Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Mouse in the House

When discussing straw bale construction with folks who are new to the concept, we hear some pretty predictable questions.

One of the first things people want to know about is fire danger. While loose straw will burn, baled straw less easily supports flame. That’s because the straw in bales is densely packed. This inhibits oxygen flow needed for fuel combustion. And baled straw covered on all sides with thick plaster is nearly fireproof.

What about bugs? Straw is not like hay, so there is not much nutritional value in it. And once the bales are plastered, there is no avenue for bugs to enter the walls.

Mice? Well, there is grain left in the straw when it is harvested and baled. This does attract mice, especially when they discover what a warm, comfy place it is. That is why it is important to get a coat of plaster on the walls as soon as possible. We were able to get plaster on the exterior of the house last year, but the interior had to wait until this summer. When we visited Torrey last winter, we worried that we would find a lot of mouse damage but we were lucky. This was really the only spot we found evidence of uninvited guests.

We set some traps to capture the little critters, caught a dozen and didn't have any in the house after that. Now our cats are with us. One of them has slain at least 20 mice in the yard around the house.
 He's not called Peter Panther for nothing!

Sometimes, with a little chuckle, people make reference to “the big bad wolf.” Keep in mind that wolves are on the endangered species list, so there are not many of them around anymore. And we’ve yet to hear of huffing and puffing as a cause for the collapse of a straw bale house.

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