Win a copy of A Food Forest in Your Garden this week in the Forest Garden forum!

Dave Bross

+ Follow
since Oct 01, 2020
Renaissance Redneck
North FL, in the high sandhills
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand First Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Dave Bross


Anything you can build with, like wood or steel, tools, and highly reliable vintage appliances, tractors, and the like aren't going anywhere in my world.

I think a major part of that old timers wisdom was the 5 year window.

Probably gives you a more accurate "scan" and more data on what to do, or not do  with things.
1 month ago

" ====I have collected more timber than I can use at the present. So I am junked up with timbers and need to cull if I dont use them, to make way for more project space. Any one else have that problem with any of their REPURPOSING IDEAS? just so things dont go to waste? '

Aaaaah, memories....

On my first go around owning a junkyard I saved EVERYTHING...mumbling to myself that "I might need one of these one day."  

The fatal phrase.

Fast forward to the county terminating my junkyard illegally.  

A crooked county commissioner wanted to set up his nephew in the junk biz by running everyone else out.

He paid for that eventually.  
He's making license plates upstate after an FBI bribery sting sent him away for a good long time.  Seems he got a little over ambitious there on his many bribery schemes.

So there I am,  looking at 5 acres of "precious" junk piled high.

It took two months, 12 hours a day to clean it all up and get rid of it so I could sell the property.

If you're going to be dumb, you've got to be tough!  

No doubt in my mind that I qualified on both counts as I waded through that.

Anyway, the point of all this.....

A "country" old timer friend would come to visit now and again.
He liked watching and helping a bit with the cleanup show.

He told me his dad put a date on anything he stored for later.  If, when he looked at it later, the date on it was past 5 years, it automatically got tossed.

The more I thought about that, the more it sounded like true wisdom.

Pack rat disease is real...and remember your early warning phrase..."I just might need this some day."


I'll toss in a slightly off topic auxiliary tip that was really hammered home in the great cleanup.

NEVER store anything for anybody.  

It's like lending friends money, they will rationalize why they don't really need to come back and get it when they said they would, or, if they were paying you storage fees, those would quickly stop showing up and  their stuff would sit for years after.  

A few that owed me money, supposedly friends, went sneaking in there and stole their stuff back....and still never paid me.
We're talking about stuff like cutting the lock on my gate and towing cars out of there stealth when I wasn't around.

That was certainly an "OK, Wow! I see who you REALLY are now." kind of moment.

In the end, I had to dispose of all of it myself, even after telling the owners to come and get it or else it was gone.

1 month ago
Wow! Thanks everyone! Some excellent ideas here.

Here's a few more.

One way I recycle some plastic containers is to use them to give away the large amount of surplus garden produce and ask to have them back. I have a stack of what were old strawberry/blueberry containers that are probably on their third time around this way.

Now if people would just return the nursery pots I ask them to when I give them plants....

Then there's the redneck bidet instead of toilet paper...
Hang my backside over the tub and proceed to wash away my cares with a hand held shower attachment.

I have the kitchen sink dumping the grey water on garden beds.

The toilet, bathroom sink and shower remain hooked to the septic due to possible fecal contamination there.
Humanure is in the near future. I have all the supplies already in case something like a hurricane forces my hand on that.

Extending the life of the septic is a carbon footprint/recycle plus. Local laws forced a huge 2500 gallon tank and system for just me when it was installed, but that's OK. Probably won't have to bother with repairing it in my lifetime. Particularly with all the kitchen water going to a garden bed. Turns out that was a LOT of water because I cook a lot.

I grow some veggies in containers. I also haul what leftover trash to the landfill once every 3-4 months. I always find nursery pots, molasses tubs, and other containers I would have to pay for otherwise. We're country so the landfill guys are pretty cool about salvage, even though it's technically a no-no.

I get a lot of stuff shipped in via Amazon/Ebay etc, and those padded mailers can be cut open and fastened together with staples or tape  to make thermal shades for the windows, tubular freeze blankets for young fruit trees or veggies and similar insulating chores.

Our landfill was one of the first on board with recycling, early 80s or late 70s If I remember correctly.  
They've had to quit taking some things due to no market to sell them into.

Glass is an example.
Glass has been a problem and a bit of a fraud since the get-go.

When I worked in recycling in Seattle they were secretly landfilling a lot of it but claiming "virtue points" and I suspect some federal cash incentives for supposedly recycling it.
Idealistic young me was quite surprised at the level of bad/corrupt  behavior involved with some of the recycling entities.

At least Seattle recycled more than most because there was a big Ball jar factory there that would take a lot of the clear.

Glassblowing friends, myself included,  through the 80s and 90s did a lot of work to try to channel bottle glass into art glass but it hardly scratched the surface.

The future here may be something like a landfill in, I think, the Carolinas that set up glass and pottery studios using the methane gas generated from the old landfill pits that was just being burnt off to no good use.

Glass and pottery art require much heat, so burn carbon like a sailor on shore leave.

Using glass in ground up in pavement has been a good use too.

The real answer is probably to do like Oregon, and when I was a kid, and have returnable bottles. They'll go around 7 times before requiring recycling that way.

I remember up by the US/Canada in Oregon border, seeing retired US and Canadian folks with their RVs full of roadside salvaged bottles feeding them into the bottle receiving machines that paid out cash like a vending machine in reverse.
Big win for everyone there.

I think you're best off if you can think in terms of  "cut out the middle man" who may or may not be trustworthy and try to figure out in house or maybe "one step beyond you"  recycles.

1 month ago
Thank you!

I do indeed have many, many stories.
Never a dull moment in the land of "Florida Man."
1 month ago
One more quick point...north Florida is not tropical. That doesn't really start until somewhere well south of Orlando. We get a good bit of cold in winter and sometimes some serious freezes.  

Most tropical designs are for year round high heat.
1 month ago
I felt the same way years ago, but watching how well they survived here, even when seriously neglected, changed my tune.

The quick to have a place to live inexpensively has a lot going for them.even if your eventual plans are for something more grand.

Frees up your time and finances for more interesting and enjoyable projects, recreation, etc.

My goal had been to have everything paid off and in good shape when I retired and the ol' tin shaky shack brought that home for me years earlier.

The tax factor is a big vulnerability and something to watch out for in certain counties.

That block house with the exploding floor was $300 in taxes for years and years...then one year it was suddenly $3750 for taxes. Just so you know, that was Alachua county, which I would suggest avoiding like the plague.
1 month ago
One more most important want to be up on top of a hill.

The 100 year floodplain here is way bigger than you might imagine and old timers have seen flooding well beyond what's on the floodplain maps.

The best garden dirt is in the low spots but don't be tempted.
1 month ago
OK, long time north Floridian here and you're not going to like this.....

Almost anything "crete" or masonry is going to have fungus problems long term unless it's watertight on all fronts...expensive.
Black mold should be the Florida state flower.
Another is the ground moving under anything "crete."  Happens more and in a bigger way than you might imagine.
One block on slab house I had moved enough to crack the slab and cause the ceramic tiles to explode off the floor from being compressed by the walls.
exciting! a way you don't want

every time it rains rocks rise up out of the ground. I used to have a great side gig to my junkyard picking them up from my farmer friends fields and re-selling them for landscaping. The farmers were the ones who tipped me off on this one, telling me that the first job after a good rain was to go drag the rocks out of the fields.
You also can't bury tires here as some folks were inclined to do....they'll be right back to visit you.  

Read up on the old cracker houses:

They were as good as it got in FL houses and VERY self sufficient on inputs required if built and sited correctly. They even had solar hot water way back in the 20s and 30s but most had a design flaw in that the storage tank was in the attic....and leaked eventually.

Note that these were built on pilings you could adjust for what was happening with the ground under them.

There's so many left because they were built with first growth giant timber from the original pine forests...except the ones that burned because that first growth pine would burn like gasoline.

Another cool feature old timers told me about was deliberately leaving the floorboards with air space between them. Most were cut and built green wood so that was going to happen anyway. The reason was so tornados and hurricanes couldn't get much lift from under the house. The carpets might take off like a hovercraft but the house would still be there.

Another reason for the durability was assembly with blacksmithed soft nails that would bend and give, not break like screws or newer nails)  if a storm was trying to tear the place apart.

OK, here's the one you'll hate, and my choice...

Mobile Homes!  Yup, I'm trailer trash.

Lets consider why:

Ones old enough to be worthless come land tax time and can still be had new enough to pass serious wind...if you're going to move one it has to be able to withstand high wind by law.  Early 80s and up usually fit this bill. My taxes on my '85?  Zero

They also go up on pilings that can be adjusted and you need to find the local guy who knows how to set them up CORRECTLY on this particular issue. Lots of jacklegs in the MH setup biz...research!

They're made out of crap components and are ugly as sin inside but ugly/cheap in the 80s is better than a lot of new construction now. You can fix the ugly.

Aluminum siding, steel roof - lasts and lasts in the hostile climate here. Just be sure to keep the windows caulked ( or put on awnings that shed rain) and closed in the rain or you'll be fixing holes in the floor at the windows.

RF and other sheilding...I have cell towers nearby and can pick up meter readings from them out in the yard, but not inside my little MH Farraday cage. I hate it whan my tinfoil hat gets to buzzing...
Mine has mettallic window tint and this stops penetration at the windows.

But wait! (says Billy Mays, the oxy clean guy) there's more...but that's enough for now.

More random FL advice...

Put in ground rods for the electrical system that screw into each other and hammer them in as deep as you can. More than one won't hurt either.  The sand drains the water on the top levels and standard shallow ground rods don't work as well as they should in dry sand. End result is major lightning damage with a minor hit anywhere nearby on the shallow rods.

The springs in N FL are still truly spectacular for swimming and recreation. They're nowhere near what they were 50 years ago (algae from corporate and dairy/ag malfeasance) but are still quite awesome. We're all fighting the greedy bastards but we'll see who wins. You'll understand why Ponce De Leon thought he found the fountain of youth when he first swam in them.

Zoning - there's a FL uniform code and last time I checked a cracker house didn't qualify. You can get around that by getting an architect or engineer to sign off on it.
Used to be a very cool alt housing architect here who would, but I think he has died. He saved a friends huge bootleg built glassblowing studio from needless demolition.
This also brings up how many assholes there are here who love to start trouble by turning people into the authorities.
I can tell you SO many stories.
You can't bootleg much without someone deciding to turn you in. The fact they can do it anonymously is just wrong but it is what it is.

If I was you - I would get a travel trailer or RV, which is easily lived in here for a while while you get the lay of the land. Most counties you can even stay on a piece of land with it if you move it every so often, how often varies by county.

If you want, put together a list of whatever questions you have and I'll try to answer them as best I can.

1 month ago
Someone mentioned newer, energy efficient appliances and fridges.

The problem there, fridges in particular,  is often poor quality, leading to replacement being required way sooner than it should on the newer, energy efficient ones.

What fails are usually the control mechanisms, which can be bypassed by a simple digital temp controller available on Amazon wired direct to switch the compressor on and off as needed. You're back to having to defrost now and again but I would guess you're running more efficiently that way than when you were using a heater to self defrost or the overall disposal carbon costs of a fairly new unit that's unreliable so being tossed... so there's one possible eco-fix  for that one?

Someone also mentioned fluorocarbons and the like and refrigeration equipment leaking/losing their refrigerant on disposal or resulting from planned obsolescence  design is a big contributor.

Career #1 for me was mechanic and I'm still driving vehicles from the 70s and 80s, being able to fix them myself or even make parts if needed. Not having to replace vehicles regularly over the decades has to be somewhat of a carbon win.

Speaking of planned obsolescence, I was talking with an engineer from a major German luxury car maker and he was telling me they are now directed to redesign major engine parts to deliberately fail at what would be the end of a lease period, approximately 4 years.
Criminal corporate behavior.

Covid has also taught me I really don't need to drive much, maybe an errand run once a week and one or two other trips.
I'm retired so the work commute is gone.

Much as I dislike a lot about Amazon, they get abstract points for being there to deliver essentials during a plague. No matter which side of the "what you should do about Covid" debate you come down on, not interacting with others is one of the best strategies you can use for avoiding infection.
I'm pretty sure what amazon is doing is also more carbon efficient than me running errands in one of my steel dinosaurs.

Dark humor = if you died from Covid, have you have reached no-carbon nirvana?

All the grass is slowly becoming garden or food forest. I have 50 year old lawn tractors ( thank you for your long lost and forgotten past decency in design John Deere ) that I use to mow what's left.

I'm thinking it's time for a scythe for that:

I was a bookseller for years and my walls at home are lined with shelves holding the books I wanted to keep from ceiling to floor.
The amount that mass of paper helped with the thermal cycling is surprising, cooler much longer into the heat of the day, likewise warmer into the winter cold at night.

Along the same lines, many barrels of water in my greenhouse brought me through the winter and some freezes in the twenties with no additional heat required. It is N. Florida so I'm not sure how that would do in a prolonged freeze because we haven't had one since the 80s.
I suspect that as long as the sun is out it might be enough heat storage for that.

More dark humor of a sort, we have a Grand Solar Minimum coming up, which should lead to way colder temperatures, but NOAA and others think all the carbon and greenhouse gasses may balance that effect to where there isn't much change.
I'm sure the oil and coal companies will be thrilled.

Thermal shades on the windows made an amazing difference in how much heating/cooling required.
They're not expensive to replace/repair if something goes wrong double pane windows that fail terminally are.

I deliberately chose to live small,  in 500 sq. ft. of living space with low ceilings to reduce heat/cool costs.
It's just me and my dog so that's plenty of room.

For years I was able to live  well on 20K a year for 20 hours a week work.
That worked because I have a wide range of repair/build skills and lots of valuable-to-employer skills, so was always paid well for my work time.
I had some great little businesses that worked well that way too.

Some of those businesses were carbon hogs (glassblowing studio) but I and many others did a lot of work over the years designing equipment for that to minimize the carbon input and open sourcing the how-to.
The forum where we shared all that has to get some carbon points for getting that info out there.

Most kinds or work burn carbon by the hour...just a question of how much.