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Winter Project Time

I feel like I have a little explaining to do, as I’ve been getting involved with projects that may seem a little out of the blue, but aren’t. Since the snow fell, the cold came, and the outdoor food world froze into ice, I have had time to park myself at an imac and get stuck into building out some of the businesses that were conceptualized through this last growing season.

Story Chaser has finally been born. The video production opportunities are increasingly piling up and it was well past the time to put together a team to handle the workload – it’s already more than I can take on. One of the cool pieces of the puzzle is we’re going to focus on producing hunting, fishing, and agriculture video production – a niche that will be really fun to fill. I had no idea there was as much work as there is in the video production world, and can’t believe the scope of the projects we’re already working on. I feel like I should be sending Daniel Klein a royalty for getting me started down this path.

Shovel & Fork was born from the workshops I put on over the past season – which I put on because folks had been asking me to for years. I learned a few things doing them. First, and most importantly, is that I’ve long known that I really don’t enjoy being a teacher. Learned that being a music teacher through university. Not for me. Secondly, I learned that a lot of folks really enjoy learning in that hands-on way. So rather than tap out, which was my intent, I’ve teamed up with chef and culinary instructor Chad Moss who will rock the instruction bit. We’ve also built the gig to incorporate folks with other skill sets and knowledge to teach workshops in their area of expertise – not only in #yeg but elsewhere too. It’s become a really, really fun project, and is already changing the landscape of the food scene here. Love it.

And there’s more on the way, including a rebuild of this very site which will focus a fair bit more on KevinTV than it does now. Lactuca will continue to consume a fair bit of my brain, as we figure out expansion and employee logistics for the coming growing season. In the end, it turns out that I’m really, really enjoying tackling entrepreneurial projects that create vast opportunities to do projects with social good pieces attached. So much fun. I’m really, really grateful to those of you who support what I do and make it possible. I will long be in your debt.

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COM-MUNI-CATION….

Subtitle: 
How are we supposed to keep up?

Don’t promote

No

How are we supposed to keep up with the tidal wave of information that comes our way every day?

My daily favorites are the
BBC,
Guardian and
Independent, from the UK;
Spiegel (English edition, from Germany); and the
Huffington Post.

For most of these, I usually click on ‘Green’ or ‘environment. I supplement them with
Clean Technica,
Smart Planet, and
Climate Progress.
My favorite weekly magazine is
New Scientist.
And still the great stories keep coming, so I also have Google News set up with my favorite search terms, such as ‘solar’, ‘climate change’ … and ‘BCSEA’.

Here in the BCSEA, we provide a free BCSEA-NEWS email list-serv that has many smart participants who post BC stories on energy and climate. We also have a BCSEA-ENERGY list-serv for discussion. To sign up for these, click here. http://www.bcsea.org/email-lists.

Our website runs regular sustainable energy news stories, such as
Tokelau becomes the world’s first 100% solar powered country, and
Wind industry could provide a fifth of global electricity by 2030.
To see them regularly, visit www.bcsea.org on a regular basis.

We also run a BCSEA Facebook page, and we tweet regularly on
Twitter.

What are your favorites, as you strive to keep up with the whirlwind of change? Please send them to info@bcsea.org with the subject line ‘Favorite communications’, so that we can share them around.

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Solar Greenhouse Research — No Heat Needed

Here are three solar greenhouse projects just added to the site.  One in Missouri, another in Manitoba, and our new solar greenhouse in Bozeman.

Solar Greenhouses are roughly defined as greenhouses that can grow things through the winter without supplementary heat — that is, they are 100% solar heated.

A University of Missouri Solar Greenhouse with 18 Year Track Record

This is a greenhouse I ran across while looking for a good design for our own solar greenhouse project.  It was designed and built by the Univ of Missouri extension about 18 years ago, and has been used for researching winter greenhouse growing since then.  
Its designed to work well through the winter with the steeply tilted, double wall glazing, the north roof sloped to reflect light on the growing area, all surfaces insulated except the south glazing, and thermal mass in the form of water barrels.
It successfully grows through the winter with no supplemental heating.
We liked it enough to model our solar greenhouse (see below) generally after it.

Solar Greenhouse Research in Manitoba

These are some articles and a paper on a solar greenhouse research project in Manitoba.  Part of the project involved taking a wide greenhouse and subdividing it into 4 separate, side by side spaces.  Each space was used to test a different glazing or insulating scheme through the winter.

Solar Experimenation “Thing” in Montana

This is our new solar greenhouse project here in Bozeman.  It is actually a scaled down version of the U of M greenhouse above.  
While its intended to be our greenhouse for the long run, we plan to first use it to do some testing of the performance of low thermal mass sunspaces attached to a house and used for space heating of the house, and then for testing the idea that it possible to build a small (tiny) room in one end of the GH that will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature through the winter on just solar.  This is a tall order in our climate, but we will see what can be done later this winter.

The GH with its 60 deg tilt, south facing glazing — all other surfaces are insulated.

Building the frame

Temperatures in the first three days after being closed in.
30F outside — 120F inside.
Any ideas or suggestions on this project would be appreciated.
Gary
Posted on

Solar Greenhouse Research — No Heat Needed

Here are three solar greenhouse projects just added to the site.  One in Missouri, another in Manitoba, and our new solar greenhouse in Bozeman.

Solar Greenhouses are roughly defined as greenhouses that can grow things through the winter without supplementary heat — that is, they are 100% solar heated.

A University of Missouri Solar Greenhouse with 18 Year Track Record

This is a greenhouse I ran across while looking for a good design for our own solar greenhouse project.  It was designed and built by the Univ of Missouri extension about 18 years ago, and has been used for researching winter greenhouse growing since then.  
Its designed to work well through the winter with the steeply tilted, double wall glazing, the north roof sloped to reflect light on the growing area, all surfaces insulated except the south glazing, and thermal mass in the form of water barrels.
It successfully grows through the winter with no supplemental heating.
We liked it enough to model our solar greenhouse (see below) generally after it.

Solar Greenhouse Research in Manitoba

These are some articles and a paper on a solar greenhouse research project in Manitoba.  Part of the project involved taking a wide greenhouse and subdividing it into 4 separate, side by side spaces.  Each space was used to test a different glazing or insulating scheme through the winter.

Solar Experimenation “Thing” in Montana

This is our new solar greenhouse project here in Bozeman.  It is actually a scaled down version of the U of M greenhouse above.  
While its intended to be our greenhouse for the long run, we plan to first use it to do some testing of the performance of low thermal mass sunspaces attached to a house and used for space heating of the house, and then for testing the idea that it possible to build a small (tiny) room in one end of the GH that will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature through the winter on just solar.  This is a tall order in our climate, but we will see what can be done later this winter.

The GH with its 60 deg tilt, south facing glazing — all other surfaces are insulated.

Building the frame

Temperatures in the first three days after being closed in.
30F outside — 120F inside.
Any ideas or suggestions on this project would be appreciated.
Gary
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Letter to The Moose & Elk

Dear moose and elk,

You won this one. You did. But it’s not because you’re awesome, or cause you ran really fast or hid really good. The big reason you got away lucky was cause I was in camp crumpled on the floor with the flu. Otherwise, you were totally, totally, totally in so much trouble. And yeah, whenever we found you we didn’t have a tag for your particular ‘gender’ or ‘age’, but really that’s not something to be proud of. It’s pretty ‘sexist’ and ‘agist’. Yeah, ‘agist’ is a thing, even if you’ve never heard of it cause you live in the bush.

If you laughed at me while my sick self glassed you to determine that I couldn’t shoot you, I’m totally coming after you next year. In fact, either way I’m coming after you again next year. Yeah, be scared. And guess what. My hunting buddies bagged 2 bull elk, 2 cow elk, and 2 moose calves the weeks before and after I was there. They totally have your number. Be scared.

See you next year.

Sincerely – Kevin

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Chickens in Permaculture

This is a guest post from Anne Hess. You can read her Simple Living blog at www.waldeneffect.org.
Chickens are the ultimate permaculture tool.  After spending six years enjoying their scratching feet and delicious eggs on our farm, we’re still finding new ways to integrate them into the homestead ecosystem.  Here are my favorites:

Food for us.  Of course, the reason most of us bring home chickens is to enjoy eggs and/or meat with a quality much higher than you can find in any store.  In permaculture systems, I’ve found it’s handy to figure out your main purpose for any plant or animal before delving into multiple uses.

That way, you can decide whether it’s worth the tradeoff of lowering egg quality but getting more manure when you confine a bird inside all day.  For us, the answer is no — the food we eat is our top priority.


Food for the garden.  Eggs aren’t the only quality product that come out the back end of a chicken, and most permaculture systems do their best to capture that high-fertility manure.  Chicken tractors move the flock to fertilize a new patch of lawn each day, but I feel like I get better results from a stationary coop filled with deep bedding.

The chickens are rotated to a new pasture each week so they don’t get bored, but the manure all stays in one place, creating compost for the garden.

Garbage disposal.  Although most organic gardeners have a compost pile, I’ve chosen the faster method of passing food scraps through a chicken.  In go the melon rinds, out come eggs and compost — it’s a win-win.

Stacking.  Chickens don’t mix well with most active vegetable gardens, but they can share their space quite happily with many other food-producing operations.  Bee hives and mushroom logs are good additions to the chicken pasture, and once the trees are old enough not to mind getting their mulch scratched away, fruit trees can actually benefit from hungry chicken beaks snatching up insects around their roots.

I like to graze new chicks amidst our ever-bearing raspberries for their first two months of life — the berries can use the boost of fertilizer and the baby chickens feel safe in the thorny interior.

Weed removal.  Chickens won’t till your ground like pigs will, but the birds do munch on young sprouts and leaves repeatedly until most areas become bare.

While you don’t want this to happen in a permanent run (use tractors or rotational pastures to prevent moonscapes), you may choose to use chickens in this manner in an off-season garden to help prepare the soil.  Over the winter, when grazing is scarce, you can leave a tractor in one spot for several weeks, adding leaves to the ground every day so your flock stays out of the mud.  The result is a high quality raised bed.

Deer barrier.  We built chicken pastures encircling our core homestead to keep deer at bay.  After trying all of the deer repelling home remedies, many of our neighbors have given up on gardening since their plots would simply be munched bare, but for the last year, we haven’t seen a single deer in our strawberries.  We couldn’t afford the recommended ten foot tall fence to surround our acre homestead, but a cheap and easy five foot chicken wire fence does the same job if you keep the pasture narrow.

Deer are held back by one tall fence or by two small fences close together, so plan chicken moats to have no more than ten feet between fences.  If other types of pest animals are moving into your homestead, your chicken pastures could keep them at bay as well — just learn the animals’ migration patterns and choose your fencing strategy wisely.

I’d be curious to hear from other permies who’ve found ingenious niches for their chickens.  How do you put those busy birds to work on your homestead?

Anna Hess and her husband produce POOP-free chicken waterers on their southwest Virginia farm and spend the rest of their days growing their own fruits and vegetables, experimenting with permaculture, and writing about their adventures.

Anna’s new paperback, The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency, presents one fun and easy project for each weekend of the year to help beginners dip their toes into the vast ocean of homesteading without becoming overwhelmed.