It was a bit chilly yesterday, but we couldn't wait anymore, and we finally *officially* started putting mud on the house. We're starting with the floor, which is great, as we can make a lot of mistakes and get used to the mix process without any worries of structural failure. And it will give us a flat space to work on later this summer.
I got started mixing an insulative layer of purlite (like pumice or vermiculite) and clay. We're using a tarp that I got from the lumber yard for free, and it seems to be doing well. Notice I'm wearing those little surf booties you can get for about $8 a pair. It's too cold to be barefoot, and the road base we're using in the regular layer has 3/4 inch rock in it that would hurt too much to step on.
Here I am working some straw into a road base layer. Notice behind me we put down some newspaper to keep the really wet mix from oozing into the gravel drain layer.
Here's a photo of the first of the purlite layer going in. We decided to do an inch of this layer, (4 purlite parts to one clay part) and then put regular roadbase cob (again, 4 roadbase/sand to 1 clay) on top of it. You can see we've got boards in to use as scree levels for the top of this section. As we go, we pull out the far board, fill in the gap, and leapfrog the board to the next section.
After doing this insulative layer all afternoon, we've alreay used up one $14 - 4 cubic feet - bag of purlite.... and we realize that doesn't make sense. While I appreciate the perlite is a natural product (I think it's some sort of lava from the CA desert), it's more expensive and harder to lay down than simply 1 inch of styrafoam board. And probably not as insulative. Thus, we've decided not to continue with the perlite.
Here's Melissa pretending to step on the finished section. We got this far in one afternoon. Not too bad for a (cold) beginning!