A Cottage Geared Up for Winter

Danila here, bringing you an update on our fabulous little cottage. While the rest of our crew is wintering in sunny California, Joe and I have been working on the toolshed-turned-guest house nearly every day, trudging through mud, ice, snow and the joy of building stuff with our hands.

Since November, we have made wonderful progress, and the little building has really come together. We’ve put in windows and doors, plugged holes in the walls, and have gotten to a point where someone could stay in the cottage without freezing!

So without any further ado, on to the photos! Here’s what the “toolshed” looked like in early November, when we were just getting the straw bale walls up:


Here’s what the inside looked like:


Then we insulated the foundation…dacha_come_november-0134

And the ground around it… This will keep the earth around the building from freezing, making sure our walls do not heave or become damaged.dacha_come_november-0153

We worked hard throughout the day…dacha_come_november-0158

And the sunset was atomic, as usual.dacha_come_november-0138

Then we buried everything to make it look like we hadn’t done any work.dacha_come_november-0163Joe and I stayed out there till just about midnight.


A couple days later, it turned REALLY REALLY cold… Oh, before I forget, we also put up aluminum flashing to keep snow and stuff from blowing up into the bales.dacha_come_november-0248

There was snow on the ground as we home-wrapped the bales to protect them from the elements. If it was earlier in the season, we would have plastered instead, but with freezing temperatures on the horizon, we didn’t want to take any chances on the plaster freezing and ruining our bales.dacha_come_november-0252

It was so cold that we had to wear silly hats.


As you can see in this photo, we also stained the floor so it would retain heat. The concrete was no longer poopy gray! We also obtained these huge deep cycle batteries from our amazing neighbors, Lynn and Suzanne.dacha_come_november-0332
Silly faces were also made.


Our fleet of vehicles is very capable of handling the snow!dacha_come_november-0346

Here’s what it looked like when we finished home-wrapping the front.


Here you can see more improvements, like the solar heater we made for our new batteries. In this photo, we are using a veggie-powered car to charge the batteries, which can then be used to power lights inside the cottage!dacha_come_november-04163

Before long, we were focusing on the inside of the cottage. Here are some of the cool things we added, like shelving, a couch, and a makeshift shower.dacha_come_november-0403

To keep the straw from drifting on the floor, we covered the walls with blankets.  It was so nice and cozy at this point that we invited friends over.dacha_come_november-0413

First our friend Ariel came to visit. (You can also make out our canvas ceiling, which was bare wooden rafters just weeks ago.)dacha_come_november-0415

Then our new friends Shira and Ari came out to volunteer some awesome labor! They are starting out on their own sustainable homestead journey, on a slightly bigger scale than ours, and we’re helping each other out with information, time and ideas. Check out their amazing work and beautiful website! dacha_come_november-0430

We gave them tea.dacha_come_november-0432

Joe was thoughtful.dacha_come_november-0441

It really was quite fun!dacha_come_november-0444

And just so you don’t think we’re freezing out there as the temperatures drop into the teens, here’s how warm the cottage is: 70.5 degrees!dacha_come_november-0448