This article is a simple look into the circle of life of a couple straw bales on my property- which might give you a few ideas to try for yourself! I live on a small plot of land and do not harvest my own hay or straw. Still, there are many uses for it my life and this particular setup is how I get the most out of a $5 bale.
I buy hay and straw bales for two main reasons. I don’t have time for weeding a garden everyday and I shoot a bow. The bale provides me with a cheap means for honing my aim and once it becomes worn down I feed it to my garden.
This allows the bale to feed me in two ways one through improving my shot the other through improving my garden.
You look at the price of a decent archery target and that’s $80 and up. If you aren’t composting you are probably spending 2-3 times that on organic material to feed your garden. These bales run from $4 and some change to $7 dollars a piece.
I put a double stack of bales to work right away as a target. They are placed on pallets, one on top of the other. I put a thin piece of plywood behind them for when the arrows drive all the way through. Then I used the weight and added support of another pallet to hold the target upright.
Whether you are shooting a recurve bow like me, compound, throwing knives, crossbow or hatchets or even spears. This is a great target that works for you for months. Though you might think it more economical to buy one big archery target that will last much longer consider what I wrote above about the cost of such a target as well as the process that follows
After about 4-6 months of shooting and weathering the bale will have broken down so much that it will become ineffective as a target. There will also be god knows what living inside it. The last one I pulled had a single hornet sheltering inside, so be careful when breaking up your spent target
This is priceless organic material for your garden now. This target that you honed your skills has not only worked for you all year by sharpening your aim and hopefully building your confidence to level where you may harvest your own game but it has also been decomposing.
As the bale sat in the elements and broke down it became food for your garden.
I spread this spent bale all over my garden along with compost to provide my crop with all the nutrients it needs to be prolific.
While I am not a great gardener yet this process is insurance and it keeps my soil healthy. I don’t want to till every year.
I hope that this overabundance of organic material will help me with that.
One More Use
This link from the modern farmer also highlights a really cool use for bales by turning them into a standalone garden. I would wait till they get a little spent from target practice and then begin to plant in them.
At the our homestead it’s all about time and money maximization. I am the sole proprietor of these crazy endeavors but I am also responsible for a wife and child as well as the other responsibilities that come with daily life. This is why it’s so important that we figure out these time and money maximizers.
Like anything else a hay bale or straw bale can be many things to many people I am simply concerned with making it as many things for myself as possible.
This is just one example of how you can make a cheap item like this bale of straw work for you all year. I would love to hear about other multi use processes like this one that you employ around your land!
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