Beautifully Baled Living in a straw-bale home

Dubois County natives Tammy Hoffman-Taylor and Ashley Verkamp live in an octagonal straw-bale home they built themselves in Perry County. "It's satisfying building your home," Hoffman-Taylor said. "It was a lot of love and labor."

Herald Photos by Traci Westcott

Josie lays by the wood stove which is used in colder months to heat the home. "I wanted to make it energy efficient, sustainable and earthy," Hoffman-Taylor said. "But I wanted to make it something that any person could walk in and say you know, I could live there."
The "truth window" is located in the living room. The window showcases the straw-bales used to insulate their home. Approximately 175 straw-bales from a local farmer were used to insulate their 1800-square-foot home.
Along with living in a sustainable house, Ashley Verkamp also enjoys gardening. "I feel like I get a lot of energy from my environment, and I feel very nurtured here," Verkamp said. "It’s very uplifting and pleasant."
Left: Ashley harvests fresh vegetables from her garden. "It’s really soothing and I love it," Ashley said of gardening. "It’s that downtime away from work where you can decompress and be out in nature." | Right: Ashley and Tammy can vegetables during late summer months to use throughout the year for meals for themselves, and their dogs, who also eat fresh, home-prepared meals.
In their kitchen, Ashley and Tammy prepare meals to store in their freezer for use in the winter. "Natural building has such a warmth about it. You’re just more connected to the Earth," Ashley said. "There’s a richness and uniqueness to them that you just don’t find with traditionally built homes."
Left: A view from the back door of clothes drying on a line. | Right: Ashley and Tammy covered the octagonal ceiling with reed fencing to give their home a unique look.
The outside walls are a mix of clay, plaster, sand and straw particles. "It’s a lot like a normal home," Ashley said. "The framework underneath — it’s post and beam construction — but you’re using the straw-bales as the insulation."

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