House of Rain
Family-Size Cob Cottage
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Hello, Melissa & Yoshi Rain here! We live in 10 acres of pine forest outside of Spokane, Washington. Our interest in natural building has accumulated over the past 10 years, and now, as we step across the threshold of our 30s, we are thrilled to be putting our learning to work! We’ve been specifically inspired & informed by the book: The Hand Sculpted House by Ianto Evans, Michael G. Smith and Linda Smiley, who founded the American organization described at www.cobcottage.com. Melissa has participated in the building of a small cob cottage in an urban area; she works as a preschool teacher, loves to sing, and is a compassionate and determined lady! Yoshi crafted our first cob thermal mass rocket stove and hand-built a barn structure last winter; he has training in timber frame construction and currently works at a distribution cooperative of local organic farms, which he is very passionate about. Our dog, Estakada, is suspicious but friendly, a real love bug when once she gets to know you (Australian Shephard + Golden Retriever) * Gain experience in building a Cob walled, off-grid living structure, with Timber-Framed roof * * Learn the the techniques of Thermal Mass Rocket Stove building * * Camp in the woods of Eastern Washington, see some off-grid systems in action, and enjoy the local hiking, trails and River *
The nearest town from our land is 15min drive, and the larger city of Spokane is about 40min drive. Along the way from the city to our homestead, you may find an abundance of public hiking trails, including the gorgeous Centennial Trail that winds along the Spokane River for over 39 miles (nearest access to this trail is a mere 20 min. drive from our building site!). Out in our rural area, there is sadly no public transportation access, so leaving to and from the property requires a vehicle; both Yoshi & Melissa do work in Spokane part time, so rides to and from the city are possible. The city of Spokane has many public transportation options, and lovely shops, theaters, and riverfront parks. (Due to our work schedule, the main cobbing work will take place in the evenings after 2pm/14:00 + weekends).
The purpose of this cob cottage project is to build our home, with the goal of basic completion by this Winter 2021. Since the ground first thawed in March earlier this year, we have completed the gravel drainage foundation, with a stone wall around the cottage parameter, which measures about 23 x 36 feet (7 x 11 meters). While Melissa coordinates the continual cobbing of the walls on top of the stone foundation, Yoshi will be timber framing posts for the roof beams and rafters. We already have gathered local resources of clay, granite sand, and straw. Work on the cottage will include building our second thermal mass rocket stove, based on designs from www.ideozone.org (Again: due to our work schedule, the main cobbing work will take place in the evenings after 2pm/14:00 + weekends).
Accommodation on our new homestead is purely TENT CAMPING. The main living structure on the land is currently is a large RV trailer. Due to summer heat and other discomforts inside the trailer, we ourselves currently sleep in tents outside on a loft, covered by a barn roof. There is the potential to fit another tent under the barn roof on the elevated loft (accessed by a ladder); otherwise, open air, ground level camping amongst the pine trees is plentiful. --Cooking is done in the RV on a propane stove, as well as on the outdoor cob rocket stove --Solar panels provide enough electricity to charge phones/lap tops (no internet available) --All water for washing and drinking is hand-pumped from a well into 3 gallon containers, which we will ask you to help with, to provide enough for your own use. Water comes up from the well cold and fresh, and a water test was completed up the hill on our closest neighbor's well, showing it to be clean to drink. -- Showering is possible though quite simple: a small pump in the RV trailer drawing from a 5 gallon tub, brought to preferred temperature on the stove (or at this time of year, from sitting in the sun!). 5 gallons can usually last us up to 10 minutes! --We use a composting toilet system that breaks down poo over time with wood chips to reduce the smell; so you can expect to be sitting on some buckets and sometimes peeing in the woods! (Privacy screen and sanitizing wipes set up, with gravity-fed "running water" sink + soap for washing). -- COVID/SAFETY considerations: Yoshi is fully vaccinated, Melissa has only the first shot with a bad reaction and prevents a second dose. We do most of our activities outside, including sleeping, eating, and of course building. We may not be greeting you with a hug this year, but we are glad to have you visit. It is not a requirement, and we will not ask, but we do feel extra supported if you do choose to (at least try) the vaccine.
Due to Yoshi’s work with local farms, vegetables are plenty. We cook about 2 full meals a day, and we will feed you those! But it is helpful if you can bring your own favorite snacks for one lighter meal of the day (we usually eat a full breakfast and dinner, and do lighter snacks around lunchtime, such as fruit or juice, crackers & cheese, chips & salsa, milk & cereal, etc.). We eat lots of vegetables, salads, lentils, beans & rice, toast, eggs, and also meat and fish when it is available. We cannot ensure a fully vegan/vegetarian diet, so if you require that, you may need to plan for only being able to eat about one meal with us per day. Our fridge is small, but we can also store some things briefly in an ice chest (including our own food to make room in the fridge for your items).