FCB Poured


Butcher Shop & Pump Truck Union

Today we had our next big concrete pour for our butcher shop. This was a big milestone for us as it is the final structural element of the project and the pour, while complicated and long, went perfectly. From here, everything else is finishing details.
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Last December we poured the cap which closed in the building so that we were able to work through the winter removing interior formwork and then setting up the new formwork for this pour.

While what you see in the photo above is a lot of wooden form work and scaffolding, the building itself is all stone, concrete, foam insulation, stainless steel, basalt fiber and plastic pipe. Once we’re done all the wood will be removed leaving an easily maintainable and cleanable structure for optimal food safety.


Concrete Pump Truck Hose in FCB

With today’s 10 hours of pour plus four hours of finishing and cleanup we accomplished:

  1. Pouring the walls and arched ceilings of the FCB which is three separate but tightly integrated rooms that make up the Freezer, Cooler and Brine;
  2. Sloping and bevelling the plumbing trench so now I can install the connecting plumbing between rooms;
  3. Curbing the roof around the penetrations for the High Mech, Chimney and Coolth Attic ventilation;
  4. Forming and floating the front sidewalk from the steps down to the parking slab; and
  5. Miscellanious small stuff.

This was the last risky pour. Up until now, each pour could potentially have been a disaster that would fill rooms below with hundreds of thousands of pounds, dozens of cubic-yards, of concrete that we would not have been able to get out before they cured. Had that happened it would have killed the project permanently. This is why we have taken our time and worked so carefully and slowly, making sure all of our forms are strong and tight. The remaining pours from here on out are simple slabs for in floor heat transfer with PEX, curbs, parging walls and the like. It’s a big relief to not have so much riding on each step!


Hole in Wall for Concrete Pump Hose

Previously all of our pours have been exterior. The pump trucks and concrete chutes could reach the forms easily. This time most of the pour work, the FCB and trench, were interior. This meant snaking the pump truck hose in through a small one foot square hole in the upper wall of the building as shown in the photo at the top. Our sons Will and Ben built a crows nest of sorts projecting out from the scaffolding with a flume to guide the hose 24′ into the building. When we had done the pour last year we had formed that hole, and an extra one, so that we would be able to do this interior pour. The hole was fortunately big enough to let the pumper truck’s hose in!

It wasn’t really guess work though as I had measured the hose for this two years ago during a test run outdoors and then gone over my plans with the concrete company back then in preparation for this pour. About a month ago the pump truck operator Dave came out to check things over and then today he arrived extra early so we could do a dry run before concrete came.

In the background of these photos you can see the basalt fiber mesh and stainless steel rebar we use for reinforcing of the ‘ferro-cement’ style arches. We do arches for both the strength and how they move the hottest air in the room up to the cooling system – both the electric powered compressor based evaporator, the Coolth Attic battery and the winter cold. That the arches are beautiful is a bonus.

Embedded in the form work are all the conduits for these rooms so that the interior surfaces will be as smooth as possible for easier sanitation. Exposed conduit in the room is hard to clean. The white pipes are part of the air make heat exchanger system that will allow us to bring in winter’s cold. We live in a cold climate so we want make maximum use of its advantages. Over the years that will save tens of thousands of dollars in electricity for cooling the facility, quickly repaying the costs of the extra building effort.

You can also see lots of insulation. The blast freezer section goes up to R-120 with the insulation shaped to leak the cold out to the super cooler, then brine, cave, cutting room and chiller. By building the rooms formed one inside the other we conserve our coolth. Each room is an air lock out to the next much like northern homes are built with breezeways.

Will, our eldest son is standing on the steps that now lead up from the front sidewalk to the entry hall, inspector’s office, bathroom and our initial cutting room where we’ll start butchering and sausage making on-farm.


Butcher Shop Post Pour – Sows at Whey to Right

The butcher shop does not look very different today than it did yesterday, from the outside. Inside there is a great deal of progress. Someone asked the other day why the building goes outward as it goes upward, like an inverted pyramid. It doesn’t actually do that. The building itself goes straight up. What gives the illusion of outward motion is the scaffolding and safety railings that give us a safe work space as we rose higher. As the heights got greater we built wider walks with higher railings to make sure nobody fell.

Safety on the job is critical.
1,508 work days without injuries or deaths.
Think safety, work safely, live!

Next Steps: Underfloor plumbing, incoming electric, gas lines and FCB deforming.

Outdoors: 66°F/44°F Partially Sunny, 1/4″ Rain
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/61°F

Daily Spark: Everything’s complicated – the closer you get the more complexity you see.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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18 Responses to FCB Poured

  1. Sally Sievers says:

    Whew! So glad to hear of this successful milestone!

  2. Nand KS Backer says:

    Wowsa! I am always so amazed by what your family accomplishes. You must be very proud of your kids! How do you do it all. I’m lucky if I get anything done around our place.

  3. Noreen Greeno says:

    Congratulations, Walter! Clearly you are a meticulous planner. It’s wonderful to hear that your last chancy pour went so well. Congratulations to each member of your family, the boys Will and Ben, and also Holly and Hope! Each person has been instrumental in your amazing enterprise. May everything continue to go so well.

  4. Angie says:

    congratulations on getting one step closer to your dream!!

  5. Zephyr Hill says:

    I was going to say “so amazing,” but that would imply I’m surprised by what you’ve done. I’m not! I’ve seen enough of what you all can do! But let me say instead, “So impressive!” I’m so glad for your progress!

  6. Adam Mortson says:

    When wil you take down the scaffolding and forms from the outside? What will it look like??

    • The scaffolding won’t come down until we’re done doing the roof work which will probably be next year. Eventually there will be a cap with an extended eve and a tower for water that will let us do solar hot water and some other interesting things as well as getting enough heat to run the passive air exchange loops. After the forms come down we’ll spray foam on a final outer sealing foam layer and then parge a fiber cement coating to protect the foam from the sun and other elements. The final structure will look a bit castle-esque.

      Someday when we have a bit of free time we would like to do free stone work for the exterior but that is a ways down the road.

  7. Samantha Cutting says:

    I am very curious to what it will look like in the end. I hope you’ll do a tour. I know you don’t do the agricultural toursim stuff but maybe you will make a video tour of a walk through. That would be cool. You tube it.

  8. An observant soul asked: “What are the blue items hanging outside building?”

    Those are slices of barrel Will used to make a rack for storing sections of 1″ black water line. We end up with a lot of small random sized pieces from projects. The rack makes it easy to find sizes we need.

  9. Stormy says:

    Whats up Jeffries ! You decide if your doing the epoxy floor ?

    • I’m at that point where I have to decide pretty soon between the epoxy, urethane cement, polyurea, polyaspartic – all options I’ve been reading about. Opinions? It has to be tough, easily sanitized, FDA/USDAable and something we can install ourselves. We may try different things in non-critical spaces (think closets) to see which one we like. We’re finishing off a small part of the facility to get up and running and then later will do additional rooms for final cutting, slaughter, etc.

  10. Looking forward to purchasing sausages from your farm!

  11. I was going to ask what Adam asked — when does the scaffold come down? — and I’ll admit to being disappointed at having to wait until next year to see what the place looks like. But I guess building slaughter/butcher facilities isn’t one of those instant-gratification enterprises.

    Are you aiming to begin using it next year some time?

    • Sometime I’ll post a drawing of the building’s future form. Think small castle with merlons and a tower… For now the forms will act as siding to protect the insulation. In addition to being structural during the pours for containing the liquid concrete as it cure hardens the forms are a sheathing for the exterior of the building. It’s also the best place for me to store the forms until we need them for the next project which is in planning stages. Not pretty, but functional. The inspector said the forms as siding are sufficient as a building covering since they are interested in food safety. Many buildings use plywood for the exterior siding, called T1-11 siding – similar to the form work but inside out.

      We will soon begin doing butchering (meat cutting) soon and then sausage making quickly there after. We have about three months work until we’re ready for inspection. It seems like we’ve been riding that crest of about three to five months for quite some time now but we are making progress and will get there. Things left to do:

      I hope to complete the all the underfloor connectivity, the systems like DWV plumbing, gas line conduits, electrical source conduits, incoming comm conduits, PEX floor heat exchangers, etc and then pour the floors of the Admin section which includes the inspector’s office, bathroom, entry hall and initial cutting room which will later become the smokehouse. Here is the floor plan on the butcher shop page. The part we’re finishing off first you can see in the lower left (south east) quadrant.

      Then we’ll be parging the interior walls, ceilings, coving and curbing. There’s a 30 day delay while concrete cures and after that comes the interior coating. During that time I’ll do electrical work and refrigeration. Doors and equipment installation follow after that. Then we get inspected, do any adjustments and get our licenses to begin butchering.

      Either smoking or slaughter (abattoir) will follow next. Doing the smoking next has the advantage that it costs less to equip for that and there is less construction work. We earn more per pig from smoking than from slaughter. Smoking also allows us to do many interesting things that we can’t do now and the smokehouse will include the warm kitchen where we can render lard and do some other things like that.

      The slaughter’s appeal is that this would mean Holly would no longer be making her day long trips every week to the slaughterhouse which would save her a lot of time, gas and not stress on the animals with the long trip they must currently make. That is the long term goal. Bringing slaughter on-farm also improves our bio-security by reducing the exposures to outside sources of disease.

      We’ll see which happens first. In time, with patience, both will come to pass. Each day we make progress. As you say, it’s not an instant gratification type project.

  12. Nicola Cunha says:

    Wow! I’m so impressed with your drive to double and triple check all the details! Way to go on this leg of the project

  13. Melissa says:

    I continue to be in awe of your accomplishments ( you with your family members). THe planning and dedication and the drive to continue your chosen enterprize despite the seemingly endless obstacles to run a business inspires me to keep going with my much smaller plans.

    I too am desperate to see the final building without the safety scaffolding– and you are right– safety first. My children hear this a lot from me. Better to take an extra minute or a different approach, than get hurt. Creates thinking and evaluating skills!! THAT they don’t get at school. Many benefits to living on a farm , even if it is a small one.

    THank you for sharing your enthusiasm and I look forward to a utube video someday soon.

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