Mudhut (strawbale) job

cathy looks at shelter 28September08 — Co-Pastor Cathy Rieley-Goddard examines fresh work on the shelter — a new lintel made of an ash branch from a tree that was blown down in high wind last winter.— photo by Jon Rieley-Goddard
mudhut side wall 06 November 07– Some mud-slinging is appropriate, at least in straw-bale construction. This is the south wall, sporting its initial coat of straw+clay+sand.— photo by June Licence
view of two walls 06 November 07– The discovery coat of straw+clay+sand shows the contours and flaws on the south and east faces of the shed.— photo by June Licence
detail of construction 06 October 07 — We have one wall underway. The work is fun and builds community, as well as beautiful structures.— photo by June Licence
We are working with Dave Lanfear of Bale on Bale Construction in Buffalo ( to build a straw-bale shed on the property. Straw-bale construction has the following benefits:

  • Cost per square foot is comparable to stick-built house construction.
  • Straw bales are plentiful by-products of agriculture; using the bales redeems some of the carbon released into the atmosphere by usual agricultural practices that rely on fossil fuel.
  • The R-factor of straw bales far exceeds the fiberglass insulation used in stick-built structures.
  • Willing workers need few skills to be effective in helping on a straw-bale construction project. The materials are effective and at the same time forgiving.
  • Inside and outside walls are plastered with cob, a mixture of local clay, sand, and chopped straw. The floor is made of similar material that when treated with linseed oil has the feel of leather.
  • Straw-bale construction uses mostly green materials such as earth, straw, sand, and wood. Bamboo stringers tie the bales together; there is no need to use steel rebar for this.
  • Straw-bale construction is high on aesthetic appeal.

Our project is turning a decades-old picnic shelter into a shed that will be a grace-note onthe landscape.

We see the project as a demonstration project. We hope you will come to one of our work parties. Check the home page for times.

This project is the first straw-bale construction project on Grand Island that we know of. We hope that others will follow suit.

bale on bale logo Dave Lanfear ( is a gifted builder and teacher and a passionate advocate for straw-bale construction.

His motto:

Creating beautiful, healthy homes and buildings which inspire the human spirit and respect the balance of life on Earth.


working on the straw 03 November 07 — Volunteers work on big-push day. The pair in the mouth of the shed are turning straw into chaff for the mixture that went onto the outside walls.— photo by June Licence
carol and bale 06 October 07 — Sometimes the work is very physical, when a straw bale needs to be reduced in size and retied at an acceptable level of compression.— photo by Cathy Rieley-Goddard

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