Thursday, March 29, 2012

weekend trips

Until we move to the farm ( can't wait!) we run up as soon as we can, working on projects and checking on things. This first shot shows how we need to plug a few holes, bring the cats when we move, and in general take control of the house. This guy almost got away from the electrical trap. We aren't sure how he even got that far, as they are supposed to get zapped instantly back inside. And yes, that is a chocolate chip, flung from his grasp as he bought the farm.

And here is a shot of the spinach we planted in February in the sun space in our self watering planters. Next trip up we might have some baby spinach to toss in our salad. That's some sage doing well behind the spinach sprouts. It did fine all through winter. We still need to experiment with fertilizing plants for longer term production, as we just used plain potting soil. Design of the planters is a takeoff on the Earthtainer. I'm sure we will fine tune the design and operation, but the main reason we built these was because we needed something that would keep plants watered between our trips. Once we move, I don't know if we will use them as much.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

hedging bets

At some point we will be raising livestock. Chickens are easy and will undoubtedly be our first foray. The existing coop is large enough for a reasonable flock, and just needs a bit of repair. We will be sure to get a breed or two that thrives on foraging. Maybe down the road we make a mobile coop and do pasture poultry, but not at first. Anything bigger will need proper fencing put up. We debate sheep versus goats, knowing from the reputations that there are tradeoffs for either. In general, goats are harder to keep in, and if we ever do pigs, we really need good fences. So, I've been reading about hedges. They are the long term, natural solution, but would take a lot of initial cost and work. Maybe I'll just start with a manageable stretch, and extend it over time. Our permaculture expert recommends Hawthorn, but Hedge Apple ( Osage Orange) intrigues me. more than likely in our climate zone, the Hawthorn will end up the best choice.

Friday, March 16, 2012

chipper update

So here is the chipper attachment for the BCS I've mentioned. Last couple trips to the farm we've been clearing brush and chipping it. A lot of prickly ash, dead apple, and wild grape were overtaking the area we want to put the barn, and also crowding the apple trees. We also whacked a few sumacs to round out the day. Sumacs are creeping in everywhere, and they chip easy, so we'll always have them for mulch. The chipper works ok, but extra work is needed to cut up branches so they feed well. I got spoiled using the big one we rented the first two springs. That's ok, this one we can fire up whenever we want, and we can also shred smaller stuff and large weeds to make a fluffy mulch. The lower feed chute is for larger, woody material, the bigger chute is for small branches and weeds. So far the Honda engine is a steady workhorse. Gotta remember to change the oil this spring before tilling season.

I've stockpiled a good bit of chips to use on the fruit trees from St. Lawrence Nursery when they arrive shortly. We'll be getting some more cherry, some aronia, and some more nut trees. I've also started adding chips around the more established trees, just so they aren't competing with the grass and weeds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

fine tools

In order to sharpen my own hand saws, I searched for saw sets and files, and read several websites that also sold them. The best selection and most informative site happened to be in Germany.

Even though similar tools and pricing were available elsewhere, I felt the extra information they had amassed and shared were worth supporting.

Fine German craftsmanship and engineering right? So I decide to order, and just got my set and file yesterday. The set was made in China, and not a single word on the packing was in German OR English.

Ah well, at least the file was made in Germany.

Friday, March 2, 2012

equipment that runs on oatmeal

Here is the scythe I ordered from Scythesupply. Will try it out on the yard this spring, but eventually it will be used to cut hay, and we will also be planting some small grains for us and the chickens. I still am reading up on the other steps of grain processing. We will need to bundle, dry, thresh, winnow, and grind the grain, and in some cases, figure out how to dehull or pearl it.

We are committed to the permaculture approach, and Mark will be planting a lot of trees for us this spring, and I plan to experiment with amaranth and quinoa, but I really like wheat bread. I have been pleased with Scythe supply so far, the book that comes with the scythe is very informative. We'll see how long it takes for me to figure out the sharpening, honing, and actual cutting motions.

One more step towards delinking from fossil fuels. I'm reading up on cross cut saws now, but my old McCulloch is still running fine, and it doesn't use all that much gas.....

Went to the doctor this past week for a general checkup, and decided to work on the back again. The pain is not that bad, but a weekend of hauling stuff will make it hard to sleep with the ache I'm left with for a couple days. I tried exercises and chiropractic manipulation several years ago, but didn't have much improvement, so stopped. He referred me to an orthopedist, who is now going to run me through a few weeks of specific exercises to see if I get improvement. I really don't want to move to the farm and find out I'm too hobbled up to do what needs done. I know I'm out of shape and sit too much with my job, so hopefully just getting more active will strengthen my core and ease to pain.

Next hand tool to get is a saw sharpening tool kit. A saw set and saw file should be enough for now. Both my hand saws are getting dull, and no one sharpens saws any more, so I will figure it out myself.