Hi Captain Steve,
Thank you for your interesting questions. I would start by saying that you trained the General Contractor on this crew in all things renewable and energy efficient and solar. Robert Zahorski rented your home and eventually bought it near Ladysmith. He talked fondly of you as we built. We decided, that based on performances by two homes in Canada (Ontario & Quebec) that this would be the "toasty ticket" for northern MN. Not what you would call a statistically significant sample, by any stretch of the imagination.
I am theorizing that the cordwood will do its usual "wicking away" of moisture like the short log ends do. The wood being used here is cedar and the "straw effect" (the log ends acting like a bunch of strawberry milkshake straws to wick moisture in or out) of the relatively short log ends (16") seems to work well for cordwood walls. This is certainly not a scientific statement (perhaps a botanical one), just an experiential one. My cedar log end home of 30 years acts that way. When a wall gets wet from rain or snow, it doesn't stay wet, but dries out quickly.
As to the checks that develop in log ends: We filled each of the primary checks with foam before they were mortared into the walls, and if a random check opens up we will stuff it on each side. This is part of the maintenance of a cordwood home. Check stuffing.
Having discussed this in detail with Sandy Clidaras: who has lived in his closed cell, foam insulated, single wall cordwood home for 5 years now, he writes of the lack of air infiltration, the warmth of the walls and the ease of heating. This has become more of an 'ancedotal method' than a laboratory tested method, which come to think of it, is a lot of what has fueled the cordwood movement. However, the book Cordwood and the Code: A Building Permit Guide was an attempt to put all the cordwood testing data in a cohesive document.
In the final estimation this was an attempt to give the gal who is purchasing this home the best bang for her buck. Hopefully we did that, time will tell.
Avast and shiver me timbers Matey,