“Snail Shell House”

Daughter on the third level
The bones of the structure
Putting on the sunburst rafters
Son on the ladder helping place the rafters
Another son mixing cob
Discussing countertops
The youngest three in bed on the third level
Hidden away with plants all around and grass on the roof

During the summers of 2008-2009 our family spent ten months total building a spiral shaped tri-level cob and log structure which we lovingly call the Snail Shell House. Shell because it is formed in a spiral, seen so often in nature. Snail because I identify with slow moving through life, carefully feeling my way along. Eventually I would love to create a book about our process.

Placing half log segments to create a stairway
Shoving cob in and around the large log segment that supports the stairway
Showing off for the camera
Youngest son trying out his skills in skinning the log. The following summer he actually skinned an entire small log.
One of my older sons, so strong, carrying lumber to the building site.
My twelve year old daughter building her own sleeping loft.
Two sisters, one in the loft and one on the ladder,
Even in the wilderness kids love toys.
Evening around the wood stove.
These sons had no fear of heights.
Daughters trying out the cob stomping.
The gap between the inner wall and the outer cob base. We filled the gap with moisture barriers and round rock, creating an inner wall drain to take seepage from the shale in the earth down and into the French drain which takes the water away from the house.
View of the inner wall and the French drain. This is the second level.
The bones before the rafters. The lowest level is the kitchen which stays cool in the summer with the outer walls keeping out the heat.
Kitchen in the process of creation.

One of the biggest things we discovered after we began using this structure is how easy it is for rats to steal out stuff! Also, when we are gone for the winter, we come back to rat’s nests here and there in our structures (built with sticks and brush along with candles, and socks, and handdrill sticks, and mousetraps, and flashlights, to name a few things) that we have to dismantle before we used the place. We have also had our food storage bins opened by bears (big teeth marks) (they weren’t buried) and our honey storage jars rolled around all over the place, and broken. I hope the bears didn’t cut their tongues while enjoying the honey!


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