Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cob and rain

The rainy season is in full swing, with huge storms most days, I've been unable to build as much the past few weeks because of this. I have covered the walls to protect them from the rain as there is no roof to do this yet.  There should be breaks in the rain that will allow me to continue building, this season has been different every year since I've lived here, so it's hard to know how the coming months will be.  
I had to protect the walls with plastic during the storms, the trees have all their leaves now, the bush is thick and full of life! 
rain collected from the shed roof after a storm
We have started to buy a few fence poles at a time, this is mainly to keep livestock out of areas where we will be growing crops. It won't stop elephants or lions, this we will tackle at a later date, possibly using chilli fence or bee-hive fence.
Friends coming for a holiday, end up doing some hard work!!
Filling up the clay in the soaking bins
It's great to have some shade again where the cob mixing goes on!!
The pit on the plot where the majority of the sand in the mix comes from is getting pretty deep, this will  be a made into a water cistern to collect rainwater at a later date

When the weather has been clear, I've been building up the side of the house that will have a higher floor level, so that the remaining window frames can be placed.
I will be using glass bottles in the walls once the walls are higher, this is commonly done in cob building,  as decorative windows, often the bottles are left as they are with the neck on the outside wall. Having the narrow neck on one side means that less light will get through, in Becky Bee's book she suggest placing a jar over the neck. I was thinking of cutting  one bottle to have a perfect fit and size for the wall thickness to fit over another bottle.  So I looked up ways of cutting bottles with a minimum amount of tools and found a method of using a piece of string soaked in nail polish remover that is tied around the bottle, then burned, then dunked into cold water. 
It hasn't been working as well as it said on the internet!! The cut is not clean, when it does break!!
This is what I'm aiming at so that the circular ends are  on both exterior and interior walls to allow more light through. 

Our friends came with materials to make solar cookers, so we tried making a couple of designs which have yet to be tested properly. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Cob Love

It's starting to look like a house, I've placed 4 window frames, so it's getting very exciting. As the house is on a slope there are going to be two different floor levels, it's important that the finished floor level will be above ground level.

My husband had a week off work and joined me, he also fell in love with cob!!
First window frame, yeahy, so exciting!! 
number two
There are 3 round window frames for the living room which will be placed diagonally so the first one is in place
one of the window frames for the bedroom which will have bottles above it. 
Brent made me a great movable scaffolding as on one side of the house the walls are getting too high for me
look closely at the base of the stump, a beautiful Puff Adder, they are very dangerous but as with anything only if you disturb them! A visitor wanted to kill it but I explained how this is also the snakes home, it's got it's role to play! 
The smell of the first rains on the dry baked earth here is one of the best, but I didn't enjoy it for long as a huge storm came along, it's a month earlier than anticipated, so I will see if this slows down the building.
It was really a heavy storm, I kept the walls covered, but the material is not very waterproof, will have to get something else until I get the roof up. The walls did well though, no damage. 

Friday, 28 September 2012

Mud dancing with family, friends and elephants!!

So the walls are coming up, the weather is getting hot so it's hard work but visits from friends and neighbours who want to help has made such a difference, thanks everyone!! There has been some excitement, one day I was building alone and a herd of elephants came running towards me, at 2pm it was very unexpected to see these elephants in the communal lands, I had to run for cover so didn't get any pictures!

camping on the plot, we enjoyed solar showers and Oly a bath by the fire
Throwing the cob balls is a lot more fun than having to push the wheelbarrow through the sand!

A bush fire gave me a fright, but was stopped before it crossed the road, although cob is fireproof, my shed is not!!

mud dancing is exhausting!! 

so the walls are coming up, there will be two floor levels, on the one side I am  levelling the wall to fit the arched window frames. 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Let the cobbing begin!!

So heres an update of whats been happening over the last few weeks, I've been building almost everyday and it's coming along.
The stem wall is complete, it is high enough all the way around to protect the bottom of the cob walls
A friend helping to weld some spare poles together to make a frame for a compost toilet area and a shower area, for  camping on the plot during building
putting up the frame for the compost toilet, we followed a very basic bucket design for the toilet. Everything is collected in the bin and covered with saw dust, once it is full this is emptied into a compost pile and left for 1 year once it is full.
Here is the finished toilet, with a basic wooden frame built over the bin and toilet seat attached, thanks to my husband for this!! Its amazing, there is no smell, the saw dust takes care of that, when water is so precious and scarce it's really great to know that we will become part of the natural cycle rather than making this resource into a waste!!

The shower area, where we can hang a solar shower bag in the tree above and catch the run off in a tub below
I made a small fire pit with some clay for our campsite

My husband has been spending his spare time organising the shed, makes a huge difference!

The next step was to position the wooden boxes where the door frames will later be attached
Having first banged lots of nails and blocks for the cob to grip to

 Both door frames are up, my husband helped as this is not a one person job, after a few accidents, we managed to get them firmly into place, supported by temporary planks. The top soil, has been removed from the inside of the house so that the layers of the floor can be built up later.
In preparation for the cob I have been pounding some of the clay as there are large very dry pieces that don't become wet even if it is soaked for a long time
The top of the stem wall is not flat this helps the cob to grip
Yeahhy, cobbing has begun, it's great to take off my boots and to be stomping around bare foot!!
Friends are starting to come and see what cobbing is all about
My son also wanted to help out

I have been covering the cob to slow down the drying as it is getting very hot

So I am happily cobbing away now, it's alot of hardwork but great fun!!