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DayCreek Journal

July 7, 2001

I Gave the Hoe the Old Heave-Ho

Tired of all that constant hoeing? Now there's an easier, faster way. Meet my new buddy - the rusty, trusty cement mixer.

Up until this past week I had been mixing all of the mortar by hand in a wheel barrow using a hoe. It really wasn't too bad physically, but it did take time to get the ingredients mixed. I figured by the end of the summer I would be pumped up to maximum pumptitude, but every time I mixed another batch of mortar my mind would wander towards the thought of using a cement mixer.

Nick had mentioned a while back that he had one that I could borrow. After considering the thought of using a cement mixer, or getting really buff, I finally gave Nick a call and asked if he still had the mixer. Nick had the mixer and was nice enough to bring it out to the house. (Thanks Nick!) The mixer needed lots of grease, a new pulley and a belt, but after finding all the right parts and reassembling, it does a pretty good job at mixing the mortar.

Cement Mixer vs. Mortar Mixer
There is a difference between a cement mixer and a mortar mixer. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a mortar mixer, it would be the best option according to Richard Flatau. He says that a mortar mixer's paddles are different and made for mixing mortar. Taking Richard's advice, I've kept an eye out for a used, cheap mortar mixer, but so far no luck. In the mean time though, I figured I would give the cement mixer a try and it does work okay for the wet paper mix that I've been using. I'm not sure how this would work for a damp, sawdust based mortar mix. That might be a bit too dry for a cement mixer.

I have found at least with this mixer, that the mortar mixes best with the drum tilted down about as far as it can go without pouring out. The first to get mixed are the equal amounts of paper slurry and sand. This takes about 5 minutes to get it mixed to an even consistency. Next comes the type N mortar mix which takes another 5 minutes to mix. Once you hear a bunch of "ker-plotching" going on, you know the mix is ready. The mixer does leave a few pockets of unmixed material, but it's only a handful. Especially without other assistance, the mixer will speed things up for me and conserve my own energy.

The 7th Wall
The 7th wall is the third wall to our bedroom and contains another window. Using the mixer and having help from my friend Tom who came out on Thursday, the wall was put up in about two days. What's slowing me down the most regarding wall construction is the time that it takes to cut and bevel the wood. My plan was to have most of the wood cut by this May, but plans just never seem to work out right.

Speaking of beveling the wood, here's a close-up photo of one of the walls. Although beveling the log ends are unnecessary, I really like the feel that it gives the wall. It really softens up the look of the wall and kind of gives the wall a warm, inviting look. (At least I think so.)



This week's beanie photo goes to the pair of sixteen-sided house swallows that ironically built their own round, mud nest inside of our house. I got a kick out of them watching me build, while I watched them build. As you can see, their house is already done.