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I know that it's Spring in the UN world of the Big Valley but it's a very special holiday here in REality! My prayers and thoughts are with you all as we celebrate.





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Regarding the outhouses: If you can, have two; one close for winter, another farther away for summer.

Put your woodshed near the back door with the open side away from the prevailing wind. Digging snow and ice from around the wood before you can take it inside really bites.


Sorry if I'm telling people things they already know; I'm just not certain who knows what.

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Annaarchy, just FYI, sandalwood is more rare than it used to be. I sort of remember from a lecture in the Texas Soapmaker's Convention a few years back the speaker saying a few years ago there was a tsunami in Indonesia? ( I could be wrong about the origin) where a lot of sandalwood came from and sandalwood forests were destroyed. The prices shot way up. A tree has to be a certain strain and older than 40 years to create sufficent oil to warrant it's destruction.


Leah, tell it all. I am comepletely ignorant.

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I agrree with Girlnextdoor, Leah,,,,,tell us anything you think of. Even if some of us know it, others will not and from the numbers it looks like we have a lot of readers. We never know when something we say might help someone out there. :)


I like the idea of two outhouses, one close and one far. I also like the idea of a composting toilet so I don't have to go out at all. :D


Nice to see some activity again. Won't be long now.....


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I have forced myself to stay out of this because I could just sink into it, and the time really is not there.




I saw a home-made hot tub.


Saw a BIG barrel in half across the equator, or a little above if you can get an extra band that way.


For the firebox, bend some heavy-gauge steel into the shape of a double-high/double-wide--not double-deep mailbox (a "country mailbox"), solder it securely, and insert a smokestack toward the closed end. Trace the butt end onto the wall of the barrel, rather closer to the bottom than the top rim of the barrel. The firebox needs to stay entirely submerged in water to work right.


Cut a hole in the side of the barrel and insert the firebox. Seal the intersection of wood and firebox with something that doesn't easily burn or melt.


Measure two or three inches in from the deepest intrusion of the firebox and wall off the firebox by making like an open picket fence. This could be used as a seat back.


Fill the tub, then set a fire. It's not quick to heat, but the heat lasts a surprisingly long time.




To start a fire, mix any two or three of the following and light them with a magnifying glass:


Peel the bark off a dead tree and pound it into thready fibers--not into dust.


Stomp some dry pinecones to bits, flinders, splinters. (And if you find some pine root or a stump that smells of turpentine, you've hit paydirt!)


Char some cotton cloth, like bandage squares. Pack as many as you can into a tin like a Peculiarly Strong Mints tin, put a tiny (small nailtip) hole in the lid, and stick the tin into the coals of a fire. It should smoke, and stink. Don't melt the tin--that's too hot. Fish the tin out of the coals when it stops smoking, but leave it where it is until morning when all the ashes are cool. You've just made quick-lighting charcoal with thousands of ends and edges (each thread). Ends and edges are what catch fire easily.


Stuff a bunch of dryer lint into a toilet paper core. Dip each end (each opening in the core) lightly in wax. Seal a bunch of these away until you need them.


Collect an old bird's nest or two.


Save a few charred pieces of wood from your last fire. Splinter them.


Oh, and does everyone know that toasted wood catches and burns better? Take a few good splits and set them around your fire but don't burn them. If your fire goes all night long, these will toast adequately in one night. Otherwise you need two nights. The toasting drives water out of the wood to make it easier to burn, but also causes a chemical change--I don't remember the details because when I heard them I didn't understand them--that makes wood more burnable. Carry these splits with you and use them to start your fire the next day. And don't forget to toast new splits.

Edited by Ambergris
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Wow, excellent! No worries. No matter how much we know individually, we can never each know as much as we ALL know collectively. Keep it coming.



Mother...you have people doing 'homework' on Christmas..... :grinning-smiley-044:



...oh yeah, I'm here too. :laughkick: AND I watched "Westward the Women" today with my mom. Coool!!!




MtRider [ who says we've got a W*Ho addiction problem... ;) It's important research! ]

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We Wish You a Merry♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ Christmas♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪We

Wish You a Merry ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Christmas ♥ ♥ ♥We Wish You A Merry ♪♫

•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪Christmas ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪...And A Happy New Year!

♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪...

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Ambergris, great info. Keep it coming. Someday that info will come in handy for a lot of us. (Especially those of us going to that Big Valley LOL)


I used to use a bandaid can or tobacco can to make my chard cloth in but small tins are harder to find now. Thanks for the mint tin idea. I usually don't put a hole in my tins as the lids didn't fit snug enough to need them but the tighter mint tin would have an advantage of just the right amount of charring perhaps because of the control of the hole. I usually slip my tin of charred cloth into a heavy zip lock bag to keep everything dry after it's all cooled. I carry it with my flint and steel and magnesium starter and I now want one to carry with my 'click' sparker. (they are used for starting torches and such and work really well but you have to get the spark just right)


I like the hot tub. I wonder if a person could do something similar with the 'fire box' under the barrel and the bottom of the barrel replaced with metal somehow? A grid placed on the bottom would keep your feet from touching the heat perhaps? You could then use the entire barrel and have more space to stand in. Have to be a pretty big barrel for me to crunch up in but standing would be nice too. Hmmmm lots of good ideas coming from this 'homework' :D


Only a week or so left. :cheer: Who SAYS I'm addicted??? :o:grinning-smiley-044: Yup! research (ummm practice?),, that's what it is!



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Do a Google search for redneck _______ - hot tub, pool, etc. They look weird in our land of prefabricated everything, but many will actually work.

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Actually, even here in Florida, I didn't have room by the back door for a winter's worth of wood. Too much else has to be kept handy. We did keep a knee-high stack there on the porch, for convenience and to keep it from being rained on, but the main woodpile was across the yard. If you're heading for snow country, wouldn't that be like six or seven cords?


BTW, does everyone know that if you're heading across non-tree terrain, you can burn cowpies for fuel? The dryer the better, of course. If you hit grassland and can't find enough cowpies, you might have to do like Laura Ingalls and spend days on end twisting and knotting hay into "logs" to burn.



However, if you hit grassland, fire might not be your biggest problem. It's grassland because it doesn't get enough water to grow trees. If you go along and start noticing the trees getting sparse, twisty, and smallish, with leathery leaves, you'd best fill your waterbarrels at every opportunity and learn to scour your pots and pans with clean sand and wads of grass. At that point, "laundry" might largely consist of flying flags of yesterday's shirts.



Someone was talking about dumping water in winter without making a skating rink. One of the things you need close by the kitchen door is a pit, at least as big as a 13-gallon kitchen wastebasket, filled with rocks and gravel. You can dump anything from scrubbing water to urine to flaming grease in it. If you have several males in the household, make another one in a somewhat private spot and put a 2" pipe down the middle of it. Have the guys deposit their urine IN THE PIPE. We have used one of these for many years, and have caught a whiff only when some guy decided to aim at the pipe instead of in it. Here's a picture of something similar. http://www.urinal.net/camp_salerno/ Theirs stinks, but anyplace an army goes is bound to stink.


And I'm working so hard not to start reading the main section. I'd drown--I really would. How many people per wagon?

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Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas? :D Just peeking out from under a pile of "homework" to say HI! lol...to be honest, I haven't gotten too far on it because IRL got in the way, dern it! But I have gotten a couple of books now to read, lots of articles bookmarked on line, plans to draw up...oh and have to find time to plan out the garden for 2010 IRL and get needed seeds ordered. Don't need too much, but will need some like zipper cream peas. B) Try to check in again before new years but I am just itching to get started again on the story!!



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I realized earlier it was posted that a communal building was already planned. Sorry I didn't pick up on that before. Put it in the right place, and there's your town hall, community center, farmer's market.


Does anyone know how to make a chimney that draws well? I think there are plans and explanations in one of the Foxfire books.




There's two good threads on bathrooms down in Pioneer Living. Composting toilets, digging latrines, etc.


Smokers and Smokehouse plans -


Edited by Leah
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I'm not a building contractor, but I've seen some bad fireplaces, and I've asked questions of the people who fixed them.


For a chimney to draw well, you need to have a tall, narrow chimney. Smoke has to push air out of the way, and this is easier with a smaller diameter.


Also, the part you build the fire in has to have pretty specific proportions for the fireplace to work properly.


The opening to the room should be wider than it is tall. The height should be two feet or more, because less is going to cause trouble loading and cleaning--not to mention enjoying--your fireplace. I've been told 30-32 inches is a good height but you could calculate the height based on the height of the bricks you're using plus mortar. My very effective fireplace opening is six courses of bricks high, but my bricks are larger than normal


Most good fireplaces I've seen are 16-18 inches deep.


The back wall of the fireplace should be narrower than the front wall, so that the side walls reflect heat into the room. The back wall can be as little as half as wide as the opening.


Just like the back wall is narrower side to side, it's also shorter. 14 inches is good. If you have a four-foot-wide pig-roaster of a fireplace, you can raise the back height above 14 inches, but you want to keep it under a foot and a half. Above the 14-inch height, it should slope in toward the room, narrowing the opening to something just exactly wide enough to catch birds' nests. This is the opening your damper fits over. It's called the throat. This narrowest place should be a little less than a foot above the top of your fireplace opening. Immediately above the narrowest point is a "smoke shelf," which is a pain to keep clean and a fire hazard to ignore, and which also tends to collect bird nests. To prevent nightmares, reach up with a stick and scrape across this shelf before your first fire in a long time. Really--do this. I'm certain the smoke shelf is essential to the functioning of the fireplace or the chimney, because it's too annoying to exist otherwise. The only masonry chimney I've seen without a smoke shelf was notorious for a problem with high winds blowing crap into the room--which is not a good thing if the crap is on fire.


Now the inside of the front of the fireplace, the part your damper is fixed to, should slant back toward the back wall, so that about two feet above the smoke shelf there's just room enough for the flue. My flue is 9 inches by 14 inches. The flue should be as smooth as you can get it, for ease of cleaning. This is the inside of the chimney. I'm nobody's idea of a housekeeper, but what sticks to the inside of the flue is combustible, and if you ever want to distract a firefighter, ask about the worst chimney fire he's ever seen.


When you look down from the top of the chimney, you're looking down the flue, and all you should see is flue and smoke shelf.


The smoke shelf is flat, like a book shelf, and goes straight back to where the back wall of the fireplace would have been if you'd not slanted it in. Ths chimney goes up from here.


A 20-foot chimney is good. A 21-foot chimney is better. The taller ones draw better. To make the code guy happy, make the chimney 3 feet taller than the closest roof, and two feet higher than the ridge, if the ridge is within 10 or 12 feet.


Just before you light your fire, light a twisted-up sheet of paper and hold it as high up the chimney as you can conveniently reach. This seems to do a good job of starting the airflow, which makes the fire easier to start and reduces that just-starting smoke that tries to pour out into your room.


Does this make sense?

Edited by Ambergris
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It makes excellent sense Ambergris but then I, too, am an old hand at using fireplaces. The lit piece of paper also works in wood stoves to get the chimney drawing before you light the fire. We won't have the priveledge of having newspaper in the Big Valley but twists of straw or dry grass will work as well. You really have to be careful not to be holding them when they burn down and be prepared to drop them onto your already laid fire.


Doors on a fire place help with some of the room air draw. Most people that would be considering a life in that same Big Valley will not have the luxury of glass doors but one of the original buildings at the museum I used to work for has wooden doors on the large fireplace that work as effectively to stop heat loss during the night. They are not shut when the fire is actively buring but can be pulled slightly shut to form a shelter for cold people to set in front of the fireplace and get warmed. To shut them at night the fire is pushed to the back of the fireplace fairly early in the evening and allowed to burn to coals. Ashes are 'banked' around and over the ashes to 'hold' those coals from going out in the night and the doors are shut. Because the doors are not air tight the coals will not go out but will also not flare. In the morning there is almost always coals left to get the fire rekindled. I have more than once set a pot of oatmeal or other cereal grain to boil on the fire just before 'banking' the coals and then setting the covered pot off to the side near the back of the fire to finish cooking. Hot cereal for breakfast even before the fire is fully going. A pot of beans or a stew can be cooked the same way, especially when the occupants are going to be gone for the day and bank the coals as if it's night.


A fireplace in a two story home also can be used as a smoker. A closely constructed closet is built next to the chimney in the upstairs room. Two doors, preferrably metal though it can be done with clay covered wood or cut stone, is set into the chimney at the top and bottom of the closet. The bottom one opens into the closet, the top one opens into the chimney (if they are not metal a way to hold the upper one will have to be devised). When you want to smoke foods you hang the meat or? in the closet on hooks. Then you open the door at the bottom allowing smoke to come into the closet. The top door is opened into the chimney, shutting the chimney in that area. The smoke is drawn into the closet at the bottom and out the door and back into the chimney at the top smoking the food as it passes. The one at the musuem I am describing works as beautifully now as it did a hundred fifty years ago.


Remember though, we won't have 'bricks' at least to begin with though we should be able to manufacture them if we find clay. Many pioneer fire places and chimneys were made from stone and used clay or mud as mortar. Barring that, they were made with logs and sticks and were coated with mud or mud/straw mixture called daub. These chimneys were called daub and wattle. Not the safest but it worked.


Wagoneers, doesn't this make you anxious to get your homes built? It does me. Our family has wood stoves and pipe along but fireplaces and stoves gives different cooking and heating options. I'll probably have both. :D



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I've seen a stick-and-mud chimney catch fire. The people immediately went out and lassoed the chimney, and pulled it away from the house to burn in the yard. The chimney was built to pull away easily. This left a hole in the wall, but it beat losing the roof--or maybe the whole house--to fire.

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It's the night before the day before New Years,,,, and we're busy busy busy making plans. :whistling: It's the night before the day before New Years and we're doing every thing we can! Cleaning up the wagons and tying down lose gear, checking out the wheels as the day grows near. It's the night before the day before New Years and we're waiting for our brand new thread! :whistling:


Are you all ready to build homesteads? It won't be long now. I keep wondering what it would be like if we were actually in that Valley and spending New Years Day in a log cabin with snow more than likely piling up around us. It's not hard for me as we've had snow all day today.


You still have time to enjoy your holidays before we put everyone back to work though and I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.



Enjoy yourselves but stay safe.



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Oh boy!

Oh Boy!

Oh Boy!

can't wait to get started again in the Valley.


And I've been lucky as I have been working each day since we frozen the trip (dec. 16) with Mother and Mt_rider goinig over details and setting up what will happen when. We have a few surprizes in store so stay tuned!


Same bat time..........

same bat station!


Am I THAT old! ROFL :laughkick:


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All that, and only one mornincoffee.gif ?!

Edited by Leah
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