I guess I'll be the voice of dissent :) My previous house had, if I remember correctly, 6 skylights. My parent's house, which my father built himself in 1982 has a large skylight in the upstairs bathroom. It has never leaked, and neither did any of mine. Skylights let in a tremendous amount of light, even on well moonlit nights. On nights with any moonlight, I could easily walk around my house without turning on any lights.
In one sense, no penetrations into the roof makes sense. I would say that no penetrations anywhere would make the house far more efficient. The problem of course being that you could never leave (or enter)... Everything is a tradeoff. My personal, and granted, pretty minimal, experience is that well installed skylights do not leak and have some very nice benefits.
My lady was driving down the road about a week and a half ago and sees a cat sitting in the middle of the road. Being her, she stopped and went over to see if it was okay. The cat didn't even move as she walked towards it. She could see that it's ear was kind of torn up, it was missing clumps of fur, and one ear was very disfigured from some long ago injury. My lady, still being her, picked the cat up, with no protest from the cat at all, loaded in the car, and drove to the nearest house to see if it belonged to them. We live in a very rural area and houses are not close together. Well, the people didn't know whose cat it was, so home to our house it came. We looked the cat over and it was a little scuffed and beat up, but nothing that seemed painful or life-threatening, so we gave it some food, made up a bed in the garage so our other twelve cats couldn't harass the little guy, and put him to bed.
Next day, my lady calls the nearest shelter and tells them the story. They put the cat's picture on their Facebook page, and lo and behold, someone calls and says it's her cat. The shelter gave her my lady's phone number, and the story goes like this: She didn't have a place to live that she could keep the cat, and wouldn't until January, so she found some people that said they would watch it for her until then. When she saw her cat on Facebook, she called the people that were supposed to be watching the cat, and they said they were sick of watching it and threw it out the car window and abandoned it. My lady asked if she had anyone that could keep it for her until she had a place, and her answer was no, the people that had it were the only ones she could find. My lady told her she was taking the cat to the vet to be checked out, get it wormed and meds for it's ear or whatever it needed. If she wanted to pay the vet bill, we would keep the cat for her until January. Predictably, she didn't want to do that, so we have another cat. She wouldn't say who the people were that threw the cat out on the road to die, so that saved me a charge for battery. The vet said the cat is going to be just fine, and he is a super friendly little guy, especially considering how he has been treated. He is fitting in just fine.
Animals need love far more than they need space, within reason. As long as the cat gets time to be outside too, it will be fine.
This isn't an anti-cat post, we have 13 ourselves with the new one we just got because some giant steaming heap of shit threw it out of a car window onto the road to be killed. I'm just curious, why a cat rather than a dog? As I said, we have both, but I find dogs to be far better traveling and adventure companions. Both can, of course, be great company and great friends, just curious why you want to go cat instead of dog?
I have been rear-ended on my motorcycle six times. Five times I walked away without a single scratch or bruise. In two of those cases, the motorcycle was totaled. In one of those, it was broken entirely in half when the car that hit me smashed me into the van in front of me.
One time I was riding motorcycle through Eisenhower tunnel and saw a naked guy driving through... I may have made that one up.
The general rule of thumb is one square foot of ventilation per bird, but as others have said, there are variables. The way I figure my ventilation is, the absolute most I can have without any drafts at all on the roosting area. I use a woods fresh air coop and a large part of the reason I built that type of coop is for the very large amount of ventilation it provides.
John Suavecito wrote:Today I did the experiment I've been wanting to. When I needed to add new wood, I didn't take off the lid and the chimney. I didn't add a lot of wood all at one time. I just leaned one side up enough to slide one piece of wood in and then shut it. It didn't shut down the fire. It smoked only a little bit and kept burning, then caught back up to its roaring pace. When it caught up to its roaring pace again, I quickly slid in another piece and let it recover. It worked so much better! This was what I was hoping for.
Until one of you really smart science people tells me otherwise, here is my interpretation: when I take the whole lid off and add a bunch of wood, it is no longer TLUD. The fire either totally or almost completely goes out. The fire is only in the lower part of the barrel. TLUD is efficient because the updraft limits the air and it goes straight up. The TLUD fire flows very efficiently, but when I do the major wood add, it shuts it down. It would burn efficiently for the whole burn if I just loaded it up the first time, got the fire going, and kept the lid on until the end. Unfortunately, I need more char for my systems than that, so I need to add more than the first loading. I am now convinced that I will need to follow this procedure in the future.
While I was doing the experiment today, it occurred to me that the careful measuring of the amount of wood on the fire is important in other biochar systems. If I recall correctly from you all, in both the kon-tiki style burns and the trench method, one is careful about how much wood to place on the burn at a time. There may be some kind of a physics thing going on there.
John, I had the same type of issues when I used TLUD with a chimney. I got to the point I just never added new wood, but, like you, I need bigger batches. When I tested the method I talked about in another thread with a tilted barrel and no chimney, all my issues were solved. You still need to load wood somewhat slowly. If you load a bunch at once, it will start smoking. It isn't really an issue though, because you aren't moving the chimney on and off, so can add wood easily. Once the barrel gets full to the point you can't add anymore while it is tilted, you can just stand the barrel up and keep adding wood until it is entirely full. By time you stand it up, the barrel is full enough that the fire keeps burning well while completely upright. I'm getting very clean burns this way. Just another possible thing to try while you are experimenting.
Saana Jalimauchi wrote:Trace, thank you! I have lately been reading about the chickens not needing actual heating in winter -stuff.. I got scared of the possible fire hazards the heating of the coop might bring. Are you using the KNF deep litter method with the specific inoculants?
Do you have any pictures of your coop in Permies? It would be really nice to see your setup!
I never use heat in my coops, fire hazards being one reason. There are other reasons as well. Any time a system is made more complex, there is more chance for failure. Suppose I kept my chicken coop at 35 F, just above freezing. My chicken will be acclimated to that. So, one night comes along that is bitter cold -40 F, and my power goes out, and with it, the heat to my coop. Will my chickens survive? I really don't know. My gut feeling is that even if they do, they will be miserable, never having acclimated to those temperatures. Another reason for not heating is that it's just isn't necessary. Now that I have a coop with proper ventilation and no drafts, my chickens thrive in any temperature.
I am not using any inoculants in my coop. I don't really understand how to use inoculants and at the same time keep the coop completely dry. It seems like for them to work, I would need to keep the coop damp, and I definitely don't want that.
I'm not sure if I have any pictures of my coop. I'll try to remember to take some. This is a picture I found online of a coop of the same style. Mine looks very similar but has boards on the outside rather than painted siding like this one has.
I love everyone's answers so far. I would add that I think the most important thing to have is a real, deep-felt, to-the-bone desire to live the homestead life. If you have that, you will figure out how to make the rest work with whatever limitations you have. Without it, all the tools in the world won't get you there. Homesteading isn't an easy way of life and sacrifices will be made to do it. I don't think it's something that should be decided on a whim, or from some romantic idea of how it will work.
As far as a list of more tangible items,
A good source of water
At least one good reliable dog, and more is better. If I had nothing else on the list, I would want to have a dog.
The same type of tools most anyone that owns a house needs
Saana Jalimauchi wrote:Kaarina, so sorry for your loss. I have been following your journey with the chickens and everything here on Permies, thank you for posting great content!
We still have a plan to get chickens next spring.. I stopped researching the KNF method for now, it seems like it wouldn’t work in our climate. Some parts of it might come handy though.. We’ll see.
As for letting the chickens free range - I don’t think it would work at our place either (forest in Etelä-Savo). The previous owner had chickens and the runs were covered with nets. But I’m hoping that I could arrange supervised free ranging time (and super secretly I’m hoping to train the chickens to follow me for an adventure to the forest to eat bilberries and stuff ).
Saana, I'm in a climate with very cold winters. -28C happens ever year, we had two nights a couple years ago -40C. I use the deep litter method along with a Woods Open Air Coop and have excellent results. I would never use another type of coop given a choice. My coop is uninsulated and the front stays open all winter. I have far less issues with frostbite than I did with an insulated coop. The secret for happy chickens for me is two things in winter. The coop needs to stay completely bone-dry in the winter, and the chickens need to be completely protected from drafts.
I'm personally of the opinion that every time a human thinks they can improve on nature, they mess it up. I'm a very big fan of leaving as much land as possible alone to it's own devices. I have 80 acres of land. I'm developing a food forest on an acre or maybe a little more, and have another acre-ish split up into different gardens. My house and other building may use an acre or so. The rest I try very hard to leave alone. I do cut downed trees for my wood stoves and I have walking paths around my property, but other than that, it is undisturbed. When I walk around the land through the various seasons, I'm in awe of the way nature has handled the changes, the various microclimates, the different types of soil and vegetation. I, in no way, think I could improve upon it.
My opinion is different regarding land that as already been ruined, or nearly so, by previous humans. In that case, I believe everything that can be done to restore it, should be.
I have a Central Asian Shepherd that I adore. She lives with my other dogs, 12 cats, 40ish chickens, and gets along well with all of them. LGDs have near zero prey drive, so you shouldn't have any trouble getting them to accept your chickens as family.
I've had SO many different kinds of chickens, and over and over, I go back to Easter Eggers. I really love that breed. I had a mixed flock of 40ish chickens and as I lose them, the vast majority will be replaced with Easter Eggers. I can't help but keep trying new chickens because I love meeting new breeds, but Easters Eggers will always be the backbone of my flock.
Ando McFin wrote:It’s been a little while since I’ve updated my progress mostly because it’s been slow and steady progress prepping the space for the exciting work of wall building!
I have drilled holes in the existing slab to insert rebar to help tie the cement stem wall to the existing floor. I’ve poured almost all of those stem walls by now most of which will be at final floor level so they will be mostly hidden in the interior.
It was decided that the floor was probably poured sloping towards the back and did not sink like I originally thought. The reason may be because it was an animal barn originally so for easier cleaning/spraying out they probably poured it at an angle.
Do you have pictures, or more details about the way you created this? It's beautiful. It looks like it may just be urbanite and mortar that you built using slipforms?
paul wheaton wrote:I got an email showing a new charge on my card. I called the card company minutes later to say "that wasn't me." So my card is destroyed and I am assured that the charge is removed.
This morning I woke up to a new email to say that my "request" to have the charges reversed was denied because it is actually a debit card. Since the amount "charged" was less than my balance, that proves that the person doing the charge knew that that amount was available - thus the only person that could do it is me.
Every day seems to have little challenges like this. Little charges, big charges ... human beings behaving very poorly so they can harvest a few more dollars. The list is ridiculously huge. Compound it all with inflation stuff.
My guess is that this shit, and similar shit is flooding everybody. Each decade the crime gets a buffet of new twists.
What is the solution? How can there be decency and peace? I have a long list of ideas, but the #1 thing my brain keeps coming back to is gertitude.
I would ask to speak to someone else and I would call and write letters until they agreed to take care of this. That policy is absurd. I would also change banks as soon as a) they made it right, or b) I exhausted myself trying to get it resolved.
I think the solution is one that is being forced upon us. I see a return to gardens, raising animals, bartering, and people doing all they can to only interact inside their own small communities. You know, permaculture.
Trace Oswald wrote:I think the idea of someone casing your place and planning a heist are pretty much fantasy unless you are a high profile candidate and then I would question whether you would be on permies
Hahaha! Most of my adult life has been in a "big city" until very recently. Personally, I'm still stuck in this mentality.
I understand, believe me. I moved back to a very rural area after living in very large cities for 25ish years.
Stephen B. Thomas wrote:Thieves suck, but someone whose family is going hungry is going to do what they need to do. I consider it an eventuality that one will cross my path.
I have had people steal things from me before, but of the ones that have been caught, none were stealing to feed their families. The thieves I have had experience with over many years all stole because they wanted a quick easy way to make a buck. They generally steal something that is quick and easy to sell, electronics, guns, things like that. That said, most thieves, again, my experience only, are too lazy to go to a lot of trouble to steal. They steal what is easily visible, easy to grab, and quick to get away with. Just making it harder is most often enough. As has been said already, keeping valuables out of sight is a great first step. Large thing like vehicles are made much harder to steal if you do something like add a small toggle switch under the dash or somewhere that, when flipped, cuts power to the starter. In the house or yard, big dogs are almost always enough of a deterrent to make a thief go elsewhere unless two things are true. They know you won't be home for some amount of time, and they know there is something very valuable inside. Those two things may make breaking in and killing your dogs worthwhile.
Anne mentioned good basic rules that anyone with valuables should follow if they would like to keep them. The uninviting thread mentions more. Few people will try to steal from you if they have to drive up a curving quarter mile driveway through woods, as is my case. Fewer still will do it if you have signs up that deter them. Why would they when right down the road there is another house that's easier?
I think the idea of someone casing your place and planning a heist are pretty much fantasy unless you are a high profile candidate and then I would question whether you would be on permies
Brain Shaw wrote:
Living in some kind of mutual aid community might be the only answer if things get much worse in the US (ie 2020 riots gone rural, which those people have threatened to do next time, and already did in some places) -
I don't know what places you are referring to, but rioters going rural would be the height of foolishness here and would be immediately met with overwhelming firepower by people that hunt as a way of life. It would be the shortest riot in history.
I planted hundreds of osage orange trees in zone 4b in April 2020. They were about 6" tall when I planted them. Now the biggest are about 10" tall. I figure they are growing between 1" and 2" a year, so at this rate, I shouldn't be dead more than 150 years by time they would make good fence posts. On the other hand, I have black locust I have planted that grew several feet a year. That makes it a pretty easy choice where I am. Add to that the fact that black locust seem to grow much straighter than osage orange, so for fence, they would work much better. That has been my experience here, in this zone. Somewhere warmer, I have a feeling I would have had very different results.
Matt McSpadden wrote:Hi,
We have am inside/outside cat who is a good hunter. In fact, over 3 days, I found a half eaten rat, about a 1/3 of a chipmunk, an un-eaten mouse, and a few feathers from some small bird. So clearly, he is being successful. He comes in the house as if he is starving, and begging for food, so we feed him, but then he doesn't finish the carcasses and leaves them laying around where they attract flies if I don't take care of them.
Is it normal for cats to leave their leftovers around? Can I feed him less inside? to incentivize him to eat the whole thing outside?
We have 12 cats that are excellent hunters, far too good sometimes. They kill everything. They also leave carcasses everywhere, that's just what they do. Ours still act like they are starving for cat food. All of them are skinny, some super skinny. I guess if we starved them down even more they would eat more of the dead animals but I think it's cruel when people expect them to just figure out how to survive on what they get themselves. My own belief is that if you have an animal, you are responsible for keeping it healthy and happy. It sounds like you are doing the right thing to me. I just throw the leftover carcass chunks in the compost pile if no one eat them.
I currently have signs that say "livestock guard dogs on duty" and "do not leave vehicle without escort". "Rabid dog quarantine area - do not approach" is another good one, as is "chemical testing area".
I'm curious, did they turn to charcoal as easily as wood or bone? I've found that bone turns to charcoal much more readily than wood does, for whatever reason. I'm curious how well the shells charred? As an aside to that, with no actual evidence, I think using them either in their natural form or as charcoal is a great idea. I'm pretty much from the school of thought that all organic matter added to the soil is probably beneficial.
I personally believe there is "the truth". I also strongly believe that it is very hard to know what the truth is. Many times in my life I thought I knew something as an absolute fact, only to later find out there was a lot to it I didn't understand or I was just wrong. The older I get, the less things are black and white to me and the more things are shades of gray. Any time I think I'm sure I'm right, and the other person is wrong, I try to think back to all the times I thought that before. It doesn't always work, but it works more often than not.
Bryan Elliott wrote:Mart,
You mentioned the contents of the barrel are staying at 80 degrees. What part of the world is this experiment taking place at?
This is in Florida..
1) this is the hottest part of the year temps reach around 95 + this time of year so this temp is not bad.
2) for me to have the thermometer in the barrel there is a small gap with the lid so it is not properly sealed.
3) there is only 3 inches of sand on top of this. I am planning to go 1 foot deeper with this, which means I will need to do more planning on how I will get my food out of the barrel ;-)
If I were doing this, I would dig the hole as deep as possible, hopefully at least 3 feet deeper than the top of the barrel. After I put the lid on the barrel and a trash bag over it, rather than covering with sand or soil, I would put a trash bag, or bags, full of leaves or something like that for insulation. If you had small loops of rope tied around your bags of food, you could reach in and pull them out with a broom handle or the like that had a metal hook screwed into the end.
If digging that deep is too hard, you could build some sort of enclosure around the barrel above the surface and fill that with the leaf bags.
Almond Thompson wrote:Unpopular opinion (maybe) but I feel children's books are a hugely understated artist's resource. Much talent goes overlooked because they're not "classically known". I have learned SO much studying illustrations in picture books, usually vintage ones.
William Joyce; Adam Rex; Mark Teague; Trina Schart Hyman; Gennady Spirin; Jim Arnosky; K. V. Craft; Mary Cicely Barker; Gordon Laite; Wende Devlin; Adrienne Adams; Tasha Tudor; Richard Scarry; Glo Fujikawa (I can keep going haha)
The original illustrations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz evoke emotions in me that I can't describe. I find them every bit as moving as any painting I have seen. I could stare at them for hours. They are so simple and so profound.
I'm very glad to see they are back. I may have missed it, but I didn't see that they are microchipped? I would do that first thing. At least if someone does take them and you happen across them, or one of your neighbors does, you can prove they are yours to get them back.
I used the Jenkins bucket method for a couple years and had no issues. It just smelled like sawdust. I only used one bucket with no separation. As R Scott mentioned though gets pretty heavy if you wait until it is nearly full. If you just get in the habit of emptying it more often, it's fine.
I really like them. They are quiet, peaceful, basically fearless animals and I do all I can to avoid hurting them. That said, I've been to the emergency room twice with my dogs to get quills removed, and two other times I was able to remove the quills myself. I can't risk my dogs no matter how much I like the porcupines. I feel for you.
I think you will have two major issues, the first being the largest by far. That problem will be digging a hole in the ground in the Phoenix area. Caliche is basically cement to dig through. That's the reason houses in Phoenix don't have basements. The second is keeping it from flooding during monsoon season. I'm sure you can find a way around that issue if you can figure out how to dig a hole there to begin with.