Paul Fookes

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since Jun 27, 2015
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My wife Fran, and I live in a compressed earth brick house that is completely off the utilities except for NBN wireless internet. We have had solar power since 1986 and a backup wind turbine. In 2020 we upgraded our system to 2 dual axis trackers with 4 Kw power output. As far as possible we try to grow as much as we can and live with a low to neutral carbon foot print. We are in the process of putting in a gground air heat transfer (GAHT) system for cooling our home in summer. My next project is to refurbish the browns gas generator in our car or the out doors kitchen, honey room and larder - which ever I can organise time for.
Any one coming down under to NSW is most welcome. Send an email to hook up
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Gulgong, NSW, Australia (Cold Zone 9B, Hot Zone 6) UTC +10
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Recent posts by Paul Fookes

Yesterday my brother and I were speaking of what "we would do differently" in our journey "back to the land" that started about 45 years ago..  Very high on the list was the topic of what sort of grass we would plant again..  We are in northern Florida and back then we planted a grass called Bahia on the sixty acres that we cleared.

David, have a look at regen and mix seeds in with what you have.  If you use a mix of grasses and forbes plants then you can spread grain directly into the existing mix without the need to use too much energy.  Use a mix of cows, sheep and goats to clip the grass by 10 - 20% before sowing.  Use a few of square feet in a protective cage as a control.  Alan Booker has said here during webinars that nature will cover any bare ground with weeds as a part of the healing.

For my money, Rachel Ward's experience is a good place to start

Best wishes
3 days ago
Count me in - I will definitely be a backer.
1 week ago

Patrick W Kelly wrote:I have not read the book, but it's going on my wish list. We're striving to build a better world that includes our front yard...there is more space for us than the backyard (shade tree takes up a good amount of space).

Congratulations Patrick.  Just imagine how many food miles we could save if each of us had your foresight; and how much healthier we would be eating our own fresh fruit and vegetables?
Send me a PM with a mailing address and I will ensure that you get a copy of Building a better world in your own Back Yard with my compliments to celebrate your work in the front garden.  The proviso is that when you no longer have a need for it, you pass it on to someone else or put it in your local library.  I have an e-book copy as well as a reference.
Again, congratulations and well done
Paul from down under

1 week ago

Aaron Yarbrough wrote:This article on fridges and inverter sizing suggest the surge power is about 1000 times the operating amps or ~1800 watts.

I am hearing your pain.  We have been fully off grid since 1986 and have just upgraded our system so we have 4Kw panels and 2Kw inverter. running into 2000Ah tubular lead batteries.
Our fridge freezer is a vestfrost which has two danfos compressors, so the one compressor is not trying to do two jobs and we have a 702 litre westinghouse chest freezer sitting on the back verandah (porch).

The vestfrost is perhaps 15 years old and apart from a bit of an issue with the control panel in the early days has been running really well.  It is also hydrocarbon refrigerant not fluorocarbon.  I agree with John C.  get the right product for the job.  The other thing to consider is doing a eutectic conversion and split the compressor off from the fridge unit.  This system is ideal for under bench fridges and freezers.  For any off grid, soft start is always the better option to a hard start.

Good luck with it all.
2 weeks ago

thomas rubino wrote:And Then there is Murphys Law
Anything that can go wrong Will go wrong...
Just saying

And O'Tool's second rule of everything: "Murphy was an optimist"
I just missed out on having to use a slide rule in Technical Drawing and Industrial Arts at school and still cannot do log maths to save myself - Thank Mr Google that I can look up tables!!
1 month ago
I give Rachel's Farm 10 acorns out of 10.  Rachel Ward is an Australian actress, director and producer who has a very large portfolio and credits as an actor as well as a writer, director and producer.  She and her husband, actor Bryan Brown bought a property in northern NSW Australia as a lifestyle block and very much hands off farming.  Her realisation and through discussions with her next door neighbour, the light dawns and she becomes hands on.  The realities of life on a farm are not glossed over.  The film shows the good times, the hard times and the bad times and how she, Bryan and her family, as well as the neighbours grow through trial and error and adversity.  It is my hope that we will be able to access Rachel's Farm here on Permies.
1 month ago
Rachel's Farm is a documentary experiential film showing Rachel's journey from barren to pasture.  Rachel and her husband Bryan Brown go through severe bush fires  and floods.  
The documentary goes through the steps.  Having heard Rachel speak about her journey, no matter the size of the property, it is doable.  It is a matter of scale.  Big properties can tolerate cattle where the back yard may have chickens, guinea fowl and a milking sheep or two.  The rotation, many grass and plant species remains the same.  
Rachel's Farm Website
Rachel Ward's Regenerative Agriculture

You Tube has a great trailer.

Rachel is super keen to get the re-gen story out to help our ravaged lands recover.
1 month ago
Make sure you do not miss what is looking like a not to be missed presentation.  Download World Clock, add Mountain Time (Missoula) and your own time zone.
This is my go to so I never miss a presentation.
1 month ago
My take on thermal mass is that it is mass as in quantity and thermal in that it delays the transmission of heat or cold through it.  So anything with enough mass can delay the transmission of temperature change or can retain a constant temperature.  Our home is constructed with 300 mm (1') compressed earth blocks so the temperature transmission delay is, according to what I have read, 10 hours.  What we have effectively is a heat pump.  With good management, our house is between 16 deg C and 27 deg C  all year round.  We have a wood fire (A rmh/ stove is in the planning) and ceiling fans.  In a 12 month period, we never have a living space is too cold and if we don't get it right, a couple of days that are too hot (over 30 deg C)  The construction is post and beam to prevent the engineering and stabilisation of the bricks.  They are 100% dirt from our block of land.  An air gap is also a great form of thermoregulation.  We have a metal foil, a bit like double layer bubble wrap under our glass wool fibre mats. This gives us about an R10 so we lose little heat through the ceiling.
1 month ago
This forum is to discuss the pros and cons of thermal mass in building design and construction.  What works and what does not work.  Consider ways of gathering or making thermal mass without it costing an arm and a leg.
Seek advice and offer solutions.  Good thermal mass is one way of keeping the home warm in winter and cool in summer, and minimising the requirements to go to extremes for heating and cooling.
2 months ago