Straw for the Path

This past weekend, Steve and I took a much-needed break. We went to a favorite inn in Vermont, and shopped at the King Arthur Flour Store, at three indie bookstores, and at two horse tack shops. I came away with excellent chocolate, a fascinating book (I love nonfiction about science that I know nothing about, written in an engaging and witty way), and a new muck tub (some women like handbags, some of us like barn tools!) I also got a bale of straw.



The weather on Sunday was a welcome change from the bitter cold and snow that we’ve been having. It was 38° F! So warm that I saw people shoveling in tee-shirts. But, the forecast was for the arctic blast to arrive in full force that night. Puddles on the ground would become sheet ice. As I expected, the path from my backdoor to the coops looked like this when we returned home on Sunday night. Smooth, hard and dangerous. Too bad I don’t do the winter olympic sport of luge.

path at night


I can’t put down sand or ice melt because it would ruin the lawn underneath. The straw, though, provides traction and can be raked up in the spring. Straw is made up of the tough stems of wheat. The animals don’t eat it, and it is not absorbent, but it will mix in and freeze with the snow melt and provide a safe path for the next few weeks. I think that it looks rather cheerful.

straw for path


  1. i actually put straw down in the run for the girls to walk on when it snows glad you had a nice weekend. I ;love Vermont, havnt been in a long time!

    • Me too – I put straw down in the run for the girls as well. They don’t like snow at all and won’t come out if there’s any in the run.
      So glad you and Steve were able to get away for the weekend to recharge, Terry.
      P.S. Steve, get a snowblower. Seriously. We resisted for many years too – until this year, when we had no choice but to buy one, due to sudden unexpected health issues. You’ll be able to find just the one you want, and at a much better price, if you don’t HAVE to buy it right away. Don’t worry – you will get lots of use out of it, because I’m pretty sure it will snow again in MA next winter. ;-)

        • Rather than a snowblower, you might want to consider a mini version by Toro. They make a relatively inexpensive ($100) electric snow shovel. I had one for the last 10 years or so that I was in Carlisle. When the snow got too deep to push it through, I could pick it up and ‘shave’ the snow in layers. Heavy, wet snow could be a problem as well as what the town plow left in the drive so I still got lots of exercise with a standard shovel but all in all it was a very useful tool. I highly recommend it.

  2. It does look rather like a ‘designer path’ – or at least how I think one might look if it existed.
    All that snow is not really going anywhere yet, is it?

  3. Lovely to have a weekend away that you have enjoyed, you come back freshly energised just what’s needed. I love any excuse to look in bookshops and any where that deals with animals. The straw is a great idea, looks good too ! So glad you did not get as much rain as predicted. We have had 3 days of heavy rain, my girls are requesting chicken size welly boots !!

  4. What a great idea! I have some straw for mulching in our shed and will put some on the back walk. Sounds like you had a nice getaway.

  5. Cheerful it is! We might be getting some winter next month..the long range forcast is interesting….We will have a shock though, it has been so springlike for the last two months…I am working in the garden today, no planting but digging….I love digging! Take care on your path, Terry!

  6. my girls have straw in their covered and mostly enclosed run (tops open for ventilation) and at my local dog kennel they are using straw in their runs.

    We had it down on the driveway earlier this winter for the same reason as you.

    a balmy 10 C today, expecting snow on Wednesday….like a roller coaster of weather here in the Prairies.

    • One year I put straw in the run, but it turned to muck and mold, and I haven’t done it again. Interesting to hear that others have success with straw outside. I think that the differences in weather and wet affects the outcome.

      • Had the same problem here, mouldy and horrible. That is why girls now have 2 large covered areas as well as there outside space, we have far to much rain 8 dry days in 60 !! I know they call England the green and pleasant land, but pleasant not at the moment ! Thinking of you all :)

  7. Were you in Norwich? Love that Store!! Even though we live in Tn now when we lived in Michigan we spent a lot of time out east. Loved our time in Ma, Vermont, NH, Maine, and especially Cape Cod. I can find and use King Arthur Flour here in TN. Also love my Simon Pierce glassware purchased in Queechee VT. Good for you a change of scene can make all the difference!

    • Yes, the Norwich store. It’s been expanded since you’ve been there last. There’s a cafe and a viewing area to watch the bakers.

  8. Brrrrr that’s looking chilly, when I logged on it was -9f which here is nearly -23c. Lots of hot chocolate required. The sun is shining here, miracle !! :)

  9. Wow, you’re really getting hammered!! Nice that you got away for the weekend. The straw makes a nice path; it’s very pretty against the snow. I usually put straw outside the chicken coop in the barn for the hens and roo to scratch in. They love it.

  10. We’ve had cold rain here, so far, this Winter, being in the South. I’ve been putting down a layer of pine straw in between periods of rain so that the hens have something dry to walk on instead of wet mud and it gives them something to scratch and peck in so that they have something to do. Only bad thing is, after a 2 to 3 day period of rain, it ‘does’ get wet and messy, but all I have to do is rake out the old straw and put in fresh. Thank goodness the pine trees were VERY generous this year!

  11. It’s snowing here in central NC. Temp is forecast to stay below freezing today but will rise into the 40’s tomorrow. Had some snow (less than an inch) a week ago that closed schools early on the Monday, kept them closed due to untreated icy roads for a couple of days and then a blast of arctic air that closed the schools for the rest of the week! I wonder if the kids will get another week of vacation this week!

  12. I think one of the reasons I have luck with the straw is that here on the southern Prairies it is very dry and the run is fairly weather proof, esp now that I got the roof over the run to stop leaking.