Open Thread - Homesteading in France

Heating and Turkeys

We might get snow this weekend. The season of heating is upon us. There are many woodstove-heated homes in France including in Paris.

Use of Wood Burning Stoves in France
The use of a wood-burning stove is a comparatively cheap and efficient form of heating in France, provided you choose your burner and your wood with care.*

The popularity of wood-burning stoves in France has increased significantly in recent years, driven by the new wave of high-performance wood-burners that have come onto the market, eco based tax breaks, and the high cost of alternative forms of heating.

Most wood burners are easy to use and diffuse their heat quickly and directly, although as they are generally only able to heat one room at a time they do sometimes require you make a choice about the use of living space in the home over winter.
French Property

There are many woods, forests and small mixed tree types in France. Common trees are Birch, Beech, Ash, Oak, Linden, Doug Fir and others. I am sure there are more.
Tree names in French

Forêts in France

In areas with conifers, deciduous or mixed woods that are large enough, the local communes own the trees communally. Each person has a right to firewood allotments or cutting permits. If there are more people than can sustainably get access to firewood in a year, there is a rotation scheme based on how much can be cut and renewed.

Wood is generally sold by the 'stère', whose equivalent m3 values are as follows:

1 stère of logs of 1 metre in length is equivalent to 1m3;
1 stère of logs 50cm in length is equivalent to 0.8m3;
1 stère of logs of 25cm in length is equivalent to 0.6m3.

People in these fortunate regions are very aware of how to maintain a healthy number of trees so that all can share the abundance of renewable wood.

Turkeys


In France there is no Thanksgiving Day. If you want a Turkey most are still too young as they are reserved for Noël. We have often confused French butchers with our request for a Turkey for our Thanksgiving.

At our request they will contact a grower and try to find the rare bird which is big enough to sell to us.

We have also learned that making a pumpkin pie from canned pumpkin is just not possible. Several years ago we started using Gorgettes, a large French orange Squash sold by the slice and priced per kilo.

We steam one inch chunks, then peel the skin. That done, we mash then blend until smooth. Now we have our pumpkin from a can. We add the spices an egg or two and maybe melted butter. Pour into a blind-baked pastry using the multi-feuille or pate pour tarte available at any store in the fridge case. I will never make pie crust again. It is often made with all butter and is of superior quality.

Pie Recette

I probably won't be around when the two columns post today. We are retrieving our things from our mountain refuge before the snow flies. I'll check in later.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Bonnes Fêtes à tous.

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enhydra lutris's picture

saga. Wood stoves are interesting. In the US, until not too long ago, US citizens were entitled to a certain amount of firewood annually from the national forests. I think it was multiple cords, and it is probably still true, but since I can't say for sure, I won't. It had to be downed wood, no felling of any kind was permitted. One had to go to the head ranger for the National Forest of one's choice and get a firewood permit and then go collect some. It might've cost a few bux, can't recall.

Canned "pumpkin" is squash, at least here. It is mostly Dickinson squash, sometimes called Dickinson pumpkin. Some other squashes can be used too. This is by long agreement between growers, producers, the fda, and other parties, since most true pumpking don't make such a good pie, especially once processed for canning.

Happy "Thanksgiving".

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Dawn's Meta's picture

@enhydra lutris by we would get permits from the Tillamook National Forest and forage for wood. We paid a small amount and took it home for the huge Earth Stove we had.

Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

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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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is full of surprises for you, and for me, when you reveal it.
Hope you got your turkey and the "pumpkin' pie" was great. That pie crust looks fabulous.
I said elsewhere on the site that the big meal for the occasion would be tacos. They were delicious. What a fine day!

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Dawn's Meta's picture

@on the cusp It's been fairly easy to come up with a weekly column. The differences and plain new things we discover are truly foreign in the best sense of the word. It is refreshing to see diversity in an ever more homogenous world.

We are happy today just to feel warm, have our stoves lit, and to be home with our three critters and and ever increasing count of caught mice. We had one trying to make a nest under our sofa. Teddy the Teckel could smell it and tried to get it. Mr. Meta came with a broom handle and hunted with him. This he loves. When the mouse scooted out Teddy was ready and unlike with cats, the mouse was gone in several seconds. We throw them over the hedgerow so no more gross stuff in the house.

The kitties have been adjusting to colder temps in the house and are fluffier than a month ago. They are comfort seekers, and will spend a day by a stove. While taking breaks to catch mice. The family that hunts together...

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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

Belated holiday wishes to you and yours.

Nothing like the radiant warmth of a woodstove. Hope your foray into the mountains was successful. The "squash pie" looks great. Seems close to the butternut squash we grow.

IMG_4812_0.jpg

We like soup made from them too.

Enjoy your holiday and immersion into French culture and life!

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

zed2's picture

it causes respiratory distress in many people, like me. Many towns are banning it now. So its not something to count on continuing! Even if people depend on it, they would be very unwise to think they will be able to heat with wood into the future. People who cant breathe normally, complain. I know I do sometimes. If you do use a wood stove or similar, make sure your exhaust pipe goes up high enough so hat the smoke clears your neighbor's upper floors. A chimney flue should be log and exhaust a good distance up. Otherwise, expect complaints. Wood smoke is quite irritating too. The medical literature o wood smoke leaves the impression that its a major cause of disease all around the world. To see what I mean goto PubMed and search on wood smoke. You'll see what I mean. Its one of the most dangerous causes of health problems globally. So is diesel smoke and coal.

See this article:

Government urged to ban wood-burning stoves by 2027

What about using electricity for heat? Well, at least once each winter, the electricity goes out here, usually after a storm. If the weather is mile enough that pipes never freeze where you live, great. But one pipe freeze and frozen and broken water pipes can render a home unliveable from mold.

My now dead mother lived in a dry area. She had a very nice but older home. It doesnt freeze much there but smetimes it does freeze in the winter. One winter there was a very bad freeze that happened while she was out of town. It killed her delicious pink grapefruit tree that I still miss and made her whole house smell of mold. One cannot ignore this situation. You must keep houses and pipes warm enough to prevent freezing. A single pipe broke and the water caused very high humidity which was not fixed for several days, causing severe damage. Which she was not able to get to for a while. This was really a huge mistake. She had not even told me about it. Had she I would have urged she spare no expense to get there and start airing the house out and drying it. But she didnt get to. OMG, what a huge mistake as she knew she had a mold sensitivity. She had had it since I was a child. So it made it so she had to move. Immediately. That was one good example of how really frugal people (as she was) often shoot themselves in the foot with their extreme frugality. Smetimes it a matter of life and death.

The result in her case was she no longer could stand to live there! At all, ever. And she got a fatal disease not long after. The two events may not have been connected. But IMHO they may have.

She had to leave the house and move into an apartment. I was at the time struggling with my own toxic mold problem. Not long later I visited her there in her beautiful valley. She had gotten a tiny apartment "in town" and was in the process of moving her stuff out of her old hpouse and into this apartment.

II couldn't spend even 5 minutes in her former home. It made me sick immediately. Property items she gave me then still make me very ill. Clothing continued to carry this horrible smell. And had to be washed with a very expensive cleaner (Vulpex) used by art restorers. Nothing else worked. This would be a real disaster for anybody and would probably leave you with a mold sensitivity for the rest of your life. People acquire mold illness which often leads to MCSalong with it. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity from being exposed to it too much. Its a real curse because it makes you sick in a great many common situations. Even just going to many big box stores makes me sick from all the fumes (probably air conditioning units that collect dust and grow ocher mold. Or all the plastics in new products) there. Or formaldehyde in fake wood products use to replace wood in the structures. If it gets wet the amount of formaldehyde released goes up 20 times. Also it becomes weak and prone to sudden mechanical failure. Where fake wood products or furniture use it (Ikea, for example) I get a splitting headache and my ears start ringing very loudly. I could never work in any of those places.. Newly built homes make me sick too (its probably the use of fake wood products or vinyl flooring) if they are not ventilated aggressively year round.. I can only stand older homes. Luckily I live in one. I hope this all gets across the point that they are building with all kinds of toxic materials now and based on these kids of effects, they must be very dangerous to peoples health.

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Lookout's picture

@zed2

...and your wood.

http://www.forgreenheat.org/consumer_resources/clean.html

There are many types of efficent stoves to choose.
https://www.regency-fire.com/en/Products/Wood/Wood-Stoves/
https://www.woodstove.com/index.php/woodstock-soapstone-home

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

Dawn's Meta's picture

@zed2 @zed2 stone or block walls. Since ours probably was a converted animal barn and raise to include a first floor (above the ground floor), it was originally from the 1850s. Who knows when it was converted to a house.

In the more recent times waterproof plasterboard was put up on the inside, trapping humidity between the stones which breathed and the placo which doesn't. Mold grew and fed on the plasterboard. We bought the house in the late summer after a drought. In winter after rains we were feeling awful and there was a smell. We asked the former owners to come back as he is a heating and plumbing specialist. He said there was nothing wrong.

Not long after we had a friend's plumber come in and he immediately said it was mold.

We had the local government testing agency come in and check it out. The readings were so high our allergist wrote that the house was inhabitable.

It began our long saga to make our house mold free and breathable. We essentially had to tear down and out 1200 sqare feet. Then rebuild. Not cheap here or anywhere.

We also had unvented septic tank gases, and yes wood smoke. The wood smoke is the least of our problems.

Today in the cold air we had septic gases once again. A French friend came and as an architect suggested that we move from passive ventilation to a powered ventilation of the septic. It is a very good idea.

Yes we have become sensitive. But we find that with clean air and hard work on anti inflammation we can heal. We just need a low toxin environment.

We keep chasing down problems to resolve the bad air inside.

So if we can finally mitigate enough, we should be ok.

Thank you for sharing what you have learned. Your experience is so similar to ours.

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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.

QMS's picture

@zed2

If there are tons of trees around and you have a tight wood stove, there is a bit of labor involved, but it sure beats buying oil. Practical means.

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