Travis Johnson

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since Feb 03, 2016
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9th generational farmer, our farm having officially started in 1746, but dates back to the Mayflower. We had the first sheep shearing shed in new England, and always had sheep to 1988. For 20 years we went without sheep until I took over the farm in 1992, reintroduced sheep in 2008, and in 2015 retired at age 42 and started full-time farming. We are still struggling at farming, and probably always will, but the goal is the same...another generation.
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Recent posts by Travis Johnson

In 2017 I made $15,550 with a family of six

In 2018 I made $6,517 with a family of six

It has not been easy, and as my signature line shows, by the good graces of Permie People they got me out of a real jam this past Christmas, but I am still am able to save money. Sometimes it is not enough for the next biggest bill, but even when I was on unemployment I was able to save money.

The trick is to use CASH for everything, no excuses, and then when you get a $5 bill, put it away in a cookie jar. Every $5 bill. The thing is, you never miss them because you do not think about it. Even in the hardest months, I have been able to save $40-$45. It is not much, but it is better than 70% of the USA because I am saving SOMETHING.

1 week ago
I stopped on an old trail one year and filled a bag full of acorns, then went around and tossed them around some forest that I logged. The deer got the far majority of them, but some took root and grew.

If I did it again, I would use a tree spade and send individual seeds into the ground so that it might take root better, but not be eaten by deer.
1 week ago
I thought about growing some sunflowers, then collecting the seeds for burning in a pellet stove. The stalks I would use for feeding my sheep. This would give me a double-use out of the sunflowers. I figured it out, and I would need about 3 acres to get enough seed to burn a winter in my Maine home. (1 ton per acre).
1 week ago

Jeff Welder wrote:Hell, some of the wood would be good for someone with a portable sawmill..

Last year I logged 1600 cords off my woodlot, and yes some of that was chipped and went into producing electricity. The logs, pulpwood, firewood, boltwood and studwood were sorted out first of course, but even then I was able to saw 7,000 board feet of lumber out of what remained. That is enough lumber for those that do not know, to build half of an averaged size home, and that was from remainders of only 1600 cords of wood.

1 week ago
Firewood is just too much work. Period.

People today just do not have the time to devote to it like a generation ago. With blended families, kids have to go here, or there, and time is spent in a car traveling to and fro, or a job requires overtime. It is far better to work longer hours at your job and buy more natural gas, propane or oil then to work several weekends producing firewood.

I am not saying that is right, nor what I do (I burn firewood still), it is just how people today think.
1 week ago
There are a lot of Christians on this site, and for the most part we can share our experiences quite well. It takes a little while to get used to what is allowed, and what is not.

Edited to say: I often employ something Dave Ramsey said about all his interviews on secular television. A Christian financial adviser, he is often asked about financial matters and says he quotes the bible almost exclusively in his interviews, but just does not say, "You can find that in such a book and verse in the bible". By leaving out the reference, the secular television stations put his interview on television, something they would not allow if he cited where it stemmed from.

I do the same thing all the time. Once while talking about "when poo hits the fan" and survival situations, I made a post that got about 15 apples. Almost all of it was taken directly from Daniel, Isiah and Revelations.

Jenn Bertrand wrote:The indigenous cultures here in the PNW called the red cedar "the tree of life". They  built their houses and clothing out of cedar. The coast range used to be filled with old growth cedars. If you look you can still find really old trees that have the scars of bark harvesting from 200 years ago.  The only reason that the coast mountains are mostly Douglas fir and western hemlock now are because they reach a harvestable size sooner more reliably than any other tree in this environment.  Western hemlock is the most shade tolerant timber species for this environment so it can be planted closer together and  in the shade of existing trees so it is more profitable per acre on tree plantations which is what all of Oregon's coastal mountain state land is now.  Hemlock is not the most quality building material that can be grown here just the most profitable in the current economic system. My goal at my homestead is to plant as much perennial food as possible especially trees. Everywhere on my property that is out of my ability to pay close attention to I plant cedars. Cedars were here before me and before the first settlers and are still the most useful and valuable building material you can grow here in my opinion. Plant western hemlock if you want a guaranteed profit in 35-40 years, Doug fir for a balance of 35-40 year profit and long term valuable trees, and cedar for long term value or quality homescale lumber at any age. Just my opinion.

I am not so sure this is accurate.

Cedar has a lot of great benefits, longevity being one of them as they are rot resistant, but they are very brittle and have very little strength. That is why most building codes require tested lumber which is: SPF or Spruce, Pine and Fir. Here in the Northeast they are looking to add Hackmatack, but Eastern Hemlock (due to shake) and cedar (due to having no strength) will never be able to acheive certification as structural lumber.

Spruce and takes an incredibly long time to grow, and yet Maine has about 11 million acres planted in such wood. It is not planted because of how fast growing it is, it is planted because its long fibers make great paper, and have strength as framing lumber. Cedar is not planted even though it pays twice as much per board foot, because more lumber is consumed for structural puposes then non-structural lumber.
1 week ago
Our attempts at planting trees have been really disappointing.

When my father was only a few years old planted several acres of field into White Pine, almost 80 years ago. Those trees ended up with White Pine Blister Rust and ended up having no value for anything except now what could have been tillable fields, must be cleared and stumped so that I can farm it.

In restocking a few acres that I had logged, I replanted with black spruce that I had obtained, and while some have grown, the moose in that area of my woodlot pretty much decimated the trees during a really hard winter one year.

In 1994 I planted 10 acres in High-Bred Hackmack that was supposed to achieve 30 cords to the acre, in 12 years time. It did that, but also sustained a bark beetle infestation confirmed by the Maine Forest Service Tree Pathologist. I was losing 3-4 trees per acre per year. Not horrendous, but then the forest products market changed, and hackmatack had no commercial value except be burned to make electricity. What would have paid $120 a cord, yielded $30 per cord, hardly enough to be worth cutting, and ultimately left stumps where I could have had tilled farmland.

Our best method in the end for producing forest products for future generations has been in just plain good old fashioned forestry. Everytime I cut the right trees, particularly when the mast crop is doing well that year (it cycles every few years), and the logging scarifies the ground and allows those seeds to land on bare soil and not forest duff, I get amazing regrowth. To wit, I have been logging commercially ever since I was 15 years old, and I am now 44 years old. Some places I have selectively logged three times.

Here in Maine, growth is figured at 1 cord of wood, per acre, per year. That means I can sustainably harvest 1 cord per acre of forest yearly without worry of overdoing it. I do not come anywhere close to that. I might cut more than that in a given area, but that just means it will be more years until I can return, and in the meantime, the other areas of my forest I am not logging, are growing. In that respect, we have been here since 1746, and last year was the first time we 100% of our forest had been logged. I do not mean 100% of it in that year, but rather since sections were so hard to reach, it was the first time we we able to log in those areas.

Everytime I fell a tree; with its seeds, I am planting thousands of seedlings. I am happy with that.
1 week ago
163 yeas ago, my Great Uncle waddled from Maine to Minneapolis and decided to buy a fledgling grain milling company along the banks of the mighty Mississippi. He built such a large milling complex that many said it would never be profitable. When it burned down, he built an even bigger one that was safer, and used steel rolls for grinding instead of granite wheels. Many said that it would never work. When steel proved superior to stone, many said that there was no way the farmers could supply his mills enough wheat.

Today, if you go on their website that fledgling company pays homage to the rock strewn fields of Maine which my great Uncle left, never forgetting its roots in Maine, and for the family that has remained, we are proud of their success. Today that company employs 38,000 employees, has 84 seperate food brand companies, grosses over 2.5 billion dollars, and sends their scientists into third world countries around the world to help feed the starving. Since 1928, it has ALWAYS paid a stock dividend, one of few companies to continuously do so, and continues to feed the world, including my own family.

Last year I bit into a rock and notified te company of what I had found. When I asked if they wanted to me to send them the rock they said no, that their customers would never lie to them. I politely said that I was honest to a fault, but others might not be, and the women assured me, "Our customers would never lie", she stated emphatically, and proceeded to treat me well over the mishap.

My great uncle would have been proud, both for General Mills being so big and yet retaining its old fashioned values after all those years,  and at his family "back east" still farming as well.

Happy National Cereal Day

1 week ago

r ranson wrote:My real name is most definitely an edge case.

I tried using it for a while, but I felt it was better for the site if I went back to using my initial.  If it really bothered me, I could put my first name in my signature.  

R Ranson; I am privileged to say I know your real name, and while respect you so much I would never reveal it now, or go against your wishes, but rest assured; your integrity is so sound that there is almost NOTHING you could do to be an edge case. So honest and trustworthy...

Like many, many others on here...I DEEPLY respect you no matter what you have for a name.