We started work at first light and didn’t finish `till it was nearly dark, stopping for breaks to eat heartily and rest when needed. An impressive team who learned on the job and exceeded all expectations, finishing what was originally thought of as a two day job before the day was through.
Everyone pulled their weight and more. Teams of builders, bale cutters and porters got to learn their roles fast and rotated jobs throughout the day.
Builders constructed the walls and measured the spaces that needed less than full bales to fill the gaps next to door and window frames.
Cutting teams divided bales into the required lengths using giant needles and lengths of twine. The spare sections were also retied and put to one side for use on later sections of wall.
Porters sorted through the mess of delivered bales, choosing the best shaped for direct use, slightly distorted ones for cutting and discarding damaged and damp bales that were unfit for use.
The building took shape incredibly fast, whole sections of wall finished even before the first break of the day. The straw bales stayed in place but were dreadfully unstable, especially the smaller sections. Giant wooden mallets were used to persuade the walls to take the required form, flat, horizontal and vertical with no inward or outward bulges, slopes or slants.
All sections of wall rose to the same height, spacers were inserted where necessary in preparation for later compression. Additional bales were piled up as steps making it easy to reach the higher levels, these steps were dismantled when finished with and used elsewhere or carted off and stored for later use.
As straw building neared completion, scaffolding was erected inside to help get the upper wooden framework into position. The combined teams were challenged to raise huge sections of framework and place them on top of the sections of wall. It had been prebuilt in sections and supposedly slotted together in a predetermined order. As with most things on such building sites it needed some minor adjustments. The walls continued to sway until the framework was joined together into a continuous band round the building. Only when it was all fixed together did the form become rigid and stable and safe to be left for any length of time.
As the light of the day faded, giant tarpaulins were used to cover the new structure and protect it from the rain. It is critical that the bales remain dry and with minimal humidity if they are going to last for centuries when the building is complete.
Finally the work was finished for the day, everything tidied away and there is time to celebrate a little. It has been a big goal and a massive day, but in the greater scheme of things only a tiny step in the makings of a house of straw. I am pleased to have waited for this day and thoroughly enjoyed working with such a great team of people on the project. Hopefully I will return to see the finished article one day, as now I am somewhere quite different.