Gordon Haverland

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since Jun 22, 2016
Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Recent posts by Gordon Haverland

I am on a north facing slope.  I think it makes the most sense to have the ceiling joists oriented N-S.  I believe the maximum span for a SPF x12 joist is about 10 feet, so the N-S dimension of the building will be about 10'.  The wall height may end up being 8 foot tall, I am not sure.  Depending on the hill you are building into, the "height" of the building could be considerably less than 8 feet.  If it is less than 6 feet, it becomes very likely that Bambi could be on your roof, should there be something interesting up there.  I have watched moose (Bullwinkle) jump my 5 foot fence, so Bullwinkle could be up there too.  Especially since the moose are only around in winter, and then snow, ice, hard wind-packed layers and so on make the concept of fence height ambiguous.  Other farmers in the region have had elk attacking their hay, I've never seen elk on the farm.  I am going to assume an elk is just a moose with different antlers.  So it could be up on the roof too.

I am pretty sure that having an "earthtube" bring air into the building, should be able to supply some degree of heating in winter.  How much I am unsure.

People have been known to put barrels of water into root cellars, to act as a heat source.   One thing that occurs to me, is a person could have tanks (rectangular parallelpipeds - aka boxes) up against the wall (tall, wide and not deep), which have a fingers coming out the "back".  The fingers are attached to a "copper fin" on the inside, which is sized such that if all the water freezes, the copper fin deforms enough to take up the volume change of the water freezing.  The other end of the fingers fits into holes in the wall.  The idea is that these fingers are in better thermal contact with the outside air, than the inside surface of the wall.  If it starts to freeze outside, these fingers will bring the cold to the copper fin, which will start to cool the water and start to freeze it, which will release heat to the inside of the cellar.  The question then becomes will the amount of water last long enough to protect the food which is inside?

I was thinking about partitioning the room so that one part could be apples (which I grow here) and the other part could be potatoes.  And maybe a person needs a 3rd part for squash?  Which has a different T/RH regime than potatoes.  Apples and other fruit which emit ethylene gas, need to be stored differently than potatoes.  As ethylene basically has the same density as air, you can't rely on it concentrating on the floor or ceiling.  So, if you have apples in the same building, they probably need to be stored in an old freezer (just the shell).  They can at least be sealed against the release of the ethylene gas outside of the freezer.  You want an air inlet on one side and an exhaust on the other side, and you might want a small fan to "stir" the air inside the container.

A flat roof would be the easiest to construct, and the x12 joists leave ample room for insulation, and will allow for under sheathing ventilation as well.  You still need to deal with extra water (aka rain, snow, ...) on the roof.  You need some overhang, if nothing else to cover the ends of exterior insulation on the walls.

I would put a solar chimney on the south side, about midway, to try and assist with ventilation in winter, and to drive ventilation in summer (which would tend to cool the root cellar)..

But, to have this flat roof on a farm, my thoughts are to put a living roof on the root cellar.  You still need to do something about excess water, which is mostly concerned with the edges of the roof.  So no soil there, that area is reserved for the water works, insulation and then maybe covered with solar cells to store energy for a few 12V fans inside the root cellar.  Maybe a few LED lights to illuminate things when the room is occupied?

The soil is somewhat of an insulator in winter (it is probably dry then, at least here) and is more like a lot of thermal mass in summer.  But, a living roof wants there to be less insulation in the ceiling, so that the roots in the soil don't get too cold.  Is passive heating going to provide enough heat for this?  If you do put a living roof on the root cellar, I think you need to put a fence (people building decks would call them railings) on the edges to keep Bambi and friends off the roof.  A deck wants railings that can take a 200 pound load in any direction with a safety factor of 2.5 (so a 500 pound load).  A mule deer is heavier than most adult humans (here); moose and elk are way beyond humans.  So you probably need to make your fence (sorry, I mean railings) quite a bit more robust than for a deck.

It may be, that part of the floor inside the root cellar needs to be raised up (concrete pad), which would make it drier, possibly partitioned off, and positioned such that the "winter heating air" entered this partition first?  Would that constitute conditions amenable for squash?  The walls at the ceiling could have a small gap, so that this "warm" air could then spill into the rest of the room, and then we would need to find some way to mix the energy.  Perhaps one pumps warm air towards the floor with fans (in tubes), perhaps one paints things inside so that radiative transfer is more effective?

If one is using dimensional lumber, thermal bridging is a concern.  So you could put a layer of styrofoam immediately next to the joists on the ceiling, and then cover with something like moisture resistant drywall.
1 week ago
For some people, they have a hillside available that transitions to level.  I just have one long hill.

Perhaps XPS or EPS insulation is cheap where you are, it isn't here.  Apparently you can replace the layer(s) of foam insulation, with a layer of gravel (for drainage), a layer of straw, a layer of black poly, more layers of straw and poly, a layer of gravel and then put dirt on top.  Keeping the water out of the ground under the building, and to the sides, will keep the ground dry, which makes it a better insulator.

How do I heat this building in winter?  Diverting ground heat will help, but how much at -30C or colder?  Looking at thermosyphon stuff and earthtubes (that was the name I seen today, I've seen other names), I have an idea.

In the centre of your building floorplan, you dig a post hole (big enough to take 4 inch pipe (the Earthtubes site, suggests that there is something lighter weight than schedule 35).  Legally, I think I have to consider the frost line here to be 9 feet down (I doubt it gets that low any more, it probably did when I was in high school in the mid/late 1970's).  And then a person cuts a trench that has a slope of say 2% that goes from the bottom of your hole, downslope until it exits the ground.

The air inlet (downslope) will let in cold surface air in winter, and as it flows uphill in this pipe, it is also getting further underground and picking up heat from the Earth.  It will be at its deepest, in the vicinity of where this trench turns vertical and comes into your building.  Hence, in this region is where it will gets its warmest, and between being warmer than the outside, and the now vertical pipe, buoyancy should allow it to draw air.  I doubt it will be 15C air here, but it may be warmer than freezing enough to "heat" the root cellar in the winter?  You do need an exhaust vent, and I suspect some kind of solar chimney would probably work the best.

I don't know what size of building to build, and the need to insulate the ground around it means a pretty big footprint is needed.  I've always like dry stacked, surface bonded CMU but never had the chance to build one yet.  That should cut most of the the costs down.  The building probably needs insulation on the outside surface and probably a wood truss ceiling that is insulated.  Much of the excavated earth can go around the building.  I think if you fill your hole/trench with gravel after putting the pipe in to a reasonable distance, that hole and trench could also serve as a drain for the building.
1 week ago
Yet another - not an expert.

Earlier today, I appended a reply to a root cellar in Montana thread here on Permies.  In looking around since then, I stumbled across a too brief description of a kind of thermosyphon heating/cooling/ventillating comment in some other website also on a root cellar type idea.  So, I went looking some more.

Most thermosyphons seem to be hydraulic (all liquid) or evaporative (mixed liquid/gas).  There are thermsyphones which work on a loop principle, and if so, the loop systems can derive greater heat transport.  I believe in any loop system, you need to have (almost) monotonic elevation changes.  And one side of the loop needs to be on average hotter than the other side.  If the pipe is going up on the hot side and then goes down (far enough), that can be enough to stop or severely slow the circulation in the system.

1 week ago

I glossed over another detail.  As heat flows into this uninsulated (or underinsulated) centre, the temperature of the ground (and foundation/pad) increases, which decreases the driving force for heat flow.  Consequently there is a limit as to how much heat diverts to the centre.
1 week ago

Perhaps you finished your root cellar?

My thinking reading over your thread, is that few people read about shallow, frost protected foundations.  I read about these things for the first time  5 or so years ago (more?).

As I understand things, in some circumstances these involve little excavating.  Almost like scrape the sod off, add some gravel and other worth, pour the pad (nominally on the surface) and put up your building.  Of course, I am skipping all the detail about putting the waterproof insulation "wings" around the building.  The idea is that they abut the foundation, and that "joint" is sealed or flashed so that water doesn't fall between the foundation and the insulation.  The insulation is installed under the ground, with enough slope so that any water that falls onto the ground next to the building, percolates through the soil to the insulation, and then flows "downhill" to "fall off the end" of the insulation, at some reasonable distance from the foundation.

But thinking about how cold the air and surface is, doesn't really give you much idea about how these foundations work (note, this idea also applies to wood chips around trees).  There is a constant amount of heat coming up from the Earth's core all year long.  By putting a continuous "ring" of insulation around our foundation, this deep heat cannot escape the Earth where the insulation is.  So at some distance below the insulation, the heat flow bifurcates; some of the heat flows to the inside and passes to the foundation and pad, and some flows to the outside (and is "lost").  The amount of heat flowing through the footprint of the foundation is considerably higher than the native soil presents.

If we have an 8x8 shed, that is 64 square units of footprint.  If we put 8 foot insulation out from the foundation edge, we are increasing the thermal footprint from 64 to 64+4*64+corners(say 2*64) equals 448 square units.  The thermal footprint is 7 times the structural footprint.  Since about "half" of the heat flow is diverted to the "inside", the heat from about 256 square units of ground is going to flow through the 64 square units of the structural footprint.  Which is 4 times the normal heat flow.

So, the insulation increases how much heat comes up through the foundation and pad, and it diverts water so that it can't get into the ground near the building close enough to affect it.

If you happen to put your foundation on top of a spring, or other wet area, the insulation may reduce the tendency to dry and cause other problems.  But places like Montana and here in the Peace Country, we are on the leeward side of the mountains and in rain shadow for the most part.

I too need to do something for vegetable storage, and was wondering what people were doing where it gets cold in winter.
1 week ago

I am NOT trying to control deer by poisoning them.  Plants that seem to be deer resistant often have toxins in them.  Deer seldom eat enough of any of those plants to suffer poisoning.    This is partially deer habit in browsing, and deer eating things like wood and clay.

4 weeks ago
As near as I can tell, (I haven't studied the regulations), it is very difficult to get permission to kill "deer" out of season here.  And the "deer" know when hunting season is open, they aren't around.

So eating them isn't an option.

I don't have any long distance weapons, I have been thinking about a recurve bow.  I don't know if the conservation officer would like me shooting an arrow at a "deer" with a "blob" for an arrowhead, just intended to bruise.


I am not looking at toxic plants in general.  My thinking is just to use the "toxic" plants which are known to be addictive.  Every deer will at some point sample them.  If they come by that plant two weeks later, will they sample the tree again?  I am thinking if they sample the plant 3 times, they are started up the addiction curve.

If the deer in question is a male, I don't think there is much which  comes out of this.

If the deer in question is female, when it becomes pregnant and then has babies, it will teach those babies about foods.  Including the addictive toxin foods.  And if any of those babies are female, ....  

It would be interesting if male deer addicted to a neurotoxin  tended to  browse in different places than females.
4 weeks ago
I had no idea a thread like this existed on Permies.

Dale started this, and in a posting said he was 53.  I'm 58.  Someone else put up pictures at various percent body fat levels, I am higher than I should be, but working on the farm is helping as there is a lot of walking (on a 7% grade) to be done.

I knew that girls existed, but never really got interested until many people my age had already been dating for a year or two.  And even then, I was mostly hopeless.

Carry a charging battery?    I was philosophically like the guy hiking the Pacific Coast Trail, except that I was in the library studying nuclear physics in grade 5 (11 years old).  There were no girls studying nuclear physics.  I ended up in a branch of engineering that has few people, and even fewer girls.  For sports, I got into association football (soccer), but in Canada (on the prairies) there were seldom girls at soccer.  Finding employment was always a terrible problem, but my nuclear physics did pay off (I worked at a research reactor for a time).  I like to help people, and I did a lot of volunteering (athletic first aid), even for a women's soccer team.  Nobody seemed interested in me.  Getting older, I picked up some injuries (two MCL sprains were the start), which led to a lot of weightlifting and eventually teaching weighlifting at YMCA's for almost 10 years (volunteer).  Still no women seemed interested.

Approaching my 41st birthday, Slashdot (News for Nerds) had a thread commenting on a Wired article about the incidence of severe autism in children in Silicon Valley.  Some of the comments hit so close to home.  Now there was a reason behind so many things which happened.  In the context of this thread, of course I never had any clue about signals from women, I was predisposed to being horrible at reading people because of autism.

I've been on Internet dating sites a long time.  I have no doubt it works for neurotypicals, I don't think any of them work for people on the autistic spectrum.

And living on the farm isn't going to mean there are any girls coming by who I might notice.  So, I will probably end up getting a dog at some point.

To go back to the percent body fat images, Some people live in the "tails" of probability distributions.  Not many kids teach themselves to cook at age 5, or start studying nuclear physics at age 11.  I think at one point I had 29 inch thighs (Kurt Harnett the cyclist had 34 inch thighs).  I am built like a brick shithouse with a bit of fat between the muscle and the skin.  This year I had to lift and carry a 32 foot double 2x8 as I am rebuilding the deck.  Being strong is sometimes useful.
4 weeks ago
It was suggested I run this under Tinkering.

I suppose the gold standard for controlling deer in their various forms is a really good, really tall fence.  Those kind of fences cost more gold than I have.

Where I can put up fence, I am inclined to go the multiple fence route, where the other fences are probably going to be jackleg (if I have enough trees of the right size to use).

People have talked about various non-fence ideas, such as growing things deer will eat on the edge of the property, growing deer tolerable food on the outside border and human good on the inside, and so on. As near as I can tell, the deer eventually find out the good stuff is on the inside, and go there for lunch.

A hunter was suggesting that it isn't necessarily the quality of the fence, but whether it is in the right place.  Possibly even without gates.

But on the subject of deer eating stuff.  There are big lists of things which are supposedly deer resistant.  Some things are deer resistant because they are sticky, some because they are sharp, some because of disagreeable texture and so on.  Among the things on these lits, are things that are toxic.

Again, lots of different kinds of toxins: saponins, cyanogenic glycosides, and so on.  In general, deer don't die from eating toxic plants, because they don't eat much of it, they do eat a lot of cellulose (onto which many poisons will adsorb on the surface) and they do eat clay (onto which many poisons will adsorb on the surface).

These is one toxin which is known to kill deer, and that is the European or Japanese yew trees (cardiac poison).  Can kill them before they even get around to swallowing that first mouthful.  I believe a bunch of elk in Idaho was in the news not too long ago.

But, going through the lists, the one that seems interesting to me, is that there are a number of neurotoxins, which deer might actually get addicted to.  So, instead of trying to control a deer, you are trying to control an addict.

Have people looked at this?  Is the idea considered evil?  Are there problems with it?
4 weeks ago
EarthRepairCorps has a page on swales.

In there, they say that a swale should collect rainwater from an area 3 times the area of the swale.  They also say the berm should be at least 4 feet wide.  I don't see any justification (or references) as to where these two statements come from.

Oregon Sustainable Land Trust has a page from 2009 (a little earlier) about using a two bottom plow (and some other equipment) to make a swale.


Another place (perhaps the Oregon site?) mentioned a mix of clover and winter wheat for the initial ground cover.  Resilience.org has a page where they say a 1:1 mix of nitrogen fixers to other plants is appropriate for better soil, running out to 15:1 (lots of nitrogen fixers) for arid, sandy or similar situations.  No references for where those numbers came from.
1 month ago