Getting our rocks off

We’re going to build a new house, out of giant polystyrene lego blocks.  It will have an early-1500s medieval manor vibe.

Several people at my work have built houses in this way.  Most people just render the polystyrene, and some put stone veneer on it.  That’s what we’ll do, as it helps with the medieval look.

You can buy the stone veneer commercially.  As a cost-saving measure, we’ve decided to make our own.

We’ve imported some rubber moulds from the US and we have started casting our own stones from concrete.  We’re still at the stage of experimenting with colours.  We have 14 standard moulds; each makes 3-4 rocks about an inch thick.  We need to do this every day for a long time.

Some of the moulds produce stones to go around corners – they take a little more effort, and the results are good.  We have 4 of the corner moulds; in theory we only need 2 for the right proportion, but got extras so that we shouldn’t notice duplicates.

The concrete gets a base colour, and then we paint them with some “face dye” (cement + colouring oxides).  That gives it a more natural variation, and we’re still experimenting with application techniques.

Our friend Mog has lent us a concrete mixer, to help us work out what size mixer we need.  His is not really big enough, so we’ve ordered a bigger one on-line (cheap, so we hope it lasts).  Each mix uses a bag of cement, two big buckets of aggregate, colouring oxides, and various additives.  The good news is that two mixes fill all our moulds quite neatly.

The moulds are quite heavy, and there’s much lugging of packets of cement and buckets of concrete.  We’re getting a regular workout, and for about the cost of gym memberships we’ll get the rock for our house.

Advertisements

Hello? Does this thing still work?

2018 was a year of culminations.

Our big event was getting married, a country-style wedding in our local cathedral.  A few weeks later we went for a holiday to Fiji.  It all went very well, and many thanks to our friends for their help to put that together.

For the last couple of years, Allison has been working as a services co-ordinator for the elderly and disabled.  The business has transitioned from government to private, with more work and less money, so Allison was content to leave when her contract expired at the end of 2017.  She’s taking a break then will be looking for a new role.

Steve (Allison’s brother) and his wife Lavender have been living in our cottage for the past three years, and running a growing meadery.  They recently bought a property near Braidwood and moved there over Christmas.  Their pigs moved last weekend, which involved us running around the paddock for hours lugging heavy folding tables to guide them, excellent exercise I have to say.  The meadery is still at Cockatrice Farm until they get Council approval to move it, and a big shed built.

Between Christmas and New Year, Allison and I took advantage of the empty cottage to paint it throughout.  We’re setting it up as comfy guest accommodation.  Possibly some more wwoofers down the track.

In late 2016 we got a new granddaughter, courtesy of Jess and Phil and some over-indulgence in Steve’s excellent mead.  Elyssa’s now just starting to walk, and adores her brothers Deacon and Alex.

My son Owen is now 18, and after a couple of false starts has commenced an electrical apprenticeship.  It is working out very well and currently he is working long hours at Parliament House where they have major security renovations.

Just before Christmas, Council gave us development approval to build a new house on the farm.  More on that in due course.

Best wishes to all,

Rhys