Jesse Coker

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since Jan 01, 2010
Rhode Island
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Recent posts by Jesse Coker

Let me add a couple things. We are housing the boiler just "outside" the greenhouse. And the barrels we installed were dig 2 ft into the soil, and have black plastic housing them as well as a black roofing membrane on top of the to collect heat and we'll use that surface for our starts. Thanks again and enjoy your days!
6 years ago
Hello all! Wondering if anyone has done this or feels they can speak on this approach we are considering. Our plan is to house a wood boiler that can heat water that is pumped through Pex tubing and back through a closed system. We are likely to lay the tubing down 12 inches and space it 18 inches apart. Tubing will likely be 5/8" to 3/4" diameter.

My question isn't so much about our ability to run the system, but rather about its effectiveness as it is running. Will the heat that is produced reach the root systems of things like tomatoes? We do plan on laying some sort of insulation beneath the tubing to direct the heat where we want it. I would much rather lay it deep like this so that we don't have worry about hitting the lines as we work the soil.
Also, we will incorporate a 300 gallon tank for storing the heat produced in the water as we circulate.

We have already installed about fifty 55-gallon steel barrels on the inside perimeter of our 30'x72' high tunnel and filled them with water for insulation from outside soil temperatures, as well as to moderate temps inside the greenhouse.

Thanks for your thoughts!! -Jesse
6 years ago
Funny, my task is also to heat the soil in a greenhouse over winter. Supposing that sunlight and collected heat wont be enough, especially over night? This ancient stove seems ideal, if we can make it work with the incomplete information that we have. My understanding for the workings of a rocket stove is that the vertical exhaust should be twice the horizontal run. Now if a good enough draft can be had with only eight feet or so of stovepipe then we are in business. Our greenhouse we are now building is 70 feet long. What I was thinking of doing is to have one or two of the 55 gallon barrel type rocket stoves inside the greenhouse, surrounding the barrels with some heat storage material like water or a water/stone mix to keep it warm overnight. But is this enough for the soil, I ask? If our ancestors' model could be replicated, that might be the best solution for our kind of folk. Thoughts?
6 years ago
How-dy. I haven't come across anything yet as far as caring for newly hatched chicks. After our hen hatched seven chicks herself, the chicks that are 4 days old or so are in a small enclosure during the day with momma hen. We move the cage around so they get fresh forage every so often.

Do we need to get additional feed for newbies? Is there some disease preventatives in the feed that mother nature doesn't provide? It seems to me that if they're foraging just like ma, they'll do just fine.

Also, our two other adults at this time are not laying. Is this a sign of not getting enough forage or something? Our paddocks are quite large for the amount of chickens that we have. 3 adults, 4 adolescents, and 7 babies in paddocks that are 25 ft x 25 ft.

Trying to get this all sorted out before I up and leave for Uganda in 2 1/2 weeks  ops: Thanks!!!
8 years ago
When making these lacto-fermented beverages, does one need to rack off the dregs? I made the Raspberry Drink from Nourishing Traditions, and it started out way too tart, but after a few days it has become wondrous. Just wondering if I should not be drinking the collecting dregs at the bottom. Thanks!
8 years ago
So, I have gone ahead and made paddocks in the apple orchard, planted comfrey, nettles, jerusalem artichokes, and golden raspberries within. The paddocks are about 20 by 25 ft. or so, and there are 4 of them with 6 mature apple trees inside. We have 7 chickens in there and when we build a bigger coop, more. I am quite excited about this method, and thanks Paul and everyone else for all this great info!!

My question is, how can I be sure that these chickens are getting all the feed they need? Should I just let them roam until winter without feeding them at all? It seems like they should be fine, but I'd just like a little reassurance or feedback by the Permies community! Thanks! -J
8 years ago
I commented on the video, but didn't see a link to rate it... tried splitting tamarack, but the wood seems to always grow twisted so its use would be somewhat limited. It's a great species that has similar pest/weather resistance to cedar, and is generally much cheaper at the sawmill than cedar is. It does, however, tend to leave invisible splinters that fester.
9 years ago
Whelp, I have this handy post hole digger with an extra cross in the arms way down low, so I'm able to dig deep without pulling the arms so wide. I widened the hole down low with a hoe. After boiling for about 7 hours today, the hole has begun to widen a bit near the top, so I'll fill this one in and dig another one before I do any more. The sap I used today was a bit cloudy, and had a slightly unpleasant smell, so I was very skeptical that it was spoiled. There were a few buckets that I didn't use that smelled awful. So after boiling it down from 30 to about 2 gallons so far, it smells just like the first batch I made, so I'm going with it. This time I boiled full on the entire way and was able to boil 30 gallons down to 2 in about 7 hours. Not bad, I'd say.

Yeah, I don't know a whole lot about doing walnut trees, but it was mentioned by some of the folks that led our PDC last summer. I'd love to hear about it if you give it a whirl, Marina.

The beer was racked off once last week and needs it again tonight. It smells super good, a mix of wintergreen and your typical birch beer soda flavor. I can't wait to toast some of this stuff!! Well, carry on.
9 years ago
Well I don't know what the clay content of my soil is, I hope it's high because I'd like to start experimenting with making some cob structures this season. I did try to dig one of these pit stoves in some really gravelly soil and it didn't work at all.

Sweet birch, black birch, cherry birch, all the same tree that is Betula lenta. Birch syrup is drastically different than maple syrup, and I have read that it is often used by chefs in gourmet kitchens! The sugars in birch sap are mainly fructose and glucose, while in maple it is almost purely sucrose. I have also heard you can tap the black walnut for making syrup, but I don't have access to any large walnut trees.

I also want to try making some birch wine and some birch sugar candies. We are getting about 40 gallons a day right now from 14 trees we have tapped, so there is no shortage!  Peace!

Oh, one question I have for anyone who has made syrup by continuously feeding the sap during boiling, is there a limit to how long I should keep adding sap to the boil? I wonder if the sugars do burn after being in the same boil for a long time. Seeing as I'm on the road until Monday, and all of the sap that's collecting is getting stored until I return, I'm going to come home and get boiling! Can I make one large batch or do I need to do several smaller ones? Thanks! -Jesse
9 years ago
So the birch sap is flowing and things are going great. I dug a new pit stove for boiling the sap, and I made the vertical hole about 3 feet deep and flared it out at the bottom with a hoe. It it about a foot in diameter. I dug the diagonal tunnel so that it intersected the vertical hole about 8 inches above the bottom, so that the wood fed through would go directly into the flames, not the bottom of the coals. I also used a 6" diameter piece of stovepipe to line the diagonal with, thanks for the idea Tel, it worked great! This stove cranks the heat out bigtime! I was able to throw all kinds of green and wet wood in there, a bunch of black locust bark, and the incredibly high heat easily burned everything. I was given a 55 gallon stainless steel barrel that I cut in half, which I use for boiling sap over the pit stove. It tolerates the heat wonderfully, and the sap boils vigorously from twigs if that's what I feed it.

I was able to make some birch beer and some birch syrup so far. For the beer, I boiled 20 gallons of sap down to 4, while adding barley, malt extract, hops, and yeast. For the last 25 minutes of this boil, I added about 3 gallons of sweet birch bark, which carries the strong essence of wintergreen. Filtered it and it is now fermenting! I also made a tea from the red inner bark, just as described in "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" by Eulle Gibbons. It was delicious, and I felt like it was the spring tonic he described it as.

The syrup was quite the treat. I started with 23 gallons of sweet birch sap in the barrel. I ended up boiling this down to just about a pint of syrup, knowing when to stop boiling with the use of a refractometer. This took way longer than it should have, because I was cautious not to burn the sugars by too vigorous of a boil. I learned through this process that this risk is only present during the very final stages of the boil. I was boiling from noon till 3 a.m. Next time, I will feed the pit stove so that it roars and roars, and I'm sure I can cut the time way down. The syrup is amazing to taste, I've had it in coffee, on waffles, on ice cream, and I love it!

To conclude, I think the pit stove is the perfect way to boil sap for small scale sugaring operations. You can get extreme heat, a clean burn, use any old wood scraps lying around, and do it in bad weather if needed. The Bengali pit stove is a great way to do any kind of cooking as well. Thanks again to the authors of "Rocket Mass Heaters", Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson. Here are a couple pics:
9 years ago