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Todd McDonald

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since Apr 27, 2015
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Recent posts by Todd McDonald

Most people don’t think of Sherwin Williams because it’s such expensive paint but they also have oops paint. They call them mis-tints. Sherwin Williams often processes large commercial orders and if they mess one up its your lucky day. Mis-tints often go for $1 a gallon and more than once I have walked in and they have mis-tinted an entire order and there is anywhere between 2 to 5, 5 gallon buckets of matched paint sitting there. Many times I have bought $1,000 worth of high quality paint for $30 to $50.
1 year ago
NOT speaking from experience, just pontificating. If possible, place the chinampas on the upwind side of your prevailing summer winds. That way any scum and algae forming in those pockets will be blown out to the middle of the pond. I usually see one spot on a pond where the algae tends to collect, don't put chinampas there. If algae is a problem, grab a rake, scoop it out, and place directly on the chinampa. Instant fertilizer! Again, not from experience, but I have been thinking of this same idea, just haven't put into practice yet.
2 years ago
Don't know much about Osburn but I can tell you a little about my experience with our Quadra-fire voyager grand insert. We have had it for four seasons now.

The good:

It burns very clean, most of the time you don't even see smoke coming out of the chimney. We went two seasons before cleaning the chimney and only got a few handfuls of soot (maybe 2 cups) when we finally did clean it.

The Automatic Combustion Control - this feature is nothing more than an air inlet that slowly shuts down the air coming in on a timer. When you add a log you push in the control knob and the timer starts, it allows a lot of air at first to get the log going and then slowly shuts it down. I like this feature for when we leave the house for a while, I can throw a few logs in and set the timer and walk out knowing that its not going to be burning at full throttle the whole time, or just smoldering because I added too much wood and not enough air.

The bad:

Very picky about the wood you use. Must use dry wood, anything green will just smolder, soot up your glass and your chimney. Our first season was rough because we did not have much cured wood. The stove is so tight that it just wouldn't burn, I had to leave the door cracked open just to get enough air in to burn the green wood. If you don't have dry, cured wood, the two items I mentioned under "the good" are null and void. To be fair, I believe that this is an issue with all of the modern stoves that have secondary combustion features and is not limited to the quadra-fire brand.

The Automatic Combustion Control - Yes it has a down side. Its intended to be extremely user friendly and it is. The draw back is that sometimes I just want more control in order to fine tune it and I can't when that timer is going. Once its set, its set, and it has to run its course (about 20 min). I have learned to adapt, read the fire and the wood I'm putting in and make a judgement call on using it or not.

Overall we are very satisfied with it. In general you get what you pay for and I'm sure the Osburn is fine stove as well.
2 years ago
For topical treatment of infected cuts, wounds, and something that I believe may have been staph, I have had tremendous results with goldenseal. Mix the powdered root with aloe to make a paste, apply that to the infected area and cover with a bandage or bandaid. Change it out twice a day.

I have taken goldenseal internally by putting the powder in capsules, I believe you can also buy pre-made capsules. Be careful when using it this way as it is hard on the liver. Allow at least 12 hours between doses and don't take it continuously for more than two weeks. I AM NOT A DOCTOR, just someone who has had great results and is passing that info on for others.
3 years ago
Thanks for checking in Leif. Here is a brief summary of what happened in the last last year.

We are still trying to find the right piece of property to get this started. I have been amazed and humbled at how hard this part is. I've been in real estate (property management) for almost 10 years and have bought and sold many houses, but land is apparently a whole different ballgame. First off I have learned to stop telling people what I'm going to do with the land. In rural areas words like "subdivide" "develop" "neighborhood" and "build houses" are pretty much conversation enders. I have had 3 potentially great pieces of property absolutely shut down negotiations upon mentioning of more than one home being built. One of those pieces is actually STILL for sale, just not to me.

We did end up making an offer last October on an absolutely perfect 95 acres, but after a few weeks the owner decided to pull it from the market and stay put. She's still there, maybe she will change her mind and it will come up for sale again.

We've learned a ton about rural development in Missouri. In the process of making that offer last year, we started digging very heavily into the nuances of subdividing land. We are doing this in one of the counties in Missouri that has no zoning and no building code enforcement, but they do regulate wastewater at the state level. If you subdivide into lots smaller than 5 acres, the state gets involved regarding permitting and inspecting septic systems. As a result of learning this information, I decided to take the state's wastewater installer certification course and am now happy to say that I am a licensed wastewater installer in the state of Missouri. Also, with my newly minted wastewater license, I was able to schedule a sit down with the wastewater program director for the entire state and for an hour and a half we went through Art Ludwig's gray water builder's guide. He asked a lot of questions and was very interested. I let him keep my copy of Art's book. He seemed legitimately willing to give it some credit and we talked about plans for a trial run so the state could observe how the gray water system performed. So that's probably the coolest thing that has come out of this project so far.

In short, the dream is still alive and we are still pushing forward. It just takes WAY more time than I would like, or ever thought it would take.

3 years ago
Our friends are selling their 20 acre permaculture farm in order to move up to a larger parcel. A lot of earthworks and 3 ponds have already been completed and the on contour garden beds are set up to be gravity irrigated from one of the ponds. Also has a 2 bedroom strawbale house.

Located in Howard County, MO where there is no zoning or building codes but about 30 minutes away from college town Columbia, MO. Here is their craigslist ad.
I'm in Columbia and have some friends that recently had a passive solar home built by Robyn Magnet. He has done many in the area and has a great reputation. They said he is trying to retire though so may or may not be available. Can't say anything about his permaculture knowledge but he builds a good house. PM me if you want contact info.
3 years ago
I've heard one simple question that seems to bring the argument for having a mortgage to its knees.

Put the shoe on the other foot. If you already owned the land and home outright, would you be willing to take out a mortgage on it so you could invest in the stock market??

My brother, who is a certified financial planner, tried to tell me that it was still worth it if your interest rate was low enough however I still feel that the markets have a lot of uncertainty, and for someone who wants to grow food, land offers a lot of security. The follow up to the question above is: If after you own your land outright you change your mind, you can always go out and get yourself a mortgage.  
3 years ago
Espalier apples and pears work very well in small spaces, I've planted mine as a living fence between my yard and a busy road but the technique really shines against a fence or a wall, especially on the south side of a masonry wall.  If you do this please double check that you choose apple varieties are spur bearing and not tip bearing. Also I highly recommend Katherine Aby's book on espalier for use as a guide. It is a very short, instructional book with pruning instructions for year one, year two, etc.

Here is a picture of my apples. In this photo they were in their third year of growth, we got apples the following year.

3 years ago
I've used the mini clover from outside pride mentioned above. I seeded some into a 20ft section of a raised bed last spring to see how it would work. So far it has performed as advertised, stays very short and not very aggressive. Now that its established I'll keep an eye on it to see if it tries to spread.

Regarding white clover, at least in my area (central Missouri zone 6), I have observed that white clover comes up early in spring, then gets knocked back a little in the summer heat and returns again in the cooler fall temps. It would seem ideal in the role of permanent ground cover so that's why I am giving it a try. 3 years ago I tried red clover and can confirm that this plant is too tall and too aggressive to use as a ground cover for an annual vegetable garden, it's great around fruit trees and pastures though.
3 years ago