wolf-01Thank you so much to everyone who visited our stand at the show, it was wonderful to meet so many new people interested in straw bale building! If we met you there it’s very nice to welcome you here! And we’ll be in touch sometime soon if you kindly left your e-mail address. Please feel free to like us on Facebook too – the link is either on the right or at the foot of the page.

To set up for the fair, my wife Michelle and I spent part of Thursday afternoon and Friday on the site building a basic timber frame and flat roof measuring about 7.5m by 4m – from scratch, with timber bought from local yards. It was a massive effort, and I think it looked pretty good. We will now either reuse this building at shows or incorporate the timber into upcoming builds.

The idea was to show timber framing holding up either a full flat roof or a first floor, and to build a load bearing straw bale wall up underneath, ready for the frame to be removed and the roof lowered down. It’s wonderful to see some people’s faces when they realise straw bale can be the actual load-bearing wall. Hopefully at future events we can demonstrate a more complete straw bale wall – I completely underestimated how much I would be able to talk to everyone and build at the same time, so we didn’t get a full height wall and corner in place (we’ll do a lot more preparation of certain elements next time to allow for this).

We had information material displayed in the middle of the stand, and the crowning glory was our puppet show, which was the first element most people passing got to see. Michelle is a teacher and we were really keen to do some children’s entertainment so we told the ‘Huff and Puff’ version of the three little pigs story, with accompanying little pigs and wolf hand puppets. It goes a little like this (although it grew more elaborate throughout the day!):

There was an old sow with three little pigs, and as she had not enough to keep them, she sent them out to seek their fortune. The first that went off met a man with a pallet of bricks, and said to him, “Please, man, give me those bricks to build me a house.” Which the man did, and the little pig built a house with them.

Presently along came a wolf, who knocked at the door, and said, “Little pig, little pig, let me come in.”

To which the pig answered, “No, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.”

The wolf then answered, “Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” So he huffed, and he puffed, and the little pig’s house got very draughty and very cold. The little pig thought, if he was cold now, how much colder his house would be in winter, so he ran out the back door to go and find his brothers.

The second little pig met a lady with a bundle of wood, and said, “Please, lady, give me that wood to build a house.” Which the lady did.

The third little pig met a man with a load of straw bales, and said, “Please, man, give me those straw bales to build a house with.” So the man gave him the straw bales.

The second and third little pig then met on the road, and soon after the first little pig ran up, all out of breath. “There is a wolf he said, we need to build a very strong and warm house!”

So the three little pigs made a house out of straw bales and wood.

Then along came the wolf, and said, “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in.”

“No, not by the hair on our chinny chin chins.”

“Then I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.”

Well, he huffed, and he puffed, and he huffed and he puffed, and he puffed and huffed; but he could not blow the house in.

So the little pigs stayed inside their straw bale and wooden house, all safe, comfortable and warm, until the wolf gave up and went away to find some less well housed little pigs.

I’m pleased to say this seemed to go down very well with children and parents alike. We enjoy a bit of fun and like to think we’re approachable – of course meeting potential new friends and customers is a big reason for doing shows, but we are passionate about straw bale and sustainable building itself, and what it can do for both people and the planet, so it really was tremendously enjoyable just to help spread the word, speak to like-minded people and have some fun in the process.

We had a lot of interesting conversations with people who are considering their own building projects, and providing we can secure enough work in the meantime, we would love to be back next year. A big thank you to organiser Andy Langmead, especially for the hand we needed lifting up part of our frame, to Toria for all of her help – and to all the Stock Gaylard crew, especially John, for being so cheery and welcoming!

Thank you also to all our friends and family who either helped or lent moral support on the day – especially our wonderful Kate, Sue ‘Mahali Mazuri‘ Hulbert, and my Mum Eileen and sister Ann. It was also truly splendid to once again meet the hugely talented Fabienne Rumney, who specialises in lime work, and who along with Rob Buckley led the DCRS straw bale course I did back in February – Huff and Puff probably wouldn’t be here without you both.

We would now dearly love to do the Dorset County Show in Dorchester on the weekend of 7th/8th September, but we are trying to tally that with all the work we have on for the first straw bale build here at Huff and Puff HQ so that may not be possible. We definitely have the fair/festival bug though – how great it must be for folks to go around and do this all summer!

Please view more photos below in the gallery.