Design Decisions

I read an article recently about off grid vs. on grid power, and how to choose and scale systems.

Basically there are three choices:
1. off grid (produce all of your own power, no connection to the public utility grid)
2. on grid (power comes from public utilities)
3. on grid with backup (a natural gas or propane fired generator provides backup for critical functions – heating, refrigeration, pumping water)
4. off grid with backup (produce most of your own power but use the public utilities as backup or supplemental source)

There are pros and cons to each model, and, as with all things it seems, cost is a primary driving factor.

I think at a minimum we should have a backup power source for heat and refrigeration and water.


I am interested in vermiculture (raising worms) on a level that would be a source of actual feed for my chickens, hopefully through the winter.

I am interested in thermophilic composting on a scale that would provide at least part of the heat for a greenhouse through the winter.

I have realized that, with just these two goals/plans, I have one significant problem – we don’t make enough garbage.

I’m going to have to start collecting organic waste from outside sources to “fuel” this compost plan.


Escape Artist

This is actually the “good” steer…he stayed in. After a week or so of Rudy challenging all barriers, Ryan spent some time yesterday putting some juice to the top wires…the bottom ones are buried. Hopefully this will stop the cattle chases and frustration.
Thanks for all your hard work, Ryan.

This is awesome


A confession, a testimony, and a lesson

As you all know we are pretty much buried in snow right now. We have not been successful in arranging to have the drive plowed for several days, and things have continued at an uninterrupted pace here at Big Oak Ridge; the snow just makes the work a little more difficult.

The confession:
Today’s big harassment was one of the cows (steer if you live in Ohio) getting out. The black one figured out that the fence wasn’t working, and because the snow is so deep he was able to just step over it, which he did. I was attempting to entice him into joining his fellows in the pasture when one of the grand kids, for reasons yet unknown, decided to let Danny out. The cow took off and I “popped a gasket” – yelling, cursing, running, trying to get the dog in, the kids out, the cow back on my own property, etc. etc. I asked Paula to get me a gun, which she wisely refused to do.

With the dog locked up, the terrified kids all back at the big house, and the cow 500 feet down the road, I finally paused and realized what I had done. I walked back up the road away from the cow and took some time to repent and ask God for help (there’s a novel idea, eh?).

The testimony:
The cow now was wandering up the neighbor’s driveway, but he stopped and looked at me; and I did something kind of weird. I just spoke to him in a firm voice and said “in the name of Jesus get back in the pasture. Now.” The cow/steer looked at me for a minute, and then took a tentative step in my direction. I said “In the authority of Jesus Christ I command you to get back in the pasture”. The cow took a couple of more steps toward me, and honestly he looked like he wasn’t sure why he was doing what he was doing. I was as astonished as he was, but I didn’t give up. I said “you have no right to refuse the name of Jesus. Lord, send some angels to give him a push.” Then I started speaking to the cow/steer in tongues. (I’m not making this up). I turned around and walked back to the pasture. I climbed into the fence with the other cows and started feeding them hay while I watched the escapee and prayed. The cow outside the fence continued toward the pasture; then he would stop and act like he was going to bolt back out onto the road, but it was almost like he couldn’t do it. It was pretty funny to watch, actually. Eventually, dancing and jumping, turning and writhing, he arrived at the fence and finally hopped over it. I was very humbled and amazed.

The lesson:
Cows/steer will not walk in deep snow; they know they will flounder. The reason the cow/steer got out is because he watched me coming and going up to the fence. We have been feeding the cows in a trough that sits right up against the fence, and the water buckets also sit right up against the fence – for our convenience. So the cows/steer have made a path right along the fence from their shelter to the feed trough and water buckets. With the snow so deep the cow/steer that got out just did the natural thing and continued to “follow the path” – out of the pasture and up to the driveway, from whence he had easy access to the road (but no easy access to get back except the way he came).

The new feeding rules are these:

  1. Don’t feed near the fence (now we know why on big ranches they feed the animals out in the middle of the pasture).
  2. Don’t water near the fence (see #1)
  3. ONLY approach the pasture at the gate; the cows/steer can’t jump the gate, and they will not get out of the pasture where there is no path to walk on.

I put up an extra strand of fence across the place where the path approaches the pasture, and I filled the old path in with snow. I moved the water buckets and a feed pan out into the pasture in front of the gate so that the animals have to walk AWAY from the fence to get to the feed and water. Hopefully that will be sufficient to discourage any more escapes.

2009.04.12 Easter

No meeting this day.

2009.04.05 Sacraments Part 4: Communion

Fourth discussion of the sacraments. In addition to studying and discussing communion we will probably celebrate communion this week.

Sunday Meeting, Calendar Updates

Just a few highlights:

  1. If you want to put a garden in here at Big Oak Ridge, you need to let us know as soon as possible. See the forum for discussion/rules/ etc. (look under “gardens 2009”)
  2. Check out the “calendar of events” on the forum – dates and planned topics have been shifting around a little bit to accommodate various peoples’ schedules, etc.
  3. You may also want to keep an eye on the Google calendar. (available through the “calendar” link on left, let me or Ryan know if you can’t see it).Those who wish to participate in gardening, etc. should watch the Saturday lineup. On Saturdays people are welcome to come and work; you should bring your own food for your own family for whatever amount of time you’ll be here, as Paula and I will also be working and we will not be “entertaining” on Saturdays (although we will be available to help/teach in areas as indicated on the calendar). As with Sunday meetings, we ask that you let us know in advance if you’re planning on being on the property on a Saturday.

Sunday’s meeting was good. Notes are posted on the forum. Thanks to all who came. Remember, if anyone feels led to bring a friend(s) that’s fine, just let us know in advance so we know how many will be present for lunch. Also, if you sign up for a Sunday and then can’t make it, please let us know with as much notice as possible so we can “cover” whatever you were going to bring for lunch. Even if we know Sunday morning we can usually make appropriate arrangements. Thanks everyone! Stay warm!

2009.03.01 Being led by the Spirit

Being led by the Spirit (Randy)
2009.03.01 This topic led to a lively discussion. I’m posting all of the notes here; this topic actually ended up spanning two weeks.[attachment=0]HowToHear1.jpg[/attachment]

2009.02.08 The Damaged Soul

Moderator: Paula. We’ll be discussing ways in which the soul becomes damaged, and how it can be healed.

Jewish Holiday:
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar (February 9th on our calendar), is the day that marks the beginning of a “New Year for Trees.” This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

Legally, the “New Year for Trees” relates to the various tithes that must be separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. These tithes differ from year to year in the seven-year Shemittah cycle; the point at which a budding fruit is considered to belong to the next year of the cycle is the 15th of Shevat.

Jews mark the day of Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day Jews remember that “Man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19). Therefore we will be eating some of the fruits of the Holy Land with our lunch, just for something different.
[attachment=0]Israel Fruits.jpg[/attachment]