Artie Scott wrote:So, I don’t feed any more bread to the chickens. Anyone else feed bread to their chickens?
Mine never got bread, but they ate dog food for years, and did spectacularly well. Concrete eggshells and chickens living past 11 years old.
Then I had to switch brands, and several promptly dropped dead (no symptoms, just came up dead). Had a suspicion it might be the soybean meal (some in the new, none in the old). Didn't seem to affect the roosters, tho, only the hens. And most were fairly old chickens.
I just sift out the weevils. They're harmless, and you eat a whole lot of their eggs and larvae without realizing it, because as someone noted they're always in flour. If you shake whole-wheat flour you may be amazed how many shed pupae cases floof up to the top, looking a lot like bran. If the flour starts smelling musty, it's probably time to give it up and get new flour.
But other things to do with tired flour...
-- make dog treats or pig treats (I suppose goats would like 'em too)
-- make glue-on-demand or Papier-mâché
-- use it to soak up grease or motor oil
-- use it to rub off label stickum or peanut butter
-- use it as janitor's sawdust (floor sweeping compound to pick up fine lint and grit that wants to blow around) -- you can re-use it til it starts to clump up
-- substitute for cornstarch in dry shampoo (doesn't work as well, but good enough)
-- fling it into the wind and enjoy watching it poof up and blow away (something downwind will eat it)
Someone mentioned old cake mixes... I've found they keep more or less forever. I've rediscovered a case of forgotten cake mixes that were over 15 years old and still perfectly good (and as waaaaaaaay out beyond supertaster, if they were at all bad, I'd notice!)
When I moved, and had a zillion small breakables and gods know how many swag T-shirts to pack, and that lifetime accumulation of hand towels and socks... I looked at that and said, why should I scrounge up packing material, I already have more than I can use!
Socks are perfect for glasses and cups. T-shirts and towels went between glass plates and other breakables, and down into box corners. And took half the time to pack since it was a continuous twofer.
And on the other end there was far more of "Oh, THAT's where it is!" than normal...
For many years in Montana I heated a 21 foot travel trailer with a sheepherder's stove (miniature cookstove -- cast-iron top but the rest was sheet metal). In the way of old trailers, it had thin walls and very little insulation. The stove had a firebox about the size of a large shoebox (IIRC it was 6w x 8h x 16 inches). The pipe went out the wall (replaced a window) and had two right-angle bends, and the cap was about a foot above the roof. Heat circulated around the stove's oven before going up the chimney, so it was fairly efficient for heat transfer (the main flue rarely got really hot). Quite good for cooking and baking.
In mild weather I burned deadwood, construction scrap, even bones and rolled paper (tho that's a pain to keep lit). This was all free salvage. Riverbanks always have lots of standing deadwood. Cottonwood is my favorite as it burns steady, has high heat value for its weight, and leaves almost no ash. You can bank cottonwood down for an overnight fire without making a lot of creosote; other woods will gunk up your chimney unless they're burning fairly hot. Don't burn bark if you can avoid it.
In cold weather I burned coal. This requires a wood fire under it to start it, but once it's started going to coals, it can be banked down for an overnight fire (a banked block the size of your head burns about six hours). The quality of coal heat is much better than wood heat -- the same temperature feels much warmer. The main drawback is that it's extremely dirty, the smoke is to gag you, and about twice a year I had to open up all the littte stove accesses and one of the pipe elbows, and shovel/scrape out the accumulated ash and residue. Coal smoke makes a ton of deposits -- not flammable but really a pain since they grow like fingers on every surface the smoke passes by. On the plus side, strip-mined bituminous coal is cheap; only cost me about $100/year to keep my trailer as warm as I liked. I could easily keep it 80 degrees in there even when it was -40F out. (Once it got below zero, wood couldn't keep up.) Actually the main problem was that it tended to be too warm (and every so often would wake me up by getting more enthused than necessary, but you can throw water on it and slow it down without extinguishing the fire). Burning coal in an open firebox is a black art in more ways than one.
And of course there was the year all I could get locally was crappy lignite (no good for this kind of stove, won't stay lit and has poor heat value) so had to trek all the way down to the mine in Wyoming to get good coal. (Tho it was free for the picking from the side of the road.)
The trailer came with built-in propane heat (a fullsized wall furnace, not the kind they have now) and that was untenable. The propane furnace had to be turned all the way up to keep it halfway warm, and it was very expensive considering how small the space was -- required about 15 gallons per week. And that was with fully adjustable flame, much less costly than they are nowadays with the flame that is only ON or OFF. (For comparison, when I lived in a Real House in the SoCal desert, I once figured out that my wall furnace, at far-cheaper bulk propane rates, cost me $3 every ten MINUTES.)
I did use the flowerpot-on-the-propane-cooktop trick for supplemental heat in mild weather; that uses very little propane and is no more unsafe than cooking with it. But freestanding unvented propane heaters in an enclosed space will kill you.
If I were doing it today, I'd probably use one of those woodstoves the size of a large overnight bag, with a flat top suitable for cooking, and heavy cast-iron sides; Tractor Supply sells 'em for about $300. They can burn wood or coal and the firebox is big enough to take reasonably-sized wood. My neighbor had one of these and used it to heat about twice as much space as I had (but also with no real insulation), and man was it toasty in there. Too big a stove in such a small space and you'll have a lot of trouble with keeping a good fire going without also roasting yourself. Mine was about as big as necessary for coal; could have been a little bigger for wood. (Cost me $20, so no complaints.)
As to the uninsulated metal walls -- as is that's going to be impossible to keep warm. You need to insulate it on the inside any way you can, and outside block the wind as much as possible. Corrugated cardboard and sheet styrofoam on your inside walls are both excellent for the purpose. Old mattresses, blankets, and pillows also work well. Pretty much anything that covers the wall and traps a layer of dead air will work, and you won't spend all your wood heating up the outdoors. If your flue sticks up a foot or so above the roof, and you anchor it with a bit of wire, wind won't be too much of a problem (at least it wasn't for mine, and I lived in a high wind area, 40mph steady with 60mph gusts not uncommon. It was on the downwind side of the trailer, which probably helped.)
Last place I lived in the trailer, I piled straw bales all around it. That's a common trick for folks in old trailers here in Montana -- so long as the straw stays dry, it's excellent insulation. (Wet it still insulates, but it molds.) But if you're burning wood be sure sparks can't hit the straw -- it can smoulder for weeks before it suddenly decides to make flames and go WHOOSH. If you're in a more permanent situation, dirt works great. Doesn't even need to be a thick layer. I think ideally I would put plywood in a lean-to arrangement, and pile the dirt against that -- that way you don't have moisture against the walls, and there's a big dead air space.
Now I'm an old fart and live in a real house just like a real person, but when I was a young'un, I thought my little trailer was the bomb, and loved the idea of turning a shipping container into a house. Do come back and let us know how it goes!
Pearl Sutton wrote:A picture off the net I have had for years, don't recall where I got it from...
This is what I dream of!! :D
Wow, that's really cool!!
Only problem I can think of is for fruit that turns loose of the vine when it's ripe, like cantaloupe -- would fall down and break open. But a few hanging baskets/buckets hooked to the trellis would solve that problem (at least at the small scale). Or a suspended tarp. Anything so it doesn't go SPLAT.
I never lack for twine, but that does sound like a good use for bindweed... occurs to me to wonder if it might be used to make a fine-textured weaving, like fine rattan. Of course it probably wouldn't have much strength after it dries, but it's fun to think that the durn stuff can be useful.
Last year my bindweed got the creeping crud -- developed holes in the leaves and little black spots, then after a few days the whole plant would turn brown and crunchy, and pretty soon all of it that wasn't climbing on tall grass had died (and much did not come back this year, either).
After some consultation with the county extension agent, we determined that the 'culprit' was golden tortoise beetles. (Two different species.) These look like little gold ladybugs. One species is very shy and freaks out if it sees sunlight; the other doesn't care.
Pearl Sutton wrote:It's also strangling grass where it's on the ground.
When I had the man-eating spaghetti squash -- looked to me like the tendrils actively sought out and strangled competing weeds. Pretty much did away with bindweed and mallow foolish enough to grow underneath it. Left the corn alone, tho wove between the rows.
Rez Zircon wrote: stock panels on cinder blocks (laid flat on the blocks), to get the squash plants completely up off the ground.
That's interesting!Wonder what goes on under the panels as far as bugs, rodents and weeds... Hm.. Might try that. Thank you!! :D
Had the same thought, but the biggest panels are 5 feet wide. Leave enough space to work between and at cinder block height, you can rake out underneath to keep it from being colonized. Squash will shade out weeds well enough. -- Pallets would probably work well too, and are piled up free most places (please, take more!) so long as they're not resting on the ground to make damp spots.
Must not be zucchini's year. I planted seeds twice and none came up. Broke down and bought one, and tho the plant looks healthy, it never grew (it's still as small as when I got it in June) and tho it produced a few male blossoms -- that was it. And I haven't seen the usual bags of homeless zucchini roaming the streets, so maybe it's a general thing. Not enough sunspots? wrong magical incantation?? a cure for zucchini poisoning???
Conversely the adjacent acorn squash is trying to take over the world, and has about a dozen big squash on it (not yet ripe). On the other side, the cukes have done well off and on tho gave up early, and the canteloupe has 3 or 4 fruit (netted up but still oblong so may not beat the frost). Feral watermelon (originally a sugar baby) has several fruit in progress (mostly large for the variety); domestic watermelon has just one, a bit small for the variety. Crenshaw melons and spaghetti squash didn't come up at all. So for vine fruit, this year has really been a mixed bag.
In my experience, given opportunity just about every squash but zucchini will climb all over everything. (This year I had a watermelon I had to discourage from climbing the back fence.)
Here's a trick I once saw: stock panels on cinder blocks (laid flat on the blocks), to get the squash plants completely up off the ground. Needed some initial guidance but once they got bushy the plants wanted to stay on top on their own. Didn't need to provide anything to climb on, and with central support, stock panels are strong enough for anyone to walk on (especially if you get the kind with 4" squares -- very stiff). I might overlay it with 2" chicken wire to make sure young fruits don't dangle below.
[This year I made tomato cages from stock panels -- five cages from a $40 panel -- and it's the first thing my killer tomatoes haven't been able to demolish.]
So I slice them fairly thin, season them liberally (garlic, rosemary, or whatever sounds good) and put 'em in the dry heat until they're somewhat shrunken but not yet stiff... at this stage they're cooked but still juicy, tho most of the water is gone. Then shovel 'em into quart freezer bags, press 'em flat for good packing, and into the freezer they go. Five gallons of fresh tomatoes reduces to less than a quart of thick but ready-to-use sauce, with minimal effort..
When you're ready to make sauce, what steps do you do next?
Nothing -- so far I've just used 'em straight out of the bag!
Mike Haasl wrote:On a related topic I found a Nesco roasting pan/oven at a thrift shop today and got it for $6. Should be an easy way to cook down sauce without heating up the kitchen. Assuming I do it outside...
I have one of those... I use it all the time. (Throw in random meat and veggies, go away for an hour or two, and it's food.)
Brush the inner pan with olive oil and nothing will stick to it. Otherwise it can get kinda crusty, even tho it's a nonstick surface.
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I suspect that I'm a super-taster. To me, tomatoes that are pureed with the skins on are nigh inedible. I sure know that the skins are there!
I'm that way with apple peels. No can swallow. Body is sure they're toxic waste. (I'm waaaaaay out the far side of supertaster....) Don't like tomato skins either, but have found if I process tomatoes in the food dehydrator instead of cooking them down for sauce, the skins are less of a problem and I can usually eat them.
So I slice them fairly thin, season them liberally (garlic, rosemary, or whatever sounds good) and put 'em in the dry heat until they're somewhat shrunken but not yet stiff... at this stage they're cooked but still juicy, tho most of the water is gone. Then shovel 'em into quart freezer bags, press 'em flat for good packing, and into the freezer they go. Five gallons of fresh tomatoes reduces to less than a quart of thick but ready-to-use sauce, with minimal effort.
Well, at least the ones I manage not to eat straight out of the dehydrator. :D
I have a ridiculously excessive number of tomatoes coming this year... must figure out how to adapt this for the cherry tomatoes; rough count on four VT100 vines was over 2000 fruits in progress. I don't know how you even pick that many, other than whack 'em with a stick so they fall into a basket.
I have a tool very similar to the above weeding tool, except with a long handle.. it started life as a hoe, but the weld was bad and the blade came off. I've actually used the resulting long-handled hook more than I ever did the hoe. Tho a bigger hook would not be amiss.
I'm not sure heat bothers young potatoes much. A week ago I planted some growthy potatoes that I'd forgot about (they already had baby tubers going), and they're leafing up nicely, even tho it's been pushing 100F here. (The ones I planted in early May are about done, for the most part.) I'm going to try an experiment with these and leave them in the ground over winter, and see if being so late they'll keep for spring digging.
Treated potatoes will sometimes eye up, start clumps of baby sprouts, and look like they plan to grow, but it doesn't happen. If you let them sit for a LONG TIME (I've seen it take over a year!) sometimes they will grow, but don't put them in the ground before they get good growthy sprouts -- they'll just rot.
Actually, oaks shed toxins that inhibit other plants. Native scrub oaks seem to be the worst for this -- nothing grows under them at all, whether it gets sun or not. I used to live on a place that was about equal parts weeds and oaks, and it was really amazing how the ground under the oaks stayed bare dirt.
Tim Kivi wrote:I have a rotten tree stump that breaks down more and more each year. I planted an apricot tree right next to it and it’s now the healthiest, strongest tree in my yard. I pull the tree stump apart each year as it rots, and now found apricot roots happily growing right through the whole stump.
I've seen stumps full of roots too. There's a stump in my yard cut down to ground level and there's apparently a competition among the weeds to see who gets to dominate the stump.
Don't recall if anyone mentioned it, but one other thing to be cautious about: sawdust from treated lumber. It can kill everything it touches. We have a finishing mill here that produces an infinite amount of both fresh and mulched sawdust, and it breaks down very fast, but have learned not to use it in a garden -- plants do poorly or won't grow at all, and whatever they treat the lumber with (probably a fungicide) apparently lasts a long time, even after the sawdust has turned to mud. Very unlike sawdust straight from the tree trunk.
So it's that time of year again... got the garden dug and the tomato seedlings started...
....oh. Here's these true potato seeds I saved. Very small but plump, so they look viable. The parents are reds, russets, and maybe a Gold, all descendants of grocery leftovers, randomly mixed by the simple expedient of forcing one flower to rape another.... some purple to purple, some white to white, some purple to white, and possibly a pink in the mix too. Anyone have thoughts? advice? warnings? rants?
Oooh. Interested in seeds when you get extras -- I prefer sweet and fine-fleshed (not fibrous), and also need that bit of frost hardiness. I've never grown sweets, but regular potatoes do well here (couple years ago we got some the size of your head). Zone 4a, more or less; sandy loam and fairly dry.
Drown in butter and generously apply lemon pepper... mmmmm......
Mk Neal wrote:For a fascinating description of traditional Hidatsa methods of growing, processing, storing, and cooking the "three sisters"and other native crops, read "Native American Gardening: Buffalobird-Woman's Guide to Traditional Methods." by Gilbert L. Wilson, Dover Publication 2005. This is a republication of a 1917 University of Minnesota bulletin titled "Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation."
That's the fanciest literal "strawberry bed" I've seen - love it!
Old swingsets make good instant A-frame sheds or greenhouses.
I have a junk trailer that someone 60+ years ago cobbled together from the front end of a 1940s pickup truck and a metal bedframe, and a scary screw-on hitch (oddly, it uses standard modern truck rims). Ugliest thing you ever saw but I've used it with some mighty heavy loads, and despite looking like a hillbilly reject, it just keeps on working. Tho being it was sized however the bedframe dictated, it's kinda weird... just over 3 feet wide by not quite 7 feet long. Tows great (I pulled it all the way from SoCal to Montana at 70mph), but won't back up at all (have to unload it, unhook it, and back it by hand, otherwise you end up picking it out of your taillight). And how'd I get this trailer? Someone threw it away! :D
Count me in as "hates tools that don't last" ... and actively on the lookout for made-in-USA...
As to Fiskars: starting about 15 years ago (per what I saw, maybe longer), they began offering two product lines:
-- original made-in-Finland, still top class
-- copies made-in-China, about as "good" as you'd expect
For a while I'd see them side by side in the store. The Chinese version was about half the price of the Finnish version.
And oh lordy, buckets. Get me started on Chinese and Mexican metal buckets. Grrr....
Thomas Dean wrote:The dog food ones that are solid plastic I use to "shingle" chicken coops, etc. I lay them out like shingles, with broad overlapping sections and use a staple gun to hold them down. Not sure how they will hold up long-term exposed to the elements, but I have a set that have been out for almost a full year. I've also tacked them up inside of the barn to make it more wind-tight.
I used to use them as quick-and-dirty rain gear. When I rode a bike I kept one rolled up under the seat, with holes precut for head and arms -- worked fine. I suppose one could cut and sew 'em into a replacement for the ol' plastic raincoat; some of those bags are extra thick. They're actually woven plastic fabric with a plastic coating, so they're pretty flexible, functionally waterproof, and very strong.
But as exterior roofing... I've done that, and they'll take about 3 months of strong sun (or about a year if you have some winter/overcast), then suddenly go friable and fall apart, and then you have a tangle of weak strings, and white powder that just disappears. I'm thinkin' it might be cellulose-based plastic.
Kc Simmons wrote:Very curious to know what exactly a beer can roof is... Sounds interesting. I don't drink any kind of beer, but I have managed to save a decent collection of soda cans over the last year from my family & myself that I wouldn't mind recycling here on the farmstead, if possible...
When I had chickens they ran around loose full-time, but in the desert what they could forage was not enough. So I used to buy chicken feed. Then one day I ran out and didn't get around to going to the feed store for a couple weeks. So I gave them dry dog food, stuff that comes in small pellets. (Boy howdy, does that make strong eggshells.) After that, they wouldn't eat chicken feed anymore. It was hilarious -- I tossed down a can of chicken feed and called them for breakfast... they came running in the usual way, started to peck, stopped short, and all stared at me like "What's this shit??" And the boss hen tried to spike me. Okay, I can take a hint...
So they ate dog food forevermore. And the ones that didn't meet with misadventure lived as long as 11 years, and tho the older ones didn't lay daily anymore, they'd still raise a couple clutches of chicks every year. (Their real job was eating baby rattlesnakes and stink beetles, so I wasn't too concerned about egg production. They were descended from Mexican fighting cocks, not from layers, being whatever random flock culls came my way.)
I'd previously fed dog food to my pigeons and ducks, so this wasn't quite the novelty it may seem. Dry dog food is basically animal protein and grains, so why not?
Thank you! for some reason I couldn't make it come up, or looked for the wrong keywords, who knows. Sure sounds easy. I'll try this next spring, when my creeping juniper gets the creeping crud, and see what happens. And on the American elm if it looks like it's got something going on again.
And I see I've got horsetails over in the small ditch, so hey, now I'm prepared! :D
lisa Bud wrote:This year I followed Bryant RedHawk's formula for a horsetail brew that you use as an anti-fungal spray on fruit trees. It worked astonishingly well. Even the varieties that are wholly susceptible to CAR were saved.
I had not heard of this -- do tell? Horsetails grow around here so should be able to find some... the CAR doesn't seem to bother my scraggly apple trees, but the creeping juniper is loaded with it, and it's all over the neighborhood. I want to plant some better apples so would be good to be prepared!
In other odds... I have two American elms come back from stumps. (Wasn't clear they weren't Siberians til they got past the young sucker stage.) The smaller one appears to be infected with something that makes a few clumps of leaves dry and crunchy, but doesn't really seem to bother the tree much. The bigger one is perfectly healthy, so far. Anyway given Dutch elm disease is basically fungal, I wonder if that horsetail brew would inhibit it too. (DED wiped out American elms in eastern Montana, other than a very few specimens -- a nursery here has a huge one they nursed through it.)