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Canadian winter homesteading  RSS feed

 
Olivier Asselin
Posts: 63
Location: Ariege, France
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Hi,

I want to invest in a small piece of land, and looking at different areas. I'm originally from Canada (Quebec) but I've lived abroad for the last 7 years.

I've been looking at properties in Eastern Canada (Ontario, NB, NS), as there seem to be a few good deals out there, but I'm concerned about the climate, and the length of the growing season. I'd like to hear about how people cope with the cold weather, and what degree of self-sufficiency one can hope to achieve in that kind of climate?

I guess I'd also like to hear about any technique people are using to extend the growing season? I've run into this soap bubble insulated greenhouse design for instance (http://www.tdc.ca/bubblegreenhouse.htm), and wondering if there are other low-energy solutions out there?

And most of all... how do you keep busy in the dead of winter, when it gets dark at 4pm... ?

I've also been looking at options in Southern France or Spain... still trying to figure out what makes the most sense.

Thanks!

Olivier

 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
pollinator
Posts: 308
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Hi Olivier...

I don't really like calling it 'self sufficiency' but growing most of your own food shouldn't be a problem. 'Putting it by' in the fall will keep you busy. Root cellar, lots of root vegetables and other stuff will keep there...squash and onions someplace less damp. Canning. Freezing if you've got the electricity. When talking about our latitude geoff lawton said it well..'don't make your life difficult and be vegetarian'....i'd be sure i had a steer for beef or some chickens, maybe get a deer or moose in the fall.

season extension...no expert yet, i'm hoping to try an earth shelterd oehler style green house with a rocket mass heater, there are threads about that kind of stuff here. If I was building a dwelling i'd probably make sure it had a space for a grow bed. Even starting sprouts in the winter would be nice, and a little herb garden. This year i had way too many beets, i'm going to pull some out of the cellar and try 'forcing' them to see if i can eat beet greens in the winter. I think warmth is do-able off grid, growing light will be limiting unless you have lots of electricity. It seems like a lot of winter gardening involves getting stuff started in the late fall and then just keeping it alive for a few more months.

the winter and the light can be hard, depends on your psychology and interior make-up. i find the short days difficult. i'd pick an area where there are lots of outdoor winter things to do, and get out there as much as possible in the daylight...ski, skijor, snowkite, etc...i like winter camping with toboggans, snowshoes and a lightweight canvas tent and woodstove (dogsledder style). Make sure you've got enough electricity for some good light through the evenings. I love having a workshop, i'm going to try to heat mine more and use it more this winter...blacksmithing and woodwork. But yeah, you've got to do something...hobbies, but also some social things will be essential.

but honestly, if you've got options in southern france and spain?? are you nuts?? i think i'd be over there in a heartbeat. i would miss wilderness a lot, but i think that's about all. sign me up!

 
Olivier Asselin
Posts: 63
Location: Ariege, France
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Thanks for your reply. Which area do you live in? I'm from Eastern Quebec originally and I realize that the growing season in some parts of Ontario for instance can be almost two months longer than in the area I'm from.

I'm currently selling a house in Southern France following the end of a relationship, and once that's done I'll have a bit of money. It's not a huge amount, but enough to buy a small place without needing to take a loan. It's not really that I've got "options" in France or Spain, but I've been living in Africa for the past 7 years, finally leaving at the end of this year, and I've come to the realization that I'm completely rootless now. I've got friends here and there all over the world, but no real, tight social network, so basically I can pick a spot and try to rebuild myself there. I'm fluent in Spanish and French, and since I might have to keep traveling to Africa once in a while for work, it seemed like a somewhat logical option.

I must say it's a bit daunting to be contemplating this kind of investment on my own, in a place where I don't know anyone... My family is in Canada, but if I end up buying there, I probably wouldn't end up living that close to them anyway, because I probably won't find the type of property I'm looking for, at the cost I'm looking for. And there's the climate... and, as you said it, the light. This is what I find the most difficult.
 
Max Tanner
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario North and South - right now, moving North Permanently soon. Timmins Cochrane areas
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Hello Olivier;
with the advent of information on Permaculture especially sepp holzer, aquaponics indoors and the Jean Pain method of bio heating and bio fuel along with rocket mass heaters, you could create a low cost indoor/outdoor greenhouse quite cheaply and easily.

I am looking for military or people whom have lived oversees to get some land together
just a thought or two
 
Olivier Asselin
Posts: 63
Location: Ariege, France
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Max,

I've heard of the Jean Pain method. Do you know anybody who's done it in seriously cold weather? ie. northern ontario

I'm curious about why you're looking specifically for military or people with overseas experience? You're looking at buying around Timmins?

 
Max Tanner
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario North and South - right now, moving North Permanently soon. Timmins Cochrane areas
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Well Olivier;
I am looking for people who think like me or have similar experiences. After a few failed attempts at friendship or working with other people whom do not share either of those backgrounds, I am being discriminating. Military people understand other military people, as well world travelers whom have lived oversees not just visited for a few days or even weeks think similar to me ad other military personnel.

There is nothing wrong with people who have not done either, they just do not think or act like my group, therefore communications or expectations and experiences lead to understanding and less conflicts. Sort of like asking Farmers and PETA members to work on land together in harmony, without shared backgrounds and experiences it will just not work!

There was an educational youtuber who had posted Jean Pain methods in Canada, as well I have thought on how to make it for Northern Areas. Do not have the land to do it on yet, I could share my thoughts with you on it at a later time though.

Yes, looking in the North Cochrane / Matheson areas.
 
Laura Jean Wilde
Posts: 77
Location: LAKE HURON SOUTHERN SHORE
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chicken forest garden hugelkultur
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"I've been looking at properties in Eastern Canada (Ontario, NB, NS), as there seem to be a few good deals out there, but I'm concerned about the climate, and the length of the growing season. I'd like to hear about how people cope with the cold weather, and what degree of self-sufficiency one can hope to achieve in that kind of climate? "

I am responding to this partly because it's current. We live in SW Ontario and are developing thirteen acres of Permaculture. We are trying to arrange a badly need vacation (over Christmas) and are exploring options for farm sitters. if you'd consider staying here, to look after our critters you can experience this climate first hand. please contact me if you are remotely interested.
 
Zach Weiss
pollinator
Posts: 296
Location: Montana
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The options for growing in cold climates are much better than most people assume. With Holzer permaculture's micro climate creation a great variety of foods can be grown outside with very little work. By selecting the heartiest of varieties and experimenting with cold climate foods many people have not tried before a great deal can be accomplished.

On Jean Pain mounds;
I am part of an organization called Compost Power based in Vermont that is helping spread awareness and education about Jean Pain mounds. We teach a class on compost heat capture at Yesermorrow in Warren, VT. High field's composting has also been doing work with these and right now has a kick starter site raising funds to really dial in their system. Karl Hammer of Vermont Compost has a specific Jean Pain mix which he sells just for these mounds. There is a DIY guide on our website CompostPower.org.

I also design and build Earth Powered Greenhouses through my business Perpetual Green Gardens. By digging the greenhouse into the ground we make use of the ground temperature to buffer the greenhouse climate. In the winter the earth provides a constant source of heat. In the summer the ground temperature helps cool the greenhouse to prevent overheating.

This operation is based out of Montana but we travel all over. The original greenhouse has effectively yielded a zone 8 growing space in a zone 3-4 location. More importantly the greenhouse gives us 300 frost fee days as opposed to the 100 we get outside. This triples our growing season and gives us year round food without heating, fossil fuels, or even electricity. A growing space like Portland Oregon in our cold, dry, and high mountain local.

This enables us to grow (and produce) peaches, apricots, nectarines, figs, persimmons, pears, pineapple guava, and much more, none of which is possible outside.

If the temperature stays below -20° f for a full week the greenhouse will eventually cool to 15° f and that's where it seems to stay. But you could go even deeper and add a solar powered insulative blind if you wanted to be even warmer.

We use entirely passive systems so that our greenhouses function independently of electricity. Passive ventilation, geothermal heat, subterranean heating and cooling, rain water collection, pest control, and fertility. Healthy ecosystems are established so that 'pests' serve as food for other insects in the system and are controlled by nature. All of the plant matter that is not consumed is returned to the soil surface to feed the soil ecosystem. This process accompanied by the use of rainwater to promote demineralization of soil minerals makes upon the body of perpetual soils. By using these concepts the original greenhouse has become Moore fertile each year. 30 years of productivity with no fertilizer, soil amendments, or even outside composting. A self fertile system that doesn't need external inputs.
 
Laura Jean Wilde
Posts: 77
Location: LAKE HURON SOUTHERN SHORE
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chicken forest garden hugelkultur
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This is fascinating! where can I find more information on this. I had thought this was possible but had not had the time to trial it myself.
 
Max Tanner
Posts: 92
Location: Ontario North and South - right now, moving North Permanently soon. Timmins Cochrane areas
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Look up Jean Pain method, Siberia and Northern Canada and Northern US on YouTube.
 
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