Mike And Tracy's Web Page

     Hi there! We have finally got around to adding some 2005 pictures. The work didn't make for great pictures, but made a big difference to us. We added the rough interior walls, dealt with a drainage problem in the crawl space and hooked up an interior drain. This meant a) we could give visitors a bit of privacy (if they could ignore the fact that the walls were finished with old bed sheets), b) have a dry interior space (the moisture in the crawl space could be felt in the cottage) and c) brush our teeth without going outside.

-- 2005 Straw bale cottage update ---

  • 2005 Update

         Lest you suspect we have been slacking off, we also did some major renovations on our house in Toronto. Thanks to an insurance requirement to remove all old knob and tube wiring we have the "opportunity" to change the lighting and plaster and paint most of the walls in house. So here is more building with Mike and Tracy:

    -- Plastering Project in Toronto ---

  • Re-building the walls

         In 2004 we set up this site to show you what we were up to with our summer building project. That was quite a year, as the pictures below show:

    A Year In The Life Of A Strawbale Cottage!


    -- The Winter---

  • Snow covered building site

    -- Early Spring---

    -- Trip in May---

  • lunch spot by the water
  • may water level
  • stacking logs

    -- The Trip Up From Florida---

  • Florida to N.C.
  • N.C. to Maryland

    -- June 5th trip to building site ---

    -- June 6th to 26th ---

  • Pictures from first stage of building

    -- June 26th to July 7th ---

  • Next stage of building. We have a roof but no walls

    -- July 8th to July 23rd ---

  • The straw arrives!

    -- July 23rd to August 5th ---

  • We're almost finished the walls.

    -- August 5th to August 20th ---

  • Starting on the loft floor

          Not too many new pictures in these last couple of weeks as we've spent a good deal of time on little details to do with the straw.
          The next couple of weeks will be exciting but sad. Exciting because we hope to get some electricity and water hooked up, but sad because these will be our last two weeks up there full time. We also should, finally, finish with the details of the straw walls. It's getting a bit old for Tracy and me to find pieces of straw in our clean laundry. We'll have someone (Volker) come and plaster the straw in September, a task we had thought we would do ourselves in August. Alas, the best made plans of mice and men . . .
          One last thing, speaking of mice, and things not in the plans, we are currently hosting a family of chipmunks in the straw walls. Sure they're all cute and cuddly singing with the high pitched voices in cartoons, but you stare one in the eye while itís eating your walls and tell me itís not the devil incarnate.
          Really we've found that they go away once the wall is plastered, but maybe it is about time that we head back to civilization.

    -- But How Did It End? ---

  • Closing it up

  •       There were many times this summer that Tracy and I wondered the same thing. "How will this end? How will we get it closed up for the winter?" We had gapping holes in the walls (much bigger then the chipmunks would cause) and just couldn't seem to make progress as quickly as we needed to. And we knew that even if we got to the next steps before the end of August, it would take us weeks to figure out how to do the next steps. So we had a little reality check as asked "Which do we want more, a cottage closed in properly, that we don't have to worry about for the winter, or a half done job of which we could say 'We did it ourselves!'" The choice was not hard and we had no illusions of being master builders. And just as we reached that conclusion, help arrived. So this fall, as some of these pictures show, we have had a master plasterer putting his touch on the outside and inside walls.
          Really though, we were never alone this summer. We talked to friends and family who were watching the web site, calling or coming up to visit. Our cottage neighbours were encouraging and helpful at every turn and the local trades people working in the area were always happy to help us out.
          And now, to the relief of those of you for whom work and weekend should never appear in the same sentence, we can have guests up without requiring them to crawl under scaffolding, swing a hammer and sleep in a tent. If you want running water . . . well that's a 2005 project.
          Oh yes, and one last thing, in case you thought I was kidding about the chipmunks, here is a picture on a chipmunk's foot prints embedded in the plaster. He thought that the walls were still his to climb at will even as the plaster was going up. Either that or he didn't know how to spell "Frank Was Here - 2004" and went with the hand print instead.