Life Day By Day,  Live Simply to Simply Live

The Versatility of Straw

There are many things we can do with straw – it has so much versatility. One of these is to make a straw scarecrow. Years ago, when I lived in Maleny there was the annual scarecrow competition. It was the 1990’s and the Maleny Scarecrow Festival was one of Australia’s first and best scarecrow festivals. The Maleny festival ceased and the Mary Valley Scarecrow Festival took over. It is held every October (October 7 – November 11, 2017). This could be a great way to spend a weekend, soaking up the sights, tastes and smell of the Mary Valley (between Gympie and Imbil, Queensland). But there is much more you can do with straw.

Think back to the story of the “Three Little Pigs”. It is a fairy tale is about three pigs, who built their house of different materials. They used straw, sticks and bricks. The BIG bad wolf blew down the first two houses made of straw and sticks but could not blow down the house make of bricks. Since the “Three Little Pigs” story much has changed with building materials. These days all you need is “straw” to build a house. Gather a little here and a little there and suddenly you have a cosy and sustainable house; a straw bale house.

If you are thinking about building a straw bale house, look here for some practical and informative advice. Building a straw bale house will be cheaper if you do it yourself or gather a few friends to help. It will cost more if you engage a designer and contractor. Like me, you may have seen some of the housing projects people embark on in the television show “Grand Designs”. Kevin McCloud, after many years of hosting the show, knows about design and the challenges of house building. He does not have his head in the clouds like many of those who appear on the show!

Another purpose for straw is bedding for chickens. Princess Chickens, is what I called my hens when I lived in Maleny. They are the ones who get treated like royalty, have plenty of straw for bedding in their Palace (aka coop). Throw a little sawdust on top and you have very happy chickens as they scratch around looking for a hidden treat!

My Princess Chickens in 2015 enjoying the “good life”!
Chickens are very inquisitive. Straw is a very good bedding material for chickens in the coop. You can also scatter straw in their run. My chickens always preferred wood shavings in their nesting box.

When you want to mulch the vegetable garden, look no further than straw. As I mentioned in an earlier post we are revamping our vegetable garden. I will invite you into our vegetable patch when we complete the work in a month or two!

Straw is very versatile. We use straw for construction, animal feed and bedding, horticulture, basketry, clothing and straw hats. The traditional sandal of Koreans are made of straw. They are called Jipsin. Paper is made from straw, as is rope. Straw is very useful, adaptable and versatile.

Straw is representative of life. Straw is a by-product of wheat and wheat sustains us. From wheat, we make flour and with flour we make bread. If we started from scratch, by planting wheat, it would take a while before we had bread to eat. Thankfully, we have those who work on the land to grow wheat and all we have to do is reach up to the supermarket shelf and take home our flour. The other day I bought my usual 5kg bag of Kialla Organic unbleached flour (not available at the supermarket). While not everything we eat is organic, it is better to go organic where we can as there are less pesticides and preservatives in our diet.

Before reading this did you ever think about  the versatility of straw? Straw is a little like life. Life gets better if we embrace its versatility, make the most of what we have and adapt to life’s challenges.

Daily, I gather the “straws of life” and do the best I can with what I have. Straw is life-giving and life is an ongoing task of work and play and gathering up the moments. When we gather together with family and friends a complete picture of our life emerges. If we, like straw are versatile, we can cope with what life throws at us and come out from under the bale of straw into the daylight!

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