Good observation and forward thinking. Yes it is a concern; but is a concern for all Ag enterprises. One of the principles of the new pasture management systems is to have a living crop/root on the land at all times. This protect the soil, feeds the biology, and cycles nutrient. In a year round growing cycle, it is possible to have a cash crop, hay/straw crop, etc...; but the key is to also let a cycle grow just to feed the soil. Remember, the soil is just dirt without the biology that manufactures the nutrients to feed plants. As long has you have dirt, you will not deplete the raw goods necessary to grow. However, you need the 'factory workers', in the form of soil biology, to do the work of conversion. That is your limiting factor. The microbes, fungi, and biologics are the 'active ingredients' that will not be depleted, if you feed the soil as part of the yearly rotation cycle.
It is a very big issue, one that traditional and industrial ag, are just now responding to, after losing organic matter, fertility, and soil loss for a century. Many believe the issue is what created the North African desert, and other low fertility places that in antiquity were much more productive. If left unaddressed, it is a very destructive process.
As a replacement for straw, look to bamboo fiber. By soaking and pounding bamboo culms, one can harvest very long, high tensile strands of organic fiber that are renewable, inexpensive, and high grade binding agents for cob. As far as a replacement for straw into gardening, one can grow in place all the material that will be re-cycled back into the soil that grew it.
C. Letellier wrote: ... Problem is spark control. Likely the welder will want to encase the area in fire control blankets to keep sparks from other things.(special blankets or just damp wool blankets) He will also want you where you can watch for any sign of fire for the first 24 to 48 hours. ... Expect procedure.
Damn, now there is a thoughtful informative post! If there is no apple forthcoming, I don't know what warrants. I did not even think of OSHA 'hot work' standards or requirements. 'Fire Watch' is a pain in the butt, but necessary precaution. Well detailed and explained.
Do I understand correctly, this is a cast iron stove? A good welder can do cast iron repair with Silcon Bronze rods. A small crack should be no problem to someone familiar with the material. You may need to call around a bit; but you should be able to find someone in your area. Getting someone to do a mobile repair might be harder, which means lugging the stove into their shop. Can it be moved?
I have not tried this plant, yet; although it is on my spring planting list to experiement. http://petcherseeds.com/pigeon-pea/ According to this source, pigeon pea will make a crop on as little as 30cm of rain, once established. If anything can make it through your summer, this would be it. It has a deep taproot and is a legume. Again, I can't yet personally attest to it efficacy; but may be worth more research for your situation.
Plant lots of cover crop with deep roots. Let the plants do what they do, deep till and scavenge for nutrients and moisture. Popular plants are comfrey, turnips, alfalfa, hemp, bluestem, etc... Any root mass will combat the cattle compaction on the surface; but there are many plants that will drive deep roots through hard pan to start the process of opening up the sub soil. I agree that you don't want to damage the tree roots. However, a "once to get started" deep aeration may be in order. Get familiar with how a subsoiler works. It opens up a single channel, deep, but does not overturn the soil. Make a determination on where the root mass is primarily concentrated and sub soil between the rows in the safe zone. At least then you will have some aeration to the microbes in the orchard to start the process of decompaction. The manure, if free from chemicals from the feed, will do a lot over the roots where a subsoiler is unadvised. Wood chips would be better; but I imagine in short supply in your area.
The trees are already through the hard pan. They are not surviving, even with drip irrigation, on 8-12 inches of soil (20-30 cm), so they have pushed through where they need to. The rest of your plantings, will they need more than 30cm of soil? I ask for two reasons. Getting water deep in the ground on a macro scale is a positive thing. However, if you poke holes in the bottom of the bucket, how does the water make it back up to the plants above the hard pan when it is needed? If the soil structure below the hard pan is not conducive to the capillary action that will wick the water back to the plant, it may be great for the water table far below, but your plants won't benefit unless you are pumping it back to the surface, something the local gov't may restrict. Just a thought.
The other reason is a foot of soil will hold a lot of moisture given enough organic matter. For every 1% increase in organic matter in this zone the water carrying capicity increases by 16,500 gallons or roughly half an inch of rain on a per acre basis. So if you are getting an inch of rain a month (per week?) an increase of 2% organic matter will hold all that in the top 30cm of soil without making it a pond. Uncompacted humus will act as a sponge and absorb and expand as it hydrates rather than ponding or running off. If you can make the top foot of soil a sponge and hold your rain event without having to drain it deep into the water table, your plants will be better off. (for reference: http://www.agriculture.com/farm-management/conservation/boosting-topsoil-quality_556-ar42674 )
Unfortunately, they are not true to type if grafted. (that may apply to native as well.) That is why it is good to find a vigorous native that came from seed itself for the best chance; and then graft your cultivar that you desire to healthy native stock. But there is no telling what the grafted scion would produce as root stock. It may be the best hybrid ever. Pecans take 5-7 years to start producing nuts, so it is a gamble though.
Joseph has more experience than I do and gives you good advice. I would add that planting too deep (for any seed) is the primary reason for germination problems. The old rule of thumb is no deeper than 7 times the diameter of the seed. If your buddy plows make sure you level out the ground and firm the seed bed; or it will be easy to get too deep. Also plowing deep will disturb and stimulate seeds (weeds) that you would rather not have compete with your crop. It may be worth considering lightly disturbing the row you will plant; perhaps with a hoe or rake. Then coming through with a planter as above.
That sounds like a great project and a unique opportunity. There are a bunch of videos and information on the web about grafting that will be helpful when you get to that stage. The 4 way or banana graft seems pretty straight forward. Keep us informed as this develops. I would be very interested to hear about the progress.
The western Cascade foot hills is pretty good soil to start. Don't know how much improvement you will see; but it will certainly never hurt. Wether a forage crop of grass or a harvest crop the compost will improve the soil.
I forgot to mention, the reason for marking the contour lines oneself, most contour maps have a fairly large elevation change between contour lines. My property has a slope of about 40 feet (12 meters?), which is the contour interval of the topographic maps published for my area. On a map it looks level, but it is not. Even a 'flat' piece of land has some contour, even if it is measured in inches of slope. Hard to see with the eye, much less a map, but water will surely follow that slope.
If you are doing any kind of water harvest or pacification, you will need to know even small gradients of slope across your land. A map will not be nearly accurate enough for what we do. The best way is do it carefully yourself.
In traditional ag or farming they have a manure spreader. It is a trailer/wagon with a 'spinner' that turns off the drive from the ground wheels. Think of a large spinning lawn fertilizer with a really big hopper. They will spread manure spring or fall depending on what is being grown and weather conditions.
So yes, one can just spread it about as they can. The more even the spread the better the distribution of nutrients, but it is an imperfect science (you are going to have clumps, but the more even the better.) It can be tossed with a pitch fork, slung from the back of a wagon, sifted through a drag harrow, etc... You can do it whenever you like, but some crops don't like too green a manure. Depending on your crop it may be better to let it over winter, so it mellows and does not burn the plants. Myself, I am not a proponent of a field left 'idle'. I think a cover crop every season is a must. Pick a time when you have slack time in your planting rotation, plant a cover crop (green manure), fertilize with your compost, and plant a cover crop right in it. So yes, whenever it is convenient and won't slow the growth of a crop. By fertilizing the cover crop and then mulching the cover crop before next planting, you get the benefit of both manures/compost.
What are you browning in the pasture? What time of year? Can you mulch, then plant a winter clover or annual rye? What are winters like where you are?
Gravity is what it is. Everything always goes down, unless it meets some resistance. The only way it will travel according to your diagram, is if it hits a impermeable layer and there is less hydraulic pressure (drier soil) from the uphill side of that layer than the downhill. There is a capillary action that can wick moisture against gravity because of the surface tension of the water, but it is a small effect. Once the water is in the ground, it will move to the low pressure zone. Uphill will normally be higher pressure due to water pressure exerting down force by farther up slope. But there may be isolated 'pockets' where the uphill pressure is lower.
Are you looking for seeds (pecans) or seedlings? If you are looking to plant your own seed stock to graft to later, one can walk the public spaces (forests, streams, parks, courthouse lawn (?) ) and find native stock. Once these are a year or two old, then the graft wood can be attached. I have a few good sources here in Texas for seedlings, but shipping may not be ideal. There are other good sources closer to you. You may want to contact folks on this list and discuss your needs and/or concerns with chemicals.
If this is a DYI project to ensure purity of root stock, I would find an area of undeveloped riparian area or wood lot that matches your soil type. Spend some time walking looking for native trees that thrive in that soil. Harvest all the nuts you can and start them in a prepared bed to graft later. This was my plan; but to keep my ag exempt status, I need to place the trees much sooner than I can grow them. So I am working with one of the companies on that list to get a combination of root stock and grafted starts.
Always open to discussion on pecans as that is my focus right now. Care to share your project?
One can survey the land themselves easily. There are many discussion here and elsewhere on the web of " A Frame " contour mapping. The water level or " Bunyip " is another effective tool. There are also many videos of how to use the newer rotating laser levels. All work on the same principle. Pick a spot, find spots that are level with the original spot, mark and repeat. Soon the contour line takes shape. The A Frame and Laser level are one person operations. The water level usually takes two. All can be done for under $500. Much cheaper than a surveyor and accurate enough for land shaping.
Why would clearing land be "environmentally irresponsible", especially to an "extreme" degree? I could understand if you were talking about clearing say, Central Park, the last green space in a extensive urban environment; but the Pine Barrens are not short of habitat, green space, or vegetation.
You are replacing one ecosystem for another, albeit managed, ecosystem with an orchard and garden. It is expensive. But it is also a negotiating point. People with wooded lots love to use the comparison of the more expensive developed property in their area. Only natural. But a smart buyer calculates what a property would be worth in finished form, adds up the cost of all the work and infrastructure to get it 'perfect', subtracts that from the comp; and that becomes their opening offer. Sellers don't like this, because they think their little slice of heaven is every bit as good as their neighbors. However, THEY don't want to spend the money to bring it to the same standard. Doing the math helps them be more reasonable.
One idea for affordability, if you are committed to this area, is to get good at clearing and preparing land. Buy a small lot. Clear it, either by hand or rent equipment. Put in lights, culvert and a water source; perhaps even a septic system. Then sell it for a tidy profit and move up a category. You are building equity, while learning the skills to make your (bigger) place a reality. There are many people, much like yourself, that want to buy a piece of property; but don't know or want to develop it. Become the broker of their dreams, while you build equity to realize yours.
I do speak from (limited) experience. I could not afford what I wanted. I started small. I found an area that had almost completely undeveloped lots. I went into the tax records and contacted people to see if they would be interested in selling. I found a bunch of folks whom were either overwhelmed by the task or disillusioned by the dream. I bought 5 lots. I started clearing. Here are a few things I learned. Dozer operators want way too much money to tear up my land. There are better heavy equipment choices that can be hired or rented, if you are willing to learn how to operate them. Time is money. A pro might be able to do it faster and cheaper than you can if you are renting equipment you are unfamiliar. However, it can be done by the 'average person'. You should check out a "skid steer" with a land shark attachment.
In my area, I was quoted around $1700 a day (not bad); but they did not want me to pick it up, due to the weight; even though I have 14K gvwr trailer and a 3/4 ton truck. They wanted to deliver it and pick it up - to the tune of $500 each way. (I think somebody had a brother in the hauling business.) It is the second best but most reasonably priced option for equipment rental.
A forestry drum is the absolute best, but prohibitively expensive. BobCat said, "yes", they had one for rent. But the minimum was a weeks rental at $10k a week, including delivery. I only have two acres not a forest. That is maybe a couple hours work for this thing. A dozer operate was half that price.
I tried a few other options from rental companies; but with limited return on investment of time and money. What I have finally found works best for my situation (a couple of acres and trees in the 4-6 inch range and lots of underbrush) is a rotary brush cutter and a shredder. The brush cutter is like a circular chain saw. It whips through stems as you walk with no bending over to get to ground level. Once a big patch is cut; back the shredder into the clearing and start feeding branches and small trees. A brush cutter purchased is less than $300. A shredder rented from a local tool supply company (or big box) is less than $100/day. Once the stuff is on the ground, you will be amazed at how many tons of vegetative matter you can run through a 6 inch chipper/shredder in an hour.
It is time consuming, but worth the investment to get a rough property into shape on a tight budget. Hope this helps.
Waller County Texas (an hour NW of Houston.) Burleson County Texas (Central Texas, last checked 4 years ago.) Greys Harbor County Washington. (Pacific Coast, Olympic Peninsula.) Just my person experiences.
I have sharpened bone before. Word of caution: wear a good mask. Don't breath the stuff. Animal product in your lungs leads to some very serious 'bad juju'. Like mineral dust and other non dissolvable fibers, it can give you long term health issues; but it can also lead to some nasty infections. Guys whom knap or shape bone for arrow heads have learned the hard way to take every precaution to keep from breathing bone dust.
Most post and beam strawbale construction does not use the bales for support. There should be no issue pulling it out and starting fresh, as I would recommend. Eastern WA has a lot of straw producers that can bale to your specs. 1000 psi is needed as I recall. The structure, roof, and exterior is where the value is. The straw is nothing more than natural insulation. (Straw bale can be structural if done correctly; but tends to be more expensive than pole construction.) Did they stucco right onto the straw for the exterior? I would still start fresh. Critters in my walls would not interest me, if for no other reason than mice=snakes. Having rattlers in my house is a meridian I am not willing to cross. The good news is you likely won't find mold in the low humidity of that part of the world, especial if left unfinished (breathable) on the inside.
Concerning clover and other small plants, I do have some grassy places that are being smothered via used carpet, I think I might be successful in sowing into those bits after the carpet is removed.
But, I still want to know, is sowing into woodchips a viable strategy?
I don't think it will. Clover, being a short stemmed plant, will likely not be able to get above the woodchips; and will not receive enough sunlight. The chips would have to be 2 inches or less(?) for this to work. Just a guess.
I hate to be the messenger... Couple of things to keep in mind. In WA state as of 2009, if you don't have an existing, producing well, then you won't be able to do it legally. It seems the State lost a class action suit brought by existing water rights holders that too many well permits were being issued. The Courts agreed and a moratorium was placed on new wells or even using existing wells that could not document usage before June of 2009. I learned all this disturbing info while looking to buy property on the Eastside recently.
The 5000 gallon a day exemption for homes has been closed for now. There are water banks still available in some counties, but you have to buy into them and get a permit. Very bad news for WA. I ultimately walked away from my plans to locate back to the state based on this development. Hope you have a better situation and can access water.
36 acres is a lot of fence! And no small budget. I don't envy you. About 10 feet between t posts would be about my limit, if I wanted to keep cows out. 11 is close enough, but you may want to add additional later. How many stands? How strong is the browse pressure outside the fence compared to what you are protecting? Cows won't push through a fence without a reason, but the better your side looks compared to what they are feeding will determine how much they lean on or through your fence. 4 strand minimum. 5 better. Go 6 is they absolutely have to keep out. Once they can get their head through, they can push through wire if they are hungry enough.
When you use the old Roman method, how do you establish your azimuth without line of sight. I am curious. We had a discussion on premies recently about this very topic.
Man that is a rotten deal. I am so sorry to see you get shafted like that. Is the house mobile or on a foundation? Where are you looking next? Hopefully somewhere without codes. Hope the situation takes a turn for the better somehow. I sure hate to see someone actually making it, get the rug pulled out from under them.
Help an old man out, it has been many decades since Chemistry 101. Have you run tests on small amounts of the caustic soda and nitric acids to see what they yield? Caustic=basic (high ph) and Acid=acidic (low ph). I am wondering how much they will neutralize one another and what will remain as the product of the reaction. Also may want to test those to together to see if it is a exothermic reaction that may need some additional precautions.
Overall, I think it is a good plan to separate the two waste streams, until biology has done its thing to the human waste. I am just not so sure how bad the other will be to a leach field at all. The idea of overflow into a stream ruffles my delicate sensibilities; but don't know your laws and regulations. Do you have any waste heat from the brewing process to evaporate some of the aqueous solution? Better to handle a chemical in a solid state than liquid. Cheaper and easier to contain.
From what I am reading, and pardon me if I wrongly assume, you are thinking of irrigation systems in a commercially available sense? At the risk of sounding flippant, a hose with holes poked in it is an irrigation system that works under 2psi. I think with the low pressure, you need to step back and think in terms of low tech solutions. Drip tape or other simple irrigation would work if you incorporated a solar powered solenoid or timer on the outflow of the pond. Set the timer and walk away. 2psi of water would be slow drip but water will always seek its own level. LLDPE tube can be had for about 6 cents a foot. You would have to establish your drip rate at the far end of the hose and reduce progressively the number of holes as you traveled back up the system to keep from drowning the near end and dehydrating the far end; but with a little empirical trails, one could get a very cheap irrigation system set up that is pure gravity flow. A very small solar panel system would provide more than enough current to open and closes a small valve. Also a little 30 gallon per minute solar 'pond pump' might be an option.
I am not a cattle breeder, yet; and don't have all the answers to your questions. However, here is my opinion. AI is expensive. It is usually justified when breeding for top genetics and travel to the bull with your cow is prohibitive. A bull is an expense to keep; but it is necessary for calf production. For a small number of cows to service, there are other options. You can make arrangements with a breeder near by to 'lease' a bull. Kinda like AI, but no labs or vets. Just have him do his job and go. You can purchase a bull then butcher a bit later, although taste might be a lower quality than a steer or heifer. Bulls might be had for the price of a steer, if you develop a rapport with a breeder and he understands you are not looking for confirmation or genetics, as you are raising beef for your table. All ideas to consider. Another thing to consider is 'sharing' a bull with a neighbor. Two or three cows is not much 'work' for a bull. If you had a neighbor or two, whom also wanted a Dexter Bull's service, split the price; and sell or butcher afterwards dividing the offset.
I can speak for the project beyond their website is still up. If you are looking for a place, this is good land. I own about 2 acres a little south of Millican. Good soils, good rainfall, mild winters (even by Texas standards.) It would be worth exploring. What are you looking for in a property? (size, location, livestock, crops?)
I missed this when it was originally posted; but am curious myself. I am stacked up today with a project, but will ask around later in the week to see what can be learned.
I recall someone on here making an excellent point about nitrogen fixers here on permies a while back. They pointed out that EVERY tree can be a nitrogen fixer, if you allow beans to use the trunk and branches as a trellis. I thought that was an excellent 'outside the box' suggestion.
For a bush, look into Seaberry trees. I believe they do well in the north. What zone is Quebec? 4? I am not familiar with that end of the spectrum. Don't forget Black Locust trees and cut/pollard/trim them to the size you want; and let them copice.
I would recommend (and am considering for myself) Irish Dexter cattle. They are a 'small' breed, but not a miniature. They are a dual purpose breed, both milker and beef producer. They are fairly docile and easily gentled. They require less pasture (due to size) as well as less forage per pound than more traditional breeds, as reported by breeders. The beef is considered slightly higher quality having a fuller more robust taste. The milk is high in fat, good for butter and cheese production. Finally, there is a decent market for club calves if you are near a FFA or 4H program. The smaller size and gentleness make for an attractive option for a smaller person and feed cost are lower.
The price you pay per calf will be slightly higher than other 'range stock' calves; but the value, especially on one or two animals, is the easy of handling and feeding. You will pay anywhere currently from $600 to $2000 for a female depending on age and weight. If you want to stay on the lower range, it will be a younger heifer; but that only means a few extra months on your pasture before she can be bred. A bull or steer can be had for $400 to $1000, unless someone is selling genetics. Then the price is going up; but breeding a show herd does not sound like your focus.
To the rest of your question: I would start with a steer if you are unsure of the commitment to cattle. You can raise him to beef and process him. If it worked well, buy a heifer calf (or two, you have more than enough rotational grazing space) and ask them to be 'exposed' by the breeder after purchase. (Turn the heifers out with a bull when the time is right.) Then you can have calves every year. If you are processing for beef every year and not building a herd, you might even buy a bull, as long as he is not covering his own offspring. (bad genetics.)
If you are willing to plant a winter forage crop (a good idea for green manure, nitrogen, and cover crop) you could possibly graze all winter without supplement. (I don't know how hard winters are in zone 6 Kentucky, but look into planting winter wheat, oats, turnips/radishes, or other winter crop in your fields. Otherwise, as the article mentions, a couple of round bales per head and maybe some grain if you are milking would be the only thing they need other than pasture; and 8 acres should be plenty.
Looking for a discussion of mesquite as source wood for making biochar. Anyone use it before? Things to be aware? I have just put a contract on some land that had been very overgrazed two years ago and some length of time before that. The pasture is now full of young mesquite. The soil is damaged, but not eroded, thankfully. I can bring it back to life with some love.
Traditional wisdom holds that one does not want to cut mesquite out of a pasture because of the vigorous regrowth. I am thinking (in permaculture the problem is the answer, right?) the regrowth is exactly what I want. Cut what is standing and burn it for char. Spread this over the pasture. When the regrowth appears continue to cut and char. When I am ready to be rid of the mesquite, I will have depleted much of the energy stores in the roots, and will be able to come back in with a tall legume, like Sunn Hemp, and shade out the weakened mesquite. By then I will have had lots of mass in char and legumes to recover the soil; and no chemicals to kill the plant.
My question is around mesquite as a char source. Thoughts, experiences?
You have (for common reference to most sources) a 2 foot wall at the base and about 10-11 inches at the top. From everything I have read that is plenty. You should not need to use a post and beam construction for the roof. However, a good 'bond beam' around the top will go a long way towards the longevity of your wall, for cob or any other material. The bond beam could be horizontal posts embedded in the top several inches of wall. How are you planning to attach the roof to the wall?