Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

It’s been a while. But you know, we’ve been busy! I’m happy to report that after almost a year of construction, we’re finally in our home.


Being a homeowner comes with a variety of worries—from paying the mortgage to homeowners insurance and just day to day maintenance. Building a home that is out of the norm comes with a whole other degree of worry, especially for someone such as myself.  I’ve had nightmares about all of the straw getting wet and having to replace straw and plaster around our windows. So has Beau. I can’t image the labor and cost associated with such damage, so luckily these concerns are fabrications of our minds.


Just before we moved in I noticed lots of very small bugs around the windows and doors. There is nothing like building a home out of straw and wondering if it was being eaten out from around you. I immediately took to the internet where I found a link to an article and thread on this very problem. We had psocids which feed on fungus on straw. Here is that link to the article should you need it, which more than likely you will not. I also followed up with an email to Andrew Morrison, straw bale guru, and was reassured that once we got the air conditioner going moisture would be removed from the house righting this problem. We had loads of wet straw outside of the house which we promptly moved to the front end of the property to be used in the gardens. Within no time the bugs practically disappeared.


There is nothing like building a home out of straw and wondering if it was being eaten out from around you.


We have been in our house now for nearly six weeks and our first night in the house I managed to flood our laundry room while flushing out the new pipes. Someone had put the plug in the sink and it didn’t even cross my mind to check as I had cleaned that room only two days prior. Luckily the straw bales do not come into direct contact with the floor. They are elevated by 4×4 beams and the space in between the beams is filled with gravel so the straw was never exposed to moisture. We quickly gathered all of the towels in the house and our handy dandy shop vacuum. We managed to soak up several towels worth of water and suck 12 gallons up in the vacuum. That very next morning Beau was  hooking up the washer and he almost forgot to hook up the washer’s drain hose. I walked into the laundry room, washer already running and asked what the other hose was for and he quickly turned off the washer. We couldn’t help but laugh,  after 3 and a half years of not being homeowners it looks as though we are a bit rusty.



Next up, clothes moths! After a week or so in the house Beau came to me asking me what was going on with two of his shirts. They had identical holes in the bottom of them. I remember seeing a few moths around the house and quickly connected the dots. Clothes moths! Upon further investigation I realized that there had been a box of artwork brought into the house that had been padded with bath towels and left in the garage for years. Moths had made a home in there and were starting to make our house their new home, but not on my watch. I removed the towels and after a week or so of finding one to two moths every night I started to fear an infestation was on the brink. At 8am one morning I began washing all of the laundry downstairs and putting essential oils in all closets and drawers (lavender, cedar and rosemary), the house smells great! I spent the next 36 or more hours washing laundry with the exception of a night’s sleep. I immediately began rotating clothes that required dry cleaning in the freezer. Why? Because I’m crazy?!!! Well maybe, but I read online that in order to kill moth larvae and eggs they require freezing temperatures for 48 hours. It must be true, I read it online, so I gave it a try. Two days in the freezer and then onto the next batch, I continued this for the next week. I’m glad to report that our freezer has now reverted back to it’s original purpose. During this whole fiasco I couldn’t help but feel like as though I had gone a little overboard, but from what I read online you have to really take action or they can take over. A few days after the all of the laundry was clean with the exception of the clothes waiting in line for the freezer I found four moths, I began to wonder if all of this work was in vain. On Monday I put four pheromone traps throughout the house and I’m happy to say I have not seen a moth since Sunday, not even in the traps. So the trifecta worked. Wash, vacuum, or freeze all fabric, put essential oils in every place containing fabric, and set pheromone traps. Viola! It seems as though we are clothes moth free—for now anyway!


What the madness of a moth infestation looks like.


Now with the moth dilemma settled I’ve shifted my focus to these rather large black ants. I’ve been noticing them around the house for a few weeks; they’ve been scurrying around on our porches and occasionally finding their way into our house. I immediately thought that they were carpenter ants, which can really do damage to a home. I knew this, but didn’t exactly know how or why they intrude homes. Well, from what I’m reading carpenter ants hollow out damp dead wood and build their nests in them. Once again, I took to the internet and after closely examining the ants I have determined them to be field ants. Field ants are often mistaken for Carpenter ants, yet they build their nests in the ground. No threat to the house.


So, for now we are not being overtaken by insects and I’m happy to report our home seems cozy and comfortable.

Stefanie Leland
  • darren dunn

    you guys live in the wild kingdom. I’ve been thinking about your whole transition and I’m really glad you are in your house and are quickly moving toward routine living. I miss you both. I’ll track you down when we come through in October.

    August 23, 2018 at 10:50 AM
  • Beau

    Thanks, Darren. We look forward to seeing you soon!

    August 23, 2018 at 11:17 AM
  • jessica strecker

    dang. I need to do the moth trick…I’ve been noticing moth holes, but I always do here and there. how did you apply the essential oils?

    August 23, 2018 at 12:18 PM
  • Derek

    I use cedar blocks. You can get them on Amazon or just buy some cedar boards at a hardware store and cut them up into bits. Place them into your drawers. When they lose their scent over time, just rub some sandpaper on the surface of them to refresh everything. I haven’t had any moth issues since I started using cedar blocks.


    August 23, 2018 at 12:42 PM
  • Beau

    Oh yes. There are significant plans to fabricate all of our closed shelving with cedar harvested from the property. The lumber has been cut, the plans have been drawn, now I simply must acquire wood working skills and build the damn things. Good tip about sanding the cedar lightly to refresh the smell!

    August 23, 2018 at 12:56 PM
  • Stefanie Leland

    Hey, Jessica! I put essential oils on cotton pads in 4oz canning jars without the lids. It deters them, but doesn’t kill them. Always be sure to check things brought in from the garage or used clothing. I’d honestly wash any clothes that come into the house that are used or stored. Washing/drying or freezing helps to get rid of eggs and larvae. We also put out pheromone traps to monitor populations. I haven’t seen any in the traps.

    August 23, 2018 at 12:57 PM
  • Beau

    Hi Jess. Stef applied the oils to little cotton pads and put them in mason jars around the house. As an added bonus, everything smells great! Now, about these shirt holes…where are they? Toward the bottom of your shirts? Like along the front of the wast line where a belt or a button may rub? I’m slowly uncovering an epidemic of shirt holes in the bottoms of all my shirts. While the moth problem was very real, so is the tragic problem of everyday wear and tear on untucked shirts! This rabbit hole runs deep.

    August 23, 2018 at 1:01 PM
  • Bob Stovall

    Congratulations you two! I know of no other people with a passion for something like you two have. Enjoy!!!

    August 23, 2018 at 7:48 PM
  • What an adventure! Congratulations! Building a straw bale house is a great challenge. Enjoy your new house! It looks great! So happy for you!

    August 23, 2018 at 9:14 PM
  • Beau

    Thanks, Pavlina! We’re so excited for you as well! Your house is looking amazing!

    August 29, 2018 at 11:12 PM

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