Loving the Shutters

“With all this good news coming out, Mr. Bonner, don’t you think you should admit that the Great Correction is already over?” asks a dear reader.


Any other questions?

“Too bad about their house,” said a neighbor in Maryland. “They built a house out of straw bales. Very pretty. Very energy efficient. But then it caught fire and burned to the ground.

“They should have used bricks…”

Back on the family farm, we’re able to see what 15 years did our handiwork. Fortunately, we were never tempted to build a house out of straw bales (we figured they were too vulnerable to leaks)…but we tried a number of other things.

For example, we were pioneers of passive solar heating. And ferro-cement. We built a ferro-cement workshop with insulated glass at a 45 degree angle, facing the sun. There were problems immediately. It was so hot in the summer that we had to roll out a blue awning…that made us feel like were underwater when we were inside.

Then, we got the bright idea of planting trees on either side. In the summer, their leaves would shield the shop from the sun. In the winter, the leaves would fall.

This worked very well. The trees are much bigger now. They do the job. The trouble is that something went wrong with the glass. It has clouded over and now needs to be replaced.

On one of the barn roofs, we used something called “Onduline” – or something like that – rather than tin. It came in sheets, but had the form of barrel tile. It was also cheap and easy to put on. Didn’t look bad. We can’t remember how long it was supposed to last, but less than 20 years later it is full of holes.

The tin roofs, on the other hand, are still in good shape. The oldest ones are covered with rust. But they can be repainted easily.

In the main house, we used poplar for the floors, from trees that we had cut on the farm. It was very pretty – still is. But it is soft. It has been scratched and dented in many places. Now, we have to refinish the floors.

But the biggest disappointment was the wood shutters. The main house has real, functional wood shutters. We love the shutters. You can use them to control the sunlight, so the heat of the summer sun doesn’t enter the house. And in the winter, when we’re not at home, we close the shutters to keep the carpets and drapes from fading.

In the old days, almost all houses had working shutters made of oak. The ones on our grandmother’s house are still there…and still in good shape after more than 100 years. But when we went to get wood shutters for our house in 1993, they no longer made them in oak. The new ones were made of pine or fir. Nevertheless, since they were protected from the weather by several layers of paint, and set back at least two feet inside the overhang and gutter, we didn’t expect any trouble with them. But here we are 17 years later and half of them are rotten and will need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, they are unusually large…and very expensive to make.


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.
Bill Bonner

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May I suggest gold shutters? They never rot or rust, and will combat sunlight as well as inflation.

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