Kenneth Elwell

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since Jan 01, 2018
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Metalworker, Blacksmith, Machinist, Welder, Woodworker, Builder, Farmer, Composter,
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Boston, Massachusetts
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Recent posts by Kenneth Elwell

Do you actually need the car tires? They can be quite easy to get for free, because it is a hassle to dispose of them responsibly, often costing money. If you were to move, you'd find yourself with how many? sixty or more tires to get rid of?!
You might regret that.

It seems to me that you could keep the LECA in bags and adjust how full the bags are or how they are placed (flat, on their side, or standing) to adjust for uneven ground quite easily.
Then, if you were to move... the bags are already packed, so to speak...

You need to contain these bags within your site, maybe drive a LOT of wooden stakes (pointed sticks) around the circumference (every 6 inches/150mm) to contain the lower ground sheet and the LECA bags.

Using three cargo straps (or six, for two bands) (2 inch/50mm wide x 24 feet/6meter) joined end to end, you could reinforce the ring of stakes and also capture the upper ground sheet. As a bonus, the straps will be useful when you move.

Maybe instead of plywood/OSB (with formaldehyde glues) you could use wood planks, or boards from shipping pallets (available for free often). When moving, you could sell them as boards or firewood, and get more at the new site.
Maybe you don't even need to cover the whole floor area, so you need less? Not under your bed? Just under the yurt walls? the furniture? the stove? high traffic areas such as near the entrance?

Or maybe your furniture has flat bases instead of legs, so that it "floats" rather than sinks in, and then you don't even need the plank floor at all!
1 day ago

1.) Know where your shovels, sand, ice melt/salt, snow brush/ice scraper are... snowblower fuel, shear pins, belts...
(BTW, it's nice to have the snow brush with you outside the car rather than having to use your hands to clear the snow and get the brush out from inside the car...)

2.) Police your yard, driveway and walkways for things... things you don't want to lose in the snow, and more importantly, things that you don't want to find in the snow while you are clearing it away!!
Things such as:
ad hoc power supply to... livestock waterers, engine block heaters, chicken lights or heat lamps.
sticks and stones... can break a snowblower's bones, or at least sideline you while you clear the jam or replace shear pins, and you will say some hurtful words...

3.) Consider parking your car near the end of your driveway, especially if you need to leave early for work or an appointment (or won't be clearing the whole driveway until the end of a long storm).
You'll only need to shovel just enough to get the car out. This also works for coming home... just get the car off the road, and shovel the rest in the morning...(also limits the packing of snow under tires)

2 days ago
The plowed snow at the end by the street doesn't tend to get any easier to shovel with time, especially if it is very cold weather.
Don't wait for it to set up like concrete...but...
Don't rush out there to shovel it either (*except of course if you need to to go out/come home...), the plow might will bring you more.

Ditto on shoveling it as far away as you are able.

If you have the choice, keep the piles to the south short to get full sunlight for melting. (especially for narrow paths)
4 days ago
For me burn out can take many forms, but not usually from the same meal over and over. I can do that for days.
I mostly get tired of deciding what to eat , plus the time spent shopping, prepping, and having to clean up afterwards. One pan meals are great.

For me, breakfast is the same, 6-7 days a week, and this takes away the stress of "what's for breakfast" and do we even have that?
Every time I'm at the store I know what to get for breakfast, and usually how much we need (and all the better if I buy a little extra ahead of time).
Every morning, it's the same routine... and it can be done quickly and without too may errors... (it. starts. with. the. coffee.)

For dinners, I like to do what my mom did, which is to cook large batches and freeze some for a later date. That way there's a meal waiting that would otherwise have taken all afternoon to prepare, just needing to be heated up.
It was said before, but I'll say it again... The shopping, preparation, and cleanup are bundled, and hardly any worse for a 4X batch than just ONE single batch!

Another of Mom's tricks was to cook a roast on a Saturday or Sunday, and have roast beef two nights, then grind the rest up and have hash two more nights (which was the real reason for cooking the roast in the first place...) Effectively turning the leftovers into a NEW meal.
We ate a LOT of leftovers growing up... cook one night, re-heat the next... rinse and repeat...

These days, I eat most of the leftovers since my partner doesn't think they are as tasty reheated (I often skip the reheating anyways).
So, they become lunches or snacks, or I'll eat it again for dinner and she'll have something else.

Last night, we had chicken stir-fry, and so we got enough chicken for 3 meals and cut it all up and froze 2 portions for later, ready to just thaw and toss into the wok. Leftovers tonight.
Tomorrow (and the day after), turkey, butternut, and kale scramble.

Of course, there's always a jar of sauce and a box of pasta in the pantry.
4 days ago
But, you still need the cold storage for the "daytime" to keep things fresh/safe... so at best you can shut it off a few hours at night.
I tend to shop at the end of business at one store, and they take all the produce to the stockroom cooler for the night.
So, the produce coolers may not?  be running overnight? They might have them on a timer to start in time to cool down for opening/restocking in the morning.
I've also witnessed curtains and blankets placed over the open fridges and open frozen food bins.

There's conservation of energy, but also conservation of labor to consider (which is the highest expense...)
This gets into replacing petroleum with people on one hand, but on the other... shifting electric use for storage over to energy use for running around to gather things every day, with more labor and travel to get it done.
1 week ago

Dustin Rhodes wrote:The ideal grocery store, in my mind:

They pick up the fresh produce/meats/dairy/baked goods that day
set out at store alongside the dry and preserved inventory
sell until dinnertime
storefront is now a restaurant - all unsold, perishable food items are now ingredients for the dish being served that day.

All perishable food after closing is harvested for seed, propagated, fed to livestock, and/or composted.
Cycle begins again the next day.

Ideally you're in partnership with your supplier, who respects your setup and plans crop availability with you(staggering ripeness times, selling compatible(cuisine-wise) varieties of produce, etc.)

This is basically already happening...
Whole Foods and Wegman's are in the lead in the Boston area, where you can get salad bar, hot food bar, prepared meals, all day long.
I can't imagine that the "sell-by-today" chicken isn't  made into the chicken salad for tomorrow... or the meat into meatloaf... veggies trimmed and cut up for salads...
1 week ago
My mother had a job that she loved, working in the foreign student office at MIT, and left it because of my father's career promotions/relocations which was a string of 5 moves around the country every couple of years while raising my brother.
When they finally moved back to Massachusetts, she was offered her old job at MIT back... they even made it "mother's hours" so she was able to still get everything done, and she was happy.
My father was not. He forced her to quit after maybe six months. Who knows if he was jealous (of young foreign students) or envious of her being happy at work, or uncomfortable explaining to his colleagues what his wife was up to...

After I was born, and after her divorce, she founded a battered women's shelter (she reached out for help and found none, so she changed that!) and worked at that for 10 years until she was burnt out.
She had an office job for a few years, and then after being laid off, found her dream job.

As a child, she wanted to be an astronomer... sorry, but that wasn't for "girls"... (and don't get Mom started on calling women "girls"!!)
She got to work as administrative assistant to 3 astronomers/astrophysicists at the Harvard-Smithsonian observatory.
She kept them organized, prepared, planned their travel, booked telescope time, and her favorite... pored over telescope images to classify galaxies for mapping the universe!
1 week ago
Elle, how about telling them how you are both very happy with the arrangement.

Something like:
You both love the time you get to spend with your children, and it's a way for him to spend more. Ditto with the homestead.
You found a job you enjoy/love/is your dream job, and him...not so much.
So, you choose to both be happy about your work/careers, and it makes you happier at home.
Maybe it's even a gift to you from him that you get to follow a passion in your work, and from you to him to not make him go to a job he hates?
Now you share good funny stories about your days, instead of complaints and silence.
1 week ago
What about wildflowers that could be bee forage?

You might even approach the hotel (if I understand the situation correctly) and see if they would forego the mowing (and save some money) if you were to plant the area to wildflowers...
This would be more beautiful than the intermittently mowed "grass/lawn", and they might even agree to purchase the seeds!

and then...

Once they quit mowing it, you could sneak in some edibles/vegetables and get a harvest!
1 week ago