Matthew Brittain

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since Aug 10, 2011
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Recent posts by Matthew Brittain

Glad to hear we Canadians might be able to get a buck or two for diversifying the place up a bit.

In your experience, are the grants more or less likely to be available in places that have limited agricultural diversity?
Where I plan to settle it's all fishing, blueberries and apples. I'd like to make a living by showing people that we could really be expanding on that, and I certainly wouldn't look a gift cheque in the mouth.
5 years ago
We salvaged a small wood fired boiler from an old home once and now it runs the in-floor heat we put in our camp; might have been the best find we ever made.

Heating water to heat mass to heat people has worked so much better than heating air to heat people. Hard to believe we've moved so far away from wood heated water in most homes. The prospect of heating a thermal flywheel of a floor, providing domestic hot water and ending up with fresh compost is something we really need to implement.
5 years ago
The instability is my biggest fear. I imagine you're right, Katy.

Perhaps if it sat on a rather large heat sink. An insulated water tank, or something that could serve a double function of heating a greenhouse or animal bedding area as well as keep a little box stable. I won't let it sit on my idea books for too long. In a few years I'm gonna try this one out and see what I can shake up.

In your experience, Grant, how much efficiency of heat capture does a circulation pump provide? Is it more for efficiently moving the heat or does it do much for overall heat gain? I'd imagine that the pumps more quickly introducing ground temperature water would cool and slow down the pile, so might that extend the pile's life.
5 years ago
The brain race over what the perfect homestead site should be is one I'm all too familiar with.

I've been stuck in dense urban East Asia for the last 5 years and it's given me much more appreciation for the rural woodlands I grew up in. I used to dream of finding a place with 50 + year old oaks, walnuts, and maples, creeks and lake frontage, gentle southern slopes (okay, I still dream about that) but proximity to family or friends has shot through the roof in the last half decade.

Most of the things I wanted before, I began to realize were things that with time I could grow a homestead into if I worked hard. If an area turns you off because there don't seem to be many opportunities for income streams, it may just mean that the area is on the cusp of being ready for what you have to offer. It may be different for everyone, but there is probably something you truly desire from a homestead that you cannot create... I've got a few friends now hip deep in Canadian prairie who've only just realized how much they miss life back on the sea.

I think you're idea of getting away from it all for awhile is golden, it gives you a chance to apply the rule of observation inwardly. Don't immediately require it of yourself to know where the perfect place to settle.

Let the things you might not yet know are the most important to you have a chance to rise to the top before you place all your bets on a place.
5 years ago
I love the idea of heating with compost and I'm glad to see more study and experimentation in the area. There seem to be plenty of articles from the 70s and 80s talking about research in the area, but the interest seemed to die off until recently.


Have you heard of anyone using compost heat for egg incubation?

It's been bouncing around in my head, the idea of thermosyphoning the heat out of a pile and into some sort of insulated box filled with eggs. An electricity free way to hatch a bunch of chicks, or even to warm the chicks for the first few weeks of their lives. I imagine it would provide a nice even heat, but I wonder if it would provide a stable enough temperature for the 3 weeks needed for the eggs to hatch.
5 years ago
If you have access to a lot of biomass perhaps you could pull a Jean Pain style compost heap for a heat source. Have the heated pipe wrap a few times around the frame or even under a section that they could huddle on when cold or leave if they felt uncomfortable.
I would think a good enough pile would last long enough to see them through. And as you wouldn't be using the water from within the pipe, it should be a relatively stable heat source with little input from you beyond the initial constuction.
I guess the flaw would be that it would take a little while to get up to temperature, but if you only need it for a short period of time perhaps the pile could be made of 'faster burning' materials. It would take some tinkering, but that's half the fun of coming up with new methods.
7 years ago
It may not be 'building' per se, but I'd love to see a break down on hand dug or small machine dug wells or water works.
I'd also like to see more on roofing types.
I'm interested in building foundations and I've always wanted to learn more about self producing flooring.
A break down of different types of root cellars / cold rooms would be useful, too.
7 years ago
I've always been shocked at the amount of waste that the quota system can produce.
The family run dairy that services the country from which I hail in Nova Scotia, deals with a pretty broad range of products and supplies all of its own milk. In order to make sure they have enough milk output to always cover their needs, they have a fairly large herd (in case of death or illness). When their cows are doing well they end up with extra milk, but as they can only legally produce so much milk the rest has to be dumped directly down the drain. No selling to consumers, they can't even sell it for supplimentary pig feed, it legally has to be discarded.
I don't know how much this applies to other industries ( I know milk is really tightly controlled) but I shudder to think of eggs, meat, honey or even crops wasted because a farmer had a particularly good year.
7 years ago
I would definately vote dandelion as Ace. The position as highest and lowest valued card seems to perfectly suit the plant that is one of the most useful to sustainable systems and simulantiously most despised by so many people.
I would also suggest that maybe instead of 52 seperate plants, that the suits show the different role the plant has.
Heart for its edible or medicinal role.
Diamond for a valuable harvest we could get from it.
Spade for what it does to strengthen our gardens.
Club for...some...other...thing (maybe a surprising fact / way to encourage it / relatively unknown benefit or harvest).
7 years ago
I would like to know if there is anything that he has planted before that he would not deal with again (for what ever reason).
I would also like to know if he has any advice for using some plants to rein in the spreading nature of other plants (blackberries to buffer bamboo or any other such plays on ecology)
And maybe his top ten list of most usefull plants?
I am always amazed when watching him in a video; the tours of his gardens, the lightning fast botanical information, cool and collected...always inspiring.