A Round House of Straw Bales

It might not be a mansion, but a house of straw is certainly cost-effective provided you're willing to put in the time and effort building it yourself.


| January/February 1973



019-052-01

The completed house of straw bales on a winter day, hung with icicles.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle.... Our teepees were round like the- nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle... But the Wasichus [Whites] have put us in these square boxes. Our power is gone and we are dying....  

Black Elk Speaks , p. 199-200  

And they shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.  -Isaiah , 65:22  

We figure it took two 40-man-hour weeks to build and cost us a total of $25 . . . and the pleasure of living in a round house that we put together with our own hands has verified Black Elk and Isaiah's thoughts beyond words. Still, in words, we can lay out the recipe we followed . . . just in case you want to construct such a residence for yourself.

Our first step was to pick a spot, put in a stake and—with a 10-foot-long string attached to the post—draw a circle on the ground. (That's a 63-foot circumference . . . we wanted some room. Even this beginning step was simpler and quicker than measuring and squaring the normal rectangle.

Next we cut eight poles about four inches in diameter eight feet long and planted them upright (in holes 20 inches deep) at equal intervals around the circle. By tamping solidly as we filled dirt and stones back in around the poles, we managed to make the uprights fairly stable. At that stage, the house made us think of Stonehenge.





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