Long time lurker of the site. I've seen a good handful of members from the area that I'm in. My wife and I are really wanting to build a cob house. If you're from the area you know the problem, tons of great clay, way to many rocks. I can't even hit the ground with a shovel around here. I've got 15 acres of land on top of a large hill. It really pains me that we have so much clay and it feels like we can't use it. I've read different things about people trying to sift it and what size rocks you can leave in it etc.. After everything I've read or seen, it doesn't appear to be realistic to go through all that trouble and work. I would probably get a handful of clay to a bucket of rocks. I'm not against hard work, that just doesn't seem realistic.
Anyway, I came across a post and someone listed a website where you can buy clay. Unfortunately not near me. With all the clay around here we have to have a quarry that sells it, right? I've been on google and just can't find one though. If you could buy clay sifted to 1 inch for $20 a ton that would be perfect. I don't like the idea of having to pay for it and have it delivered even but that makes it seem way more realistic. I appreciate any help I can get with this problem.
Hi, Josh and welcome to permies! There are more and more of us in the Ozarks I think and we definitely have rocks and clay....(this is truly Stone County). In this area though there are some veins of what appears to be pretty pure clay with few rocks. I wonder if you might have something similar on your land but I wouldn't know how to go about finding it. The nicest pure red clay here happens to be across an easement across our land. Years ago we found what I think is called a blue clay and played around with making and firing some pots. That vein was also in a road cut...not a place you could remove tons, I guess:).
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We too are n the Ozarks, but on the Eastern end. Our property doesn't have quite so many rocks but there is a lot of clay in the soil. Almost everywhere on the property there is a layer of hardpan about 16"-20" below the surface. Lots of gravel and when the weather is dry, it's like hitting concrete when you're digging. If we dig through that, we find some nice clay. So maybe you just have to dig a little (or a lot). One thing to look for is any place where the rain runoff is prominent, or the water puddles on the surface after rain. Of course this has to be a relatively flat area. This could indicate a heavy clay soil under the surface.
We are also planning to use cob in some of our construction.
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I too live in NWA, in Newton County. We have lots of clay and lots of rocks. But, what I have noticed is that there are in fact, veins of clay, like the other poster said. So, I think it depends on your land. It might be worth trying to find out some more detail on the geology of your land and area. There may be some clay beneath you that you must dig a little bit to get to. Furthermore, I drive past a construction site every day where they have scraped the ground of some great orange clay and piled it up so they could level the land and build a store. I am curious what they will do with this huge mound of clay soil. Would they sell it to me? Or better yet, deliver it to my property to get rid of it? Just ideas.
I don't think the sifting is a problem because you don't have to get the clay entirely free of rocks. If fact, from asking this question and researching, I think that some rocks are acceptable as well as the river sand or river gravel we have around here. I made test cob bricks that held up great using 1/4 inch and less river gravel/sand. And, there are methods for getting out the large rocks. For instance, scooping a load of rocks and clay and moving them to a hillside and dumping on the ground. Then as you move the soil around, the rocks should tumble downhill on their own due to gravity. I have seen this before. Again, just thoughts.
Josh Stephens wrote:Long time lurker of the site. I've seen a good handful of members from the area that I'm in. My wife and I are really wanting to build a cob house.
1. Have you been down to Wattle Hollow? The gal there, I forget her name at the moment, is very patient and generous, and would love to tell you how she did it. Off the top of my head, she's got at least six cob structures up. She's near Devil's Den, south of Fayetteville.
2. Have you asked/searched for "fill dirt" instead of "clay"? It wouldn't surprise me if everybody in the business thinks "pottery" when they hear the word "clay" because who would come looking for something that everybody already has so much of?
For example, this listing on Craigslist is going to be straight clay, and it's free, but it doesn't look like they want to deliver. Here's another in Gravette.
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