Mike Sved

+ Follow
since Mar 02, 2013
Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Mike Sved

"Cooled and poured into a bucket for distribution."

I used to put my finished char into a plastic pail outside my sauna. Once, while distracted and stupid, I put the char in without cooling it overnight and went back to what I was doing. An hour later my peripheral vision and subconscious mind caught something unusual and it turned out that my sauna was on fire. The bucket of char had heated up and melted a hole through its side allowing the hot char to get oxygen. The char and melting plastic ignited and proceeded to ooze out down the wall and collect at the floor joist where it eventually started to burn under the sauna. This was when I caught it, luckily, because in my above-mentioned distracted stupidity I had placed the bucket of char on top of a 200L plastic barrel of dry wood shavings covered with a plywood lid. The whole scenario could not have been better laid out if I were an arsonist.
Now, I use a metal bucket with tight sealing lid and keep it away from anything that I would be stupid to leave it near. God knows what other stupid things I've gotten away with.
We checked out the Kitchen Queen and watched the Obadiah videos showcasing it but it was just too big for our little yurt. It looked and sounded like a really nice stove. We ended up with an old, abused Waterford Stanley that has been heating our yurt and cooking our food for 5 years now despite its age (35-40yrs) and various long-term injuries. Right now, I'm drinking coffee that perked on the stovetop while breakfast is cooking. I can't imagine a better life than this.
2 days ago
I have at least ten different types of snow shovels that have cost several hundred dollars in total. We live on a private road that doesn't get plowed by the town, so we're on our own to maintain the road. My only neighbours have recently left their homes for the comforts of town so now I'm on my own. When we moved here 5 years ago there were 3 plowtrucks among the neighbours and someone was always able to get the snow cleared. Now there are none. Last year I tried shovelling and realized it's possible. The road from our driveway to the plowed road is about 1500 feet and it took me about 9 hours over 6 days to shovel a recent 10inch snowfall. There's a contractor with a front end loader with big blade that will plow the road for about $100, so I figure I'm earning a very modest wage by doing it myself and staying in shape through the winter. The irony is that we don't even have a vehicle, so we're maintaining the road for visitors.
3 days ago
I must have read this thread 5 years ago because I've been charring in my sauna stove for years. I assumed it was my own idea but I guess not. I started with a cast iron pot with lid but after a few years it was too warped and cracking to keep the lid on and I lost too many batches to full combustion. Last year I acquired a 24" length of 1/4" wall 4" diameter pipe with a welded cap on one end. I fill it with wood shavings (about 15-20liters) and pack it in as tightly as I can with a tamper, then I put it in the sauna stove tucked up against one side. It's just slightly shorter than the firebox so the open end of the pipe sits against the end wall of the firebox with an 1/8" gap. We use our sauna for showers every day and in winter I keep it heated all the time to avoid freezing our shower plumbing. In super cold weather I can get a batch cooked in about 2-3 days, in the heat of summer it's about 2-3 weeks. The 15-20 liters of loose shavings produce about 3-4 liters of dense char, so I probably generate about 150 liters per year. Pretty slow and not a lot, but zero waste. I'd love to produce a mega batch of a cubic yard or two but can't imagine the process required for that.
Belated thanks for the idea!
1 month ago
Thanks for that, Jennifer. I'll endeavour to watch that whenever I get too wrapped up in the artificial world's drama.
5 years ago
Cool. That's a neat magazine. Thanks Cassie.
5 years ago
Hi Jay,

The geological mapping here is not as detailed as in the U.S., so I can't establish anything more specific than 'metasedimentary' for my bedrock. It may have been sandstone, limestone, mudstone, siltstone, etc but it's been cooked and contorted well beyond recognition and is not a candidate for cleaving.

Based on indicator plants, I'm thinking my soil ph is more on the acidic side (blueberries, Labrador Tea, black spruce,etc). I'm not sure if the 'hard water' terminology my neighbour used was technically correct but they were emphatic about their whites coming out of the laundry process looking non-white.

Partly what I find appealing in the Wofati/Oehler style of construction is the drastically reduced exposure of the structure and the resulting protection from the elements. I replaced the shingles on my roof a year ago and made note of the absurdity of placing several thousand dollars worth of material in the direct path of the sun, snow and rain and knowing full well that the clock is ticking the moment it's installed. Having a roof that is self-regenerating soil and plant matter seems so much more sensible.

So, how do you feel about earthbags? Owen Geiger seems to think it's a perfect match for my ineptitude. I'm thinking that a combination of Oehler, Wofati and earthbag could produce something reasonably natural, durable, efficient and frugal.


5 years ago
Hi Jay,

No need to apologize. You seem pretty darned busy on this forum and it doesn't surprise me that you might miss one or two topics.

"Hmmm...looks like some pretty nice...?...lime stone?" - No, it's a very old pressure cooked reiteration of various billion-plus year old sedimentary rocks.

"I see what you mean by shallow soil depth...WOW...that looks sparc, but I bet the water quality is great!" - I hope so, but my neighbour tells me the water is hard.

"As for a wofati of some other earth style build...this may be more of a challenge than it is worth...(not sure yet)??" - Yes, you're probably right. I'm investigating other locations on the property that may be better suited.

"Is there clay on the building site in the amounts to properly cover the size structure this project is calling for?" - There is a lot of nearly pure clay just beneath the humus. That is causing the high/perched water table.

"What other natural/traditional building systems have you considered?" - For simplicity and expediency, we are considering a yurt to get ourselves settled onsite and unencumbered by our home in town (to be sold).

"What is the traditional vernacular architecture of the region?" - A lot of the 'original' homes here arrived by train and were assembled on posts or cribbing. Some of them actually have hinges where the panels unfolded and sprung into shape. Not a very good template for my purposes.

"What type of standing timber do you have?" - Much scraggly black spruce and poplar, with some nice large (8-16") Tamaracks.

"How much land do you have at your disposal to build with and from?" - 26 acres, of which almost half is inaccessible without good rubber boots. The land slopes very gently toward a bog, and during wet months the bog endeavours to expand its empire.

"Will you be doing this yourself?" - My genetics dictate that I stubbornly refuse any help that may expose my ineptitude.

"Is there any heavy equipment available?" - A compact tractor with loader and a large tractor with backhoe attachment.

"Is Radon and issue in the area?" - I can't find any mention of it but have only scoured the web thus far.

I should explain also that we intend to remain untethered to the grid and this entails heating a home with wood. I don't like the idea of annually raping the forest for my comfort, so I want to do as much as possible to limit our heating needs. We are not unwilling to sacrifice extravagance for simplicity and efficiency.

Again, I thank you for your time and effort,

5 years ago

Joshua Chambers wrote: Or perhaps you could use a rock hammer to create holes in the ground to sink the posts and backfill with tamped gravel? It wouldn't have any drainage if you did that but all the posts would be well covered all around by the umbrella.

Either way that would take a looooot of fill dirt to fill the umbrella and then cover it up.

Thanks Joshua,

I don't think the rock would be easy to hammer into. It's several-billion year old metasediments, as far as I know. Regardless, I do agree that backfilling the umbrella might be a monumental undertaking.

Thanks for nudging my thread out of hibernation,

5 years ago
Hi Jay,

I don't know if this photo will give you any better idea of what I'm dealing with. The maximum dimensions of the exposure are about 65' (vertical in the photo) by 25' (horizontal in photo). The high point in the center is about 2-3' higher than the edges where soil meets rock.

Yes, I've followed a lot of your posts but may not be completely comprehending some of the stuff you discuss.


5 years ago