June 1-4

Another big surge of progress. The floors and windowsills are poured by Lonnie Pohl and his crew. This is a group of hard-working guys - they're working by 6:30AM and on the day of the pour were still working when we left at 5:00PM, with maybe 45 minutes for lunch. Concrete works to its own schedule, so you have to work it when it's ready.

This is the beginning of the pour, which was 20 cubic yards total. The plastic along the walls is to protect the rammed earth from splashing concrete. The pink along the bottom is open cell foam which acts as a less-obtrusive expansion joint. (Less obtrusive than the hideous tar-impregnated 1/2" thick expansion joint board you find in streets and driveways.)

In spite of what's written on the truck door, the concrete comes from Cuba ReadyMix, which uses only the latest, most up-to-date equipment.

The pour is nearly complete - about 80% is spread, screeded, and a first float.

The wooded pegs in the lower right are used to set the floor level. As the pour proceeds, the floor is leveled to the pegs, which are then pulled out.


Lonnie takes no chances with his forms. A blowout is a time-consuming and potentially expensive mistake. Still, you have to wonder if you really need this much bracing.


Many, many hours are spent floating the floor. Not only  by machine, as seen here, but also by hand. The rest of the crew followed the machine, working on hands and knees, smoothing the swirl marks. To keep from leaving fabric marks in the concrete, the workers have narrow steel trays they kneel in, sliding across the floor as they float it smooth.

Two days later, we return to inspect the completed work. Lucky is quick to figure out the coolest spot to relax.

With the sills completed, you can now get a good sense of what the house will look like. The rough openings are crisped up with the sills, the saw-cut bond beam complements the look.  As important as what you see in this picture, also important is what you can't see - big piles of dirt. Several large mounds of soil were left after the walls were rammed. We spent much of this weekend spreading the piles to level the site and control water flow.

Lest you think we never kick back, here's proof that there is some time off. The last two trips even featured short bike rides after dinner and a brief exploration of a complex of pit houses Elaine's archeology buddies just found one ridge over from the ranch.