Meet the Montana Straw Bale Workshop Host

Written by Andrew Morrison

Bitteroot MountainsMeet the Montana straw bale workshop host, Dale. He is one of these people that one can’t help but enjoy being around. We met him a couple of years ago when he attended one of our workshops and when he applied to host for his own straw bale build, we were thrilled. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that his workshop location is in one of the most stunningly beautiful areas of the US, the Bitterroot Mountain Range area. We’d like to introduce you to him…world, meet Dale.

I have many passions; my partner, my kids, my four legged “children” (all five of them), my profession, good wine/beer, good food, and good friends. However, one passion that I am prevented from following for a significant time each year is my passion for building with wood. I currently have no heated place that I can fill with sawdust, paint/varnish fumes during the long cold Montana winters. This is why I am building a workshop.

It is hard to articulate “why straw bale” because it is just makes sense and feels “right” to me. It makes sense to use materials that are renewable, and not renewable in years but renewable in one year. It makes sense to use local materials, supporting the local economy while decreasing the energy needed to transport them. It just makes sense to build with a material with superb insulation qualities to reduce the need for energy to heat and/or cool. I have looked at cob, SIPs, rammed earth, and adobe. Each had issues that didn’t work for me; impractical for my location, questionable structural strength, energy and resource intensive, or unfriendly to the do-it-yourselfer.

When I first moved to my home I could not believe how fortunate I was to live in a location that many people would think of as an ideal vacation spot. Only a mile down river is a small State Park, “Chief Looking Glass”, that is always full during the summer and often with “out of state” campers. Waking up to an unobstructed view of the Bitterroot Mountains without even leaving my bed is something I try not to take for granted every morning. Being able to grab my fly rod and just walk out my door to a Blue Ribbon trout stream is something I never even would have dreamed of when I left Seattle 19 years ago. In the summer after getting covered in sweat and dirt, I will sometimes take a brief swim/float in the river, clothes and all to cool off and rinse away the grime – but not as often as my Golden Retriever does.

When I signed up for Andrew’s workshop a few years ago I was expecting to learn a lot about straw bale building and get some hands on experience. What I was not expecting was how enjoyable the experience was going to be. I was not expecting to make life-long friends. And I was not expecting to smile and actually laugh as much as I did. So not only did I learn a lot and work hard (but only as hard as I made myself work) but I had a great time.

Participants can expect to learn as much as they want to learn and to work as hard as they want to work. In addition they can look forward to meeting new, possibly life long, friends, in a fantastic setting with good food, music, stories, and lots of laughter and smiles.

6 Responses

  1. Good luck Dale! I just attended West Virginia’s workshop and had the time of my life… wish I could follow all the workshops, much like Andrew has dedicated his life to (formally) following the The Dead around the US. =P Congrats, and can’t wait to see the pictures!

    Yellow Springs, Ohio

  2. I was one of those participants that met Dale a few years ago and we still stay in touch.
    His property, the views and the river are something to behold. I had the privilege of staying there a few days. Between the beauty of the property and Dale’s hospitality, it was a really nice finish to the workshop.
    Anyone thinking about attending a workshop, do. Andrew is an excellent teacher and provides entertainment (I have pictures and video!)
    If you have the chance to attend this workshop, you will not be disappointed. Dale is an awesome guy and this location is really something else.

  3. Wow Jeff! What a description, thank you. I want to attend. Oh, that’s right I have to, it’s my (and Andrew’s) workshop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.