Saturday, 23 October 2010

Getting ready

Hello, green care friends and colleagues

I have just got back from Slough (yes – on a Saturday!) having done two
hours heavy digging. Unfortunately, probably because it’s half term, nobody
else I asked could make it – and our two teenage boys at home refused to get
out of bed (also because it’s half term). But they have promised to come
next week if I buy them a kebab...

But I’m putting a call out for everybody to muck in next week – and I think
we should be able to get to the penultimate stage - before putting the final
layer of the floor down. The big tent itself is meant to be arriving the
following week...

I have done quite a lot of web research about what we need for this cob floor,
Here's the soil analyses I did:

And here’s my recipe for what I think we need to do:

Because of the staff shortage today ;-) I didn't quite manage to complete the
hole before the nursery closed – but I did get at least a third (maybe a
half) of it dug out. David did the position and circle the other day, so I
started by digging a small trench all the way round – diameter exactly that
of the yurt (21’), then digging down to 4” everywhere. But as I say, I
didn’t manage everywhere – and I didn’t do any stamping down. It was still
about 30 wheelbarrows full to shift – which makes me realise that there’s
more to this Green Care than I first thought – and I expect to be a bit
stiff tomorrow. It would be good if we could get the whole hole (ie 4” deep,
21’ diamerter) dug by next weekend – so I will ask the 3-day programme on
Monday, and the Thursday group if they are willing to help. No promises,

But next weekend needs to be the ‘big floor-laying day’ – so please come if
you can. The nursery is only open on Saturdays between 10am and 4pm, so I
think we should get started as soon after 10 o’clock as people can arrive.
Again, I will invite both groups and the few other people who have come
along so far to join us – but 6 to 8 energetic people would probably get us
one stage away from being ready to erect the yurt itself. Which is where we
need to be by then... I will buy everybody who comes along lunch in the pub
nearby (and later ask the board if I can claim it back on expenses!). The
place is Wexham Nursery,, and
the address is Wexham Nursery, Wexham Road, Slough, SL2 4HE – about 200yds
from the hospital entrance going towards the town centre – but ring me if
you want more directions.

I have ordered a few things to arrive on Monday afternoon – when David and
SEEDS are there (and maybe us from the 3-day programme for an hour or so):

·         3 jumbo bags of sharp sand

·         4 jumbo bags of 20mm gravel

·         7 x 250ml boiled linseed oil

·         50 square metres of damp-proof membrane (which I bought separately
and have left at the site)

I have mentioned it to the staff at the nursery – Paul is away this week –
and I’m not sure how close the delivery lorry will get it to our own site.

Which could mean a lot of work with wheelbarrows, if we don’t get it dumped
just where we want.

As for costs, I did some calculations when I was at Wickes:

  • We have spent £330 so far on the floor. We still need to get clay,
    manure (and straw as well if it’s cow poo), and ox blood or cement
    colouring.  BUT – if we use lots of the soil that is already there, we will
    be able to keep the some of the gravel and sand for other uses (like the
    adjacent water feature we have planned with the group). See below - where I
    explain the soil analysis we need to do.
  • If we did it with (cut price) decking from Wickes, it would be
    £499 for the planks (would also need supporting structures) – and it
    wouldn’t be easily transportable anywhere else at a future date.
  • If we did it with standard floorboard planks to make a ‘tradtional
    yurt floor’, it would be £858 for the planks (though several 2”x2” struts
    would also be needed) – but it would be usable in the future if we need to
    or decide to move the yurt.
  • We could do it cheaper than earthen floor, for example with
    flagsones, but they are not an eco-friendly building material. Also, if we
    manage to use local soil (see next paragraph), we will have lots of sand and
    shingle left to do other things with.
It’s probably worth putting that lot on the record – for EcoMinds as much as
anything – to demonstrate that we are always considering the most economic
and ‘green’ ways to use the resources.

Here’s the soil analysis considerations:

The Slough soil seems pretty heavy and clay-ey to me (though I’m no expert).
SO – we can use the local soil itself for the floor, as long as we end up
with roughly the proportions in the diagram above. What I am doing at the
moment is analysing it for what percentages of clay/silt/sand it is –
following instructions I found on a website. When we know that we can work
out how much of it we can use. If we are lucky (and I think we might be,
because I think it has lots of clay in it) we will not even need to buy any
clay, because we will be able to get all we need from the local soil. But I
should know that tomorrow, when the samples on the kitchen windowsill have

So next Saturday, we will aim to do this:

1.       Stamp the ground down

2.       Cover the bottom with gravel

3.       Cover that with sand

4.       Lay the damp-proof membrane

5.       Lay sand on top of it

6.       Lay a thick layer of cob (with lower % of clay) and leave it to dry

Then, maybe the following week, we need to:

7.       Lay one or two more layers of cob (to the recipe above) – final one less than 1” thick

8.       First application of linseed oil (once dry)

Then, probably after the yurt itself is up:

9.       Second, third and final applications of linseed oil

SO... PLEASE let me know if you can come along next Saturday.

And some of you may well know lots more about these things than I do – so
please tell me if any of this could be done better!



I have been reading about geese – and the more I need, the more I think they
would be a better investment, both for AAI therapy and security, than
insurance! One Essex second hand car dealer had a regular break-ins until he
got a small flock. And none since!

They need about an eigth of an acre of grazing land each, and are best
introduced as goslings – with 2 geese and one gander. And they imprint more
than any other poultry – so who ever is there during their first few days,
are seen as parents for ever (and they usually live 20 – 25 years). Lots of
transference issues to talk about in the groups then!


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