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Re: Newbie and Struggling

We are currently looking into this as a solution to assist with a solar option. A gentleman out here had recommended picking up a couple of the cheap wood burning stoves for out door use as a secondary option to something within the home... Summer heat issues. He also put me in touch with a gentleman who owns an avocado farm who would allow me to harvest as much wood as I would see fit as long as I was clearing it clean and not leaving scraps behind to clutter. He said he tends to lose a percentage of trees to frost and pest, so clearing them for new trees helps him out. I do not currently have a cellar, I have recently reached out to a couple of individuals with the info as to whether we can or cannot have one out here, once I hear back, I can work on a plan to either begin building or looking into alternatives. I have begun learning the ways of canning as I hear this is a great way to avoid wasting crops and taking more food into colder time periods.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Newbie and Struggling

I might add, before you 'expand' look into 'improving' or possibly doing more value-added things, on the farm.  I do not have a lot of acres compared to many, but with a little extra work, and some ingenuity, I belive I have gotten more net return per acre than a lot of people.
Can you better utilize the land you have?   Are you maximizing the yield potential of whatever you are growing?  Can you improve your livestock facilities, with labor, and not much expense, in order to raise more animals, or better care for the ones you have?
These are all questions I ask myself every year, as I do not have the funds to compete, toe to toe, with the big operations.   I have to find a niche, something I do better, or at least improve my net return. 
I always figured, if I could farm more acres, I could make more, but my expenses would grow proportionally.   However, if I can improve my own yields, 10%, by split applying my fertilizer, or perhaps haul my corn to the little feed mill with my straight truck (the one that does not have a way to unload a semi) and get an extra 25 cents a bushel, I can improve my net income, with perhaps more sweat equity, but little expense.  These are two things I have done, that have improved my profitability, that didn't take a lot of expense to do.



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Veteran Advisor

ground water cooling

Scroll down on this link a little ways, until you get to 'open loop' cooling.  It will explain it fairly well. 

In some areas around , like in town, there are restrictions as to where you can drain excess water, hence using it to water a lawn, trees, hedge, etc.  If you can drain it down into the ditch, all the better.



This link very briefly details it.



However, in your case, if I remember right, you said you had ground water up close to the surface.  In that case a 'closed loop' system may be worth looking into.  If you can trench down deep enough, to get heat-exchanger tubes to a little below the water table, it may (or may not) be more cost effective to go that route, as you don't have to figure out a place for the excess water to go.  Around here, the open loop is more common.   You increase efficiently greatly, using ground water in the heat exchanger or heat pump, when compared to an air-to-air heat pump, but to run in groundwater, we need to go 40+ feet deep.  There is no practical way to ever trench down that deep, so water is just pumped up, and then used to water the lawn, or go out a drainage ditch.  Some people used to let the used water go down a well, back to the groundwater, but the guy I worked with, didn't like the idea of that, and did not want his name on anything that discharged directly into the aquafer.  It wasn't illegal, but he just didn't feel right, doing it in case something would go wrong and contaminants would go down there.(he was/is a very considerate, and moral fellow).


If I remember right, the pricier versions used a heat pump, just using water instead of air, and could cool the house as well as help the furnace warm it.

The cheaper versions, were just 'coolers' using a heat exchanger that worked on the same principal as a big radiator, blowing air through a heat exchanger that cooled the air, going to the ducts.   You still needed a way, to drain out the condensation, from the cooler, there isn't a whole lot, but it needs to go somewhere.


PS, as I'm getting older, I'm glad my dad talked me into working odd jobs for electricians, plumbers, etc.  If I could now, get a nickle for every time I gave someone, somewhere advice on something I learned, I could at least get a large Pizza!

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Honored Advisor

Re: ground water cooling

Thanks for the info.  We do have a very high water table...the quality of the supply is somewhat suspect in some areas down here, due to nitrate contamination.  Ours tested out fine in all of the wells, so we do drink wellwater.  I will run it through a Black Berkey for drinking, though. 


Drainage is not an issue.  We have plenty of land and much if it is already wetland, or at least on hydric soils.  Hard to think a few gallons of condensate would be noticed. 


Right now, my alternative energy research is on the passive solar space at Jenna's house.  So far, that is doing a fair job, and the leaves have really just been shed in Sandy.  I still need to set up my recording indoor/outdoor thermometer.  We have been waiting for the painter to finish first, and that's supposed to be next week, for sure. 


I am sort of intrigued with reducing our carbon footprint.  It should be overall a potential a lowering of operating costs for our home and business. 


Thanks for giving me a new thread to follow, as I search for ways to save energy.   

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Honored Advisor

Re: Newbie and Struggling

If you are serious about canning, i'd suggest that you visit flea markets and pick up canning jars and equipment on the cheap.  Canning is a big expense at the outset of it.  There has been a big push for people to save their own food in the past couple of years...and it's about time for many to realize it is simply too much work for them, or that they just otherwise aren't cut out for canning...and they might dump the stuff needed on the cheap. 


If you have to buy them at retail, you will need several years of using the jars for the payback to pencil out. Canning pots and pressure canners are a pretty expensive proposition. .  Clearance pricing on this merchandise in retail stores now might be a second strategy for savings on the startup costs. 


Again, the labor expense of putting your own food by makes it a questionable savings, if you coudl be earning cash somewhere else instead.   There are, of course, many good websites that teach you proper sanitation and things like safe methods.  Look up Ball jars online, for example.  Extension has good information, too.  Do not be tempted to follow gimmicks.


A root cellar is not the only way to protect foods in storage.  A simpler method used my my family generations ago, on land where a cellar wasnt' possible, is to use a mound of dirt over a pile of sweet potatoes or other produce, with a tin stovepipe stuck in the side as access point.  Of course, you need to raise a crop, before you worry about saving it. 


As simple or even simpler,  or as an addendum to saving crops raised in the main growing season, finding means of raising crops in three or even four seasons is possibke in many climates.  Make sure you utilize information prepared for yoru climate, but in general, authors like Elliott Coleman are well-versed in extended season production of food.  You should be able to borrow his books on the topic via your local public library, or their extended access to regional cooperative collections. 


I would suggest you look for some titles on utilizing salvage materials for construction, too.  There are some really good titles out there now on the subject.  Metal prices for salvage have made finding waste wire and panels of fencing less likely now.  You may still be able to scrape up enough waste wood or archtectural elements, like doors and windows, to make a major dent in construction costs. 


One more caveat on the animal ag side:  If your son has sold his livestock via 4-H auctions to this point, he may have gotten an unrealistic picture of what aniamls will bring in routine commercial production.  Sponsors tend to pay outlandish prices for animals, to support the 4-H program.  You need to sit with the actual market prices, and calculate his business plan based upon those, instead. 


A further point I would make is that selling meat products is a VERY complicated, regulated, and EXPENSIVE path to follow.  A child is not equipped to make all the decisions and meet all the requirements of providing meat to consumers.  Ditto for milk and dairy products.  Eggs may be okay as a small family enterprise, at least for now. 


As for heating with outdoor appliances v indoor ones: You gain on safety, and lose a lot of the radiant heat.  Unless your firebox is well insulated, and the ductwork or other transmission device ( we use Thermopex underground to carry heated waer from our boiler to several heat exchanger, for example) prevents a lot of heat loss, you will burn way more wood outdoors than in .  That said, I would not put a wood heater in a trailer home. 


You mention a trailer as your residence.  I will caution you of this: Do not know where you live and want to settle...but if it's a place with zoning codes, and that's an RV trailer (which many families are using as primary residences in these times, I think), it may be an illegal abode. 


I know both of our counties only allow RVs to set up on approved campgrounds, which means a daily spot rental fee.  If you start to research your county's requirements for things like a cellar, be careful how much information you share about where you are right now.  It's kind of a "don't ask, don't tell' thing. 


Of course, if you are inhabiting a mobile home, rather than an RV, this isn't a concern.  We sort fo skirted around the fringes of the zoning code when we homesteaded this place in NC.  It was easier to do that 19 years ago, than it would be today. 


If you look online for your county's website, they may have all of the codes available online.  I know both of our counties have every rule ready to click on, but some of the required forms are not there to print out,  so must be picked up in person.  Google your county's name and the state abbreviation with it, and you may find what you need ot know about codes there. 


Cellar construction for food storage may be as simple as knowing whether the seasonal high water table allows for basements in permanent construction or not. Again, there are excellent books on the subjkect, and certainly websites, too.  


We live in a county in NC with virtually no cellars in our part of it.  Root cellars are not feasible here...even our storm shelter is aboveground.  In our Va location we have one house with a basement, and could have put one on any high point on the place.  If your neighbors have basements, you can likely store food inground in wintertime, too.  A southfacing hillside is a real asset, both for season extension in growing crops, and in solar collection.   



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