on a straw bale builder in the Catskills. Penelope writes:”Originally deployed by late 19th-century homesteaders in the Nebraska plains, straw-bale building techniques, though much refined, have essentially remained the same for the last century: hay bales are sliced into blocks, tucked into a frame and finished in plaster. (You can visit many of the early Nebraskan straw-balers, but not the first documented one, an unplastered one-room schoolhouse, because it was eaten by cows.)
Nobody paid much attention to this hardy Plains vernacular until the early 1970s, when Shelter, the building bible of budding counterculturalists, was first published. Included in its tour of zomes, yurts and treehouses was an essay on the “baled hay” houses of the Plains.”
She’s referring to the photo of a straw bale barn on page 70 of Shelter, BTW, Bill Steen, who co-authored the best seller The Straw Bale House in 1994 with his wife Athena and David A. Bainbridge, told me that this photo was what got him started with straw bale in the first place.
Photo by Raeanne Giovanni-Inoue for The New York Times