Practically Perfect Pour

Mud turning to Stone

As Mary Poppins said, “she was practically perfect in every way.” Well today we had a practically perfect pour. There were a few of very minor glitches but no blowouts, no injuries and not even any close calls. Almost boring. Boring is good. I like boring when I’m placing 132,000 lbs of liquid stone.

The pump truck arrived at 6:18 AM, at the same time as the milk truck arrived at our farm. Oops! But they managed to sort it out, the milk driver John did his thing and then the pump truck driver Joel set up the concrete pumper while we waited for the first truck of concrete to arrive at 7 AM just as it started to get light.

Today’s pour included:

  • East and West Abattoir closet partition walls and door frame pillar.
  • Upstairs equipment closet
  • Abattoir loft floor
  • Bond ring around entire building
  • Cross beam east west
  • Abattoir loft and Administration storage loft separation wall
  • Freezer insulated sub-slab
  • Cooler insulated sub-slab
  • Brine insulated sub-slab

My Current Favorite Mathematical Curve – a Symmetrical Cubic Quadratic Bezier Curve

We did a number of new techniques including pouring our first flat ceiling (wow, look Ma, no arch!), the Bezier curve and some open bottomed forms just to keep things interesting.

Basalt Rock Fiber Mesh Reinforcement

We also used a new material in this pour, basalt rebar and mesh. The idea behind the basalt is it is not susceptible to corrosion like plain steel due to urine, manure, salts, blood and acids used in cleaning. From the lairage through the abattoir to the brine and the smokehouse we will be playing with a lot of corrosive materials. It would be best if these didn’t destroy our facility.

Naughty (e.g., Bad) Waler where washer pulled through first board

The only problems were a threaded rod nut that had been left off, a form with a small hole at the bottom and one waler that pulled through the first of its three boards probably due to said missing nut on the next rod over. Fortunately the next two waler boards held and there was no blowout. All praise the backup and over construction!

Good Waler for comparison

So now the butcher shop is one level higher and closer to being closed in which brings us that much closer to opening our own on-farm USDA meat processing facility with slaughter, meat cutting, sausage making, smoking, fermenting and our own commercial kitchen. Step by step we’re making progress.

“What’s next?” you ask…

This weekend we’ll setup forms for the last wall pour to bring the building to full height for this year – no tower of Babylon this winter although it looks very tall from the road side. We’ll then set ceiling forms and I’ll do a tiny bit of conduit and plumbing for exhaust vents and such. The upcoming pour will fill the last section of wall forms and create the ceilings as well including the heavy inverted T beam in the Abattoir for the high rail where the hoist will hang in the Abattoir.

The pour after that, the final outdoor concrete pour of the year, will happen very quickly – I hope before the end of October. We’ll let the concrete from the coming pour cure a week or so to get enough strength to hold the roof. Then we’ll cap the building with an outer concrete roof including the eaves that will allow the sun to come in the big windows to warm some parts of the facility in the winter while blocking the sun during the warm parts of the year. This is part of my plan for minimizing our energy consumption since energy costs are one of the biggest budget items for a facility.

North Field Sows Drinking Whey by Driveway

Joel, the concrete pump truck operator saw me shoving the mud around with my gloved hands and said, “You really like playing in that stuff!” He’s right. I love concrete. It’s a wonderful green building material that is made up mostly of our locally quarried rock and sand. It is easy to manipulate and form into virtually any shape. With tensile reinforcement and some fun engineering it can build incredible, long lasting structures that will outlive stick built houses. Some concrete structures are thousands of years old. Modern advancements in the technology will improve this even further. Build it and have it last many lifetimes. Mud between my fingers and big machines to play with. A little kid’s delight!

Outdoors: 58°F/36°F Light rain all day, heavier in the PM after we finished pouring
Tiny Cottage: 67°F/65°F

Daily Spark: There’s all this hoopla about voters having to show photo ID. I don’t have photo ID. Our town clerk knows us all. That works. If a town is too big to have their town clerk know everyone then perhaps the town is too big.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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11 Responses to Practically Perfect Pour

  1. jen says:

    Wow, it’s amazing to see this all come together. Can’t wait ’til we get to see the insides, too.

  2. “Bezier Curve” Now I finally know how to describe myself. The woman with Bezier Curves.

    So happy all continues to move forward for you Walter. May your winter be gentle this year.

    • Ooo! I love that! “Psss… wanna come up to my lab and check out my Bezier curves?!?” That has so much more pizzaz than mere etchings… :)

      As to winter, we are hoping for a tempered winter, not below -20°F. It is nasty when it gets to -45°F. But we also want lots of snow to fill the water table. Actually, a relatively warm winter and lots of snow go together well since when it gets really cold it doesn’t snow much.

      May you Fall gracefully into the fluffyness of Winter too.

  3. Charles says:

    Have you considered a Spray Foam roof or spray foam coating for the roof? They are very energy efficient.

  4. Pablo says:

    Is there any concrete left in your state? Seems like you’ve used it all up.

    • Well, the construction industry has been so slow that we figure we need to do our part to keep the local concrete industry alive. We’ve also bought lots of insulation and literally tons of lumber which helps the local sawmills and lumber yards. Ironically, we supply wood from our forests to the sawmills for making said lumber so you see we benefit from keeping the local economy pumping. Now, everyone, go out and spend, spend, spend to pump up the economic activity. As Smokey the Economist says, “Remember, you can prevent Depressions!”

      (Seriously though, what better time to buy land or do construction than during a down economy when resources are more readily available! Not that I cause the Recession. It is just a coincidence that both our construction project and the current economic down turn both began in 2008. Just a coincidence. Keep repeating that. Same for the warming trend that’s given us a longer construction season… Just a coincidence…)

  5. Susan Lea says:

    From the looks of the weather, something else has been pouring, too. :) Every time I read about your project, I’m amazed by the scope of it, the planning, the hard work–all of it!

    • Aye, we got a delightful rain just as we finished up our concrete pour. It was perfect weather for playing in the mud. It is important to keep mud wet since it is a curing process rather than a drying process and water plays an important part in the chemistry. Thus, if necessary, sacrifice a politician, or two, to make sure you get good weather when you need to pour concrete. Note that you get better results using honest politicians but in a pinch more of the regular kind can be used if you’re out of the good stuff. All politician sacrifices should be carried out by a properly trained witch doctor to avoid undesirable consequences.

  6. Terrel Shumway says:

    “If a town is too big to have their town clerk know everyone then perhaps the town is too big.”


    I loved it when I went into the bank one day, and the teller didn’t ask for I.D. I asked her why. She said, “Oh, I know who you are.” Instead of writing my D.L. number on the check, she wrote “KTM” — short for “known to me.”

    p.s. Did you consider monolithic domes?

    • I did look at Monolithic Domes (a company) and at dome construction in general. Many of my early designs explored that and I built some to test it. In the end I concluded that the problems with domes (fitting living areas, acoustics, expansion) and how they fit with our needs didn’t mesh. Adding kneewalls does help a lot and domes can be the roof and have some flat walls below.

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