Butcher Shop Roof Revealed as seen from North Home Field
This week we unbedded the butcher shop roof from its winter slumbers. After we did the last big pour that closed in the building in December 2012 we covered the fresh concrete with a layer of burlap, 2″ pink foam insulation two sheets deep and then two sheets of 6 mil construction plastic to help it cure in the cold weather and get through the winter. Pouring is not recommended in December, it’s cold work, it gets dark early, it snows, it ices and the concrete takes longer to cure. But one does what must be done. We were very glad to close in the building!
Now the snow pack has finally retreated from the roof. It was helped along by a bit of wood ash Will spread on the plastic to darken the snow, lower the albedo and hasten the melting. We even have bare patches in our fields as can be seen in this photo. The animals are excited!
An interesting tid-bit is that the snow pack was thickest over the heavily insulated reefer two thirds of the building. That area is insulated to around R-100 so very little heat was lost to the roof. The area of the abattoir has the least insulation over the 20′ high slaughter room and that had the thinnest snow pack which melted of its own accord before Will ashed. We didn’t heat the building other than a little bit in the Admin section – retained it’s heat of curing and last year’s warmth right through the coldest part of the winter never dropping below 38°F. Given that our part of the world was below -20°F for extended periods, and very windy, that is impressive performance. Thermal mass and insulation to the rescue! My goal is that this will save us tens of thousands of dollars in heating and cooling expenses over the coming years. Waste not, want not.
As of Wednesday the snow was finally completely gone, just bits of ice left from over night. We uncovered the roof once that ice had mostly melted in the late morning – a task that took all four of us. Sheets of 40’x40′ plastic are rather interesting to handle up high in the air on a breezy day. Fortunately, working up on the roof feels like working down on the ground with all the scaffolding we built. Ben is the master scaffold maker, assuring us a safe work space.
Butcher Shop from Driveway (Click for larger image)
On the roof of the butcher shop you might notice there are some ‘structures’ in the middle. These are forms for the future duct work and upper mechanical room that will be on the roof for housing part of the ventilation and refrigeration heat exchange equipment. By making a tall tower we will get to take advantage of natural thermal gradients to assist with the flow of energy and air. One more way to save energy and have a healthy work place.
Other Interesting Details:
Hanging on the scaffolding where they can dry in the sun are burlap coffee bags. These helped to keep the concrete moist and warm during the initial curing process. They were especially handy for the slopes at the roof eves where the pink foam does not conform to the curves.
On the east scaffolding you can see sheets of 2″ pink foam along the railings. These protected the curing concrete flat expanse from the cold. The sun will eat their surface a tiny bit so I would rather have them under cover but it will be a long time before the UV makes much difference. I haven’t decided where that insulation will be used next so they are staying there for the moment. It is a safe location with them tied down tight.
Down on the lower north scaffolding we stored the large sheets of sheet plastic rolled up to be used again. The dogs were not pleased with this. They like to climb the scaffolds and use them as lookouts where they can check out what is happening far away. Turns out, contrary to myths, that they have pretty good eye sight.
In the lower right of the photo is the chute that leads from the south field sorting pen up onto the driveway. Each week we select pigs, most often from the south field groups, and herd them into the sorting pen there so that I can do a final inspection, detection, rejection and selection. The chosen ones get herded along that chute to the driveway and down to the loading pen in the front where the van is docked. There they load into the custom welded back half of the van so we can transport them to the butcher in Massachusetts.
We’ll still be trucking pigs down the three hours to slaughter for a while after we open the butcher shop for meat cutting. The hope is that perhaps this spring the pigs are being born here who will live their entire lives on our farm.
On the left you can see some of the norther herd sows who are in with our Berkshire boar Spitz. In the for left lower corner is their whey feeder. They’re resting on a deep bed of wood chips plus some hay. Nine of those ten sows are Mainline, the tenth is a Blackie Mainline cross. They’ll be farrowing this coming month – a source of many of the spring piglets people have reserved.
This year I plan to pour the smooth finish cap layer of the roof that will be properly sloped on top of this structural layer of ceilings. The roof is ‘flat’ but sloped to drain. In our area most roofs are steeply sloped to dump snow but I want to retain the snow as it has useful properties including coolth, being warmer than a bare roof in our worst time of winter and being a great place for dark panels and solar panels. Such a large space is not to be wasted.
That is good enough to act as a roof for a century or more but won’t have quite the thermal performance I want. Eventually we’ll add a few more inches of insulation and reflective barrier plus a top cap of concrete to protect the insulation which will be the final unified roof. This will put the structural shell within an umbrella that will shield it both from the heat of the sun and our fierce winter winds.
A joke is we’ll put an olympic size swimming pool up there… A skate board park might be more fun since we already have ponds. A project for another year.
Outdoors: 54°F/27°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/60°F
Daily Spark: They say, “You are what you eat.” I guess I’m a vegetarian, because that’s who I eat the most…