The Sabo home is shown, off-grid and insulated with straw bales.

In the foreground at right is our self-ventilating chicken/greenhouse, also insulated with straw bales on the north half. Winter ventilation is achieved with 60′ long “earth tubes”, buried below frost line in front of the greenhouse. In cold weather, these tubes bring in pre-heated air, which escapes passively through an upper window of the chicken house.

This passive airflow keeps the air for both plants and laying hens fresh all winter. The greenhouse feeds us year round, with tomatoes and peppers in summer and salad greens all winter, staying 30-50deg F warmer than outside temperatures in winter.

We compost all chicken bedding (autumn leaves, straw, and wood shavings), and the cows’ straw bedding in the pile next to the chicken house, using it one year later on our fields and our home vegetable garden.

Photo: Steve Simpson