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Farm Update: Saturday July 16th, 2016: Pallet Procurement Begins! And Bees are found.

I say that the procurment began today, but really it started last week when I came home with a van full of pallets to disassemble in order to make a chicken coop tractor and some furniture for the boy to play on in his room… However, I think that Lindsay is starting to see how much we can actually do and is getting on board with the pallets and chickens!! Woot Woot!!

Pallets, why pallets. I know they aren’t the best wood out there, but there are plenty of them available for free and I’m not building the taj mahal here. just a few farm uses and sheds. Who knows there might be fence that comes out of these. Before all that though we are taking them apart so that we can at least use the best of the best here to make what we need and use the scrap for just that.

So this weekend’s project is to have a chicken tractor built to house at least 6 chickens Figure that should be about 6 feet of roosting space needed. So that’s 2 x 3ft roosting rails that will be made out of spare limbs. Not to mention trying to provide 4ft in the tractor for each chicken so 24ft all together…. That seems larger than anticipated, but we’ll see how it all comes together.

Another great part of the day is the discovery of a bees nest in a log near the north west end of the yard near the shed. It’s in an area that is not ventured into very often so we are just going to leave them be and have them pollinate for us.

That’s it for today! Hopefully harvesting some squash soon…

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Farm Update: Thursday July 14th, 2016: THE WATER IS FLOWING!!!

Finally after much deliberation and trial and error and simply not having the right pieces the water is flowing to all needed locations on the farm.

Talk about a pain. I was able to get the pump working at it’s correct capacity and it actually does move a fair amount of water. This lesson was called “GO TO THE STORE AND GET THE RIGHT PIECES FIRST!”. Sometimes Jerry-riging something can only work for so long, and if its not working, maybe you should just do it right. Lesson learned, oh and remember to bring the pieces with you to the store so you can test out the ones your buying. (Came home with a bag full of irrigation pieces a size too large.)

So with finally getting this water flow issue accomplished I then spread the water out to four locations.

1 – Far east of Hugle 1
2 – Middle of Hugle 1 and 2
3 – Around west side of Hugle 1 to create a stream between Hugle 2 and Hugle 3 and 4 just to the north.
4 – Ran a small trench across the driveway to Fruit Tree Row.

With this setup I hope to eventually be able to have the water that is supplied to Hugle Island and Fruit Tree Row be recirculated within those two spots pumped up from the middle ponds.

Still haven’t even touched the idea of fixing the cistern. I have a feeling that is going to be a winter project. Until then we can start to dig out the drainage pipe so it is at least not back flowing into the basement. Right now it is capped off at the ditch, but I feel I’m wasting water since the cistern is not filling up and that water is just flowing down the ditch…..

I did learn that the pump can not be placed directly in the the plastic reservoir as the water gets sucked out of it too quick and it floats. I ended up taking the reservoir out and placing the water suction pipe in the hole and that worked great. Maybe once we get the reservoir secured in the hole so it can’t float we will try again with the pipe directly in the reservoir.

That was about it for yesterday besides working on some pallets. Looking forward to chickens soon.

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Farm Notes: July 8th, 2016 – First Comfrey Tea for plants

Today i made up my first attempt at making a fertilizer tea for the farm with some comfrey I had around the area. Essentially all I did was grab up some comfrey and masticated it so that when I put it in the reservoir with some circulating water it would already be broken down a little.

The setup was simple. I used one of the reservoirs that I buried to mix the solution. There are two pumps running. One to circulate the water and the other to lift the water out of the reservoir and splash is back into the water. creating a mixing and aerating effect to the mixture. I’m hoping that it will be ready by the time I get outside.

Also picked up a bunch of pallets today to start some farm projects. I got lucky at this paint place in pueblo and they filled up my van! how awesome. Got real lucky with that. We should bring them some eggs or maybe cookies since we won’t be getting a ton of eggs off the bat, but who doesn’t like cookies?! Cookies only need a couple eggs..

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Chickens: Are we ready for them?

Chickens… Should we? More so the questions seems to be why shouldn’t we. This place could use a little henning up. I found some fleas on the dogs the other day, the grasshoppers are running wild and well, who doesn’t want chickens! It’s been a while since we have had some, but the last ones, were awesome. Couldn’t beat the eggs or the entertainment. We had a rooster in our last flock and I’d like one again in this one. (We had to get rid of the rooster since we were in city limits)

So the breeds I haven’t really decided on yet, but the housing is finally come to a concise point where its time to go source out some free lumber.

So what’s the plan? Same as it always has been, create a mobile chicken pen and divide up the acre into sections.

The sections as they stand right now are

Section 1 – Hugel Island

Section 2 – Fruit Tree Row

Section 3 -Middle of the acre ( Compost, double ponds, just east of shed

Section 4 – North West section of the acre

Section 5 – North East section of the acre

Section 6 – Back Lawn

Section 7 – East Side Lawn

Section 8 – Front Yard

Wow, a lot more sections than anticipated, but awesome all the same!! This way I’ll have be able to start developing a paddock shift system. If i can have them migrate through the section in order then I’ll have a complete rotation of the farm one area a week should do. We should start there. (Think about combining section 7 & 8)

Back to the mobile chicken coop. I know everyone calls them chicken tractors, a couple guys in Australia came up with a chicken caravan, that is quite ingenious in it’s design. Mine will not be that extravagant, nor will it cost anything close to what theirs did.  I’m working on the free route, unfortunately it means waiting for somethings to come available through the community. I just started my hunt yesterday and hopefully after I get home tomorrow we cans tart building.

Mobile Chicken Coop Tips:

I picked these up from a youtube video and lay no claim to them, but I can’t help to pass them on.

Fenced and Raised Feeders/Water – This way when you are moving the Coop the water and feed are built into the design so that they move too. The guy I saw had them fenced as well with standard garden fencing and even clipping some of the wires so that the larger chicken heads could fit through too. BUT everything moved with the Coop when it was moved. The fencing allows for them to eat, but now walk through the water soiling it.

Nesting Boxes – There are a ton of ideas online about these things. From what I have read the standard seems to be around 12″ deep, 9-10″ across and another 12″ high. Then I saw the bucket idea. This is great. So you get a 5 gallon bucket and take half off leaving a bit near the top.

High Roosting Box – Caught this little tidbit that they feel more secure higher off the ground. No need to go crazy, 3-4 feet should be fine.

Chicken Self Watering Nipple  – Simple little gadget that you install into a water feeder tube (PVC) and they get their own water when they need it.

Safety Push Bar – This little gizmo was installed inside the mobile coop where there was potential for the chickens to get caught while moving the coop.

SOLAR LIGHTS!!! – Amazing. One of those why didn’t I think of that, as I’m watching grasshoppers propel themselves at the light in the darkness only to be repelled by the glass window. This is a great way to bring the food to them.

Electric Fence – Simple yet possibly necessary if they are free ranging. Just an idea.

Self Feeding Bucket – I saw another youtube video where this gentleman had something hooked to a bolt where the chicken bumped and food would come out.might just be five gallon bucket with a bolt and some washers attached. I’ll have to watch that video again.

Gravity Feeding Pipe (Feed Silo) – This was PVC setup where on the bottom there were three piece that fit together to form a feed silo. there was piece cut out of the coupling piece as well as the end cap.

So that’s the tips, that aren’t mine. I’m going to use them though. Don’t tell.

So pricing on feed I found I was going to be able to pick up 150lbs of food for about the same as our 30lbs of dog food. Loving it, and hopefully this will easily take care of them over the winter.

That’s it for now… Maybe next time we’ll explore my thought son breeds.

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Farm Update: July 7th, 2016 – Water finally!

Weather: It was nice most of the day. It did get a little warmer near the middle of the day, some clouds (thought it might sprinkle at one point). The sunset and an eerie tint to it, surrealistic.

So the pump blew the other day and it has been a trial getting everything watered. Since then we have been on the prowl for a new pump (well used first) and finding out that pumps are not exactly easy to find in thrift stores and pawn shops. Just a heads up on future endeavors.

So after an ordeal of a day today, finally breaking down and buying a new pump, I decided to go with a pump from Big R, after trying a transfer pump from Harbor Freight and utterly failing at that. That pump didn’t pump a thing… Can’t even begin to say ho much prime water I through at that thing..

Back we go to a simply utility sump pump with a 20′ lift. about the same as the Mondi I had, except that it was a little more power full as the Mondi was 1/4 and this one is a 1/3HP. However that electrical cord that comes with the new pump is only 6′ long! WTF! talk about a frustrating event. Off we went to put the pump in the back containers and power it from the shed.

Along with the new sump, i tried the harbor freight one again and it started doing some pumping… guess it only really wanted a 1′ lift… Anyways I devised a patchwork piping system to get the water from the back to the from through irrigation pipes I pulled up from the east side of the house. I would like an open aqueduct style setup eventually though, I know it sounds quirky, but the water should be in the open and come splashing down in a waterfall-esque fashion near the front of Hugel Island.

Well that’s it for today.

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Farm Notes: July 5th, 2016 – Pump Blew

So there are a couple hinge points to a farm I’m finding that are minuscule, but can effect the efficiency of the entire farm. One I’ve found so far were the wheels on the dolly i have been using to move debris around , we fixed a flat tire by getting solid rubber tires, thanks neighbor!

The other hinge point I found was the water pump. We have been having issues with this since I got it. It finally went out in a puff of smoke, literally so today was spent searching one out… with no avail. Today we try the pawn shops. hopefully something will pop soon. otherwise we are buying on online…..

 

No more notes today….

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Farm Notes: Friday July 1st, 2016 – Hugel 4 Complete

Great weather to work in today. overcast and breezy all day. Torrential downpour around 4 that lasted maybe 20 mins.

Tested a lot of the systems that i was setting up for irrigation. Seems that the run off from the road heads down the middle of the western driveway instead of running into the Hugel Island (yup, new term and i’m running with it.) where I had wanted to. Instead it ran over the driveway to the western fruit row and flooded everything in that area, however the new bed I leveled today for root vegetables held it’s ground great. I ended up double ditching the area, one was the water path around the trees and the other being the back fill irrigation ditch from the plum tree.

Solution?: raise up the middle of the driveway… no…. probably best to drop the catch from the road sooner than where the headcut is now. this way all the water gets diverted to the Hugels and a caught instead of running off.

Progress Today:

Hugel 4 COMPLETE!! Finished it off with some undertree mulch from the back of the acre and some hay. Nicely broadcast some seed into it. What it was I have no clue. I know that I was planning on getting some flowers in this one in order to try and attract more insects, birds, bees, and the lot.

Root bed was leveled and seeded with tree mulch and hay. Then drenched by the rain!

 

Outside of the runoff being misplaced I would say that the land took the water well, I did not get a chance to check out the ponds, but maybe we’ll have an update on that tomorrow.

Maybe we should get better about taking pictures of all this. Seems like getting it done is more important than documenting it. Was listening to Mark Shepard on regenerative agriculture saying that people would get after him about  not having a web presence as in depth as they thought he should. His response being that of just because someone doesn’t have a web presence the fact they are doing it should mean more. Do the work, share if possible. Or if you even want to. What’s you’re Tao?

 

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Farm Notes: Thursday June 30th, 2016 – Hugel 4 almost done

SO today wasn’t that bad… Looking back.

Finally got some tools back to a neighbor and was talking about the irrigation piping i took up from the east side of our house. He had mentioned that I might want to look in my basement, just in case. After looking in the basement I found that there was a leak from the ditch water, however, the leak was coming from the western side of the house.

My deductions, the piping that is used as an outlet for the cistern is set too high so no water will escape, instead the water overflows the cistern and back flows to the house. No good.

Temp solution. I was able to cap the inlet for the cistern and then widened the eastern ditch in order to accommodate for the extra water.

Hugel 4 is on it’s way to completion. I wanted to get it done before a storm was supposed tom come though, it didn’t, and I stopped prematurely, so awaits the Hugel 4 to be completed tomorrow maybe. At least 3 feet of wood/dirt/wood mulch/wood/charcoal/wood/wood mulch/. More tomorrow, we built 3 feet to level ground and tomorrow we go above ground another 3 feet.

Finally fix dolly to cart stuff around with thanks so a neighbors help and some extra wheels!