Sunday, December 28, 2008

Poulty Plans for Coops, Nesting Boxes ...

Recently I discovered this website by the North Dakota State University Extension Office which has PDFs for Chicken & Turkey Coops, Feed Racks and the list goes on.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Debunking Agrarianism

Franklin Sanders' has created another wonderful article with The Leaven Community & The Agrarian Ideal: Debunking Agrarianism. It is an easy read and from our short few years in the country covers things well.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Cows & The Dogs

Here's a short email my wife sent about some of our neighbor's cows getting on our property.

cows on the property, dogs chases cows, cows chase dogs, cows kick at dogs, cows finally leave, dogs are fine

A Child's Perspective on Poverty

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live.

They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, 'How was the trip?'

'It was great, Dad.'

'Did you see how poor people live?' the father asked.

'Oh yeah,' said the son.

'So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?' asked the father.

The son answered:

'I saw that we have one dog and they had four.

We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.

We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.

Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.

We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.'

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, 'Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.'

Monday, July 14, 2008

Country Boy Can Survive

The preacher man says it’s the end of time
And the Mississippi River she’s a goin’ dry
The interest is up and the Stock Markets down
And you only get mugged
If you go down town

I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke too
Ain’t too many things these ole boys can’t do
We grow good ole tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Because you can’t starve us out
And you cant makes us run
Cause one-of- ‘em old boys raisin ole shotgun
And we say grace and we say Ma’am
And if you ain’t into that we don’t give a damn

We came from the West Virginia coalmines
And the Rocky Mountains and the and the western skies
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot-line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I had a good friend in New York City
He never called me by my name, just hillbilly
My grandpa taught me how to live off the land
And his taught him to be a businessman
He used to send me pictures of the Broadway nights
And I’d send him some homemade wine

But he was killed by a man with a switchblade knife
For 43 dollars my friend lost his life
Id love to spit some beechnut in that dudes eyes
And shoot him with my old 45
Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Cause you can’t starve us out and you can’t make us run
Cause one-of- ‘em old boys raisin ole shotgun
And we say grace and we say Ma’am
And if you ain’t into that we don’t give a damn

We’re from North California and south Alabam
And little towns all around this land
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot-line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Hank Williams Jr

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Keyhole Garden

For those of you who live in less than favorable areas for having a garden bed or are disabled and it is hard for you to bend down and work on your garden here is one option.

Intro Video About Keyhole Gardens

Build A Keyhole Garden Website

Monday, July 7, 2008

Small Town Entertainment Expenses

Here's one that blew my mind today. Keep in mind we haven't been to a movie theater in about 2 years. There is a small town (< 10K) approximately 15 minutes from our new property with a small 6 screen theater. Since the kids are out of town we decided to go early in the heat of the day, why burn your flesh off your bones in the middle of the day. Here is a cost breakdown:

$3 Large Coke
$3 Large Popcorn

We're not talking large in name only but a real large 44oz. drink and the large sack of popcorn. We were amazed, my wife and I got to see a new release and feed our face for $12. We checked our cell phones and yes, it was indeed 2008 and not 1998.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When Animals Attack [Update]

A quick update on the animal issues. We've fortified our hoop house and moved it out into an open area with no trees within an ~60 foot distance. We've had zero issues which is probably a reflection of moving it more into the open and the significant fortification we did on the hoop house.

On a related note the chicken that had the wing tore off is doing nicely. He had a small leftover bone sticking out which dropped off after about a week and is feathering back nicely as well as growing more (see below). He is definitely stunted from the other birds that we got with him (a.k.a. Chickadee) but based on his current progress should grow up a happy, albeit missing wing life. Chickadee has had a few issues with not being able to fly up on the perch in the hoop house so I just added another lower perch and now he hops up without any issues.

Gas Prices

Friday, June 27, 2008

Agrarian Vision

This was an interesting statement that summed up the agrarian vision and I thought was well said.

Agrarianism seeks a broad Jeffersonian-Distributist and familistic ownership of all landed property, Political Decentralisation of Modern Leviathan super-states, and a responsible Localialism which takes seriously it’s duty to be careful and responsible Stewards of Creation.
From the Agrarian Foundation website

Thursday, May 29, 2008

When Animals Attack

Approximately a month ago we bought 13 chicks and moved them out to our new hoop house last week. We found out last night we had a few weak spots that an industrious raccoon exploited last night and dispatched with 9 of the 13. One of the remaining had his wing tore off so we'll see if he/she makes it or not but have separated the injured one from the remaining chicks to aid in its recovery. The reason we could tell it was a raccoon was due to it leaving paw prints on the tarp around the hoop house as well as primarily tearing the heads off the chickens and leaving the rest.

Our younger kids were upset but the older ones handled this much better than last time when our chicks were stolen over 2 separate nights (see Stop Thief Part I & Stop Thief Part II). We'll be fortifying the hoop house today and will hopefully prevent this episode from happening again. We've decided not to put out traps due to the risk with our kids but instead spend the time and energy making the hoop house more secure. It is unfortunate this happened but since we just ordered 30 more chicks we're glad we found out with a small death toll then what could have happened when our additional 30 head out to the hoop house.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gardening When It Counts

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times is an interesting book that runs contrary to many of the gardening and composting books on the market. Steve Solomon's background puts him in the interesting position of understanding both sides of many of the gardening world, not just through research but actually doing it. The subtitle of the book is, "Growing Food in Hard Times" and in my opinion is a little misleading because many of the people that have seen the book on my car dash while reading have asked if it was one of those survivalist and coming Armageddon books which it is not. Mr. Solomon does a great job of helping the amateur gardening understand some way not to garden like:
Why you shouldn't buy seeds in a garden center (Home Depot/Lowes anyone)
Why the popular Square Foot Gardening may not be best
Using dull tools
Using wood in your compost
...and the list goes on.

Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Basics
Chapter 3 - Tools and Tasks
Chapter 4 - Garden Centers
Chapter 5 - Seeds
Chapter 6 - Watering ... and Not
Chapter 7 - Compost
Chapter 8 - Insects and Diseases
Chapter 9 - What to Grow ... and How to Grow It
Chapter 10 - Bibliography

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Recently a conversation came up in a poultry forum about using DE in chicken feed and why some was okay for consumption and others has the usual 'dangerous to animals' disclaimer. Here is an interesting article posted by a company the 'manufactures' DE and why some is considered a dangerous insecticide and others is not. I've posted the part specific to the categorization as an insecticide however I'd recommend reading the entire article.

With the help of Arizona State University, the Perma-Guard product was patented as a “wormer”. Unlike most worming products, the Perma-Guard product was not a deadly poison. Strangely, this caused a problem. You see, once you claim that a product can kill bugs, it has to be registered with the EPA, classified as an insecticide, and sold under a different label. So today, our pure, food-grade, organic diatomaceous earth is sold in two bags. One bag is labeled "Fossil Shell Flour," with no warnings of any kind required on the packaging. It is certified organic, is perfectly safe to add to feed or mix with water and drink, and it is as safe as spring water. The same diatomaceous earth, is packaged in another bag that says it kills bugs. This package, called "Grain Protectant", and is required to have warnings on the label, like “CAUTION - Keep out of the hands of children.” DE in this package could be mixed with stored grain. A single treatment would keep the grain absolutely free of bugs and free of poison residues — indefinitely! With the Grain Protectant label, it is an insecticide and must not be fed to animals. (huh???)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bragging - Great Wife

This post is only intended to serve one purpose, to brag on my wonderful bride. We've been married almost 17 years and this latest move has by far been the roughest one. We moved 10 days ago and our property currently does not have water or septic so during the day my family is relegated to using water bottles and a simple composting toilet and my wife has been doing it without complaint. Since my work requires high speed internet we do have a hotel room that I use as my office during the day so they can take showers at night but I know very few women who would do that with 4 kids and not make much noise about it.

This post is dedicated to you babe!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Electric Service

As we've made the move to our property there are a few items that I'll be blogging about to hopefully save everyone else time, headaches and money. These items were not provided in one place so unfortunately it ended up costing us significant money (in the thousands) and probably over 50-100 extra hours of driving, calling and doing additional work. Each state, county and utility is different but make sure to ask these questions on the front end, especially if you're moving a mobile home on the property.

1. What is the base installation cost, including Membership Fees, Transfer/Connect Fees?

2. Are a certain number of feet included in the installation and how much is the cost per foot after that amount?

3. Are there restrictions before service can be installed or do certain items void the 'free' feet?

4. What easements and paperwork are necessary prior to allowing service installation to be scheduled?

5. Where are you planning on tapping into to feed the service to my property?

To describe the reasoning a little further let me provide examples to each number above.

1. This was described on the up-front as well as being outlined on the Membership Application that we received so this should be an easy one.

2. In our case 300 feet was free of charge and after that it was $5/ft (as of March 2008).

3. We found out right before they went to install that because our mobile home still had the tow hitch on it they usually would not give any free footage but instead would charge us for every foot they had to connect. We did have the axles removed and had spent the money getting the home moved however we were not aware of this until they did the site survey right before installing. Even though the axles were removed as originally discussed this hitch almost created a real cost problem for us.

4. & 5. When we originally looked at the property prior to the end of the period where we could rescind the offer and only loose $100 I personally called the electric company I was told that it wasn't any problem getting electric as our neighbors to the north and east had electricity so no problem. Once we scheduled and said we were ready to go we were told we needed to get an easement from the neighbors to get the hookup done. After talking with our neighbors to the north told us no but they would allow us to tap into the pole by the street, no problem except the electric company said we would have to cut off all trees along the property lines to 12' or less if we wanted to tap into the north. So that would be approx. 600 feet of trees to trim. So we switched to plan B and tracked down our neighbors to the east and after a week of waiting said no problem however we couldn't get them to call the electric company and give their okay as well as helping us get the easement. I told them I would carry all the paperwork around and pay all fees I just needed them to sign. All combined this took 2 weeks off just to the point of getting permission and we're still waiting for them to follow up with helping us get the easement.

The good news is with a few calls and just treating others with respect we were able to get things done and hooked into the north property because another neighbor made the call. It pays to be nice and respectful to your neighbors.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Farming Benefits

Was doing reading recently about agrarianism and stumbled across one of those 'duh' statements but for some reason it seemed more profound than I normally would have thought. The same principle also applies to being self employed in many cases so do with the quote what you will :)

A farmer does not sell his labor but the fruits of his labor, and as such is able to retain many of the benefits of his labor for himself—land he has improved, tools he has made, skills he has developed, along with the fruits he chooses not to sell. But a wage laborer can only sell his labor, which is mixed with materials he does not own to create fruits which he does not own; the benefits of his labor accrue to his employer, not to him.

This quote is from a series of blog posts discussing how far Christians have moved from their agrarian roots, it is a good read.