The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Straw door

Barn door

I love straw...

Door support

...and I love my new straw door.  I call it the Secret Door because our helper cut it straight out of the wall of the barn, so the boards line up and you can hardly tell a door's there.

Hinge support

He added a few screws, two hinges, a bit of a furring strip (for the latch), and a two by four (to add structure and give the hinges someting to bite into).

Straw in barn

Now I can stack my straw inside and access it easily for the garden.  (Or stockpile it for later.)

Hauling lumberIt's been dry enough to haul, so we're actually trying to stockpile all kinds of supplies.  Our helper told us about a straw opportunity that's presented a bit of a conundrum, though.

His friend has dozens of bales worth of loose straw in his barn to give away.  The cows got in and broke the bales apart and the friend just wants the biomass gone.  Sounds awesome, right?

The problem is that the straw was grown in rotation with tobacco, which means it's probably full of tomato blight.  I honestly don't know enough about the blight fungi to determine how much would be present on straw --- the fungi only live on members of the tomato family, but they also stick around in the soil and could have splashed up onto the straw during a rain.  I also don't know how far I'd need to keep the straw away from a tomato-growing area to prevent adding more blight to our mix, or how deep in a kill mulch I'd have to hide it.

So, do I want the free biomass or not?  I'm a bit too giddy with my straw door to think straight right now.  Maybe you can help me decide?

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with poop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My save-the-tomatoes instinct says don't touch the stuff! But research can often quell unsubstantiated fears. So, if you learn more more, all the better. If you can't get a definitive answer, picture your best case and worst case scenarios, and determine if either is worth the potential of the other...
Comment by jen g Thu Jun 7 09:49:20 2012
jen --- I somehow missed your comment in the flurry of Thoreau comments! Mark feels the same way you do, and I suspect you're both right. The best case scenario is that I get a lot of free mulch, but the worst case scenario is that I make our blight situation much worse. Since we can afford to buy much right now, it's probably not worth risking it.
Comment by anna Fri Jun 8 09:03:14 2012

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