Open Thread - Homesteading in France

Wood, Woods, Firewood

Homesteading In France Green House version.jpg

Since our pompe à chaleur (heat pump) died, we've been hard up for heat. It was an air to water heater for underfloor radiant for the ground floor and for radiators upstairs. Really nice heat.

The outdoor unit had a long refrigerant copper pipe connected to an indoor mixer which also boosted using high cost electricité. We paid over 1000 euros last January before we knew that something was broken. The copper pipe broke in a strong storm just inside the outside casing an evacuated all the refrigerant. That is a big environmental no-no.

We didn't know for a couple of months something had gone horribly wrong, but we could tell the heating wasn't right as we couldn't get above 18° C pushing 24/7.

Once we found out we turned off the heat. Luckily, it was a moderate Summer.

But now we need heat so we had a Jøtul with pipe in brown enamel that we picked up in the Jura two years ago, and had a friend sell us a nice German house stove for 500 euros and stove pipe lined with fire clay for that much more. Really good deals.

Just in time we have the big stove with pipe up and running. We shopped for firewood as that is what people do in rural France this time of the year. We found a dry stash of mixed woods from a guy five kilometers nearby. He had converted to a house-sized pellet furnace and had a lot of one meter length wood put by.

It is a two year old German stove with triple burn. Our stove pipe is several meters in length and tops our roof ridge. Even on a calm day our steam/smoke rises well.

WOODS

The usual forest or woodlot here is a mix of deciduous and a few conifers called Sapin.

We see Beech, Hornbeam, Birch, and believe it or not, Doug Fir.

Our Petite Riviere flooding through the woods.

Flooding Mussy with Diciduous Trees.jpg

Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is planted in many European locations:

It is hard to visualize, but many stands are in such straight homogenous rows we call them corduroy trees. They are like the hatchery Salmon, all one DNA so very susceptible to disease and pests. We are seeing beetle-kill everywhere, and beginning to show near us.

As Suzanne Simard imparts over and over, if we planted with diversity we would have much more mycorrhizal fungi and healthier wood-stands and forests.
Fungi relationships

Doug Fir and other mychorrhizal relationships


What will we do with all that wood?

But the queen of trees here is the Oak.

Oaks cut for Notre Dame

Our Oak in Winter

Our Oak in Winter.jpg

Wood for Stoves

Cut wood for stoves comes cut usually in one meter lengths. Our stove takes 50 cm and the little Jøtul takes 30 cm. We are cut for the large stove but will buck the smaller pieces as we need them for the other end of the house.

One cubic meter is a Stere. Three stere, which we bought for 45 euros each, is one meter high and wide by three long. We'll see how long it lasts.

We have a new covered wood store on a concrete paver base. We've been loading up our wood cover, and trying to figure out where we will put our tinder.

Little remorques (car trailers) are hauling wood all day right now.

The heat from our big stove comes up the stairway into the mezzanine and heats the entire second floor. We will be comfortable.

We have mostly dry mixed deciduous. We will try to find some Oak to add in for long burning.

Our Garden

We have been eating our first salads with greens and Radishes from our raised beds. And we've had colorful Chard cooked in butter, with Shallots and garlic. Everything is surviving cold nights with ripple plastic roofing panels. So far so good.

In France this Week

The Jilets Jaunes are not yet gone.
Season 2

The Yellow Vests poised to restart marching in Paris: The Bastille monument is in the background and a “Stop the genocide of the Gauls” sign is at the head of the demonstration. (All photos By Ramin Mazaheri).

Le Monde Diplomatique

COP26, one last chance before disaster?
The UN’s 26th climate conference in Glasgow aims to translate the pious words of the 2015 Paris Agreement into tough action before it’s too late. Can it succeed?


COP26 - Last Chance?

France 24

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday hailed a breakthrough moment as France returned 26 artefacts looted during the colonial era to Benin at a special ceremony at the Quai Branly museum in Paris. The treasures were embarking on a “journey to return back home”, said Macron.

“Abomey Treasures” returned home

Le Connexion France

Calls to bring back guillotine ‘defy French law’
A populist suggestion to reinstate the death penalty in France is constitutionally impossible, says Amnesty International’s Anne Denis

Return of death penalty not likely.

Sophie Fornairon's independent bookshop has survived the rise of Amazon thanks to a French law that prohibits price discounting on new books, but she says the e-commerce giant's ability to undercut on shipping still skews the market against stores like hers.

Protecting small business.

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QMS's picture

this season. Smells a bit dusty, but that cooked off. Our power was down, but I used the generator to commission the boiler furnace. Glad I had stacked the leftover wood from last season under the covered deck. It rained like hell with the Nor'easter. Lost many branches in the 60 knot winds. Just got the chainsaw running so will be busy cleaning up for awhile.

At the Wellness Center using their WIFI so won't be back much until that comes back on.

Thanks for the OT!

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@QMS with most inside pipe, for the first time. The six meter (? I'll have to check that) 180mm diameter double wall lined with fire clay is drawing on that little stove like a son of a gun. We can hear it pulling in the air. Opening the front door does not let smoke into the room.

We are thrilled with our two stoves. The Saey is a larger stove so its draw is a lighter touch. Once it's going it really heats up most of the house especially the second floor (premier étage). Only the kitchen in the middle of the ground floor does not get much stove heat. We are working with fans, and may have to put in a through (stone) wall vent high on the dividing wall between the stove/music/dining room and the kitchen (cuisine).

We have pipe thermometers to check the temperature of the firing. We want very hot starts to burn off creosote and then able to damper down the long haul heating. I've been through two pipe fires from creosote and will never do that again if I can help it.

Each of these stoves have clean out access for pipe cleaners (wire brushes) so we can double check our creosote build up.

Nice to have a wood stove in a power outage: cast iron stew, yum!

Nice to see you.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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@humphrey n/t

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@on the cusp it is. another Reagan

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NYCVG

Dawn's Meta's picture

@humphrey contenders.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@humphrey

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

but getting it in good position would require an enormous change in furniture placement. I can't figure out where we could set up our desks.
I may not be able to do it, despite a desire to have one.
Anyway, it is great you have heat, and I have fond memories of wood stoves, and they are quite common in homes around here.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@on the cusp @on the cusp a corner work?

We had a Hearthstone Tribute, which is quite small, but heated our US farmhouse except when really cold. We love that stove. Triple burn, soap stone sides and tops with burgundy enamel edges and legs. The key to space for us in a small room was using the top exit for the piping. That allowed us to put it closer to the corner/wall with a heat protector.

ETA: it's unconventional but some people put a stove like the Tribute right in the middle of the room. It is a great idea for heating especially if there is exposed stove pipe going up.

Good luck.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

@Dawn's Meta The other corner has our desks.
We cannot put one near the piano.
We may be out of luck, but might enjoy one in our cottage in Colorado. That cottage is in the planning stage, existing only in our minds.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@on the cusp with the stove placement. It could have wrecked our music room arrangement. But the right place for the big stove left just the right space for instruments and the piano stayed on its inside wall. Phew.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Dawn's Meta's picture

@on the cusp you can design what would be your way of organizing your space and orient to what you want to see. Even at this late date, the idea of what you are doing sounds very exciting.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

@Dawn's Meta I had wanted something northern for spending summers in thee future. That a really wonderful deal popped up through a friend is just a fluke.
We will pour a slab. Just so happens, my husband is a retired builder, and we can design something small, comfy, practical, and unpretentious. Even at my retirement, we would spend only 4 or 5 months up there, and I do not want to attract thieves.
I wrote an essay about having a fuel efficient vehicle to go back and forth. We noticed fuel is at least a buck a gallon more there than in Texas, and it is only getting worse.
Our fling with solar power was just that, our fling. We need power, would worry about the panels being stolen or damaged in our absence.
We are more interested in location, being able to see the mountains and the town, than we are in something posh.
Nevertheless, we want friends to come and stay, whether we are there or not. We have family and friends who might want to go skiing in winter.
We expect to get some answers about cisterns and so forth on our next trip there.
Colorado has building permits that only apply here in Texas to buildings within city limits. We do not know what to expect, but we can build accordingly. I am pretty handy painting, laying flooring, so I will be a pretty good carpenter's helper.

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QMS's picture

@on the cusp

laying in some PEX 1/2" tubing woven into the slab pour along with the reinforcement mesh.
If you are building on slab, have the stub-outs protrude (in and out) in the same location where
a wood stove or other heating device can be set-up. It is a natural for a new build project. Doesn't
add much to the over-all pour (maybe a couple hundred bucks) and can be very handy to have a radiant heat floor down the road.

Good luck!

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@QMS consider that in the mix. Thanks for that.

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zed2's picture

Just curious. Could you get by there without burning wood? What would you have to pay to do that?

Ive heard a lot about people in towns and cities and energy debt. Is that for real?

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@zed2 under the Bosch brand. It was all electric and of course the energy benefit of the outdoor unit down to about 42° F.

The big problem is that the refrigerant piping needs to be replaced/repaired and since it's a bash of three brands and all of it over fifteen years old, no one wants to put their name on the repair as there is a ten year warranty on work here in France. So, all new at give or take 17,000 euros or do what we did and for now abandon it and use wood stoves for heat.

Don't know about the term energy debt. But oil heat is very expensive, gas less, electric is also high. I would kill for solar and wind, but the start up costs are more than we can handle.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

I agree. At least Joe is in charge. I mean Joe Manchin.

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@crescentmoon to the policies of the party they supposedly work for gets tossed out in some way? Not sure of history on this. I have seen people switch parties themselves, but don't know about being kicked out.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Lookout's picture

I've got a little Fischer woodstove in the shop. It works great. We've had a chimminey fire once and t was scary.

We love our radiant floor heat. It is supplemented with thermal solar panels. The house heats itself on sunny winter days...during the day. Our propane water heater does the night time work.

Here's to comfort and warmth! A chilly rainy AM here. Have a good day...

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Lookout system is accessible so theoretically we could warm the underfloor with solar thermal. Can you share how you connect the two? Is there a reservoir of water and some kind of pump you use to move solar thermal heated water(?) into the floor tubing?

My mind reels with the possibilities.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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Lookout's picture

@Dawn's Meta @Dawn's Meta

with a heat exchanger coil inside. The antifreeze based liquid circulates through the collectors with a temperature controlled pump. The big 250 gallon tank is the source of hot to warm water that feeds the propane water heater.

One day I'm planning on adding a woodfired water heater into the mix to supplement the propane during the night.

Edit to add...one possibility would be to add a water coil around one of your stove pipes and feed your existing floor piping.
home made
https://www.survivalkit.com/blog/turn-a-wood-stove-into-a-water-heater/

or purchased
https://firewoodresource.com/uncategorized/wood-fired-hot-water-heater/

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Lookout using solar thermal as part of the system too, is so intriguing. We have such good solar exposure. Great information about heating water with the stoves.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Dawn's Meta's picture

Proposing expansion of rail in Europe.

Why we need a new golden age of European rail
Timothy Garton Ash
About half of flights around the continent are short-haul, with a heavy cost in carbon emissions. Trains are the answer

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Dawn's Meta

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Dawn's Meta's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal and comfort. They are fast, smooth, no stress and give access to the center of cities and towns, which airlines don't.

I wish the US had them too. It's a country made for High Speed Rail.

Thank you, good to see you.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

Consider helping by donating using the button in the upper left hand corner. Thank you.