Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drum Roll, Please...

Here are the preliminary sketches of our Cob Cottage!

(also known as the Tulip Cottage because of the tulip
stained glass window that will be in the kitchen,
and the tulips growing on the living roof)

This is our floor plan for the 1st floor.
The cottage is going to be a whopping
690 square feet (roughly), and that's
including the upstairs loft/bedroom.
Good thing Brian and I like each other!

This is what it'll look like from
the outside once the lime plaster
is on, and the living roof is blooming!
We're still not exactly sure about the
roof, or the color of the windows...
but it will hopefully look something like this!

Here's our cottage tucked away in the woods.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Build a Cob House?

* It's dirt cheap! Literally! Like, supposedly only $10 a square foot! (We'll let you know when we're done).

* You're building a house out of dirt, for crying out loud! I mean, how stinkin' cool is that!?

* The creative freedom! Cob allows you to make your house any shape you want--even round! If you can think it, you can build it!

* The empowerment! Making a house with your own hands and feet! No power tools needed! No fancy training! You don't even need to be big and burly!

* No mortgage! No crisis! No debt!

* You can grow grass or flowers on your roof!

* Who doesn't like playing in the mud?!

* It's bug proof, wind proof, fire proof, and sound proof!

* It's completely natural! No toxic fumes or chemicals! No artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors or additives! It's recyclable!

* Almost no carbon footprint or embodied energy (other than your own) if you're resourceful and/or creative enough!

* Holds up better than a regular house in tornadoes and earthquakes!

* You can still have electricity and running water--you've just got to bury your pipes and wires in the cob!

* Dirt is a mood enhancer just like chocolate (it's scientific--look it up!).

* The mud feels great between your toes!

* It's a fun group activity!

* It's a good workout!

* Cob buildings have been known to last over 1,000 years!

* They are sooooo cute! We're talking enchanted cottage in a fairy tale forest cute!

* Cool in the summer, and warm in the winter! Passive solar! Low energy costs!

* The financial freedom to focus on what really matters to you!

* It turns your house into a conversation piece!

* You get to sound like Billy Maze when people ask you about it!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What the heck is cob?

Cob is a form of earthen building. Some of the first houses ever made were made out of cob. Medieval cob cottages are still standing in England. You can see cob sky scrapers in Yemeni. Cob structures (new and old) are all over the world. You know those old English cottages that are white with thatched roofs? Those are cob. You know those mud huts in Africa? Those are cob. You know those houses hobbits live in? You guessed it...cob! A cob mixture is made of clay, sand, straw, and water. The clay acts as the glue, the sand makes it strong, and the straw gives it it's tensile strength. You mix these ingredients together...usually with your feet on a tarp, and then sculpt your house with it. The word cob comes from an Old English root, meaning "a lump or rounded mass"[from The Hand Sculpted House]. After you mix the mud with your feet, you form it into round balls called cobs. The cobs are easy to transport and build with (you can throw them to each other). So that's how it got its name. You use these cob balls to construct/sculpt your house. It's kind of like adobe, but instead of making bricks first, you just sculpt your house with the wet mixture. In the end you have a monolithic structure that is thick, hard as concrete, and load-bearing. Pretty amazing stuff considering it's made out of nothing but readily available materials literally found in your own back yard. If you want to see some neat pictures of cob, I recommend clicking on the following link. You can select additional photo galleries on the menue to the left.
Or google image "cob cottage"...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Clearing the Driveway (by hand)

(Sorry about my undies hanging was way too hot and buggy to care.)

Clearing the road back to the house took a wicked long time. All we used were handsaws, a chainsaw, a rake, a machete, and our own blood, sweat and tears. We also made sure to strip the bark off of all the cedars we cut down as we went. The bark peels off really easy if you do it right away, and it's actually kind of fun (not unlike peeling glue off your hands!) I think Brian and I were secretly competing to see who could pull off the biggest chunk of bark in one piece. It was a lot of extra hours, but it'll be worth it if we can use some of our naturally harvested cedar in our house--perhaps lintels, or banisters on our staircase. We're trying hard not to waste anything, and our imaginations are seeing all sorts of potential in everything! Brian made some saw horses out of scraps, and we put the trees up off the ground (and out of the bugs' reach) to dry. By the way, the smell is fantastic!

Some Pictures of The Land

One of our little buddies
Our driveway before it was really a driveway
Our land across the creek
Summer time

Sunday, June 15, 2008

So picture this...

You turn onto a dirt road. There are lazy cows to your left in a field of tall grass, followed by a little house back off the road. On your right are trees, and a small run down barn. You can hear the gravel ping-pinging the underside of your car, and a trail of dust rises up and does circles in your wake. The road bounces you around, the wind lifts up your hair, and your smiling because you're going to The Land. A half-a-mile goes by, and you slow down to go over a bridge. You catch a glimpse of sun shining off the creek, and you know you're there. The brush is thick, but you can see bits of yellow field between the trees and vines, and then...our driveway.

You pull over and get out. There's a barbed wire gate to open. The dust you made catches up with you and then blows on by as you unhook the latch. It's quiet now, except for the birds and bugs. You lay the gate down, and get back into the car. Now you go slow. You creep over the culvert, and in between some roots. There's a winding driveway through the woods ahead. It's shady, and the bumpy ground gently rocks your car like a ship. You curve around a bend, past some ancient oaks, and a wild rabbit disappears into the brush--crackling the dry leaves in his haste. The driveway curves to the right, up over a bend, then to the left through some wispy grass speckled with wild flowers. Then it's down over a little rocky hill and to a circular turn-around cut through the trees. You park the car and get out. You take a deep breath and fill yourself up with the smell of honeysuckle, or grass, or hay. The cicadas greet you with their song. You exhale, and open your eyes and smile, because your at The Land.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Sanctuary is the word that comes to mind when I think of our cottage and our 20 acres. A place where Brian and I can finally be alone. Ahhh. Breathing room. It makes me take a deep breath just thinking about it. A home. A home that's ours. Finally. A little corner of the world for us to carve out and make our own. A canvas for our hopes and dreams. A real future. Birds chirping. Dappled light. Bunnies running to and fro. Peace and quiet. Laughter. Love. Life. It makes my heart float just thinking about it.