Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm a Doofus

Ok, apparently that figure I came up with of 2, 634 cubic feet of cob was just slightly off...by 1,554 cubic feet! Yup. Not really sure what happened there...but, praise the Lord, I'm a pin-head! According to my new estimations, our house will consist of 1, 080 cubic feet of cob! I was praying for a miracle, and it looks like I got one! Much, much, much much much better!!! Now, even if Brian and I stay at our poky pace (20 cu. ft/day, 4 days a week), we should still be able to finish the mud in a little over 3 months! Now, if we can double our speed (or get some help), we might be able to get it done in less than 2 months! Now, excuse me while I go breathe a sigh of relief...

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Ok, this is a cry for help...HELP!
I just did the math, and if we don't get some help,
we're going to have to resort to child labor.

So here's the breakdown:
If a 5 gallon bucket = .777 cu. ft., and if a batch consists of 1.5 buckets of sand, and .5 buckets of clay, then a batch of cob = 1.554 cu. ft. Combined, Brian and I are averaging 14 batches a day (or 21.758 cu. ft.). I thought this was pretty good, until I checked the book, and found out that eventually we should be mixing twice that amount in a day. Hmmm....looks like we best start eating our Wheaties. Anyway, if I calculated right (and I'm kinda hoping I didn't), then we need about 2,634 cu. ft. of cob to make our house. That would mean it would take Brian and I 122 DAYS of mixing to get the job done! Since we can only work on the house 4 days a week (ok, more like 3) at best, we could get it done in 7.625 MONTHS. This is no good...no good at all. If we can work up to mixing 40 cu. ft. of cob a day, then it would still take 65 days or 4 months. Which might be all fine and good--EXCEPT WINTER IS COMING!
Thing about cob is, it has to be dry before winter, because if any moisture freezes in the wall it will expand and crack them. Hmmm. Not so good. Our goal is to have the mud portion of the project done by October 31st. That'll give us November, and into December to let it dry out, and get the roof on. After that, we're hoping to get the windows in, and maybe put the wood stove inside so that we can keep it from freezing, and keep us toasty while we're plastering the interior, and working on our earthen floors and the millions of other things that we'll have to do. But I'm not going to freak out, because I am just bubbling over with optimism (just read the previous post). Plus, I've got faith. Lots and lots of faith.
So, bottom line--Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your feet! If anyone out there reading this would like to help, please let us know! We'd love to have you!

One down, one million to go!

We made it around the house! Woo hoo! We've got about 6 inches of cob all the way around! That's one small step for man, one g...no wait, it's still a small step, but its kind of a big deal! There was a lot of learning to be done in that one trip around the house--for example, determining our best mix, and how to mix it most efficiently, and how to get it up on the wall the right way, and how to make slip, and how best to transport it, and how to divvy up the tasks, and trimming up the edges...so maybe it was a little slow, but I really do think the next layers will go much faster. Am I being overly optimistic? Probably. But, hey, when has a little optimism ever hurt? I'm just excited to see wall!!!
So here's what had to happen first:
Had the land surveyed
Attended a cob workshop
Read The Hand-Sculpted House
Decided where to build
Cleared a road by hand
Had a culvert put in
Harvested cedars and stripped them
Designed the house
Cleared out the building site by hand
Dug trenches for the foundation
Dug trenches for electricity and water
Ran electricity and water to the house
Got the water and electricity hooked up
Did a LOT of research
Got limestone
Built a stem wall
Found clay and transported it to the land
Found sand and had it delivered
Found gravel and had it delivered
Found straw and transported it to the land
Moved sand and gravel from here to there
Got an address
Put up a mailbox
Put in a gate
Gathered tools
Set up camp
Built a tarp roof
Made test bricks
Ordered windows
Bought doors
Made window bucks
Made door jams
Mixed cob...and all this while holding down our day jobs!

Tent-ative Housing!

So Brian and I got a tent!
It's our little home until we have a home.
Now we can camp out, and work on the house more (and save a 20 min drive each way every day). We've got a hot pot, a hot plate, a mini fridge, a solar shower, and a bucket to poo in...
so, ya, dis ma crib!

It's a one bedroom, with a kitchen. But the bathroom is huge--roughly 20 acres!

Believe it or not, it's 7 feet tall in the middle, so we can actually walk around standing up!

And there is electricity!

Thanks, Scottie, for the mini fridge...and, Jake, thanks for the cord (yup, that's a refrigerator to the left of the lamp)! Now, whenever I want a nice cold juice box, I can have one! No more hot juicy-juice for me!

I've got to say, camping out has been a lot of fun...and relaxing--which is something I have been desperately needing. Brian and I have been able to spend some good quality time around the campfire, staring into each others smoke filled eyes, talking about life, love, politics, and Bigfoot--you know, the important things. And he's been very good at pretended not to notice how much camping does not agree with my hair and general appearance...which is very sweet, and takes quite a bit of skill ('cause let me tell ya--it ain't pretty). Anyway, the point is that the 20 acres is already starting to feel like home...which is a really good feeling.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Long Time, No See!

Hello, Everybody!

I'm sorry that I've been MIA for so long...and sorry to say that I'm going to have to stay that way for a little bit longer! The bad news is that I've been busy to the point of exhaustion (or the Cliffths of Inthanity)... the good news is that some of that busyness has been spent working on the house! So...bear with me, and I promise to have more juicy tid-bits, fun facts, and hot pics for you soon...or at least something for you to look at.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From Here to There

Hey, guess what...more cob! Here's our wall at the end of day two...
...and day three!

On day two, we had some help! Aren't Rhonda and Kenny the best!?
And I think they actually had fun!

Hey, look...I found Robinson Crusoe.
On day three, Beardy and I figured out that it's much more efficient when we each mix batches on separate tarps. We raced. He won...but he probably cheated somehow. So from here on out, to each his own...tarp, that is.
I don't like Ike.
It'll probably be a while before there's anything other than rain to report.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Labor Day

And labor we did! At least it was a labor of love. Today was our first day of mixing! Pretty darn exciting (and dirty)! And fun, too...did I mention fun?!

Here we are stomping on the first batch. Our tarp is actually a piece of lumber wrap courtesy of our friendly neighborhood lumbar yard. They look at us like we're nuts when we ask if we can have it, but hey, it's free, and works better than the tarps you buy...plus it's recycling! So scratch your head and stare all you like Mr. Lumberyard Man, but dumpster dive we shall!

We even had some help from Jake! Thanks, Jake! Jake was a cobbing natural, and was cobbing like a pro in no time flat...although, as he so graciously pointed out, it's not exactly rocket science. But we sure did appreciate his help (and cold drinks), and were in awe of the fact that he sacrificed part of his labor day to hang with us and get muddy.

Hey look! We've got a little bit of wall!
This is a close up of the "spine and ribs". If you do this to the wall at the end of the day, it gives the next layer of cob something to hold on to. To be honest, it kind of freaks me out a little bit--kind of makes the wall look alive--like Champ, or something. Bluck. But, hey, it gets the job done!

So this is pretty much what our wall looked like by the end of day one! Ya-hoo! I know it doesn't look like much, but I've got to tell you, it feels REALLY good to have started on the walls. It may be only 4 inches, but it's 4 beautiful inches closer to our dream!