
I’m talking a bit against my interests here, by supporting concrete, because after all we sell a lot of wood from our forests here at Sugar Mountain. If I was going to speak to boost my sustainable logging then I should be promoting, and using, wood to build our home, butcher shop and encouraging other people to live in wooden houses. There are a heck of a lot of beautiful wooden homes. I’ve built and renovated wooden houses for decades. But the fact is wooden houses have always made me a little nervous. After 230 years the wood gets really well dried out. It’s like living inside a tinder box. I heat with wood. Wood burns – really, really well.
So I built our cottage out of masonry, brick, stone and concrete. Even the ceilings and roof of our cottage are concrete. Likewise the butcher shop and most other things we’ve built in the last decade are done with these same techniques. I’ve been shifting away from wood to stone and masonry. These harder materials are stronger, last longer, require less maintenance and most of all won’t burn down with us in them. Much appreciated that.
Speaking of burning, not only does our cottage not burn down but it uses barely any firewood to keep it warm. This is because it is not a leaking sieve like our old farm house was and more importantly all that masonry gives it a very high thermal mass that stores heat. The best I ever was able to do with the old wooden farm house was get it down to three cords of wood a winter using intensive passive solar heating to assist during the good days. Even then it was never comfortably warm. The tiny cottage won’t even drop below freezing if you leave it empty and it is easy to keep comfortably warm with less than 3/4 cord of wood a year – just a few sticks a day. That’s energy efficient and eco-green which just keeps paying back year after year.
But back to the wood mold… Wood is very beautiful and useful. Most of the wood from our forests goes to furniture making followed closely by lumber for home building. After that firewood and then pulp that goes to pellets for wood stoves, bedding and the like. The lumber is also excellent for building form work to pour jello into. When you peel off the forms you often see very interesting relief pictures engraved in the now rock hard concrete. This wood end grain from the base plate will vanish into the final floor of the bathroom but maybe someday in a few thousand years an archeologist will discover it and think about how the butcher shop was built. Maybe it will even give them clues about our environment based on the tree growth rings.
Outdoors: 72°F/58°F Light Rain
Tiny Cottage: 69°F/67°F
Daily Spark: Laughter can be found in slaughter.