We have foxes, dogs, packs of coyotes, mountain lions and neighbors have bears. The coyotes, skunks and foxes have been our biggest problem. Electric fence net works 99% of the time just great with a 3 Joule charger. In 5 years, we've had a few instances of our entire flock being wiped out by coyotes and foxes. Once they learn the sweet taste of chicken or duck, they keep coming back. The only obvious solution I've found being catching them in the act and shooting the bugger. They make fine compost.
You could pour the oils on a giant pile of newly anerobic wood chips and cardboard (soaked 2-3 weeks in an IBC tote full of water, maybe don't soak the cardboard though). Then (now that it's "sterile") colonize it with oyster mushroom mycelium or turkey tail, or whatever. You should get a helluva crop! They do this for bioremediation of soil, but in this case, it's non-toxic so you could eat them. Mushrooms will eat pretty much anything including rocks!
The general doctrine approach is to fix the soil and water situation first with earthworks, mulch and nitrogen fixers, I'd also suggest adding fungal material. Apples are a understory tree. You'll do better with canopy support species to help them along. I'd look at over-stacking (plant it way too tight) nitrogen fixing trees in and around your apples and other fruit trees. We over-stack the trees so we can pulse nitrogen into the soil via coppicing and pollarding the less-than-perfect nitrogen supporting trees. As those sacrificial trees are removed (really chop and drop in-place), you'll leave a few support trees (think honeylocust, or purple robe). Another added benefit of over-stacking is that the trees will be in competition to grow faster and straighter than without.
I'd also add peas en masse to the soil to give a quick nitrogen pulse and also think about adding nitrogen fixing shrubs.
I've also used Geoff Lawton's recommendation to put cardboard in the planting hole to stimulate mycelium growth. You could also innoculate your wood chips with garden mushrooms. Just do some searching on Paul Stamets. He has a lot of material on this. If you're going to get bees, you'll definitely want to do this. Bees will drink the nectar off of mushrooms which assist their immune systems (which may also be a solution to colony collapse disorder, Yes it's that promising!).
Like others said above. It's best to just start doing like you are. You are going to learn a ton as you go.
I don't think there is any significant difference in thermal mass and storage in a refractory brick versus a regular fired red brick, or even concrete. I expect the difference would be <5% between them. The biggest difference is the refractory brick will survive to 2000F or so, and it's ugly. Lots of mass does wonders in the woodstove surround. If you want to spice it up a bit, you could put some phase change material behind the thermal mass. Phase change material works like a thermal battery, storing energy until it's chemical threshold is reached, then it dumps out the energy very fast. You can make your own if you were a quick study in Chemistry in HS or college. Many put it in PVC pipes, but it's also sold commercially in bubble wrap sheets for green buildings behind drywall. It's very compact for it's energy storage capabilities.
As someone mentioned above, Soapstone has the largest thermal mass capability, but it's expensive.
Unfortunately, I don't think you're going to have much luck with shredded aluminum as insulation. Aluminum itself is a great conductor of electricity and heat. I'm afraid you're going to lose all that heat through conduction. Generally insulation material is manufactured from things that trap lots of air pockets and are insulators themselves like spun glass and paper.
Aluminum is certainly an exciting substance from a chemical reaction standpoint. You could probably think of something there: thermite fire starters for wet logs, etc.
Ok, I live and manage cattle and sheep in dryland Colorado. First thing, baby grass should normally be avoided for grazing. Depending on the grass though, teenage and mature grass should be the target. My experience has been best when grazing a paddock somewhat quickly, then get everything off the ground for sometimes up to a year.
I've had cattle graze standing hay (dormant) almost to the ground in winter (blue gramma - which has great dry protein content). It really didnt look good and we had it come back stronger than ever. You just need to give it a good break.
I would suggest observation of neighbors grazing practices and the result. Also, you can just try it on a small scale until you get it dialed in. In dry climates nitrogen tends to be deficient more times than not. Experiment small scale, observe the results, correct as needed. Animals or combinations of animals intended to be grazed also will vary your plan. Birds following ruminants work really, really well!!
I am familiar with the areas around Corning and Binghamton upstate NY as I am there for work every 2 months. I've also been through a PDC.
There are lots of free apps and data likely already available (investigate that first)
Secondly, you can take a google earth contour and import GPS data like contour lines into that map. So if you have a rotary laser level and a GPS, you can DIY it (worst case).
If you're planning swales, key lines or other earthworks, you can always just use a laser level to do all your work. The most important thing is to find the lowest point on the highest boundary of your property and work from there.
I hope that helps. Let me know if I'm on your way and could be of any assistance.
Bob from Beulah, CO here. I haven't posted here in a few months, but we've been really busy. I've been working on getting our ground prepared for this season, as well as finishing up Geoff Lawton's PDC course. I've also purchased a brand new Yeoman's keyline plow with seeding attachments. So if anyone is looking to do some keyline work or wants to see some in action, PM me. I should have the plow in the ground in the next few weeks.
I'll try to post some pictures up here as I go as well.
So the existing chimney is 4" inner diameter. Is that going to be sufficient to exhaust a 6" system? Or do they make bigger triple wall pipe that will fit in a 7" OD hole. The pipe that's there is 4" ID, and 7" OD.
For the pass-through: a pair of 6" pipes stacked (horizontally or vertically) plus 8" masonry plus 4" air gap will require an approx 30" x a 36" hole on the stacked pipe dimension. Could I use triple wall pipe on the pass-through and make a smaller hole? Or does that not gain me anything as far as a smaller hole in the wall?
I would say what you want to grow will play as much of a difference as the dimensions of the structure. For example, if you're growing Bananas right next to the heater, much of the radiant heat may be caught or shaded by those plants, making plants farther away less warm. Insulation and vapor barrier is probably in order to prevent drafts and cold spots, aside from your intended vents.
You're dealing with several types of heat, conductive, which will logarithmically decline as you increment distance from the RMH, radiant heat, which will heat anything in line-of-site, then convective heat which is heat transported by air.
Though, since it's a greenhouse, you're going to have decent humidity, which is nicely thermally conductive. A thing I learned in cooling data centers is efficient layout is best, but if all else fails, blow air around enough and you get rid of the hot and cold spots. That's not necessarily efficient, but it may help in a pinch.
An idea, that's just a theory really is elevating the RMH to the center (vertically of the room). Then you could radiate the heat to the exterior walls, and if coated with a reflective film, reflect the heat all around the room, kind of like a lightbulb. Just a theory, but it might work.
I need some help and guidance on customizing a standard design RMH (rocket mass heater). Just as a primer, I'm absolutely NOT trying to reinvent the wheel here. I'm attempting to squish an existing, proven design into the space I have available and complete a safe and hopefully compliant build! I have bought and watched/read: the 4 video set from Ernie and Erica, the rocket mass heater III book by Ianto Evans, as well as the build plan from Ernie and Erica.
So as an an introduction, we have a house built in 2002 (stick built). The house is approximately 1600 sq ft, single story ranch with a crawlspace, 2x4 interior walls with drywall. The proposed location of the RMH is relatively near the center of the house. We are initially planning on using a 6" standard system (the plans from Ernie and Erica Wisner). Basically, I'm going to straighten out the thermal mass bench to be linear, instead of an "L" shape and pass the thermal mass through a wall (which is one of the questions).
Here's where we plan on placing the J-tube and barrel. The left side of the cubby where the propane decorative fireplace sits is where I want to run the thermal mass, into the space pictured in the second photo.
Interior dimensions of the cubby are 2' x 5'
The left side of this picture is the same wall as the left side of the previous picture. It's just on the other side of the wall that the hutch backs up to. You can see the side of the hutch for reference. The interior dimensions of this cubby are 2' x 4'.
My wife demands this installation look tidy - not the cob look, and no "trash can fire" aesthetic.
I want to ensure the installation is safe and meets code.
I am assuming I'm going to need to put up some sort of heat shield against the wall for the barrel to conserve floor space. 36" is just too much.
I assume I'm going to need to put in some serious insulation where the thermal mass passes through a wall (duraboard?).
I assume that I'm going to need to rip out the existing chimney system and replace with triple-wall 6" ID piping. (I have a concrete "clay" tile roof which will be an absolute joy to cut a bigger hole through /sarcasm).
I'm assuming my J-tube and feed will need to extend outward into the floor space from the barrel.
I'm assuming that I will use a stainless 55 gallon barrel.
I assume that I will create some sort of box for the thermal mass using brick masonry, and hope to cover the sides of the barrel as well, but preserve a cooking surface on the top. (kind of like the build in Brussels Belgium that looks so tidy)
So my questions:
Will duraboard be sufficient to create a rectangular hole/thermal pipe through the wall for thermal protection (thermal mass pass-through)? How many layers would be required? Is an air-gap required?
How should I heat shield the walls in the cubby where the barrel and J-tube will sit? Reading Ernie and Erica's site, they claim 18" space required from the barrel to the wall (with heat shield). Did I read that correctly? If I box the barrel in with brick, does the 18" requirement still stand?
There's all these pictures of RMH units in cob houses with the barrel right up against the wall. That obviously can't be done in a conventionally built house. Though it's kind of frustrating. That's a lot of wasted space.
Any ideas or confirmed answers to these questions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all!!
Thanks all for your feedback. I'll definitely be getting a tine from Yeomans in the near future. It seems from everyone's feedback that's the less dangerous way to start. I think my gabions are definitely going to be washed away. I was starting to research induced meandering and zuni pools. Though this arroyo definitely meanders on it's own.
Kelly, PM me and I'll get you my contact info, or you could join Tate's list he's setting up.
Thanks for your insight. I think I may order a proper yeoman's tine and mount it to a 3 point. I was planning on doing that before, but then started second guessing myself. I got some resources free to start some serious work. Thanks all for your insight so far.
Thanks for the reply! Thanks! I agree, I talked with the distributor up in NY about purchasing a keyline plow tine from Yeomans that I could mount to my own or custom built frame (really nice guy BTW). The neighbors did get me to start questioning myself. Everyone is extremely paranoid of disturbing the delicate ecosystem. It's a healthy sentiment in some ways. There are plenty of properties that have been over-grazed and look absolutely terrible, bare, dead dirt terrible. So it's a healthy fear, but somewhat misplaced. One of my neigbors who grazed his cattle on the property that I currently live on had not grazed it for 5 years due to the severe drought so the land was not damaged. He is very responsible, but what we're doing requires a completely different paradigm. There is certainly a cultural memory of the dustbowl in these parts. There are still remnants of the 1930s work program swales on many of the ranches. They're not exactly on contour, but they did make a valiant effort.
I've seen the post here or elsewhere where a family had done keyline plowing in the Chihuahua desert (Texas). That was pretty impressive. My first impression was: "If it works there, it will work here." Then I got set to start the keyline process, bought a cheapy subsoiler, then only to be stopped by my 3 point control problem on my ancient tractor (circa 1964). I think the control cable is rusted and seized.
I decided to start using the other end of the tractor - the front end loader to construct a very small erosion control pond. This ground is almost solid clay, but in powder form, so it's almost impossible to dig anything without a tooth-bar (that's on my Christmas list now). So after trying to accomplish these list of prioritized tasks, and experiencing various mechanical and logistics failures, I decided to get something done, so I built a gabion.
We got 2 loads of wood shavings and manure from the fair this year, which is a very unimpressive 5' pile X 15' from my 12'x8' trailer at this point since letting the chickens turn and flatten it (then I re-stacked it by hand). Though it's a good start at compost.
I do have a source for wood chips, a whole .5 acre full of piles, I am planning on taking it small trailer by small trailer if I have to, though a dump trailer would accomplish the entire job in a day with the help of a skid-steer to load it. Filling the trailer of wood chips or manure isn't too bad, even with a snow shovel. Unloading it, also by hand, is the more painful part.
As far as the contour lines:
They really look like they're sloped down-hill. It could be an optical illusion. Though it really, really looks like its' sloping pretty fairly dramatically downhill. Looking at the topos witch are all pretty low res, it could possibly be correct, but standing on the ground, it looks completely wrong. Even my handheld GPS shows a decline in elevation, but the accuracy on that is debatable. I will definitely try to run a keyline on the property. I want as many different irons in the fire as I can manage, then expand on what works.
A good friend of mine used to run fire crews for the forest service. His recommendations are pretty simple, keep any ground fuel around a structure cut short. Flame height is 3x the fuel height. So if you trim your tree branches to 6 feet up, 2 feet of grass can be fully ablaze below and won't ignite the tree. It will go right by. Also, he says that juniper and aspen are and were "safety areas" during a fire. Juniper is considered less so these days. Though aspen will smolder then suddenly fall on your head so it's not entirely safe. He has extremely heavy criticism for the American style of "run away" evacuate procedures for fire mitigation. He has pounded the point to me, that nearly any structure can be saved during a fire and the Aussies don't run for the hills during a fire. They defend their homes, and effectively.
During a fire event, he recommends covering soffit vents with foil and sealing other house penetrations where embers could get in. If fuel is managed effectively, all you'll have to deal with is a grass fire which can be successfully managed with a garden hose.
Incidentally, this is how the native tribes dealt with fire. They kept forest branches trimmed to 6 or 8 feet, then set it ablaze periodically. The fire will simply go right by trees that have been properly trimmed unless you're dealing with a canopy fire which means step 1 failed.
I've been a long time reader and lurker, but this is my first post.
In July 2014 we moved to a 45 acre property in Beulah, CO with the intention of starting a permaculture farm. For context, I've bought and read Mollinson's Permaculture bible, Sepp Holzer's books, Yeoman's book, Art Ludwig's water storage book and quite a few others in pursuit of educating myself. As for most permaculture properties, the ground has some serious challenges and many opportunities.
We are in the rain shadow of the wet mountains, but our property is technically an arid steppe type of land. Our average rainfall (whatever that means) is somewhere in the range of 15-17 inches per year. We have a monsoon season in Jul-Aug where large rain events usually occur. The ground is mostly rolling with a water catchment of several hundred acres that flow across the property through drainages and a large arroyo near the back of the property. The ground is currently dominated by a healthy pasture of gramma grass, juniper, pinon, a few ponderosa; and near the arroyos: gamble oak, elm, cottonwood, willow and a few others. My end-state goal for this property is to create a food forest and habitat for wildlife and domestic animals (we have chickens now).
I first started by planning some keyline plowing. I have a JD 4020 with a single row subsoil plow. Upon getting out there to draw my contour lines, I first started by attempting to use a bunyip water level to establish my contour lines. That experience resulted in a lot of loud profane language, the bunyip being tossed to the ground water everywhere and a general feeling of frustration. Note: don't use a bunyip by yourself unless you desire similar results.
Next, I purchased and attempted the same task with a Johnson laser level and sensor. The Johnson laser level is a pretty wiz-bang device and was very fast to get started. I had a series of 300 meter contour lines done in an afternoon. However my results are very puzzling because I ended up with some contour lines that look to be very much not level, downhill in fact. I relocated and rotated the laser level and tripod many times, started over several times; measured, leveled over and over, always with the same result. So either I'm in a mystical place where the laws of physics are out the window, the laser level is giving me consistently bad data despite my changing it's orientation and location, or it simply looks wrong. Boy, this is harder that it seemed at first blush.
Then I started getting advice from some of the neighbors around here. They were cautioning me about the fragile ecosystem of the gramma grass, and that keyline (ripping) of the soil may not be helpful. My tractor's rocker arm for the 3 point is not working properly with the controls either - something else to fix but that's a different story. So after all this thinking, discussion, thinking some more, I came to the conclusion I'd try to do some hugle boomerang swales. boomerang swales seem to be more forgiving than swales on-contour. I've started laying out the shape of my hugle piles with trimmed juniper from my fire protection projects. Now I need a backhoe to dig the swales.
So, permies, would anyone here like to come take a look at this ground and provide some recommendations, or help of any kind? Anyone with a backhoe nearby that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg? I'd love to have some extra eyes, especially with some prior experience check my work, or give me some ideas I hadn't considered. I've also got several other projects to get completed, and I have limited funds:
Rocket mass heater for the house
several ferrocement water cistern tanks (5,000 or so for barn and house rainwater catchement that will pump to a ~20,000 gal cistern on high ground)
a couple small erosion control ponds (Holzer style)
learn to be a tractor mechanic
places to plant the couple hundred trees, strawberries, and other berry bushes on order (will arrive in the spring - nothing like a deadline to force the motivation right?)
I've also got some resources for wood chips, but my dinky little trailer is wholly insufficient. Anyone with a dump trailer in the area?
Here's some pictures:
First the higher ground and gramma pasture:
Here's the beginnings of some hugle-boomerang-swales:
As the ground falls toward the arroyo, tree diversity and density increases:
The arroyo in the back of the property has some massive flow events sometimes. Look at the water line on that tree!!:
More arroyo pics:
Here's my first attempt at a gabion to slow the water and limit erosion:
I'd love all of your thoughts, and help if you can.