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Farm For All - A Journal Of Sorts

 
pioneer
Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
151
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Oh, and consistent irrigation in the chicken yard is starting to pay off. It's not much, but things are starting to germinate. I should have a replacement clamp for my scythe by the end of the week. There are lots of grasses and things drying down all over the property. They'll not only make a great mulch to help hold in moisture and help things germinate, but it'll also add additional seeds to the seed bank and help this area revegetate. Two years after this area was cleared, it's still more bare soil than vegetation. And that's the problem I'm be working to address over the next season, because not addressing it has proven untenable. Baby steps.
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It's a small start, but it's a start.
It's a small start, but it's a start.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
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Had a lucky find today. Friend ran me into town to grab some supplies and on the way back we ran across an estate sale that was just giving away anything that they hadn't managed to sell. Sign literally said "if you can haul it, you can have it." Was able to grab lots of various tools and odds and ends. Pliers, screwdrivers, files, screws, nails, a box of heavy duty casters, 2 500ft spools of gigabit cat5 (you know, for if we ever build a house and get decent internet out here). A 4-gallon backpack sprayer, which is something that makes me nervous not knowing what's been used in it before, but which looked brand new and was worth it for the price. Even a space heater, heated blanket, Wii, old D&D handbooks, and hookah (complete with shisha.) All in all, I probably made it out with what would have cost several hundred dollars to buy new. I think my favorite find was a nice Japanese pull saw that just needs a handle. That's something I've been wanting for wood working for a while and haven't had the resources to buy one.

I think the only thing I'm bummed about is that a woman was loading up a miter saw as we were pulling in. There are lots of projects I've wished I had a miter saw for, and it hurts to know that I missed a free one by mere minutes. Those things aren't cheap.

All in all, it's nice that I was able to grab some tools and resources that will help get jobs done out here and it didn't cost me a dime. And kept stuff out of the landfill.
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Posts: 24
Location: Harlan, Oregon Coast Range
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Just got caught up with your posts. Good stuff Mat!

Also, what a lucky find, that estate sale. And lol at the hookah ;)

Can you elaborate on how you're raising azolla/duckweed? What's the source of nutrient in the water?

I think if you put basically any kind of thing around the aerator, like a tube of window screen or even hardware cloth -- just something to help keep the disturbance localized, that might help. Also, you can get air tube metering devices for cheeeeaaap at the aquarium store. Or heck, even the right binder clip to restrict air flow might help.

Your rooster is very handsome.

 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
151
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Andrew Sackville-West wrote:Just got caught up with your posts. Good stuff Mat!

Also, what a lucky find, that estate sale. And lol at the hookah ;)

Can you elaborate on how you're raising azolla/duckweed? What's the source of nutrient in the water?

I think if you put basically any kind of thing around the aerator, like a tube of window screen or even hardware cloth -- just something to help keep the disturbance localized, that might help. Also, you can get air tube metering devices for cheeeeaaap at the aquarium store. Or heck, even the right binder clip to restrict air flow might help.

Your rooster is very handsome.



Tobacco isn't my first choice of vices, but after 16 months of not being able to indulge any vices, I'm not one to complain about whatever shows up for free. And it's a nice way to meditate.

The duckweed has not been successful yet. When I checked on it this morning a lot of it was turning white, which I suspect is probably a lack of natural lighting (since I wanted it close to the chickens for easy feeding, but that ends up keeping it in the shade most of the day.) Could be a lack of nitrogen, but I don't think that's likely. Could also be a pH issue. In any event, I've completely drained the pool and I'm moving it to a spot where it'll get more natural light and I'll give it completely fresh water until I can figure out the nutrients. It's one of those things that should be impossible to kill, but I have a history of killing things that are impossible to kill, so... 🤷🏻‍♂️ Been trying a combination of nettle tea and urine. Could be too much salt. I'll just start with nothing and work up from there.

I haven't played around with aerating the water since that first attempt. Not sure I'll be able to now, since moving the pool to where it can get light means I won't have protection from the elements or easy access to electricity. Still want to experiment with it, but focusing on the basics first before I really try to dial in production. Gonna need a much bigger area to produce the amount I need anyway. I've been toying with the idea of using ferro-cement to create a shallow basin to grow it in. We'll see. Have also been thinking about a ferro-cement container for the black soldier flies as well. Just gotta figure out what makes the most sense as far as time, cost, placement, and materials.
 
pollinator
Posts: 483
Location: SE Indiana
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I'm just getting caught up on this topic, might have missed something but have thought about some kind of fish in your tank?

White Cloud Mountain Minnows might make a home in an unfiltered outdoor tank. They are small, breed easily, eat mosquito larva and would provide the nutrients the duckweed needs. They are also cheap, if you can find them, sometimes sold as feeder fish. Some aeration would probably be better but as long as you kept the population from getting too out of hand it might work. They are also quite winter hardy even if the surface freezes.

If they took good and turned into a breeding population the extras might make a nice high protein snack for the birds.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
151
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Have been thinking about fish. That is a common way to add fertility. But you generally have to have some kind of barrier between the fish and duckweed otherwise the fish will eat it all. And I was thinking about fish as a snack for the chickens. (I mean, to be fair, I imagine I'll end up with tadpoles if the bullfrogs can get up there... and they'd eat the fish/provide fertility themselves.) At this point I'm really just trying to get it to live before I invest a lot of time and energy into it and then I'll start playing with variables. Ultimately I'll want 50+ square feet of production, and maybe more, depending on what yield looks like. I at least need to be about to dry down enough to get my breeding flock through the concert months. Theoretically the pool I'm using right now could feed 14 birds at peak production, but I don't even know if I can reach peak production in our climate. But yeah. First step is to get it to stop dying. Artery that I'll work on getting it to thrive. Need to go check on it and see how it's doing after the move.
 
Mathew Trotter
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Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Scythed almost a quarter acre today. This is the first day I've been able to scythe since I lost the set screw to the bees the other week.

The irrigation program is proving useful. Grasses, clovers, and various "weeds" are filling in all of the bare soil that's persisted since the property was logged. The seeds are in the seed bank, they just haven't had sufficient moisture to germinate and establish. This will give me material to chop and drop, thus jump starting soil improvement. Even the weeds have by and large been unable to survive this drought.

To put it into perspective, I went into the city with a friend to help pick up furniture the other day, and all of the long-established Doug firs along the freeway were dead or dying. And that's not including the patches of ground that were literally burnt.

Every 1% organic matter increases the water holding capacity of the soil by over 20,000 gallons per acre. This is why getting a chop and drop/grazing rotation has to proceed a focus on vegetables. It isn't about fertility. It's that even the weeds and well established trees can't survive 6 months of drought. Weak, heavily inbred vegetables have no chance.
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About a quarter acre scythed this morning
About a quarter acre scythed this morning
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Grasses, clover, and other various "weeds" popping up
Grasses, clover, and other various "weeds" popping up
 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
151
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Gophers killed my last zucchini. The whole garden is officially dead now. Ask me again why I'm not growing a garden next year.
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Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
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monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Onward to new adventures.
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Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
151
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Just documenting die off from the extended drought. It's bad and getting worse.
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Mathew Trotter
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Location: Oregon 8b
151
monies dog forest garden fungi foraging homestead
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Ugh. Finally got zip ties to mark the chickens and brought them in for their first official weigh in to discover that I'm down a pullet. There was one Wyandotte pullet that kept finding a way to escape and she finally paid the price for it. Not sure what got her, but probably a hawk or owl.

It wouldn't be so annoying since I don't want escape artists in my flock and she was already on my list of birds to fill, but I didn't have any pullets to spare. Now I'm a bird short for my breeding program. Had plenty of cockerels to spare, and even though I'd prefer not to lose any of them, at least that would have just been a matter of losing out on a bit of meat rather than having my whole breeding program fucked.

Frustrating. This isn't a breed that's common locally, so getting a replacement is going to be difficult. I set up an alert on Craigslist to notify me if somebody lists one for sale, but that'll end up costing me a third of what the rest is the birds combined did. More likely I'll have to place a whole new chick order, or piggy back off of someone else's. Unless one of the feed stores can special order Columbians.

Most of the pullets weighed in at the mid-400 to mid-500 gram range. One of the Black Australorp cockerels was a whopping 707 grams.

In somewhat better news, I'm starting the second pass over the thistles with the scythe and dropping a scatter mulch over the top. The mulch is a mix of grasses and other various species that I'm collecting from the valley that drains into the pond, and thus has had enough moisture for something other than thistles to establish. The grasses have mature seed heads, so not only will they hold in moisture to help vegetation establish in the "pasture" but they'll also help seed the area with desirable species for feeding the animals. I'm also looking at collecting tree hay to supplement the rabbit feed over the winter. I think I might do mixed species bundles since there's a lot of disagreement about which species rabbits can eat and in what quantities. I'll at least be able to collect maple and willow, which most sources agree are safe for rabbits. I'll have to see what other species I can collect along the creek and figure out which ones can actually be fed to rabbits.
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Chicken weigh in
Chicken weigh in
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Starting to lay down scatter mulch over scythed thistles
Starting to lay down scatter mulch over scythed thistles
 
Mathew Trotter
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Posts: 538
Location: Oregon 8b
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Crisis averted. Found this little shithead wedged so tightly between a board and chicken wire that she couldn't get back out. Only reason I found her at all is because I knocked the board over while I was adjusting the chicken wire. She ripped all the feathers out of one leg struggling against the fence, and she's about 60-80 grams underweight, but she's otherwise alive and well. I've got her separated for the moment with her own feed and water so she doesn't have to fight the other birds for it.

I got out early this morning and pulled the Buff Orpingtons off the roost to weigh and tag them. Turns out that they're all underweight relative to the breed standard. Never would have known without putting them on a scale; am those feathers make them look way bigger than they are. I'm going to cut their layer feed with some grower feed to help them put on some more weight, plus see what I can scrounge up for treating parasites. I still have a suspicion that crappy hatchery genetics are part of the problem, but I want to cover all of my bases and see if I can't get some more weight on them. Time will tell.
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Alive, if a little skinny
Alive, if a little skinny
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