Hyperadobe Earthbag Chicken Garden Build

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Updated January 26, 2022
Hyperadobe Earthbag Chicken Garden Progress

It's time for a new project here on the off-grid Tiny Shiny Homestead! We're building a chicken garden. What's that, you ask? Well the waste from gardens feed chickens. And chicken waste after properly composted can feed a garden. So why not make them one single thing?

The twist? We're making it all out of Hyperadobe Earthbags.

Our unique structure includes a 42' circular diameter outer wall, a 21' circular inner wall, and an intersecting 10'x8' rectangle. 

It will be about 5' high to keep predators out, but not too high so we still have plenty of sunshine coming into the garden.

The coop will have a pitched roof that collects rain water and pumps it back through for irrigating the garden.

And we have lots of plans for openings, bottle brick windows, and so much more. In fact, we have a good explanation of the initial project here.

Daily Progress Videos

That's right, friends! Daily videos are back! We'll be posting videos Monday - Friday each week until the project is done.

New segments include:

  1. Mason Jar Monday - we create a food or drink using Mason Jars
  2. Tiny Shiny Tuesday - we shine a light on other people doing cool things
  3. Where's it at Wednesday - keep an eye out for something special! If you know, you know ;)
  4. Book Club Thursday - the kids share their favorite books
  5. Fun Fact Friday - the kids share a fun fact (or 5)

Ready? Let's build a chicken garden!

Day 1 - Breaking Ground on Our Chicken Garden! New Hyperadobe Earthbag Project

Very excited to be back working on a new project. Our Chicken Garden. We'll be making this with hyperadobe earthbags and we can't wait to get started! Make sure you pay attention to all the chicken names through this series! There will be a test at the end!

Mason Jar Monday: Thai Chicken Ramen Recipe

Day 2 - We Didn't Let the Wind Stop Us! Earthbag Chicken Garden Trenching

As usual, we're already not feeling it by the second day 😂. That's ok, though. Today we continue to trench the large exterior circle.

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: Green Dream Project

Day 3 - Pruning the Mesquite Trees Around Our Chicken Garden

Today we continue to work on the outside trench, but also take time to trim our mesquite trees and clear out the brush underneath them. This will allow these trees close by to grow quickly and provide shade in the years to come. We also introduce another chicken, and give you something to search for. Keep your eyes peeled!

Day 4 - Three Shovels & a Pickaxe - Trenching our Earthbag Chicken Garden by Hand

Yep, we're still trenching, and doing it all by hand! No machines necessary :) We also introduce Book Club Thursday, and find a cocooned friend while digging.

Book Club Thursday: Fun Jungle

Day 5 - How Level Does Our Earthbag Trench Need To Be?

Hey look at that, it's finally time to pull out that laser level! We've just eyeballed everything up to this point so let's see how many adjustments we have to make.

Day 6 - Crossing the Finish Line on the Outside Trench

We're still trenching by hand. It can get a little discouraging when you don't have an entire day to devote to a project, but little by little we'll get this chicken garden done!

Day 7 - It's all in our heads. Should we have measured?

We should really keep track of how many times plans change per build. We're real good at rolling with the punches and making things up as we go. Don't worry. We'll have a solid plan for the house before we begin that project :) 

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: The Upside of Downsizing

Day 8 - Why Are We Trenching by Hand for this Project?

Ok we hear you! So many comments asking why we aren't using a tractor or tiller or some manner of machinery to dig our trench. We'll share why trenching by hand is best for us on this project. And of course, we'll keep on trenching. Hey, we're almost done! :)

Day 9 - Shou Sugi Ban - Preserving Wood in the Desert

Out here wood doesn't last too long, but by burning the wood, scraping the ash, and sealing with linseed oil, we're able to preserve the wood for much longer out here in the harsh desert.

Book Club Thursday: The Nightingale

Day 10 - How Far Can the Water Go?

We nearly forgot that we need water to start laying bags. Let's see if we can find enough hoses to make it over to the Chicken Garden, fix our well-worn cement mixer, and learn about pink dolphins with Jax's Fun Fact Friday!

Day 11- We're Tired of Trenching - Finalizing the Edges for our Hyperadobe Bags

Finally! The last of the trenching is done and we're about to move on to filling our hyperadobe earthbags! The more we look at these trenches, the more excited we get because we'll be growing salsa next year! Wahoo! Also: Mason Jar Monday smoked chocolate chip cookies!

Mason Jar Monday: 

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Browned Butter
  • 1-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/8 Cup. White Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2-1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Bag Chocolate Chips

Directions

  1. Brown butter and mix into sugars until fluffy.
  2. Once sugar mixture has cooled, add vanilla and eggs and mix well.
  3. Combine dry ingredients then mix into butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Mix in chocolate chips
  5. Roll into balls and refrigerate at least 2 hours
    (Add bacon bits to dough balls before baking if you choose to)
  6. Bake 300 degrees on pellet smoker grill for 10 minutes or in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy a few and give the rest to friends:)

Day 12 - Let the Hyperadobe Bags Begin!

The day we've been waiting for. The first bags of our hyperadobe chicken garden walls are now being laid! How long will this take?? Longer than we hoped for.

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: My Little Homestead

Day 13 - My Little Homestead Visits TSH! - Let's Talk About Bags!

We invited My Little Homestead back out to see the finished shed and enjoy a meal together. We absolutely adore this family and are so happy to have met them. They are a wealth of knowledge on earthbag building, roofs, family togetherness, and so much more. Make sure you're subscribed to their channel to keep up with their family adventures.

In today's video we also lay more bags, create some frames for the chicken run and chicken coop, and explain why we are starting on the exterior circle! Let's do this!

Day 14 - Shou Sugi Ban Wood Frames for Chicken Garden

We ran out of cement so we're on to another important part of our build. Finishing the Shou Sugi Ban for the wood frames that will let in more light and air into the chicken run! We've always got to be thinking ahead to the next few steps. This is an important one. Plus, you get Ada's book recommendations and to meet our hen named Mango!

Book Club Thursday: Ranger's Apprentice Series 

Day 15 - It's way more fun with kids! Hyperadobe Earthbag Building

Hyperadobe Tips, a chicken named Penguin, Fun Facts with Jett, and more bags in the ground! It may be slow moving, but we're still moving on our Hyperadobe Earthbag Chicken Garden!

Day 16 - We're Making Progress Each Day

We're still laying bags in our trench, make a Christmas/Summer drink for Mason Jar Monday, take a Kitten break, and install our drainage tube.

Mason Jar Monday:

Cranberry Lime Topo Chico Refresher

  • 1 Bottle Topo Chico Mineral Water
  • Ice
  • Frozen Cranberries
  • 1 Whole Lime

Day 17 - Jax Quits & It ALL Turns To Chaos - Hyperadobe Chicken Garden

Today we're attempting to finally track down and fix the issues with our Harbor Freight cement mixer, get some last minute cement, introduce our Tiny Shiny Tree Collective, and try to get that last 6ft of bag laid at the end of the day. Sheeesh. Oh, For the Content!

Day 18 - Dreaming of Ways to Make Laying Earthbags More Efficient

We're finally ready to move from the outside circle to the inside circle! We're feeling good and already looking ahead for ways to make these bags go a little faster. A custom tamp would be so handy. Maybe one day we'll invest in that! Until then...tamp, tamp, tamp.

Day 19 - It'll Be a Big Day if We Can Finish This Earthbag Course

With the outside garden circle finished, we come together and rally to get our first courses on both the inner circle and rectangle finished. That means we officially have at least one course on the entire build! Jax talks about his book pick of the week, and the boys get ready for a bachelor weekend.

Book Club Thursday:

Day 20 - Girls are at a Horse Show, But the Boys Keep Earthbagging

With the girls gone at a horse show, the boys manage to lay a full course on the chicken coop! We also explain interlocking earthbag structures, share a fun Italian fact, and talk about how you can support us during your holiday shopping.

Shopping Links:

Day 21 - The girls are back, just in time to work!

Boys work and the girls come home with enough time to get some more bag work done! Pretty sure Nine Nine was the happiest he's ever been with all his humans together again. Now, let's lay some more bags!

Mason Jar Monday: 

Dutch Baby

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablesppons Butter
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 5 Eggs

Directions

  1. Heat the butter in a cast iron pan in the overn at 400 degrees while you make the batter.
  2. Blend together all the other ingredients for a solid minute.
  3. Pour into hot cast iron pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown and puffy.
  4. Squeeze a fresh lemon (or orange) over the dutch baby and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  5. Enjoy :)

Day 22 - Clearing the Work Area, Trying to Get Through the Intro

If we can make through the intro, welcome to Day 22! Jon's showing Ashley how to man the earthbag bucket, laying more bags, and Jett finally clears the work area of all those dangerous stakes.

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: Factotum Farms (use code TINYSHINY)

Day 23 - A New Way to Lay Hyperadobe 90 Degree Corners

Ashley and Ada head to town to pick up a second cement mixer. It's time to get these bags moving faster! The rest of us continue to add another course, take an animal break, and talk about how weird 90 degree corners are on an earthbag building.

Day 24 - Will a Second Cement Mixer Speed Up Earthbags?

Fool us twice, as they say. Yep, putting together the 2nd Harbor Freight Cement mixer was just as dumb and confusing as the firs time. But hey, it works! Together with our added machinery and help from some good friends we make some serious earthbagging progress!

Book Club Thursday:

Day 25 - Tamping Wars, Friends Helping & Major Progress

With our friends the Fords still in town, and our process clear, we go up a full course on BOTH the coop and run. That's over 100' of hyperadobe bag in one afternoon. Whoah! We also have a tamping war and fun fact to finish out the weekend.

Day 26 - First Chicken Garden Door Frame Install

Today our first door frame goes in and we talk about the importance of cleats. We also introduce you to our last chicken of our flock and make one of our favorite sides - Green Sauce!

Green Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 Avocados
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1-2 jalapenos
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Store in fridge up to 2 days
  3. Enjoy on tacos, eggs, pretty much anything.

Day 27 - 35 Feet of Hyperadobe Bag in 40 Minutes! WE ARE MOVING!

With the second mixer we are seeing a big jump in production! We'll continue laying bags to get ready for the next door frame, PLUS Ashley gets to introduce you to one of her favorite brands, Onle Organics and gives you a code for 10% off!

Tiny Shiny Tuesday : Onle Organics (10% off, Use code TINYSHINY)

Day 28 - Cutting Bottle Bricks, Teaching Hyperadobe

Sad news - Ashley's grandfather passed away early this morning. This video is dedicated in his memory ❤. Today we're cutting our first bottle bricks for the chicken garden and teaching some neighbors how to lay hyperadobe earthbags.

Day 29 - Our Kids are Amazing - We Need to Let Them Do More

Today we change our plans again, and decide to wait on our glass bottle bricks and window openings. Need to go up at least one more layer. We also start teaching the kids how to lay bags and trust them with more parts of the process. Spoiler, they rocked it.

Book Club Thursday: Hatchet

Day 30 - We May or May Not Need Better Communication

Today we address our dirt cement mixer situation, lay a bunch of bags, and laugh about how Ashley still won't explain all her plans for the walls to Jonathan. Oh, it's Fun Fact Friday!

Day 31 - Ginger Molasses Cookies & Chicken Run Openings

Today we have to go up several more courses on the chicken coop so that we can prepare to install our openings. These are unique screened sections that will let light and air through into the chicken run while also providing a place to hang or display plants in the garden area. We also make some Ginger Molasses Cookies for Mason Jar Monday.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

DRY INGREDIENTS

  • 4 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

WET INGREDIENTS

  •  1 1/2 Cups Butter (Room Temperature)
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses
  • 2 Eggs
  • Turbinado Sugar

DIRECTIONS

Combine dry ingredients and whisk until mixed.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Then add eggs one at a time and mix into fluffy butter.

Slowly add dry ingredients and mix into butter and sugar mixture.

Chill Dough. Roll into balls and dip in Turbinado sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375° F, sprinkle more Turbinando sugar if desired. Cool, and eat!

Day 32 - Locking in Openings, Experimenting with Bottles in Hyperadobe

Today we officially lock in our large screened openings in the chicken run, and start experimenting with the best way to put bottle bricks in hyperadobe earthbag without shattering them during tamping. We also review an ICECO single zone fridge and talk about our friends @Beginning from this Morning for Tiny Shiny Tuesday.

Save 12% off at ICECO

Day 33 - Can we Lay an Entire Course with Bottle Bricks?

Today we continue to experiment with putting bottle bricks directly in our hyperadobe earthbags, even though half of us are gone at the dentist. Did we break any bottles? Mmmmaybe :)

Day 34 - Frequently Asked Questions & Nesting Boxes Going In!

Our Hyperadobe Chicken Garden is going up and it's time to build the nesting boxes. We're also answering so many frequently asked questions today! Also, meet Doug Judy the orange and white kitten!

Day 35 - Hopping Hyperadobe- Locking in the Nesting Boxes

Let's be real. Most of you are here for our dog, Nine Nine. I don't blame you, he's the best. Today we're locking in the nesting boxes, Nine Nine shows us his jumping skills, and we try a new way to incorporate the bottles into the bags. Plus, Ada tells an interesting fact about sloths!

Day 36 - Bottle Brick Breakage Won't Stop Us!

Today we lay individual bags between bottles in hopes of not breaking them, but an accidental trip causes us to break one anyway. Also, we make some tiny tasty pies for Mason Jar Monday.

Mini Apple Pie Recipe

  1. Start with a good pie crust. This is my favorite recipe.
  2. Form the pie crusts in the Ball Jar lids and keep in freezer until you're ready to put it all together and bake.
  3. Chop up apples into tiny pieces and squeeze some lime or lemon juice on them.
  4. Cook with 1/2 T Butter, Cinnamon and Nutmeg (to your liking) and a dash of salt.
  5. Once it's just starting to get a little soft turn off the heat and add a teaspoon of honey (or more depending on your variety of apples.
  6. Roll out the other dough to use for lattice.
  7. Fill mini pies just like you would a big pie and add the lattice top, and trim off extra.
  8. Bake at 375 until done. I like to pull them out after about 20 minutes and add some melted butter to the top because my RV oven does not like to brown anything. 
  9. Pop it back in for another 20-30 minutes or until the crust is cooked and there you have it! Delicious mini apple pies :)

Day 37 - Laying Earthbags in Real Time

Today we lay a ton of hyperadobe earthbags, break yet another bottle, and take some time to buttress a short bag in real time so you can see all that's involved with each course.

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: Glassy As Flux

Day 38 - Earthbag Shenanigans & Tool Breakage

Today we attempt to go up two full courses on the chicken coop, but are foiled by a faulty tamper. After compacting over 80 tons of dirt, we'll give 'em a pass, I guess :) Don't forget to keep your eyes peeled - it's where's it at Wednesday!

Day 39 - Experiments with Earthbag Bottle Openings

Today we try a new way to put bottles in our hyperadobe earthbag courses, try to get used to our new tamp, and get ready for our Christmas extravaganza tomorrow!

Book Club Thursday: Amulet

Day 40 - Earthbag Drumline, Family Farm Photo Session

Merry Christmas friends, and thanks for such an amazing year! We hope you enjoy this fun episode. We start an earthbag drumline, lay a bunch of hyperadobe bags, try to take a family holiday photo, and more. This will be our last video of 2021, so we will see you next year!

Day 41 - Have we Lost our Hyperadobe Mojo?

Oh friends, it's been a while since we laid some earthbags, and it shows! Once we get warmed back up, though we manage 1.5 courses on the coop and back half of the run. We also share our favorite local coffee shop, Talking Irons!

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: Talking Irons Coffee Saloon 

Day 42 - Rain, Wind, & Cold Won't Stop Us Today!

Ashley and the kids rally through cold, rainy, windy weather to put a course over each of our bucket openings! This is a big step forward, and we can't believe how tall it is! Also we answer some frequently asked questions.

Day 43 - Gotta Let Those Hyperadobe Earthbag Courses Dry First

Bear with us friends - our terminology's a little off today. But we're continuing to make great progress on the chicken garden, even if we have to stop a little early to let a previous course dry.

Book Club Thursday: The Kane Chronicles (Books) (Graphic Novels)

Day 44 - Cob & Bottle Coop Loop

Today we finally get to play in the mud again. Typically when adding cob and bottles we cut two bottles, tape them together, then cob around them. Today we're trying something new by adding a whole one gallon glass jug that our neighbors saved for us! We'll see if it will work!

Day 45 - Hyperadobe Earthbag with Friends - It's more fun this way.

Our friends, @Beginning from this Morning are here and join in on the earthbag fun. Let's lay a whole bunch of earthbags!

Day 46 - More Courses, Bottles + Cob, A Broody Hen, & More!

So many things going on today! We continue up more courses over our buckets, start a new cob & bottle section, and create new heavy duty cleats over the vertical bottles on the side of the coop door. We also introduce a new segment: Make it Monday! and deal with a broody hen.

Day 47 - Ankle Braces & Helping Friends

Today we help our friends Factotum Farms on their cob house build, experiment with our own cob + bottle setup, add more courses, and remove the angle (ANKLE) braces from our door frames.

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: Grass Roots Farmer's Co-Op (save $30 off first order

Day 48 - Adventure Day PLUS We Answer More Questions About the Chicken Garden

I say we can still count today as a work day since we did address some questions about the chicken garden. We've so enjoyed being able to take a day and spend it with friends showing them some of our favorite places around southern Arizona.

Day 49 - Cob and Bottle Pattern Fail

You win some, you loose some. Today did not go as planned but we're going to make the best of it and turn this bottle mound into something else. Lesson learned - I much prefer doing bottles randomly instead of patterns. I knew this, but now it's confirmed.

Book Club Thursday: Inheritance Cycle

Day 50 - Change of Plans for our Chicken Garden Ventilation

We were hoping to add a nice new window we had left over from our solar shed build, but wouldn't you know it...things didn't go as planned. So we switched things up and made something else instead.

Day 51 - A productive day almost derailed by ogling 😂

I'm getting a tad distracted today. I mean, look what I get to stare at. How we ever get any work done is beyond me.

We went up another 1.5 courses on the coop wall and we're getting ready for some really fun parts on this build! Check it out!

Day 52 - Finishing Cob & Bottle Mountains

Okay, okay. Cob mountain turned out pretty cool. It's fun when things turn out when you let the sculpture lead the way.

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: Talking Irons Coffee Saloon

Day 53 - Kids Take Over Cobbing for the Day

Kids knocked out some cob work this morning and did a fantastic job. Then we all worked together to get the bags up to lintel level on the west wall. Now we're really getting somewhere!

Day 54 - Cutting Tons of Glass Bottle Bricks

Ashley planned on cutting hundreds of bottles, but something always happens. Today we ran out of tape, but at least we got enough done to start the next cob mountain range :)

Book Club Thursday: Timeless: Deigo and the Rangers of Vastlantic

Day 55 - Fixing our Mistakes & Finishing the Second Cob & Bottle Mountain

It's super easy to take down cob and bottles if you need to. We got done, looked at it, and decided to make some adjustments. No problem. We're getting so close to laying more bags and we'll be up to the door frame before you know it :)

Day 56 - Installing Hurricane Strapping & Cement Mixer Repair

It's a weird, rainy day - and we've got a few things we need to do before we start laying more bags. First up is to fix the cement mixer that broke on Day 55. Then we remember that we really need to install our hurricane strapping to hold the roof down on the chicken coop. Finally, Ashley makes some Roasted Tomatillo Salsa!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients

  • 20 Tomatillos
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1 Jalapeño 
  • 1 Poblano Pepper
  • 1 Bunch Cilantro
  • Juice of 3 Limes
  • Pinch of Salt

Directions

  1. Add Cilantro, Lime Juice, and Salt to blender and set aside.
  2. Roast Tomatillos, Garlic, Red Onion, Jalapeño, and Poblano until well roasted.
  3. Add all ingredients to blender and blend until chunky smooth. Chill and serve!

Day 57 - Tiniest Hyperadobe Bags Yet!

So many questions about if we'll be putting a header or lintel over the mountains before we lay bags. Today we're talking about why we're not doing that. Let's get bagging! 

Tiny Shiny Tuesday: REC BMS

Day 58 - 1 1/2 Courses at a Time

Today we go round up some more clay for cob, and lay 1 1/2 courses of earthbag on the chicken coop. Keeping it simple!

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Want to know what's next? We're creating videos of this project Monday - Friday so make sure you're subscribed on YouTube so you don't miss a thing!

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Jonathan Longnecker

About the Author

Jonathan Longnecker is the strongly opinionated tattooed and bearded half of Tiny Shiny Home. He loves making music, designing brands, building websites, exploring the outdoors, and living off-grid.

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Posted November 28, 2021


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