I have been back out here in Terlingua for all of March and April, mostly playing music around the area. Now that the season is coming to an end, I am finding some time to get back to the building. This last Thursday, we had a great team to work on and almost finish up the brown coat inside the dome. Don, Mundo, and myself developed a nice rhythm and got the hardest part done (the center of the dome, where the stucco can fall down on you as you apply it). Since we aren't using any power tools, all the stucco from beginning to end of this project is being mixed by hand, rather than a power mixer. We are also using our own aggregate in our stucco mixture, found locally for free, rather than a pre-mix such as quikrete. In order to prepare for a full workday such as today, all of the supplies must be gathered beforehand. The sand is gathered a couple of miles from my land, where it settles on the road from nearby natural deposits. The road becomes difficult to drive on when the wind piles the loose sand in heaps on the road. By gathering the sand, it also clears the road so that it is a bit easier to drive on. Since I don't have access to a conventional pickup truck, I use my volvo, Ruby, pretty much like a truck by putting the seats down and then covering the back of the wagon with a heavy duty tarp. There is almost as much room in there as a pickup truck. The sand then has to be filtered very finely. I screen it with both lath and mosquito netting. We also have to make sure that there is enough water on hand. Stucco gets very thirsty for the stuff.
Don and Mundo are both expert stuccoers, with very different techniques. I learned a lot from watching them as I mixed stucco. I felt pretty comfortable with stuccoing the scratch coat since it doesn't have to be perfect and gets covered up. But for the brown coat, the part that get seen, I wanted more experienced hands to do the task.
A long day makes for a good night's sleep, however, I learned later that my slumber was only a few feet away from a rattle snake, the first one I have seen on my land.