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Marjorie Vogel

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since May 04, 2018
North Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 3B
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Recent posts by Marjorie Vogel

Janet Reed wrote:would you take a pic of that Korean grill for me?  And your stove of course...I’d like to see the grill!

My mom was from waaaaaay North Canada...where are you?



I'm on the Montreal River,  NW of Lake Temiskaming. There's certainly farther North than me, but I'm 6 hrs north of Toronto, Ontario.

Pics as requested...and I apologize for the mess...we just harvested goats and I'm in the middle of rendering lard, making stock, boiling water for dishes and of course the requisite pot of coffee is always on!

I couldn't demonstrate the grill, since the stovetop is full, but you see it here in it's two pieces. The ring, catches the cooking fats. It will set in the front hole, right over the flames, when you remove the disc from the stovetop. The grill sets right on top of the ring and has a convex curve to it which guides those fats to the drip ring. I use tongs to carefully remove it when hot and it's worked well.
Another two things I use to make cooking on the surface more manageable, are a pot diffuser for the coffee pot that's always on, and a metal rack that allows me to keep any pot warming without but ing. I've included a pic of them as well.
1 month ago
Congrats on your new stove! I have the same model as you. The Amish share the plans with their counterparts, therefore it's manufactured under a variety of different names, with slightly different finishes, depending where you buy it. Mine is called a Baker's Choice.
We use ours as our sole heat source and to cook in our tiny home. Unfortunately our water reservoir leaked pretty much from day one because it warped, and although we have repaired it a few times, I finally stopped using it altogether because I couldn't stand the lime scale and ash dust in the water. It's really hard to keep it clean when it's always  hot!
I've learned you want to keep smaller sized pieces of wood readily available to quickly adjust the heat and ensure it doesn't longer. My husband would disagree. He likes to throw in a big log, open the ash door, get the cabin as hot as Hades, and cook in his shirtsleeves(which even then is ridiculously hot). It may be because he is a chef and working in a blazing hot kitchen is an everyday occurrence.  Think a little larger than kindling.
Wood type does matter if you have that luxury, with some woods giving more sustained or quicker heat, but since we live in Northern Canada, we are limited to softwoods for the most part. I do find the coniferous give good quick heat that does off quickly as well. For cooking, I do use the ash door as a major tool to get a better draw and quickly get heat. I've also learned that unless you are using the oven too, keeping the flue damper open is just as effective in getting the stovetop hot but has the added be edit of not radiating as much heat from the whole unit.
I've learned that I can bake just about anything after much experimentation. Temps in the oven is more luck than skill, but somehow my baking always turns out.
I do recommend getting some extra firebrick and laying them on the bottom of your oven to encourage heat to stick around. However, setting cookware right in top of those stones doesn't always work when making something like a cake for example. Use the racks to ensure airflow and avoid crispy crusts.
I also purchased a Korean grill from a thrift store (I think it was the 'as seen on tv' brand, to flame BBQ by removing the disc over the firebox and putting the grill in its place. It fits perfectly and as long as you have a good draw, it will not smoke.
I also have a big 7l kettle that is always full on the stove, humidifying the room and making hot water readily available.
All in all, I am four years in with this stove, using it everyday to heat and cook when the temps fall below 15C, and am finally feeling proficient with it. I love it and an always so happy now when it gets cool enough to fire her up. Who knew I would ever be excited for summer to end?
2 months ago
Congrats on your move! You are going in the right direction and it will take time to get there!
It sounds like you have figured out your food so now,
prioritize your heat source. A generator and electric heater will annoy you with noise, eat your funds in gas $$ and I'm sure you didn't intend to pollute so much as a generator will. That should be your last resort for heat.
You have a stove now, so identify and fix the issue. Burning a stove efficiently is a skill and it will take learning and practice. Inefficient burning is dangerous, costly and pollutes more than you likely want.
A taller chimney will create better draft. Make sure you are burning dry wood and your flue is not blocked.  It should be cleaned regularly, and more frequently if your wood isn't seasoned or is wet. Don't try and burn too large a piece of wood unless you have a really good bed of coals. Crack a window  when starting your stove and let it get really hot to start the chimney drafting. Damp your stove down when you've got those coals and logs burning well, this conserving wood and managing the heat.  Let it burn really hot for 10 mins a day to keep the flue cleaner. Empty ash clean-out regularly.
As others have said, consider a rocket mass heater for your future or if your stove is not a high efficient stove, plan to sometime upgrade. Saving wood saves money and reduces polluting emissions.
2 months ago
I would absolutely use your brambles in the compost heap but it would be pretty prickly for cover in your composting toilet. No matter how hard you try you will end up with cover falling out of your scoop before it makes it into the bucket.
I would suggest shredding or chipping them. I have a wood chipper which I admit, is overkill for brambles (I know because we are awash in wild raspberry brambles), but you could get away with using a weedwacker in a metal garbage can as a shredder. It works great.
We've been doing the bucket method of Humanure composting for 4 years. I have evolved my processes sometimes, always going back to Jenkins Humanure book because he really worked it all out with his family's 30 years of practice. Why reinvent the wheel?
My only upgrade I want to somehow make is to include a way to rotate the bucket in the toilet receptacle without it having it be such a hands on process (I'm pondering a lazy susan idea). The reason is, no one but me seems to rotate it and so the biggest contributions to the bucket end up at the back. The bucket becomes 'full' when it's really not. Plus, a male urinating on the pile uncovers that large pile too readily, causing odour and need for extra cover material.
2 months ago
I too have experienced a lack of follow through.
So many have been interested and I've extended the same offer,  come check out our homestead, stay a few days or more in a tent or our trailer in exchange for a few hours help with chores or a project. We are 6 hrs from a major city and 45 mins from a fair sized town.
I detailed exactly what type of homestead we have so there were no shocks, and let them know to bring their own food that they could cook and cleanup after themselves in a tented outdoor kitchen.
I've had 2 take us up on that offer to date (4 years since we first offered). Both couples were, in my opinion, unprepared for this life at their current juncture. I hope they left with an eye opening experience as well as a continued drive to live this way. It's a great life. As for the return, there wasn't much help they could provide given their inexperience.
I've given up offering. It's too much effort. It's sad though because I would have loved the experience myself but also didn't know how to find it.
2 months ago
I'm so sad to always be digging up something everytime I put my shovel in the ground. We are homesteading an 80 acre, former hunt property in the NE Ontario bush, that was unused for about 15 years. Clearly there was no plan for garbage disposal and it feels like previous owners threw garbage wherever they felt. We've turned up an amazing amount of old glass, metal and some plastic in the most unlikely places.

Only once so far have I dug up something of interest. I put my shovel in the ground on our creek bed hillside to plant rhubarb and hit a pickaxe head. A handy tool to have at least.
2 months ago
We've done the closed barrel humanure compost for 2 years and just moved to open compost bins this past fall. I thought it was great! It didn't smell and didn't attract animals or our dogs.

Our barrel set up used 55 gallon plastic olive barrels. We located them in an area  200' from our cabin.

We prepared the area by, 1) flattening the land and clearing out underbrush, 2) ensuring the barrels were in a spot that got some sun and shade, 3) preparing an easy path to them, wide enough for a wheelbarrow and able to be easily cleared of snow in the winter. Prepared enough space for 24 barrels, assuming filling one per month on average(family of 2 with frequent visitors) and allowing then to sit a full year. 4) we made a leeching base for each barrel with 12" of leaves, hay, straw, grass clippings and wood chips. 5) we made sure we had an area we could get shovels full of top soil to add to the barrels as we went along. 6) we dedicated a little covered shelter to keep extra clippings/leaves/hay dry while it also acted as a catchment for rainwater. 7) we set up a rain barrel for water to wash out buckets I'm the warm months and in the winter we cleaned ok it with snow. 8) we dedicated a garden fork, shovel, gloves and toilet brush to be kept at the site for humanure use only to ensure cleanliness.

Preparing the Barrels. 1) We drilled holes in the bottom, 2) almost all barrels had a screw top. We saved those for when we capped them and while a barrel was being filled we had a metal window screening over the opening with a bungee cord holding it taught and then placed a small piece of tin and a large rock to hold it from blowing off and kept the rain and snow out.
3) place a 2" layer of soil in the bottom to start

Using the system
1) empty buckets into the barrel 2) wash the toilet buckets out with some water and the toilet brush and pour that water into barrel. 3) cover with a few handfuls of dry leaves/hay/clippings and a thin layer of topsoil(this adds microbes to your compost and reduces smell...make sure it's soil, not sand or clay). 4) you can and should include humanure, urine and anything you would normally compost including animal scraps and bones(we farm meat animals for personal use and compost the entrails after harvesting) I have heard of people composting sanitary napkins in this way too and just picking out the plastics after it's all done. I am sure this would work, but it wasn't a need for us. 5) when the barrel is full, cap with a solid, tight fitting lid . Label each full barrel with month and year so you know when it is ready. We used spray paint pens. Sharpies wear off after a few months.

Tips/Observations
1) 24 barrels takes up alot of space and looks rather unsightly. This is the main reason we went to large bins. 2) after a full year, the barrels were about 1/2 to 1/3 full of beautiful, black compost. The only things that didn't break down after that time were some onion skins and some eggshells. We no longer compost eggshells and use them for other things. 3) a barrel is tall when lifting a full bucket. I dug a few a foot into the ground which worked for filling but was horrible for emptying. Plus they got covered in deep snow over winter and I would say took longer to thaw out and get working again. I kept a milk crate nearby to stand on as my ultimate solution.  4) you won't have soil to cover each deposit in winter. Leaves, etc work fine and since it all freezes, there is no real odour. In the spring I did reopen those I had capped in winter and added a few shovels of soil and then closed up again. 5) make sure you prepare your barrels and site all together at first and clear it of snow as winter progresses. Nothing sucks more than trying to setup barrels on snow and then when the snow melts having the barrels topple over. 6) make sure you have enough barrels!
9 months ago
I live in the bush, in black bear country and keep bees on the top of a shipping container as suggested by a previous postee. Of course, nearby trees have been removed and it's a constant effort to remind my partner not to park things a bear can climb next to the container, but for us it has so far worked well. We also have one two dogs who "bark" the perimeter of our property several times daily. Bears have little interest in tangling with a dog.
The only additional intervention I have added is to loosely wrap the top 4 feet of the door end of the container with barbed wire in loose coils. If a bear tried to climb using the hinges and pipe handles, it would get entangled theoretically.
9 months ago
I shared this below on your blog as well, but think the topic may have use here too.

Great article! Thank you.
Can you comment on wood types? I had read, and took it as fact, that utilizing large amounts of conifers in one hugelkulture would be a bad idea for soil acidity. Plus, avoid including rot resistant species like Cedar and Tamarack. For us, given we are homesteading in the Boreal Forest, both concepts are a hardship. We’ve built 3 hugelkultures, with minimal conifers included and love them, but their value as a garden would increase greatly if I could increase the ratio of conifers, since that is readily available and a good use for a lot of deadfall I will otherwise need to deal with.

As an aside too, to reduce the anxious waiting for slash pile hugelkultures to be useful, we planted our squash patch on one immediately and let it go wild. We barely watered it through a 4 week drought in July. Had the chickens not found the garden first, we would have had a wonderful harvest in year one already.
1 year ago

Marcie Fenske wrote:We have a large acreage and I have only ever found 2 rocks on the whole place, so that shouldnt be a problem. No, it isnt a matter of demand so much as preferred pump size.



Than that really solidifies it! When you feel you've found the right tool for the job you have to make it work. If you find time I'd love to know what pump you opted for. I wish I could have pointed you somewhere for the sandpoint screen and cap but if you can find a reasonable fabricator you'll be golden. Good luck to you! Update us with your progress...I'm always excited to hear when someone figures out their water solution.
1 year ago