Then it got close to the end of the summer, and I wanted to get the cement poured before bad weather. So I hired a couple of girls to help me finish getting it ready, not just the ditch, but the forms, too. I just kind of freaked out when it came to forms, because they are so straight. So I went running to you and you said, ‘Use straw bales. They will bend in a curve. And plastic, to keep out the cement.' So, I bent the straw bales into the shape I needed, covered them with plastic and staked them down.
Then my son, who was experienced with concrete, told me I needed wires across the ditch, from one bale to another, to help hold it. He helped me do that. It didn't take long, because the bales were solidly in place. Then we called the cement truck. When the cement guy came up he just took his hat off and looked bewildered at the strange sight. My son, grinning from ear to ear, said, ‘I didn't do it! I didn't do it.' Then the fellow looked again and said, ‘Well, it looks like it's going to work.' So he dumped the cement.
What is the best material to build out of?
It depends on location, codes or lack thereof, size, design requirements and technological capacity of the community the building is designed to serve. A look into indigenous building techniques of the area you want to build in speaks volumes to what will likely be appropriate to the site.
Finally, the increasing collaboration between natural builders during the last few years points to the development of an integrated natural building system of which cob is only a part. Expect to see more hybrid buildings incorporating earth, straw, wood, stone, and other natural materials. Hopefully this will place less emphasis on individual materials and techniques and more on finding the best, most sustainable solution to regional building situations using the natural materials that are close at hand.
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