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James Freyr

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since Mar 06, 2017
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James is in his forties, is an active homesteader who is married, and has no children aside from six cats. He is a graduate of The American Brewers Guild and while he no longer brews beer he does dabble in the fermentations of food and dairy. He resides in the state of Tennessee where he has been in the skilled trades since 2004 but as of lately only installing hardwood floor and tile and is trying to hang up that hat to homestead full-time. An avid gardener for more than twenty years, he is preparing to add animal husbandry to his lifestyle. When he has free time he enjoys hikes through the woods and reading books.
West Tennessee
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Recent posts by James Freyr

The extension agent came over this morning and I really enjoyed his visit walking the farm with him. He helped me identify some of the things I have growing around here, including some of the grasses in my post above. #3 is orchard grass, #5 is a type of sedge which he thought is probably globe sedge, #6 is ryegrass, #8 is he believes a type of signal grass, and #9 he confirmed is johnson grass. I'm still trying to figure out what #1,2,4 & 7 are.
2 hours ago
I totally believe it works. I dowsed my own well, and in my case, it worked for me but I don't have a good answer for how it works. I took two equal lengths of 12 gauge copper wire, bare with no jacket or insulation on them, and bent them into L's. Off I went. Seeing those dowsing rods move in my hands gave me goose bumps. I marked a big orange x on the ground where my dowsing rods crossed, and approached the spot from several directions, and the rods kept crossing over that spot. It was kinda spooky to take a step forward over the spot, the rods cross, then take a step backwards, and the rods uncrossed, over and over and over. When the well drillers showed up, I pointed to the location, and the guy said "Why there? was it dowsed?" I said yes. I didn't tell him I did it. Admittedly I was nervous, because well drillers charge by the foot, so I'm thinking about the hundreds of dollars which turned into thousands of dollars as they kept screwing 20ft lengths of drill pipe together and keep drilling. At about 190-200ft they hit water, and an ocean of it. I have a thread about my well drilling here:
2 hours ago
The symptom you describe of having a hot pulse then weak pulses and again at some point later a hot pulse is the exact description of what I had going on with my fence a few years ago. The pulse energy on my fence tester went in a repeating cycle; a good hot 10kv pulse, then a couple weak ones, then nothing, then a good hot 10kv again, and repeat. I even had a buddy, who farms, has electric fences, and happens to be an electrical engineer come over. We tested the battery, energizer, ground, all good. It turned out, on my fence, the bottom poly wire had slipped off the fiberglass post and was barely touching the metal spike in the soil. I shimmied it off the metal post spike and back onto the fiberglass post, and problem solved.

If I read everything correctly, it sounds like your grounding, 8' high main hot wire and energizer are all working properly, and problems only occur when lower strands are connected. I suspect either something is unknowingly being grounded somewhere, or, one of the switches or disconnects is functioning poorly and not allowing the hot pulse to get through to the other side of the switch. The other thing that comes to my mind is 6 joules is not enough. It may be plenty for the main hot wire, and is why when it's tested it shows a good zap, but adding more and more conductor weakens the pulse.
2 hours ago
Hey Mel, welcome to Permies.

I think your approach with the compost & manure and cover crops is great, and I want to mention that dolomite is very unlikely to help your soil situation and here's why. Dolomite has magnesium in it, and magnesium makes soil particles, the colloids, stick together. Regular lime, or even calcitic lime, will yield much better results helping loosen up the soil. It's the calcium in lime that loosens soil colloids and keeps them from sticking together. Gypsum is another great resource to use to get calcium into a soil, and it will not have a pH adjusting affect like lime will. With your soil's pH at 5.5, it's perfect for plants that need acidic conditions, like blueberries. It's not ideal for other plants, such as most garden veggies like beans, tomatoes, melons, etc., that grow better in and prefer a less acidic soil with a pH of somewhere like 6.5. Hope this helps!
1 day ago
After some googling on the internets, I think J Davis is right, and my memory is unreliable, and I believe picture #9 is indeed johnson grass.
2 days ago

J Davis wrote:9 looks like Johnson grass, most consider it a nuisance but its got sorghum in the name so perhaps its got some useful potential. (?)

Indeed, it seems a lot of urban dwellers and landscape professionals consider johnson grass a "weed" or undesirable. What I do know about johnson grass is cows eat it, and that's what matters to me. Some years ago my grazier neighbor back where I moved from pointed out johnson grass in his pastures, and I don't recall it looking like that, either being that wide of a blade of grass or the almost white stripe down the center.
2 days ago
I thought fescue had seed that was in panicled spikelets. I only know that term because when I was 16, I got a job at a hardware store, and there was a test, and one question on the test was "What is fescue?" and I didn't know so I looked it up, and panicled spikelets was in the dictionary and I never forgot it. I think #6 is something else, with the two rows of staggered seed.
2 days ago
I thought it would be fun to have a little thread for folks to share pictures of wildlife that has decided to make a home on/in your home. Here I have what I believe to be an Eastern Kingbird that has chosen to build a nest atop my floodlight. I like it, both hosting a momma bird and the nest itself. It's all mossy and neat looking.
3 days ago
It's the middle of May, and the cool season grasses here are going or have gone to seed. Warm season grasses have been waking up and starting to grow. I'm in West Tennessee, zone 7b. A few grasses I am familiar with and can easily identify, like tall fescue, bermuda, and crab grass. I've shared some pictures of grasses that I am having trouble identifying, and I hope some other folks on premies may know what one or more of these are. Most of the pictures are of the seed sets, of the cool season grasses, but the last two are warm seaso (I think) and just showed up.  Each picture is numbered. I think grass #3 is orchard grass, and #6 is rye grass, beyond that I don't know. Any fellow permies that know what these are?
3 days ago
I’m pro soil testing. I do indeed agree a soil test is a snap-shot of the sample submitted. I’ll do my best to explain a little on why I like soil testing, when I do it, and how I interpret the results.

I think the first fundamental in soil testing is submitting a sample that accurately represents the area desired to be tested. This means taking many, 8 or 10 or a dozen or more individual samples in an area, mixing them together thoroughly, then taking a portion of the mixed samples to send to a lab. Sending a small bag of soil from one hole dug in an area does not represent the area as a whole. Limit the sample to the first six inches of depth.

One lab that analyzes soils may use a different method from another lab. The lab I’ve been using uses the Mehlich III extraction method. It’s good for soils that have a pH under 7. Soils with an alkaline pH over 7 really need a different kind of test in order to have accurate results.

Most labs test for the basic 14 or so elements that “science” has says are needed for plants growing under conventional agricultural methods using petroleum based salt fertilizers. These labs may make a recommendation on how much fertilizer to apply, when to apply it and possibly even how often for a season, depending if a soil sample came with information on what crop is going to be grown in that soil.

I like to do soil tests, especially if I’m starting off and I have no idea what is going on in a soil. I need a baseline to start with. Even if I get a soil test so I can know only the Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) & pH and nothing else, it is worth it. A soils CEC is its pantry. How much cations the soil can hold. Believe it or not, some soil testing labs don’t provide this critical piece of data. If someone is unsure if a lab does this, email or call and ask the lab if they provide CEC on the report. If they don’t, seek another lab. Knowing the pH of the soil is a clue as to what is going on with the availability of the rest of the minerals, the cations and anions. The Anions, by the way, cling to organic matter, especially humus, which is stable organic matter. Anions don’t cling to soil colloids, only cations will. This is one very important reason of many very important reasons to have ample organic matter in a soil.

With a new soil test in hand, I read the CEC, pH (which hopefully will also note the exchangeable hydrogen), percent organic matter, and the ppm of the minerals the lab identified on the report, and then take any information recommending “fertilizers” and disregard it. Those suggestions are unnecessary and do more harm than good. Armed with this data, I am able to make calculated additions of rock dusts such as lime (the stuff from a limestone quarry, not the bagged pelletized calcitic or dolomite lime) gypsum, soft rock phosphate, etc., whatever may be needed to bring quantities and ratios into balance as recommended by the great William Albrecht, soil scientist extraordinaire. He is the one that figured out mineral balances in soil, such as 7:1 calcium:magnesium for example.

There’s more to it. Glance at a periodic table of the elements. There’s a bunch of elements there. Why is a lab only concerned with a handful of them? I have my thoughts on that, but that’s for another discussion. So elements like cobalt, selenium, iodine, vanadium, yttrium, and almost 75 other elements aren’t mentioned on a soil test, but these minerals play an important role in supporting healthy soil biology, which in turn grows healthy, nutrient dense whatevers that are growing in a soil that contain these trace minerals. Where are these minerals found in abundance and how do we get them in our soil? They come from the sea, and we can put them in our soil by applying unrefined sea salt and/or kelp.

And there’s more to it, the soil biology that makes all these minerals available to a plant,  but I’m going to stop here. This thread is about soil testing, which is about providing data on the cation exchange capacity,  pH, and minerals in a soil.

I find soil testing extraordinarily helpful and recommend it to anyone. It’s important to know what’s already there in order to make calculated, educated decisions on what & how much of a mineral to apply, if needed. Some soils may not need anything, and just need a steward to heal the soil and nurture the bacteria and fungi, so abundant nutrient dense grasses and crops may flourish.
3 days ago