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Baling Begins at Last

by Tyler

So, after three years of dreaming and planning, we've finally reached the baling portion of building a straw bale house. I have to take a minute to register my shock at how long we've been working on this project. Where on earth has the time gone? This is insane. Thank heavens for this journal—everything would be a complete blur of forgotten memories without it.

Here's what's happened so far:

  1. September, 2011We buy land in Vermont.

  2. November, 2011We build our first naïve model of the house we want to build.

  3. May, 2012We go to a cob building workshop.

  4. May, 2012 — We realize cob is a horrible building material for New England.

  5. July, 2012We go to a timber framing workshop at North House Folk School.

  6. July, 2012 — We return with a 12'x16' white pine timber frame we cut ourselves.

  7. August, 2012We decide to wrap our little frame with straw bales.

  8. October, 2012We build a new house model.

  9. November, 2012We finish paying off the land in Vermont

  10. January, 2013We buy a truck and a travel trailer.

  11. January, 2013We move to Vermont to start homesteading.

  12. March, 2013Tara spends two months sanding and staining our timber frame

  13. June, 2013We build a foundation for the house.

  14. Summer, 2013We get sidetracked building a giant, norwegian-style timber frame workshop.

  15. November, 2013We run out of money.

  16. January, 2014I land a job working remotely for Bocoup.

  17. April, 2014We go to a strawbale building workshop.

  18. April, 2014We raise our timber frame.

  19. May, 2014Our strawbales our delivered.

  20. May, 2014The SIP roof is installed on the frame.

  21. June, 2014 — Construction continues…


To be completely honest, I wasn't that excited when we started baling.

20D Nails on Pony Wall to Grip Straw Bales Tyler Loading Straw Bales into the Truck

I just felt numb.

Tyler Tamping the First Bale into Place

Numb to the amount of work that we'd done…

Tara Adding the Second Bale

…and numb to the reality of how much I knew remained.

First Row of Bales Complete

I remember thinking that this dream of ours was actually a gauntlet…

Second Row of Straw Bales Installed

…the likes of which I might never escape.

Tara Re-Tying a Straw Bale

I didn't continue because I was inspired by our dream…

Tyler Stuffing Holes in Third Course of Straw Bales

…I did so because we'd come too far to quit.

As is often the case with our journals, I'm writing this well after the events within took place. It is the evening of June 29th, 2014, and I'm in a completely different frame of mind. I wish I could go back in time and knock some sense into myself. I'd tell the Tyler back then to appreciate the moments he half-heartedly participated in above, and to fully recognize all that they represent.

Ah well. Those moments are gone, like all other moments, replaced with the here and now. Happily, I can read this journal any time, and then do what the me who recorded these images didn't: appreciate the memories captured within. I am so glad we are keeping this record. And I am so glad we're building this house. Holy crap, we're doing it!

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Looks great. Any idea of the R-value you are getting from the bales?
Posted by peter on June 30th, 2014 at 1:39 AM
Dear T&T,
One of the things that I appreciate the most about your journals (both the bike trip and the homestead) is your honesty about the hard parts. I love the rants and questioning. What stands out in both is your tenacity and good humor, and the fact that you expose yourselves to all of us, your fans and readers, says worlds about your willingness to let us learn from you as we marvel at your boldness. Your journals stand as a metaphor for life, and as you both take the risks that many of us would like to but just can't, we just appreciate your efforts all the more. Keep up the good work! And it IS good work in every sense of both words.
Posted by Nancy Kane on June 30th, 2014 at 7:44 AM

Thanks! The R value of a bale wall is difficult to measure... it changes with the moisture content in the walls, which is pretty much in constant flux. Based on what I've read, I'd guess they are somewhere between R30 and R40. Here is an interesting article about the question.


Thank you for the kind words, it's really uplifting to hear that there are people out there enjoying our story :)
Posted by Tyler on June 30th, 2014 at 8:22 AM
Yay! Walls! So exciting to watch!
Posted by Nicki on June 30th, 2014 at 9:12 AM
I've finished reading all your entries...i love everything about both of u
And guess what i have restarted reading goingslowly ...from the very beginning
My life now is not complete without checking out on u both...
So many inspirations rendered..
May everything go well...
Posted by suzet on June 30th, 2014 at 9:24 AM
Tara & Tyler, I have followed your blog for a long time, read the cycle touring part twice and now looking forward to every episode of the homesteading. You inspired me to cycle around Australia. I have just reached halfway (see blog). Being in my 50s and having family commitments limits me to 4 weeks a year touring but I love it and can't wait to get back on the road. You guys are inspirational and I recommend your blog to all my family and friends. If you ever make it Melbourne you can stay at my house anytime. Cheers Joe Lionnet
Posted by joe lionnet on June 30th, 2014 at 4:05 PM