Bales are Delivered!

After a fortunate turn of events with the weather forecast combined with the brainwave of getting the bales delivered on Friday instead of Saturday, I now have 100 bales stacked in the back garden, ready for the arrival of the bulk of the volunteers tomorrow!

Picking up the bales Friday turned out to be a good call, not least because of the problems that cropped up picking them up – When I spoke to my friend who had stored them for me she did say that some of them may “burst” when moved. Not being quite sure what she meant, I picked up some extra twine and we made our way to the bales. Sure enough, some of the string had broken over the winter and we had to retie as many as we could salvage. This slowed delivery down by about an hour, so I’m glad we got it done today, giving us a full day tomorrow to tighten the bales and then raise the walls.

I hadn’t considered, or read about bales breaking before, but then I don’t think I knew anyone who had stored them over the winter, so it is something that is quite interesting to note. According to the delivery guy, the breaking of the twine is down to rats, which explained the droppings we found amongst the bales.

Anyway, onto tomorrow! I’ll be trying to tweet progress on my twitter account, so if you are reading this and it’s 30th March 2013 or earlier, check out www.twitter.com/alunking and you might see a few photos as the day wears on!

The week before the bales: preparation madness

I don’t know where to begin to start to describe the last two weeks or so building up to this coming weekend. It has been an absolute stress fest. About four months ago, I bought the straw planning to raise the walls in Easter and now it is here, it’s a sudden rush of activity as I try and get everything in order for the weekend of building.

Firstly, the weather has been really awful this Easter, in case you hadn’t noticed. I’ve been quite lucky here as no snow has fallen, but about 100 miles north, there are people unable to leave their houses because they are snowed in! Crazy times. The forecasts have been highly erratic and I’ve been worrying that I would have to cancel the straw bale raising and delay the build until the weather settles which brings with it many more concerns.

Being a teacher, I’ve got the two weeks off before Easter, and I am endlessly grateful for that, because I’m spending every day this week getting things ready. It’s not the pace of building I am built for if I’m honest and I’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief once I can sit back with a roof on the building and take my time with the rest of the construction. Perhaps this is the real benefit of building frames when building with straw – the more I think about it, the more I would find the less stressful option of having a roof over my building before the straw arrives!

Here you can see the start of the wall plate going down.

Here you can see the start of the wall plate going down. The building really takes shape with this outlining it!

So this week so far, I’ve got the wall plates measured and cut for both under and over the straw bales. Next up is installing the uprights and frames for the doors and windows, then building the trusses, and I’ll be ready for the straw! I’d have liked to have done this sooner, but cold and wet weather has forced my hand slightly and it’s a case of leaving it to the last minute! I’ll try and take as many photos as I can and post here, if only to document the build for people looking for more information.

The perils of monolithic building

It’s just over a week until I hope to raise my straw bale walls and plonk a roof on them to finish the final stage of my building work. My decision to build without a wooden frame was made on a lot of factors, but primarily because once the walls are done, I don’t need a wooden frame. Trouble is, when you plan this way, I forgot one key element;

Britain.

It’s a lovely country, but as any Brit will tell you, it’s bloody irritating when we have to rely on the weather. It’s one week until my straw will be arriving, and I couldn’t be more unsure about the possible forecast. It couldn’t be worse at the moment – snow, rain, wind and everything else except sunshine and those fluffy white clouds.

This is what this weekend looks like...

This is what this weekend looks like…

The long range forecast puts a tiny tiny bit of rain on the Saturday, and no rain on the Friday, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this stays this way, but here we discover one of the true flaws in building with straw bale – you need shelter on your building site and flexibility with your time. Two things I don’t have. If you are reading this, and you have a spare minute, please send a prayer my way!

Perhaps if I were to start this project again,I would consider a temporary roof, or a permanent structure that allows me to lower the roof onto finished walls, which would give me shelter whilst I built the straw. But for now, I just have to hold my breath and hope that I get two decent days where I can do the walls!