Straw Bales go in the building, insulation time!

 In Blog, Student Post

As we enter the halfway point and the straw bales are going in. I’m a little sad that we’ve hit this milestone. That said, I’m astonished at what we’ve accomplished!

At the beginning of this course I wasn’t sure I had what it takes to complete a project of this magnitude or even pull my own weight on a building site, questions that I can happily say I have in abundance. (Modest as well )

Straw Bales in the building

straw bale construction with alligator saw

This week was amazing as we started erecting our straw bale walls (which is soooo much more fun than you think it is…. and it looks like a boat load of fun). Making our “persuaders” which are ACME esq mallots that we use to tap the straw bales into place. Using the alligator saws to dress the straw bales ( make them equal in strength and size so they fit perfectly) is loud and shaky but it’s exhilarating to be playing with the chainsaw’s little cousin.

…A bit more wheelbarrow action

Wheelbarrowing the sub soil and aggregate into the final two rooms to build the floor level up was I think the last of our heavy barrow days which makes me a little sad as I absolutely love the feeling you get when you’ve moved tons and tons of anything from one place to another. My trapeziums are coming along nicely.

Roundwood Timber Framing


Stripping the bark from the most beautiful piece of chestnut with a draw knife has to be my highlight of the week. It’s so therapeutic and calming.  seeing the transformation from a tree trunk into a round wood post which supports the roof is so satisfying. We used chisels and gouges to make the half lap connection and the most difficult tool I have been introduced to in this course…. the scribe! What an ungodly,  difficult tool to use. It’s a tool that traces the shape of the above and copies onto the below with two level bubbles that you have to keep in the centre. Lots of stress but very handy tool and I’m sure I’ll master it in time for my own eco build.

roundwood timber frame

Finishing the roof over the straw bale walls


The finishing of the roof was a very joyous occasion. Drilling and screwing through the ridges makes the most attractive pattern of straight and horizontal lines. We all took so much care to make it perfect and for a bunch of amateurs we absolutely smashed that task. Now our straw bales will stay safe and dry!

roof over straw baler house

The student team

I have found the most wonderful family here! Supportive of my achievements and failures, dragging me through the dark days. Days which normally follow a night of little sleep trying to keep my head covered so my tent mate, Bruce the mouse, doesn’t run over my face. There’s always a hug or shoulder rub available whenever needed and an eager ear waiting to hear what ales you.

On the weekend there was a family outing, myself and 4 build family members took a trek to my home land. We froliced in waterfalls and met my mum which was a lovely change to our routine.

The Hartwyn team

I know I have made friends forever and I’m so grateful. After years of darkness, self doubt and sadness I have emerged in a paradise with the most tremendous mentors. Jodie is my hero! She can build anything and is so knowledgeable and patient while showing me what to do. I do much better with being shown rather than told! – If it can be done, Jodie can do it.

Joe the friendly giant is such a sweetie. Always ready to take the time to explain the processes and the reasons behind them. He never loses his cool and always brightens up my day with his colourful odd socks.

What can I say about Jeffrey. An amazing carving artist who truly does love spoons. He’s an amazing musician with an array of talents including one of my top 3 instruments, the banjo. Jeffery and Joe are two of the warmest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I’m truly grateful to them both for taking a chance on me, I’ll never forget them!

Jeffrey has even brought Bingo Pajama the site cat. She will allow me to love on her without ripping my face off although I think she wants to sometimes.

bingo pajama site cat

I’m looking forward to the next challenges. I’m sure there will be a few. But with such an awesome group of people, failure is just not an option.

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