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Mick Fisch

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since Jun 24, 2013
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Recent posts by Mick Fisch

As far as a wool mattress goes, I had a roommate once from Uraguay who was telling me his grandparents used wool in their mattresses and that once a year they took out the wool and washed it.

My own grandma told me that when she was young they used strawtics.  Whatever you grew, once a year you emptied out your tic and stuffed it with new straw.  She said it was really thick and glorious to sleep on right after you stuffed it, but by the next fall (harvest) it was thin, flat and hard.  I think I would have set some straw aside to stuff my tick every month or two.  Of course, I've been spoiled.
1 month ago
I'm in newly established in southeast Idaho and trying to convert a 1/2 acre pasture to garden.  I'm having trouble with bind weed (which is a new challenge to me.  I am looking for organic or better solutions to dealing with the bindweed.

I've rototilled (twice at 90 degrees to each other) and that helped initially.

Currently my strategy is hoing it down every few days, figuring the roots will eventually run out of energy if I keep cutting it back.  Not sure how long that will take.  I read it can send roots down to 16 feet.  It's persistent.  I tried a heavy straw mulch.  It loved mulch!  I think it's due to the additional moisture that mulch leaves in the soil.

I'm also trying to water only where my plants are, hoping the hot dry days will discourage it.  Lack of water seems to slow down the bindweeed.

Any suggestions would be welcome.
I had a really ambitious garden plan this year.  We bought a new place last August in a new part of the country.  There was a 1/2 acre goat paddock I declared my new garden plot.  Short growing season.  I started rototilling, etc. early.  Jumped the gun way too early planting and I've been fighting weeds all spring (bindweed is a bitch).  Finally realized I needed to rototill several times at 90 degrees to keep it at a manageable level.  Now I'm focusing on about 1/2 the paddock, rototilling, hoing every few days and letting things bake dry for a while before trying to plant.  It seems to be working.  I will end up with potatoes, maybe a 3 sisters crop, pinto beans, and some of my bush and tree starts have survived and I will be able to get apple and stonefruit rootstock coming back every year.  

I just got buck fever (bean fever?) and started trying to get things in the ground way too early.  you know how it is.  Weather's warm, forcast seems good, and you think "I'm going to go for it!"  My neighbors told me later that no one can get the garden going until memorial day.  Lesson learned!

My plan is to get lots of fruit trees and bushes going in my 1/2 acre and transplant them to the 2 acres I bought this spring behind the house.  

Next year I will do much better.  I will probably make a whole set of new mistakes, but they shouldn't be as expensive as the mistakes I made this year.
2 months ago
Tacosand enchiladas.  I know that is a mexican dish, but in the southwest it has been completely adopted.  

Biscuits and sausage gravy.  Navajo tacos.  Fry bread.  Good smoked bacon.  

3 months ago
My wife has started cooking our beans in a pressure cooler this year and we've noticed this cut the gas significantly.

Also, we've had a few times where we ended up soaking the beans up to three days (changing water daily and putting them in the fridge after the first day).  We did this due to unforseen schedule/menu changes.  The results were much better beans with no gas.  If you live in an area where the temperature is in the 30s, it might be an easy thing to put them in an unheated space.  (Our fridge is usually too full to accommodate a big pot of beans.)
4 months ago
If you want swales and don't have much money i would suggest you borrow/buy a rototiller and rototill the swale line..
Then use a hoe or dirt rake to pull the rototilled dirt to the down slope side to make the swale.  For a deeper/wider swale,  rototill a second time after you have moved the dirt from the first pass.

The steeper the slope the harder to keep on the swale line, but it beats the hell out of shovel and pick work.  (You will still be stiff and ready for a hot soak by the end of the day).
5 months ago
We had khaki campbells for several years, free range during the day and locked up at night.  I was loosing ducks to predators until someone gave me a Rouen drake.  He immediately took charge.  It seemed to me that the ducks were happier overall with a male in charge, but more important, we quit loosing ducks to predators.  The drake was always watching while the others were eating.  I often saw him looking into the woods and then herd the rest into the duck house.  After a little while he'ld come out and check things out and he'd lead them back down to the water.  I watched him one time when a big hawk was around.  He herded the rest into a bit of water in the yard and then got between them and the hawk, spreading his wings and trying to look big and scary.  Eventually the hawk left.  

It seemed to me that when we had only females my golden comet hens seemed to lord it over the ducks in the shared birdhouse(I think chickens can peck harder than ducks).

The khaki campbells laid big, light brown eggs just about every day.  They were really good at finding their own food.  My wife's only complaint was that, since we feed them in the evening, they associated us with food (people = good) and tended to hang out near our back door, which led to a really shitty porch.

I would have one or two go broody on occasion, but they didn't seem like they were very good mothers.  Only a couple of ducklings hatched out and none survived (possibly because the grass was too tall near the duck house and mom didn't wait up for them enough).

A couple of gallons of water in a big dish pan morning and evening were plenty for them to 'bathe' in during the winter or when the 'pond' dried up.

We've moved, and I'll be getting more either this spring or next spring.  (Getting 3 acres into permaculture food forest and mixed perennial and annual garden, so it's a question of what can I get done this year and what has to wait until next year.  Trees and bushes come first).
7 months ago
I think we need to up the goal a little.

A quick google search showed potatoes have a 347 calories/ pound and yields for commercial farms in the US run between 24,500 and 61,000 pounds of potatoes per acre (http://kenoshapotato.com).  Using the bottom yield (24,500 lbs/acre) that would give us a bit over 8.5 million calories/per acre.  

shelled corn yields around 15 million calories/ acre  (average yield in the us is about 170 bushels/ acre, 56 lb/bushel, a bit over 1600 calories/ lb)   170 x56X1600 = 15,232,00 calories/ acre.  (note, when looking up calories for corn, look up dried corn or corn meal.   Sweet corn (not dried) has a much lower calorie/ lb due to the water.  I used calorie data from https://www.nutritionix.com/food/cornmeal/lb).

So, I'm guessing if you planted 1/8 acre of potatoes, 1/8 acre for corn, and 3/4 of an acre for all the cool stuff you want to eat (melon, squash, beans, peas, berries, etc.) you should make a million calories/ acre pretty easy.  (Armchair farming is amazingly easy, no aching back, no bugs).  

pinto beans can make better than 2 million calories/ acre.  (average yield in Idaho is 1500 - 2000 lbs/acre (https://ipmdata.ipmcenters.org/documents/cropprofiles/IDdrybeans.pdf) with about 1570 calories per dry pound).  1500 *1570 = 2.361.969 calories/ acre

Even lettuce can make more than a million calories/ acre (63 calories/ lb, 36,000 lbs/ acre (https://nevegetable.org/cultural-practices/table-15-approximate-yields) for over 2 million calories/ acre.

I'm wanting to try this on my own property (Cache Valley, Idaho) next summer.  I arrived in my new (hopefully final) home last August and am looking forward to planting a HUUUUGE garden.  I'm in the process of buying the two acres of pasture behind me to add to the acre my house is on, over half of which has been goat pasture for many years.  I've ordered 30 red maples (partly just for the color), 30 saw toothed oak and 30 mulberry trees for the coppicing or pollarding on part of the back lot.  Also in the plan are lots of peach, plum, apple, pear and apricot trees as well as just about any kind of berries this area will allow.  I'm hoping to do lots of rootstock with grafting for the fruit trees.

In addition to calories, I would be interested in the variety and quality of food I can produce as well as quantity.  I am also interested in the energy input to raise the crop (both fossil fuel and norwegian steam (muscle).  Maybe we could give extra points for variety and perennial/ self seeding foods that required minimal maintenance.  As far as trees go, for the first few years I figure trees will not take up much space.  As they grow and take up more space, we will have a conversion to more perennials, which is what we want in permaculture anyway.  
9 months ago