Jonathan Allen

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since Jan 15, 2013
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Recent posts by Jonathan Allen

Good afternoon Isabelle,
I live just South of you in New England and I have a North facing, 10 acre homestead. Plant choice is key as we both experience difficult Winters. As you already know, the snow won't disappear until May on a North-facing slope and some plants won't do well. Match your plantings to your region. The entire Maple family grows well in Quebec. There are hardy versions of apple root-stock that weather Winter very well; however apple blooms can suffer with an early frost. Some veggies love that North-facing slope (Swiss Chard, broccoli, etc). And there are some chickens that have specifically been bred to survive the cold as well (I have a small flock of Barred Reds). You should have plenty of Red Raspberry, Black Berry, Choke Berry, Blue Berry, and Cranberry in your area. They grow much like weeds in some environments.

Of course some plants don't do well in such a slope (tomatoes and peppers come immediately to mind). For those plants I STRONGLY recommend building a green house so that your tomatoes turn red and the peppers actually produce fruit. Our green house is a god send year round. You can even plant arugula and Swiss Chard in there for Fall and harvest those greens into early Winter.

I do recommend that you ask around for a 'farm goddess' to help with identifying varieties that grow well in your area and where to buy the proper seeds locally. Down here I stick my head in at Agway, which is local. There are a couple of seed houses located in Maine ( and Connecticut ( that the wife uses regularly.

Does this help??

6 years ago
Welcome Rob!

Are there any permit/legal issues that we need to be aware of prior to beginning to build? Every state has different processes that need to be followed prior to beginning construction. During construction most states require inspections.

Were there any issues and solutions that we need to be aware of prior to starting construction of a cordwood cabin?

Thank you!
7 years ago
Good morning Pe,

I am not sure about Black Locust trees as they are not prevalent in New England forests. I think that you need to have a watch of the Back to Eden video. In that video, , Paul Gautschi speaks how he made changes in the way that he gardens using wood mulch as the key ingredient to success.

7 years ago
Right... Right... Hydroscopic consulting...

I knew that... Yes I did!

Okay maybe not, but I did know it was warm!
As I recall, felt is wool. So, I don't see that as a problem as an insulating layer. Felt as we know it came about hundreds of years ago. Very popular during the Medieval Age being warm even when wet.

Animal skins with the fur left on but turned inside out such that the fur is not exposed to the elements is a great method to keep warm in cold weather.

Also for sleeping on or as a cover in front of a fire.

Enjoy! JA
I think that you have to look back a few decades when...

I don't understand what is so difficult about that last plot of land. Our ancestors, hunter gatherers, would have worn leather and furs and wool. Leather and furs that are prepared using standard items such as lye and brain matter from deer to tan hides can be used to make tunics, coats, leggings and pants, as well as footwear. And wool has been around for thousands of years. You may recall some minor mentions of lambs laying down with lions, Moses as a shepherd, just to mention a couple of items. Woolen outerwear especially coats, pants, and ponchos were greatly appreciated by the cowboys, mountain men, trappers, gold miners etc. I could go on and on about these items.

If you decide to go the leather route for outer wear as opposed to the Woolrich/Hudson Bay Company solution, you will need to look into a non-petroleum solution to waterproof and protect both boots, leggins and coat. I used to recall that bee's wax may have been used at the time of the 1800s instead of whale oil, but that is a quick google I would imagine.

If you need picture links start here...

Frankly, both leather and pure wool outfits are expensive when purchased new. I would recommend if you have some time to place an ad in craigslist for either a hudson bay wool blanket or a set of woolrich real wool hunting outfit in red and black plaid. I am sure that there are quite a few out there getting dusty. The blankets are often stuffed into cedar chests and survive across multiple generations in that fashion. My father, now 80 something, still has his woolrich hunting suit purchased back in the 1950s I think.

You can wait for a bright sunny day, wrap your self in a full bath cotton towel, just shy of au naturel. and let us all know how that worked for you...

Enjoy! GM_Man
Well you did get me interested and I have't been able to get around to the lecture yet!

I am a newbie here, but then I've been building a more resilient and sustainable life-style in New England at my home. Glad to see that you've been here and done that and even happier that you are familiar with the challenges of living in a cold environment.

I have forwarded the links to this forum to a friend of mine in Manchester, Vermont who was active in supporting Smokey House Center (SHC) is a non-profit organization located on 5,000 acres in rural Danby, Vermont. They 'practice careful land management that is both ecologically sound and economically productive.' Currently they are considering input on how to manage all of this land in a productive manner that will supper their goals and agreements with their partners.

I truly believe that your learnings need to be considered at SHC. I intend to reach out to their board on developing a vision, not just for management of the land, but the development of the land using 'Restoration Agriculture.'

Talk to you soon,

Jonathan Allen
7 years ago
Good morning Suki,
I would like to speak a wee bit about terriers. Specifically female White West Highland Terriers. There are larger working class terriers that you may wish to investigate. I have a small place in North-West Mass with 10 chickens. I've had as many as 15 chickens at one time. The chickens are free range. Our Westie was there when they arrived as chicks and loved to keep an eye on the chicks as they grew in the tub. She was fascinated with them for the longest time and viewed them as part of the pack I guess. However, that changed as they grew. You see one of young chickens went nose to nose with the Westie and the Westie got pecked right on her nose! Hysterical!

The Westie avoided getting too close to the chickens after that, but generally was unsuccessful. There were two chickens that felt she was part of the flock and they would tend to 'hang' with her whenever they were all out in the yard. They still do to that to this very day.

Some observations about the Westie/Chicken solution that needs to be taken into consideration:
1. The Westie was NEVER taught how to 'speak', I do not like yappers. Dogs bark to announce visitors, welcome you home, and announce their presence to critters. Its natural, so don't yell at them for barking.
2. The Westie had a litter early in life. She made a great mother and has been extremely protective of the 'pack'. This includes our children, ours and other children, and young chickens. I have had Westies in my family since I was young as I am allergic to most dogs and cats. Terriers have hair and don't shed, but like us, their hair does fall from time to time. With that many years of experience with the breed, I strongly recommend female Westies. But they are not outside dogs for most climates, especially the Northern States. I have always allowed the dogs to reside/sleep/eat inside the home. Most folks with larger flocks (chickens, goats, sheep, etc) require a larger dog that lives outside closer to their charges. Goats in particular are likely to ignore a Westie or intimidate them. Therefore a larger breed is necessary so the goats see the LDG as a peer.
3. I have no roosters. Sometimes, I like to sleep in. So, no roosters.
4. The chicks upon arrival lived in a large galvanized bucket in doors where the Westie could keep her eye on them. That is where they were introduced to each other by my eldest son. She was tolerant of them from that experience I believe.
5. The chickens are free-range over five acres and they sleep in their coop at night. They do wander a bit close to the forest line from time to time. I also back up my dogs barking at night with my presence and a shotgun. The one time I thought that she was wrong about an 'evil' presence I almost lost a chicken to a fox.

There are 'working' breeds out there that make better LGD, but any dog with a good nose, a good bark, and attitude to warn off black bear, coyotes, foxes, is perfect for me. Some mixed breeds (aka mutts) tend to be quick to learn and guard if they are of the proper heritage. AND I strongly prefer a fixed female in the role. If they've had a litter, they are even better than most.

Just my two cents, your mileage will vary...
Jonathan Allen
7 years ago