Butcher Shop Forming Up

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…

North Portal

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

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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7 Responses to Butcher Shop Forming Up

  1. heyercapital says:

    That's a tremendous project, Walter & Co. I think you're exactly correct in wanting to fully integrate and control the quality of the process from end to end, from your closed herds "makin' bacon" to the "making of bacon."

  2. heyercapital says:

    That's a tremendous project, Walter & Co. I think you're exactly correct in wanting to fully integrate and control the quality of the process from end to end, from your closed herds "makin' bacon" to the "making of bacon."

  3. Mark says:

    Your kids are amazing! They can say they have actually done real things not just sat in a a classroom learning rote exercises. Building a house? Wow! Building a butcher shop? Super Duper WOW! You must be very proud of them. Hell — I am proud of them! You have done well teaching them the skills for the real world and teaching them good work ethics to give them a sense of accomplishment.

  4. NanceE says:

    Hay Walter! To add to your list of links there at the end I saw this:



    Really neat. Keep up the good work all you people.

  5. DennisP says:

    I think Ben is getting a tremendous education from you. All these skills he is learning will be useful for his entire life. He is an extremely lucky young man. Be proud of him and enjoy watching him grow.

  6. I'm extremely proud of them all. Will and Ben do an amazing job on the farm, in our construction and doing their home schooling. Will is teaching himself to weld right now and Ben is getting published cartooning in his spare time. Even Hope pulls her weight, helping out with small chores on the farm as well as doing a lot of in the house stuff like the morning dishes, pickup and table setting. They are all very treasured.



  7. Charles says:

    Your family demonstrates classic yankee inguinuity. You are the way we need more people to be to move us forward. All to many people are spending their time on their astrixes watching the boob tube.

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