Saturday, September 26, 2015

Three Little Pigs and Alternative Homebuilding

In the familiar story the three pigs each build a house. So far so good. I'm on board with designing and building your own house -- I have scads of graphed paper with floor plans I've doodled over the years.

One pig builds with straw. Now, tradition does not tell us if this was a strawbale, or a straw daub (straw with mud, sort of like cob) method. One can surmise that it was probably not post and beam with strawbale infill, since timber seems to be in the second pig's domain. Given the climate in my current location I believe it would be huffs and puffs of mold, not a wolf, that would destroy any home first piggy wanted to build round here. In a drier climate though, could a wolf really have blown through a rebar-enforced, clay plastered straw house? I don't know.

It seems the second pig went with a traditional "stick-built" home. The lemming of homes, but in some ways really quite clever when trying to hide from wolves. With so many other stick-built homes around how will the wolf know which of the many tasteless lemming houses contains a tasty piglet? As a lifestyle choice, I don't know that second pig really was on track though. Blending-in has never really been my style. True, I live in a stick-built now, but I didn't spend the time and money to design or build it.  If I built, and built with wood, timber frame with a thick cordwood infill is more in my line and strikes me as a more solid option even in the wolf-teeth of, say, a hurricane.

Of course masonry seems to me an even more solid choice. And piggy number three is to be commended for not only building with the more durable (and imo beautiful) material, but also for having the foresight to build it big enough to house assorted refugee family members. If he was anything like me, that third pig was using real Flemish-bond brick or two foot thick rough dressed fieldstone for double thick walls. No scrawny brick veneer will give you the same lovely deep windowsills for setting assorted not-winter-hardy potted citrus trees in. SAd that nobody builds like that anymore. It will be a shame if we as a society lose the skills to build such lovely wolf-safe sanctuaries.

There are a fourth and fifth little piggy too though -- often forgotten -- the ones that didn't buy the roast beef at market and ran wee wee wee all the way home. Folklore is unclear what sort of home they ran to, but extrapolating from the whistling sound made while running, I suggest they may have been "whistle pigs" (one of many local names for groundhogs). This also answers questions about why the fourth and fifth pigs do not appear in the story with the wolf. The wolf, though he may have given chase when they ran from the market (leaving the roast beef behind), lost them as they bolted for home. They could have been right under his nose but the wolf did not even see their house, nor could he have huffed and puffed it down if he had. Whistle pigs live in underground homes.


  1. Hi Kiina, I came by to return the blog visit and thank you. What a great post. Excellent points extremely well put. You should be writing a book. :)


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