Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brains and Braun (or Brian and Bron)

So here is what Brian and Bron did all last Thursday (I think it was)...they moved dirt and gravel from one place to another. Our buddy, Bron, was kind enough to lend us his time and tractor, and moved gravel and sand from the end of our driveway all the way up to our building site. Thanks, Bron!!! He made a big pile of sand, and dumped the gravel right into our foundation. Brian then proceeded to spread the gravel around to make our foundation pretty (well, there's more to it than just looks, but that's what I like best about it). Supposedly there's a tool/machine that can do this (called a "gravel hog" or some such nonsense), but we unfortunately found this out after Brian did the whole thing with a shovel and rake. Poor Brian. Fortunately, we have about another foot-and-a-half of gravel left to go, so there's still plenty of time to become acquainted with Mr. Gravel Pig (or whatever his name is).

The Wise Man Builds His House on a Rock

As promised, here are some pictures of the foundation! There is still a little more tweaking to be done, and a bathroom wall to finish, but isn't it nifty? It's really starting to look like something (I'm not sure what, but it's something)! It's really a site to behold, and much more impressive in person--some of the walls are a good two feet thick. That sucker's not going anywhere, I can tell you that much!

Some more pictures...hey look... we've got grass growing in our living room. That's weird.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful husband for all of his hard work and mad skills! You rock my world (ah, I crack myself up)! But seriously, you give a whole new (and sometimes pungent) meaning to "sweat equity". I mean, you couldn't pay people to do what you do (well, maybe you could, but I certainly couldn't afford them). I love you. Thanks for building this dream with me (and mostly for me). You're the best!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Foundation

Here are some more pictures of the foundation. I'd like to put them in a slide show for you, but, unfortunately I'm the opposite of computer savvy--I'm yvvas retupmoc, nyuck,nyuck. So you're just gonna have to scroll! Sorry!

^Hey, look! It's almost finished! This picture has people in it (Hi, Jake, Abby, and Tyler!) just to give you a little case there were any doubts about how intsy-wintsy this house is going to be.

<--Things were starting to shape up in this picture! Brian has been using his grandfather's old-timey cement mixer for the mortar. This is a picture of the back wall. That little notch is where the back door is going to be.

<--The walls are really thick, so it's economical if you can fill in in between with junky stuff. Some people use ugly rocks. We like to use ugly dogs. [Hi, Iwis!]

<--Job Foreman Tyler is checking out our high-tech home-made leveling device. It's clear plastic tubing filled with water that's been dyed red with
food coloring. Works like a charm!

This is me taking a little snooze in our sleeping nook. It'll be much more comfortable with a mattress in it I think...and walls...and a know, the little things.

<--Me standing in the bay window/window seat/possible dining nook. We like our nooks. Nooks good.

The foundation is really, truly, almost finished now! Yippee!!! I'll get out to the land soon and take some pictures of Brian's piece de resistance! And more good of yesterday, we've now got clay, sand, straw, and gravel at the job site--so watch out Mud, here we come!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

10,000 BC

Here is Brian working on our foundation. I'd like to say that it has been a labor of love for him, but at this point (about a year later), I'm thinking it's more like a labor of I-hate-your-stinkin'-guts. Ok, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but, seriously, this is the foundation that never ends! Of course the poor guy has had to do the entire foundation by himself (I'm not all that in to heavy lifting...go figure), and he's only been able to work on it 3-4 days a week, and he had to stop over the winter (and built a beautiful fireplace for his cousin, Sam, by the way). Although, I must say, I grow a little suspicious when he comes home with waffle marks all over his body strangely resembling the pattern of the hammock. So, ya, these things take time...and patience. And he's been working so hard. And the foundation looks AWESOME! I'm really proud!

(Pretty cute cave man, huh?)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In the Trenches

<--Clearing off the top soil.

Trench for the electricity/water to the house

<--Rebar around the perimeter.

Tah-dah! Dirt!-->

<--Mr. Trencher himself! about a year ago, we started clearing the site for our foundation. We did this by hand. It sucked. We quickly discovered that about 4 inches down was a layer of solid sandstone. So, after much hemming and hawing, we decided that instead of digging a foundation trench down, we would build up, and then back fill. We also had to dig a trench for our water and electricity...and when I say we, I mean Brian. The trench digger proved to be pretty much useless, so Brian ended up digging most of it by hand with a hammer, chisel, and trowel. To make matters worse, they hooked up the water in the wrong spot, adding about another 50 ft or so of digging. Nice.

To watch a VIDEO of Brian doin' his thang, click here:

Living off the Fat of the Land

Our goal is to one day grow our own food out at The Hollow. We want to build a cob greenhouse (we'll use salvaged sliding glass doors as our roof!), and have gardens, and maybe even an orchard of some kind. But for now, the land is providing us with plenty of tasty tid-bits! Like these black berries! There are just oodles of them! Brian and I had a lot of fun picking them--in spite of their nasty stickers. We've also found "cats paws", wild onions, pecans, sand plums, and walnuts to eat! Now we just need to "tend them rabbits"!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cob Workshop

Here are some pictures from the Cob Workshop we went to in May '07 in Shamrock, OK. This should give you a brief overview of what cobbing is like. These pictures are way out of order (I can't figure out how to arrange the stinkin' things!), so I'll just number them, and maybe you can follow along (I think there are 12 all together)!

2.5 (sorry...I missed this one). This is just a big vat of clay. You soak it in water to keep it soft for optimum toe squish-age.

11. Here's a view from afar of the building site.

6. A mound-o-cob balls! If you cover them up with a tarp, they don't dry out as fast.
7. You work the cob balls into the wall, being sure to integrate each new layer into the one below it. You do this by poking it with your fingers or a "cobbers' thumb" (A cobbers' thumb is really just a fancy name for a can call your stick whatever you like, I don't care. Larry is a nice name.)
8. You cob right around your window bucks. Window bucks are a smidgen larger than the windows, and are leveled and braced. You don't put the actual windows in until the cob is completely dry and has stopped shrinking.
9. You embed "deadmen" into the walls as you go (a deadman is a fancy word for a hunk of wood). These are essentially your studs. Window bucks and door frames get screwed into these.
10. You trim up the cob and make it plumb before it gets too dry. You do this with a modified hand saw, and a level. It's very important to keep your walls straight.

2. Another picture of the foundation. (They put the roof up first on this cottage, and then built up to it...mostly because half of it was strawbale...but you don't have to do it that way. We're going to build the walls of our cottage first, and then put the roof on top.)
1. You start with a stone foundation.
3. You mix the sand, clay, water, and straw together with your feet on a tarp. It feels great on your feet! A good tip is to hit up lumber yards for their lumber wrap. They're usually happy to give it to you for free, and it makes a great you're recycling!
4. The tarp allows you to toss the mixture around for better stomping. You know it's done when you can roll it into a big "burrito" (...or "dinosaur turd", as some of us like to call it).
5. You form the mix into balls of cob. This makes the cob easier to transport, because you can toss it to your friend that's closest to the wall you're working on. If you are lucky enough to have a bunch of friends helping you (hint, hint), you can form a sort of cob bucket brigade. Just watch out for the wayward flying cob ball--those suckers are heavy!