Annie Hope

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since Mar 05, 2012
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Recent posts by Annie Hope

I am doing road-side sales in an area that has summer influxes of tourists, and so sales are very seasonal.  I don't want to plant climbing beans and have to pick hundreds of beans a day that won't sell just to keep the plant producing.  I was wondering about planting dwarf beans that if not picked green would could be left to harvest as a dried bean.  

The question is - how good are various dried beans as a young green bean - e.g. Cannellini, pinto, painted / borlotto.  Anyone out there with experience?

The other option would be to pick green beans specifically grown as green bean varieties, and if they don't sell, pull the whole plant and feed it to my livestock (pigs, goats, cattle).  
How safe is this to do in larger quantities?
I have successfully experimented with a couple of oyster mushroom buckets, but now am trying it commercially for the first time on some barley straw I just got cheap by the large bale.

I am wondering what size and quantity of holes is best to drill in my 100 newly purchased recycled buckets.

They are 10l (2 1/2 gallon) and the growing space is 26cm across (just over 10") diameter, and 23cm (9") high.

This article suggests the ideal is 7cm (almost 3") diamter hole:

This articles says that the ratio should be 0.2cm2 / 1cm3    (area / volume).  This is more than the drillable area on the sides of the bucket:
This seems a lot more than the holes that I have made before or seen in pictures on-line.

There also seems a lot of info left out in the articles.  Were they looking at the first flush only, or the total growth?   I have more than enough room in the converted garage to leave the buckets for several weeks to get several flushes before the barley straw is totally spent.

Before I waste months of time and buckets experimenting with this  myself, i am wondering if someone out there has already experimented with hole size and can share the results.
3 months ago
I am looking at growing oyster mushrooms as a combined small business selling the mushrooms, and also providing cheaper stored feed for farm animals.

This article from last year shows that growing oyster mushroom substrate to 30 days increases the energy and protein content and palatiability of the original substrate material.

I also ready somewhere in a non-academic article a few years ago that the spent substrate after harvesting mushrooms is more nutritious to pigs than the original material, but can't find that now.

Does anyone out there know more or have access to a research database through a university to search this out?
4 months ago
Hi, Just went out and milked again about 60 min after previous milking, and got another 100ml or so from her.  I think she is slowly producing as I milk.  If she can keep this production up, then I should get at least half the ideal "10% of body weight" colostrum by 24 hours after birth, and close to the ideal by the end of the day, (30 hours later). I have two more hours / milks to decide if I have to run down to the shop, but I feel more confident.   It is very rich thick colostrum, so lets hope it is also dense in the needed antibodies.
I had thought about putting a message on the local Facebook for milk, but feel the "First 24 hour window" to feed is running, out, and don't know if I will get true colostrum or transitional milk.  It seems the best thing is to have the first the calve drinks to be the very first colostrum.  Tomorrow, I will feel more confident to see if the calf gets hungry enough to find the teats for itself.

We have her in a pen, with a board jammed the length of it against her, so she can't move, and the calf and I can get to milk her.  I have never tried milking a horned cow before, but the mother is amazingly gentle despite the highland horns.  Not one attempt to kick, and her legs are not hobbled at all.  I have been genetically testing the cows, and she is double A2.   If the teats can lengthen or I can buy a machine, she may make a good milk cow yet.  (The calf is a bull, but its father is naturally polled and A1/A2, so it has a 50% chance of being naturally polled, a 50% chance of being double A2, and a 25% chance of being both, which I hope will make it valuable for life-style blocks / home-steaders.  It might just be worth the cold sleep-deprived night yet).
4 months ago
Our Predominately Highland - (1/4 jersey and Possibly 3/16 dexter - depending who fathered her) heifer gave birth to her first calf in the open feild on a winter night.  The father is full-blood dexter, and the calf is about 15kg, which is normal for dexter.

IT was born at 4pm, and took a few hours to get up.  By late night it was following the mother, but not feeding.  It nuzzled the bull, and me, but gave no sign of nuzzling the mother - who would shy away when it go close to her back-end.  It was shivering, so I made it a temporary coat with bubble wrap and tape.

4:00am still no sign of feeding.  At 5:30am, my mother came and helped me run it into a pen, and put the calf with it.  Still no feeding, so I tried to milk it.  

I have milked cows before - including her grandmother - but never a highlander.  I had to cut the long hair to even find the teats, and when I did, they were tiny - worse than a goat. The bags also seems very small and WAY back under her back legs.    I got about 100ml of colostrum by hand milking and feed it with a syringe.  She seemed not to have much more - or maybe she was just holding it up.

The calf can still stand and walk, and strongly resist hand-feeding.  It tries to nuzzle, but I am wondering if there is actually enough teat for it to even latch on.

It is Saturday morning in New Zealand, and farm stores will be open from 9am-noon, and then shut till Monday.  

Unless someone can advise me better in the next couple of hours, my plan is to see what milk there is by mid-morning, and then get a packet of cololstrum replacer, and give it that, and then top it up goats milk if mum is still not producing much.  

I did have colostrum in the freezer for a few years, and then discarded it, and did not think to get some off the goats that kidded a couple of weeks ago.  
4 months ago
Just received them a few days ago, and not sure what to do from here to test them for efficiency.
4 months ago
Olive Oil lamps are found in pretty much all Greek Orthodox churches and home icon tables.   Look at the second row on the left.  It shows the wick.  It is a circle of metal with cork ring underneath to make it float.  There is a hole in the middle, and a waxed wick about 1/2 inch long in put in each time it is lit.  

Some Families light the lamp every easter Saturday night at church and keep it burning all year till next easter.  Others just light it at evening prayer and let it burn out overnight.  Particularly in the later case, it is usual to also put water in the glass bowl as well.  When the oil burns to the water level, it sputters itself out.  Otherwise you have the potential to crack the bowl.

I can tell you from experience that olive oil usually burns clean, but a cheap vegetable oil blend does not always do so! We accidentally bought a 4L tin of vegetable oil blend rather than olive oil, and decided to use it in our icon table lamp. Never done so again.  Much cheaper to buy olive oil than to paint the ceiling of the lounge room because it is black above the icon table from burning cheap vegetable oil.
5 months ago
Hi,  I would be interested in picking up this thread and know what you would recommend seven years on factoring the current costs of micro hydros and deep cycle batteries. We have a rise in our property that would probably just be 3m / 10ft high.

I do have on-grid electricity, but will have a separate solar/wind system I will set up myself, and already have 10Kw battery storage capacity we got for a food trailer.  I pay NZ33 cents  (US 24 cents) per KW.

We are starting a home-based food business, so will be doing quite a bit of early morning baking, and so could use this additional storage on a daily basis for this.
6 months ago
When I read the research carefully, it gives up to 20X of the power output per squire foot of ground space of the collector, not the square foot of the panels itself.  Tracking in two directions only improves performance by 30-45% compared to a typical fixed array (more in summer as the sun has a few hours in the early morning and evening when it is not hitting the panels at all)    I think the tower would probably get less power per solar panel than a normal flat array.   It is made with the idea that the solar cells themselves are only a small part of the cost of a solar panel now.  the metal surrounds, and then the mounting racks account for the majority of the cost.  My own amateur opinion is that this would be good in one of the following scenarios
- If you are building solar panels from solar cells yourself
-  If you only have a very small space to put them on
-  If you often have cloud cover, and want to pick up the sun whenever you can  

It would be interesting to build one of these and to make flat array with the same number of panels and to test them for efficiency per solar panel area.

What the zig zag pattern does do is pick up the sun for a longer time of the day which is important if it is being direct fed into the grid, but if you are storing it in batteries for overnight use, then this is not an issue - over-all efficiency is.  

What does seem easy to make is something that allows the angle to be changed between ideal summer and winter sun, like this one:
It would only have to be changed a few times each year.  
Because we are on the property through the day anyway, and would use a lot of overnight power in summer (getting up early to cook for a small commercial business, and spray irrigation overnight) it might be worth it to look at building a hand-turnable tower that allows us to get the early morning sun and also allows us to adjust the angle of the panels, but this would take quite a bit of time, and it might be better just to put the money into more battery storage.

I have found this solar panel for half the cost per watt of panels here in NZ, and have ordered one to see the quality before i buy more.  It looks like a good option to build into an adjustable frame:
6 months ago