A House Made of Stone

July 30, 2008

I don’t get over to this blog very often as nothing much is happening with this issue – not yet anyway.

However, a few days ago my husband came up with a book on building your own home with stone. He said he has always wanted to build with stone. I believe that he was, in a round-about way, telling me that if he is going to be the primary builder of our home in northern Michigan then he wants to build with stone.

Well, this took a few days of thought on my part as a house of either cob, earth bags, strawbale or a combination was part of my long time (years) plan. I do have to admit that a House of Earth could certainly include stone since stone is of the earth. I do like stone houses and there are quite a few of them in northern Michigan because there is a lot of stone in that part of the country. Michigan and the Great Lakes were formed during the Ice Age when the glaciers began to retreat and left behind tons and tons of stone.

A lovely stone house.

A lovely stone house.

This little stone cottage certainly does look charming, strong and secure. I also have to admit that with the exception of the trim – and that could be vinyl – no painting would ever be required. That’s certainly a nice thought. Perhaps the interior walls could be earth bags covered in plaster? This would give me my stab at building with earthbags and provide very nice insulation between rooms. It would also eliminate the need to use wood framing and wall board. I think I am talking myself into a compromise here that just might work and eliminate a nasty fight to boot:).  Now to get Doug to go along with this plan. I’ll have to take this slow and easy and just maybe . . .😀

Yes, I realize I mentioned vinyl – not sustainable at all and loaded with toxins. There must be something that could be used that would be both sustainable and not require maintenance and upkeep over the years? I’ll have to research this.

Until next time . . .

Namaste, Lindy

Summertime and the Livin’ is (not) Easy!

July 4, 2008

Whoever wrote the words to that song did not live in the desert in the summertime. It has been HOT! Most days since mid-June have been in the 110 degree range give or take a couple of degrees. We keep our AC at 80 degrees and the house always feels warm – I do not operate well when I get too warm. However, I will not increase either my carbon footprint or my electric bill by turning it cooler.

We continue to search for land in Michigan and keep in touch with those who might be of help in this endeavor. We won’t buy anything sight unseen but having some direction and doing something – anything – helps if only psychologically. In the meantime I continue to weed out that which is no longer needed. Today I opened a seller’s account on eBay to sell things that have more value than a garage sale would bring. We shall see how this goes – I never did this before – never even spent any time on eBay before today.

There won’t be any pictures until there is something to take pictures of.  This means I will probably only check in here on rare occasions just to make sure the site remains intact.

Namaste, Lindy

House of Earth

May 27, 2008

A Tiny Cob Cottage

Dreaming in mud!

Welcome to House of Earth.

This blog is dedicated to the building of our home, outbuildings, gardens, orchards, managing a forest, etc. from earth’s natural materials. It is dedicated to the art of permaculture and living sustainably on our increasingly fragile planet.

Although I have another blog at http://turtlewoman.wordpress.com I felt that because the building of one’s own home and lifestyle is such a huge life-changing undertaking it deserves to have a blog all its own.

I am Lindy, author of this blog. I am currently an elementary school teacher aiming for retirement by summer 2009. I have earned a Permaculture Design Certificate which will be of immense help in the plotting and planning of our home and of the land upon which we will eventually build. My husband Doug is currently an A&P mechanic for an international airline as well as being a licensed private pilot. This man has an incredible mind for detail, imagination, and creativity not to mention that in a past life he was a master plumber and can also fix anything.

The process at House of Earth will be undertaken in phases:

Phase I: The search for the ultimate piece of land. Since this search is taking place in the NW corner of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan and we are currently living and working in AZ this part of the process is slow going. There are 2200 road miles between points A and B and travel is few, far between, and expensive.  We have taken a few trips to MI in the past year and have agreed on an area to the west of Traverse City, MI as our focus area. I am a MI native, born and raised, and lived in the TC area for many years before moving to AZ. By the summer of 2009 we plan (goddess willin’ and the crick don’t rise) on having our house in AZ sold as well as the majority of our consumeristic/materialistic holdings dispersed of and make our final move to MI. This means living in a rental once we arrive in MI that will allow us to have our 2 cats and 1 dog – where we go they go or we don’t go! – while we find that perfect piece of land.  During Phase I while still here in AZ we are working on house plans (small), reading voraciously regarding natural building and living, attending workshops and classes locally, and dreaming. We are also in the process of weeding out the hordes of accumulation from our current house. Amazing how much stuff two people are able to collect in 12 1/2 years of living in one place! We are also talking – communicating with each other regarding what is important to each of us and what we can change or let go of in terms of things, ideas, plans, dreams. And I am writing this blog. I will be adding a page – perhaps a link to a pdf. document – of books, periodicals, articles, workshops, and classes that we are currently reading/taking or plan on being involved in. I often find that this kind of networking is not only helpful to us personally but may prove useful to others as well. Phase I will be a long phase by necessity since we cannot move until 1). I have completed my teaching contract for 2008/09 and 2). our house has sold.

Phase II: This phase will begin when we are physically living in MI and have found, purchased, and closed on a piece of land. This phase will be the land-use planning phase. We will spend a lot of time, hopefully with the input of others, on the siting of the house, outbuildings, gardens, and orchard. We will also be using this time to acquire building permits, search out sources and resources which will be used in the construction process, and prepping the land areas which will be used for the gardens and orchard. I’m sure there are a myriad other details which will need attending to during this phase that I have not even thought of at this time.

Phase III: This phase will be the actual construction of our home. Although there will be a green builder involved we plan on doing a large part of the work ourselves. This will allow us to take a personal part in our own home thus giving us a sense of true ownership – we belong to the land and to the dwelling and it belongs to us. Place-based education.

Ongoing: the gardens and orchard + animal care (chickens, etc) will be an ongoing lifestyle. I am planning on beginning this as soon as the land is purchased so that no time is wasted – I want to get food growing and orchards begun ASAP. I do know that one should spend a year on a piece of land following the sun, seasons, water flow, etc. However, it takes years for an orchard to become fruit bearing and for an asparagus plot to bear food. I know that I will not be able to wait that long. There are many permcaulture groups in northern MI and so I am counting on some of these people to help us with the planning and plotting so that we don’t make too many mistakes by jumping in feet first.

In the meantime: life must go on here in AZ and that means working my garden, saving water and using greywater as much as possible, cooking/baking from scratch, learning to use my solar oven more efficiently, and any other endeavor – small or large – that we can do to decrease our carbon footprint on Mother Earth while increasing our awareness, knowledge and experience about living sustainably.

Namaste, Lindy