From the Blog

Weekend Away In A Straw Bale House In Sisters, Oregon

I have been fascinated by straw bales construction since I lived in southern California. One of my favorite places to camp was Joshua Tree National Park. I fantasized about buying some land in the desert and building a straw bale house amidst boulders and twisted branches and endless sun.

I moved to Oregon and sort of forgot the straw bale house idea. I just didn’t think I’d want to live in a sopping wet pile of hay in rainy western Oregon. Dave and I spend a lot of time talking about alternative construction, fantasy houses and get away cabins. We talk about land in the woods, or in the high desert. I love the idea of having a place where the boys can run around, where they could eat dirt and bugs, and feel like little wild men.

We talk about this a lot. It’s more likely we’d buy land in the woods before we buy a house in town. Of course, we’re not made of money. So as much as I think about having a place to get away, it remains a theoretical toy. It’s a fantasy I escape to when there are too many people, too much traffic, too many computers. As you might imagine, I think about our place in the woods quite a bit.

During one of our conversations, I was telling Dave of all the types of fantasy houses, none make my heart sing like a straw bale cabin. I love the idea of thick walls and the deep windows. I love the curved plaster surfaces. I love exposed timber and rustic furnishings. I love all these ideas, yet I’ve never actually stayed in a straw bale house.

Dave found a straw bale vacation cabin in Sisters. We booked it for my birthday weekend.


It was on a thirteen acre property, in a forest of scrappy juniper and pine, perched on the lip of a canyon created by Whychus Creek.


The cabin had a deck overlooking the canyon. Across the gap, there were million dollar palaces dotting the northern edge. The town of Sisters was about 10 miles away. But the straw bale cabin felt, far, far away. It was like visiting a different country.


The straw bale house was one of a few structures on the property, including the owners’ house not far away. There was a small kitchen with a tiny sink, fridge and little appliances for coffee and heating up food. There was a sleeping loft. accessed via ladder, above the kitchen and bathroom.


As promised, the walls are 18 inches thick. The rough plaster and curves were lovely. We are so used to sharp angles and smooth surfaces. The walls seemed natural and relaxed, like a work of art rather than a mathematical equation.

I loved the soft edges. I loved the solid walls. I didn’t realize it until just now, as I’m sitting here writing about it, but gazing upon those walls unbuttoned a few of my normally very tight mental buttons. It was liberating to be free of the precision and exactitude of conventional structures.


Imagine being in a place that denies perfection in favor of nuance and character. It’s energizing and relaxing at the same time.


Am I sounding like I am in love? I think I am. All the more because the cabin was in such enchanting terrain. All we heard was wind through pine needles.


The owners of the property were delightful and shared some eggs from their chickens, and some peas from their garden. Peas are delicious, even without teeth.


The boys travelled marvelously, even through the long drive to central Oregon and back. I am grateful that they seem to enjoy going on these adventures with Mama and Papa.


This trip is making my wheels turn. How can we make this happen?


  1. I have identical twin boys and love in Portland as Well! Love reading your blog! My twins just turned 2 the end of June!

  2. I love alternate construction methods. As an older hippy who was very involved in the counter culture and lifestyles, straw houses were very much apart of the vocabulary. Love to chat with you on this issue.

  3. I have always liked the curves in that construction method also. Very relaxing, indeed. I think that’s why I’ve always liked the Southwest housing. Don’t have that, but it is on my “happy List”. I have found a place maybe where I could actually afford to build one; my dad lives down in Southern Missouri and land (in the woods) is very, very cheap. Small little towns in-between a couple of medium little towns. Wonderful place. One day………..

  4. Greetings, my wife and I live in the high deserts of Albuquerque with our 4 kids (we have identical twin boys also: 5 y/o) Grew up in So Cal, moved to NM 20 yrs ago. I am so intrigued with straw bale construction x 25 yrs; the curved lines, natural feel, partially getting off the grid, and lots of other reasons. My question is simple: how do I share your straw bale blog w my wife. I’m not very technically knowledgable so I struggle w Facebook and things like it. We are considering a move to Bend, OR. Thanks for your help. Sk

  5. Reyna Maestas says

    Very cool. We live in Corvallis and are headed to sisters this weekend for my birthday. Can you share the name of this cabin? Maybe next time we can stay there, looks beautiful. We also have twins, 20 months and a 4 year old.
    Take care,

    • Hi Reyna,

      We found this cabin on Airbnb. However, it has since changed ownership, and I’m not sure if it is still available. Worth checking out, though!

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