I feel for you. I've got an autistic son with sensitivity, communication, coordination, patience/temper and focus issues that I don't think will ever allow him to be a typical member of society. I worry about what his life will be like when me and my wife are gone. He's got a younger sister and we moved to the Midwest to be able to afford some land and get away from the distracting rat race. I plan on having two dwellings, one for each of them and am hoping they'll both stay here and that she can watch over him but in the end, it's going to be a choice for my daughter.
Then of course we make these plans to help our kids but we never really know if we're doing the right thing as we can't foretell the future.
We've been doing the humanure thing for 5-6 years now and we had the most awesome looking tomato plant come out of a previous year's pile. No wilt or other problems and even though it was mostly shaded there, it did produce tomatoes. I couldn't bring myself to try one though as I never have gotten around to getting a compost thermometer so I don't really know how hot the pile got, aside from the heat felt when giving it a stir to dump another load. I also haven't used it in our garden. I've been putting it around trees but a couple of those trees died, presumably because they were native trees and the overload of nitrogen killed them but they were also understory trees that were seeing a lot more sun due to me clearing trees around them, so that may have caused it too.
We do have a peach tree so I might try a little around that this year. Two of the piles are in a spot that is now a god pen and I must say, one dog just loves to lay on top of the piles. Nice and cushy I guess and maybe he likes the earthy smell. It's not due to warmth as the piles no longer gets hot.
I need to get a couple of compost thermometers this year. Even then, being that the piles never get turned, I wonder about the stuff around the outsides. I suppose one could turn them at the right time and not raise too much of a stink.
I've been waiting for weeks to be able to access my old account. Was told I found an actual bug and that it would be fixed in a day or two. Never heard anything more and still can't log in with my old account. I was hoping they could merge the accounts. At this point, I don't care any more.
If one's definition of heirloom, is a variety that has been around more than 50 years, then it is a variety that is trapped in the past: It was ideal for a particular farm in a particular age. Current growing conditions are much different. Years ago, I was growing varieties with a somewhat greater than average ability to naturally cross pollinate. That allowed my tomatoes to slowly move towards local adaptability. Another option in addition to heirloom and hybrid would be modern open pollinated varieties.
Open pollinated is probably a better term as heirloom makes one think of a family heirloom aka antique. If you plant open pollinated tomatoes, save the seeds to replant for the next several years, saving only from the plants that produced well and didn't succumb to diseases, you have in fact changed that "heirloom" to fit your local growing conditions. So, no, not trapped in the past really. Selective breeding of the same variety is what you're doing and if it still has the same shape, color and flavor, it's still the same variety. If it's changed quite a lot, I guess you can call it your own.
That's why it's best to buy seeds from your region as the seed producer will have the same climate, pests and diseases to deal with and will already have selected for resistance, hopefully. I'm lucky enough to be within 100 miles of Baker Creek aka rareseeds.com and I plan to buy from them this year. If I was in New England, I'd buy from High Mowing Seeds in Vermont.
Hybrids don't really seem like a problem as long as we don't have some sort of societal collapse but selectively saving year after year is probably a more permie thing to do.(permaculture=permanent agriculture) That and seed trading.
We've lost corn almost completely. If things continue down this path, all food will only come from the big corporations. Imagine when/if all veggies become gmo.
I guess my point is, the more we rely on companies and their secrets, the further we'll slip into complete reliance on them.
I would keep #3 for growing as it's fairly flat and high and would get a long sun day if I'm looking at things right. You could put a pond to the right of that, near the top of that ravine. I think they call them dam ponds. They only have to scrape enough dirt out of it to build that dam which means very little earthworks/disturbance really. They do have to cut a key in with a backhoe, below the dam so the water doesn't infiltrate and blow the dam out.
Your terrain is real similar to mine. I have a high, flatish area down the middle with a ravine on each side of it and the terrain runs in the same direction as you. Mine's 8 acres though we just got the 7.5 adjoining it.
Also, constant flow of water = much hydro power. Of course, it might be a nice smooth flow until rain storms at which point it becomes a raging river. In that case, it's hard to do hydro because it will get demolished at times.
Do the pellet stoves require electricity to run a hopper/feed?
We don't have a well yet and run off a water tank so if we had to leave for a few days, I can just drain the system like one would do with an RV as that's the way I set things up. All our plumbing runs uphill from the water tank so all I do is disconnect an RV hose and with the exception of the water heater, the system drains. We'd have a cold house when we came back and depending on how cold, our food in the fridge might be frozen.
Now if we got an ice storm and were stuck here with no electricity for two weeks, would the pellet stove work?
Mike Lang wrote:@John Paulding
I apologize, I should read more carefully.
5:45 am, still dark, everyone else is sleeping so I'm not turning on a light in our almost one room cabin, chilly and I just added wood to the fire, surfing on the laptop while the fire takes affect. I can see the regular keys but not the top two rows where the Home button is.
I installed a browser addon for it but then on most sites, I end up with two Back to Top buttons. If my hand's already on he mouse, which it usually is, a Back to Top button is easier than scrolling or reaching for Home on my keyboard.
I think MREs have something added as they all seem to have a similar taste. Kind of tin like. I imagine they're packed in a nitrogen atmosphere as well. That's actually something that can be purchased. It would require a lot of nitrogen which is cheap as far as bottled gases go but still, the bottle, regulator and the sealing chamber with heat strip etc would cost quite a bit. It would be cheaper to just buy the MREs I think.
Most States have a State Nursery but NC and SC are pretty lame. Iowa's got a good one as does Missouri where I live. Some will ship out of State. I can get 2 year elderberry seedlings for 40 cents a piece from MO but they only take orders in the fall and run out quick. Iowa has most stuff still in stock. http://nursery.iowadnr.gov/Elderberry_p_167.html
I've gone most of the way through the checkout process and unlike a lot of the State nurseries, they didn't require me to choose what county in that State I'd be planting them in. I'm not ready to buy. I was just checking out what they had and was curious to see how the checkout would go. They don't say how old the seedling are. They go by height. 11-20 inches is 65 cents and 21-30 are 90 cents. 10 bucks shipping. They also sell 4-10 inch for 40 cents but they're out of stock on that size. Everything's sold in groups of 25 so if you do qty 1, it's 25 and that's reflected in the cart/checkout.
Get a hold of a steel barrel and use one of the kits that convert them to a wood stove. You'll need a drill and some hand tools and a way to cut the holes in the barrel. Know any handy blue collar type people?
$44.00 but you'll still need stove pipe which isn't all that cheap
That's still as cheap as it gets to get into wood burning.
I registered and I guess I'm logged in as I have a profile but I never had to input a password so if I log out, how would I log back in? Didn't get a confirmation email with a system created password. Profile has a place to change the password but it wants current and new passwords but I have no current password.
Logged out and tried the Lost Password tool but never received an email. If you're not using smtp to send email, you should be. wp_mail sucks. Not reliable.
I think those are what my neighbor just got. Same design at least. He doesn't do all this high tech interwebs stuff but his brother does and buys all kinds of stuff and has it shipped to him. Actually the big stuff gets shipped to me because my neighbor, 6 miles away, can't get deliveries, including USPS. Said he was too far out. I just put these on my amazon wish list. We were off grid for 6 years and we have grid now but I appreciate things that don't need it. That way if we're ever without power for any length of time, I won't be in the dark. (plus I don't have to do a bunch of wiring) We still run 12vdc LED lighting and still have a battery bank. Charge controller and inverter bit the dust though. Panels sit on roof doing nothing. Batts are close to ten years old now so if I want to get the solar fully functional again, it's going to be upwards of a grand to do so for our whopping 305 watts of panels. Someday.
Stephen Garrett wrote:its not 2 inches but 2 feet of leaf mold. Below that it’s yellow/red as deep as I can dig. I’m goi g to send a soil sample off this next week to get a detailed analysis of what I’m dealing with. Thanks again for all the replies, it’s been very helpful.
Ah, I misread the ' as "
That's a lot. Maybe take some of it off and till the rest in? Then use what you removed as mulch. You'd probably want to till in some nitrogen, manure etc. Yeah you might want to get it tested for clay/silt/sand percentages as well as your standard test for nutrients and minerals.
That will give you a general idea of what you've got. It's not real accurate for small properties but it helps. On my property there's two types of soil and the soil report seems correct for soil types but their lines are off compared to what I see here. Aside from my yellow clayey silt, I have some white silt that is dead and drains really fast. I can go out a hour after a rain, dig down a few inches and it's dry already. The solid report described the colors and said that lighter color is "somewhat excessively drained". My yellow stuff is listed as "all areas are prime farmland" which I was happy to hear.
Did you put all that leaf mold there or did it build up naturally over time? If it built up naturally and is always wet, it sounds like it's a low spot and might always be wet no matter what's there. I've got a spot like that and plan to make a pond out of it. In the Ozarks, water can seep out of a hillside or even slight slope for weeks after a rain. When I dug holes for some poles, they filled up with water from underneath or the sides and water stayed in those holes for two weeks with no rain and it's a 5% grade there, not flat or a low spot. It was Spring and clay just seems to hold on to water when it's cold and releases it in Spring. Can't really call it a Spring thaw as the ground hardly ever freezes here and when it does, it's only a few inches and thaws within a week or three. Being mini mountains, sometimes the water can't go down due to something restrictive like rock or a hard pan so it goes sideways until it finds a place to ooze out. We had a heavy rain a few years back and I had a 2 inch hole form in my garden bed with water bubbling up out of it and that area is real close to being flat but does have some grade, maybe 2%. I basically had a temporary spring. I've got an area down at the bottom end that's always wet and there's a constant dribble of water. I don't know if it would be considered a true spring but I'm thinking about developing it like one would do with a spring - make a spring box for the goats to drink from.
If it were me, I'd pull all but 6 inches of leaf litter off and til the rest in with some nitrogen like your chicken litter. If it's got a slight grade, you might want to poke around on the high end and see if it's wetter. You might have water seeping up somewhere. This terrain and the water flows here in the Ozarks can be a trip. Also, check myyopo.com and see if there's lots of springs in your area. You might already know about some. This area is loaded with them. Mytopo will show you springs you didn't know about.
Find the nearest quarry and use locally sourced materials again?
It's a bit of work and one must be pretty good at jig saw puzzles but natural stone looks nice. Not sure what would go with the house best as it's not in the pic but that would be your opinion/decision anyway. I love flagstone but it's kind of a North East thing and maybe other places where flagstone comes from locally. Limestone would probably be the local flat stone but some of it's not very strong.
Looks like it's remained pretty stable so whoever did it might have done a pretty good prep job already. Minimal disturbance might be best.
Mark Tudor wrote:Just FYI, $6500 over 28 years is $232/year or $19/month. I think having a small gas powered generator to run high demand items or top off batteries during a long cloudy spell is a good balance to go with a solar system.
Oops, good catch. Think I was rushing towards the end. I edited it
Straw shouldn't have much for seeds as that's what they harvest and the straw/stalks are the leftover part. Hay is different and does indeed have seed heads which is why they use it to start grass sometimes instead of using seed. With straw, they use one machine to harvest the tops and do not like losing any as that's their big cash crop and then another machine to cut the straw which gets them a little more income.
We lived for 7 years with a similar system.
305 watts of panels
4 golf cart batteries
an 800 watt inverter
several 12vdc LED bulbs
12vdc RV water pump and a water tank during the last couple of years
12vdc refrigerator - during the summer, that took up most of our power
We charged a cell phone, laptop, used a TV and DVD player which took very little power, handheld electric can opener
In summer, once the sun went down, we'd run one of those tiny 2 stroke generators from HF to run a 5,000 btu a/c unit to at least get it down around 80 degrees so we could sleep. We would just let it run until it ran dry on fuel. Later on, we also got an RV converter/charger and tied that in and also got a bigger generator that would run the charger and the a/c unit. By that time, we had phone/dsl and the cordless ph and modem/router didn't take much power. We had most everything 110vac running on a strip plug and would shut that off at night.
After 7 years the Xantrex C40 charge controller took a dump. A year later, the inverter took a dump. We have electric now and a regular fridge. The pole went in three days after the C40 died so we ran the genie for those three days. I tried to fire up the old 12vdc fridge recently and evidently it has taken a dump. The batteries are on their way out and we did good by making them last as long as we did. So basically, I have $500 worth of solar panels and to bring the entire system back to what it was, I'd have to spend about $1500-2000 and hope the panels are still good and last while. Everything costs more than it did when we first bought all this stuff.
If they could build stuff with the quality they did 40-50 years ago, the system would be a lot more sustainable and economically viable. The Xantrex C40 was said to be "bulletproof" but it was the first thing to go.
In our case, we knew we would be living off grid for some time and we have kids so we had to be able to keep milk and food. Not including the genie or fuel for it, the solar part cost $2200 and lasted 7 years so that's $314/yr which isn't bad I suppose. $26/mth and we had everything we needed to live better than most people in 1800.
The first two years we were here was two heat wave years with highs over 100 for weeks. We brought the a/c unit with us, we went through 2 of those $100 genies and then got one a little bigger for $130 and then another just like it and we didn't run the a/c during the day at all, even during the heat wave as it wouldn't have done any good. We tried it once. Probably used 1 1/2 gallons of fuel every day for 120 days and it was $3.50/gal average back then.
$460 for genies over 7 years and $4410 in fuel works out to about $12.00 per day for 120 days per year - $696/yr - $173/mth for the 4 months a year when a/c was used
Not very economical but life would have been miserable without it.
The fridge was a china knock off of an enkel and the inverter was Cobra brand made in china and the C40 failing was a fluke I guess as they have a good reputation
With those components being higher quality, the whole system might have made it for 10 years but making those batteries last that long is an anomaly. Seven years would be a worthy goal for batteries and if the charge controller and fridge lasted 14 years and the panels 28 years, that would be a decent set up. It would cost closer to $3000-3500 initially.
Figuring $300 initial cost:
$500 in batteries every 7 years is $2000 per 28 years
$500 in panels for 28 years
$2000 for other items every 14 years = $4000 in 28 years
$6500 for 28 years total is $928 per year or $77 per month $6500 for 28 years is 232 per year or $19 per month as per Mr Tudor's correction of my faulty math.
Yeah, electric service is still cheaper
$80/mth is about what our electric bill runs and we run a LOT more stuff now. But if you want to live somewhere where electric isn't an option or would cost $25-20k or something to bring in, the small 12vdc system works. Other than that, a generator and fuel for when the power goes out is a better deal. A $350 generator and take good care of it. Get some fuel stabilizer and rotate your fuel.
If you could do without a fridge, that would knock off $1500 each or $3000 for the 28 years unless an enkel lasts 28 years, dunno. That would bring the per month cost down quite a bit.
Stephen Garrett wrote:I’m in the Ozark mountains in north centra Arkansas. The soil underneath is heavy clay and shale. I have always had a large garden and now starting a homestead that will eventually have a market garden as one source of income. Most of the trees were cut up as firewood and given to some of the residents in the area, the rest is in a large brush pile that I hope to burn tomorrow. Almost all the stumps have been removed and soil test shows a neutral ph but almost no nutrients at all. It’s fairly typical in my area to have very nutrient defecient soil. I plan to plant 1/2 acre in organic garlic in October and was hoping to use the other half as a vegetable garden this spring. Thanks for the quick responses.
Does it go straight to clay subsoil below the 2 inches or if you dig down a couple of feet does it change color somewhere? I'm in the Ozarks and yes, even the top soil has a high clay content but there is a different subsoil as evident by a distinct change of color at about 6-16 inches down. It goes from yellowish to definitely red clay and there's a dead pan at 18-24 inches. Hard grey lifeless stuff. In some places, it may just go from orange-red to red-red and that's still top soil - subsoil.
With my garden, I double dug it and made sure to crack that dead pan as much as I could. Not near and acre though. You might think about getting someone in there with a ripper to subsoil it. That would get rid of your wet all the time issue. It would take a pretty big machine to rip through the hard pan and you most likely have one. If there's a grade, have them rip on contour.
If it goes from that 2 inches to actual subsoil, that's not good. Not much will grow aside from grasses and weeds, maybe some lettuce. Raised beds would be best but an acre... that would be a crazy amount of work.
I've though about making thin concrete panels from a mold. Maybe 1.25" thick x 12" tall X 4' long using the 6x6 concrete mesh with eye bolts welded to it on the ends, sticking out at a 45 degree angle so that when the panels are standing up, the eye bolts would line up with the next panel for driving rebar down through and into the ground. The mold could be textured and maybe put some concrete stain on the outside. They make concrete molds with stonework patterns for walkways. The panel size above would weigh about 55lbs but wouldn't be moved often. The eye bolts could be on the inside.
Concrete's not enviro friendly but these things would last a couple of lifetimes and it wouldn't take much concrete.
Cedar will last some years. The sap wood tends to rot pretty quick in contact with soil. The 5/4 composite boards are part plastic but I don't know if anything would leach into the soil.
I've used large rocks but they kind of get in the way. I ended up tending to want to kneel on them to be able to reach things and the rocks here aren't smooth by any means.
I used some regular 2x6s one year. That's as long as they lasted.
Don't forget about possibly planting some native fruit trees. They can be useful as trap plantings for pests. I think Toby did this in Gaia to give the deer something to eat instead of his retail type fruit trees. Every State has a State Nursery although Kentucky's doesn't seem to have much of a selection. You could try neighboring States as well. I think most, if not all ship seedlings and they're CHEAP. Buck or two per seedling at most. Usually two year old seedlings.
Some of the native/wild stuff is actually good eating for humans and being native, they don't require as much input. Hazelnuts, Elderberry, many fruit trees in general. Some might only be good for jam/jelly.
Dillon Nichols wrote:I have cut the front portion off of an old fisher(I think a 'baby bear') woodstove.
Any obvious horrible flaws?
Yes. Cutting up a Fisher.
Dillon Nichols wrote:
I am waffling a bit on pipe size and a air intake sizing. Suggestions?
From Papa Bear on down, they all took 6 inch pipe or flue. I have the flu. The intake size? Should be adjustable. Fishers never took a damper. They relied on the adjustable intake only. Are you reusing the door? If so, that should be all you need for an intake.
They all have air intake through the door. They also have a deflector plate below the outlet to redirect the gases back into the fire to give it a second burn and to prevent sparks and flame from going right into the thin stove pipe.
A pic or two would help or some drawings even. I'm having a hard time envisioning or figuring out exactly what you're trying to do by modding the stove. Just trying to make it tiny-er? The somewhat historical and definitely collectible stove. They were designed quite well and are bad ass wood stoves which is why they remained popular and some company has actually started reproducing them. I could see wanting to move the outlet from the back to the top. I hate horizontal stove pipe as it always fills up with creosote. In that case, I would take a piece of stove pipe, squish one end into a short wide oval and use it to draw a cut line on the top of the stove. Something like a 3"x10" oval maybe. That wouldn't take up too much of the top even if centered. A graphics program would make a better oval, starting with the circle. A piece of stove pipe a few inches long would work good too.
I think I would have sold the Fisher and bought a tiny stove. Since you're experimenting and planning on putting it close to the wall, get yourself an infrared gun type thermometer so you can check surface temperatures of things, like the wall. Also, a piece of sheet metal, like corrugated roofing makes a good heat shield between a stove and a wall. btdt Space it a couple inches off the wall or the mount it an inch or two off the stove.
Most every State has a State Nursery including Idaho. They all grow and sell seedlings that are native to the State and that's always a good place to start. Cheap too. There are people who buy 2 year old seedlings, grow them into decent sized shrubs/trees and resell them. Buy for a buck or two and sell for $15-20 or more. Landscapers also buy them as do homeowners/land owners.
AM radio was our only source of fire information. We have an old large hand crank radio like this one.
Our local news radio station offered excellent 24 hour fire coverage.
Before we moved out to the boonies, I bought a handheld scanner because it also had wx aka weather stations and ran on batteries and I knew we'd be off grid for some time. My autistic son still finds the robotic voice of the National Weather Service to be a soothing sound. We had a little generator that we ran in the evening in summer to run a small window a/c unit to cool things off enough to sleep. Our off grid years included two years of record setting heat wave with temps over 100 for days in a row. We were happy to get the camper to 80 degrees and running it before the sun went down was a futile effort. During the middle of one of the 108 degree days, my daughter, being the social type, said; "We live way better here than we ever did in Florida" We were interacting instead of each of us looking at a different tv/computer screen. We played cards and board games to pass the time.
Doing laundry by hand just sucks. I'm still hunting for a wringer washer as they use less water than a regular washer and don't need water pressure.
Having our vehicle decide to not start one day brought quite a feeling of anxiety.
We have electric now but were off grid for five years total.
Our charge controller went out but we still have panels on the roof and golf cart batteries. Everyone said we'd burn those up in two years but we ran them for 5+ years charging off the sun. We still run some 12vdc stuff including LED lighting. Our inverter went out too but we used to keep our cordless phone and dsl modem/router on it so even if the electric went out, we weren't in the dark and still had phone/internet if those weren't down. They run phone lines underground here so those are more resilient. We've got an electric range but still have the camp stove and a full tank of propane just in case. I cooked dinner on the wood stove last night. I built an offset smoker with two cook chambers last year. Our 12vdc fridge went out on us. The Spring water we get is 45-50 degrees so putting cooked meat in a zilpoc and submerging it would probably help. When we get goats, I'll probably pressure can some of the meat. Canning meat looks like something sitting on a shelf in a medical science lab but it's good stuff.
When we moved half way across the country to the off grid boonies, we probably brought 4-500 lbs of food with us and that came in handy. We almost went broke by the time we found some property to buy. Took us two years to find it. It's hard to find a decent small piece of land at a decent price. Found plenty of West or North facing slopes, land too steep to do anything with, land that would have cost $15,000.00 to get utilities brought in etc.
I need to stock up on diesel fuel for my little tractor and we need to get our food stores built back up.