Paul’s new (old) combine requires some adjustments
It started raining just as I got to the farm Sunday afternoon (July 3) and rained all day. Paul made two passes around the field with the combine yesterday. There is much (50%) grass seed in the grain. I am looking for a seed cleaner (machine) and friend Orley says there is one for sale just down the road from me but the guy is in Kansas… (guess what?)…harvesting wheat. Not sure what the rain will do to us – besides give us a day off.
I spoke to Wendel (the guy who owns the seed cleaner) last night (Jul 3) at length. Another deep repository of agricultural knowledge. Turns out he knows the Allis Chalmers combine and has suggested a fix for the grass seed problem. Small world.
The harvest was meager. Three bushels of rye – less than the amount of seed we planted – and about 60 bushels of wheat. Paul used some of his to plant 13 acres. Once again, it was November before this got in the ground but the ground was better prepared (plowed and disced) so maybe it will do better this time. I sold mine to Charlie Davis, an organic farmer near Paris, MO. He used it for seed along with another 30 bushels we got from the place in Kansas that grew the seed I originally bought last year.
The harvest was meager. Three bushels of rye – less than the amount of seed we planted – and about 60 bushels of wheat. Paul used some of his to plant 13 acres. Once again, it was November before this got in the ground but the ground was better prepared (plowed and disced) so maybe it will do better this time. I sold mine to Charlie Davis, an organic farmer near Paris, MO. He used it for seed along with another 30 bushels we got from the place in Kansas that grew the seed I originally bought last year.
On August 9, 2012 I closed on 5.44 acres of Missouri River bottom land. This land is located on a gravel road (Coats Lane) in Boone County. Close enough to Columbia to make a trip to any of the three farmers markets pretty easy. The soil is all silt. Not a rock anywhere to be found. I might call it Easy Digging Farm but I don’t want to give folks the wrong idea. It hasn’t been all that easy so far.
The first project was to acquire some equipment: I found an old Ferguson on Craigslist and a shady spot for it.
I’ve been down right lucky with my neighbors. There are two guys on the west side. On the northwest, he offered me the use of about 1.5 acres of land that was all in weeds. On the southwest, he had a small tractor which he has let go but also many implements that I can use. So, I’ve disced the north neighbor’s field with the south neighbor’s disc.
The field could not be plowed because it had been left rough by someone who plowed it a few years ago and my plow has no coulters so the weeds tangle up in it pretty quickly. I was able to plow some of my piece because another kind neighbor was going by on his tractor with a bushhog and cut most of it for me. So I could then get my plow through it.. Here’s a pic of my side:
The Barn Project:
The first building on the site is an old outhouse which these gentlemen (and the TO20 tractor) dragged over from the other side of the creek. We’ll use it as a tool shed.
We flipped the building on it’s roof onto the travois you see being disassembled here.
This is a trench 18″ deep and 36″ wide. It contains the form for the barn footing. Notice the rebar sticking up in the corner. A hole in the corner post will fit over this once the footing is poured.
Early in the pour, the truck got a little too close to the edge of the trench and slipped in. Here you see the truck he called to pull him out using an enormous tow rope. A little damage to the form but we fixed it quick and got on with the pour.
If you look very closely, you can see that we have stripped the forms from the completed footer and backfilled to the top of it.
Tim and the first corner of the structure.
Jeff tightens a corner brace.
Ollie and Jeff finish out the triple top plate.
Installing the vertical segment of the shallow frost protected foundation insulation.
Jeff prepares to place a 2 foot wide sheet of the horizontal segment of the shallow frost protection. Notice we have backfilled a little as we went along to keep the sheets in place. The trench had to be leveled and tipped a little to the outside first so moisture would not run back toward the footing. The two by fours are held in place with 6″ wood screws. They will act as screed boards when the concrete floor is placed.
Once the gravel was spread, it became obvious there was not enough to bring to concrete up to the top so we lowered the boards 4″ all the way around and cut out the styrofoam. Later, we’ll remove the boards and use them as girts for the metal siding. The screws will find another use, too, in fastening the rim joists in place. More on that later.
Closeup of the shallow frost protected system. The verticals are resting on the footing.
A radiant heat floor is installed. The PEX tubing is zip tied to the wire mesh which sits on the perimeter insulation and on a vapor barrier over gravel. Notice four inches has been trimmed from the verticle insulation.
Because the cold room floor is mechanically separated from the rest of the building floor by rigid insulation, an extra footing is added in the center of the building for the length of the cold room which will support the posts which support the buliding’s center beam.
A detail of a corner post with lag screws sticking out. When these are cast in the concrete floor, they will hold the post firmly in place. All posts have lags.
As often happens when there is an intense phase of the construction, I forget to take pictures. Above you see the completed concrete floor. It was an exciting pour. The ground was wet so, naturally, one of the concrete trucks got stuck. It was a full truck backing in from the road. The empty truck that was leaving tried to pull him out but failed almost getting stuck himself in the process. The next full truck was able to get him out easy. The contractor who did the pour wanted to use a pump so there was a three story high boom over the center of the building. We started at 8 and finished by 11. A 2 man crew came back in the early afternoon to put the smooth shiny surface on.
You can see the beginnings of the center beam with one support.
Not many pictures of me so I forced Ollie to take a couple.
This is the best one.
We’ve had an amazingly mild winter so far. Today is the 7th of Jan (2012). It was 45 and sunny.
The picture to the right gives you an idea of the size of the building. We were able to get the entire middle layer of the center beam in place today. This beam and it’s supporting posts wlil be made of three layers of 2-by lumber with layers of OSB glued and screwed in between. Beats assembling on the ground and hiring a crane to place the beam, no?
Martin Luther King day was 70 degrees. We worked in T shirts or without shirts at all. This is what we accomplished – about half the rim joists and floor joists are in place. By 3:30 we broke out the Frisbees and celebrated. The next day the high was about 30.
The end of January and still having great weather.
The decking goes on. This is something called AdvanTech – guaranteed 50 years even if it gets wet. It cost about what plywood would cost but the plywood I saw was pretty badly warped and this stuff is FLAT.
Valentines Day 2012 starts out kind of gray.
But the sun came out and we scraped off the deck and swept off the water.
Getting ready to split some wood while the deck dries. There was a huge cedar hung up in the bent birch you see on the left. I managed to get it down but it bent my saw bar in the process. This is a couple of weeks later. I’ve cut the large limbs off that were over the creek and the two strapping lads have hauled them up on to the flat.
Splitting cedar in the bottom – Valentine’s Day 2012.
Ollie and Jeff at work in the “truss factory”. (Another amazing day – over 60 Feb 23.)
Nailing the sill plates.Notice the uprights at the end of the barn. These will temporarily support the first truss when it gets tipped up.
Closeup of one side of the trusses. The design came from a University of North Dakota publication. The black brace is some of the material that Tim and I recycled from a fraternity house after they trashed their Homecoming float.
Tim goes through a small part of the Homecoming float remains. There was also another pile and a huge dumpster full of sheets of OSB, 2 x 4s and 2″ rigid insulation.
Some of the loot. By the time we left, this truck was full and so was Tim’s
March 26 and the first three trusses are up. The purlins are not yet all in place nor is the bracing. Waiting for a tall ladder to get the top ones on.
Here you see the wheat coming up (far corner) and the beginning of the garden. March 28, 2012. Note the trees in the fence row out by the road.
The spirit of my brother is drawn to the place by the engineering challenges.
Dave in the flesh – came out for a week to lend a hand. He’s back in Florida with his wife now. I still have his hand in the icebox.
John Tinker and my brother get ready to hoist truss 10. Easter Sunday 2012.
Next we did the outside truss – number 12 – with the same method we used for the first three with the addition of the block and tackle.
All trusses up by noon and the purlins going in. The scaffold, which you can see the corner of, turned out to be necessary for the top two purlins. It will come in handy when the metal roofing goes on as well.
The finished trusses.
Finished trusses – end view.
Rye guy. This is the 16th of May. The rye is chest high. Probably two weeks early (at least).
Had an inspection Monday and dug the greenhouse trench Friday. I’m waiting for one more price on the roof metal then we’ll put a skin on the barn. The garden is not doing well. The only place seeds came up is on the burn pile site. Is it the ash? I’m going to replant, add a little wood ash and see.
Guru Gerald Crow, the guy who dug the greenhouse foundation trench.
Crow’s trench (with gravel.)
One of the unpaid volunteers. This one gets a little angel hair at The Rome now and then so not strictly unpaid, I guess.
The first bit of roofing goes on around the eighth of June.
More metal in place. We stopped at the opening for the cupola.
Made in the shade. Crow and Paul put on the north side.
Ol gives the cupola its first coat.
More on (not talking about the crew). July 2.
We’ve had near 100F highs for at least a week now – seems like two or three. We are working for a few hours in the early morning, then bailing. Have been watering the garden by hand with the neighbor’s water but can’t keep up.
I heard from Warren Wilson last night. His harvest is in and about twice what I anticipated. Will send off for a protein test when his sample arrives.
July 2nd from the inside.
Starting to look something like a barn. Crow and I have finished the roof. On the 19th of July, Philip Winter delivered the 24″ Meadows mill you see here and which I have begun to disassemble to clean.
This machine has an old flat belt drive. I’ve purchased a lawn tractor with a broken mowing deck to use as a power plant. The plan is to jack up the rear end and run the belt on one of the back tires.
The North wall is mostly on. The seams in the OSB are nailed to 2 x 4s on the other side. A shed roof will cover that entire side.
The mill near it’s final location. We used the chain hoist to get the mill off the pallets that it came on. Trying to get the hopper height as low as possible so I don’t have to life the grain any higher than necessary. We will use the hoist on the gantry crane I will build at the front of the building and when it comes time to dress the mill stones which are 24 inches in diameter and 6 inches thick.
The threshing machine. The shaft is 3/4″ black pipe with pieces of chain attached. In a trial we discovered that the straw winds around the shaft. We think it doesn’t spin fast enough.
Note: Even with a new belt and pulley turning at twice the speed, it did not perform as I hoped. It may work as a batch processor but not as a continuous process machine.
Another disappointment today: the Gravely broke down trying to mow some grain.
The north wall construction. I’m going to put a metal skirt on the bottom to keep bugs and critters out. Finally able to get at least the long handled tools out of the shed house.
July 30, 2012 – 98 degrees F. Paul drove this (13 feet wide) rig 30 miles from Fayette to Coats Lane to cut the grain after none of the local farmers would help out. He only experienced one incident where neither the oncoming traffic nor he could pull off the road.
The last of the wheat is harvested.
The harvest crew unloads.
The rye drying. There were a lot of weeds in the field. (The little rain we had encouraged them.) Bits of green leaf were scattered throughout the harvested grain. So we will dry them and blow them out when we clean the grain. Both the rye and the wheat look good.
The wheat drying.
Putting up the main rafters for the shed.
We thought there might be rain. Ha!
Planted the winter garden Aug. 16.
Main rafters up. Crow sucks in his gut.
The completed shed.
A flat belt will pass through the wall from the mill to the red garden tractor (you can just barely make out) on the other side. The tractor will be on blocks with the belt around one of the drive wheels. Hope this works better than the home made threshing machine.
The compost setup. Keep the straw in the middle. Fill one bin then move on to the one on the other side while that completes composting.
September 8, 2012 – starting the walls. This is the west end. The windows will be wood frame double glazed with storms that were donated by Rod Dent – the neighbor on the northwest.
Lately all Crow is doing is screwing around.
The Clipper 2B modified and updated. This is how we clean our grain. Does a pretty good job in a hurry.
September 15th and 16th – new moon – next year’s grain is sown over the stubble of this year’s wheat harvest then the field is mowed. On the last new moon, I sowed some ladino clover over the stubble which did not get rain for a couple of weeks so is just starting to come up. I’m trying to create a no till method but the fescue is persistent. The clover is supposed to help with that. I’ll frost sow some more clover in February.
The rye field. I sowed wheat here by hand. As I moved through the field, I realized that there was a huge amount of rye already growing there.
The rye coming up. At first I thought Paul’s combine was spilling a huge amount of grain but there was no evidence of this in the wheat field and the first thing I did when he started harvesting was check for spilled grain. Then Crow suggested that the rye shattered – that it was a little past the time it needed to be harvested and some fell out of the heads before it could get into the combine. If I’d figured this out before I sowed the field, I could have saved some time and a few bushels of wheat and just let the rye go. So now I’ll have a rye/wheat field. We’ll see what it looks like in the Spring.
September 18, 2012 – The winter garden coming up.
Will, a new helper, and Crow make adjustments and additions to the gantry crane. Oct. 14, 2012.
Oct. 16, 2012 – Will and Crow have opened the mill and prepare to clean it.
November 4, 2012 – All the metal is finally on the building. Crow is justly proud.
Getting a start on the gutters. It’s my plan to capture the runoff from this rather large roof in three places: just where you see the gutter end in this picture (the east end of the greenhouse), the west end of the greenhouse and the north side in one place at the northwest corner of the building. The two greenhouse locations are inside the building so they will store water for the greenhouse and provide some solar thermal storage for the building.
Finally a start on the greenhouse foundation. The trench sat empty and overgrown for 6 months.
Greenhouse foundation detail – trench with gravel, treated 2×8, concrete block, treated 2×8 held down by 12″ lagscrews.
Crow and Wil set the gantry trusses (Nov. 20, 2012).
Crow, in his usual self-effacing fashion, shows off the finished greenhouse foundation. In the background, the gantry roof has it’s first sheets of metal.
Greenhouse framing detail from above.
The first sheet of polycarbonate goes up on the greenhouse. This is Dec 13, 2013. About 50 today. Nice working weather and very similar to this time last year just before the drought hit.
Next day – further progress. Looks like we may actually get this done. The progress is slow because the sheets are slightly different widths and the edges must land on the middle of the trusses. So each truss is a custom installation.
For the second day the pond across the road is visited by an eagle. He is the dot on the branch above the round opening in the trees about in the center of the photo. He doesn’t let me get very close.
Here, if your eyes are very, very good, you can see him flying away in the center of the opening in the trees. His wing span is enormous. I would guess 6 feet.
December 16, 2012 – The greenhouse takes shape.
After an outrageous bid for the panel setup and one no show electrician, I decide to install the electrical myself.
Closeup of the panel. The device to the right of the panel is a controller for the 10 horsepower motor that will power the mill.
Dec. 20, 2012 – The weather has turned wintery.
Two inches of closed cell insulation has just been sprayed on by Nemow Insulation. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. They are terrific. It’s rare these days you find someone willing to go the extra mile. These guys did it with a smile.
Rounding the corner with the trusses. I’m waiting for a day warm enough to work without gloves to cut and install the cross braces. This Sunday may be it. Meanwhile, there is chopping wood and drinking water.
Reinventing the venting. The original plan was to have a vent every other panel but in my excitement, I put up three panels without a vent. So we went back and removed the center panel and cut it for a vent. Here Gerald re-installs the top section. The middle section (between the cross supports) is the moveable vent. The top and bottom sections are fixed.
Rotted hay mulch in place, I pose for a glamor shot. January 17, 2013 – turning out to be another largely warm January. Turns cold Sunday for a few days, though.
January 26, 2013 – A few hours of sun warm enough for just the T-shirt. Starting on the bottom sheets. Notice the missing vent section. We ran out of Lexel adhesive.
The county, with my permission, removed the trees, fence, poison ivy, beer bottles, etc. from beside the road on both sides of the creek. This gives a line of sight around what was once a blind curve and changes entirely the nature of the secluded wooded lot that was the east side of the property. As part of this upgrade, they will also surface the road with magnesium chloride which will eliminate the dust (or so they say.)
Here is some of the wood that came out of this project. Plenty of oak and walnut to be split – sometime.
February 17, 2013 – Greenhouse complete
That’s water in the red can!.
March 2, 2013 – A whole lot of wet, heavy snow has slid off the barn roof onto the greenhouse. It survived in tact
The same day inside. Crow readies the greenhouse for planting.
The rain barrel hookups. I used 1″ schedule 80 threaded nipples. The holes were made with an inch and a quarter Lenox hole saw which makes a hole just big enough for the pipe. The down spouts have been removed because we were expecting more rain and the barrels were full. I first thought to empty them and bought a small pump at Harbor Freight. This pump is way too small thus the down spouts were removed and flashing placed under the gutter openings.
Another configuration with the middle barrel high. I’m trying to maximize the exposure of the barrels to the sunlight so they will store heat. The water from the gutter comes into the high barrel in both configurations. It drains off about a foot below the top of the barrel to give a buffer in case of a sudden surge of water coming in.
Close up of the rain barrel fittings. The nuts and washers are for electrical conduit. Once I had a hole drilled, I set the barrel next to it’s neighbor and drilled through that hole into the neighboring barrel. I then started out with a nut and washer as pictured, applied bathtub calk to the washer and pushed the pipe through the hole. Then I gunked the washer for the other side, fitted it and tightened both nuts. This made a very good seal. No flatening of the barrel was necessary.
Apr. 4, 2013 – Getting a start on the cold room. You can see the opening for the air conditioner in the far wall. The cardboard looking stuff is 1 1/2″ polyisocyanurate insulation. I have enough for three layers maybe 4. We’re in a bit of a rush as the weather is turning warm and the greenhouse really heats up the barn. If the grain stays at 60 fegrees for very liong, the bugs will hatch and I’ll have 12,500 pounds of compost.
April 14, 2013 – Coldroom doors gooped up.
Inside the coldroom with the air conditioner in place.
Closeup of the Coolbot. Set this device to the temp you want. It has a tiny heating element taped to the air conditioner’s temperature sensor which it uses to fool the AC into believing it is warmer than it is in the room. So far no problem keeping the room at 52. Another thermometer at the other end of the room bears this out.
June 1, 2013 – We have had some rain. The flooded road is the usual, most direct way to the farm from town. The gravel road going to the farm is just to the right. Been having to take the long way around lately. The creek near the house is over its primary banks but not out of its bottom.
June 11, 2013 – The gardens are finally in. Plenty of mulch ready to use thanks to neighbor Garland Russel. I’ll plant some more corn in a couple of weeks. The rows are ready already. Through the fence row you can see the rye ripening. I am having a hard time finding a combine the right size and price. The Chinese have knocked off a great Kubota small combine but it has no EPA certificate so doubtful it can enter the country. Kubota will not sell its machine in this country!!!????
June 29, 2013 – First onion. Don’t know why this makes me so proud but it does. We’ve had a tough time with onions bolting this year. Maybe that’s it.
I very foolishly transplanted every other okra plant from the row you see to the row under the cover in the morning instead of the evening. The transplants immediately went into shock so I covered them. Let’s hope it’s not a funeral shroud.
My newest toy – an Austrian scythe. About half the weight of an American scythe, the thing is actually fun to use. The blade is sharp as a razor. First day I mowed everything in sight (just about). I’m thinking that, since there appears to be no way to harvest the rye by machine, I may as well try it by hand. There are several other people interested and one also has an Austrian scythe. Harvest party.
OK. So the transplants have been set back a bit. They are still going to make it by gumbo time.
Corn and beans.
Corn and beans from above. You can see some of the squash off to the right. There has been a terrible infestation of squash bugs this year. I’m trying diatomacious earth but was too late to save some. The covered mound is a late planting of potatoes. The two half rows on the left side are cici beans. The deer don’t seem to be the least interested in them so I may focus on them next year. I have been using urine to keep the deer off the green beans and that seems to be working fine. You need to reapply after each rain.
Okra in front. Mostly tomatoes. Awful brown rot. I applied some dilute masonry lime hoping I wouldn’t burn the plants. I haven’t been out yet today to check. To the left of the tomatoes, two more mounds of potatoes. In making the mounds, I found the hoe would penetrate the soil to about 4″ then it was like scraping it along a table top. I don’t think it’s a hard pan in the usual sense – just the way this silty soil behaves. At any rate, I’m going to have to get a ripper. You can see in the pic of the corn above how uneven it is. I’m thinking this is a contribution of the compacted soil also the tomatoes might not be so susceptible to brown rot if their roots could go deeper.
Aug 19, 2013 – Some tiny purple potatoes going in next to the existing new rows. So far, no sprouts visible from the new rows but you can see the sprouts already on the ones in the bucket. I couldn’t find any seed potatoes so I used store bought. I have been told they have a anti-sprouting coating. We’ll see, no?
Harvesting okra, beans, squash and PLENTY of tomatoes.
Detail of solar dryer Ollie and I have been working on. Two by four sides, luan back, corrugated metal roofing painted black. A left over piece of polycarbonate from the green house will cover it. This is just the collector part. This part is placed at a 45 degree angle and fits up under a table that the drying tower rests on. This tower will contain 2 x 2 drying shelves of screen on a wooden frame.
Wider view of the collector.
It can be pretty out that way.
Buckwheat in the front field.
August 27, 2013 – Very hot lately.
August 30, 2013 – Still very hot. Here are the solar food dryer shelf supports ready to be assembled.
Rough layout for the new jack shaft. The v-belt portion of this setup will reduce the speed of the motor by a factor of 4. The flat belt side reduces by 3. So I go from about 1800 rpm to about 150. The mill was running way too fast. This setup may be too slow to throw the flour out the chute. I’ll have to try it to find out. But, if it is, I can readily change the v-belt pulleys and up the speed. The reduced speed has the further advantage of increasing the power to the mill which is needed when trying to grind fine.
A diversion: The mill is not operable in it’s present condition. The stones need to be dressed to make a fine whole wheat flour. These babies weigh about 500 pounds a piece and the process requires removing them, replacing them, removing them, replacing them…you get the idea. I’m not up for it so I decided to bake. First there is pizza. This is one that Roberta Tabanelli and I came up with: baked butternut squash (in the wood fired oven, of course), pine nuts drenched in olive oil (they roast up wonderful that way) and some fresh herbs. Also baked the usual 27 loaves (from 1 firing): 9 olive ciabatta, 9 onion rye and 9 whole wheat (locally grown). The rye was over proofed so came out flat. This is a result of trying to talk to my guests and manage the baking process at the same time. The baking usually suffers and rye is especially sensitive to over proofing. The whole wheat is wonderful. I would say pea sized holes in the crumb.
The farm is inspected by His Crowness
Sept.17, 2013 – It’s not all been fun and games. Added another barrel to each series of rain barrels and moved them (partially) into the greenhouse. This way, because they are tilted slightly to the greenhouse, I can leave them hooked up to the downspouts and the excess water will run into the greenhouse instead of onto the barn floor. Before, I was trying to guess when the barrels would be full, drive out to the barn, unhook the downspouts and cover the openings in the rain and mop up the floor. Easier this way and I’m going to set up a couple of barrels on the second floor and pump up to them. Then I’ll be able to shower out there.
Sept 21, 2013 – Finally we get a sunny day. The first test of the solar dryer. The rain barrels worked perfectly. They were all completely full without a single drop! of water on the barn floor.
Sept 28, 2013 – The tomatoes did not turn out well. The pieces were too large to dry completely before they spoiled.
To the right is a pic of the small kamut plot I am trying. Typically kamut or khorasan wheat is a Spring grain but I like it so well I couldn’t wait. This a plot 6′ by 171′ or 1026 square feet or approximately .024 acres. I applied 12 pounds of seed or about 500 pounds per acre. Kind of high. We’re getting some rain now so there ought to be good germination.
I’ve realized that I am trying to discover a holistic, veganic agriculture. Part of that is eliminating off farm inputs especially those from animal sources (except me, of course.)
On October 8, 2013 the new 20″ Meadows mill arrived. Dan Hemmelgarn was gracious enough to help unload AND take some pictures.
Dan, Crow, Paul Lehmann and later Marian Minor helped with getting the 1700 pound mill off my pickup and out of the crate.
Here we are getting the casters on.
On the deck but minus the hopper and motor. The motor goes where the cardboard box is.
The Reverend Gerald Crow pronounces us Man and Mill.
The next day Marian and I have lunch with Paul at his place.
My little darling with her skirt off. This mill has one of the same problems as the old mill. It runs way too fast. I figure 711 rpm. I’m going to replace the 6 1/2″ 3 belt pulley with the old 3 1/2″ 2 belt and see if enough power is transferred to the runner stone to grind some fine flour. A test with the three belt setup yielded some wonderful stuff. The smaller 2 belt pulley should slow the mill down to about 383 rpm.
The auger disassembled for painting. This will transfer grain from a bin on the floor to the hopper on the top of the mill saving the old man from carrying the 50 pound bags up the stairs and dumping them overhead into the hopper. Neat.
Belts were starting to fray with the small 2 belt pulley and the pulley was getting hot – a sure sign the belts were not tight enough. The motor was adjusted all the way back. I replaced that 2 belt with the smallest 3 belt they have (4″) and it is working fine. For comparison I show the original 6 1/2″ pulley. There is enough power with this setup to start the mill in grinding position so that a lot of cracked grain does not come through while you are trying to find the perfect distance between the stones.
Visiting artist Pablo Pickysoso executes a commission for the upcoming grand opening.
October 18, 2013 – Weekly peeve – these so called soilbuster tillage radishes are supposed to penetrate and break up hard pan while adding oodles of organic matter to the soil. You can see what’s happened. Instead of penetrating the hard pan, they are pushing themselves up and out of the soil. Can’t say I recommend ’em.
The little green balls you see at the axils are, if I’, not mistaken, figs. Amazing. I just planted this twerpy little bare root thing this spring. Behind is a “portable” table/counter ready to go to the market tomorrow.
Crow pins letters to the canopy.
The proud proprietor – Sunday Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market at the bus station. Do you think I’m overworking the pink shirt? Think I will stain the table for next week. (Actually sold a few pounds of flour!) Also bake a demo loaf. My test bake loaf has had multiple rounds of praise (from Crow.)
The auger grain bin under construction. The foam in the joints represents an assumption. I thought it were obvious, if the pyramid made a right angle at the base, that the angle between the sides was also a right angle. Not so. Here is a link to a somewhat accessible method for calculating the correct angle: http://benkrasnow.blogspot.com/2008/09/determining-proper-angles-to-cut.html. Too late for me as half of the joints were already glued up with 90 degree glue blocks. It’ll be OK. I’ll trim the foam and cover with wood putty.
Market table gets stained.
The autopsy (or the awbottomsee). What happens when the soilbuster hits the hard pan.
It’s now December 12th – some time since I have made an update. We’ve been busy. The garden is mowed and disced. I bought a spike toothed harrow which leveled and fined up the garden wonderfully. Also got a barrel stove kit and 22 feet of 6″ stove pipe. You might think that with a stack that tall the draft would be awesome. Not so. Our first attempt at a fix was to remove the sliding grate, drill through the end hole, open the plug and put a bunch of holes around the bottom. No good. If you burned with the door open, the barn would fill with smoke. If you closed the door, the fire would go out. Just not enough draft. Lousy design. Well, there is the 14′ of pipe going up through the unheated second floor.
Here is our second attempt at a solution. I’ve always like masonry stoves. I bake in a wood fired oven after all. Can’t afford the real thing so here is a poor man’s compromise: exposed metal for quick heat and nearby masonry to slowly absorb and slowly release heat. Also a masonry chimney for the same reason but also to provide more than three times the vent cross section as the 6″ metal pipe.
A close up of the flue connection. I made a metal collar to fit the enlarged opening and the inside of the flue pipe. I figure each piece of clay pipe weighs 55 pounds so supported the 2 sections with angle iron. I guess I put the camera away before we finished the run but just for the record the top of the clay pipe is covered with two layers of 18 gauge steel with 6″ holes for the run through the second floor. How does it work?
Not bad. Not bad at all. Zero smoke spillage and the fire kept going with the door closed! This means we can build large fires to keep the place warm at night.
The auger bin gets a second coat and is now ready for a full trial. I added some mirrors so I can tell how full the mill hopper is without climbing the stairs and a switchable outlet to turn the auger on and off.
It wasn’t long before we noticed some cracks appearing in the new flue tiles
If you look closely, you can see vertical cracks on both pieces of tile. You can also see the cause. These tile are NOT supposed to be cemented together. They need to expand and contract independently of each other as I later found out.
Yet another peeve – the Boone Electric boys cut this tree down on my property. It was no where near their easement. What could they have possibly been thinking?
On the other side of the creek, there is another stump from them. A living birch!!! What a mess and they just left it. I wonder if the Dept. of Conservation would like to know about this?
Jan 18, 2014
Lequita and Ron take a page from Crow’s book as we make some progress on clearing the fence row.
Feb 9, 2014 – It has been freaking cold so I’m gonna bake. Here you see the ciabatta about to go in.. Photos courtesy of Marian Minor. It’s good to have company on these excursions into the mysteries of earth and fire and invisible living things.
The ciabatta coming out.
The whole wheat. Probably the best open crumb ever. Flavor is good with just a little sour. These are 1 kilo loaves – the result of a 20 hour warm poolish with all of the water, all of the starter and half of the flour.
The barrel stove is just not doing the job. In it’s defence, it has been wicked cold but the problem needs to be solved to keep the greenhouse at growing temp. So Kiko says rocket mass heater – great idea. And brother suggests closing off part of the building – another great idea. The part behind me in the pic is only used for storage. So I make some “sliding” panels.
The idea is to wrap the OSB frame in plastic sheeting to create a double paned panel.
Even with the turnbuckle, I could not get the cable tight enough to keep the panels straight up and down. BUT… despite the gaps between the panels, they keep about a 15 degree difference between the two parts of the building so it’s worthwhile pursuing. I have another idea for the track
Here is the burn tube for the mass heater. I will move the short section to on top of the “T” to create the fuel in. The horizontal part of the “T” will get a cap and be used as a clean out. The whole thing will be cast in a refractory: 3:2:1:1 – sand, clay, lime and Portland. Does anybody have a notion about the proportions? This is 8″ pipe.
February 24, 2014 – The first produce from the greenhouse – way yum!
The new rod system. Those are shower curtain hangers on 1″ PVC. Still has a little sag but works fine.
Cold weather passtimes.
This will go on the south facing gable end of the gantry crane enclosure. (Faces the road.)
Give someone a loaf of bread and you have fed them for a day. Give a man some leftover paint and a brush and there is no telling where it will stop.
The gantry gets a facelift. March 11, 2014 – near 80 today. Then, about sunset, the skies opened up. Huge cloud to cloud lightening, winds, barrels of rain. But I got the clear poly on the gable end before all that. Still a little painting to do which will require a sprayer.
A new coat of paint for the west doors.
Same color on the front doors. Not the red I rthought I was getting but OK. This is Mar 30, 2014. Temp about 70F. We burned about 2/3 of the brush from the fence row a couple of days ago and I consolidated the remaining piles to be ready for a final burn when the wind dies down and is coming from the west. Grennhouse is OK. Spotty germination on the beets but the onions from sets and the carrots are doing well as is the arugula.
Much has been happening in the garden. Potatoes are doing well, tomatoes and peppers are blooming, squash is coming on and I finally found some substitutes for the trees that did not overwinter. Here is a pic of one. This is a Dunstan chestnut – very prolific, highly blight resistant and on sale for 25% off! So I got 4.
This little beauty is already in flower.
The root crops are all responding to the addition of rock phosphate. I did the whole garden area last Fall and am side or top dressing the rows as they go in. Okra remains to plant then whatever else I can think of.
There is a row of peas which I thought might be too late but it has turned cold and wet here (Memorial Day weekend) so they may produce something yet.
Here is a seed cleaner temporarily converted to a flour sifter. I built the screen on a poplar frame with 20 mesh stainless. This is supposed to give 80 – 85% extraction but it is more like 75%. I think this is due to the fact that I was using freshly milled flour. Might be wise to temper it a little first.
Another shot of the seed cleaner with the catchment tub.
Tatoes and wheat ripening in the background.
Maters strung up.
Pretty good size for early June.
Beets and peas.
Greenhouse orchard with impossible hay bale.
Terrible cut worm problem this year. I have had to replace 3/4 of the plants. This is my solution. The cardboard is from calendar backers. Strips are about 3″ by 6 “
It is possible but difficult to collar a mature plant.
Mo bettah might be to plant the seeds in the collar and cover with a little soil leaving the edge above the soli. We’ll see.
On the brighter side, June 24th and he wheat is looking good but still no indication when the Chinese threshing machine will actually get on the boat. Lots of promises but no bill of lading yet.
July 13, 2014 – I got a new customer who wanted some rye flour. Just so happens I sold out of the flour I had a week ago so broke down the mill, cleaned it and set up for rye. Dinged if it didn’t lock up pretty early on. Backed off the runner and tried again. Locked up again. Now I milled this grain on this mill last winter so I was puzzled and a tad frustrated. I quit for the day and next day took the mill apart again. This is what I saw. When this picture was taken I had been working on this stone for a while. Notice the smooth cream colored glaze. That’s the culprit
Here I am dressing the runner stone. Both the bed stone, which was worse in terms of the amount of crud on it, and the runner needed to be dressed.
Repositioning the runner. Notice the tool – a small air hammer with a carbide bit. Made pretty quick work of it.
The Moon Godess fully dressed.
July 18, 2014 – Tomatoes in the solar dryer
The tomato processing setup. These have to completely dry in 2 days or they spoil so they have to be cut thin.
Terrible Japanese beetles this year. These beans have been dusted with diatomaceous earth which works until it rains.
The cardboard collars obviously did not work to protect the squash. All the rain softened them to the point they were useless. Hopefully the waxed paper in this carton will do the trick next time.
Pretty good taters and lots of ’em. Amazing what a little phosphorus will do.
My journey to the mystic East – destination the Maine Grain Alliance Kneading Conference in Skowhegan, Maine July 24th and 25th. What a gas to be surrounded by people passionate about baking, milling and growing. Needless to say, I learned much and Maine was spectacular (as were other parts.)
My passengers on the return trip – organic Red Fife seed purchased at no small expense from a grower in Maryland who had imported from Canada. Red Fife is a heritage wheat variety. It has not been hybridized (in the last 100 years at least) and so is 2 or 3 times taller in the field than modern varieties (chokes out the weeds easier), has been tested at 15.7 and 15.8 percent protein, can be planted as a Fall or Spring crop AND has been known to produce 35 bushels per acre grown organically!!!!! Bakers love it. I’ll plant Rod’s field in another month or so and have a little left to mill.
The Red Fife label – not sure what “Faith” has to do with it. Might be a lot.
August 8, 2014 – The thresher arrives from China (far to late to do any good this year). They charged me $500 to pack the thing. You can see some of the packing to the right – extremely cheap and flimsy stuff except for the welded steel frame under the machine. You can see a leg of it just to the left of the right tire. This was bolted to the pallet so the machine had to be jacked up to remove it. Folks in this country would have used a stout crate and 2x4s and charged a lot less.
Once the frame was removed, the bolts had to be cut to allow the machine to roll back. It’s pretty heavy – maybe about 1/2 ton. The manual for the thresher is in French and for engine in Chinese so it may be a while before I get to testing. At this point I would not recommend this transaction to my friends.
Poop happens. While waiting for the Chinese thresher to arrive (even to be shipped), the beautiful wheat field became overgrown with weeds.
This is a picture of the field as it has started to be overgrown. By the time the thresher got here the weeds were much taller and there were many more of them. You may recall that the plan was to cut the wheat with a scythe and feed it to the thresher. Paul suggested I cut some of the weedy wheat just to get a feel for the machine. I could not. The stems were thicker than my finger. So I decided to mow the field with the brush hog. There were places the brush hog could not get through. I had to mow most of the field a half of a swath at a time.
In agriculture, poop is not necessarily a bad thing. Here is the wheat field a short time after it has been mowed. Tons of clover and in between – wheat. We’ll see next Spring if we get a good stand (it is early to plant a Winter wheat crop.)
Queen of the garden – The lone okra (after two plantings) that came up. Surrounded by her loyal (soon to be) subjects – Fall potatoes and peas.
September 14, 2014 – The Red Fife field shortly after planting. It rained the next day!
Five days later the wheat babies are coming up.
Phinished phence. The only curve on the place. I planted wild grapes which will cover it next year, provide some privacy and some fruit.
Tilling the greenhouse with the new electric tiller – just right for this job. Dec. 19, 2014.
The upstairs looking East after the insulation has been sprayed in. What a difference!
View from the deck.
The central stringer of a space saving staircase that will serve the deck from outside. A 2 x 8 goes on each side to complete the stairs. With alternate treads a 10 foot rise can be accomplished with only 5 1/2 feet of run. These are very steep stairs and need a stout handrail on each side.
The deck roof rafters in. This project will be on hold for a time while I see if I can recharge my bank account. I plan a corrugated clear poly carb roof.
Jan 23, 2015 – Mild streak forecast to last another week.
Taking a break from the rip out and rebuild of the oven, Crow and I finish the space saving staircase. Some stout handrails will be next.
The handrail installed. Because of the steep incline, the rail is only about 12″ from the top of the stringer. It is held in place with 2 x 4’s that have been drilled through from the edge with a 1 1/8″ spade bit then cut in half through the hole edge to edge. This makes a perfect saddle for the 1″ EMT rail. Two 3″ deck screws through the rail and into the 2 x 4 hold the rail firmly in place.
A close up of a joint in the rail. Inside is a 7″ piece of 1″ poplar dowel epoxyed and screwed in place.
Bee surprise. Lincoln has had some old abandoned empty hives for a couple of years and has been saying he will someday get some bees. I have offered to house them on the farm sort of doubting they would ever arrive. Midweek I got a call saying the bees are arriving Saturday – can you pick them up? What I picked up was the colony you see on the right. The blue topped spray bottle contains sugar water 1:1 by weight. The large jar has the same stuff and the other spray bottle is plain water.
They say there are 30,000 bees in that box.
All the frames were badly in need of clean up. There was not time to become expert in or even acquainted with hive construction. We were not prepared. As a result we are using what is called a foundationless hive. There is no substrate for the bees to build comb on except for a thin ridge that protudes from the bottom side of the top bar. I made those on the table saw and have not added them at this point.
Adding the new piece with the protruding edge to the old top bars.
The colony up close (in its transport box.)
Their new home. The transfer involved opening the transport box (the top would NOT just come off and the bees were getting a little excited with all the jostling), fishing out the queen cage and plugging her escape hole with a small marshmallow, placing her in the hive and pouring the bees into the hive over her. Very few bees were killed or injured in the making of this movie (less than 10) and only one out of three humans present was stung.
Pecan flowers at one of my home trees – Apr 28, 2015.
The KARL92 heading up (bottom center) on May 2, 2015. Looks like we may have an early harvest.. The potatoes are doing well as are the tomatoes. The squash are in 1 quart milk cartons with the bottoms removed which is confining their roots so they are a little weak. I’m trying to keep the cut worms off the stems.
The Kohlerized Chinese thresher. The original diesel had such high compression that no one could get it started so… pushbutton start gas engine. The machine was missing three grease zerks and a manual in English.
Thanks to Richard Wieman for welding the exhaust risers.
Harvested one row of potatoes yesterday (June 23, 2015) and have picked a few tomatoes. The garlic will be ready soon. The wheat has another week at least.
Aug 15, 2015 – The mown and windrowed Red Fife field. This belongs to my new neighbor who started out enthusiastic about sharing but, on the advice of lawyers and insurance agents is now denying me use of it. The grain is suffering from fusarium head blight and is very probably contaminated with vomitoxin. On top of that, it was cut so late that the ironweed got huge. So huge it clogs the thresher so I am going to move the straw to my garden and field to use as mulch – a sort of sheet composting.
The garden mulched. Wade’s dad changed his mind on letting me harvest the wheat I had planted there. I think he wanted to put sheep on the field (in a hurry). Lesson here – get it in writing.
Aug 25, 2015 – The last of the straw has been brought over. You can see the neighbor’s (clean) field through the opening in the fence row.
Aog 29, 2015 – My field mowed. I’m going to plow this field. I don’t like to plow as the soil here is very easily compacted. The last plow was 4 years ago so I’m doing OK. The field needs to be mowed because my plow has no coulters. These are sharp disks that run out in front of the share (the plow blade) and cut the sod. Even with the field mowed the plow gathers grass and weeds sometimes so that it looks like there is a haystack folowing the tractor.
Ready to plow. Looks kind of cute, doesn’t she?
Some plowing done. In this method, you find the middle of the field and plow a 20′ straight furrow folding the sod over toward the center. You then lift the plow, turn the tractor around and plow another furrow along side the first also folding the sod toward the center. Lift, turn around and plow another furrow with your tractor wheels in the first furrow but make this a little shorter. Each pair of rows gets a little shorter. When you have 4 or five rows in each direction, you can make a turn with your plow down and you have the start of the circle you see here.
Sept 11,2015 – I’ve dragged the field – literally dragged a large oak log around the field and we’ve had some rain. Perfect for disking again BUT…
The tractor is broked. Will not run. Sounds like bad gas. Sputters and stumbles. I’ve drained the line, the carb and the sediment bulb. There were a few tiny flakes only. It still stumbles so a compression test is next.
Soooo… I’m going to shift gears, so to speak, to a new project – a rocket stove mass heater. A rocket stove mass heater is a wood burning device that uses a very small amount of fuel which it burns very efficiently to heat a thermal mass – usually a masonry bench filled with dirt. In this case it will be a greenhouse filled with dirt. The barrel you see is most of the outer shell of the heater in the place it will occupy when finished. The exhaust from the fire will pass through an 8 inch stovepipe buried in the trench you see roughed out here.
The trench near the barrel to depth. I was concerned that, since the silt soil here likes to compact at a depth of about 4 “, it would be very difficult to dig to the required 16 inches but not so. Just a matter of grunt and between you and me, I like to dig. Especially in this soil which contains no (zero) native rock. The black pipe through the center of the picture is the rainwater catchment system overflow. The little plastic tub on top of the barrel is where I wash my hands like a good boy.
The now familiar rusty barrel with its extension. The correct proportion between the combustion end of the “J” tube and the height of the riser requires a little more height than one barrel can provide. I’ll hold the pieces together with a barrel clamp.
November 3, 2015 – Broken perlcrete. The J tube is encased in lightweight concrete made from Portland cement and perlite. This had cured for 4 or 5 days but the forms kept it from gaining any strength so when the forms were stripped, the stuff crumbled especially at the bottom which we see here. I’ll patch and use it (after it sits a good long while.)
The trench full of water. All the rain we have had this fall has brought the water table up to within a few inches of the soil surface. Needless to say, this will not do for a heater tube so I’ll be shifting gears. I’ve been curious about hugelculture which is essentially burying wood which rots and imrpoves the aeration and microganism content of the soil. Sooooo..I dug two more trenches, one on either side of the original and another pit next to the one you see here and filled them all with wood chips to about 4 inches from the top of the soil.
December 17, 2015 – The trenches full, the weeds pulled and the greenhouse planted. Here there are beets, onions, carrots and broccoli.
The corner of the greenhouse. Here there is arugula, spinach, chard, radishes and turnip greens. What am I leaving out?
Some volunteer tomatoes I rescued just before the frost a couple of months ago. Nice to have a little color and they taste like tomatoes.
Bob Painter showed me how this old mill comes apart – something I had been puzzling over since I got the thing 4 years ago. It’s cold and rainy (Dec 28, 2015) so we are going to take a look at the guts of this beast.
The first step was to remove the 6 horizontal bolts you see lying in the lower left corner and the top of the pillow block bearing for the main shaft.
Next, the shims under the bedstone section are removed. They are the cedar shingles you see lying on the floor. First jacked up one side and removed the shims. Then the other.
Removing the shims produced two results: A space appeared between the runner section and the bedstone section of the mill and
a small gap appeared below the main shaft and between it and the lower part of the pillow block. This should give just enough space to raise the bedstone section enough to slide it forward. The mill altogether weighs 1200 pounds. I figure the bedstone section with the concrete casing for the stone weighs half of that so I’m waiting to move it until Bob can help.
The mill ready to be spread apart. That is a transmission jack under the bedstone section.
The mill apart with some pretty massive cleaning done. The stones are fine – could use some roughening – but note the termite damage in the lower left corner of the traveller section.
Corresponding damage in the lower right corner of the bedstone section.
More damage to the upper right bedstone. My notion is to replace all the wood with some native walnut. I have some I cut from my neighbor at home a couple of years ago and Paul has some. Then sand blast all the metal and clearcoat. So cool.
February 5, 2016 – The radishes coming on. If you look closely, you can see a couple of shy mushrooms that joined the crowd.
Added a mulch border from the leftover wood chips. To me it makes the greenhouse look like it is emerging from the earth.
Rosemary. This plant has been in bloom for a year!!!!??????!!!!!
The herbs are starting to show themselves. The fat leaves are a Red Kuri squash that I’m going to try indoors.
The greenhouse crops coming along – very slowly. Yes, the temperature is low still, the germination has been spotty. I am compelled to accept reluctantly that the soil here is very poor. There is just about zero organic matter, for example. So I have brought in a pick up load of compost from the city which is what you see on top of the soil. Once these crops are harvested, I will till this in and add another load.
Feb 27, 2016
The bees got a little ahead of the beekeeper. Before I could acquire, assemble and install a new hive body and frames, the bees started to build their own version of a hive. I’ve wanted to separate this from the standard issue hive body below so I could examine the bees and treat them for mites. Today was the day. I showed up with a saw to cut between the hive bodies, my bee bonnet, hive tool, etc., etc..
The semi-naturalized hive removed. There was not a bee to be found anywhere. One dead bee only. They vanished. They were there a few days ago when we had a warm spell but acting strangely. Every bee entering the hive was mobbed. I thought the hive was being defended against robbers but there were no corpses.
Damaged frames from the lower hive body. Notice the holes. Some critter got in there and ate the brood. And why is the comb discolored? There was no critter to be found when I opened the hive.
Later – I noticed some scratches and a slight depression at the entrance. A mouse had been in there. Probably since before I put the mouseguard on in the Fall. The discoloration is natural, it turns out, for brood comb.
The natural comb with honey in it.
March 14, 2016 – Very foggy this AM then turned lovely.
My mouseproofer and ventilating hive. The 2×4 will be used to close up the usual entrance at the bottom of the hive. Doubtful a mouse would chew through that. Not impossible, just doubtful. The opening is 3/8″ holes in gutter metal. The hive body will rest on a screened bottom board. The cork can be removed in warm weather to aid ventilation. The mice can only get in (and survive unstung) when it is cold and the girls are clustered in the center of the hive.
Mar. 17, 2016
Peach blossoms popping out. Bees are already on the job. We are expecting three nights of near 30 degree weather. The peach experts at Washington State say that, depending on the stage of blossom formation, it will take a temp in the 20’s to damage them. I guess we’ll see. Stay tuned for an update in a few days.
Relocated the antique grain drill (now a landmark.) Notice the wheat field in the background. It’s getting off to a great start.
By the way, the peach blossoms “seem” to have survived the frosts. We’ll have to see if they set any fruit.
The new, improved Bee Palace – up off the ground. In nature the hive would probably be much higher than this but I need to be able to open it and check. The girls seem to love it. The first day was cold and rainy but they were out foraging anyway. I thought mabe I got some Carniolans which have a rep for foraging in the cold but I’m now pretty sure these are Italians even though some look dark and gray. Besides the improved elevation, I included some comb from last year’s hive that I tied to some frames with string. Can’t wait to open the hive in a week or so to see what they did with it.
The girls at work. I’ve seen them come into the hive loaded with dark yellow/orange pollen. Not sure if it comes from the tooth of the lion but maybe. There are some very fragrant Russian Olives about 1/2 mile away that they could be visiting.
Apr. 22, 2016
The black stuff in the pile and on the rows is compost from the city – $12.90/cubic yard. Pretty good deal and not a bad model for sustainability in the near term – waste from the city comes to the country and is used to grow food (possibily for the city).
The wood stove arrives. This will go in the outdoor kitchen next to the oven and make my tomato sauce for me.
Right in the center you can see the reason for this picture. It is the 28th of April and the wheat is forming heads already.
The wheat is coloring up. Some is still green, some in the milk stage and some doughy.
June 15, 2016
Ninety seven today (and tomorrow). Just thought I’d vary the scenery. This is from a few years ago when 4 locust trees came down across the road by my house.
Turnip’s revenge – the overgrown greenhouse. Must do something about this.
To see the entire oven story visit Building an Oven.
Back at the greenhouse things have not gotten better until…
Williams weeds. Williams also helped me install the brick floor you may have noticed in the outdoor kitchen and many other things.
Accidental harvest. Things we found while weeding the greenhouse – beets, onions, carrots, ground cherries and enough potatoes to seed a row and 2/3.
A start on burying the pipe. Notice the segment at the bottom of the picture. This section leaves the soil and connects to the fan. It is covered all the way around and the covering sealed with tape to prevent the loss off negative pressure through the slits in the pipe.
The fan and its connector in place. Electrical needs to be hooked up and the trench backfilled. Thank God for bailing wahr.
Finally got the permanent ladder installed. Before this was in place, I had to get a rope over the peak and scale the roof. Too old for that now. The proximate cause was to replace the top chimney section with a longer one so the top was higher than the roof peak.
However, the view from the peak is also pretty OK.
View of the woodyard. Most of this is now cut and split as of January 2017.
These pictures were taken in the Fall of 2016.
Early this January (2017) we had two consecutive nights of below zero temperatures without any sun during the day. This killed the potatoes in the greenhouse but left the broccoli, Brussels sprouts and chard alone. I noticed the potatoes harvested from the garden last summer and stored in the cold room were beginning to sprout. So I harvested the potatoes in the greenhouse (finding many larger than my fist.) The idea being to plant the sprouting taters in their place. To this end I sprinkled bran on the ground and ran the small electric rototiller over it.
After the tilling, I used the Meadow Creature, a broadfork with 12″ tines to loosen the subsoil. The hope is that the much looser topsoil will fill in the openings in the subsoil. The broadfork is on loan from Mary Lehmann.
Evidence of microbial activity.
I think these are puff balls.
Well, the green leafy things are beets.
Jan. 27, 2017
Tinyest brussels sprouts below. From about Nov. 15 to Jan. 15 these plants languished showing very little sign of growth and no signs of production. But once the days started to get longer, things started to happen.
The cleaned up woodyard. I’m going to string a line between the two trees and drape a tarp over it when the rains come.
The body for a new horizontal bee hive. You can see a standard Langstroth deep next to it. It uses Langstroth frames. When the colony is ready to expand, just add frames horizontally instead of adding an entire hive body on top as in the standard method. The slits are the hive entrances. The rabbit is for hanging the frames.
Here you see the bottom of the hive. Screen covers the vent holes. When the hive is assembled, the bottom board will be flipped over so that the holes can be closed with corks. I believe the problem with last year’s hive was that there were too many openings for the bees to defend and they were too large. The hive succumbed to a wax moth invasion.
Here is what is called the telescoping top for the hive. It, too, has screened vent holes and 1 1/2″ of rigid insolation. The top overhangs the body of the hive by about 1″ thus the telescope.
All the pieces painted. Notice the hive body is made of 1 1/2″ lumber. More like the log a wild colony would inhabit. This means the girls will have to do a lot less to keep warm next winter. The long sticks are, of course, legs. They attach to the end of the hive.
The finished hive. I thought I had a local bee supplier but have not heard from him. We have had a wet and windy Spring which probably slowed down the normal hive build up.
From the sublime to the practical. The carton contains a composting toilet that is going in Ruth’s trailer in Fayette. The days of the enormous Clivis Multrum are over.
Horse radish with a tiny green frog.
Lots of amphibians this year. This guy seems to be some kind of tree frog.