Ivan Weiss

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since Dec 19, 2009
Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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Recent posts by Ivan Weiss

I make a lot of my char the same way. But I use two #10 cans, which I get for free in unlimited supply from my local grocery. I crimp the rim on one of them so it fits inside the other, making a tight enough seal for oxygen not to get in, but enough gaps for gases to escape and undergo secondary combustion as in Mike's video.
5 months ago

William Bronson wrote: I'm eager to see some responses. I have tried to establish this clover in my garden paths and lawn,but the "weeds" out compete the clover.
I've had better results from alfalfa,but that ain't nice on the feet.


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I overseed my pastures and my lawn with a mix of Dutch white clover, red clover, and chicory every year in late winter and early spring. I look at it as an ongoing process, and not a one-time application. The goal is to increase the forage level and the soil fertility in each pasture, and on the lawn, which is mowed and used as forage for the cattle and hogs. The grasses and the dandelions take care of themselves (do they ever!), boosted by the nitrogen-fixing of the clovers.
5 months ago

Kathleen Corum wrote:What one species will/won't eat doesn't tell you about the effect on another.... Keep that in mind.  My sheep would eat all the rhubarb they could reach.  And amaranth is poisonous in some seasons to cattle.  I am disappointed to learn that field bind weed isn't edible after all.  I hadn't tried it, but finally had some real good out of the lambs quarters/goosefoot which came up in my garden this spring.... DELICIOUS!


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My cattle devour it greedily, and seem to prefer it to anything else, even comfrey. I never see a speck of bindweed in any of my pastures. Where it grows in other places, I just pull it and feed it to them. I look at it as a resource.
5 months ago

Glenn Herbert wrote:I think waxed cardboard, if not recyclable, is a fine idea for a fuel; however, I would not want to use it as the principal fuel for a RMH, as the firebox is not large enough to fit an amount that would burn for more than a few minutes. I find that crumpled cardboard, egg cartons in particular, makes an excellent starter for my RMH. I put a handful of finely split sticks on top of it, drop in a burning twist of paper, and have a roaring fire in seconds.



Thanks. That was my suspicion also, but having zero RMH experience, I defer to those who do have it. Do you see it as an acceptable supplement to stick wood?
11 months ago

John Weiland wrote:
My guess would be that most would want to burn material as close to being produced on their own property and as sustainably as possible.



Maybe so. Everybody's design is different. In my case, pallets and waxed cardboard are super convenient to my daily rounds, and not only are they there for the taking, but my taking of them is a relief to those who otherwise would have to dispose of them. They serve as an integral heating fuel supplement, and in the case of the pallet wood, as a feedstock for biochar.
11 months ago
Having read through this entire fascinating thread, I thought I'd put in my 2 cents' worth. I have never even seen a RMH, much less used one, but since I first heard of them on Permies, I have read everything connected with them and watched every video I could find on them. And yes, someday I want one for my house, plus one for the greenhouse of my dreams.

I have, however, used wood stoves for my primary heat source, for more than 40 years now, most of them in the same house. When I first moved in here, in 1976, I found a fireplace. One of the first projects I undertook was to take a sledgehammer and a crowbar to it, and rip the damn thing out. My buddy and I put in a brick hearth that consisted of a brick pad over the floor and a brick wall with a hole leading to the chimney, for the pipe.

I put in a Tempwood downdraft wood stove. Anybody remember those? They built them in VT of NH, I forget which. They were welded steel, double steel bottoms, bottom and sides lined with firebrick, absolutely airtight, with a round lid in the center of the stove top, and two variable downdraft ports flanking it. These stoves would be totally illegal today, even though the secondary combustion provided by the downdraft effect makes for a far cleaner burn than the conventional "bottom-up" design.

The Tempwood served me well for 11 years. Then I got married. My (now thankfully former) wife demanded a "legal" stove, fearing that our insurance might be canceled. So for $3,500 installed, in came a brand new Vermont Castings "Defiant" model, their top of the line stove, with a catalyst. That made her happy. Still, we went through 3-4 cords of wood in a winter.

Ten years later, she was gone, and once she was, out went the Defiant. I took a sledgehammer and a crowbar to it, too, and hauled if off to the dump. It was a piece of sh*t.  It leaked air, and all the gaskets in the world, and all the gasket cement in the world, couldn't fix it. The verdammte catalysts cost $175 a year to replace, and I was still burning 2 cords of wood per winter.

Out of storage came the old Tempwood, and it has served me faithfully and well ever since. I heat solely with wood, and I have it down to 1 cord again, but here's why I posted in the first place:

#1, I have followed Paul's excellent advice to heat myself first, and the air around me second. I wear layers, even in the house.

#2, My house is insulated to the teeth, with R-48 in the attic, an insulated crawl space underneath, and all my windows double-pane. I don't even fire up the stove till the thermostat (I have electric heat, but try not to use it at all) goes down to 55.

#3, (and this is what I think is germane to the RMH discussion), I scrounge fuel to supplement my purchased cordwood (which I buy every year from a buddy who needs the income). Pallets are free and ubiquitous, downed wood is available, and carbide-tipped sawblades are cheap. Even better are the waxed cardboard cartons that I get from the produce department of my local supermarket. The recyclers won't take them, and if I don't, they go to the landfill. They catch fire immediately, burn with intense heat, and eliminate, entirely, the need for kindling. I have to be careful not to load the stove with them, and only use them sparingly.

Now, in no discussion I have ever seen of RMHs, has the use of waxed cardboard as a fuel source ever been mentioned. If it has, and I have missed it, I apologize. But if it performs so well in a wood stove, why the hell not in a RMH? If the idea is to heat the bricks or the cob, so that the mass will store heat, it seems to me that this would be a terrific feedstock. Certainly that has been my experience. And for RMH use, is it possible that this resource, which now is considered part of the "waste stream," might replace wood altogether? Seems to me that this would be a very "Permie-ish" activity. Thanks to all for a great thread.
11 months ago
Paul:

It's all about the attitude. Just relax. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You're doing great work here. My attitude has always been that the work is its own reward. Just keep doing what you're doing, and lose the expectations. The work is real, the expectations are imaginary. Control what you can control, and the rest will take care of itself. Not a one of us in this world is entitled to the gratification we seek. We might attain it, or we might not. But if the work is its own reward, we will be rewarded if we continue to work. My $.02 worth.
I use an Extractigator. Yanks them right up by the roots.

https://www.extractigator.com/


I just leave the yanked-up broom in the pasture to dry out. Once dried, it goes in the wood stove and warms my bones. Or, I make biochar out of it.
1 year ago
I scatter biochar in my pastures. Cattle and hogs eat it like popcorn, and when they poop it back out again, it is as inoculated as it could possibly be. This study, from Germany, indicates that this is a sound practice. I hope this is helpful.

http://www.ithaka-journal.net/pflanzenkohle-in-der-rinderhaltung?lang=en
1 year ago

William James wrote:I'm confident that when an enterprising person finds a way to use scotch broom effectively, turning free plant material into money (people would probably even pay to have you harvest it), the new problem will be curbing the extinction of scotch broom. That's usually the way things go. Anyway, this current exess points to a lack of creative solutions rather than some defect of the natural world.



Turning it into biochar and supplementary heating fuel will have to suffice for me for now. For those lucky enough to have rocket mass heaters, Scotch Broom could be a primary fuel. When you come up with a more creative solution, please be sure to let us in on it.
1 year ago