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Jack Edmondson

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since May 05, 2014
Central Texas zone 8a, 800 chill hours 28 blessed inches of rain
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Recent posts by Jack Edmondson

Annie Hope wrote: In terms of temperature wanted - would we want an insulated rocket stove or would that burn too hot?

If you insulate you will need less wood.  The temperature will be a function of how much fuel you add.  Better heat retention = less fuel needed for a given heat.  It could get too hot, but you can regulate that temp gauges and less fuel.
2 years ago

Annie Hope wrote:
Also,  am I right in presuming that you couldn't put a brisket smoker at the end of a rocket stove as it burns so hot there would be little flavour in the smoke?

I would humbly suggest that you are incorrect.  I have not built mine (yet), but will be going with a vertical chamber smoker over a rocket stove firebox.  I am a native Texan, so familiar with the style of pit you are referring.  They are common but the design is not inherently better than a vertical chamber.  There is much debate over cross draft vs direct draft configurations on the internet.  There is a lot of time spent on balancing heat due to the horizontal orientation of these types of smokers.  Since heat rises vertical chambers have the advantage of a good solid draw of smoke through the entire chamber naturally.  Why people fight physics is a mystery.

Don't confuse a vertical smoker with a rocket heater design with the big chamber acting as a 'reburner' for the gasses released as smoke.  In a rocket heater the gases are trapped in the barrel and burn completely and have more time to transfer the heat energy to the walls of the barrel.  The up, down, up and out the flue design at very high temps, allows all the smoke to be converted completely to heat.  Very efficient heater; but also very different from a rocket stove.  In a rocket stove, the design does not have a reburn chamber.  It burns fuel efficiently without a lot of smoke because of the efficient draft design.  However, with both, the intake can be dampened to slow the air flow and slow the burn.  By controlling the air, you will control the temp and the amount of un-burned gasses very efficiently.  

Rocket stoves do burn hot.  Or another way to look at it, is they burn to the same temperature, with less fuel.  Use the efficiency of the design to your advantage.  One does not have to burn half a cord of wood to develop a coal bed to then transfer the heat laterally and back through the cooking surface (cross draft).  Very inefficient.  A smoker has to come up to temp before the meat can be added regardless of the design, unless you have days to cook which is impractical in a commercial operation.  Use the rocket stove concept to heat the metal and bring it to temp.  Then use a very little bit of wood, with the flue shut down, allow the wood to smolder (providing the smoke) and to maintain temp.
It sounds as if you have done a lot of research, but since this may be read by others at a later date, let me add a few things.  Meat stops building the smoke ring, or outer layer of meat that carries the smoke flavor, at 170F.  Above this temp all the smoke does it toughen the 'bark' or outer layer of meat and gives it the texture and taste of a hockey puck.  There is a time when 'low and slow' on the heat is good.  But understand that the value added on the smoke flavor stops when the surface temp of the meat exceeds 170F.  This is why it is recommended that the cooking temperature of the system stays around 225 and no higher than 250F.  Having the oven in this range allows delta between the meat surface and the stove to change slower and build the smoke ring which is what it is all about.  

All this can be summed up by this.  The rocket stove design is very efficient at bringing the smoker up to cooking temp, and can be dampened easily and controlled with only the smoking wood, without the large bed of coals in an offset firebox.  Also the design lends itself to good smoke dispersal and coverage in the vertical orientation.  Unless you design the smoke chamber like a reburner, or get the heat up very hot, your smoke will stay smoke and not burn as fuel in the smoker.  If your smoker chamber is that hot (500+F) the smoke will burn; but your meat is already ruined anyway at that high a temp.  
2 years ago

Thank you for the link and suggestion.  I think you hit a home run with that.  Safe, easy to apply, inexpensive, and non-toxic.  I will definitely have to give that a try.  I very much appreciate the information.  Thank you.
2 years ago
Thank you both for your replies.  

I have come across recipes for whitewash that calls for a large amount of salt.  I am wondering what purpose in the mixture it serves, and also if it will actually act as an attractant.  By including it am I basically providing salt licks for every critter in the county to come harass my trees?  I had not heard or considered cayenne pepper as a deterrent.  I like that idea.  

Anybody care to share recipes or formulas for a proven whitewash that will deter animals chewing?  So far the most consistent mix consists of 3 cups hydrated lyme.  1 cup table salt.  3 gallons of water mixed in a 5 gallon bucket.  Add powered deterrent and mix til dissolved.  Most natural deterrents are centered around bloodmeal.  If there is better formula that is proven to you, I am interested in the input.

Thank you.
2 years ago

John Saltveit wrote:The Aztecs had an organic solution. They ate them. They're actually pretty tasty.

I would prefer to eat the fowl after fattening them up on grasshoppers.  They are better at chasing bugs through the pasture.  
2 years ago
I am looking for a large scale natural solution to grasshoppers.  North Central Texas.  I watch the pasture all last summer of my new place.  It was a grasshopper factory.  I could walk 10 feet and flush out several dozen.  I am about to start planting and want to keep them under check.

In the permaculture perspective, I don't have a grasshopper problem.  I have a Guinea Fowl deficiency.  Any ideas on how many birds free ranging it will require to make a dent per acre? This is isolated property.  Closest neighbor is perhaps half a mile or more.  Very agricultural community.  No one is going to call the home owners association on me, so not worried about the noise.  

Any other natural alternatives to knocking down the hoards?
2 years ago
Looking for opinions and experience with painting vs whitewashing the trunks of trees.

I am about to plant 11 acres of pecan trees.  It is a significant investment and this is my first large scale planting.  I have a grasshopper, rodent and deer problem, as well as the Texas sun.  Which is better to protect the young bark of the trees until they get a bit older?  I have whitewash recipes and can mix up dilute latex mixtures.  (I plan to dissolve some rodent repellant for good measure.)

Whitewash is tried and true, but don't know what level of insect or rodent protection it affords.  It has worked for years, but Latex wasn't available to Ol' Granddad.  I think the latex would be a better deterrent, but don't know how well it will let the bark breathe.  

2 years ago
Well, I don't know if it is productive or if I would advise articulating it; but the one recurring sentence that comes to mind is:

Why the hell do you want to fight nature so much?"

It is my one thought anytime I get into a conversation or watch someone in traditional agriculture.  A more productive comment might be:  "Do you know there is an easier way to achieve what your doing?"  But the response is usually along the lines of maximizing revenue... even at the risk of an economic loss.  

2 years ago

Sorry to not respond sooner.  I wanted to give my answer some thought before I shot it out there.  Here is my take for your situation, which I see two determining factors.  Minimal slope and (relativity) easy to move soil.  I would not use the a frame.  What I would suggest is picking two points as far away from each other as you can measure.  Use a laser level or a long thin tube for your water level.  Pick 2 equal points on contour and mark.  Cut that in half with another point on the same elevation.  Then in half again, finding points on contour.  Use lowest level (depression) in the surrounding terrain when you mark all these points.  Trench indiscriminately from point to point after you are comfortable with your base measurements.  

You are not fighting a lot of slope or heavy clay soil.  You have more flexibility where you put the swale.  The top of the swale'e elevation does not mean anything.  It is only at the lowest level where water will settle that needs to be level to stop the water from seeking a lower level.  You can control that by trenching.  Sandy lose soil is easier to move.  Pick your line and shape the bottom of the trench to it (within reason.)

The biggest challenge I would see for your soil is how does water move across the landscape without soaking down into the sandy soil?  Are swales your best strategy to hold water?  Do you get a lot of run off?  Is the surface crusted which slows absorption?  How deep to bedrock or hard pan?  Also you need to stabilize that sand to keep your swales clean.  It sounds like you have a lot of wind erosion.  Until you can get roots into the berms you will need to mulch to keep the berms in place and the swales from washing in.  
2 years ago
If you already live in Western WA then you know the weather.  It will be more or less the same anywhere west of the Cascades.  You other option is to go east of the mountains.  Lots of sun, but colder temps, snow, and water availability issues.  Do you research.  Also anywhere in WA state is going to be pretty heavy govt. regulation on land.

This one comes with some 'baggage' but it is east of the mountains, but just over the pass in Cle Elum.  It is green and water rights are available (but probably not in that price).  It backs up to Federal Land but is not remote.  In fact you are just on the edge of town.  40 acres for $60k.  If you can live with the wetland  designation, it might be worth looking into:!/location_search_field:910515/mls_number:910515/company_uuid:1234567

not affiliated in anyway.  just a quick search on the net.
2 years ago