Gabe Smith

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since Feb 18, 2020
The Blue Factory Family Farm: Small family Homestead, terraced hugelkultur gardens, chickens, wood copse for heating, honeybees, dried herbs for healing teas.
Upstate NY
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Recent posts by Gabe Smith

Absolutely! I wouldn't even bother cutting them up - just throw it all in, cover with some soil or other organic material, and let nature do the work of compressing and degrading over time.
2 weeks ago
This topic seems to be a popular one on several threads at the moment. I have been using canola oil as bar and chain oil for 7 years. I cut Firewood for home heating and maple syrup production. I haven't noticed any difference in performance. The only side effect is I am not spraying petrochemicals all over nature.
8 months ago
I use canola oil as bar and chain oil. It's works just as well as the petroleum based oil.
8 months ago
I use canola oil as bar and chain oil. Safe, non toxic, non petroleum based. I've been using it for 7 years without any problems. I buy the big container at the store.
8 months ago
From what I can tell from the second picture, those 4"*4"posts  that go into the ground are most likely pressure treated. If the boards are in contact with the ground in any way, and you do not see evidence of decomposition, they are likely pressure treated. Unless those are black locust, untreated wood will begin decaying pretty much within a year if it is contact with soil. If they are older than about 20 years, they will likely be the kind that was pressure treated with arsenic. The newer pressure treated is still toxic, but not quite as bad. If they are pressure treated, they probably leach into the soul only if they are the new style that actually rots eventually. I believe some sort of copper compound. I would say that any scraping or standing,even if the paint is latex paint, will inevitably find it's way into your soil. Personally, I would not bother with the hassle of testing, etc. I would remove them entirely.
I am currently planting a native streambank type Willow as a living fence around my gardens, the goal being to keep the deer out as there is tremendous pressure. Even with my brother and his coworker harvesting several deer each year, the herds seem to find their way over just about any traditional type of fence I put up. They ravage my hard work. I currently garden a very steep field that I have terraced on contour, approximately a 1/4 acre (?). I have tons of the wild streambank Willow all over the property, so I figured I'd give it a go. I have currently stuck cuttings in the ground on two sides of the garden - did one side yesterday, and one just this afternoon. I made cuttings about 8" long, opened up the ground with a lawn edger tool Ina a straight line path down the side of the garden, and shoved cuttings in about every two inches. I'm honestly not sure what I plan on doing after I get the other two sides planted. I've had so much heartache over the years from deer damage I don't really have high expectations anymore, but we'll see! Ideally, I would like for the canes to grow to about 4', at which time I would pollard them each year or two with the hope of creating very thick base stems that block out little ground dwelling creatures like rabbits and groundhogs, and the new canes would ideally reach such a height each year that the deer would move on and not attempt a jump. Like I said, I planted cuttings about 2" apart, because honestly I need more of an impenetrable wall than a nice looking fence.
9 months ago

Larisa Walk wrote:We built a "hybrid" masonry stove starting with a wood stove for the fire box. You can check it out here, at
In a previous home we had built a "real" masonry wood heater, complete with a warming bench, a puzzle chamber of flue paths, the whole 9 yards. The current hybrid stove works as well and was waaaay easier to construct.

Wow! That is impressive, and I've only just taken a cursory look! I'm going to have to read through the whole blog closer, thank you so much for the link!
9 months ago

Steve Thorn wrote:

Audrey Wrobel wrote:We have a garden we didn’t plant this summer, and I saw goldenrod among weeds growing in there. Just took a few cuttings to make an oil with it, but letting them lay out in the sun for at least a day before I bring them inside and wash them before making it.

I've got some goldenrod growing too. How do you process and use it?

I harvest and dry goldenrod for a medicinal herbal tea.
9 months ago

Davis Tyler wrote:what's the main problem with your existing stove?  Just the daily temperature swings?  How long does a load of dry firewood last?  What sort of high and low temperature do you see in the stove room throughout the day?

How many cords of wood do you burn in a typical winter?

There are efficient catalytic and secondary-burn stoves that even out the temperature swings.  They're not cheap.  I load my Blaze King 2x a day all winter long (3x a day if the night drops into single-digits).  It keeps the house between 65-72 degrees 24/7.  I burn 3-4 cords of hardwood most winters.

The cheapest long-term solution is to improve the insulation and air-sealing of the house. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit for improvement in most cold-climate houses.  

The main problem is the stove only has about 35k btu output when realistically I need double that at least. It struggles to heat the house when it is less than 20, which in upstate NY is quite often in the winter. I burn about 3-4 cords as well, harvested from the property, majority deadfall or standing dead. I also started coppicing/pollarding this year on 2 wooded acres that is former grazing land. I want to reduce wood consumption as much as possible. The stove is circa 2000, so has no secondary burn tube or anything. I definitely need a more efficient stove. But I prefer to buy second hand, so they are hard to come by. I might have to pay the money though.
9 months ago

David Baillie wrote:Hi gabe. I see an eco fan on top do you have a hole in the back cowling for a blower? You will get significant increases of heat off the stove with it. If not get a box fan and mount it behind it on low. Push that heat at the drywall walls and let them act as your mass...

I do the box fan already. There is a port for a blower, but I haven't installed one since the box fan does the trick when needed.
9 months ago