Will Meginley

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since Nov 19, 2014
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forest garden hunting trees tiny house food preservation woodworking
USDA zone 5b, ~40 inches rainfall per year.
Campton, New Hampshire
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Recent posts by Will Meginley

David Fraleigh wrote:Really the aim of my efforts is to end up with a property that is sparsely wooded with nice sized trees and with a relatively open accessible area underneath...

As an alternative, or in addition to your other efforts, I would highly recommend you consider joining your local prescribed fire council. Although there is an element of risk involved and skill is necessary to do it properly and safely, prescribed burning is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to accomplish the conditions you're describing, and you'd end up with a higher degree of diversity in the understory than a fern monoculture.

Many prescribed fire councils offer fire training. Mostly they exist to pool resources, allowing everyone to accomplish more together than they would be able to alone. You help out on my burn this week, I'll help out on yours next week - that sort of thing. Living in the Southeast, and Florida in particular, you're living at the epicenter of prescribed fire culture in the US. These skills used to be common knowledge among the general public back in the day. Most other regions lost this heritage long ago and are only lately starting to regain it. The Southeast never really lost it completely, mostly because it's the only non-mechanical treatment short of herbicide that can actually keep the undergrowth at bay, and your weather conditions are more forgiving of minor foul ups than other parts of the country.

To maintain the desired conditions you describe, you'd need to burn your land once every two to three years. The most time and labor intensive part of the process would be putting in a fuel break around the parts of the property you wish to burn. That could take hours to days depending on the size and condition of your property. The actual burn itself can be done in an afternoon with a handful of knowledgeable people and a contraption or two for moving water around.
2 years ago

Daniel Kaplan wrote:Having worked around wildfires, how do wood chips burn? I assume they're not going to burn as intensely as something with lots of air access.

Get them dry enough and they will burn quite well. Your assumption is mostly correct. In large enough quantities they'll burn pretty well but you won't typically get massive flames off of wood chips. However, they will smoulder for a long time. As far as fire damage to plants goes, that will actually cause more damage. Residence time is a better predictor of mortality than flame height. Fire creeping around in the duff for 2 hours will kill more than a 20 foot flame wall that blows through in two minutes.

Daniel Kaplan wrote:I assume that after a few years they'll have broken down and become less flammable but somewhere in the middle they'll be punky and will hold embers really well.

Also correct.

Daniel Kaplan wrote:So are wood chips the perfect use for dead wood or a hazard to keep far away?

Location. Location. Location. Keep 'em away from the house and outbuildings. I'd be wary of using them as mulch around the base of non-irrigated crop trees. You're probably fine using them as mulch in well-watered garden beds. Basically, as long as you can keep them reliably damp throughout your local fire season they're fine wherever.

Daniel Kaplan wrote:I was hiking today through a section of forest that burned about 5 years ago and mostly it was just mineral soil with nothing on top. It seems that organic material beneath the mineral soil layer would tend to survive a fire a lot more easily so I was thinking about what deep-rooted plants could be planted.

Many hardwood species are top-killed by fire but will resprout from the roots afterward. The same physiological mechanism as coppicing/pollarding.
2 years ago

wayne fajkus wrote:The oil was designed to drip out. So drain it out when done cause it was coming out anyway.

Kinda tangential to the main topic, but this seems to be a pretty common gripe throughout this thread. So perhaps it's worth pointing out that virtually all chainsaws are designed this way. I say "virtually all" to allow for the possibility that there might be a brand out there I've never heard of that isn't. In practice, I've never seen one. All saws leak oil from the oiler mechanism even when turned off. The exact amount will vary based on what setting your oiler is tuned to but someone's estimate of a tablespoon every week or so is probably not far off normal.

You CAN drain the oil reservoir after each use. You shouldn't lose more than a few drops of oil from the chain and mechanism that way. While you're at it, if you have a gas saw drain the fuel tank, too, and then start it back up and run it until it dies. This will keep the gas from gunking up the carburetor and eating away at the fuel lines. Or, if you plan on using the saw again soon, just set it down on some cardboard or an oil absorbent pad. At home, mine hangs by the trigger guard from a hook in the rafters over a pan of kitty litter.

Bottom line: most chainsaws leak oil at all times. Even electric ones. That's normal. Draining the oil reservoir in less than a minute - THAT is a problem.
2 years ago
This chicken with pumpkin and mushrooms recipe is a staple in our house from fall through spring. We often sub in butternut squash, if anyone is fortunate enough to have a glut of those.
2 years ago

Travis Johnson wrote:That is true, but there is more than one way to do something.

That is also true. I should point out in case it wasn't obvious, the math in question was for the floor I was describing, not the floor Travis described which made me remember it.
3 years ago

Will Meginley wrote:
I had a friend growing up whose father did this with 2 x 4 lumber. He used cookies about 1/2 inch thick. The pieces looked like little bricks. He wood glued them in a herringbone pattern to a plywood subflooring and then covered the floor in epoxy. It looked really nice.

Doing the math: looks like you need about 30 tiles per square foot to pull that floor off. Assuming you get eight tiles per linear foot (to account for kerf, knots, shake, etc.) You should get 2 square feet per standard 2 x 4 x 8. So if you purchase the boards it's not super cheap. My friend's dad had a large scrap wood pile from other projects that provided his flooring.
3 years ago

Travis Johnson wrote:Another extremely cheap floor to make is one made out of wood rounds or squares.

This was often used in old factories because old whale grease would land on the floors and be slippery. Plus everything was oiled back then, so oil dripped everywhere. To combat that, factories cut wood rounds, debarked to an even thickness of 2-4 inches. These were nailed to the floor or adjacent blocks of wood. They did this because the end grain would readily suck up the grease and oil preventing slipping when walked on.

There is two ways to do this. Logs can be debarked, then crosscut so that rounds are made, and then placed about the room as close as possible. They should be dried first though to allow for shrinking. Then concrete is made, and poured around the rounds of wood, just as if you were making a stone patio with flat rock pavers. But in this case, they are rounds blocks of wood. I have personally built this kind of floor for a woodworking shop.

The other way to do it, and is more refined, is to cut logs into square beams...8x8's, 6x6's, 4x4.s etc, and then crosscut them to 2-4 inches in thickness. Then place them end grain up nailing them to each other and the floor as you work across the room. This can be left natural as they did in the old factories, or sanded and sealed with polyurethane.

Sorry, I do not have a picture of that round block floor.

I had a friend growing up whose father did this with 2 x 4 lumber. He used cookies about 1/2 inch thick. The pieces looked like little bricks. He wood glued them in a herringbone pattern to a plywood subflooring and then covered the floor in epoxy. It looked really nice.
3 years ago

Ty Greene wrote:Thanks to everyone for the ID of Sumac I noticed a strange smell when messing with them so I assumed it was the tree of heaven, they also have seeds hanging that look like windscattered type and I though that was another indicator...

Be warned: I have received poison ivy-like rashes on my forearms from handling the stuff at work in short sleeves. Don't know if it's just me or that's a common occurrence.
3 years ago

Kate Downham wrote:I hadn't heard of this before. I am in Australia, normal car fuel here is 92%, and that's what we use for the chainsaw. There is usually a 95% option too - would this 95% fuel be worth it?

I honestly don't know how much difference 3% would make. Since it has ethanol in it either way, for sure always store it purged. It's a good habit to be in anyway.
3 years ago

Travis Johnson wrote:I like a 18 inch bar and chain because it is a whole lot less teeth to file, and the bar and chain are cheaper to buy. The biggest reason though is, I get far more power. I have 6 inches of less drag on a 18 inch bar over that of a 20 inch bar, (2 inches longer on the top, bottom and nose to make 6 inches) so I get more power to the chain to cut through wood. Again I so seldom cut massive trees so having more power 99% of the time makes up for the few times I have to...wait for it...cross to the other side of the log and finish the cut. Oh the horrors of that! (insert sarcasm here)

A smaller bar results in fuel savings also. I have both an 18 and a 20 inch bar for my saw. The same tank of gas gets me 45 minutes of saw time with the 20" or an hour with the 18." Fifteen extra minutes for giving up two inches of cutting length.

One situation where having a larger bar is nice, though, is if you're doing a lot of thinning (cutting small trees and brush from around and under larger trees). The extra bar length means you don't have to bend over as far, which really saves your back over the course of a long day. In the past, I've been known to slap a 24 inch bar onto an 036 at work if I knew I was going to be out thinning all day. I wouldn't use that setup to cut anything over about twelve inches, though. WAY underpowered. But eight inches was usually the upper limit of our prescriptions, anyway, and it saved my back. Burns more gas. Like always, there's a trade off somewhere.
3 years ago