Monday November 17 2008

I’m back dating this just because I am supposed to be posting every day here and I want to try to make that commitment.

Not much happened at the farm Monday, though.

Vermiculture

Vermiculture is another composting technique – using worms instead of (or in addition to) bacteria and heat. We’ll be working with this, I hope in the coming year here at Big Oak Ridge.

Steer

Cows are being wintered over.

We were going to try to a) move the steer to the lawn on the west side of the house and b) plow the existing pasture to prepare for re-seeding. We were going to try to get this done this year however it’s already too wet in the pasture to plow and it will soon freeze. SO …

Plan B is to get some hay, leave the steer where they are at (for now) and do a frost planting in the spring (frost planting does not require plowing).

In the meantime Tara is going to analyze the feed needs and I am going to check with JR Byers on getting a custom feed mix for the remainder of winter; hopefully that will get some weight on these critters and get them ready to butcher.

… And you can’t say I didn’t warn you …

OK, so here’s the view this morning. Was I right or was I right? Granted, it’s not a “blizzard”. But I’m sure there’s more on the way.

The next four projects for the farm (and they are related) are:

  1. Move the cows to the west lawn (I’m not looking forward to having the lawn all beat up, but we don’t have a choice right now)
  2. Get the “old” pasture plowed (part of Tara’s pasture recovery project)
  3. Get some more hay for the cows (probably from cousin Terry)
  4. MUST get chicken nest boxes done. The chickens are getting ready to lay!

I need to get the garage cleaned too; I’m going to need the workspace.

P.S.: Here’s a pic of the flock. They’re getting big, but not quite ready to butcher, so we’re probably going to have to do that ourselves. We may just start doing one at a time, have “fresh” chicken for Sunday dinner!


Evening Update:
After talking to Tara I’ve decided we’re not going to be able to plow and seed the pasture this year.
Plan B is to do a frost planting of the pasture next spring. We would know by early June if that was going to work; if it doesn’t we could go ahead and plow the pasture then.

Ready or not, here comes winter …

The picture is from last year, but it’s a foretaste of what’s coming.

Today is actually very mild temperature wise, just wet.

The pigs are at the butcher; the cows are still here, and are likely to be here through the winter. That means feeding, watering and sheltering the critters through the bad weather. Bummer.

The chickens are doing well, but aren’t going to make it to the butcher, either, which means I will have to butcher them myself most likely.

Plans for community meetings

Now that winter is coming we’re planning on getting the “home group” back up and running in some form.

My plan right now is to gather some interesting videos that we could use as points of discussion, etc. We may not use that every week, but if I can get some good ones (not boring) we could at least use that occasionally. I want to make sure we’re really accomplishing something spiritual if we do this; fellowship is great, and it’s important, but we need to make sure we’re getting fed spiritually, too – especially in light of the times we are living in.

Land Plan

We now have a pretty functional plan for the property layout, so we can “grow into” it. Here is the planned layout so far:
[img]2008.11.30 Layout.GIF[/img]

Solar lighting

We bought some solar flood lights for loading the wood stove at night. They worked ok till it got cold. Then the lead acid batteries would freeze up and no light. Also, snow would lay on the solar panels making it not charge.

I think solar is the answer, but the batteries will need to be inside so they don’t freeze up and a system for keeping snow off the solar panels will have to be instituted.

Incidently our solar path lights use a nickel cadmium battery and they seem to work no matter how cold. Although NC batteries develop a memory over time and won’t stay lighted as long as they once did.

Buildings

A steel pole building is much more cost effective to put in and will last longer with less maintenance. I figured on leveling where my wood pile is and putting it there. It’s right at the end of the driveway in an area that isn’t used for much, but yet close enough to the house. Also it’s close to the wood stove so there won’t be loss of heat when heating it. I hope to use it partially as an office and a garage so heat is essential. It would be partially funded by NIC since it would used as an office.

A rough cut from scratch building has one extra benefit. I could build it two story and have offices in the upstairs. The rough cut look won’t matter really if I get real siding on my house. The steel buildings come in all kinds of colors and I would just make it match the house. The steel buildings can be disassebled and moved if you really needed to, but a rough cut building is permanent and has to burned down.

Again with the sweat and time to build a rough cut building. Do you have time, coz I sure don’t.

Pickup truck.

We have a lot of kids in our family. 4 to be exact. We currently have a crappy minivan and diesel suburban. Having the truck has been great for towing the camper and hauling lots of stuff inside, however we still have a need for a pickup truck.

I started researching around. I really like the Dodge trucks because they come with the Cummins Motor. Chevy truck supposedly have the best ride on the road. After reading a bunch of reviews on Ford, Chevy, and Dodge, I have my heart set on a 2006 or newer Dodge Mega Cab.

Dodge came out with the Mega Cab in 2006. They shorten the 8ft bed to 6ft 3in and used that extra room to give the back seat 42in of leg room. The thing is perfect for a family our size. The bed is a little smaller then I would prefer, but I think it will be worth the sacrafice for the extra back seat room. There is also over 7 cubic ft of storage behind the back seats. Quite incredible.

So we are saving our money in the new truck fund so that in 2009 we can purchase a 2006. Should be down in an acceptable price range by then. I will try to find one that has all the features I want such as navigation, lift, diesel programmer and so forth. 🙂

This is a good article on it.
http://www.rockcrawler.com/reviews/dodge/2006_megacab/index.asp