Spent many a summer night ona new straw tick. The tick is like a mattress cover made out of sheets. Every year after we threshed the wheat Mom drug the tick that was full of well used corn shucks outdoors and dumped the shucks out. THe tick got a good washing. As soon as it dried Mom headed out to the new straw stack and stuffed it full of fresh straw. It looked about like a white elephant as she toted it back into the house, and up the stairs to my bedroom. The first night I had to take a flying leap to get up on top of it. Then I had to start fist fighting straws that insisted on standing straight up, and pokeing my little pink body.. After the first week or so, it seemed to conform to my shape much better.
We shocked corn fodder in the fall. Around Christmas the neighbors can in and we hauled the corn fodder from the shocks out in the field up to the barn on horse drawn wagons. The fodder was thrown from the wagons into a big machine similar to the old threshing machines used to seperate the wheat from the straw. The corn shredder seperated the ears of corn from the stalks and tore the stalks into little pieces which were blown up into the top of the big barn for winter feed for the cattle and horses. The ears of corn went into a wagon which was pulled to the corn crib and shoveled into the crib by some big corn feed farm boy.
Back to the mattress. Now was the time to drag it out and dump it again. This time it was filled with the shucks that came off the ears of corn. Them buggers could feel mighty lumpy at times, but didn't get crumbled up real fine like the straw would. They also made quite a bit of noise when you moved in the bed. Not great for honeymooners..
Good straw that has been kept inside is unlikely to have any pests other than a possible mouse. It should be bright gold, shining, dense and dry- not a trace of mold. Straw that has been rained on will have some mold spores in it even if there isn't a big black spot.
I have a feather mattress directly on the floor. It was a home-made project after I bought four 55 gallon drums of feathers at an auction. (who could resist??) I suppose you could buy up feather pillows at sales and auctions, it seems they go cheap if in need of fixing.
It does need to been turned and beaten like a feather pillow because it will get a "behind pit" in the center. I have kept my night thermostat at 50 since this bed is too warm at room temp. Sure saves on the propane.
My bed for several years was a pile of sheepskins, also on the floor. (Helps my back) The pile o' furs has been the favored sleeping site for most of history, after all...
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