A Fibrous Diet
As some of you know, Beau and I attended a straw bale home building workshop this past week near Austin, Texas. The workshop was taught by Andrew Morrison of Straw Bale Innovations, and hosted by the owners of Belle Vie Farm & Kitchen, Perrine and Aubrey Noelke. The drive back home took us six and a half hours and all we did on that drive was reflect about the past week’s work and learning experience. A few days have passed now and as we do laundry we still find traces of the past week in our pockets and socks, and we are continuing to digest the full extent of our time at the workshop. It is difficult to remember all the details of the events that occurred while we were on this grand adventure, but I will make an attempt.
Upon arrival to the farm we pulled into the drive to see the most adorable home on wheels that I’ve ever set eyes on. The home is a highly organized and efficient 112 sq. ft. tiny home owned by BA Norrgard of Dallas TX. She was the only person who brought her home with her, however the property was littered with campers and tents. A total of 34 participants of all ages and sizes attended the workshop. I for one had no idea what we were all in for, but it would be 7 days of highly labor-intensive work in the 90+ degree Texas heat that will be forever in my mind. What an amazing experience and it all started with my husband’s desire to build a straw bale home.
The workshop commenced with a half day lecture on foundation. The second part of the day was spent on the actual building site which was the completed frame of the house and a mound of 550 straw bales. We were set to work. Over the next week we did everything imaginable to these straw bales. We lifted, moved, stacked, kicked, punched, tamped, chain sawed, weed wacked, crammed them into tight spaces with the help of masonite, threaded needles through them, and stabbed them with giant forks. Unbelievable! All of this work was often accompanied by cold slices of juicy sweet watermelon, which helped to keep us moving in the sluggish heat. Beau is allergic to watermelon, so he had to suffer as everyone else ate juicy slice after juicy slice. It’s a wonder he survived at all.
By the fourth day we had all of the walls filled with straw bales and now the task became tamping the bales into place, stuffing any areas that weren’t packed tightly, felting around windows and any exposed wood to water seal them, and applying mesh to both sides of the bales. Aubrey, and his father were tasked with the job of applying blood lath around windows and doors. Blood lath can be razor blade sharp along any cut edges, so Beau appropriately named it death metal.
The heat, combined with a few other obstacles, set us back. The hope was to have all bales in place, walls meshed and stuffed and the first coat of plaster applied. We were able to get all the bales placed and for the most part the walls meshed and stuffed, but only one coat of scratch plaster was applied to the interior walls of the guest room.
With the little bit of plaster installed and the class coming to a close we set off back to OKC. It was on that ride home that we got our first taste of air conditioning in a week. The cold air was more uncomfortable than the Texas heat. We were immediately chilled to the bone. Beau and I had stopped off at Chuy’s Mexican Cafe in Waco on the way to the workshop and decided to sit indoors as we knew it would be a week before we would have air conditioning again. On that ride home we stopped off at Chuy’s again only to find ourselves turned off from the air-conditioned building, so we chose the outdoor patio. What a difference a week makes. We are now toying with the idea of not having air conditioning in our home. Sounds kinda crazy not to have AC in this modern world, but then again, we may be a bit crazy to begin with.