Winter can be harsh here in the Shire, but imagine living in a house that stays warm and cozy throughout the cold months with minimal ongoing inputs. Well-designed earth-sheltered structures take the warmth of summer and carry it deep into the heart of winter. The key is an “umbrella” of dry earth that covers and partially surrounds the structure. The dry earth acts as both thermal mass and insulation, helping to passively maintain near-earth-stable temperatures year-round. Earth-sheltered homes can be faster, easier, and cheaper to build than almost any other construction method, but there are certain critical design issues to keep in mind. Firstly, the roof should follow the site’s slope and be oriented in such a way that every drop of water that lands on it has a complete downhill soil path. Secondly, there should be multiple drainage ditches uphill of the structure to redirect water coming down the hill.
Here at Bardo Farm, we’re hoping to build an earth-sheltered house that can live up to their reputation, so we’re building with roundwood timber posts and beams from the land it’s being built on, and we’re integrating a permaculture food forest site design into the uphill patio. When everything is done, the uphill patio will not only facilitate proper drainage, it will also be planted with a beautiful, diverse, and highly productive edible forest garden, and provide a fairly large and comfortable outdoor living area to complement the modest interior of the hobbit house itself.
If you’re excited about natural building, earth-sheltered houses, food forests, and/or permaculture, then come on up to Bardo Farm Aug 8-17 and learn along with us.
Friday, Aug 8 will start with an overview of the site, the house and food forest design, and the work we’ve already done, and once we’re all on the same page, we can start getting our hands dirty!
On Saturday, Aug 9, the focus will be on log debarking. Stripping bark off of the logs will help to prevent them from rotting, and help to dry them out.
Sunday, Aug 10, we’ll learn how to cut notches and fit together the posts and beams!
From Monday, Aug 11 through Thursday, Aug 14, we’ll finish up the debarking, the notching, milling lumber, and preparing the rock footings for the posts.
Friday, Aug 15 is a big day! We’ll raise the post and beam frame and start placing the rafters!
Saturday, Aug 16 we’ll finish the framing, shore up the walls and roof with milled lumber, and add the first waterproofing layer.
If everything goes smoothly, then on Sunday, Aug 17, the excavator will backfill with dry earth and we’ll add the “umbrella” waterproofing layer to keep the dry earth dry. Finally, we’ll add the last layer of earth and seed over everything with a cover crop!
What’s a hobbit house work party without a hobbit meal schedule? That’s right, if you want to come rough it out here in the woods of the Shire and help build a hobbit house, you won’t starve, as we aspire to serve you the traditional six meals a day.
Breakfast, coffee available everyday and sometimes sweets.
2nd Breakfast, might be quail eggs, fresh or frozen local berries.
Elevensies, hot and fresh from the Bardo Farm Kitchen!
Luncheon, wild edibles, maybe salad or berries, and bring your own to share.
Tea, a different tea everyday, tulsi, oolong, rooibus, etc., sometimes biscuits.
Supper/Dinner Party everyday after work, sometimes pizza, bbq, campfire, live music!
If you’re staying overnight(s) don’t forget to bring a tent and camping equipment, and prepare for any weather.