Rural Missouri - July 2013 - (Page 10)

Natural NEST A three-story dream home built of straw Homeowner Andrew Bishko stands next to a raw plastered wall in his home near Buffalo. His company, Ozarks Natural LLC, helps others build homes using natural materials. A by Kile Brewer s you make your way down Nepasha Lane near Buffalo, bouncing down a rutted gravel road, you would never expect to see a three story, 6,800-square-foot house perched quietly in the forest. Its clay tiles cast an orange glow on the stucco exterior, and its walls of windows provide the residents with a panoramic view of the Ozark countryside. The structure looks like it could’ve come straight from the Mediterranean coast. Instead, it was built with local materials, including straw, clay and sand, by owner Andrew Bishko. Andrew and his future wife, Rachael, both moved to the secluded patch of Missouri woods in 2005, as if by fate, and were engaged five days after meeting. “We both knew that we wanted to move here and be part of a spiritual community,” Andrew says. “And we both really wanted a family. In our previous marriages we hadn’t had family and kids.” While living in a log-sided home nearby, the two began planning their dream home on a 75-acre plot, which included an old cabin Andrew bought after visiting the area from his previous home in Wasilla, Alaska. “When I walked on this land, it just felt so good, it felt like I was home,” Andrew says. “It felt very healing in a way, and I love it here.” Having such a strong connection to the land, Andrew set out to build something other than the traditional home. He wanted to use as many natural materials as possible and play an active role in the construction of the house, self-contracting and performing much of the labor himself. His original plan was to build a cob house where a clay mixture is used as the sole building material, but after visiting Cob Cottage in Coquille, Ore. he realized that building a cob house as big as he had planned would be too labor intensive. Instead he set his sights on straw bale techniques. After three years of planning, Andrew started looking for materials so that he could finally start laying bales. “I was looking for local bales,” Andrew says. “You need to have a certain kind of bale. You need to have it The Bishkos’ three-story straw bale home sits on their rural property near Buffalo. 10 really densely packed and really welltied. It has to have longer straws in it, which makes it more structural. It has to be really dry.” Luckily, Andrew found the perfect source for his fibrous wall stuffing while shopping at Lowes in Lebanon. “There was a guy selling bales out of a trailer there,” Andrew says. “I talked to the guy and turned out he was a wheat farmer from Versailles, so we talked about it, made an agreement and he delivered a couple of truckloads of bales.” Straw bale construction is not what you might think. Andrew takes the square bales and stacks them tightly on the framed structure of the home, which is still under construction. After the straw is solid and in place, he starts sealing the bales with a homemade plaster, which includes clay, more straw and sand along with a homemade lime putty. The plaster takes on a stucco-like appearance much different than you would expect from the combination of straw and some Ozark ground clay. Andrew says he likes the raw look of the plaster, but for a more finished look he paints the walls with a creation of his own clay paint. The paint is a mixture of clay, sand, milk and a flour paste, and then clay pigment is added for a variety of subdued, earthy colors. There are many practical benefits to this style of building, including safety and energy efficiency. “Straw bale houses are much better in fire,” Andrew says. “The walls in a traditional home are like a chimney, but straw bale homes have such dense walls which prevents the fire from spreading too fast. Straw is also great insulation and the thermal mass of the plaster maintains temperature really well. The clay is also hydrophilic, so it maintains humidity through- WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP out the house.” Andrew, who earned a Master’s degree in music and teaches music courses at Ozark Technical Community College, started off knowing only what he had heard from others and read online or in books. A lot of planning and work go into straw bale homes, and after a few years of trial and error, Andrew has it all figured out. Since 2010, Andrew and Rachael have been living in the house, which is still a work in progress. They Buffalo share it with three chil• dren; their daughter, Honor, 6, and two sons Joyous, 3, and Shepherd, 1. Andrew expects the construction will be finished up by the end of this year. However, Andrew is not ready to give up the specialized building skills that he’s developed in the last eight years. Under the name Ozarks Natural LLC, Andrew hopes to coach others on contracting and building their dream homes using natural materials. His motto? “I made the mistakes so you don’t have to.” Those who hire Andrew’s company will learn how to make their home from start to finish, including scrounging for supplies and the techniques for stacking bales, plastering walls and making paint. This experience was exactly what Andrew was hoping for when he came to Missouri, and he’s eager to share his trade with others. “I really like building and really wanna help people,” Andrew says. “Building this house has got to be one of the most fun, satisfying things I’ve ever done in my whole life.” For more information about Ozarks Natural LLC, find Andrew on Facebook at or call 417-733-3776. http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2013

Rural Missouri - July 2013
That old-time religion
Natural nest
Long-distance lead
Out of the Way Eats
Hearth and Home
Keep it cool
On the banks of Bull Shoals
Retro renovations
Infamous ancestry
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - July 2013