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SB Re Texas Hay

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  • huffnpuff
    G day Back in Golden Ganmain after a 5 week stint away from da machine!!! Anyhow maybe someone can put this Texas lass right or otherwise. Lara DeHaven:
    Message 1 of 5 , Dec 1, 2003
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      G 'day

      Back in Golden Ganmain after a 5 week stint away from da machine!!!

      Anyhow maybe someone can put this Texas lass right or otherwise.

      Lara DeHaven: dehavenlh@...

      The Straw Wolf
      http://strawbale.archinet.com.au
      61 2 6927 6027

      "Hi, I am from Texas and have been researching straw bale house construction. First of all, your website is by far the most informative about straw houses. Thank you for posting such a wonderful site. As I was reading your instructions, I came across the statement "hay is for horses, straw is for houses." In all the other reading I have done on the subject, I have not run across this information. In fact, I thought hay could easily be substituted for straw bales. Since we already have a ton of grass hay baled, we were planning on using them in our house. Would you mind explaining why hay is unsuitable in the construction of a home? I would greatly appreciate the information. We have put a hold on our building plans until we can find out as we do not want to do anything wrong. Thank for your time.
      Sincerely,
      Lara DeHaven".
    • billc_lists@greenbuilder.com
      Hi Lara, Straw is the dried stems, primarily cellulose (as is wood). Hay on the other hand has a lot of leafy (and often seed) material, containing more
      Message 2 of 5 , Dec 1, 2003
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        Hi Lara,

        Straw is the dried stems, primarily cellulose (as is wood).

        Hay on the other hand has a lot of leafy (and often seed) material,
        containing more nitrogen and various other stuff - which means it's
        edible by all manner of creatures, including little ones. And hay is
        more likely to self-compost in your walls.

        Not a great idea. I'm surprised that you hadn't run across that
        instruction elsewhere. Straw is usually less expensive than hay, as
        well.

        Where in Texas are you located? Are you familiar with the Straw Bale
        Association of Texas (http://greenbuilder.com/sbat/)?



        At 9:28 PM +1100 12/1/03, huffnpuff wrote:
        >G 'day
        >
        >Back in Golden Ganmain after a 5 week stint away from da machine!!!
        >
        >Anyhow maybe someone can put this Texas lass right or otherwise.
        >
        >Lara DeHaven: dehavenlh@...
        >
        >The Straw Wolf
        >http://strawbale.archinet.com.au
        >61 2 6927 6027
        >
        >"Hi, I am from Texas and have been researching straw bale house
        >construction. First of all, your website is by far the most
        >informative about straw houses. Thank you for posting such a
        >wonderful site. As I was reading your instructions, I came across
        >the statement "hay is for horses, straw is for houses." In all the
        >other reading I have done on the subject, I have not run across this
        >information. In fact, I thought hay could easily be substituted for
        >straw bales. Since we already have a ton of grass hay baled, we were
        >planning on using them in our house. Would you mind explaining why
        >hay is unsuitable in the construction of a home? I would greatly
        >appreciate the information. We have put a hold on our building plans
        >until we can find out as we do not want to do anything wrong. Thank
        >for your time.
        >Sincerely,
        >Lara DeHaven".

        --
        Bill Christensen
        http://greenbuilder.com/contact/

        Green Building Professionals Directory: http://directory.greenbuilder.com
        Sustainable Building Calendar: http://www.greenbuilder.com/calendar/
        Green Real Estate: http://www.greenbuilder.com/realestate/
        Straw Bale Registry: http://sbregistry.greenbuilder.com/
        Books/videos/software: http://bookstore.greenbuilder.com/
      • Dale Banks
        Lara and greenBill, As an occupant of a house with a hay bale addition, I will respond to Bill s comments, and offer some advice based on my limited experience
        Message 3 of 5 , Dec 6, 2003
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          Lara and greenBill,
          As an occupant of a house with a hay bale addition, I will respond to Bill's
          comments, and offer some advice based on my limited experience as an
          owner-builder. I agree that straw is a prefered building block to hay.
          Straw bales that I have experienced here in Alaska and in Arizona are firmer
          than hay bales, probably due to the lack of leafy material. This means that
          during pre-compression, the hay bales will compress more than the straw
          bales, and perhaps they will tend to slump over time more that straw bales
          would, I don't know. Also, your hay bales are probably different than what
          I have to work with here. I suspect that hay would have a lower R value
          than straw, because the hay bales trap less air. The reduced R value may be
          insignificant in the performance of your house, depending on whether the hay
          is a lot or only a little worse than straw as an insulator. I suspect hay
          bales give you much better insulation than a 2x6 framed wall, anyway.
          True, hay is higher in nitrogen, but I will go out on a limb to say that hay
          will not "self compost" in your walls unless you either start with hay bales
          that are too wet, or you have poor detailing which allows your walls to get
          too wet after the house is finished.
          As far as bugs go, we did have what turned out to be grain mites in our
          walls. The plastering was completed this fall, and the mites were thriving
          in the moist conditions. In the last month or more, the mites have
          disappeared. They will not survive under 50% relative humidity. Once our
          plaster dried more, the mites went away, I can see none through the truth
          window were they were plentiful 2 or 3 months ago. So far, this is our
          experience with bugs. From what I understand about little bugs similar to
          these in straw bale walls, it is a similar situation.
          If you detail properly you should be able to keep mice, which may like hay
          better than straw, out of your walls.
          We chose hay instead of straw because it was available locally at a good
          price, and straw, although produced in Alaska in some quantity, is more
          expensive to get here due to trucking costs.
          From your post, Lara, it sounds like you have the bales already, so that
          seems like a good reason to explore whether they will work in your walls.
          Make sure they are dry, stack them up, compress them, play around with them,
          plaster a few, rip some apart, get to know them. They might work. Maybe
          they will only work for infill and not load bearing.
          For references to hay bale houses, see "Serious Straw Bale" by Paul Lacinski
          and Michel Bergeron, pp 25-27 for a profile of a hay bale house built in
          1974. Also, see "The Beauty of Strawbale Homes" by Athena and Bill Steen,
          the first two houses profiled in their book were built with hay. The first
          built before 1914 and the second built in 1925. Two of these 3 houses in
          these books had their walls inspected recently and were in good shape.
          I wouldn't say that hay is "easily substituted" for straw. Although
          similar, they are two different materials and should be treated differently,
          but I do think that you could successfully use hay in your walls if you pay
          attention to the details.

          Good luck,

          Dale


          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: billc_lists@... [mailto:billc_lists@...]
          >
          > Hi Lara,
          >
          > Straw is the dried stems, primarily cellulose (as is wood).
          >
          > Hay on the other hand has a lot of leafy (and often seed) material,
          > containing more nitrogen and various other stuff - which means it's
          > edible by all manner of creatures, including little ones. And hay is
          > more likely to self-compost in your walls.
          >
          > Not a great idea. I'm surprised that you hadn't run across that
          > instruction elsewhere. Straw is usually less expensive than hay, as
          > well.
          >
          > Where in Texas are you located? Are you familiar with the Straw Bale
          > Association of Texas (http://greenbuilder.com/sbat/)?
          >

          > >Lara DeHaven: dehavenlh@...
          > >
          > >
          > >"Hi, I am from Texas and have been researching straw bale house
          > >construction. First of all, your website is by far the most
          > >informative about straw houses. Thank you for posting such a
          > >wonderful site. As I was reading your instructions, I came across
          > >the statement "hay is for horses, straw is for houses." In all the
          > >other reading I have done on the subject, I have not run across this
          > >information. In fact, I thought hay could easily be substituted for
          > >straw bales. Since we already have a ton of grass hay baled, we were
          > >planning on using them in our house. Would you mind explaining why
          > >hay is unsuitable in the construction of a home? I would greatly
          > >appreciate the information. We have put a hold on our building plans
          > >until we can find out as we do not want to do anything wrong. Thank
          > >for your time.
          > >Sincerely,
          > >Lara DeHaven".


          >
        • Dann Johnson
          I bale some Iowa road ditch hay for horses every summer. The ditch hay is mostly stemmy grass and weed stems with very little leafy / seed component.
          Message 4 of 5 , Dec 6, 2003
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            I bale some Iowa road "ditch hay" for horses every summer. The ditch hay
            is mostly stemmy grass and weed stems with very little leafy / seed
            component. I figure that my ditch hay would work "ok". Dale mentions
            the historic Nebraska Hay bale homes, some of which are nearing 100 years
            of age. My bet is that these bales also were a grass hay, and not
            today's alfalfa bales: the high protein leafy alfalfa that is the choice
            of most livestock feeders.

            Usually the safest bet in doing a new project is following the normal
            recipy: straw should be the first choice for a bale home. However
            respective to bugs and mice: Both seem to attack my stored straw bales
            worse than the grass / ditch hay. My farmer experience is that when
            moving stacks of stored straw bales, that the mice will have chewed through
            a significant number of the straw bale twine strings. I know that it is a
            common practice for Iowa and Minnesota farmers moving stored straw to
            have their baler on hand to rebale all the broken straw bales. That is
            especially true for straw stored more than one season.

            It is rare to have mice chew through the twine strings on my stored hay.

            Dann Johnson




            From: "Dale Banks" <loopy@...>
            Reply-To: SB-r-us@yahoogroups.com
            To: <SB-r-us@yahoogroups.com>,<dehavenlh@...>
            Subject: RE: [SB-r-us] SB Re Texas Hay
            Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2003 23:27:17 -0900

            Lara and greenBill,
            As an occupant of a house with a hay bale addition, I will respond to Bill's
            comments, and offer some advice based on my limited experience as an
            owner-builder. I agree that straw is a prefered building block to hay.
            Straw bales that I have experienced here in Alaska and in Arizona are firmer
            than hay bales, probably due to the lack of leafy material. This means that
            during pre-compression, the hay bales will compress more than the straw
            bales, and perhaps they will tend to slump over time more that straw bales
            would, I don't know. Also, your hay bales are probably different than what
            I have to work with here. I suspect that hay would have a lower R value
            than straw, because the hay bales trap less air. The reduced R value may be
            insignificant in the performance of your house, depending on whether the hay
            is a lot or only a little worse than straw as an insulator. I suspect hay
            bales give you much better insulation than a 2x6 framed wall, anyway.
            True, hay is higher in nitrogen, but I will go out on a limb to say that hay
            will not "self compost" in your walls unless you either start with hay bales
            that are too wet, or you have poor detailing which allows your walls to get
            too wet after the house is finished.
            As far as bugs go, we did have what turned out to be grain mites in our
            walls. The plastering was completed this fall, and the mites were thriving
            in the moist conditions. In the last month or more, the mites have
            disappeared. They will not survive under 50% relative humidity. Once our
            plaster dried more, the mites went away, I can see none through the truth
            window were they were plentiful 2 or 3 months ago. So far, this is our
            experience with bugs. From what I understand about little bugs similar to
            these in straw bale walls, it is a similar situation.
            If you detail properly you should be able to keep mice, which may like hay
            better than straw, out of your walls.
            We chose hay instead of straw because it was available locally at a good
            price, and straw, although produced in Alaska in some quantity, is more
            expensive to get here due to trucking costs.
            From your post, Lara, it sounds like you have the bales already, so that
            seems like a good reason to explore whether they will work in your walls.
            Make sure they are dry, stack them up, compress them, play around with them,
            plaster a few, rip some apart, get to know them. They might work. Maybe
            they will only work for infill and not load bearing.
            For references to hay bale houses, see "Serious Straw Bale" by Paul Lacinski
            and Michel Bergeron, pp 25-27 for a profile of a hay bale house built in
            1974. Also, see "The Beauty of Strawbale Homes" by Athena and Bill Steen,
            the first two houses profiled in their book were built with hay. The first
            built before 1914 and the second built in 1925. Two of these 3 houses in
            these books had their walls inspected recently and were in good shape.
            I wouldn't say that hay is "easily substituted" for straw. Although
            similar, they are two different materials and should be treated differently,
            but I do think that you could successfully use hay in your walls if you pay
            attention to the details.

            Good luck,

            Dale


            > -----Original Message-----
            > From: billc_lists@... [mailto:billc_lists@...]
            >
            > Hi Lara,
            >
            > Straw is the dried stems, primarily cellulose (as is wood).
            >
            > Hay on the other hand has a lot of leafy (and often seed) material,
            > containing more nitrogen and various other stuff - which means it's
            > edible by all manner of creatures, including little ones. And hay is
            > more likely to self-compost in your walls.
            >
            > Not a great idea. I'm surprised that you hadn't run across that
            > instruction elsewhere. Straw is usually less expensive than hay, as
            > well.
            >
            > Where in Texas are you located? Are you familiar with the Straw Bale
            > Association of Texas (http://greenbuilder.com/sbat/)?
            >

            > >Lara DeHaven: dehavenlh@...
            > >
            > >
            > >"Hi, I am from Texas and have been researching straw bale house
            > >construction. First of all, your website is by far the most
            > >informative about straw houses. Thank you for posting such a
            > >wonderful site. As I was reading your instructions, I came across
            > >the statement "hay is for horses, straw is for houses." In all the
            > >other reading I have done on the subject, I have not run across this
            > >information. In fact, I thought hay could easily be substituted for
            > >straw bales. Since we already have a ton of grass hay baled, we were
            > >planning on using them in our house. Would you mind explaining why
            > >hay is unsuitable in the construction of a home? I would greatly
            > >appreciate the information. We have put a hold on our building plans
            > >until we can find out as we do not want to do anything wrong. Thank
            > >for your time.
            > >Sincerely,
            > >Lara DeHaven".


            >



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          • Athena & Bill Steen
            ... Looking back at some of the historic homes, you would have to say that they are a mix of grass hay and straw. Some of each. One of the ones that still
            Message 5 of 5 , Dec 6, 2003
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              On Saturday, December 6, 2003, at 06:30 AM, Dann Johnson wrote:
              >
              > I bale some Iowa road "ditch hay" for horses every summer. The
              > ditch hay
              > is mostly stemmy grass and weed stems with very little leafy /
              > seed
              > component. I figure that my ditch hay would work "ok". Dale
              > mentions
              > the historic Nebraska Hay bale homes, some of which are nearing 100
              > years
              > of age. My bet is that these bales also were a grass hay, and not
              > today's alfalfa bales: the high protein leafy alfalfa that is the
              > choice
              > of most livestock feeders.

              Looking back at some of the historic homes, you would have to say that
              they are a mix of grass hay and straw. Some of each. One of the ones
              that still impresses me is the old Milligan ranch at Fawn Lake. Grass
              bales from close to the turn of the century and the place is in
              marvelous shape. We live in a grassland area and I've thought
              repeatedly that if I could manage to get someone to do the baling, I'd
              love to build something out of our local grasses. Their advantage in
              my mind is that they aren't grown with the same heavy dose of nitrogen
              fertilizers that the grain crops are and therefore ought to be much
              more resistant to decay. And that would also distinguish them from
              alfalfa which naturally contains a lot of nitrogen and has a reputation
              for being "hot." If you know anything about compost, you already know
              that what you need to make a successful pile is something that will
              generate heat. The other thing that you want to do if you want the
              pile to turn fast is to chop up all the ingredients as thoroughly as
              possible as in what happens to straw when it goes through the modern
              combines. Somewhere back on the old Crest List there was an in-depth
              discussion about it that still sticks in my memory that contained a lot
              of interesting points. Another thing that comes to mind is that when
              wheat is grown for thatch in England, one of the specific requirements
              is that the nitrogen levels need to be kept at a very reduced level,
              otherwise the straw will decay much more rapidly.

              Going back to baling grasses, I've always thought that if I were to do
              it here, I would have the grass cut before it has developed it's seed
              heads. Here we get a lot of growth on our grass before the seed heads
              form and it seemed that would be the ideal time to get at it.

              B...
              Athena & Bill Steen
              The Canelo Project
              HC1 Box 324
              Canelo/Elgin, AZ 85611
              absteen@...
              www.caneloproject.com
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