Friday, May 12, 2017

Inspiration


Blackie the cat gets the primo view.  He was a superlative mouser and had the respect of his peers.


Freedom!  As in Freedom Rangers, Chickens grown to be pastured.  I feel guilty growing the Cornish crosses that we have been.  A chicken with phenomenal feed conversion rates that grows to market weight in six weeks.  If they live.  We have had some terrific losses some as high as thirty percent, attributable to heart failure.  So we have decided to try the freedom rangers.  We had them brought in from their hatchery in Pennsylvania USA, and they arrived five days old, in great health with feathers happening!  Were only trying fifty of them, so there wont be a lot left over.


Still haven't got spinach cultivation to where I want them to be.  We've had one feed off off this tire and it's bolting already.  This week I will try some out in the tire garden, under a cover and see if the cooler temperatures will work better.


 Starting seedling peppers, Brussels sprouts and Red cabbage under grow lights and on a large heat mat.  Made a big mistake here as I had the heat mat plugged into a wall socket instead of the temperature control. Sprouted very quickly, but were very leggy.  Memo to self, once they have sprouted turn off the heat lamp! Or at least ensure it's plugged into the temperature controller and the temp is turned down. Now the Ghaus temperature rarely falls below 10c at night.  The black forty five gallon drums under the bench are the Ghaus's heat sinks soaking up the sun, (when there is some) and releasing it slowly when the green house cools down.


I installed some half inch electrical conduit suspended from hook up at the ceiling.  The hanging plants like it.  Lots of light and several degrees warmer. But watering is critical as on a sunny day they can dry out twice!


 The secret to clean eggs is clean bedding and keeping the bedding clean.  We use wood chips as the make great compost and is easy to work with.  The big trick is to ensure that the hens can't sleep in them when they roost.  Chickens poop where they sleep.  There are six nest here, for about forty layers.  The top three are covered with a board.  After this picture I added two sliding panels for the top and bottom.  I close them in the late afternoon before the birds come in from foraging to roost.


Speaking of pooping where they sleep.  The plywood panels under the roosts catch their droppings and every day I scrap them into the pail that's hanging and take it to the compost pile where the chickens work it over and mix it in with the older stuff.  It makes garden ready compost in a very short order. The roosts are simply two by fours hung in joist hangers so they are readily removable.  the streaks on the back wall suggest it's time to whitewash the coop again.  I like whitewash: cheap, easily applied and it has antiseptic qualities. The chain hanging down with a screw in the ends holds a head of lettuce for the regular chicken volley ball tournament.  They go through a lot of balls!


We've had a slowdown in weiner piglet production.  This picture may suggest one of the problems!


The tire garden.  One tire cleared, fifty more to do!  I want them all growing food this year.  Mostly
roota veggies, leafy greens under plastic covers.  I will  post more about that next week.


That top middle shelf is Savory Farm pork!  Sold at the local corner store in Fraser Lake.  Quite a thrill.



See you in a bit.  Were keeping our eye on you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It's a Mudder

Twice a year, generally in the spring and fall, we go through mud season.  We're living on a south facing slope that consists of gravel sand and clay.  Where our roads are is where the clay is.  Sticky, oozing, foot slogging that can mire a four by four vehicle.  To ameliorate some of the problem, I construct sidewalks to the barns and chicken houses. It is a vast improvement over slogging through the mud paths.

However, the paths can't cross the roads where the vehicles go.  So we end up with the quagmire below.
 

This is actually not the worst it has been.  For one, this picture was taken in the morning and the mud has actually stiffened up with the overnight frost. We have also dumped several loads of gravel in this mire.  The problem is, the clay will swallow it up. It needs some geotextile   fabric over top of a packed sub-base to keep the crushed gravel top layer from disappearing. Fortunately, we have several gravel deposits on the property.  Unfortunately, the gravel is pit run, of various sizes and rounded. It will work as a sub base but not as the top layer.  Crushed gravel is going for over $100 for a cubic yard and I could use at least 40 yards.  The arithmetic is not encouraging.
 

Another trick I will be using is to dig a french drain and install some culverts basically curving through the centre of the picture. The culvert's allowing access to the shed in the top right.  Got a great deal of some 14 inch plastic culverts which will certainly do the trick here. We have dropped tons of gravel on the kilometer long drive way to the house and installed several culverts which have made the drive in far easier, but it could still use some Geo-textile and a top dressing of crushed rock.  We're talking lottery winnings here.

During a trip to Vanderhoof to pick up some pork we had processed at the government inspected abattoir, we stopped for groceries at a mall that has a by- donation book store shelf.  Score!

It was a tad chilly in the Greenhouse this morning so my meditation partner suggested putting on some supplemental heat.  Ah, that's better.

 



Saturday, April 15, 2017

Spring Dreams

The snow is gone.  Well, except for a few inches now and then, when Mother Nature decides to remind us that winter will be truly gone when she says it is.  Not when we wish it were. Or whined about it.  She seems particularly deaf about whining.  Almost like using sarcasm with Hurley, the Great Pyrenees.  It's not that they ignore me - it's just not within their job scope.

Have the greenhouse in a flurry of planting.  That's spinach and mesclun mix setting my taste-buds to a slightly embarrassing drooling state.



Soon the dandelions and lamb's quarters will be up and getting a light sprinkling of virgin olive oil (don't get me started) and balsamic vinegar.  That's a 250 watt HPS lamp to make sure they get 18 hours of light a day.


Zucchini came up in a very short time. They are on a two by four heat mat and have a timer controlled grow lamp a foot above them. I know people just can't seem to give away Zukes. Not a problem here, the chickens, turkeys and Peegs munch them down like a starving man at a salad bar! Tip of the hat to Brenda, a local greenhouse operator:  water seedling with warm water.

 The tomatoes, apples and Leafy greens go first.  Then the cukes. Last, go any citrus, tho the chickens will eat it if I slice it into chunks so they can get at the tasty innards.  The pigs usually just ignore it.



John Deere tractor Hub.  Or one of life's abundant lessons. The tractor is the backup for our skidsteer and the only thing I have that can actually lift a mini-bag of feed.  It had a flat and required replacement.  If you want to bring tears to a farmer's wallet tell him his tractor tires need replacement.  With the help of brother Tom, who passed away this year, we got the old tire off, found a brand new one for cheap (had a cut in the side, but nothing a tube wouldn't make safe), had it filled with calcium.  And it sat there for almost a year.  The problem is obvious. Have a close look at those tire studs.  For sure they are rusted in but good, and will require a master mechanic and specialized tools to remove them. Contemplating this huge problem kept me in procrastination mode for close to a year.  I moved onto stage two of the mechanical repair issue: whining. Friend Bill, the all-things-mechanical whisperer, finally had enough and showed up on a rainy, sleety day. I tried to put him off, the skidsteer would chew up the yard, it was a nasty day.  The lugs would all need to be replaced (I did some YouTube research). By the time I had found the right punch, Bill had given it a small tap and out it came.  We did it again so I have a sample to take to the parts store.  Easy-peazy.  I spent more time figuring out how hard the job was than the half a minute it took to solve the problem.  There is a life lesson, for me, in there.


Dry enough that the peegs have been rooting out little nests in the dirt! For sunning purposes.

 Arnie, the Boar, practicing for the lazy-way-to-eat-cauliflower Olympics.  He has it down to an art form.
 

All this procrastinating has tired me out.  Think I will join Hurley in actualizing my dreams.  He's in the information gathering stage here.  See you in a bit.