my name is earl


Our pickup is now officially named Earl and boy did he prove to be a valuable asset today.

We headed out for breakfast at the shed, and on our way we approached two people walking down the road loaded with backpacks and bags. They hopped in the back of Earl and we took them down to the ferry. They had been WWOOFing for a farm co-op and were leaving the island to head back to their hometown in Germany. We headed down the road to the ferry when we passed someone bicycling in the opposite direction with a small trailer attached to it. They yelled at the cyclist and waved. In the rear view mirror, Robyn could see him turning around and following us. He caught up to us at the dock and it turns out he was the wood carver we had met at the farmers market. We invited him to breakfast and our luck began to turn.

His name is Ingo and he has been living here for eighteen years. We asked him if he would mind having his photo taken, and this is where the real work began. We headed back to his house, parked the car by the side of the road, and followed the wooden masks that guided us up the path to his cabin. He’s a true islander with solar power, an outdoor shower and an open outhouse. An outdoor workshop was attached to the back of his cabin filled with tools and wood shavings. His tool sharpener was an exercise bike with a grindstone mounted to a pulley system. Lying in a pile of sawdust was a wooden bowl waiting to be finished. The tour inside his house was even better. All of his homemade plates, bowls, and cutlery were made out of wood. A shelf with stacks and stacks of wooden bowls, a couch, a stove and a couple of chairs filled the rest of his cabin. He slept upstairs in a tiny loft. He is truly a man living off the grid. We spent the morning there listening to his stories and taking some great photos. He started suggesting people to photograph, and we sat there lapping it all up. Suddenly, he blurted out “I have just the place you should see”, and off we went.

We headed towards the dock and ventured down a road we had never been on. It was obvious Ingo was not used to being in a vehicle. He was a combination of a back seat driver and a tiny bit of a nervous nellie, but we’re thinking that it had a lot more to do with Robyn’s driving. After a relatively quick drive in Earl, we parked by the side of the road and hiked up a long steep path marked with seashells to guide the way - sort of like Hansel and Gretel. As we were walking up the path, we began to see a strange looking structure. It was something called a cob house, but it still looked more like a ginger bread house to us.

There were four people working away in the heat. A fifth was inside the magical house where it was set up as a fantastic little kitchen. A cob house is a house made of clay, sand, straw and manure; and a building process, which is painfully slow. Of course we jumped right in, starting with wheel barrowing the mixture to tarps lying on the ground. After adding the mixture, we then took our shoes off and crushed the lumps with our feet. Next we watered down the dirt and added straw, lifting each side of the tarp, one at a time, mixing the materials, and adding water to the dry parts of the mixture. Once each side is done, it is then compressed and wrapped into a flat rectangular shape and sits for 15 minutes where nature takes its course.  They called it the brick. Once the brick is done it is taken to the foundation and is stacked to produce a wall.

Dave, one of the workers and the owner of the property, has started to build this cob house. The small initial structure was a temporary residence for the cook, and eventually, when it’s all done, it will be a magical castle for his 5-year-old daughter. He estimated his house would be done in about two years. The cook, well she is the cog that keeps the machine running. According to Dave, in the world of cob houses, the cook is the queen. After teaching Dale and Robyn how to cob, it was time to eat, and they graciously asked us to stay. An incredible vegan meal, eating outside in the forest, we were finally feeling like were being accepted into the community and are no longer considered tourists. It was getting late and we didn’t want to wear out our welcome. We dropped off our new friend Ingo and sat on the beach drinking some wine and proceeded to write our blog.

It’s always hard on these projects to know where to start, but today it all fell into place. It may go sideways tomorrow, but tonight we feel good.

Oh, we forgot to mention we’ve been invited to the drawing class tomorrow night - stay tuned for our sketches.


This sounds like a fantastic adventure. I cannot wait to hear more. I want to go adventuring with you guys too! Have a fantastic time and keep the posts coming. Tracy

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