Rez Zircon

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since May 02, 2015
Brendansport, Sagitta IV
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Recent posts by Rez Zircon

Since I mentioned Italian stone pines...

Here's a volunteer stone pine that is about 25 years old. (Note the dead desert juniper to the left, which died about 15 years ago.) Initially it had some water from a leaking wellhead from a house that had burned down, but that dried up about 20 years ago and it's had only the scant desert rainfall ever since. Its parent was most likely my own tree (about a mile up the road), from a seed carried by a bird.

1 week ago

M James wrote:The only flowers I even have right now are dandelions and chives lol!

Stick your nose into a dandelion that has just reached the perfectly-bloomed stage... they have a lovely scent, if too faint to carry.
1 month ago
Once saw a dead school bus used to block access -- someone took the wheels off, and set it flat on the ground crosswise to the road. If you've got strategic trees to brace it against, there won't be any dragging or shoving it either.
2 months ago
A different take: "A Dearth of Carbon" on Youtube (interview with co-founder of Greenpeace).

Artie Scott wrote:So, I don’t feed any more bread to the chickens. Anyone else feed bread to their chickens?

Mine never got bread, but they ate dog food for years, and did spectacularly well. Concrete eggshells and chickens living past 11 years old.

Then I had to switch brands, and several promptly dropped dead (no symptoms, just came up dead). Had a suspicion it might be the soybean meal (some in the new, none in the old). Didn't seem to affect the roosters, tho, only the hens. And most were fairly old chickens.
5 months ago
I just sift out the weevils. They're harmless, and you eat a whole lot of their eggs and larvae without realizing it, because as someone noted they're always in flour. If you shake whole-wheat flour you may be amazed how many shed pupae cases floof up to the top, looking a lot like bran. If the flour starts smelling musty, it's probably time to give it up and get new flour.

But other things to do with tired flour...
-- make dog treats or pig treats (I suppose goats would like 'em too)
-- make glue-on-demand or Papier-mâché
-- use it to soak up grease or motor oil
-- use it to rub off label stickum or peanut butter
-- use it as janitor's sawdust (floor sweeping compound to pick up fine lint and grit that wants to blow around) -- you can re-use it til it starts to clump up
-- substitute for cornstarch in dry shampoo (doesn't work as well, but good enough)
-- fling it into the wind and enjoy watching it poof up and blow away (something downwind will eat it)

Someone mentioned old cake mixes... I've found they keep more or less forever. I've rediscovered a case of forgotten cake mixes that were over 15 years old and still perfectly good (and as waaaaaaaay out beyond supertaster, if they were at all bad, I'd notice!)

5 months ago
And some fragile stuff went into salvaged 5-gallon buckets with lids, under the theory that they're less squashable than cardboard. Seems to have worked!

Anyone else think that other people need to use more paint, so we can have more 5-gallon buckets?

6 months ago
When I moved, and had a zillion small breakables and gods know how many swag T-shirts to pack, and that lifetime accumulation of hand towels and socks... I looked at that and said, why should I scrounge up packing material, I already have more than I can use!

Socks are perfect for glasses and cups. T-shirts and towels went between glass plates and other breakables, and down into box corners. And took half the time to pack since it was a continuous twofer.

And on the other end there was far more of "Oh, THAT's where it is!" than normal...
6 months ago
For many years in Montana I heated a 21 foot travel trailer with a sheepherder's stove (miniature cookstove -- cast-iron top but the rest was sheet metal). In the way of old trailers, it had thin walls and very little insulation. The stove had a firebox about the size of a large shoebox (IIRC it was 6w x 8h x 16 inches). The pipe went out the wall (replaced a window) and had two right-angle bends, and the cap was about a foot above the roof. Heat circulated around the stove's oven before going up the chimney, so it was fairly efficient for heat transfer (the main flue rarely got really hot). Quite good for cooking and baking.

In mild weather I burned deadwood, construction scrap, even bones and rolled paper (tho that's a pain to keep lit). This was all free salvage. Riverbanks always have lots of standing deadwood. Cottonwood is my favorite as it burns steady, has high heat value for its weight, and leaves almost no ash. You can bank cottonwood down for an overnight fire without making a lot of creosote; other woods will gunk up your chimney unless they're burning fairly hot. Don't burn bark if you can avoid it.

In cold weather I burned coal. This requires a wood fire under it to start it, but once it's started going to coals, it can be banked down for an overnight fire (a banked block the size of your head burns about six hours). The quality of coal heat is much better than wood heat -- the same temperature feels much warmer. The main drawback is that it's extremely dirty, the smoke is to gag you, and about twice a year I had to open up all the littte stove accesses and one of the pipe elbows, and shovel/scrape out the accumulated ash and residue. Coal smoke makes a ton of deposits -- not flammable but really a pain since they grow like fingers on every surface the smoke passes by. On the plus side, strip-mined bituminous coal is cheap; only cost me about $100/year to keep my trailer as warm as I liked. I could easily keep it 80 degrees in there even when it was -40F out. (Once it got below zero, wood couldn't keep up.) Actually the main problem was that it tended to be too warm (and every so often would wake me up by getting more enthused than necessary, but you can throw water on it and slow it down without extinguishing the fire). Burning coal in an open firebox is a black art in more ways than one.

And of course there was the year all I could get locally was crappy lignite (no good for this kind of stove, won't stay lit and has poor heat value) so had to trek all the way down to the mine in Wyoming to get good coal. (Tho it was free for the picking from the side of the road.)

The trailer came with built-in propane heat (a fullsized wall furnace, not the kind they have now) and that was untenable. The propane furnace had to be turned all the way up to keep it halfway warm, and it was very expensive considering how small the space was -- required about 15 gallons per week. And that was with fully adjustable flame, much less costly than they are nowadays with the flame that is only ON or OFF. (For comparison, when I lived in a Real House in the SoCal desert, I once figured out that my wall furnace, at far-cheaper bulk propane rates, cost me $3 every ten MINUTES.)

I did use the flowerpot-on-the-propane-cooktop trick for supplemental heat in mild weather; that uses very little propane and is no more unsafe than cooking with it. But freestanding unvented propane heaters in an enclosed space will kill you.

If I were doing it today, I'd probably use one of those woodstoves the size of a large overnight bag, with a flat top suitable for cooking, and heavy cast-iron sides; Tractor Supply sells 'em for about $300. They can burn wood or coal and the firebox is big enough to take reasonably-sized wood. My neighbor had one of these and used it to heat about twice as much space as I had (but also with no real insulation), and man was it toasty in there. Too big a stove in such a small space and you'll have a lot of trouble with keeping a good fire going without also roasting yourself. Mine was about as big as necessary for coal; could have been a little bigger for wood. (Cost me $20, so no complaints.)

As to the uninsulated metal walls -- as is that's going to be impossible to keep warm. You need to insulate it on the inside any way you can, and outside block the wind as much as possible. Corrugated cardboard and sheet styrofoam on your inside walls are both excellent for the purpose. Old mattresses, blankets, and pillows also work well. Pretty much anything that covers the wall and traps a layer of dead air will work, and you won't spend all your wood heating up the outdoors. If your flue sticks up a foot or so above the roof, and you anchor it with a bit of wire, wind won't be too much of a problem (at least it wasn't for mine, and I lived in a high wind area, 40mph steady with 60mph gusts not uncommon. It was on the downwind side of the trailer, which probably helped.)

Last place I lived in the trailer, I piled straw bales all around it. That's a common trick for folks in old trailers here in Montana -- so long as the straw stays dry, it's excellent insulation. (Wet it still insulates, but it molds.) But if you're burning wood be sure sparks can't hit the straw -- it can smoulder for weeks before it suddenly decides to make flames and go WHOOSH. If you're in a more permanent situation, dirt works great. Doesn't even need to be a thick layer. I think ideally I would put plywood in a lean-to arrangement, and pile the dirt against that -- that way you don't have moisture against the walls, and there's a big dead air space.

Now I'm an old fart and live in a real house just like a real person, but when I was a young'un, I thought my little trailer was the bomb, and loved the idea of turning a shipping container into a house. Do come back and let us know how it goes!

6 months ago
Should put a bikini on those onions...

I grew some veggie porn myself... here he is with his lady-love:

8 months ago