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heidi shackelford

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since Jun 08, 2013
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Recent posts by heidi shackelford

thanks everyone for the great info. very helpful !!! can't wait to start that part of my build, i hope to get some friends over to play as well.
9 years ago
welcome Todd,
i too am building a house from natural resources on property. round timber, cord wood, stone, cob. i have my friends saving and collecting bottles for me, but the thought has crossed my mind to find a bar that would save them for me. one weekend at a busy bar should give you a good stock of bottles. i also see lots of "curb alerts" on craigs lost for free left overs. it's also a good source for most building materials. i plan to spend some time on there when i am ready for things like doors, windows and electrical. i am looking for a source for lime mortar. as far as tires go, any tire shop will probably let you have all the tires you need as they have to pay to have them hauled off.
hope that helped, good luck on your build. look forward to hearing about your progress.
9 years ago
Aaron, i have quite a bit of stone from pea size all the way up to 1" to 2". as well as the grass and weeds growing on top. i tried to sift out the stone but the damp clay just clogs the screen. it seems that if i mix it with water till its pourable then it will pour through better and i will have a good mix of clay and some sand. i can always add more water if needed. i have seen it made both with dry clay and wet wondered which was better. I wil know more after i have a chance to do some test blocks next week. thanks for your help.
9 years ago
thanks guys, and yes i am ordering the books. i just wondered about that this morning so i thought i would ask.

heidi shackleford : Assuming that you have made up a series of sample Cob bricks

no i haven't been able to, as i am still waiting for the clay i have dug up and processed to dry out.

that's what got me thinking.... is that necessary? just seemed to me, i really just need the rocks and roots cleaned out and that was the best way i came up with and least amount of lifting etc., i have lots of 3 gal buckets the i can lift easily as long as they are not full. 4 wheeler and wagon to keep them up higher and move them around. really was looking for the most efficient way to clean the clay for using in cob. all the info i have found is cleaning it for pottery. that's what i have been tinkering with so far.

and thanks Jay for the clay-straw idea i will do more research on that as well.

9 years ago
OK so i found an abundance of clay on sight, it is mixed with some sandy loam and rock. my idea is when it's time to make my cob, can i mix my clay soil with water till it's pourable, then pour through screen to remove rocks and use immediately? or do i really need to go through the whole process of letting the sand settle out, drying, crushing, and add all the water when i mix the cob? if this is possible it will save me tons of time and labor. i have a drill and paddle so mixing it nice and smooth will be easy and help it go through the screen. i have read that letting the cob sit over night makes for a stickier cob and gives it more elasticity just thought if i don't completely dry the clay then it will always have the sticky and elasticity it needs? your thoughts and comments please and thank you.
9 years ago
Holly, i live just south of Tulsa and I'm new here too. i have been doing research on all different methods of natural building. i am planning a round timber frame from white oak, cedar and i have some reclaimed utility poles i will use for the largest section of my house. after the frame is up then i will "in-fill" with cord wood, cob, and stone. my problem is I'm not 100% sure what to put where for max heating and cooling efficiency. some say put the thermal mass on the south so the sun will heat it and it will transfer into your house at night and heat in the winter. long eves help give it shade in summer but as you know even the air in this region gets "thick", hot and humid, and i can't help to wonder how cob or stone will stay cool with temps and humidity at our levels even if it's shaded. currently my sight it thick with trees and i will start cutting only where my house will sit and then i can clear the rest when i see how the sun is landing across my house during different times of the year and where i need more or less is a great sight. it will show your exact location and you can type in any day of the year and anytime of day. it will show you the sun pattern as it rises and sets. very neat and very helpful. good luck with your house.
9 years ago
Thank You Tom and John so much for answering my questions. it seems the more i read the more questions i have lol

i know i am over thinking this. and Yes i will get the books. i just don't want to get half way into my build and have an " O crap" moment after it's too late.
Hi Aurora, i too am new to this sight. I live in northeast Oklahoma just south of Tulsa. i love it here and if seasons is what you want we have them and sometimes all in one day ! yes i said all in one day. i have seen it go from in the 40's one day to 80 the next with 8 inches of snow by sun down.

but ya my vote would be for the Ozarks too.
9 years ago
Hello Tom,
thanks for the book suggestions i will check them out for sure.

Regarding your foundation, you may want to do more research on using old tires. Old tires will "off-gas" some pretty nasty toxic chemicals for many years.

i will do more research on this matter !!!

have you started cutting your timber or harvesting you clay?

i have started "playing" with the clay and have 5 or so buckets settling now. here is a video i found on how to process dug clay
it appears that his clay is pretty clean except for some stones. i still have sand n mine but that's because i didn't let it settle long enough.
but basically i have done the same with the exception of my clay having more sand dirt and grass in it. i just dug it up, put it in a big clear tub mixed well with water then scooped the muddy water off the top, strained through my screen and letting it settle. after a couple hours it settles and has clean clear water on top, at first i scooped the water off with a cup and a sponge. both took too long, so i came up with the idea to drill holes down the side of the bucket and covered them on the inside with duct tape, as it settles i will take the tape off to let out the clear water and then wait some more. i'm wondering tho, if i am going to add sand back to the clay if i really need to get all the sand out? i guess i will find out, i plan to test it and see what happens. i will let you know the best system and "recipe" i come up with.

the other thing i am going to look into is controlling humidity or lack there of by adding a water feature in the house. when i was younger and we heated with a wood stove the house would get really dry so we always kept a big pot of water on the top to help. it would seem to me that come careful planning and a humidity gauge would help with the shrink swell of the cord wood. i will do some research to find out what the optimum level should be in a cord house.

look forward to sharing idea and knowledge with you in the future.
best regards Heidi


i wished i had asked about drying wood before i spent a week cleaning out my open air barn to dry my timber. lol but i still need the space for a workshop and tool storage during building.

For what in general?

instructions on cord wood but really any book on building natural. there are so many books it's mind boggling.

Are you doing this work yourself and have you taken any workshops? It sounds like a wonderful start.

yes i am doing as much of the work i can by myself and i am looking for building methods with that in mind. however i do have family and friends to help with what i cant do myself. cutting down the trees, raising the frame, of course and the heavy lifting. i do have some ideas on how to make things easier for me even if they take longer. for example i have plenty of large enough trees surrounding the sight i can run cable between and use a chain fall to help with lifting or tripods with a chain fall. no i have not taken any work shops. but will look for some in my area. thanks for that idea.

If you have stone then you may not need to use tires as your foundation. Tires are employable, but very labor intensive to do correctly.

i do have lots of stone but the good stuff is partially in the ground and would take a lot to get it to my sight as most of my property is heavily wooded and not easily accessible. the tires just seemed like something i could do myself and with a free source for all i would need i leaned towards that. also i have limitations on bending over and stress on my lower back and a tire foundation requires less of that than setting stone for a foundation.

do you use Sketchup or draw? You are going to need a model of some sort to really do a good job and understand your design and be able to share it with others.

no i have never heard of sketchup but will for sure check it out. no i don't draw but my brother does and framed house for about 10 years so he will be doing my blue prints as for as framing goes.

i know this is a lot to do but on my side i have time and lots of it.

one more question. what time of the year is best to cut my trees and do you recommend stripping the bark ahead of time and after they are cut?

again thank you so much for your knowledge.