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Archive for October, 2010

Throughout this project I’ve had many, many people share their time and energy with me, helping to slowly build this home.  At this point more than fifty people have spent time here working on the house!  There are two people in particular who have given a lot of themselves.  Joelle and Alexor signed up for the week long cob workshop we taught here back in July.  But a week of building wasn’t enough for them, and they ended up staying here for over a month, working through the hundred degree summer heat to help build our home.

Since Joelle and Alexor were here to watch the house begin to grow from a few inches of cob into an actual building, it’s fitting that they came back to visit and help cob as the walls reached their final height.  We worked all day long for 3 days, and as the sun was about to set on their last day here, we were cobbing over the final course of straw bales in the north wall.  And now the house is ready for a roof!

Joelle!

Alexor foot mixing

north wall ready for the third course of bales

Kristin cobs in a lintel (and more cat stairs...)

Alexor cobs in the last window

last course of bales for the balecob wall

Noel drives split bamboo through the bales

bales and cat steps

ridiculously tall...

As we worked on the second story these last few weeks, I just couldn’t help myself, and I decided to add more cat stairs, and another catwalk, and then more steps…

So, in theory, the cats should be able to walk up the steps to the balcony, and then onto the south catwalk, then up more stairs to the east catwalk, and from there take some more steps around the north side of the house back to the balcony, making a complete circle.  All this is going to make the house pretty awkward to plaster.  But I really love my cats…

cat stairs!

Last week we finally used the last of the clay subsoil we had piled near the site when clearing the land and digging the rubble trench.  I’m actually surprised the pile lasted as long as it did, and we got through most of the second story before we had to start using some clay we had from digging a biochar pit last spring.  The new clay soil is really, really high in clay.  A beautiful deep red clay that will be perfect for plaster.

red, red clay

There are still a lot of random areas that I need to go back and cob, but the walls are at their final height, and the next step is the living roof.  I am eager for the house to have some serious rain protection, so that I can enjoy thunderstorms once again, instead of worrying about my cob baby, moving tarps around in a somewhat hopeless attempt to keep the walls dry.  Lucky for me our whole region has been in a serious drought…

The look of the house has been transformed again this last week, and I find myself walking over there often, climbing up the ladder to the second story, and then just sitting in silence, reflecting and daydreaming.  As I sit there and look at the earthen walls, I’m filled with so many emotions, and I feel so much love for this house, not only for providing us with shelter, but for bringing so many amazing people into my life.

To everyone that has helped us build, thank you so much!

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A few weeks ago, when the temperatures dropped from the 90s into the 70s, the change of seasons seemed to be coming all too soon, and I started to worry that this house might not be finished by winter.  But we’ve been working hard, devoting every possible moment to this conversion of soil into shelter.  Cob can’t really happen once the temperatures start to freeze, as the freeze/thaw cycle weakens cob… and near-freezing water brings pain to bare feet.  However, all our effort is keeping me hopeful that this winter we’ll have a warm place to be in, as the walls are growing fast, with the south wall of the second story pretty much at it’s final height.

I wanted to share a few pictures before I head back to cobbing…

work party!

a rare view from the north, as work on the 2nd story begins...

Talitha preps the south wall for a window

a door frame for the 2nd story, this one only 3 feet tall...

round window

through the door frame...

on the south wall (notice more cat stairs to the east!)

Noel cobbing in a lintel

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