My Strawbale House
I got many requests for pictures of my straw bale house. Here are photos – from bale delivery to the passive solar floor, and the almost completed solarium, spanning six years.
Thanks to all of you who have supported TUC Radio. Looking around my new home there is so much evidence of your contributions. You have helped me buy everything this house is made of from straw bales and lumber to roll roofing and nails – a little over $15,000 over the past 5 years.
I am 8 miles from the nearest town on a three mile dirt road. There is no water, electricity or other utility. We are collecting rainwater, pumping drinking water from a spring 2 miles away and are using an outhouse. “Out” is over 200 feet away – a long way when it snows!
This is so far from “civilization” that we have occasional encounters with brown bears and mountain lions. Coyotes come often at night, hunting for plentiful deer. There are rattlesnakes living under my house and inside the retaining wall. Some neighbors kill rattlers near their homes. I decided to let them live, treat them with respect and wear boots.
This is an old “back to the land” community. Many of the neighbors who moved here 30 years ago are still living here. I’m helping in a garden that has nourished 5 children, who have all left the ranch, in return for an abundance of vegetables, berries, and fruit. We are canning together in the summer. Another neighbor has a small farm with chickens and goats and we get eggs, cheese and occasional meat from them.
The sense of empowerment that comes from our independence from the system can be challenged when the water line breaks who knows where, the sun does not shine for days on end and I’m using candles to conserve the charge in the batteries for another TUC Radio program, the chainsaw does not start when a tree is down across the road, blocking the way to town – the list can be long.
But occasional visitors, unless I put them to work chopping firewood, only see its beauty – and I do too, every day.
I decided to move here because the cost of living is less than half of city life. This is the only way to keep TUC Radio and me going without a retirement plan. I transferred all of TUC Radio and my life here in the summer of 2008. Two weeks later the worst fires (the Summer Solstice Lightning Fires) since records were kept swept through the area and came close to my house. For 6 weeks the forests were burning on two sides – in the canyon to the North and around the famous sites of Montgomery (Red)Woods and Orr Hot Springs to the West.
Neighbors helped each other – even those who were not on speaking terms. In the end we were in awe of the fires we had seen and very happy that we had worked together so well and survived.