When bin #1 was full, bin #3 would be forked out into a small trailer. Bin #2 would then be forked into #3 and then #1 would be forked into #2. Then the whole process would start over. We kept daily records of weight of morts added and daily temps using a dial thermometer with an 18" probe. #2 was generally about 20 c cooler than # 1 and #3 would be about 20 c cooler than #2.
The front of the bins have removable horizontal slats so that the composting material can be forked straight in from one bin to the next without much heavy lifting. We started out with moldy straw that had been the growing media from a commercial mushroom farm. Early on we had some pretty nice mushroom harvests from # 2 and #3. After a couple years we switched to old bedding straw from the Vet Tech program on campus because it was much closer to the fish hatchery, the mushroom harvests ended after that.
We would often mix the #3 compost in the trailer with dried fish manure before giving it away to local gardeners. It was very popular stuff, probably still is.
I'm outside for a good portion of every day year-round. I have found that not wearing sunglasses from about mid October through February really helps me to avoid the winter time blues. Only rarely if there is snow and bright sun will I put them on for a while.
Looks like a great starting point to me. How high will your storage space be? Is there pretty convenient access from your house? How far apart are the walls? I look forward to following your progress on Permies.
I have noticed crews of sagebrush seed harvesters along the highway south of our town in the fall. They harvest in an area where the sagebrush seem to be especially large and bushy.
They have large cloth bags which they hold the seed heads over and then beat on the heads with tennis rackets. Towards the end of the day their pickup trucks are piled high with these bags that resemble giant pillows. I don't know how they separate the chaff from the seed.
There was a huge fire (90,000 acres) in the hills and mountains near our town this past summer. Much of the burned area is now being seeded with a mixture of sagebrush, bitterbrush, and other native plants. This is important winter range for Mule Deer and they are going to be in trouble, especially if it is a harsh winter.
About 10 years ago I dug up 4 small (6") sagebrush plants, leaving a coffee can sized ball of soil around the roots. I took them home and planted them on the bank of the irrigation ditch in front of the house.
They really took off and within 4 or 5 years they were bushy and taller that me. Small sagebrush were popping up around the original plants and everything was going great. the neighbor's hired a "lawn care" outfit to tend their yard and the sagebrush got sprayed through the chainlink fence that separates our yards. The plants were about 3' from the fence but were sprayed anyway. All the plants but one tiny one died. I complained to the neighbors about it and the "lawn care" people denied everything. The survivor continues to grow but isn't thriving, I think it is being shaded out by trees now.
I dug up 2 small sagebrush from southern Utah and planted them in the middle of our yard 3 years ago and they are doing pretty well. They are definitely a different type than the ones that are naturally occurring around here.
I took part in a Rainbow Trout mort composting project using a 3 bin system built from pallet wood at the College of Southern Idaho Fish Hatchery in the early 90s. Each chamber was approx. 1 cubic meter. We kept daily records of the weight of the morts added. Each day's layer of morts was covered by about 10 cm of moldy straw.
It was interesting to see how bin #1 would fill to halfway in fairly short order and then take much longer to fill all the way up from there. The pile would really start heating up once it was half way and it would just kind of collapse on itself and start to decrease in volume even as we added morts and straw. Temps of 60c to 68c (140f to 154f) in the center of the bin were quite common once the system got going.
The smell could be intense if the morts weren't covered sufficiently with straw.
By the time the material made it through bin #2 there was no evidence that it was composed of about 80% dead fish by weight.
There was always a waiting list of people who wanted the black earthy smelling compost from bin #3 once it cooled down.
The CSI Fish Hatchery still composts the morts, 25 years after the research project ended.
I have been unsuccessful with my several attempts at growing Pistachio trees from the nuts that I gathered late last fall. I sent nuts to a couple of Permies who requested them but haven't heard what their results were.
This past Thursday (July 30) I visited family in Logan and also took 5 small cuttings from the largest tree. I'll try to get the cuttings to sprout using Lauren's technique.
Interestingly, even though the cuttings were immediately put in water, the leaves had turned crispy dry by the time we got back home to Idaho about 4 hours later.
Some years ago I helped a friend repair some bullet holes in his 500 gallon blue plastic water storage tank. We had to cut a round 24" hole in the top so that we could get inside. Once inside we smoothed the 1/4" bullet holes flat with a rasp and sandpaper. We then cut some 3/4" round pieces from a Tupperware bowl and taped them in place over the holes with Gorilla Tape. As far as I know they are still holding with no leaks. The hardest part was making a tight fitting cap to cover the 24" access hole.
There was a local cricket farm featured in our newspaper about a year ago. According to the article it was producing 2,000 lbs of crickets a week, to supply protein powder for human consumption. I'm not sure if the 2,000 lbs was live weight or dried wt. The crickets were being raised in a greenhouse that is heated with geothermal water. Haven't heard anything about it since then.
In our garden there are cutworms crawling around above ground at night. In damp conditions they are more numerous. They chew seedlings and small transplants off about 1/4" above the soil and then consume the toppled plant. I have observed this behavior by flashlight.
Earwigs are also out at night eating the newest growth on seedlings.
The cutworms and earwigs hide under the cardboard that we place in the garden. During the day I turn the cardboard over to expose the hiding cutworms and earwigs. It doesn't take much to give the cutworms mortal wounds with my crutch tips. The earwigs run for it and are harder to kill. I don't hurt the centipedes and fast beetles because they are predators.
We try to be judicious with our use of diatomaceous earth to avoid injuring predator species.
In our garden we sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the plants that are coming up from seed.
We use inverted paper cups with the bottoms cut out for cutworm barriers around small transplants along with diatomaceous earth.
Cutworms do their damage at night and hide in the dark during the day. Placing cardboard flat on the ground in the garden will provide cutworms with places that they think are safe, but are not.
It is difficult to see the whole flow with the snow in the way.
I'm guessing it might fill a 5 gallon bucket in 5 to 7 seconds.
60 seconds/minute divided by 7 seconds times 5 gallons would be 42.86 gpm.
60 seconds/minute divided by 5 seconds times 5 gallons would be 60.00 gpm
Is your family on board with a more permie/self sufficient life? If so, there must be some kind of side-hustle you all can work. Maybe some kind of off the wall niche crop, or something that could be harvested from forest, swamp, creek, river, or lake, or maybe a product that you could make? There is probably someone in the area who would let you use their land if you demonstrated that you would take care of it, improve it, and pay the taxes. Any neglected orchards or small farm plots, or buildings that you could rent cheap?
In any case, gaining experience in something that really gives you a reason to leap out of bed in the morning will go a long way towards making the "starting all over again" thing a fulfilling adventure.
Get thrifty. Boosting your savings to a lot more than a weeks pay will give you peace of mind and provide options when the road gets bumpy or the right opportunity comes along.
I agree with Jen. If you are "starting all over again" do you have to do it in your present location?
There are opportunities for people who are willing to move to a place where they can prosper.
You didn't say much about your family situation, other than you are in your in-law's basement. What are the "cards" that you need to play right to improve your lot in life? Are you tied in some way to the Detroit area?
Many people thrive with land that they don't own. In the end, do we really own land anyway?
Our homestead is on .40 acre in a residential neighborhood in the city.
Our aquaculture farm is on .25 acre of rented ground several miles away in a rural area but next to a large industrial complex (municipal wastewater treatment plant)
Our small farm is part of a very large property that has an artesian geothermal well and a large clean cold spring. Some of the water from these two sources gravity flows to our farm site in underground pipes. We are able to adjust the flow and temperature individually in 30 large fiberglass troughs. I think a situation like this with natural soft warm water and clean hard cold water at the same location is very rare. It has been the ideal location for our farm.
Occasionally there is a background odor from the facility but it is not as strong as the occasional odor of the composting manure from our animals.
It is a quiet neighbor, with clean well kept grounds, friendly personnel that keep our road plowed in the winter, and they don't mind the loud bellowing from our animals during breeding season.
I retired in 2015 after 26 years of teaching college. My career provided a decent income, medical insurance, lots of rewarding interactions with students and with colleagues in my field, and a nice pension. I loved my job and looked forward to going in every day.
During that 26 years my wife and I also had our own small farm project where we worked to develop American Bullfrogs into domesticated farm animals.
I still marvel at getting paid every month not to work. In a couple of years I'll start taking Social Security (it goes up about 8% every year that I hold off).
Now I'm just a small time farmer and farming experimenter.
My wife is still working in education and enjoys it.
We've been debt free for a long time.
We were in Cache Valley today, Jan 19th, and went by to look at the Pistachio trees just for the heck of it. At 9:00 am it was sunny, 11 degrees F, and about a foot of snow. It has been a relatively mild winter so far.
For years I've carried a 24 page 3" X 4.5" waterproof paper notebook in my shirt pocket. I'm in Aquaculture and wet conditions are the norm. Even when it's soaking wet, I can write in it with a pencil or an all-weather pen.
I think of these notebooks as my indelible memory. I'm on my 7th one now. They have made a great difference in how I operate my farm and they have definitely helped me make money.
Riteintherain.com item # 971FX-M.
A simple book that got me started on a profitable small farm/business is:
Small-Time Operator...How to Start Your own Small Business, Keep your Books, Pay Your Taxes, And Stay Out of Trouble! By Bernard Kamoroff, C.P.A.
Another book that gave me inspiration is:
Farmers of Forty Centuries....Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan. By F.H. King
I'm from Cache Valley. We had to move away in 1988. My wife and I visit family in the area regularly. I saw the photos here several years ago and being from the Valley, it took us about 10 minutes to find the trees on our next visit. I have visited the trees about 10 times over the years. I've seen them in winter, spring, summer, and fall. One tree in particular (the biggest one about 50 yards away from the others), usually had lots of flowers in spring and lots of fruit over the summer. Every time I went to check for nuts in the fall they had all been picked. I don't know if it was animals or people. There were usually lots of broken open shells on the ground under this tree, not so much under the other trees.
This fall the tree had nut clusters up in the very top branches. It looked like all the easy ones had been picked. I'm crippled, but with some effort and by not looking down (the tree is perched on the brink of a 250' bluff/almost cliff), I was able to gather about 200 nuts. I took the husks off 10 nuts and cracked the shells and 8 appeared to be good, very tasty, and I didn't see any worms.
Here at home we have a lot of places with similar habitat, I plan to germinate some this spring and see if they will grow. I've given away about 40 nuts to friends and plan to keep about 40 for my own use.
So anyway, I'll give some to Permies if they want them.
I am probably the slow one here, and certainly don't understand all the ramifications of a keeping an organic garden in balance. I just had trouble understanding how planting something that attracts more aphids and squash bugs to a garden in order to attract the predators of these troublesome insects makes sense.
Unless the bad insects find the lure plants more attractive than the crop you want to protect. Which I think is your point,Bruce.
Reading these forums has provided me with a lot of useful information.
I hope this isn't sidetracking your subject here.
How far down would you have to drill to hit hot water?
I think there is a geothermal aquifer in your area.
The property that we rent a tiny portion of has an artesian geothermal well that supplies enough water at 102 degrees f and I think 160 psi to run a fairly large hydroelectric generator at the well head and then gravity flow through Tilapia raceways that produce up to 250,000 lbs of fish a year.
I have experienced Native American inspired sweat lodges that got the job done. They didn't have a fire in them, just a small pile of really hot stones that had been heated on a bed of coals outside the lodge.
I had a small donkey named Emmy when I lived in Logan in the early 70s. She carried all of our gear on numerous extended pack trips in Southern Utah. She would jump right into the back of my old Chevy pickup truck when she knew we were getting ready for a trip. We made 2X4 side rails to keep her from falling out and modified some ski goggles to fit her to protect her eyes from the wind. We could put all of our gear for a 10 day trip and Emmy in the back. She was always careful not to damage our stuff or hurt the dog on those long pickup rides.
When I moved away, I gave her to the next door neighbors. She loved their eight kids and they were so happy to have her.
I've read some wonderful suggestions from a good number of Permies who want you to become self reliant and successful.
I think some specific info about your situation would go a long way towards me offering specific advice to you.
Many of us here started with nothing or even less than nothing and have built something worthwhile.
I suggest you post an extensive resume so that the Permies can better understand your situation and offer informed advice. There are terrific opportunities in small farm and cottage industries for people with ambition, skill, and perseverance.
Grasshoppers can see quite well. I wonder if the boys had access to a clear net or maybe a green or tan net if they could increase their harvest with the same amount of work.
When I was a kid in Northern Utah, large flocks of turkeys were herded in the hills west of our town. The turkeys foraged on bugs and plants. In mid and late summer they gained weight fast by eating grasshoppers and Mormon Crickets.
Turkey ranching has gone by the wayside. The grasshoppers and crickets are still there though.
In my experience; people for the most part, who contact you offering to feature/review your products aren't doing it to help you. They are doing it to increase their own following/income, or to use what you have developed to go into business against you, competition.
Way to go lior. You set some goals.
You are building cred and gaining knowledge and skills.
Your second post shows someone who has gotten serious about earning respect and becoming useful to yourself and to others.
What ever happened to lior dahan? This person asked for advice on a subject that may be relevant to quite a few people. Some Permies responded with well considered and sincere replies/advice. Lior may have ditched out but I think some others may have benefited from the experiences outlined in all of the earnest well meaning answers. I think this may happen quite a lot, someone asks for advice and is never heard from again but others with similar questions may get the answers and the direction they need.
What type of fish live in the water source? The more edible types that are naturally occurring would probably be the best for propagation. Are the ponds set up for harvesting fish? If not, then cage culture may be the best way to go. To grow large numbers of fish, you'll need to provide at least some supplemental feed.
I have done a bit of research on commercial eel culture. Yes, there are profitable eel farms. They are a much sought after food item in several countries.
I haven't found any instance where they are spawned in captivity. Somebody may be doing it and they are keeping quiet about it. I wouldn't blame them, elvers or glass eels or baby eels are one of the most high dollar aquatic animals there are.
Eels are a catadromous species meaning that they migrate down rivers to spawn in the sea, as opposed to anadromous species that migrate from the sea up the rivers to spawn (salmon). Anadromous fish are routinely spawned by people for commercial purposes, catadromous species not so much.
This means that baby eels must be captured as they migrate up the rivers and then sold to eel farmers for grow-out. Some states have a glass eel season. They are tiny and see through, thus glass eels.
I have no problem with this practice as long as their capture is controlled and regulated by qualified Biologists.