Bale Bags In Action
I had to fill a space in a strawbale wall above the bales and betwixt some rafters. I had filled the space with some light clay a year ago, but it was wet and never dried resulting in decay. The light clay could have worked if it had a chance to dry over the warmer months, but I placed it in the wall during fall so it didn’t get a chance to dry. In the spring I ripped the rotting material out and left the cavity empty. The only thing between the inside and the outside was a 4″ cob wall attached to a 2 x 12″ wood stud – which does the trick, but in the winter months collects frost.
This fall I just wanted to fill the cavity and provide some insulation to the upper part of the wall. The choices were to create small bales that would fit into the the spaces; try more light clay ( this time drier ), or pack some poly-propylene bags with straw and stuff it. I choose to use the bale bags this time.
I used the bags mostly because they were asking to be used, and after all when inanimate objects talk to you – you listen. I packed them in a matter of moments, then tested them to see if they would fit into the space. They did with a little adjustment. After filling the bulk of the space with the bags I packed the remainder with dry straw, tucking it behind the bags and around the sides. Then I mixed up a little straw-cob and filled in the rest. This acted as the glue to make it stick. After the straw-cob dried I plastered over the bags. The bags didn’t take plaster well. I had to key into the cob around the bags, but once I did that it worked OK. The space was filled – finally.
In the future I don’t think I would plan on incorporating the bale bags as part of the design, but it’s a good tool to have in the natural building arsenal. If I had a little more patience, a less experimental disposition, and some more twine; I would have created quarter bales to fit the spaces ( like the pros do ). Though there is something to be said about the lack of dust, speed and the uniformity the bags offer.