Sunday, December 2, 2012


When we say we are moving to Torrey, most people visualize a hot, dry desert town. We don’t really dispel that perception because, if everyone knew what it is really like, it would be filled with people. Instead, it is a summer tourist town. People from all over the world enjoy its red rock scenery, verdant meadows and nearby alpine forests. Capitol Reef National Park is only a few minutes from town. But once the tourist season passes, the not quite 200 local residents get their sleepy little town back. On late fall days, they can walk down main street and not see even one car pass by.

At an elevation of 6830 feet, one might guess Torrey would be very cold, but winter temperatures range from 0 to 60 degrees, and summer temperatures range from 50 to 90 degrees. Summer has a monsoon season, and you can usually plan on plenty of rain after the 4th of July. Sometimes it is more than plenty of rain.

Rain on a straw bale house is dangerous. It can melt your plaster walls, and, if it gets a chance, it can rot your bales. This is why well-designed straw bale houses have large overhanging eaves protecting the walls. Our deep porch serves this purpose.

We have added two additional features that will keep moisture away from our house. First we created a dry river by grading an 8-inch swale around the house. We then filled the swale with gravel, the idea being that rain water on the roof would be directed to this dry “stream bed” and away from the house. We also hung chains from the rain gutters and buried the ends in gravel-filled holes in the dry river bed. At the base of the chains we stacked flat rocks in such a way as to deflect water running down the chains away from our porch posts.

Often visitors ask about the purpose of the chains. Scott tells them that, because it is so windy in Wayne county, we need a way to hold the house to the ground. Of course, now you know the real story.

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