May 2006 (click on YELLOW text for pictures)

15 May- Bob arrives and moves back into the Angelfire apartment. He spends days cleaning up the site and installing bulkhead doors over the steps down to the basement.

28 May - Kerri and Raylene arrive with dogs in tow: Kody, Panda, Monkey Sy and Ju Ju Bee. JuJu Bee is the most recent addition to the dog family, weighing in at 5 pounds she is the most tenacious and high maintenance of the canines; we are not sure if her daily hair styling session is required or is simply filling the grandchilden void for The Mom. Her look ranges from pampered princess to fashionably disheveled. Once Kerri and Mom are on site they set up the outdoor kitchen in a new spot, plant a garden, and Kerri moves her tent into Kindra's treehouse platform.


June '06(click on YELLOW text for picutures)

4 June - Kindra arrives by car from Texas and is immediately assulted with questions and heckled for a construction timeline before she can even unpack.

5-8 June - Kindra and Bob install a shoulder beam and frame the roof and skylight over the kitchen then move onto rearranging logs in order to plywood the lower roof. Every section of plywood is another step closer to a dry house. Kerri and Raylene harvest and peel young trees for latillas

10 - 15 June - Jamie Heilman, a good friend of Kindra's from State College, PA days arrives for a visit. He and Kindra team up to work the roundwood rafters into an evenly sloped surface over rounded walls. Jamie masters roundwood notching with a chainsaw in no time at all. Bob also works on the roof while Raylene aka "the cob machine" and Kerri cob the kitchen wall up to meet the rafters.

13 June - Kindra and Jamie spend the afternoon visiting with Frank Meyer and others at Llama Foundation's Build Here Now.

15-20 June - The Scrandis family, Cousins from the Welch side, arrive for a four day visit. We took a few days off to tour the pueblo with Flat Stanley, visited Red River for a wine and craft festival and hung out in camp and acted goofy. Late Saturday night we tracked brother Travis down about 40 miles away at midnight just to hang out for an hour in the middle of nowhere. Sunday night Frank Meyer dropped in for the evening and shared some songs with us, our favorite of course was the weekend theme song "I like to pee outside". Monday we taught out visitors how to cob, peel logs and all worked on building the eating area bench. Rachael, age 6, revelaed herself as a natural earth builder.

21-23 June - when our guests went seeking further adventrues, we focused on laying foundations for the spiral stairway and finishing the wall/bench with ceramic flue liners for shoes cubbies.

24 June - Rick Cawley, carpenter and friend arrives from Austin, he and Kindra cut open the paper on the upper roof and begin the upstairs dormers. That very day the monsoons begin. Kerri and Mom keep the cobbimg up, mixing on the floor of the master bedroom and adding height to the stairway wall.

Construction of a curved dormer is a bit tricky, we started by putting in curved ribs of plywood then scoring roof sheathing to bend over the cured roof. In between rain storms and tarping and untarping we slowly change the profile of the big roof.

26 June - biggest ice storm ever ruins Kindra's tent, destroys half our tarps, and leaves 2-3 inches of hail lying on the ground. It looks like winter has hit in the middle of summer!

27 - 30 June - between storms Kindra and Rick work on the dormers, during storms we relax with the dogs. Meanwhile Bob peels the plywood off the kitchen floor and begins to install the Tounge and Groove flooring. Kerri and Raylene begin cobbing the spiral staircase.


JULY '06 (click on YELLOW text for pictures)

1-4 July - rain, rain, rain. The monsoons are upon us. Kerri and Kindra work as they can to dry in the dormers with plywood and tar paper. Bob continues work on the kitchen floor and Raylene cobs on her bedroom wall and lays adobes on the staircase walls. On the staircase, Kerri impersonates a stair tread. She and Raylene cobbed and adobed up everything under the steps so that it can dry and shrink before we put the carpentry in.

5 July - Kindra drives to Alburquerque to retrieve Chris and Travis (the youngest, but not smallest, Welch sibling) from the airport.

6-8 July - Travis, Bob, Raylene and Kerri clean, and install vigas for the living room ceiling. Here is a view of the living room ceiling looking in through the north window opening. Kindra and Chris dry in the last dormer (including some soffit) and prepare to close the gap where the 4th dormer would have gone. Even though we like the idea of the fourth dormer, we have run out of time to play with extras on the roof. Amidst all the construction commotion, Kody can always find a spot to relax.

9-10 July - Travis gets himself into a little cob. Then cleverly devises a scheme, "rapid fire cobbing" that convinces Kerri to cooperatively attmept to catch small mud missles thrown at high velocity. Sisters beware, this is what happens when any little brother gets ahold of the "cob toss" concept.

The dormers are finally dried in! They look nice inside and out. Downstairs there is a commotion about the first step on the stairs. Due to some mis-communication the "under-tread" cob was built too high and now, to the great irritation of the cobbing team, must be hacked down several inches. Construction is not always a smooth process.

12-16 July - With the first step location and height resolved Bob moves upward on the stairway. During installation of the second step, Kody the malamute helps out by testing the first step as a pillow. As the week progresses the steps climb higher, by Friday the fifth step is installed and on Sunday the sixth step is in place.

Kindra and Chris arrange and level the final roof logs and our log work is just about done! When rain storms prevent them from working on the roof Kindra and Chris layout the kitchen and frame in the plumbing wall between the bathroom and kitchen. The nice thing about building your own house is that you can re-make desicions as the space developed. Raylene closely montiored the kitchen layout and made changes as we worked. When she was tired of arguing about details she left JouJouBee as "madame director" to handle the situation.

16 July - "purification Sunday" we cleaned house!

17-21 July - Kerri and Mom start cobbing over the window seat, they soak burlap in slip and wrapp it up over the bond beam to reaveal our round-wood headers. One day they finished the sheathing on the outside of the dormers. On Thursday Bob's sisters Sandra and Angie and their escourts John and Bob visit and are tempted into mud dancing.

Up on the roof Kindra and Chris complete the plywood and begin installing tounge and groove in the roof over-hangs. The idea is that the plywood extends to the edge of the staw bales and then the T&G covers the portions where the underside of the roof is exposed. Through lots of off-balance chainsaw work, Kindra trims log rafters and Chris follows behind installing fascia pieces. The result is a smooth-curved roof line.

23-24 July - Our neighbor Pam generously loans us her 17' trailer to make the 4hr trip north to Monte Vista, Colorado to purchase our straw bales. We stack and tie 120 bales on to the trailer and haul it home. It was quite a load, coming over the pass from Taos the truck hit full throttle at 25mph with 11 cars lined up behind us on the narrow, steep mountain road. We raced the monsoons to get the bales off the trailer and under cover in the house. By the time the last bale came off the trailer we had filled the living room and the bedroom with bales. Sara Schmidt from Austin also arrived the same day to lead the bale raising... and the next day her friend Jared, recently an apprentice at Llama Foundation

26-27 July - the north west foundation wall is prepped with sill plates, pumice, and rebar spikes. The peeled fir saplings secured against the walls will be tied with partner on the opposite side of bales to serve as external pins to stabilize the bales aginst the adobe walls. The first bales goes in! We use a technique known as the "french dip" where we soak the exposed sides of the bales in a pool of slip before putting them on the wall. This effectively puts a first coat of plaster on the bales as the wall is formed.

Meanwhile Bob is working his way higher on the stairs as the Mom works her way around the house covering the bond beam with burlap soaked in slip.

28 July - Thanks to the hands of Sara and Jared the west wall of bales now fills out the wall all the around to the northern window buck in the living room. The buck will "float" in the bale wall attached to the earthen walls by a window seat on the bottom, a framed header above, and also by dowels spiked into the bales on either side.

31 July - 1 Aug- Up on the roof Chris works to trim rafters on the south east section while Kindra moves plywood into position on the northeast section. Ultimately the trimmed rafters receive fascia that define the edge of the roof.

AUGUST '06 (click on YELLOW text for pictures)

2-5 August - The monsoons are still upon us. Rain and Sun, sun and rain. While the rain frustrates builders, it awakens the Moreno valley and surrounding forests. So many mushrooms spout on the northen slope that its hard to walk without crushing some small fungi. Kody "the big bear" especially appreciates the daily dose of chill and moisture, becuase of his thick weather proof coat we are not even sure if he notices when its raining or not raining.

Bob moves steadily up the stair case.... three steps to go, one step to go, done! It was a long job worthy of Bob's precise craftsmanship.

The Mom works on miscellaneous cob including filling out the sides of the northen window in the living room - a first step in preparing for plastering. Sara and Jared begin bales on the north east side. During rains Kindra works on misc. carperntry such as the arched headers over the hallway to the bathroom.

Aug 6-11 - Everyone puts in a hard push to get the house ready for the workshop. Bob starts and finishes the tounge and groove in the ceiling over both southern window seats then begins installing windows. Kindra and Chris put in several long days finishing the curved edge of the living roof structure and fascia.

Aug 12-19 - Plastering workshop with Carole Crews! many friends came to learn from our local earthen plaster guru. It was a big event, so I have created a whole other page (link above) to cover the event. Aug 17 - the Mom and Kerri depart for Texas

Aug 19-22 - Break! Kindra visits the East Coast for the wedding of two friends. Chris and Bob amuse themselves with coffee shops, pancake breakfasts, pizza dinners, hotsprings and rum fireballs at the campfire.

Aug 23-Sept 7 - Things have calmed down a bit: Bob, Kindra and Chris are the only ones left on site. But the aspens are already turning, a month earlier than last year, and it feels like a big winter is coming, the windows must go in! We take a little time to bask in the glow of our newly beautiful earthen plastered walls... the living room and view from the mater bedroom both encourage us pause to admire the recent work. Then its back up to the roof! Kindra and Chris work to complete the tricky round dormer fascia, then Bob paints and adds metal trim in preparation for the metal roof. By the first week in September the upper roof is trimmed, painted and ready for the final layer of metal.



SEPTEMBER '06 (click on YELLOW text for pictures)

Sept 8 - 12 Bob departs for a short trip to Austin to attend Kelly Fry's wedding (youngest daughter of Steve and Geri Fry who helped with our adobe wall last summer :) While he is gone Kindra and Chris start the metal roof on the back side of the house. Things go well, and despite 2 full days spent flashing the skylight, the blue metal roof is looking crisp and strong by the time Bob returns from Austin.

Sept 13-19 - Last days before Chris leaves for Southern California to help Betty and "T" with a cob workshop. He and Kindra work, work, work to get the roof on. Bob cruises through several projects downstairs including hanging the north door in the loft and staking all the window bucks to their bales with dowels. And just as Chris is taking off to pack we pulled him back for one more hour to hang the arched windows in the bedroom.

Sept 19 - Chris departs to Sourthern California

Sept 20-28 - The final countdown. Kindra and Bob make a list and get to work on crossing things off. Kindra goes up and down, cutting roof pieces and putting them on. Then she is delayed waiting for flashing. Bob put the framing in the ceiling of the masterbedroom so that we can finish our electrical rough-in.

And then winter strikes: snow falls and temperatures plunge to highs in the low 40's. The wood stove is lit and work continues in between hot beverages and finger thawings.

Finally the weather lets up and the flashing arrives. Kindra and Bob work till dark every evening finishing the roof and installing the remaining windows.

Sept 30 - Finally as the truck is being packed by a friend Tricia (yeah Tricia!) who is riding with us to Austin, the final screws are put into the ridge cap and the metal roof is done! The house gets tucked in for the winter, and off we go to Texas, only one day behind schedule (a new record). In less than 24 hrs Kindra will be on site in Lockhart, TX starting the fall/winter builiding project there for Jennifer Fruth and Robert Brown.

See you next summer!