“Can you build houses out of wheat?”

This post is late for several reasons. Let’s count them:

  1. It was supposed to appear yesterday, but I was working to meet a deadline in another part of my life and didn’t have time to blog.
  2. The Eight-Year-Old actually asked this question back in 2011, when she was merely The Four-Year-Old. It’s been cooling its heels in my 287-question strong backlog ever since.
  3. … um?

Ok. So this post is only late for two reasons. But one of those reasons has been aging for four long years, so that’s pretty egregious. I think Reason #2 is so ripe it should count as two whole reasons all by itself, thereby single-handedly justifying my use of the word “several” in this context.


Disappointing. Let’s just answer the question, then.

The (then) Four-Year-Old, after reading The Three Little Pigs for the first time: “Can you build houses out of wheat?”

Straw bale home in Colorado. (Photo: Catherine Wanek)

Straw bale home in Colorado. (Photo: Catherine Wanek)

Sort of. Builders don’t use the wheat itself because that would attract mice. Like the Three Little Pigs, home builders use the straw (the stalk the wheat grows on).

To build a straw bale house these days, you gather dry straw, compress it into rectangular bales, stack the bales, and coat the whole thing with plaster, fully encasing the straw. When built properly, straw bale houses apparently pose less of a fire, pest, and mold risk than you might think.

You can read more about them here.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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