Cobbing With Children

Aki and Allena build a cob house

One of the joys of cob is the peaceful nature of the construction. It’s quiet, nontoxic, artistic, sensory, fun and communal.

Painting by the fire pit.

Our excellent good friends visited last week with their two small children. They were amazed at the idea of a mud house. It took them a bit of time to jump in, but soon we were all busy.

Akian post-voodoo doughnut

At first they enjoyed sprinkling the straw while we stomped the clay and sand together. Then the job of walking the wall to stomp the cob layer down entertained them. Allena was our dibbler. Akian pushed bottle caps and beach stones into the layers. Finally, they wanted to get their feet dirty and wiggled their tiny toes in the soft, cool clay and the scratchy sand (sensory learning!)


In between batches, they made art with sharpies and cedar fence board ends. I set up the easel by the fire pit and they painted their creations. Nathan helped them make a fort with bales of straw and they set up an art gallery inside!

Creating art

They also followed Nathan around, shoveling clay and sand into buckets. They carried fistfuls of cob mix in 5 gallon buckets to the wall. We made a cob mushroom and a cob fairy house. (Allena made a cool fairy nest, but her dad accidentally made it into a baseball.) We read books by the campfire, told many silly jokes and riddles, made up games and stayed up really late.

The fort/gallery

It was a perfect visit, except too short. Cob with kids! They bring unexpected magic that I’m convinced is absorbed by the walls and released slowly into the living space.

Art by Allena. Nathan and I on a blanket.

Jammy Shortbread

Jammy Robertsons

1/2 c. BUTTER
1/4 c. SUGAR (I used lavender sugar)
1 1/2 c. FLOUR
A squeeze of LEMON JUICEĀ 
A splash each of VANILLA and ALMOND EXTRACTS
A bit of your favorite FRUIT JAM

Cream butter, sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Add flour and lightly squeeze with fingers until uniformly crumbly. Add lemon juice and the vanilla and almond extracts. Use hands to work into a big ball of thick paste.

Roll out to 1/4″ thick and cut into small squares. Depress your finger into the center of each. Poke little holes with a fork around the edges. Dollop a tiny bit of your favorite jam into the fingerprints. (Pictured: Beverly Kramer’s Homemade Strawberry Jam)

Bake in a moderately hot oven (I use a wood stove, but 350 degrees should work) until lightly brown. Eat with a nice cup of strong, hot tea and a worthy friend.

P.S. I hid a chocolate chip in a couple. Surprise!