This week we finally did what we all came here for, we installed the straw bale walls!

The process was fairly straight forward…

  1. Square up the bales using a mallet, body weight, or a chainsaw
  2. Using a chainsaw remove any sections of the bale that need to fit round framing
  3. Install bale
  4. Compact bales down and flush with outside framing (this means ‘hit it’)

This video shows the first 2 days of bale install condensed down to just over a minute!

The next two days were spent wedging bales into the top gaps, hanging bales over the windows, straightening the walls, meshing then stuffing above the doors and finally stuffing the cracks in the bales with light straw clay (straw coated in wet clay).
This final step means that it will be easier to plaster as we have a flatter more uniform surface.

Working with straw bales is a bit of a journey.
At first they are fantastic giant building blocks, you get to play with chainsaws (always fun) and progress is fast.
Then you get down and dirty with the details. Every space you want to fill involves restringing a bale, cutting a notch from it, cutting the string by accident, a 3 minute four-letter-word-fest, bale repair, then making yourself feel better by beating the bale into submission with a monster wooden mallet named ‘Woody’.
By the end of the week, you are tired, covered in mud from the light straw clay… and people point and laugh at you in the grocery store, when you go to pay and dump a pocket full of straw shavings onto the checkout.

But with all that safely behind you… Oh my goodness it feels good!
We have walls and insulation in the house. All done in a week!

Judging by the amount of people that stop by to see what is happening we are not the only ones excited by this building technique. Today alone I spoke to 3 separate visitors all of whom were looking for tips and ideas for their own straw bale build!

So now, we are ready for the base coat of earthen plaster…. after we get back from the International Straw Balers’ Conference!
(Doing a happy dance)

Just a few more bales to go


The window headers

For now the building is a no smoking zone, once the bales are sealed in plaster you can smoke like a chimney, if you want.

Julia straightens the walls, Thor style

Ta Da!

The triumphant team… can you spot ‘Woody 2’ ?

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