Horse-drawn bales start eco-home

When Perkins the horse began transporting dozens of straw bales on the back of a cart, he could have been forgiven for thinking it was for his own food and bedding.

When Perkins the horse began transporting dozens of straw bales on the back of a cart, he could have been forgiven for thinking it was for his own food and bedding.

But the 22-year-old cob's efforts were for his owner's home at the weekend as work began on a carbon neutral building project in south Norfolk.

A traditional horse and cart took to the country roads at Wood Green, near Long Stratton, on Saturday as Perkins and his owner Helen Baczkowska paid a trip to their local farm to collect the building blocks for an environmentally friendly cottage extension.

The straw bales, which cost 90p each, were then turned into walls in the first development by Norfolk-based green construction company Designer Stubble.


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Miss Baczkowska, who is a conservation officer for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, hailed the benefits of the natural building material, which is three times more insulating than current building regulations.

The mother-of-one said the assistance of her horse powered haulage meant that the extension of her 19th century clay lump house had a virtually non-existent carbon footprint.

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Miss Baczkowska said it was “exciting” to embrace the carbon neutral project at her home, which was visited by about 25 people at a green building open day on Saturday.

“Straw is amazingly comfortable and we are using a product that is local and at the end of the day I end up with a home that is warmer and has cheaper energy bills. Life is so fast paced these days and it is enjoyable to do things at a different pace and work with horses,” she said.

Perkins was treated to a couple of chocolate biscuits for transporting about 40 bales of straw at the weekend.

Tom MacKeown, from Designer Stubble, added that four million tonnes of straw went to waste in Britain every year and the material was becoming more popular in the industry.

“I do not think that it will ever become mainstream, but it is becoming more used in the niche market and suddenly it has become cool and clever. A house built out of straw will cost less to maintain and less to heat and will not cost the earth,” he said.

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