Dancing Tractor – Greenhouse Wall Pour

Pouring Greenhouse Concrete Kneewalls

About a week ago we poured the concrete kneewalls of the greenhouse as shown in the video above. We are now preparing to pour the roof pillars. The snow is deep already. Yesterday morning we got another 10″ on top of the 4″ or so already on the ground. Fortunately it has compacted down some.

As mentioned before the ready mix concrete truck can’t get close enough to the construction site to deliver the concrete. Our solution was to build a chute that we’ve been using to deliver the concrete down hill from the upper pond level where the whey tank road ends. The concrete flows down, with much pushing of rakes and hoes, into the half cubic-yard bucket of our tractor. I then dump each load, slightly less than half a cubic-yard in practice, into the form work.

The pour went amazingly well. Nine yards of concrete in under three hours by three adults (Walter, Holly & Will) and one eleven year old (Ben). It snowed almost the whole time we were pouring the concrete – not hard but a warning of the solid week of daily snows that was to come.

We did have one blowout which we’ll fix in the next pour. I’ll discuss the problem and solution in another post. Nothing disastrous.

The movie above is a trimmed and sped up five fold – we don’t really zip around that fast! Some notes on setting a camera up to record:

  1. Lock the focus on infinity;
  2. Lock the white balance;
  3. Put it somewhere where curious piglets won’t play with it!

Outdoors: 33°F/31°F Mostly Cloudy, Snow Flurries
Farm House: 59°F/55°F
Tiny Cottage: 68°F/66°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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18 Responses to Dancing Tractor – Greenhouse Wall Pour

  1. Beth says:

    The pigs going back and forth behind the action are absolutely hilarious! The video was like a Buster Keaton short with pigs. I kept waiting for some intersection of the concrete/chute/tractor and the pigs, but the animals seem to ‘stay within the lines’ on their little highway there. Great stuff.

  2. Evelyn says:

    I was listening to Blue Grass music while watching this. The banjo picking went PERFECTLY w/ this!
    I do wonder why you didn't pour from the chute to the near sides of the walls, using hoes to pull it out. You'd have to use the tractor bucket to fill in the far sides, but the chute could do a good part of the far wall.
    Did you remember to agitate, to get the air pockets out? And, to fill the bottom before going up. My father was a civil engineer for CalTrans (Calif Division of Highways). He was a supervisor for pours for the bridge pillars. He said that they had to be poured as a single unit w/ no stop, but couldn't be poured all at once, or the cement at the bottom wouldn't set right; because of the weight. They'd pour all the bottoms & time only enough that they'd make the circuit in the right time frame to get back to the first one before it'd set up to much. They also made a point to keep the forms wet. He said that concrete is strongest when it cures w/out drying any.
    I've poured concrete around the house & we always keep it misted down. We're buying a cement mixer for Our Farm & will be doing projects like this. I can't imagine that we'll be building structures anywhere NEAR this grand, but we do have lots of projects! I'm learning a lot from watching you build this… I'm SO grateful that you're documenting it like this! I know I learned a lot from my father, I was always facinated by watching a building go up. He didn't like me hanging around, 'cause I was a girl. But, when I got older, I was one of the crew. So much of what I learned is coming back! I'm glad that it's coming back while you're doing yours instead of while I'm doing my own!!! :)

  3. *grin* Evelyn, my son Ben had considered making up some banjo music to go along with that. Maybe he will when I compile the whole thing. We have one more pour to go.

    We do agitate – that is an excellent point. Also we actually poured the 4′ wall in two truck loads, the first doing the lower 2′ and the second doing the upper 2′ with lots of rebar that penetrates through the joint and a very rough surface between them to get a grip. For each pour I went around doing about 1′ of height and then started at the beginning again doing the next 1′ of height.

    We are working on learning how to pour taller and taller walls. Each project pushes the boundaries a little more giving us a chance to safely learn.

    We leave the forms on to keep the concrete moist and wet the top. That, as your father notes, is very important since concrete cures to hard, not dries.

    Concrete, and stone, are a lot of fun to work with. I’m sure you’ll enjoy both doing and benefiting from your future projects.



  4. Danna says:

    Thats a real riot! I love how you guys are all zipping areound with the pigs racing by behind you. It looks like something by charlie chaplin! Way cool!!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Walter how do you knowhow do do all of this stuff? I wouldnt knowwhere to begihn. Did you work in construction?You do so many things.

  6. Anony, some of it comes from reading, some from thinking, some from watching other people, a lot from experimenting. Basically I start with small projects and gradually do bigger and bigger things. Each project is usually something useful so it serves the purpose of getting something done we need and learning how to do the next step towards a much bigger project. Cheers, -Walter

  7. EJ says:

    I thought you worked this fast. It would explain how you get so much done!

  8. Thanks for the construction tips. I’ll check all those things out.

  9. edifice rex says:

    Hey Walter! If you are interested in pouring taller walls I would strongly recommend using commercial form hardware; steel snap ties, johny clamps and pigs feet. No, not those pig’s feet! ha! It will make the work much easier and safer because you are going to need to vibrate these walls well. A large wall blowout can be very dangerous as I’m sure you know. If you have not already seen the posts, go to my blog and search ‘snap ties’. That will show you several of our large wall pours in detail. It also shows spacing requirements for ties, whalers, kickers etc. I know the ties cost a little bit but you should be able to rent the clamps and such. Also, if you just buy plyform instead of plywood, it comes already treated to release the concrete and you don’t have the time and investment of using the poly on the plywood. Plus, plyform makes excellent sheathing after you are finished with it because it is treated. You just have all those darn holes in it but they make caulk for that. Dayton Superior is one maker of snap ties and their website might show how they are used but I get hits every day from people looking for how to use them. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. I know you are well aware that pouring concrete is something to take very seriously not just for the cost but for everyone’s safety.

  10. On the snap ties, turns out those are much like something we used to use back about 20 years ago on another foundation I did. It was a very uniform wall thickness and they worked great for that. They are fast to work with.

  11. Ron, a 300 lb pig really isn’t that big. They are very dense and low to the ground.

    There are some dwarf breeds like the Kune Kune and Pot Belly but they grow much more slowly.

    If you start with piglets now by the time they get huge you’ll have had years to get used to them. Any that are ill tempered, eat. Cull hard for temperament.

    You also don’t have to keep them as long as it takes them to reach the size of our big sows (600 to 800 lbs) and more for the big boars. After a few litters you can eat a sow or boar and then start again with a younger one.


  12. Rick says:

    Hey Walter,
    Why didn’t you just use a concrete line pump? They are also known as grout pumps. Its essentially a heavy duty pump that can pump pea gravel concrete through a 2-3″ hose that is used to fill your forms. You can usually rent them in most cities and the hose is not too heavy for a guy to move around. The concrete truck just keeps the line pump filled up as you pump it and they can pump through hundreds of feet of hose fairly easily.

  13. Yes, we’ve used concrete pump trucks before but this was not a situation where one could setup and reach the forms. Thus the tractor dance. It worked well. If I had had more time this summer with less rain I would have completed the road into the field that the concrete truck could have driven up to get to the forms. Unfortunately it was a very wet summer. Such is life. :)

  14. Oh, the other thing is we’re talking about buying a pump as we have enough projects in the, er, pipeline that would benefit from it to make it cost effective to own. I’ve seen used ones for reasonable prices.

  15. Hey, don’t ask me how I came upon this but YouTube.com have launched a new website just for tractors..don’t you just love the internet? it’s at http://www.YouTractor.com

  16. Farmerbob1 says:

    The video referenced at the top of the page doesn’t seem to be working, Walter.

    I’m seeing a grey circle with a white ‘i’ in the middle.

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