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Mike Sved

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since Mar 02, 2013
Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Recent posts by Mike Sved

Thanks for that, Jennifer. I'll endeavour to watch that whenever I get too wrapped up in the artificial world's drama.
4 years ago
Cool. That's a neat magazine. Thanks Cassie.
5 years ago
Hi Jay,

The geological mapping here is not as detailed as in the U.S., so I can't establish anything more specific than 'metasedimentary' for my bedrock. It may have been sandstone, limestone, mudstone, siltstone, etc but it's been cooked and contorted well beyond recognition and is not a candidate for cleaving.

Based on indicator plants, I'm thinking my soil ph is more on the acidic side (blueberries, Labrador Tea, black spruce,etc). I'm not sure if the 'hard water' terminology my neighbour used was technically correct but they were emphatic about their whites coming out of the laundry process looking non-white.

Partly what I find appealing in the Wofati/Oehler style of construction is the drastically reduced exposure of the structure and the resulting protection from the elements. I replaced the shingles on my roof a year ago and made note of the absurdity of placing several thousand dollars worth of material in the direct path of the sun, snow and rain and knowing full well that the clock is ticking the moment it's installed. Having a roof that is self-regenerating soil and plant matter seems so much more sensible.

So, how do you feel about earthbags? Owen Geiger seems to think it's a perfect match for my ineptitude. I'm thinking that a combination of Oehler, Wofati and earthbag could produce something reasonably natural, durable, efficient and frugal.


5 years ago
Hi Jay,

No need to apologize. You seem pretty darned busy on this forum and it doesn't surprise me that you might miss one or two topics.

"Hmmm...looks like some pretty nice...?...lime stone?" - No, it's a very old pressure cooked reiteration of various billion-plus year old sedimentary rocks.

"I see what you mean by shallow soil depth...WOW...that looks sparc, but I bet the water quality is great!" - I hope so, but my neighbour tells me the water is hard.

"As for a wofati of some other earth style build...this may be more of a challenge than it is worth...(not sure yet)??" - Yes, you're probably right. I'm investigating other locations on the property that may be better suited.

"Is there clay on the building site in the amounts to properly cover the size structure this project is calling for?" - There is a lot of nearly pure clay just beneath the humus. That is causing the high/perched water table.

"What other natural/traditional building systems have you considered?" - For simplicity and expediency, we are considering a yurt to get ourselves settled onsite and unencumbered by our home in town (to be sold).

"What is the traditional vernacular architecture of the region?" - A lot of the 'original' homes here arrived by train and were assembled on posts or cribbing. Some of them actually have hinges where the panels unfolded and sprung into shape. Not a very good template for my purposes.

"What type of standing timber do you have?" - Much scraggly black spruce and poplar, with some nice large (8-16") Tamaracks.

"How much land do you have at your disposal to build with and from?" - 26 acres, of which almost half is inaccessible without good rubber boots. The land slopes very gently toward a bog, and during wet months the bog endeavours to expand its empire.

"Will you be doing this yourself?" - My genetics dictate that I stubbornly refuse any help that may expose my ineptitude.

"Is there any heavy equipment available?" - A compact tractor with loader and a large tractor with backhoe attachment.

"Is Radon and issue in the area?" - I can't find any mention of it but have only scoured the web thus far.

I should explain also that we intend to remain untethered to the grid and this entails heating a home with wood. I don't like the idea of annually raping the forest for my comfort, so I want to do as much as possible to limit our heating needs. We are not unwilling to sacrifice extravagance for simplicity and efficiency.

Again, I thank you for your time and effort,

5 years ago

Joshua Chambers wrote: Or perhaps you could use a rock hammer to create holes in the ground to sink the posts and backfill with tamped gravel? It wouldn't have any drainage if you did that but all the posts would be well covered all around by the umbrella.

Either way that would take a looooot of fill dirt to fill the umbrella and then cover it up.

Thanks Joshua,

I don't think the rock would be easy to hammer into. It's several-billion year old metasediments, as far as I know. Regardless, I do agree that backfilling the umbrella might be a monumental undertaking.

Thanks for nudging my thread out of hibernation,

5 years ago
Hi Jay,

I don't know if this photo will give you any better idea of what I'm dealing with. The maximum dimensions of the exposure are about 65' (vertical in the photo) by 25' (horizontal in photo). The high point in the center is about 2-3' higher than the edges where soil meets rock.

Yes, I've followed a lot of your posts but may not be completely comprehending some of the stuff you discuss.


5 years ago

Jon Stoski wrote:Be aware that the book doesn't give a permaculture perspective, and take the siting information with a grain of salt. My verdict is 6.5 acorns out of 10.

I don't think you're giving the book or Mike a fair assessment. Not everything of value to permaculture thinking has to be conceived from permaculture thinking, and besides, he wrote the book long before most of us had any ideas about 'permaculture'.

In the book, he addresses a number of siting pros and cons but acknowledges that people aren't always able or willing to pick the best location.

Most importantly though, is that he's a terrifically cool guy who spends his life 'doing things'. People like that have the power to save us from mediocrity.
5 years ago
I attended a family xmas eve dinner last night and the living room big screen tv featured 'the fireplace channel'. It occurred to me that some permie could do a rocket mass heater parody of this, somehow.
5 years ago