Episode-1629- Expert Council Calls for 8-21-15 — 41 Comments

    • Dude no worry and frankly it is my fault for not downloading your file until today. Really man you are one of the hardest working people I know, enjoy your week off and we will run this recording next week.

    • Just to be clear, it sounds like Michael’s call listed in the show notes was NOT in this show, so I didn’t just miss it (and I’m not going crazy!)?

  1. Regarding “Vitamix vs a blender,” I am sure that some might might wonder why a Vitamix costs so much more than a consumer blender. Part of the reason is the strength of the motor but also the Vitamix is designed for a longer life and more abuse.

    I used to work in a restaurant when I was a kid and I remember the time when our commercial blender conked out, but we still needed to make milkshakes so the cook bought a consumer blender from the local grocery store. It lasted about a day before it burned out.

    Consumer blenders are designed for a certain number of uses. If you use a blender once a week and it lasts for 5 years most people think they’ve had their money’s worth. That is 260 uses, but a busy restaurant will use a blender 260 times in a day. They need a commercial blender.

    So… if you are using a consumer blender to do the job of a Vitamix, that’s fine. It will work for a while, but you are going to reach the limits of that consumer blender a lot sooner that you’d expect. For my wife, who tried to get by with a blender, that limit was about 2 months. We now have a Vitamix.

    Your mileage may vary.

    Nothing I have said has contradicted what Chef Snow said and if it seems like it did, I take it back.

    Alex Shrugged

    • A big +1 on the Vitamix. Mine is going on 20 yrs. old, gets used almost every day, sometimes more than once. Also use the dry container & blade to make powder from my dried chilies/tomatoes/whatever. When this one dies I’ll replace it immediately.

  2. We have Coyote’s around here. We have field fencing and a Mastiff dog that is out all day in a separate area from our birds and rabbits. We also have a Border Collie / Australian Shepard mix that is out during the day. We leave our chicken coop open at night. We leave our house lights on. Coyotes will come out only at night and will not cross our road let alone try to figure out the fence. They stay in the field across the road.

    We have other areas of the property where our Alpacas are on. They won’t mess with them inside a fence.

    Only twice in 4 years have I seen Coyotes out during the day. One was walking down a road and my daughter was outside with me playing. She was maybe 2 or 3. From about 70 feet I saw the Coyote walking down the road, it was eyeing her. As soon as I stepped in front of her it bailed. I never saw it again.

    So my suggestion is dogs and fencing. Also, be out with your young kids and keep an eye on them.

  3. When chef Kieth was talking about iced coffee, it made me want to plug the cold brew technique, because it makes exceedingly awesome iced coffee. (I know he was illustrating a principle, but still) We were solid french press users until we switched to cold brew. I even drink it hot, by adding hot water from an electric kettle. Just thought I’d let the community know! Check it out!

    • Adding something rather random but germane to the topic here, is what my wife and I have gravitated to over the years for daily morning coffee – the AeroPress.

      Cheap, easy to use, and (once you learn how to use it) makes some of the best tasting coffee we’ve ever had.

  4. A coyote got a hold of my cat right outside a neighbor’s window. She woke up to the noise and banged on the window to scare him off. The cat was lucky that night since the coyote wasn’t able to deliver a fatal bite. He just roughed him up.

  5. Follow up question on low maintainence permaculture. I have a remote property in AR that I only get to a couple times a year as I work overseas. I have recently put in a pond and several large swales. In the past, I’ve tried to plant various perennials, fruit trees, etc. on the property and often come home to find the mountain has reclaimed the area. I do have some fruit trees recently planted on the swales (this spring) that seem to be doing well but, I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have on other perennials I can plant on the swales this fall. I have a serious lespedeza problem on the property and would like to keep it from getting established on my new swales and around my pond. Any suggestions on controlling the lespedeza would also be welcomed, the old-timers in the area say Pasture Guard is the only option. I know that is not true! 😉

    • Ill talk about this next week but know this, Nick Ferguson gave me a 10 pound bag of lespedeza seed and I was happy to have it.

    • Well, you have an abundance of a perennial, hardy, nitrogen fixing, deer resistant, bush clover. I would put that in the classification of “great plant to be holding your soil”. It sounds like your property is in need of the plant, and that you don’t have time to do much with it otherwise. I’d leave it to do it’s job, then when you have time to manage the property, start chop and drop with it. What a fantastic resource!!

      If you want to give me some more info I might be able to help you out more, but I certainly wouldn’t suggest you use herbicides to kill it. Sounds like you need to leave it in place to repair the soil.

      As for other perennials, mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) comes to mind. The deer won’t bother it much, it’s hardy, it will shade and protect your fruit trees, and then when you have the time, chop and drop!


    • That is not a problem – that is an income source waiting to happen. Find a local grazer and tell them that if they’ll graze the property and keep it under control you’ll lease it to them at a fraction of the going rate. Or, just don’t charge them at all so long as they keep the cattle out of the fruit trees.

  6. Coyotes, foxes but mainly neighbors dogs are responsible for most odlf my chickens death.

  7. One of the nearby neighborhoods had a problem with a coyote attacking and killing dogs. One guy set a trap for it, using a baby rabbit as bait. He got the coyote. Neighbors were happy to see it gone but upset about the cute baby rabbit being used that way (rabbit unharmed the way he set his trap) and he quickly found it a loving home with 2 teenage girls. They didn’t have any coyote problems after that.

  8. Jack,

    Attending the Oct event, schedule permitting I’ll be attending the November event. Really interested in the quail instruction.

  9. I still haven’t caught up on most of last week’s podcasts, but I hope your father-in-law is still doing well in the new place. It sounds like it’s the best of all the unpleasant options available, and to hear you describe it the place sounds like the way such places should be like (but seldom are). This is a good example I guess of why we save and prep; not just for us but so we are able to take care of others like you are doing. Thanks for being one of the few people out there in the public arena who set the bar higher.

  10. On comment on the house buying discussion that John didn’t mention which is taxes. It seems an oversight to discuss the value of a house that you can purchase without mentioning taxes. Maybe this may be more of a “Walking to Freedom” discussion, but I bought a house that was only 125% of my income 15 years ago and I find today that it is a load stone around my neck as taxes have since almost tripled. And yes Jack, it is NJ. but in any case even in sane areas, it is probably important to include or at least consider, property taxes in any calculation of maximum house value you can afford as it is possible that the tax man may get irrational ideas on the value of your home after you buy it.

    • Ya lost me at NJ bro!

      But yes taxes must be considered.

      Where taxes are sane, the number I gave on payments includes them, that is 1% of the price.

      If you buy a 200K dollar house right now, you will end up with a payment of 1800-2200 dollars in most areas. If it costs you 2800 a month or more to own a 200K house, to be blunt either don’t buy it or fricken move.

      If there is a shittier state to live in than NJ right now tax wise it must be New York and I really feel NJ is worse! To be blunt sadly most of the North East is lost, GET OUT or get “way out here” up there.

  11. You certainly may be able to run your furnace off a battery bank. You can run it for hours in fact if you have the right furnace.

    The first key thing is to have a natural gas furnace.

    I have run mine as a test for up to 12 hours off my battery bank with two 96 amp hour Group 27 deep cycle RV batteries. That gives me a total of 192 amp hours. It was no problem and it didn’t even draw the batteries down to 50%.

    This is right out of the manual for my furnace:

    Full load amps (of the blower) – 7.7amps at 120vac. (This is what it draws for an instant when the blower starts). This is about 85 amps on a 12vdc battery bank but it is only a second when the blower is starting.

    Power draw during low heat cycle 55 watts. Which equals 0.45 amps at 120vac or approximately 5 amps DC draw on a 12vdc battery bank.

    Power draw during high heat cycle 175 watts. Which is 1.45 amps at 120vac or approximately 16 amps DC draw on a 12vdc battery bank.

    The way the furnace works is when it fires up there is a spike to 7.7 amps that last for a second. Then is settles down to 0.45 amps. The furnace will run at low heat for about 15 minutes. If it cannot satisfy the thermostat in 15 minutes it will switch to high heat.I have lived in the house since the fall of 2011. I have never had the furnace run on high heat.

    So because it only spikes at the 7.7 amps 120vac (85 amps 12vdc) then settles down to 0.45 amps 120vac (5 amps 12vdc) you can run your furnace, if you have the right kind, off a battery bank.

    Anyone who doubts this is welcome to send me a message and I will send you a video of the cycle the furnace goes through when running with the amperage draw on a meter. Of course this will have to wait for winter.

    There is a link to the pdf with the information for the furnace I have and if you send me a message I will tell you how I wired my furnace “SAFELY” so I can run it off a generator, battery bank or the main panel with safe isolated circuits. As always, check with a local electrician to make sure what you intend to do will meet your local electrical code.

    Like I said, I have done this it does work with the furnace I have which is a Carrier Heating & Cooling Infinity 96 Model 58MVB unit size 060-14.

    Here is a link to my furnace specifications
    The motor full load amps (for the blower) are shown on page 8.

    The power draw amps (for the blower) are on page 10 for both low heat and high heat. Divide watt by 120 to get the amps at 120 vac.

    On page 14 it says maximum unit amps 8.9. This includes the FLA of the motor. That means during it’s idle time it may be drawing 1.2 amps at 120vac which is considerable. Mine does not. The amperage draw during it’s idle time is minuscule. I’m writing this on my lunch hour at work and can get the exact figure.

    Check out your own furnace, do some research on your own, invest in a meter, even a Kill A Watt meter. Figure out for yourself if this is feasible with the furnace and battery bank you intend to build.

    Link to convert ac amps to dc amps:

    Now, if you want to run a sump pump of a battery bank like mine. Good luck.

    • During Sandy, I ran my home NG furnace at night off an old 1000W inverter and two deep cycle batteries. The loads listed on the abet probably inaccurate internal meter showed readings just like yours. But I know from experience that the inverter will not go past 1000W or will beep and shut off. This allowed me to only need to run my car to charge the batteries during the day when we ran the furnace, the TV and the DVD player.

    • The one other thing I noticed is that in this particular instance there is a difference running the furnace off a pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverter. The furnace definitely prefers the pure sine wave inverter.

  12. plan on coming in November. This will be my first ever. Wish I could have made it to Octobers.

  13. Regarding the question posed to Steven Harris with the listener that has 2 gas fireplaces. This could really mean a number of different things? Is it ventless? If so, I believe they are considered 99% efficient because very little heat is lost as it’s all vented into the house. Is it a direct vent (has a glass front)? If so, these are much more efficient than a standard open fireplace because they are essentially a closed system from the inside air. If installed correctly, they draw in outside air for combustion, instead of room air therefore they shouldn’t be drawing any inside air creating colder periphery rooms. Is it a woodburning fireplace that has been converted to gas (open front, with a roof vent, and either a burner bar in the fireplace or a set of gas logs?

    I think the answer will completely depend on what the listener means by gas fireplace. I’m not a huge fan of the ventless gas fireplaces, but they are cheap and easy to install so a lot of places have them. If this is what they have, then these are, in theory, no different that the gas heaters that Steven mentioned. I believe most of them will operate without electricity as well. If they are direct vent gas fireplaces, these would be ok as well, though not as efficient. Converting these to wood (correctly) would either require a lot of money in reframing the wall, and chase for the vent, a new prefab wood unit, or lots of money in masonry work. Alternatively, I believe there are some specialized gas inserts that can be used inside the existing fireplace, but they are pretty specialized and is only an option if the fireplace is a decent size to begin with. If it’s actually a wood burner that’s been converted to gas with a gas bar or gas logs, then they can burn wood in it still, as long as they take everything out except the gas bar. The gas can be used to start the fireplace pretty quickly, but out of all the options with will be the least efficient and will create an air draw making the outside rooms cold.

    I’m not pretending to be an expert in this field, but I did spend a few years working at a fireplace store, doing sales and installs. I’m sure a lot has changed in almost 10 years since I’ve worked there, but the fundamentals should remain. If they really want to heat with wood, then I would just find a place to install a freestanding wood stove. I’m a big fan of the Lopi stoves. If they just want to be prepared in an emergency, they might already be good if they have a ventfree units or even the direct vent units. I’m not sure what code says, but if possible, I’d just do what Steven said and have an electrician install an outlet on that dedicated circuit, and wire a plug for your furnace so it can be easily run off the generator. The generator has a lot more function stacking capabilities too that can easily justify the cost. I’d have a hard time justifying the thousands of dollars to pull out two gas fireplaces to replace with two wood ones that might actually be way less efficient. That’s my 2 cents in a really long comment. Ha!

  14. I recently walked to Freedom. When I started looking at homes in TN was moving from MD. Although I was pre-approved for 200k about 2 1/2 times our income we only offered on our home 115k that was 10k below asking. We had 20% to put down but when we talked to someone about getting a loan we had 3 pricing levels 3%, 5%, or 30% down. 20% wouldn’t save much since my credit rating was so good. 3% was a no go since it was so close to 5% and had a lot of additional costs. Once I was above the 5% there wasn’t any real saving until we hit the 30% range. In our case we saved more by putting down 5% and buying some points then we would have been putting 20% down. Even with taxes and required insurance we couldn’t get an apartment for anywhere near the prices we are paying per month.

  15. come on you guys! this podcast is almost a week old and noone is going to say anything about how keith snow said he puts his shredded d%#* in the food processor. thanks keith you made me laugh!

  16. Not so much of a comment but encouragement for homeownership vs. rent. As always I won’t say this formula works for everyone. Jack has that saying, “It depends”. Well, it depends on your area, your ability and desire to learn, and your ability and desire to work your hind in off but you can make money and not stay in the same house for years.

    Our first home was a trailer we paid $3500 for. Three years later we had cleaned the outside, improved the yard, painted and added new flooring. We sold it for $8.000. It wasn’t much but at 18 and 20 it was what we could afford (we did pay $300 for lot rent that included everything but heat and electric). Our next home was built by us. Yep, we were 21 and 23. No we didn’t have a licence but we still had to do all the same inspections. We acted as the contractor and did as much as we could ourselves. Framing, finish plumbing, trim, siding, windows, flooring, etc. We learned a lot and worked about 90 hours a week between work and working on the house. We passed inspections and then sold the home 4 years later making over $60,000. We remodeled the next house and added a garage. We only made $10,000 on that home. The home we are currently in we have been in the longest and it has been a real nightmare to remodel because we have a father with Alzheimer’s, an aging mother, grandparents, and busy teenagers on top of major health struggles . Anyway, when we sell this house we could easily be debt free if we wanted to buy a house that way. We aren’t sure we will do that but we could and we will be selling in two years at the ages of 42 and 45. It has been a lot of work but it has been worth it and our kids have learned so much along the way too.

    You can do this people. And yet, the economy isn’t what it used to be so if I were starting out again I am not sure we would ‘flip’ houses. I honestly hope we can sell this one before crap hits the fan. But, we have always based our house payment off of way less than what we can afford.

  17. finally made yogurt! And then made it Greek style, and made yogurt cheese! Love all of them! Thanks for finally convincing me to get that done. Ready to make another batch.