Category Archives: Natural Building

Making a DIY Earthen Floor: two methods


After completing the strawbale walls and the roundwood, reciprocal roof of the Milkwood Roundhouse, we wanted a gorgeous floor to complete this hand-crafted natural building. So an earthen floor was a natural choice.

There’s not much easily accessible info out there on how to make your own earth floor, however. So we’d like to share what we learned with you…  Continue reading

Roundhouse build: making a Living Roof

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The final stage of building the roof of our roundhouse was to transform it into a garden.

Living roofs can help insulate the building below, provide pollination sources for surrounding wildlife and help the building blend into the landscape.

However, this roof is far from flat. It’s made on a reciprocal frame, to create great strength for the roof without needing central posts. So a sloping garden in the round was the aim. It turned out beautifully, and we learned a lot in the process  Continue reading

Roundhouse build: making a Reciprocal Roof

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Reciprocal roof frames are self-supporting structures that date back to the 12th Century. They are used in Chinese and Japanese architecture, as well as being something that Leonardo Da Vinci explored in detail.

The interlocking nature of the separate members creates a complimentary tension that, ultimately, results in an extremely strong, self-supporting roof.

The theory of it is surprisingly easy to follow, once you understand what’s going on. And so a reciprocal roof seemed the perfect choice for our recent experimental strawbale roundhouse that we built at Milkwood Farm…  Continue reading

Roundhouse build: foundations and walls

Ta da!

A few months ago we raised a strawbale roundhouse with a reciprocal roof as part of our first Natural Building Workshop at Milkwood Farm.

Now that we’re nearing the end of this build, I thought I’d step you through the process of raising this experimental building piece by piece. And as with all projects, the foundations came first. So let’s start there, shall we?  Continue reading

Roundhouse build update – the roof is on!

The ceiling from the outside - every piece fitted to the curve. Not that tricky once you get the hang of it...

Following on from raising the walls of this roundhouse in four days, Floyd and Shane have been focussed on getting this little place finished before Winter. And yep, we’ve all noticed the speed at which things progress when you go from a crew of twenty four to a crew of two!

Mind you, once the walls were up and the bones of the roof were on, this natural building project was firmly into the ‘fiddly bits’ part of the build. So perhaps it’s just as well there were 2 and not 20 people working on it. But we’re getting there now! Progress shots below…  Continue reading

Raising a home in four days flat at Milkwood Farm


Last week we built a home. A round, load-bearing strawbale tiny house with a roundwood reciprocating living roof, to be precise. And when I say ‘built’ I suppose I mean that we got it mostly done. It was amazing to be a part of.

I’m going to go into the construction of this building piece by piece, but for this weekend, here’s an overview of the process from bare ground to where we got to, 4 days later…  Continue reading

A visit to Melliodora with David Holmgren

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Recently Nick was lucky enough to hang out with David Holmgren for a couple of days at Melliodora, the superb small-acre permaculture site that David has established with his partner Su Dennett  in Hepburn Springs, Victoria.

Being in the thick of a super-productive, comfortable and energy efficient permaculture system at harvest time was inspiring, to say the least. To add to that, the purpose of the visit was for Dave Jacke to spend time with David and Su while he was in Australia. You can imagine the intensely wonderful conversations that went down!  Continue reading

Cooking on a Rayburn woodstove: Help Us!


Give me your tips. This wood fired family needs some love.

So we’re about to embark on our first full Winter of cooking on a woodstove. In particular, a Rayburn Royal. It has hot spots, cold spots and an oven that cooks everything really well on the left side.

I know there’s HEAPS to learn about this baby, from the best wood to use to what recipes work better in a woodstove oven to what best to use the warming oven at the bottom for… Continue reading

Natural Building Course upcoming

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Just a quick note that we’re extremely excited to announce a comprehensive Natural Building course that will be happening at Milkwood Farm 6 – 9 April 2013 with Sam Vivas of Viva Eco Homes.

As you may have worked out, we’re rather passionate about natural building, and the empowerment that comes from having the knowledge and skills to build non-toxic, living homes from natural materials.

If this course had been around when we were building the Tiny House, we would have been there in a flash. It will cover load bearing strawbale building, earthern floors, reciprocal roofs, roundwood building, cobb building and earth and line renders. All with a focus on skilling up the owner-builder to either build their own or be in an informed position to direct a natural building project.

All the details are here: Natural Building: Apr 2013: Milkwood Farm NSW

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>> More posts about Natural Building at Milkwood Farm

Potting a pathway to abundance

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When we moved in to the tiny house last August, our design plans for our edible courtyard were vast, and immediate. It would be a riot of color and flavor in no time – citrus trees ripening in the microclimate of the east-facing gabion wall, feasts of greens, herbs everywhere, scenting the air as pollinators buzzed, and my child laughing and playing, surrounded by an oversupply of butterflies attracted by the many small flowers that would be springing from every crack we could see.

I expected all this to take shape by mid spring, or early Summer at the latest. Hey, we’d lived through the build and we had moved in. What more was there to do but garden?

Well, there was life and a farm and permaculture education to run, and egg-cup dinosaurs to make, as it turned out. We hope to realise the design next winter in our quieter months. But in the meantime, bring on the glory of potted interim gardening! Never have I lived in such a happy space. Continue reading


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