I have a 40 x 60 pole barn. My plan is to section off about a quarter to a third of it and insulate to make a shop heated by my batch mass heater. that's 600 to 800 sq. ft. any ideas on how to insulate walls and a ceiling?
What a great project Yannick!
I looked at the pdf you linked to. a few questions:
Will you pour a concrete beam around the hole? what size, also what kind of steel reinforcement in the beam? Assuming you do, I would embed probably two pieces of rebar to reinforce it, make a ring. I would also put some steel pegs (could be little pieces of rebar, scraps, etc) into the top so they stick out and hold the roof when you pour it.
How high is your wall? The higher, the stronger it will need to be.
What about drains, cleanouts?
Art Ludwig has a really good book you might want to look at. If you apply ferrocement you might want to do a small project first, say, a thin slab or something creative. Ferrocement will last 100s of years if cured properly. Ludwig goes into much more detail in his book than the pdf you cited.
It seems to me that the burnt toast is carbon... biochar... charcoal. If I'm correct and not missing something then any carbon substance could be an ingredient in an insulative mix as long as oxygen is not present in high enough amounts to trigger combustion at certain temperatures. That's basically what people were doing when they experimented with using sawdust in an insulation mix: the sawdust pyrolized and apparently stayed stable in a honeycomb kind of configuration but was also fragile which wouldn't matter if it were in between the firebox and the outer masonry skin of a heater.
I don't have a science background; i'm a retired guidance counselor but have read a bit about the molecular components of materials mostly over the past 10 years of experimenting with and building mass heaters. My understanding is that plastic material is, at its core, petroleum, which is compressed fossils, hence the name, along with being called "hydrocarbons", molecules composed of hydrogen and carbon. What I don't understand is the difference in the length of the various molecules and how/if that affects burning/pollution: long chain hydrocarbons such as petroleum, for example, I think burn differently than short chain molecules.
PVC and many petroleum based combinations are probably really really bad. I would welcome more comments like the above to help us get informed. I have a huge ("sad") sack of poly bags that I want to get rid of in the least bad way possible.
March is grass burning time in central Illinois and our rural neighborhood is often covered with a smoky haze. I wonder if burning certain waste plastics in my rmh is adding--- a lot, a little, or just CO2--- to our air.
ps. I haven't burned many bags--- yet. but the few I put in melted, then, when liquid, appeared to burn as clean as the wood with zero smoke. But I don't have testing instruments beyond my eyes and nose.
Here are some pictures of the heater in the pole barn. a few specs:
chimney is about 20' tall, black 8" stove pipe sits on an 8" elbow on floor of bell, then switches to 8" heating duct at about 8' (thinner gauge, galvanized), 12" heating duct starts at top of bell and sealed with cob to for a semi air tight insulating space like a double wall insulated chimney, total cost, around $200; temp at eye level is around 160F (uncomfortably warm to touch but doesn't burn)
T primer out of chimney for cold starts, works well;
bell is around 2.5'x 5'x3' tall, all single skin standard brick setting on 8'' blocks and perlite cob floor, top is bricks set on steel t posts, covered with screen and cob;
firebox is peter berg's 8" dimensions, standard firebrick except ceiling which is 1" ceramic fiberboard. I will redo this in the summer and make some refractory slabs to set on the ceiling to protect the soft fiberboard.
p channel is two 1.5" steel tubes with flaps on end to create turbulence;
riser is 4' tall, 8" diameter, octagon shape made of 1" ceramic fiberboard.
Almost no smoke if I start the fire right, takes about 5 minutes to rocket. The one picture of the chimney is steam on day 1. The single skin bell works great in my barn since it heats up faster and retains some heat to give off overnight but I would only need that to keep engines sortof warm on really cold nights.
Overall it's a real good heater. My thanks to Peter Berg and Matt Walker for sharing their work on the batch heaters!
I just finished an 8" batch box (Peter berg's specs) in my 40x56' uninsulated pole barn in central Illinois and am very happy with it- 2 stacked barrels for instant heat and one large bell, single skin brick. with your dimensions I would recommend an 8" batch box-- not a top feed. I switched to the batch box in 2011 with my 34x30' shop: the Ianto Evans type top feed just didn't allow enough btus to be burned and heat up that shop... I tried for over a year.
Regarding floor heating, other commenters pretty much covered the issues and I also would say that heating the floor is possible but would require isolating the mass so it doesn't bleed off heat and also figuring out a smaller floor area to heat: your pole barn would have way too much floor space to heat. as one person said, you only have a finite amount of heat to bleed off before your exhaust loses it's pumping capacity.
You might want to look at Peter Berg's shop batch heater which has 3 stacked barrels; if you start with 2 or even 3 you could later try taking the top barrel and running 50' of 1/2" copper around the top section inside the top barrel, screwed/bolted to the sides of the barrel. Then run an antifreeze solution powered by a small pump through a pex grid on maybe 200 sq.' of floor. Any liquid heat transfer system needs to be designed and built with safety features including pressure relief valves, no air pockets, etc. so if you've never done this I would get some help from someone who has. One advantage of adding the coil later is that you could start and see/feel how the stove performs and then modify it.
Regarding ducting, I no longer use ducting and instead have switched to bells/chambers. Bells are superior in every way, in my opinion. I would not recommend using ducts to bleed off heat into storage areas. Also, you will need to be careful about dropping your exhaust too low, especially in a duct as it will stall if you go below a certain level.
I'm checking out reviews on brad Lancasters latest book,he is definitely one of the best on water use. Jane your comment about trying to get your husband on the same page made me laugh, My wife is not so enamored with my fanatical permaculture plans and I keep thinking we should start a thread for partners of agnostics or something but that would probably get too complicated!
A follow up question to Adam or anyone, I'm reading Allan Nation's book and also one of Gerrish's, both I assume aware proponents of -developers of- management intensive grazing. I read Ruechel's "grass fed cattle", Salatin and "Salad bar beef", watched lots of Greg Judy, Derrin Doherty, Alan Savory, etc. is there a forum or place that summarizes and explains the various differences along with the evolving practices of graziers? I think most of the above people are in agreement on core principles but it would help me to form my ideas and eventual practices if I could read how they differ or how they have moved away from one practice and toward another. For example,Greg Judy no longer practices management intensive grazing. Why? Salatin's winter hay practices are not in line with graziers who pastures feed stockpiled grass all or almost all winter. Pros and cons?
I really want to get goats. Chickens and an lgd or two also. My wife is not as excited about having animals. Her main argument against them is caring for them when we go away overnight. We've only been back on our family farm for 2 months and are in the early stages of setting up our life here,including getting to know the neighbors whom I am hoping to talk to about helping with animals while we're gone. Please share your experiences and advice on this.
Thanks jd. I read his book, some chapters multiple times (cow days...winter feed setup). My two questions are: do you have advice on whether/how to transition grain fed angus when starting a new herd--should I start with a stockier,shorter leg line or go with what my neighbor has and build from there -- and some ideas and timelines on building up old depleted pastures and corn /bean fields. His pastures have been used in the traditional way so they would likely respond to mob grazing rotations pretty fast but how fast and what should we watch for and possibly supplement as we started--minerals, etc? My fields are more depleted from years of chemical farming. After one fallow season we planted brome,white clover and orchard grass which we just cut and baled. We could keep getting hay from those fields but I'd like to put cattle or sheep on them at some point. He also has 200 acres in corn and beans so if we figur out the way to transition on a small scale I could see him moving out of the grain business and more into a larger grass fed cattle operation.
I recently moved back onto our family's 53 acre farm, roughly 20 was in corn and soybeans until two years ago when my wife and I bought it from my dad. My dream is to restore the soil through permaculture methods which would include rotational grazing ruminants. One neighbor who is also a friend has around 50 head of black angus cattle and years of experience. He grain feeds them and uses chemical dewormers but is against hormones and he is a lifetime farmer and good steward and appears to be interested in permaculture ideas,many of which he lives by. One idea I'm considering pitching to him is to start a small herd of, say, 10 heifers and grassfeed them. The local demand appears to be strong an I could partner with him since I have the time, equipment and money. I have many questions that mostly relate to whether we could use his existing herd to start since they're many generations grainfed and also how to get both his and my pastures up to quality to where they could support a herd on grass only. I read an older thread that was helpful but am hoping your ideas could help me think this through more. Thanks in advance.
Lots of good insight and advice here. Thanks for starting this thread Betty. I agree with Tracy; in re-reading your initial question it seems you have been looking for a LGD. You want a dog to protect your animals. If you want to maximize the chances for getting a real good LGD you might want to get one from a breeder. My guess is that you have been surfing the rescue dog postings and falling in love with a number of sweet, sentient beings which is what i have done and am still prone to do. My last dog was a 7 month old lab/white shepherd husky etc. mix who I picked up at the shelter--- an impulse "buy"-- We put her down at age 15, she was a wonderful dog but challenging: stole food, wouldn't/couldn't retrieve, not content to be outside alone for more than 5 minutes. She was my best friend.
You already have an animal community with needs that are more specific and less flexible. Ideally, you probably want some kind of Great Pyrenees, already living with the kind of animals you have. The closer you get to that the better.
I've read quite a few permaculture books but haven't come across a real in depth one that gets into the geology, physics etc. of earthworks. it seems like key line concepts are at the core of swale, pond and water capturing but i still get confused and sometimes skeptical that many postings appear a bit under-informed-- which i can relate to as i have tried so many experiments that have not worked out or have required lots of adjusting! Anyone have a favorite book they refer back to frequently?
thank you Bryant. I think everyone who eats meat should at least kill and butcher animals enough to come to some kind of deeper awareness of how they are depending on other animals to sustain them. Vegetarians who eat dairy should also kill and butcher male calves/kids of the milk and cheese producers.
Food is only one component of our life support system which we "hire out". Because it is so personal and intimate I believe it is essential that we participate in our food system much more and also increase our involvement in other components: transportation, health care, local and regional infrastructure, etc.
Native Americans apparently had a highly functioning web of tribes that were all deeply embedded in their local web of life. We must turn our attention back to them/you and seek to learn and re-shape our networks and learning processes in their/your direction if we are to survive and thrive.
thank you R. Ranson. I will post what's going on with animals probably next Spring when I get them. We're moving to the farm in two weeks and will be mostly building infrastructure the rest of this year. Since I have more experience/skill building I have a pretty good idea of how to proceed with the early projects: saw milling, bridge building, sheds, some land shaping, etc. The first bridge should be close enough to finished in August so I'll likely upload it on youtube then link to it in the homestead forum: it's a 40' trussed bridge with some different aspects that do-it-yourselfers might find useful.
ok thanks Devin. I do have friends and neighbors that have killed and butchered so I will look to them. R. Ranson, I can just say that for me, I think we should be talking more about our involvement in the life and death process: giving, enhancing life and taking life. Much of my perspective has grown out of what I've taken from native american attitudes and practices toward killing animals which they generally view as a spiritual act to be done with humility, gratitude and respect, including-- as you pointed out-- using as much of the animal's body as possible. Wendell Berry talks about killing animals also and I think advocates a similar approach as the one we have discussed, along with Joel Salatin and others along with billions of people on the planet who live a land-based life and don't have the option of buying fancy foods that are certified organic. At the same time, I don't feel comfortable debating the topic and think that if someone is adamant about not killing animals I'm not that inclined to argue my point of view: it's very personal and my main advice to anyone who broaches the subject of taking life is to pay attention and do what you think is right and ethical. I know from the 70s that when we try and maintain the posture that we will not kill and because we "own" that turf we are somehow more evolved, that position is ultimately untenable and most who attempted to occupy it eventually gave it up, often resulting in giving up many other ideals that supported counterculture principles, in other words, many just gave up on the counterculture movement and re-entered mainstream culture in the 80s (as we would say at the time "So and so got a 'straight job' or 'sold out'". At this point I think given the condition of our planet and our collective human activity it becomes more and more important that we avoid giving up and "selling out" and one important buffer to that is to talk about and think about what we're doing. Bottom line for me now is that if I'm eating meat I should be more involved in the killing and butchering of the animals I'm eating so I know what my impact is and so I'm not hiring out the unpleasant stuff. It's a weakness of our American culture: we hire out way too much.
R. Ranson, thank you so much for your long account. You addressed issues that are very important to me. I was vegetarian for years in the 70s, then started eating meat because of health reasons: I was doing hard physical labor and couldn't keep my weight up. My physical/metabolic limitations continue (although I'm in very good health) and now at 64 I'm moving to our farm and want to stop buying store bought meat and take responsibility for killing the animals I eat by raising, killing and butchering and also some hunting. I am not excited about this but rather see it as an ethical challenge to understand and participate in the life and death cycle that sustains me in my current form. I believe my attention to the process also has further implications in our overall interaction with the world which includes buying tools, clothes, fuel, equipment from corporate dominated production and supply chains that are built on slave and exploited labor across the world. The same goes for my tax dollars which fund global dominance but the food aspect is most personal and I believe I can and should step up and do much more.
Thank you again for your insight and for having made the effort to kill and eat with respect. I will work on following your example.
thank you for both of your posts, very relevant and informative. I'm thinking of a small herd/group of, say, 6 to 10 meat goats, browsing up to 10 acres from Spring through fall, then butchering them in late fall. At that point I hope I would want to continue raising and caring for goats. My neighbor is a cattle man and I could probably include 2 or 3 cows in the same paddocks. I had been thinking about using machinery to clear the brush to open the areas up for grass and cattle but am trying to go with biological actions over mechanical/fossil fuel intensive ones. Since I have no experience with animals other than dogs and cats it would be a challenge for sure: food, water, parasites, predators, etc. and learning how to manage moveable paddocks. My neighbor knows lots about cattle and is very helpful but I would be pretty much on my own with goats. I think they would like the brush on our land though.
We are moving back to our 53 acre family farm in 3 weeks; a little over half of it is hardwood forest white oak, black and red oak, walnut, cherry, hickory in that order, lots of browse including autumn olive, honeysuckle, blackberry, poison ivy, etc. We're in central illinois. I'm thinking about getting a herd of goats next year to mob browse the brushy edge of the forest. I would set up electric fence and put water tanks on a trailer. I'd appreciate any advice and stories that could help me visualize how it would be, including info on minimizing or eliminating use of chemical de-wormers/parasite prevention, etc. also how to deal with predators, lots of coyotes here.
fascinating! Thanks for posting. Can you talk more about your compost cycle? What goes into it, etc. and your longer term plan for feeding chickens on compost. I'm guessing you are building on the example of the guy in Vermont/New Hampshire who is doing that on a large scale. We have 20 acres of ground that was commercially farmed for years. We let it sit last year (a 6 acre section sat for 2 seasons) then tilled it up and planted a pasture/hay grass mix last week. I don't think it will grow well yet and want to eventually use cattle, goats and maybe chickens to mob graze over it. The kicker with chickens is adding feed since they're not grass grazers so what you're doing sounds like a missing and essential link.
I just posted a reply on another thread earlier today so some of what i say here is repeating what i said there: I build two vertical feed rocket mass heaters and was not getting enough btus to heat my 34x30' shop so i built a batch rmh and love it. it will take a 36 in. log about 7 in diameter, about 30lbs of wood at a time. This is my 3rd heating season with it. Here's a link to the video i did in March 2013, almost a couple of years ago.
i have a rocket mass heater in my shop which is 34' x 30', 8.5' ceilings. After building two traditional top feed heaters I built the current one which is a batch, side loading. It still has all the structural designs from Ianto Evans' book, 8" flue, barrel, etc. but the firebox is big enough to burn long pieces of wood totaling around 30lbs at a time. The firebox measures 12 in. x 12 in. x 38 in. the door is 9 in. diameter and I often load logs 36 in long by 6 in. diameter. The box is firebrick with vermiculite, all encased in cob. The heat riser is stainless steel double wall pipe from Menards, $100 2.5 years ago. I'm in my 3rd season and it is truly the best heater I've ever had! It puts out lots of heat for long periods on not much wood. The cheap thermometer on top of the barrel shows it runs at around 700F sometimes goes over 1000F but doesn't stay there more than 5-7 min.
I would make two important changes: I used 1/2 inch rebar as beams to carry the firebrick on the ceiling of the firebox. As you know since you're a welder, rebar will lose strength as it gets hotter. I'm in my 3rd season and the "beams" are starting to sag a little. I'm watching them and don't think they will fail this winter but I'm going to tear the firebox apart this summer and build a new one with a barrel vault shape. since i'm at it i'll probably add a glass ceramic window. The second is the riser: i plan on using splits for the riser since they should last longer and the fact that they are thinner will allow them to heat up faster than regular firebrick.
I have an old video on youtube you can watch that shows the stove; my camera broke but i'm going to get someone to help me do one more this winter before i tear it out. I'll go through it in more detail. good luck with your build.
Sam, if i understand your post you think that underground/earth bermed structures are harder to fix than above ground/non earth bermed structures. i agree. I met Mike Oehler in 1981 or 2 at a summer gathering outside Rapid City S.D. He was one of many people peddling their books, crafts, etc. at the AIM (American Indian Movement) sponsored week. I remember pickup trucks running on alcohol, lots of solar workshops and books, good music including Jackson Browne and Bonnie Rait. Oehler was barefoot and wild even compared with the rest of us who were living on the fringes. He also came across as honest, unassuming, very self-confident and he challenged people to get out and "do it". However, his structure was almost completely his own with little to no input from others and he did appear a bit defensive when people challenged him about how he built underground (back then he called his house an underground house). Nothing gets my attention and respect like someone who tries and shares with others, especially if they include the mistakes! I think the process of sharing information through websites like this one will accelerate our learning. Doing what he did, then writing a book on it and then defending it seemed like skipping important steps in the learning process which should include learning from others and talking about the failures as well as successes. So I am glad to see Oehler's work cited and incorporated into this group. Having said that I am hesitant to build underground in central Illinois mostly because of the heavy clay and termites on our land. I do plan on building some out buildings and a bermed greenhouse using EPDM. I'll keep you all posted on my projects.
Don't forget the people who are working on underground/bermed structures on Paul's land are in Montana which is drier than where most of us live and has no termites.
We're in central Illinois, also chigger country. Last Spring (2014) I bought a 10 lb. bag of "feed grade" sulfur powder and used it this season. I'm cautiously optimistic, I did get bit but I think the times I got bit most were when I either didn't use the sulfur or was lax about applying it. I found the best technique was to put some in a sock and swing/hit myself all over with it, carrying the sock around my belt also in order to re-apply. I'm going to stay with sulfur next year and be more disciplined about using/carrying it along with the other known practices including showers when I come in, pants tucked in, long sleeves, etc.
one option might be mushrooms. If you have boggy land you could try getting some spawn and "planting" some inoculated sticks and you'd have a swamp full of shitakes or some kind of shrooms that need moisture to help them digest their food. If the regulator people don't like it you could just pull up the sticks.
i've been camping off and on all spring and summer in our woods in central ilinois and am thinking of putting up a strawbale shack to winter in, maybe 14' x 14' inside dimensions. i'd appreciate any tips. i'd put a window and door, dirt floor, maybe cocrete block foundation and metal roof.
I would toenail through the 2x4s from the inside Edwin. That should work fine since, as you said, the pressure of the earth once you get it backfilled will secure the sheathing. I would secure it though because the sheathing might get some horizontal forces working on it so I wouldn't just count on the earth. Best of luck on your project. Keep us posted on your progress.
My thanks to your comments and advice. I think all of us who endeavor to build with more natural materials encounter issues that challenge our plans and eventually, our structure. Your thoughts are helping me to ponder more before building in hopes of experiencing fewer failures and "do-overs" after I start. Keep talking.
I'm old to building but new to use of cob and wonder about how it bonds and works with wood. Could a post and beam structure be built with temporary angle braces and then infilled with cob to maintain stiffness and prevent racking? I'm skeptical about using these two materials together-- I live in Illinois which has lots of changes in temperature and moisture (rain, snow, high humidity, occasional droughts) and I think cob and wood react differently. Please let me know your experience. thank you
We have some fairly steep grades on our land and need to build roads/paths down them. I plan to use culverts at regular intervals with hugels and catchment dams but i'm wondering if i could also stretch the catchment areas out like a little swales below each area where the culverts pour the water out?
I'm thinking of building a pole barn too so your question caught my eye. I'm in zone 5b so insulation is important, the possiblity of using some kind of earth berm system like Oehler's psp, strawbale, clay slip are the main ones I've looked at. If I do build a good size one (40 x 30) i'll probably go with putting the posts on concrete pads, siding with green oak and doing a straw-clay slip insulation, then terracing into the hill to hold the hill since it's into a hill. I am still intrigued with the psp system and have been since i met oehler in 1982 but i mostly worry about termites so i might build a small, say, 15 x 15 structure and bury it to see how it holds up.
What are you using the pole barn for? What zone are you in? rainfall? what kind of roof?