The Bale Out

The past two days we’ve learned a ton about straw bales, their structural integrity, their R value, their weight, their ‘cartoonish’ form (as our instructor puts it), but most of all, we’ve learned that it gets everywhere. Our ears, our bras, our beards, our socks and nostrils. The straw is unstoppable.

Our process has basically been to pull bales from the main pile, square them up (by chain-sawing the rough ends to a nice square edge), bring them inside the house, and then begin stacking them. Sometimes we can set them right down, other times we need to saw out a little notch so it can fit snugly against a beam of the frame. Window bucks were/are a bit frustrating, but before we knew it we had bales stacked taller than most of us.

Today we completed the drywall fire barrier, foam insulating the concrete columns and ‘bale risers’ (the place the bales sits), defining the entryway zones, and putting up a bunch of bales on three of the four walls. The minutes may seem to slug by sometimes on site, but it feels like we’re moving a million miles an hour as I write this.


Laurel's house yesterday morning.

it's called a 'window buck.' And there's Big Blue i the background.

These long nails are in order to help stabilize the bale wall. The bottom row of bales sit right on top, pretty much flush with the two-by-fours.

Kelly Ray says: "never operate a chain-saw without pants," even if they're neon orange chap-things.

Serah squares up a bale.

Here, Paige attaches pieces of twine to the frame which will later affix pieces of bamboo to the bale walls for more structural support.

Another math board, only this time foam.

The best part about putting up bales is doing the bunny-hop on top of them after they're set. When you get too close to the ceiling, Kelly says, just put your back into it.

This corner sums up most of our day: drywall fire barrier, foam insulated columns, and straw bales.

The front door.

Laurel's house at the end of today.


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