Mary Combs

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since Jan 11, 2015
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Recent posts by Mary Combs

This looks a lovely piece of kitchen art!

Our little community is delving further and further into off grid homesteading skills. With solar power this mill would be a very helpful addition to our kitchen - so my fingers are cross on being the lucky draw.

I've been collecting helpful 'home made' recipes - here is one for dry pancake mix.

I've only recently come across the makeyourmeals website and haven't signed up to it yet - can anyone comment on this one?

1 month ago
Yes - thank you - one of the videos has an explanation that you used an excavator - dug out a platform for the excavator at the depth its arm extends to and then dug the rest of the depth from that platform. I have an excavator - though I'm not sure the maximum depth it will dig. I'm also not sure I have 30+ feet of cover - but it would be a fun fact to discover when I have the time to try out this technique. I was hoping you had some clever method of drilling a hole to set the casing into, without the expense of a well drilling company. if it is just a matter of digging it in, that's within our capabilities. Its just that disturbing that much ground will create a mess that will take at least a year to settle - and the area around a water tank is going to potentially stay sloppy for a lot longer once the ground is disturbed. I'm interested in any other thoughts you might have on this application of a thermal well.
Could you please point me toward the discussion on how the thermal wells were installed? I'd like to try putting in a thermal well and setting a water tank on top to prevent freezing in the winter. Thanks!
I have been very busy the last few weeks and have not been able to keep up with the kickstarter project progress as it has been happening. I've just been back through some of the updates looking for a discussion of how the thermal wells were sunk into the ground. This is of particular interest to me as I would be interested in trying the 'oldtime farmers trick' of putting in a thermal well and then setting a water tank on top of it, to keep the water in the tank from freezing in the winter. Could you please point me to the narrative of how the six thermal wells were sunk for this project?  Thanks!

Dennis Bangham wrote:If anyone has ideas on where I can get a pump system, storage tank and pressure tank system, along with the solar system panels and controller...”  

Everything on that list you can get from Lowes - maybe have to order from the catalogue.
1 year ago
[quote=John F Dean]

Hi John

My comment was a specific answer to the comment of not knowing why we would use well water in preference to roof collected rainwater.

My answer to that musing is that 1) any tank that collected rainwater for use in the house would have 2 disadvantages - first, it would need to be enclosed/insulated or buried because we can get sub-zero weather here, and second guttering is impractical as it would get pulled off the roof as ice slides off the roof. I have looked into electrical heating wires designed to keep ice from accumulating on roofs, but that presumes the power remains on, and if the power is off, the network of wires tends to act to further hold the snow on the roof. A more practical solution turns out to be physically shovelling the snow and pushing it off the roof.

I don’t doubt that someone determined to use roof water could contrive to do so, but my solution to high iron water at the moment is bottled water to drink for us, well water for the cattle and balling the cattle with copper bollus capsules each year and lick tubs with copper included.

I could use guttering outside the winter season, but would need to put the guttering up in the spring and take it down going into winter.
1 year ago

John C Daley wrote:

“But I just don't know why none of you capture rain water, it is free of all the issues you speak of, does not get 'sick' with leaves dead animals or bird faeces if set up with big tanks and filters.

Reason for me - sub-zero weather (Fahrenheit) at least 2 or 3 times every winter and a typical winter sees several days of power outage - sometimes over a week. Any tank not buried at least 3 feet down would have to be heated, and will turn to a solid lump of ice if the power is off for any length of time (and won’t thaw until spring).

I do have a plan for pumping well water to a big buried tank (e.g. 10k gallons, for the the well to keep topped off). I have 300’ elevation difference to play with.

Roof water is a bit tough to collect without gutters. Buildings here typically don’t have gutters as they get ripped off with the ice/snow sliding off the roof - and under no circumstances will I encourage weight to accumulate on a roof in snow season.

I have thought about using oversized gutters and take them of and store them for 4 months each year.

1 year ago
As far as I am aware, all states post their well records. You should be able to search for that well by the location of the tract of land - which you should be able to locate in your county's county assessment records.

I just googled "Idaho well records" and this url was returned:

If there are well records - they will tell you what the initial flow rate was on the well.

If your well was permitted to be drilled (e.g. drilled since 1987) it should have a number on it. The well may not be as old as you think because all states require disused wells be sealed with a plug and then concrete on top. To reopen a plugged well, would require getting a water well driller out to do that piece of work. It looks instead as though the well was drilled and then never completed and hooked up and just left open, which is possibly illegal depending on what was done.

Any well less than a certain depth - from memory 32' - does not need to be permitted, so your own well if it is as shallow as you suggest, may not be a permitted well, but may still be perfectly legal in your state. If you buy that piece of land and can complete a deep well - your water supply may be safer for the household than if you are using a surface water well.

If your mystery well is a correctly drilled, cased and not plugged, you should see casing - although the casing may not start until a ways down if the top of the well is in hard rock. The casing will have 'slots' cut at the level of the aquifer and the rest of the casing will be sealed to the wellbore with concrete. If the well is properly drilled and completed, the casing will be slotted at only ONE reservoir - this is to avoid cross contamination or cross pressuring between reservoirs.

if the water level is less than 175' from the surface, you may be able to get a cheap pump, or rent a pump, to do a bit of testing. Or you could book a well driller to come out an do your testing - which would provide more surety about what you are dealing with than just playing around with it.  Since this is not a drought year, you may be able to get a driller reasonably quickly. That would also give you the advantage of getting a specification for everything you need to utilise that well. Installing a pump yourself is perfectly feasible if you have the skill sets and confidence, but expensive if you muck it up. (I would not attempt a pump installation myself, though I might attempt replacing a faulty pump with an identical one).

Check out this website. Their installation can be made alongside an electric pump and can run on solar or as a hand pump. I intend to get one of these installed soon. If you don't have power nearby, or just want to be totally off grid with it, you can install just the simple pump as your only installation.

1 year ago
I empathise - I had a broody hen that just wouldn’t quit and went to a local farm and bought 4 chicks and a duckling to put under her. That taught me a lesson. She completely disowned the chicks and took the duckling. So I ended up raising 4 chicks inside that was an unwanted burden until they were big enough to go outside. I’ve also put fertile eggs under a couple of broody hens. I think they successfully raised 2 of the 10 or so that hatched. Broody hens are not necessarily good mothers, or at least ours weren’t. I think perhaps hens are better mothers if they were raised by a real hen themselves.

The main lesson I learned from trying to use broody hens is that it is perfectly possible to get a broody hen to raise a duck - but I wish I’d known how to check the sex when I bought those chicks and duckling so I would have rejected the male I brought home. “Junior” is too much of a pet to put in the freezer, but I wish he wasn’t imprinted on the hens because he pesters the heck out of them. He pestered the heck out of the two ducks I had before he arrived. In the end, he battered one of the ducks to the point that I had to rescue them. The Orpingtons are so big, they can take care of themselves, so he is part of a small flock, but otherwise he would be a problem as to what to do with him - and he is part of the reason I keep the birds in two flocks instead of one - so I can keep that drake separated from the female ducks.

1 year ago
For our farm, for any farm related assets, I always prefer to buy the right tool for the job and make sure what I do buy will last. The brooder heater shown in the Amazon example below is what I bought, and it has raised generations of incubated chicks. As it happens, I also by preference buy hatching eggs rather than live chicks, but I did that because I had a breeder handy and could buy hatching eggs locally, although I have bought them by mail successfully.

If you have bought live stock and it came with a runt, they should give you a credit for that against your next purchase.

Maybe if I get around to trying broilers in quantity, I would buy live chicks but when I was doing it, I raised ‘triple purpose’ birds for meat, eggs and backyard pets. All birds that started to crow went into the freezer before their vocalising became a problem to neighbours. Since these were Orpington’s, by the time they matured enough to crow, they were big enough to eat.

Here is the brooder plate:

This might suggest a workaround for some project you have going:

We keep our entire (insulated) wellhouse toasty in winter with a couple of incandescent light bulbs - on that stays on all the time and another as a backup in case the first bulb burns out. The backup is on the same circuit, it only backs up the primary lightbulb, not the power, and it operates off a plug in thermostat block that switches on the other lightbulb if the temperature gets down into the 30s. In addition to that, we do have a tiny gas heater that we can light if we get sub zero weather or if the power goes off.

On the plug in thermostat plugs, I was going to show what they look like using an Amazon example, except all the ones I could find on Amazon are ‘smart’ using a digital  display to set the temperature when they should come on, or <horrified> that use Alexa and verbal commands to set the temperature range. (Since I won’t knowingly invite an electronic spy into my operation, I won’t recommend to someone else either.)

The ones I bought for the well house are preprogrammed at around 40 degrees - nothing to break or fail for years and were about a fiver each.

1 year ago