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Archive for January, 2010

Equipment Roundup

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment
Old Fashion Hay Rake

Old Fashion Hay Rake

Yesterday, Davie located a hay wagon, sickle bar and  bailer for sale, and before I could say tomatoes, we were off to buy them. After taking a few pictures of the new equipment, I decided to make a post about all of the equipment that we are starting the year with.

 The hay rake above is from long long ago. When Dad was still kicking, we attached this rake to the truck, and tried to use it to collect hay. I must say the old timers must have had a lot more patience then us, because it was very time consuming to use. It worked for a day, and the hay that was cut did not go to waste, but this piece of equipment is retired in my book.

Manure Spreader

Manure Spreader

Above is a Manure Spreader. When I was a child, and saw one of these in operation, I though the farmer was surely mad. I used to think “Why on earth would you deliberatly cover your beautiful land with manure ?”. I’ve since grown up, and I see things a bit more clearly. In the last few months, I’ve shoveled more manure than I ever thought I would, at least 10 truck loads. With a garden the size of mine, I know that manure spreader will save me half of the work I’m currently doing. You see, I can attach the spreader to the truck, drive it  to the manure, shovel it in, and drive home. When I get to my garden, I can flip a lever, and drive the truck. As the wheels turn, the manure will be flung all over the garden. I can’t wait to try it.

An Old Hay Wagon, with Wooden Rims

An Old Hay Wagon, with Wooden Rims

Here’s a very old hay wagon, made mostly from wood, with scarce traces of metal in it’s construction. I was hoping to use this while making hay this year, but when Mom saw it, that plan went the way of Betamax. The wagon is an antique, and Mom now has other plans for it.

Hay Bailer

Hay Bailer

Here’s the hay bailer we bought. With the snow pilled up high, we had no other place to put this, so here it is in my front yard. I don’t mind a bit.

The 9N Ford Tractor

The 9N Ford Tractor

Finally, there is the 9N Ford tractor that Dad bought long ago. He always wanted to fix it up to use around the farm, but in those days, I couldn’t yet see the value of a tractor; Now that I understand, I’ve begun the process. It’s funny how I remember Dad every time I turn a wrench, or fix things around the farm.

Categories: Tools

George’s Pigs

January 30, 2010 4 comments
George's Pigs

George's Pigs

Here’s another post from the other side of the farm, all about, Pigs. 

I love being on this end of the farm due to the sheer isolation. Looking up at the hills, there is no trace of civilization, simply trees, and snow, horses, chickens, and pigs.  Birds and geese flow overhead, and occasionally you will see a plane or helicopter. It truly feels as if the world has vanished, and taken all your worries and troubles with it.

Pigs with Spots

Pigs with Spots

Recently, George has been expanding his herd with spotted pigs, which look quite festive.

Pig Paths

Pig Paths

Inside the fence, there is a pond which supplies drinking water. The pigs have learned to use the  same path, as it’s easier when the snow gets a few inches deep. This particular path leads to the one place where the water is not frozen.

A bit too close for comfort

A bit too close for comfort

Most pigs are friendly, but this one was about as heavy as me, and right in my face. I was kneeling down to get a close up shot of a baby pig when I noticed just how close this big guy was. I clicked off a shot quickly, then stood up.

Categories: Pigs

Thermal Batteries

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Stored Sunshine

Stored Sunshine

Thats my nickname for this setup, “Thermal Batteries”. The barrels and smaller jugs are filled with water, and painted.  Because the jugs are painted black, they absorb the suns rays easier then other colored jugs. This allows them to take in more of the heating affect of the rays. 

Water also holds heat better then air, since water is denser. I have begun to appreciate this affect when checking on the greenhouse. The barrels of water are warmer then the air around them. It was about 20 F today, and the barrels had no sings of freezing.

Im guessing I will need a few more large barrels, and lots of smaller jugs to raise the tempurate to be consistently above 40. 

I’ve noticed a temperature difference in jugs sprayed flat black compared to glossy black. The glossy paint must cause the light to bounce away, as the flat black containers were noticably warmer.

Categories: Greenhouse, Tools

The Greenhouse In Winter

January 21, 2010 3 comments
The Greenhouse In Winter

The Greenhouse In Winter

It took all summer, and a lot of help to finish my new favorite building. I found some really great plastic to cover it with, called Clear Polycarbonate Sheeting. The sheeting worked so much better then I imagined, but at $20, per 8 ft by 3 ft section, it was not cheap. Altogether, I figure I only spent $1,500, for all the building materials. I even found the glass door in one of the farm sheds.

The tempurature hovers about 5 degrees above the outside temp at night, and when the sun is out, it can peak out at 80 + degrees in January. Since I get a bit gloomy in the winter, I like to spend time basking in the sun, sitting in the red fold up chair in the corner. When stepping inside on a sunny day, it’s time to strip down to a t-shirt, and jeans, and this time in the sun tends to trick my brain into thinking I’m someplace tropical…. wooohoooo0 !

I did a search online for heating systems, and found that some people are storing the heat from the sun, without the need for a heating system. The idea is to store the sunshine in a “thermal battery”, which would charge on sunny days. This battery would then release the heat at night, and on cloudy days. The easiest method I have seen is to use barrels of water, painted black. You can research this further at “Topper’s Place“. I’ve started collecting small jugs (2.5 gallons per jug), and painting them black. So far, I don’t have nearly enough water, but I have until March to accomplish that goal.

The smaller building to the left is my small chicken coop. I have six chickens, mainly for eggs, and manure. I really don’t think I could eat these guys, as I’ve come to notice individuality in the small herd. Each chicken has it’s own personality it seems, I even have a “bully” in the heard, that always eats first.

The dimensions of the Greenhouse are: 14ft x 16ft.

Brrr !

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment
A Frosty January Morning.

A Frosty January Morning.

 Brrr !

Categories: General

2010 Tomatoes

January 20, 2010 1 comment
Test Tomatoes

Test Tomatoes

I’ve started six tomato plants; partly as a seed test, to ensure the seeds I’ve saved from last year will germinate, and partly to get a super early jump on the season. I plan on setting them out in the greenhouse around May, each in a large bucket.

Here is a list of the varieties growing:

1.) Cherokee Purple

2.) Cold Set

3.) Yellow Brandywine

4.) Roma

5.) Striped Tomatoes from China, name unknown

6.) Golden Girl

I made my own seed starters. You could buy the Jiffy pellets, but it would be cost prohibative for me to order so many. My seed starters are the bottom part of a styrofoam cup. I simply cut the top two rings off. I also poked some holes in the base to let the water in.

2-5-2010: Updated the photo with a newer one, that shows more detail.

Categories: Tomatoes & Peppers

Rooting Cuttings

January 19, 2010 2 comments
An Elderberry Cutting

An Elderberry Cutting

Seeds aren’t the only way to start new plants, another method is cloning. With cloning, you basically take the genetic material from one plant, seperate it from the donor, and encourage the cuttings to generate new roots.

I have been expirementing with cuttings all winter, with some luck. I started when it was time to prune the fruit trees, and “planted” hundreds of cuttings in my grow room.   There are a few “Jonathan Apples” cuttings that I am very hopeful about.

Some plants are exceptionally easy to propogate, such as grapes, tomatoes and  elderberries; while other plants are exceptionally difficult to clone, such as fruit trees.

The basic steps involved with Cloning are:

1.) Find a good cutting by selecting canes that have several “buds” on them. This is the location when the plant starts to grow out of. Try to get two or three buds per cutting.

2.) Prepare a mixture of Miracle Grow and peat moss, half each in the mix.

3.) Poke the cuttings into the mixture.

4.)  Mix water with a “rooting hormone mix”, and use this solution to water the cuttings. (I used Miracle Grow Quick Start Transplant Solution.)

5.) Mist them. The greatest cause of failure for cloning most plants is lack of moisture.

Here’s why I am very happy today:

A "Jonathan Apple" Cutting.

A "Jonathan Apple" Cutting.

Out of hundreds of failed clones….. This one might just make it = )