Caleb Mayfield

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since Dec 15, 2016
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Western central Illinois, Zone 6a
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Recent posts by Caleb Mayfield

Sounds like we are somewhat in the same boat. I'm looking to do something similar, and can recommend the cordwood building books by Rob Roy. A floating slab would be an option. My aunt and uncle in Ohio bought a home that was built with Cordwood on a floating slab. Another option would be rubble trench.
Both of these options would require drainage and frost consideration.

One method I've been considering is to use a pier/pile/sonotube style feet for the frame and then a rubble trench to carry the cordwood and build it in a way that would take settling into account.
3 months ago
Congratulations on your well! Having had 4 major water outages myself in 2020 on our farm, and doing all the repairs myself, I am very in tune with water usage right now.
The idea of a cistern that overflows to a pond is a great idea. A means of capturing all the water for various uses is something a surprising number of people don't think about.
I'm not sure how things are in your neck of the woods, but where I live there are regulations that say only a licensed potable well installer can work on your well. Incidentally our system does not fit in any of the states definitions so I do my own work. That might be worth looking into if you haven't already.
Pitless adapter. Worth it.
What I do recommend is thinking through the system you want to end up with, and build that into whatever you do now. If that's confusing, what I mean is think through the system and add stub outs and extra connection points to make integrating an extra cistern, or another pump, or whatever, so when you need to make a change down the road it's really easy to do. I did that when I rebuilt the farmhouse water several years ago and I was thanking myself for it several times this past year.
Also, I recommend getting the pump you will grow into now. It's going to be the hardest to replace down the road. Adding solar panels, batteries or controllers at the top are world's easier than pulling 300' of pipe and and a pump.
Don't skimp on the pump. Looking forward to seeing what direction you go!
3 months ago
I'll have to watch the video later, but I'll throw in my 2 cents. I've field dressed (gutted) deer with everything from a 2" gerber folding knife to an 8" KaBar. What I learned is you can have too little and too much knife for the job. What works well on one animal may be inadequate for the next.
Personally, I like to get the animal dressed and chilled as quickly as possible. It makes a difference in the quality of the meat. The best knife is the one that you are comfortable with and is sharp. For deer, it's not necessary to split the pelvis or sternum, although it can make some tasks easier. But it's not necessary.
I harvested two deer this year and dressed both with a knife I forged, that's sharp enough to shave with. (Photo attached if I can get it to work from my phone)
The way I was taught and find most effective for the way we handle and process deer is to start at the anus, or vent if you prefer, and cut around it just through the skin. Once through the skin I begin working around it pulling the vent to one side and cutting until it pulls freely from the cavity. Some folks will use string or zip ties to tie it off so it doesn't drain anything out onto the carcass. I then split the skin from the anus up past the ribs until I can reach the esophagus at the other end. On this cut I try to be careful to only cut the skin and not the lining that holds in the organs. After cutting free the esophagus and all that comes through the front of the rib cage, I will then split the lining and peel the diaphragm so it's loose. At this point, if you did everything right you can reach in from the middle of the animal with one hand and grab the esophagus and then grab the intestine/colon right before it goes through the hindquarters with the other hand and pull everything cleanly out.
A rinse with a hose is a nice finish and then we hang the deer, weather permitting, for up to 14 days. Most of the time the weather only lets me get about 3-5 days of hanging before butchering.
And that turned into a far longer post than I thought.
3 months ago
Oh no! Injuries are never good.

Anyone looking for a good quality leather glove, I recommend the ones from Red Wing Shoes. They make a leather glove out of some really good leather that has a Kevlar lined palm, even all the way down the fingers. They are pricey, but you do get what you pay for. I'd also recommend getting some of the All Natural Boot Paste and working it into the leather. It really extends the life of them.
8 months ago

Barbara Carter wrote:I just got my first scythe from Scythe Supply, and am a bit disappointed. The collar is very loose; it twists around on the snath and torques the blade when I tighten it down. It actually forces the blade into the "wrong" open angle they warn you against, in spite of my best efforts to hold the blade at the correct angle. I've sent an email, we'll see what they say about it.

Shifting when everything is new is normal. There is some spring in the metal of the collar and the wood in the snath that needs to essentially be stretched and compressed out of the parts until they settle in. It took me a few weeks of use for 30-45 minutes about 3 times a week to get it settled in and now I just have to snug up the collar before I go to work.

One thing that I know I didn't realize when I started and was fighting the blade angle on was just how tight to tighten the collar. How tight? As tight as you can make it with the key they provide, alternating between the screws until you think you can't tighten them any more or are starting to bend the key.
8 months ago
Best of luck on this. My wife and I lived in Alpine for a year 10 years ago and it's a beautiful area.

Judith Browning wrote:
I did get a second blade, called a 'garden' blade but have not used it much at all and after reading about the Tops blades I might be tempted to get one of them.  What I have on it now is a ditch blade.

Judith, I have one of the "Garden" blades from Scythe Supply and it is a great blade for picking out heavier stuff. It is definitely not a mowing blade. I use mine only a couple times a year to clip the woody stuff that I am concerned might damage my grass blade. We have bush honeysuckle that will take over if not kept in check. The Garden blade is what I've used on that and I have a feeling it will do well on the wild blackberries that have sprung up by one of our barns.
9 months ago
This is my second year using my scythe and I just ordered another stone and a 28" TOPS blade to supplement my 26" grass blade. The biggest tip I have is to slow down. I still have to tell myself that. I could cut grass with my scythe and wear myself out in short order, then I realized I was fighting the scythe on both ends of the stroke. I felt like I was trying to really push it forward into the swing then pull it back to stop it at the end. This spring I recognized exactly what was going on and slowed myself down. It made a WORLD of difference in the overall experience. It will take time to settle into a technique that really fits you, but when you find it and you get the timing down on the swing it's really an enjoyable, meditative time.

So start slow. Practice the stroke. Build the muscle memory. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.
9 months ago
Oh man. So many good options, but this it always the first one that comes to my mind.

Dream River - The Mavericks

9 months ago
I've been researching cordwood construction for years as I plan to build a house using timber frame and cordwood techniques. I have a few books on the topic and the one thing that comes up in all of them is that the wood will shrink and expand and you will get cracks. The books give several ideas on how to minimize the cracks, but from everything I've read you cannot eliminate it with a solid in-filll like cob or mortar. That being said, the idea of using something like a spray foam to seal in the middle of the wood and then do some form of cob tuck point to give it the traditional aesthetic is the most solid idea I've heard of on small dimension cordwood building.

A couple other notes on the cordwood;
Softwood will have less shrinkage than hardwoods.
Adding sawdust to your mortar can reduce the cracking and shrinkage.
Cutting and stacking your wood for two years to cure before building the walls is highly recommended to minimize shrinkage. Logs laying for two years is not sufficient, it should be cut to your 6" length and stacked to dry.

That said, I'm really interested to see how this turns out as I've need contemplating a similar build as a chicken coop/poultry house. I may timber frame or roundwood frame it with sycamore and cottonwood and do the walls with the same using the spray foam to at least create a draft barrier.
9 months ago