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Dillon Nichols

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since Feb 18, 2015
Victoria BC
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Recent posts by Dillon Nichols

I am pretty sure that's right; they may forage enough early on, but they grow so absurdly fast that I don't expect they would be able to keep up with their own needs as they get more ungainly.

Heritage alternatives would be much better... just keep in mind that the overall feed consumption from the longer grow-put time means you'll need even more forage on hand... and they are certainly not as palatable to your average grocery-store shopper.
8 hours ago
I have been re-evaluating my hugel wood choices as I underestimated how determined chunks of cottonwood are about rooting themselves.

I mention this because I have seen this behavior from apple wood used fresh in a hugel. As we did not want apple trees in our hugel it was somewhat annoying, nothing like as bad as the cottonwood would be though.

Getting the wood down and drying out a bit ahead of time will improve your odds!
1 day ago
Thanks folks!

Jim, is the detailed planning on flashing, doors etc something I would find examples of in your book? Or any other source you might suggest?

My building experience is limited to farm structures and my tinyhouse... and I am no yet satisifed with this aspect of the tinyhouse. Once I started looking for examples in my area I began to realize that these details are often handled very poorly even on simpler conventional structures...

Thekla, if you get anything like the amount of condensation on steel roofing that I do... extra care protecting the top of the bale-walls from moisture may be warranted. Perhaps ceiling insulation will take care of this without further work though?

I wonder if assembling the bales in sections, heavily plastering the outside face, and then moving into place would work? If you happen to have a cement floor some arrangment using a pallet-jack might be

As far as vermin go.. I know of a mostly uninsulated cabin, occupied full time, on a farm with a booming rat population. They simply stacked a bunch bales against the north wall and called it good... gee, where are all these rats coming from?

1 day ago

Chris Kott wrote:I have yet to hear a good reason as to why it is preferable to build out of straw bale than, say, rammed earth.

As I understand dewpoint and how heat is transferred through different media, the best option in a temperate climate is to insulate on both sides of the structure. For my money, that means nice, thick rammed earth walls with insulation inside and out, preferably an insulation that is dense and inedible, and sealed overtop with a waterproof earthen plaster.

Nothing for vermin of any kind to eat, no space in which they can nest, and a sandstone-like mass around two feet thick to burrow through to get inside; easier to find other accomodation.


To me the appeal is that the strawbale is reasonably insulative. It's uncommon amongt the common, DIY-friendly green methodologies in that regard. Light-clay straw/chip, hempcrete are other options...

Rammed earth in your example is not really replacing the strawbale; the unspecified dense inedible insulation is!

Interested in more discussion(another place?) of the pros/cons of insulation on inside of walls... the upsides that I am aware of don't really seem worth it to me..
1 day ago
I was at a friends place yesterday.. last summer he dug out two ~20" cottonwoods in a field.

There are many hundred if not thousand suckers emerging in a 100ft radius from where the trees were... not fun.
1 day ago

thomas rubino wrote:
I've not given much thought to the tiny house craze. I wonder how does a mobile home deal with service hookups ?   Water , power and most important sewage ? I would think hauling about a water and sewage tanks would add a liquid weight to your vehicle that makes driving hazardous ...  just ask Dillon.

Large tanks would definitely not have helped matters; my setup is pretty much what it sounds like Kate is planning on. External water tanks and composting toilet.

A nasty sudden crosswind from the high side of the shed roof on a 13.5ft high house combined with a bit too much speed on a suddenly increasing downhill grade were the triggers for my excitement... I built it to move by highway ONCE, glad to never be doing that again!
1 day ago
Second that, thanks for posting.

Would love some more details; what sort of plaster are the bees/insects getting through?

If you were to do it again, do you have any ideas about addressing these problems?

What is your roof/ceiling insulation like?
1 day ago
I can't speak to steel, but my heavily built wood-framed 26' tinyhouse on a 14k equipment trailer(basic leaf-springs) survived extensive violent fishtailing across 2.5 lanes of a 2-lane highway with zero damage.. can't imagine there was too much movement or the steel siding or windows would be unhappy...

Now that I have established myself as someone who tows things that they probably should not.. I think this choice is not the most critical.

I would suggest you attempt to select an experienced builder with some sort of track record, and have them build the way they are used to building! If there are two choices equal in all other ways... well, someone else will be along with more of an opinion on the steel option I bet!
2 days ago
This crude test method for herbicides is fairly straightforward.

1) Determine what the herbicides are meant to kill, and get/grow some plants that fall into this category. I've used sweetpea when testing garden straw for persistent broadleaf herbicides.

2) Divide the plants into test and control groups.

3) Soak a bunch of the test straw in water, I did so for 24 hours and just left it in there; use this water for test group and your regular water for control.

4) Observe! It was not subtle when I did it.

I suppose in theory a very similar method could be used for pesticide residue, assuming it is the effective ingredient that is the concern.
2 days ago
Since my last post a few years back I've found that 2-string oat straw bales are available locally(upper van isle). Price was $7/bale last year, picked up direct from producer.

This leaves me wondering if the strawbale builders I previously talked to on the island are not aware of this source, or if there is something suboptimal about these bales.

Anyone know of a downside to oat straw?
3 days ago