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Monday, March 3, 2008

New Home Slowdown

Just what does the slowdown in new housing construction really mean? To most people it means they pretty much have to stay in their present home for a while.

Aside from the usual, it also means fewer jobs in construction, fewer sales in appliances and housing supplies. According to an article I read in the WALL STREET JOURNAL today, there are other industries affected.

It costs more to board horses today because there is a shortage of sawdust and wood shavings which are used for bedding. Dairy farmers also have to find substitutes for the sawdust bedding. The sawdust is softer, so the cows lay down more which increases milk production. If you use wood shavings for your pet hamster, you will be paying more. There just isn't enough to go around.

I was surprised to learn just how many industries are affected by this slowdown. There are so many industries that depend on wood scraps. Wineries use oak sawdust as a flavoring agent for some wines, Perdue Farms uses about seven million cubic feet of wood shavings annually. Oil rig operators use wood shavings in their search for oil. If you own a pellet stove, the pellets are made of compressed sawdust.

Of course, whenever we have shortages, the ingenuity of the American goes into overdrive and we have new products. Some farmers are finding ways to process cattle waste into methane gas and selling it to electric generators. One dairy has found a way to turn manure into bedding for his animals and is selling his extra to his neighbors.

Some Boy Scout troups in Oregon collected discarded Christmas Trees and sold them to a lumber recycler thus adding money to their treasuries.

The housing market had better pick up, a lot of other industries are depending on them.

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