Mike Barkley

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since Mar 01, 2018
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bee cattle chicken homestead
After a long career electro-geeking for R&D labs in the electronic industry Mike has checked out of the rat race & moved to the woods. Not entirely off grid but trying to achieve that goal. He raises a few animals & enjoys growing healthy food in various gardens. He is a life long nature lover, adventure seeker, & to a certain extent a minimalist. Eventually bears will probably eat him & turn him into compost. He is ok with that.
mountains of Tennessee
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Recent posts by Mike Barkley

There is a good chance the stray 200 bees will not find the hive.

The best time to move a hive is about an hour before dark. Place any equipment with loose straggler bees next to the hive. Then after dark block the entrance with twigs & grass to make them work a little to get back out. Bees are very tuned to one exact location as home. Moving a hive is a little tricky. Either move it a few miles or just a few feet at a time. Anything more than about 20 feet seriously confuses them & they might not find the new location. It is suggested to place a tree branch in front of their new location so when they do get out they realize they are in a different location. Then they fly all around to reset their internal gps. Then they got it!

All bee lives matter but statistically 200 is a small percentage of the 100,000 or so that original hive looks like it contained. If you got the queen & most of the bees they'll work it out.
9 hours ago
Not much progress today. Did use some saplings to add more vertical sticks to the edges. Roughly 30 minutes. Going to make fairly strong wattle walls before packing in a couple more small logs & more soil. Want to make the base sturdier & then level off about 5.5 feet before going any higher. The tip of those sticks are about 6.5 feet. For reference, the corner sticks are now on the original minimum perimeter. Expecting that to ooze outward soon.
1 day ago
a peanut source

Based on research by & strong recommendation from the university ag department I've only tried this particular variety. That company does have other varieties. I would suggest finding a variety known to thrive in your area.

I was a little shocked to see how few peanuts arrived for the cost. Was not a problem because the first crop more than broke even plus had many left over to plant the following year. After the second crop one could have a huge supply of seeds if desired. They grow well here. No effort after planting & that is about as easy as planting can be. Bugs & disease don't seem to be an issue.

This year I dug up & flipped over a row of lawn sod. Hard clay soil underneath. Planted peanuts & oats together. Both grew. Oats were short but produced some oats. Peanuts are still growing strong. This fall I will harvest them & add organics to the soil. Will plant daikon or other tillage radishes over winter. Then potatoes next spring. Work in some more organics when harvesting those. Less lawn & more garden with minimum effort.

I found a few interesting peanut websites a few years ago. Lost the links in the great computer crash of 2016. Mother Earth News did have some basic info. From my limited peanut experience (4th year) there is no need for any fancy technical info if they grow in your area. Poke a hole in the ground & drop a seed in. Cover. Walk away until fall harvesting. I think it's that simple unless for a commercial operation.
2 days ago
Please don't put sugar out for the bees.
Dye from the hulls can dull the metal on coyote traps. Not sure how much of a market there might be for that specialized service/product.
3 days ago
More logs. More soil. More sticks along the lower edge. Starting to build a "skeleton" of sticks & small branches to securely contain the soil on the steep sides. Taking extra care to pack the crevices full. Receiving some assistance with that from rains. Over 5 feet tall now. Still barely within the footprint. Another 2.5 hours so approximately 9 hours total.

It's starting to come alive. It spoke to me today. It asked for berries. Blueberries & strawberries. That could work!
3 days ago
Two & a half more wheelbarrow loads of soil plus a few small branches & sticks. Sturdier around the base. About four feet at the peak now. About 6.5 hours total.
4 days ago
Yes. I'm kind of considering this hugel as a constant reminder of that. Saw two wild turkeys today. Tall but skinny ones. No wonder the chickens get eaten first.

Here's some pix from the past two days. Slowly but surely getting done. The base is solid. Working on next layer now. Needs more soil packed between the top logs. Then it will level off about 3.5 feet. It will become more challenging after that. Probably going to drive some vertical poles into the ground through the lump & make a crude framework with saplings to help retain soil as it goes up higher. Logs will be smaller & more branches & twigs will be used. Also some leaves from last fall. The soil added on top will be better & will start having animal manures & worms mixed in. It's on approximately a 10 degree slope so that is a factor. So far it is within the minimum footprint. Expecting that to expand outward soon. Total time invested now is approximately 4 or 5 hours.

Having way too much fun with this!!!
4 days ago
Added a few more logs & lawn clippings. A couple inches taller. Fuller at the base. Going to make a solid central plateau before going any higher.
1 week ago
I don't know about wallyworld but I saw fresh blueberries for $6 per 8 oz at local grocery store today. Most years they are about $2 I think. As far as I know blueberries aren't even grown in the places having the flooding problems. Not looking good.
1 week ago