Snowy Day – 2007 Farm Bill Comments

If you care about locally grown food, gardening, homesteading, agrarianism, livestock, protecting traditional rights to farm or just like to eat then be sure to get your comments on the 2007 Farm Bill in before the 12/31/2006 deadline. There is an easy web form at the US House government web site. Go to:

Some topics to write about include:

  • NAIS – Just say No.
  • Farm Subsidies – Let’s stop paying the big guys to not farm.
  • Corporate Welfare – Do we really need to support Monsanto, McDonalds & Walmart?
  • Exports – If sellers want to export, let them do it at their cost but don’t burden the US consumers and small producers with costs that benefit foreign markets and exporters.
  • Conservation – Helping farmers keep land in agriculture and scenic.
  • Taxes – Over taxation of real estate is a primary threat to agriculture.
  • On-Farm Slaughter – Ask for it to be allowed for small farms just like with poultry.
  • Buy Local – Do you know who raised your food?
  • Slow Food – Less miles means less fossil fuels.
  • GMOs – Do you know if those genes fit?
  • Clones – A dead end for breeding if nothing else.
  • Patenting Life – Baahhd Idea!

Speak up now so you’ll be heard!

Work continues on the scaffolding and forms for the attic of the tiny cottage. Holly cut wood. Ben and Will broke out cores on the partition blocks. Hope blew bubbles, made angels in the freshly fallen snow and served refreshments. I moved materials and figured out how to correct a concrete wall that was 4″ too far east. Correcting something set in stone – that’s a trick!

The worrisome wall in question is between the bedroom and the bathroom. The bed is 80″ long. I had meant for the bedroom to be 84″ wide so the bed would fit nicely. I goofed and built the partition wall one block width east off of where it should have been – I set my blocks on the wrong side of the line. But, there is a solution! The wall is currently only as high as the edge of the bed. It looks higher than that but the floor in that room is one block up in order to have space for utilities and plumbing. I’m going to use Ferro Cement techniques to make that non-structural portion of the wall thinner. This gives the bed the extra 4″ it need without my having to tear down the nicely mortared wall I’ve done. The edge of the wall becomes the support for the bed frame planks. See, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature! With a little marketing we can just gloss over that mistake – We’ll call it zero width walls and fold one more dimension into the house!

Interestingly the sand and partition blocks that we had brought in yesterday were quite warm and the tiny cottage’s temperature had only been depressed a few degrees. I had expected the approximately two tons of deeply frozen thermal mass we moved into the cottage yesterday would have lowered the temperature more. So I did the math. The reason is that the cottage itself has such an enormous thermal mass being made of approximately 87,000 lbs of concrete which had already warmed up to about 50°F. So while we had moved in about 4,400 lbs of concrete and sand at about 4°F that didn’t really dip the total energy of the house by much. Using the absolute Kelvin temperature scale this suggests that the incoming mass*energy only represented 4% of the cottage’s total energy. Hot!

This explains why there wasn’t much of a temperature dip. What that means is the theory of having a high mass house works. Temperatures don’t change quickly. That is the first real proof I’ve gotten to measure. Until know it has all been theory. For decades I’ve lived in low mass stick built houses that readily fluctuate in temperature. That is a problem – if you let the fire go out the house cools off fairly easily even if it is well insulated. Stick built houses just don’t have the mass to store a lot of energy.

Of course, the problem with a high mass house is that it takes longer to bring it up to temperature. But once it is there, it doesn’t want to budge. Given that we have 137 sq-ft of windows and 252 sq-ft of floor area in such a tiny cottage we’ll be appreciating all that thermal mass to help with passive solar heating. Once we’re done building the loft and attic our thermal mass will be a fair bit higher which will help with storing heat and stabilizing the house temperature.

My goal is to ideally not heat the house at all if I don’t want to and have it stay a reasonable temperature year round. Then the small amount of energy input from our bodies, appliances, lights, cooking, etc will bring it up a bit more to something even Holly will consider warm. That’s the theory. We’ll find out what the practice is like. This is the reason I purchased such an itty bitty stove.

Recommended reading: Passive Annual Heat Storage (PAHS) (Original paper book 1983, Updated eBook 2005 by John Haite from the Rocky Mountain Research Center, Visual Handbook of Building and Remodeling by Charlie Wing from Rodale Press. Also check out Annual Geo-Solar (AGS).

Outdoors: 25°F/3°F 5″ Snow fell all day
Farm House: 65°F/53°F four logs
Tiny Cottage: 50°F/40°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Snowy Day – 2007 Farm Bill Comments

  1. Patti says:

    I copied your list and pasted into the comments section..:) You said it so well why mess with perfection eh?..Happy New Year!

  2. Mark V. says:

    That is really interesting about the thermal-mass issue. I would have thoght that bringing all that stuff in the house would have really hit your temperature hard. But now that you did out the numbers I can see it works. My next house is going to be a “High Mass” house too. It makes a lot of sense. And cents too.

    By the way I did send in my comments to both the senate and the house. Hope you dont mind that I borrowed very liberally from your list with some expansion on the ideas. But will they listen to the people or just to the giant corporate interests that have the lobbyestss to pay them off…???

  3. Norm E says:

    We are building a root cellar and high-end hybrid passive solar greenhouse with seasonal thermal energy storage in SE MN. Intend to build a home using same concept to eliminate need for heating/cooling energy -except electicity for ventilation air.

    We are convinced that energy issues and costs are going to dominate life in the years ahead. Want some protection from energy cost inflation.

  4. Jack Moeller says:

    Hello there!
    I’ve been enjoying reading through your blog for some time now so I thought I would tell you about a homesteading, emergency preparedness, and survival forum that I am a member of,

    It has tons of great information on simple and frugal living, self sustainability, gardening, livestock, food storage such as canning and preserving, and much more! I’m sure the people of the forum would love to hear your insight! It’s free and easy to sign up!

    Hope to see ya there!


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