There’s always a temptation to construct a few puns during the straw bale building workshops but even without the cheap throwaway jokes there’s always smiles on the faces young people as they learn how the second of the three little pigs should have pinned his straw walls with hazel stakes and then ratchet strapped them for tension and stability. Perhaps the fact that pigs are vertically challenged meant that some of the stakes were too high?
Don’t bale out on me yet, there’s more to come.
Under intermittent spells of sun we gathered fashion students from Lincoln University into a huddle to tell them the benefits and history of this easily to pick up construction method before wheeling out four tyres (recovered from the roadsides of North Kesteven). Treading carefully we arrange them into a precise square and lug out four base plates as our foundation. Each plate takes the form of a very solid looking ladder with a chipboard top. One end is cut away to facilitate interlocking. Our hesitant fashion students assembled the square foundation and began carrying over the first course of bales. The second course is laid atop offset (just like bricks) and the gaps packed with handfuls of loose straw.
‘Hey!” some shouts.
We pin the second layer to the first with sharpened hazel stakes making sure to avoid the mis-stake of bashing them in at the wrong angle. We use mallets to bash them through the top layer and down into the first. This process can be repeated until the walls are the desired height. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the now gung-ho students we are already running out of time. The technique is easy to learn and to do and it’s easy to see how a community could come together to build whole houses in a short space of time. Alas it’s time to stop building upwards and instead turn our attentions to a suitable roof.
We show them how to construct a reciprocal roof using birch or hazel and manoeuvre it atop our little dwelling before hanging off it to prove integrity and pose for photos in the little window. Reluctantly we disassemble our assembly and tidy away the bales. A quick sweep and then that’s the last straw….
“Im going to take care with the amount of rubbish I consume and how I dispose of it”
“Im going to not throw plastic out of the car windows anymore and stop anyone else doing it”
“I’m going to think about what more I can do to be sustainable and help the environment”