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John Weiland

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since Aug 26, 2014
RRV of da Nort
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Recent posts by John Weiland

Travis, don't underestimate the scheming that goes on in a dog's mind....especially a Pyr. :-)
1 day ago

thomas rubino wrote:Hi John;
Is that a wood burner ?  Very nice looking but very small.
I would think, that with high ceilings you would loose your heat rather quickly.

Have you considered building a rocket mass heater?
You would have to cover it with metal / brick or stone, so the poop can be washed off.
You would need to burn it each day for a few hours at least. But it would release heat the chicks could sit on all night long.

Yes, that is a wood burner.  Small and cute, but not cheap!   The RMH idea or some variation thereof is still on the table.  It's the cost/reward factor that's being considered for that building that I have to weigh during the decision making.
3 days ago
Bumping a thread with a question.

Somewhat weighing different heating options for a new chicken house.  The building is uninsulated wood-frame/wood-steel shell and is about 16 X 12 feet with a 12 foot high peak to the roof.  High steep roof was incorporated in order to have many rafters on which chickens can perch.  I've  considered some kind of thermal mass surrounding a woodstove idea, but also was wondering about just quick one-shot burns that, admittedly, would dissipate fast without the building being insulated.  Being around Fargo, ND comes with the usual winter temperatures....several subzero F. nights and some days of the same. The stove I came across which is often wall-mounted is shown's use for marine purposes but others have used them for cabins and tiny homes I believe.  Any opinions/experiences on the use of this stove for heating small areas quickly?  For size reference, the exhaust port is for 3" pipe.  Thanks!
3 days ago

Trace Oswald wrote:Well, the very first thing I need is a tractor with a front PTO and a snow blower.  My driveway will be impassable without it.  Already this year I slid down the driveway backwards in my pickup and half off the embankment where the driveway turns at the bottom.  We hit a tree with the rear bumper that caught the truck with both rear wheels in the air and the truck sitting on the frame.  Keep in mind it was pitch black at the time, because it gets dark here at 5 in the afternoon.  It was an interesting ride.

Beyond the snowblower, I need a brushhog and/or mower, as well as a bucket and forks.

Thanks everyone for the replies, they have been very helpful.

Trace, depending on your budget, I would check out the John Deere 3-series.  I don't know how long they've been doing it, but they have a front axle now that has a PTO connection.....a shaft mounts between the mid-PTO under the seat up to the rear of the front axle and this drives the PTO splined shaft on the front side of the axle.  The front shaft is what you attach the snow-blower to.   I've seen other solutions for front-mounted snow blowers like hydraulic motor driven blowers and ones that run a shaft all the way from the rear PTO, but this front axle arrangement seemed like a sensible and powerful solution.  If they've been using this for some years, you may be able to find a used one to bring the price down.  I'm still doing the rear-mount blower option, but my body's getting pretty tired of that option.  I have a mid-mount PTO on my 2005 JD 4010, but they said they would not be able to swap out my front axle for the new one.  My Kubota 3200 might have enough hydraulic power to run a front snow blower option, but I suspect such an attachment would be best run with a separate pump and fluid reservoir being run from the rear PTO.  And just a reminder that the LA series of front loaders on the Kubotas also take all of the skid-steer attachments out there....with no adapters needed.  If I need a skid-steer attachment from the local Rent-All, I can lift it off the trailer with the Kubota loader plate and be using it immediately which is a nice perk.
3 days ago

John Pollard wrote:

I've got a small four-wheeler(2wd) that I need to fix up. I plan to use that to check the perimeter fence on a daily basis. The fence goes through the woods. It's got springs & shocks for the suspension.

I wouldn't mind having an electric golf cart for visiting neighbors.

I've had the little tractor for about 5 years and haven't had to do much of anything to it but change the motor oil.

Our little Yanmar is the same way and I can't get myself to part with it even though I have a newer John Deere of about the same size.  Main difference being the hydrostatic drive of the latter along with the front-loader and live PTO.  But the Yanni just won't die and is such a trooper!

A converted Snapper is our "FTV"  -- Flat terrain vehicle ;-)   Finally put a new 10 hp engine on it this fall since the previous V-Twin had been maintained poorly before we inherited it and we did not need it to mow grass.  The small engine is more than enough to power it as a 2wd fence runner.

But my wife is getting up there in years and wanted something more robust for all seasons and so we got the lower end John Deere XUV.  As you noted, tractors are hard on the body when the grounds is bumpy, but the independent suspension of a UTV really smooths out the ride.  Plus, she needed a bed on the back high enough so that the pigs she's feeding can't get at the food.

More to the point of this thread, I've been wanting to get a fixer-upper electric golf cart on which to place a solar-panel canopy.  But it would probably get use for only half of the year in our present climate.  Good to see the number of people using them in rural settings.
Thanks for the extra pics, Travis.  I've been toying with the idea of a shed roof-type structure of with a ~20 X 30 floor plan for equipment and other types of storage, but grew increasingly concerned about snow load.  Your pictures gave me some good ideas of how to maximize open space without compromising roof integrity.
5 days ago

Marco Banks wrote:If you had enough land, you could rotate crops:

Year 1: Sugar Beets

Year 2: Cash crop (corn/beans/grain) with a cover crop.

Do people no-till plant the beets?  That would be at least one-less turning of the soil.

As I understand it, sugar beets can't be harvested until the temperatures are in a certain lower range, and if it gets too hot, you can' harvest them at all.  Because they are harvested so late in the fall, it's difficult to think of planting a cover crop after they've been taken off the field because there wouldn't be enough time and warm days for the crop to germinate and grow.  But could you sew a cover crop between the beet rows once the beets have gotten big enough that the cover crop wouldn't compete for sunlight?

Yep.....even back in 2011 they were working with oilseed radish as a cover crop to reduce cyst nematode damage and reproduction in sugar beet.  Just one example that came to mind:

"Oilseed radish cover crops in sugarbeet rotations improves nematode control

Steve Poindexter, Michigan State University Extension - February 11, 2011

Oilseed radish acreage has steadily increased in the beet producing area because of its value as a sugarbeet nematode trap crop and its ability to deeply root in the soil, improving soil drainage and aeration. Established in late summer it can exceed four tons of biomass per acre. It is an excellent scavenger of nitrogen from deeper soil layers after harvest of a cash crop. Upon decomposition, the nitrogen becomes available to the next crop....."

As an aside, the near zero degrees F. slated for this evening will aid immensely in freezing the large piles of sugar beets that now exist in the valley.  One perk of this frozen region is keeping stored beet metabolism low so that sugar losses are minimized before the piles are hauled away to the factory throughout the winter.

6 days ago

Bryant RedHawk wrote:

the best time for hysterics is AFTER you've dealt with the problem.  

Keeping a cool head while everything around you turns upside down is a learned response that will keep you and those you can help alive through the crisis.

.......Once it is over you can go have that breakdown you just earned.

I've never heard of it put this way, but I like it!  It recognizes the impact of trauma on all people, varied though it may be within each individual, and validates a need to cycle through a grief/melt-down and subsequent recovery period.  

Home-run again, RedHawk!
6 days ago

Eric Hanson wrote:Marco,

Planting anything in Minnesota after late summer is dicey at best.  My Grandfather was big on trying to get at least some type of cover crop, minimal tillage, leaving debris on the field, leaving plenty of stubble, etc.  Unfortunately, by the time he harvested his fall crops, it was a little late to get a new one planted.  I realize Gabe Brown does it, but then he saw cover crops differently that my grandfather.

Just as a FYI, While my uncle was all about the sugar beats, my grandfather thought they were more trouble than they were worth.  At one point, my uncle was about to spray something like 160 acres of sugar beats with some fungicide 2 weeks before harvest.  My uncle's logic was that in order to be effective, the fungicide had to be applied before the fungus.  My grandfathers logic:  Why was he spending something like &20k for spray 2 weeks before harvesting?  Was there really more than $20k at stake in the sugar beats? mind you that even if the beats were infected, it would only affect the top growth.  At worst, the beat part would simply stop growing.  My grandfather was a pretty conventional farmer by the standards of Permies, but one of the qualities he possessed that made him a successful farmer was that he was always asking these two basic questions:  What is it going to cost me and will it pay off in the end?  He always treated his crops like valuable commodities.  He did not necessarily rush to sell his grain.  In fact, he deliberately held back much of his grain so that he could sell it off season when the price was higher.  At one point, the price of soy beans was spiking dramatically (he followed crop prices constantly).  He drove off to the grain elevator with a load of soybeans in an old, beat-up grain truck and drove back in a new, much bigger grain truck!  He was very good that way.


In the northern tier with cold winters, sugar beet is sown in the spring and harvested in the fall.  In the Imperial Valley of California and those with similar climates, beets are sown in the fall and harvested the following spring and early summer.  The record-sized crops for most of the US are held by Imperial Valley growers if I'm not mistaken.  Part of the reason that beets can tolerate the increasingly saline soils in southern Cal is due to the fact that their ancestor, Beta maritima or "sea beet", grew along the coasts of Europe from the northern countries down through the Mediterranean, so they are naturally more salt tolerant than many crops.

Because it's a large industry and made up mostly of grower-owned cooperatives in the US, how the growers/cooperative go about deciding what to grow and how to treat the crop has many angles.  The industry as a whole would welcome being past having to use chemicals for its operations, but like most industries, profits to shareholders ( this case, the growers themselves are owner-shareholder) comes into play.  If one person decides not to spray for sake of saving money....and that decision IMO confronts every producer at some time or other....there is probably little harm done (with the exception of pathogen inoculum build-up in the soil).  However, on a larger scale, something that goes unappreciated is the large impact of diseased beets (mostly from Cercospora leaf spot) on the increased impurities in the sugar purification and processing stream.  Impurities clog filtration points and prevent sugar crystallization---end result being a lower "recoverable sugar per ton" of beets brought into the factory.  For this reason, each grower has to a cooperative much to gamble on putting the processing stream at risk.  In the end, the payment to growers will be calculated not just on tons delivered to the factory, but on sugar produced from beets received.  

It's considered a 'minor' crop by total acres planted standards.  But all of ag *can* move in a better direction and seems to be doing so as the grass roots stay invigorated, involved, aware, and active.  

Edited to add that, as for many other crops, sugar beet production is testing all of the different cover cropping, no-/minimum-tillage and other approaches seen in other crops, albeit a bit more slowly.  It's a lucrative crop for the producer, but as a minor crop nationally and world-wide, it doesn't have the finances that the soybean/corn juggernaut enjoys for research trials.
6 days ago

Eric Hanson wrote:William,
I am a little surprised that sugar beats are not used for fodder more.  They get absolutely huge!

I also think that there is a place for them in the garden.


Joseph Lofthouse noted in a previous post about making sugar in the kitchen (?)....if I recall right.  So I think this is another way to think about a bottoms-up instead of top-down approach to sugar for home use.....getting recipes for sugar extraction that can be done on a household or community level.  Granted the latest beet varieties are the product of some pretty remarkable plant breeding, but the sugar content is around 17 - 20% (wet weight) and most fields come in around 25 tons of beets per acre. (At a rough recent payment of ~$48.00 per ton, that's ~$1200.00 per acre, not counting inputs.) But there are 'legacy'/heirloom sugar beet varieties out there that could be used and seed kept as you would for other types of beets and Swiss chard.

Under optimum (i.e., upper theoretical maximum) conditions, a 5 lb beet would yield 1 lb of crystallized sugar.  Many of these beets get pretty large, but the really large beets that are used around the world for fodder are fodder beets.  Same things as sugar beets, only bred more for high mass and not so high on sugar.
6 days ago