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Mary-Ellen Zands

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since Sep 01, 2015
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cattle goat hugelkultur fungi foraging trees chicken fiber arts bee solar wood heat
Ontario, Canada
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Recent posts by Mary-Ellen Zands

I found that tethering goats needs to start when they are young. If you tether a goat that has never been tethered you might be asking for problems.  I used those big screw hooks for dogs to attach them to.  Screwed deeply into the ground, I thought they would last forever. When the kids were kids they couldn’t get them out. An adult no problem.  Then as James said you might lose them to hanging themselves in something, or choking getting wrapped around something.
Just remember they are like having 3 year olds. Constantly a step ahead of you. Can’t take your eyes off them for a minute. Safer to use solar fencing.  Scythe a path for the fence.
So the earth is piled on the gas tank. The opening is facing south. It gets pretty warm in there when the sun is shining. That’s why I thought wouldn’t this be a great idea for a greenhouse?  
2 months ago

Andrea Locke wrote:Mary Ellen,

Those look interesting and potentially a good recycling option! How do you make sure there aren't residual chemicals left on them from past industrial use, though?



Hi there Andrea,

These huge tanks have been lying in a field for over 20 years cut and open to the rain, wind, air and snow.  The farmer who bought them finally turned a few over and used them as shelters for his cows. He is a certified organic farmer and they tested everything including those tanks. Otherwise I would not have bought them. They weigh a ton a piece and his tractor couldn’t lift them. So we had to pay the high hoe man extra to go over there to load them on a metal hay wagon.  Ours would not have been able to take the load.
My idea was completely different because we covered the tanks to give more warmth to the cattle. I’ve been working on the inside and shoring up the bottom with rocks. We given the cows a round bale of straw per container which they trampled right away. Now we will still cover the top round with wood and put a half door across the front to protect them from the elements. No chemicals left to bother them in there.

They also have the woods and another shed to escape the weather but our winters are becoming more unpredictable and they just needed more.
2 months ago
Also the big bonus with these old gas tanks is the shelters can be built in a day!  Yes of course we needed to hire the high hoe but it was worth it. Only a couple of hours work from him!
2 months ago
Obviously part of the roof would need glass or plastic. I don’t buy anything new so it would have to be found or traded.
Tell us more about the Chinese greenhouse concept. I am intrigued.
2 months ago
Two weeks ago  we built cow shelters for the impending winter weather. That got me thinking as the sun came out and I was sitting in the shelter. Maybe I should build another one of these and put glass in front for a greenhouse?  Maybe I can build a few of them? I initially wanted to build a straw bale greenhouse in the barn. Which will be a lot of labour. Straw seems to be in short supply here.  Everyone seems to be guarding their supplies!  If you cover these tanks with enough earth then there is enough thermal mass. Isn’t there?
2 months ago
Last year I grew cranberry potatoes. Oh my goodness they grew to enormous sizes, like as big as 5 pounds.  Don’t know why I didn’t take pictures?  I planted them this spring but because of the drought I lost them. They had a beautiful red blush through the flesh. Good everything potato. I guess you could say one potato could feed a whole family. I’m trying to get ahold of more of these potatoes at a farmers market. I guess it’s the Dutch blood in me that finds it hard to give up potatoes completely. I remember travelling across Holland as a child with my Opa looking for his favorite potatoes.  He would drive hours scouring the countryside looking for his farmer connections. My mother remembers that in the ‘50 they went trailer camping to Switzerland. My Opa made sure he took pails of potatoes along in the trailer, because they surely wouldn’t have his potatoes where they were going! Those were the big yellow fleshed crumbly taters. Also bientjes were a fave!  
2 months ago
So needless to say the purple potatoes are my favorite for roasting and boiling. When I was eating them all I loved any potato roasted. A few other root veggies along with it some Redmond salt, good quality organic olive oil or coconut oil and fresh garden herbs. Yummmmm it’s making me hungry.!
2 months ago
As I get older I seem to tolerate less and less. I’m off gluten. Trying to be off dairy. Now all the solenoids.  Which is hard too but they don’t make me feel very good. Eureka years ago someone smuggled me some potatoes from Peru. I love them!  I can eat them without too many problems. They are delicious!  This years harvest was well let’s say shared. Unfortunately the mice left me a few. I will not be planting in cages. The drought I’m sure did not help.
I grow 7 différent varieties. My partner loves potatoes. He even eats potato sandwiches. The best thing about the purple potatoes is that if I forget them in the garden they come back year after year. That’s the great thing about a hugel bed.
2 months ago