May 25, 2013
Piglets running across my Permaculture planting. They dug up three Hazlenut before weaning. I purchased a Jostaberry and a Blackberry from Jung’s to replace them.
All of my Permaculture reading this winter led me to want to play myself. I’ve always wanted a windbreak north and west of my house, but I don’t like conifers. So I designed what will hopefully grow into an edible windbreak.
In a short-bottomed Y, placed on the contour of the land, I chisel-plowed this spring, then planted the trees and shrubs I purchased from our county, Jung’s, and Chief River Nursery as they arrived. I also dug a hole and placed a kiddie pool to collect rainwater for bucket irrigation when it turns dry this summer.
Below is a Juneberry. I also planted Hazlenut, Highbush Cranberry, Jostaberry, and Blackberry bushes. The trees I planted are Apple, Plum, Peach, Apricot, and Hackberry. If this planting goes well, I have an idea to continue the bottom of the Y with the contour of the land and continue to farm each side of it.
It’s been said the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago, and the second best time is today. The planting certainly doesn’t look like much today, but I hope I’m still blogging in ten years and can show you what it looks like then.
April 15, 2013
I studied Permaculture this past winter. Reading fellow Wisconsinite Mark Shepard’s new book, Restoration Agriculture, inspired me to read all the books I could find in the Southwest Wisconsin Library system on Permaculture.
The pioneering books by Mollison and Holmgren are great, but the best book by far is Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture. This Austrian farmer inspired me to try and cultivate mushrooms. So I purchased a bag filled with mycelium plug spawn from Field and Forest Products.
Drill a hole, hammer the plug in, then seal with wax. Repeat every few inches until the entire log is covered. Place in a shady place and keep moist.
If all goes well, the mycelium will spend the next year colonizing the rotting log. The following year it will produce the fruiting bodies we call mushrooms.
I don’t know if this will work or if I’ll even like Shitake mushrooms, which is the variety I’m growing. It looked like too much fun not to try, though. Click on the bottom photo to enlarge and see better the tools of this project.
February 12, 2013
Congratulations to John Roelli! He guessed 14 days and was the closest to 12 days, which is how long it took to burn one of my rows, which is about 80% of a cord of wood. Since John is a neighbor, I’m going to run some chocolates over now, and sweet corn later when it’s in season.
I’m glad I took the time to measure how much wood I’m using. It’s about double what I thought. At this rate, I’m using two cords of wood per winter month.
February 10, 2013
A photo I posted about fencing was used in an Atlantic article on virtual fencing. It’s a little bittersweet because the caption is, “A fence in need of repair.” Another photo of mine was used in Progressive Forage Grower. It’s fun to see my photos in other places.
February 8, 2013
Photo taken after six days.
Here are your contestants:
Doug, 7 days
John Roelli, 14 days
Walt, 16 days
Hubbard, 17 days
Gordon Milligan, 20 days
Brygy, 24 days
Toasted Tofu, 28 days
For the record, I would have guessed 28 days, which looks now to be more of a wish than an estimate. As I tell my sons, an estimation is not a wish. If you consistently under or over estimate, you’re wishing.
It’s good that I’m doing this. I really need to get a handle on use. I estimated the large pile I built up over the summer would last 3 to 5 months. Not a very precise estimate.
It looks like it’s going to last about three months as I didn’t start using it until the middle of December. Until then I was cutting weekly loads because I had time and the weather was nice.
Thank you to our contestants. I’ll update again within a week.
February 1, 2013
How many days to burn the row pictured? The dimensions are about five feet tall, by sixteen feet long, by sixteen inch logs. This is about eighty percent of a cord of wood which is 128 cubic feet, the industry standard for firewood.
It’s mostly dry oak, although it was rained on the day before I took this picture. And now another winter storm has dumped snow on it, but it still burns well.
You can look at this old post for hints. Also notice the changing color of the lawn.
I’ll start burning this row February 1st. You have a week to guess in the comments. The prize for the closest guess is negotiable. In the past I have given gift certificates to Kiva, and meat. Good luck!
I hope my old friends guess. I also hope some of the newer visitors will guess and introduce yourself. Ever since Bruce King put my blog on the sidebar of his excellent blog, I’ve had more international visitors.
Bruce raises chickens and hogs on some highly fertile bottom ground in the state of Washington. He also recently purchased a confinement dairy farm.
Click on this link if you want to read more about my Outdoor Wood Boiler. Below is a photo of the ash pan. That is the amount of ash after two days, which is about how often I remove the ash.
September 1, 2012
Frank, with his horses.
Frank is another set of eyes, checking on my fall-calving cowherd. He lives in the house which is situated near the middle of my rented pasture.
His yard protrudes into and is surrounded by the pasture on three sides. When he has his morning coffee on the front porch, he is checking my cows.
For me to check my cows, it’s a mile ATV ride. And if I get there at the wrong time, and they’ve gone into the woods for shade, I’m out of luck.
One day in August I only counted eleven cows. The next day the same cow was missing. I asked Frank to keep an eye out for her.
I started walking the woods looking for her. The woods is a jungle, pictured below. I realized, crawling under Multiflora Rose brambles, that the cows hadn’t even explored the whole woods.
I spent two days combing the woods looking for the missing cow. Frank rode his horse where he could, looking for the missing cow. I started using my nose, figuring the stench from a decaying animal would lead me to her.
On the fifth day, 949 nonchalantly walked out of the woods with a little black calf and rejoined the herd. At that point, I realized I can’t micromanage. Frank and I just count. We’re at seven black calves now.
August 1, 2012
I started cutting wood in July. I woke up one cool morning after the heat broke, and went out in the woods and started cutting. This might be the year I have all my wood cut before the snow flies.
I only cut dead trees which are down. If you don’t cut and split the wood, it will start to rot. Rotting isn’t terrible, as many critters make a living out of decaying trees, but I figure it’s also a good way to heat my house. If I cut into a tree and its started to rot, I leave it for the critters.
I bought a new splitting maul, pictured. I don’t know why I scrimped with my old one for so long. This one works like a dream. It’s an eight pound maul made by Task.
July 4, 2012
This is the 4th set of Independence Day corn photos. Shepherd is my model this year. He’s wearing his bike helmet because we were driving the ATV to take these pictures. Here is 2011, 2010, and 2009.
The corn looks remarkably well considering the lack of rain and heat. The pastures and yards are all brown. If the corn tassels soon, and tries to pollinate without rain, yields will be significantly reduced.
The top photo shows corn I planted on May 11th on the rye field. The bottom photo shows corn I replanted June 3rd. My next post will tell why I had to replant and what I want to change for next year.
March 4, 2012
I’m back to cutting wood hand to mouth. It’s ok though. I had enough cut and split to get through January and February. Next year I plan on having more than enough for the entire wood-burning season by December 1st.
After using the outdoor wood burner for two seasons, I wouldn’t recommend one for most people. It isn’t as simple as chucking in wood and forgetting about it. It takes some fiddling, and it’s always asking for more wood.
Pictured is my tractor. I bought it last autumn. It’s a 1981 Deutz 7807. It has 78 horsepower, which is just enough for grinding feed, the most demanding horsepower job on my farm. I bought it from a dealer who sold it new. It has 4500 hours on it and I paid $8500 for it. I like it so far.