Out here, we just love to play in the dirt, and not just in the garden. Clay in abundant in most parts of the world and when combined with sand and straw, can create beautiful and lasting structures. Though we have worked on several Natural Building projects within the state of Kentucky, we are currently in the process of constructing two structures on our farm to showcase some of these techniques. Whenever we can get away from our full-time jobs, we like to offer workshops to folks interested in learning these skills so send us an email if you'd like to hear about upcoming workshops and events or come check us out at Whippoorwill!
Tucked away down in the RV camping area, we are slowly building our Cob Inn. Cob is an ancient building material comprised of clay, sand, and straw, similar to adobe, but instead of forming bricks with the combination, cob creates a single, monolithic structure, much like poured concrete. As an experiment, we are turning Cob on it's side. Instead of building the customary vertical wall, we're applying Cob to a modified geodesic structure. (We recommend a Google Image search for Cob to see some of the wonderful things folks have created with these inexpensive and readily available materials or you can visit our friend, Diane, at Disputanta Cob, just 15 minutes down the road).
The other project we closer to finishing is our Earthbag/Strawbale Wall. Earthbag construction is a method of building a strong, earth-based structure consisting of subsoil compressed into bags and stacked in a running bond, similar to bricks, with barbed wire serving as the "mortar." Bags are then plastered to prevent degradation from the elements and to add character and beauty. We have found Earthbag to be somewhat physically demanding so we've combined some strawbale techniques to give our wall the height we desire. We have also included some worn-out tires to create window openings that will peak into the garden once we remove the former fence.