Connor Ireland

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since Jan 09, 2012
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Recent posts by Connor Ireland

In Owner Built Homestead, by Ken Kern, he makes a passing reference to one of his sources, 'Smith' who floated the idea of making a seed starting box with three foot pieces of plaster lathe (that would be thin wooden slices. 1/4" x 1" x 3') thus making a 1" x 1" x 3' box, where the seed starts at the top. He soaks one of the pieces of lathe in Calcium Nitrate (I hope I've got that right) which compels the roots to grow the full length of the box. The idea is that you would get a 4" seedling with 3' of root developent, and you could go around planting them with your rock bar.

Well I went out and got some plaster lathe and triple-thirteen, I thought I would try it with clover seed. Has anybody heard of this, or tried this? Who's Smith? Does anybody on permies dig Ken Kern?
7 years ago
I don't think you can do cobb without eaves. Anything that seals the cobb off enough to be water tight would be detrimental to the cobb, trapping moisture between it and the mud. Water-tightness is not a desireable trait, you want water to transfer through your finish.

I would be considering gutters built into the surface of the roof, wide enough to channel the water to one place where it can be collected and exported/stored. Truly, letting water run off your roof and hit the ground is a criminal waste! If you were able to eliminate most of the shed you would have less water running down your walls, and less of whatever type of problems you were going to face later on down the road.

In any case, if this were being done in the U.S. I would be certain that it was the floorspace of the house that was being counted, not including the porch, and NOT the footprint of the building. I can't imagine that aussies are so backward as to include non-habitable space in their building codes, but I haven't met many aussies.
7 years ago
For a time I heard a lot of talk about big manure waterproofing the bottom of a pond. Supposedly that bacterial activity creates an anaerobic slime that becomes impermiable. They were calling it 'gley' I think.


I fence in an enclosure and throw cracked corn and water into it. The pigs tread and root at their own pace and I toss in straw. Then I shovel it out and bring it to the site.

I fence in a circle with a steel post (rebar or rock bar) driven into the center. I use two lengths of straight fencing, attached to the post, to restrict the pigs to one half or quarter of the circular enclosure, while I shovel out the other side. This arrangement would work like the hands of a clock, I use cracked corn as the incentive in this model, just like the first.

I have also been thinking of using tethering collars, or a harness ( arrangement to get two pigs to pull a disc or harrow ( I would drive a stake into the ground in the center of a circle and hook one end of the disc to that stake, so now the harrow move like the hand of a clock. I will use corn as bait, or a stick, to get these pigs to walk forward in a circle, constantly walking with them, constantly tossing corn, constantly whacking their butts with a stick.

OBVIOUSLY these are in the order of their mud-mixing power, and keeping the blend even. They are in reverse order of realistic-ness, since I have never heard of pigs used as draft animals. My neighbiors say it can't be done, well I intend to get pigs in a month or two anyway. What do you think, Jim?
7 years ago
We're working on a cobb house. We have about the first two feet all the way around, but had to stop for the winter. We're set to get two hogs in early April, they'll be younguns, only about 45 LB. We have discussed using them to tread the cobb, which would work something like the old-time pug mills that mountain potters used.

I wonder if they would need much incentive to move constantly and tread the clay down. Our soil is pretty nearly the right ratio, once the top layer is gone, we've been working with it in its whole state. I would be willing to throw them cracked corn to make them move and root, I would also be willing to flog them to make them work. I think they would enjoy the work, its very dry in my area and pigs don't always get to wallow.

Would cracked corn in the cobb mix be a bad thing? I imagine not, but I'm asking anyway.

Would pig manure have the kind of benefits that cow manure does in cobb?

Can I lead a hundred pound hog by a leash? I have a field of turnips I want to keep them in, so I would have to take them a few hundred yards from the turnips (which they are tilling) to the home site every couple days.
7 years ago
There is a TV show called gap year, or something to that effect, that is coming up. They follow kids around who are doing something interesting for the year between highschool and college. I think the OP wants us to come up with an idea so he can get on television. I say we support him! Make famous.
If I'm wrong about this being for TV, please forgive my imprudence. Here are some ideas, surely others have better.

Setting up a big keyline swale through your neighborhood (or other neighborhood) would be interesting because you would go through tons of peoples different yards and dig the trench, meet them, explain it to them. They might even help you, and it would be good for their soil and drainage problems. A complex problem, with all the roads and roofs though.

Make a bunch of seed balls and do a ton of guerilla gardening in detroit, a bad neighborhood where you're from, or the lawn of an evil corporation that hates plants and stuff. That would be exciting, you might get in trouble, but you're under eighteen so you won't do time.

Set up a compost and yard waste drive in your neighborhood. Get someone to donate a shared garden space, and make a monster heap of compost there, with room to turn it. This would be mostly door to door stuff, in a truck. It would make a difference in the world but might not be very sexy.

There's some animal in your area that people like. Maybe martins (because you have mosquitos) or anything else. You build tons of animal housing, plant habitat plants, all over town to try to get their population up.

Just a few ideas, if you're trying to do your OWN thing, and not just go learn on a farm. Not that theres anything wrong with that.
7 years ago
My reading indicates that rugosa has the biggest, best-tasting hips.
I use cedar branches and slash for my driveway, to keep traction in the rainy season. It works good, but its not a permanent solution. If your cedar boards are heavy on heart wood, they will stay on the ground for a good ten years and work for you. They might split, but they'll still be okay for walking on. Any allelopathic effect will go away in the first year or so, and as for pollution from the stain, well, I'm sure you can think of other forms of pollution present on your property. You have stain on your porch, right? But the garden down-hill from there seems to be doing okay. (assuming you have a porch. I'm sure some people do.)

Regarding allelopathy, cedar is demonized a lot on these boards, but chemical warfare is very very common in the vegetable kingdom and can't really be avoided. I would feel worse about erosion along a path than I did about putting cedar wood down on it.

But putting them on the ground might not be the highest and best use for the boards. If you wanted to make a chicken coup, they would probably be functional. If you like snaring rabbits, you could use them as part of an artificial warren.

Splinters? If you are walking around barefoot you will get stuck with something eventually.
7 years ago
Howdy. I've got some dirt in the Ozarks of Arkansas, its wooded forest with mostly r/w oaks, pines, cedars, hickories, elm, maple, sweetgum, sycamore, huckleberry, dogwood, on sandy/stony/loamy soil from 5-25 degrees slope, north facing. It has never been cleared, I suppose, until 20 years ago there wasn't a black-top road within 9 miles of here. There is woods just like this in every direction for miles, broken up only by pasture in the bottom lands and homesteads. We're calling it Mt. Tickmore, because its got a lot of fuckin ticks!

So what I have growing here naturally is nice, but there's a lot of it around here and I don't feel much of it is worth preserving. I want to convert it to some sort of meadow or pasture, a big field of grasses and flowers, most of them 'wild foods' that could be crops if I really needed them to be. I have some fruit trees, I want lots more, long-term. I want to run some swine, some ruminants.

We're felling trees in the next few weeks. Some will be boards, some will be firewood - but many are just in the way and will be laid on contour, immediately I will sow lots of turnips. Early in the spring I will get a couple goats from my neighbour and buy X number of pigs***, and move them through the cleared area with solar step-in electric fencing**. The goats will eat down all the brush and the pigs will nose out the turnips and poop everywhere. Right behind the swine I'll plant my seed mix, which I have just ordered off Amaz'n. Maybe I got too much of some things, certainly not enough of others! I'm trying to learn by doing, which can be a pretty awkward process.

1 Lb Turnip Seeds - 'Purple Top White Globe' Bulk Vegetable Seeds -- This is the only one of these plants that I want to save for the pigs and goats. Everything else will get a couple years to establish.

Big Bluestem Grass 1 #
Red Bee Balm 100 Seeds
Great Burdock 200 seeds
Groundcherry 200 seeds
Echinacea Pallida 300 seeds
Chicory 2000 seeds
Creeping Thyme 2000 seeds
Nodding Onion 500 seeds
Salsify 200 seeds
Hyssop 1 oz (should be a lot of seeds.)
Red Yarrow 2000
Crimson Clover 1 lb
Evening Primrose 2000 seeds
White Clover 1 #
Blue Indigo 60 seeds
Wild Ginger 60 seeds

**My neighbours have used step in electric with their pigs, others with goats. It sounds like it worked better with the goats, but I am at peace with having lots of escape-problems. Hopefully, feeding a daily ration will keep everybody coming home in the evening.

QUESTIONS: I want to broadcast as much as possible. Are any of my chosen species unsuitable to broadcast, IYHO?
***I think I can get 2 goats from my neighbours, and I have the amounts of seed listed above. Generally, how many swine do you think I can support?
How much space can I really seed with the amount listed above? I know that I can only do like 1/4 acre with the bluestem. How does this figure relate to my pig carrying capacity (Wouldn't want to clear land that I can't seed.)
Which ones are aggressive and which can't take competition? In terms of grouping them.
Am I missing out on anything I can't live without?
Pigs would progressively prepare the land for sewing. Would I have problems planting all these things progressively throughout the spring/early summer? Do I need to put down some things during the wet season, then other things as conditions get hotter and drier? This would result in a gradient, as blocks are cleared and planted different species would go in.

Thank you, I love you all.
GOALS: Sunlight coming in. A place that deer like to come. Pasture for one dairy cow or two sheep, +/-. Soil retention and building. Very happy bees.
7 years ago
Well, if its really like that - I can't build with my own wood within the first year - then thats how it is. .I'm really not interested in trading out my oak wood for milled pine. I suppose thats a good thing, my woman and I an cool off, reexamine our needs and desires.

I lived in a house in New Orleans that was over 100 years old, I believe that was a stud frame house. Why did that place last so long, with all the moisture and termite problems? When you say that a stud frame house only lasts 25-50 years, what does that really mean? What happens?
7 years ago
The house we have planned is a 24x36 clear-story with a loft, a sleeper beam lengthwise down the centre. The foundation will be recycled telephone pole piers, there is bedrock 1-2' down on most of the home site, though for the back row off piers it doesn't look like there's bedrock down there. No indoor plumbing, no wires (at least for a while) so no masonry. The cobb house is another project, and it might turn out to be a storm cellar. My original question, "can I space studs further apart if they are oak?" has been answered, I guess the conversation has just evolved since then. is the plan for the stud house. Sorry its on paper, which was then photographed. Its pretty rudimentary, I know. If you want to see the timber-frame woodshed, or my hand-shingled outhouse, or my post-and-beam cookhouse, you can work your way back through the photobucket account. I am very proud of it all, but its really not worthy of bragging.

I do intend to saw a lot of 8x8 and 6x6 timber, I will be needing more structures, a bath house, and intend to delve deeper into framing them out without fasteners. But building that way is a year away, if I start sawing today, right? My woman and I would really like to be building a house this summer. I would be willing, much more than willing, to live in a cobb house, even one as small as I have begun, but my capacity for suffering is super-human. The community would look sideways at raising children in a mud house, barefoot and ignorant as I intend them to be. I know I'm all over the place, but its easy to say 'figure out what you really want.' Does anybody know what they really want? I know what I want for my life - no wires, a lot of sweat and dirt and critters. As for the cave that I live in, it doesn't matter. I would live in a cardboard box if the climate allowed it. Energy savings aren't really relevant, since I will have no gas or electric hookups in the foreseeable future. I heat with wood, there's plenty of that around.
7 years ago