Monday, March 1, 2010


One of the advantages of working during building “seasons” is that we have time to think ahead and to plan in advance. A disadvantage is that we also have plenty of time to dwell upon our shortcomings, and this makes us doubt that we will ever be able to get the project done.

For example, a few weeks ago Scott said, “I think building a STRAW house might be one of the stupidest things we’ve ever decided to do.”

Why was he saying this? We’d gathered some preliminary figures for the amount of straw we would need - four hundred fifty bales. Since one of our primary goals is to get our building materials locally, Scott began calling folks in the area. They grow oats in Wayne County, and we hoped they would be able to provide straw. He learned that straw in Wayne County is used for fodder, so the grain is not separated from the chaff. It is left on the stalk and baled into the bales.

This is good for feeding animals, but it is bad for building walls. As the bales are stored and as they stand in the walls waiting for plaster, that grain becomes a magnet for mice. Mice in your walls? Not a good plan. And, if the grain gets wet (although the ultimate goal is for the walls to NEVER get wet), it will sprout. I can just imagine what a disaster squad would think when I called for help. “What in the world were you thinking?” We’d get another earful of big bad wolf jokes but not much assistance with sprouting walls.

In Cache Valley where we live now, it would be very easy to gather 450 bales right out of the fields and truck it to Torrey, but that defeats the concept of local products. And the supplier in Filmore, Utah isn’t growing grain next year. After many phone calls, many dead ends and many hours of frustration, Scott did find a source in Delta, Colorado. That’s a little over 200 miles away from Torrey. At least we have a source, but is that local? I think only time will tell.

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