May Straw Bale Workshop in Full Swing –

Written by Andrew Morrison

straw bale cottage frame Straw bale workshop in full swing! Yesterday was the first day of the May 7 day intensive straw bale workshop here in Jacksonville, OR. We have a great group of people here and we are well on our way to completing another wonderful bale building. Over the next seven days, I will be posting comments and images from the workshop to show you a general thread of how the workshops proceed in hopes that some of you will be inspired to take the next step in learning about this amazing building procedure. Here’s a summary of what we got done on the first day:

woman cutting with sawAlthough people expected to be covered in straw the first day of the workshop, there was not a single bale lifted into position, or even removed from the trailer for that matter. There is a lot of prep work that has to be completed before the bales can be installed and that is what we completed on day 1. We installed the interior toe ups for the bales and fully prepared them for bale stacking. This includes adding lots of 20d nails as a bale point of attachment and adding roofing felt between the toe ups as well as gravel. I have to say that the gravel was installed so well this time around that it looked almost too pretty to cover with bales. Too pretty that is until my dogs decided it was a nice place to dig! We also installed upper truss nailers and plywood backers to keep the straw from expanding into the attic space.

Much of the day was spent discussing details about foundations, roofing systems, framing, and general bale questions. The ongoing question and answer sessions really make the day fulfilling and help participants fully understand what they are doing on the site and why. We discussed several topics “ahead of time” like how to bring utilities into a house safely and how to properly design details when using an exposed frame design on a home. One man asked how to add rock and wood siding to a bale house without creating problems for the bales behind them. All this and more was discussed in depth.

Today we will get itchy! The bales are coming off the trailer and the real fun begins. As always, I expect there will be rain simply because we are working with the bales. I had checked the weather report for several days leading up to the workshop and everything signaled clear skies until next Sunday. Well, I checked again this morning and the forecast is for occasional thunderstorms! I fully believe this is the way of the bale! Nonetheless, we will prevail as we always do.

Oh yeah, we also celebrated Cinco de Mayo into the late hours of the late and much fun was had by all.

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