Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Shade!

Since it gets up around 110 degrees F in the yurt in the middle of the day, I decided I couldn't take it anymore, and created a big shade tarp for the whole thing.
It makes it a little darker in the evenings, but the difference in temperature is huge. And, it'll save UV wear-and-tear on the yurt material.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More progress to report

As of today, the eastern part of our southern exposure (I know, weird, but how else?), the part between the french doors and the 'front' door is already done. That is, we won't be putting more cob on that section. it still needs windows (though the framing posts are there) and plaster, etc, but it does feel like an accomplishment.

Here it is from the inside, with a drinking bottle in the future candle niche. That will get straighted up with plaster and perhaps a tile or stone shelf.

The southwest side is already past my knees, and it will be time to start putting in the window posts there pretty soon.

Mud is moving up the walls
There's not much to report these days, as all the progress is so incrimental, there's not much to see day-to-day. I did get out and take some pictures though, just to report in.
Here you can see some small chunks of tile and I think hardi-backer (the stuff put behind tiles) that I found in the trash, and a broken tape measure. I buried them into the wall, just because I could. I love that. Volume in my wall, and not going to the landfill.

Melissa is our main 'cob' maker. Once we mix up a batch, she sits down and mushes the mud into lumps that then get pressed into the wall. (in these two pictures you can also see the holes left from 'thumbing' the layers together. The holes help with drying, and adherance between layers.)

Here's a shot showing how high the walls are from the western outside. And Melissa is pointing to the water inlet pipe that will bring water in to the kitchen sink. Way down below that in the stone wall, you can see the drain pipe coming out.

Here Melissa is pointing to one of the two air pipes (covered with a fine anti-bug screen) that are buried in the wall as part of my plan to help vent the propane fridge pilot light. The ones that are in now will be cold air in, and later I'll put hot air out.
Also in this picture you can see how the butress is shaping up, with the lower part already dry, and now we simply add a tied-in layer on the buttress when we add it to the wall.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wall progress

A little bit at a time, we're building the walls higher. We've got one full layer around the kitchen:

and the south window side of the living room is almost as high as it will go!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Full Cobbing mode

When adding mix to the walls, we can squish them in by simply walking on the wall. It makes a very strong continous bond between the layers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Putting in Window Posts

We realized that we were already high enough on the south wall that we needed to bury in our window posts before going any higher. So that meant figuring out which windows will go where, marking the distances, finding the posts, shaving the sides flat, peeling the rest, varnishing the bottoms (to protect them from the moisture in the mud) and making sure they were all plum and level.

That took a little while, but we got it done.
Mountain Lion leftovers are good times!

Providing proof that we have at least one mountain lion killing deer up here, Jack likes to go off into the woods and come back with pieces of deer to chew on.

Well, keeps him busy I guess.

Truck Trouble

would you believe that some steel parts on the front of my truck cracked? It's actually the brackets that hold the leaf spring in place. Amazingly, we drove home without really knowing it was broken.

My amazing neighbors Mac and Misha came over when I was asking for advice, and decided they should weld it back together to allow us to get to town without towing it, anyway.

Just another day in the country!

Saturday, June 06, 2009


As you know, I run my truck on waste veggie oil, which I get from restaurants. Well, I also have mice living in my truck. Guess where this is going?

yup. They chewed through the line from the tank to the filter. had to replace about 9 feet of hose.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Started Getting Mud on the Walls!

Melissa's folks came up for some exercise yesterday, so we went straight to work building the house. We have now officially started 'cobbing'.

Art and I got to stomping the clay bits in the sand mixture:

and I started in with the barefoot technique as we added water and straw:

Joanne was our detail person, cleaning off the foundation rocks and painting on the clay slip, which is just a goo-y water and clay mixture used as a sort of starter glue:

Because there's so much more clay in this mix, and no big gravel chunks, it's much easier to 'cob' it up - make it into lumps to carry over to the wall (here you can see that we're working on the butteress, to start bringing it up to the level of the other wall)

As you put it on the wall, it needs to be 'keyed' in to the other pieces, and we use little wooden handles to push holes and connect it all together.

Art wanted to mix up a batch with barefeet, so of course I didn't want to stop him. It's fun!

We also worked on a section of the front of the house:

Here you can see how when we put one layer down, we then put a 'zipper' on top of it, so that when it dries, the next layer will have something with some real 'teeth' to connect to, creating a very strong bond between layers:

of course, if you go barefoot, you have to clean your feet before you go home:

$1 tool rescue

Had a moment last week, so we strolled the flea market. A woman had a pile of rusty tools "anything $1!" and so I dug through it ...