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Archive for June, 2010

Yesterday was the longest day of the year, with the season’s growth at its peak, the sun high in the sky, and a just-born baby goat on the farm.  To top off an already awesome day, the timing was perfect for putting in the first (and largest) window in the house.   At 68” wide and 66” tall, it takes up the majority of the southern wall.

Here you can see where I leveled a section of the south wall, leaving just enough space to slide in the window:

After making sure the corners are square, Noel and Gray braced the window with some scrap lumber, to make sure the corners stay at a 90 degree angle, so the window doesn’t shift at all, and will still open easily a few months from now.

Placing the window….

Bracing the window to the ground, making sure it stays plum and level…

We screwed some “deadmen” into the sides of the window, which help anchor the window into the wall as we cob around it.  Here I am cobbing in the deadman, which in this case is a piece of cedar:

Here’s the window at the end of the day, looking kind of ridiculous in proportion to the wall it rests upon:

The window on the southern side is going in pretty low, combining Pattern 222 (Low Sill) and Pattern 223 (Deep Reveals) to create an interior window seat that will be the perfect place to sit and read.  When the weather is nice I’ll have the window open, so as I read I’ll be able to smell all the herbs that will have been planted outside.

What do I mean by patterns 222 and 223?  Well, I’m referring to A Pattern Language, one of my favorite books, and a must-read before building anything!

The section for the second largest window is prepped, but I”l probably save all the rest of the window installing for our cob workshop here in the beginning of July.  Since there’s a nice layer of cob along the entire stemwall, I’ve had a lot of fun jumping up on the wall, and seeing everything from a different perspective.  Feeling the cob under my feet as it dries and hardens makes me have a lot of respect for it as a building material.  Its totally solid and rock-hard:

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A couple weeks ago my watch broke.  Then my laptop got sick.  And now my cell phone is barely functional.  The message I’ve been getting lately has been clear.  Are modern technologies able to withstand temperatures above 90 degrees?  Humidity above 90%?  A time span of more than a few years?  In a few hundred years my laptop will be just another item slowly releasing its contents into the earth and water around it.  So will my cell phone.  And my watch.

What will this cob house look like in a few hundred years?  Maybe a great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchild will be sleeping upstairs with a few cats, replastering every once in a while, fixing any leaks in the roof.  Maybe it will have been abandoned, the field long since grown back into a forest, and the clay, sand, and straw returned to the soil.  A family of black bears will have found the urbanite foundation, still standing, creating a perfect shelter…

I made my first foot mix a couple weeks ago, thinking about the materials under my feet, and where they would be when I was gone.

The other day my friend Feezor came over and we dug around in the neighbor’s scrap wood pile, scavenging enough pine and cedar to make a custom door frame.

A great thing about designing and building your own house is being able to build with the size of your own body in mind.  I’m short, standing tall at around 5’3″ with shoes on.  The front door will be 5’6″, and 23 1/2 inches wide.  It feels good to stand in a doorway made just for you…

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