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Jennifer Davis

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since Feb 25, 2022
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Recent posts by Jennifer Davis

    Ok, this looks like a reply to just one message but that's because they won't let me post anything else on this thread unless I'm replying.  This is really a reply to everyone.
    Thanks for posting about the other threads.  Yes, those other threads do have some useful info.  I can see why sprouting feed grains or using them to grow microgreens (in the winter) might be useful, as it would increase the protein content and digestibility, as well as provide greens in the winter.
    It's true meal worms don't produce enough worms to make up for the amount of grains they're eating.  Maggots are much more efficient.  I think it's going to be hard to attract enough flies to grow maggots in the wintertime, though.  Maybe it would work if I could create a "fly house" that stays warm enough for the flies to live and breed in winter.  It wouldn't have to be very big.  Maybe a greenhouse would work.
    One other thing I've been using that works pretty well is a "junebug light".  In June, our porch light attracts junebugs all night, which hit the light and then fall to the ground.  We put a big funnel and a bucket under the light, and it fills up with junebugs which we feed to the chickens the next morning.  I was thinking about expanding this operation and having lightbulbs outside the chicken coop at night which could collect all sorts of flying insects throughout the summer.
    I think feeding egg shells to the chickens would be a good idea.  I've tried just crunching up the shells with my hand and throwing them out there.  Most of the time they don't eat it.  Why do you have to cook the shells?
    That chicken tractor might be a great idea.  It would protect chickens from predators and keep the mice/varmints away from their food.  I have a problem with my chickens attacking each other, though.  And how do you keep digging animals and snakes from getting under the tractor?
2 years ago
    The real cost of raising chickens comes from buying their feed.  That's why I like the idea of saving money on feed.  I saw these videos on how either chicken poop or chicken milo feed can be used to grow maggots.  It looks pretty easy.  I would opt to use the feed.  The end product is going to be a mixture of maggots and whatever the maggots were feeding on, and the chickens will eat the mixture.  I don't think the chickens should eat their own poop, but them eating chicken feed mixed with maggots would be fine.  If you wanted to use chicken poop and then separate the chicken poop from the maggots, you'd have to rinse it off, and it might be hard to rinse away without losing the maggots along with it, since the poop is partly solid.  And what a yucky job.  You don't have to rinse if you use the feed.
    The way this can save money is thus.  The maggots will weigh about as much as the feed they ate.  Maggots are about 46% protein by weight, whereas feed is only about 11% protein.  And the protein in the feed is of lower quality than the protein in the maggots.  So by feeding the chicken feed to the maggots, you quadruple the protein value of the feed the maggots ate, while the value of the feed the maggots didn't eat (but are still wallowing around in) stays the same.  So you get a net doubling of protein value of the feed.  Protein is the most important nutrient chickens need to grow and produce eggs.  Another thing is that maggots are the chickens' favorite food.  They'll eat every last maggot.  When it comes to their feed, they don't like it as well.  They throw it around and waste a lot of it.  So I'm thinking a person could save 50% off of feed costs by growing maggots, and have bigger, healthier chickens.  
    The only other way I know to save money on feed is to buy it in bulk.  I saw this site where if you order 2000 pounds of organic feed, it costs 50% less per pound than buying it by the 50-pound sack.  That's where you'd have to know a lot of other organic chicken farmers in your area that you could split the shipment with.
2 years ago
    My biogas generator is not working, even though it was only supposed to take nine days to ferment and it's been weeks.  It won't light.  I'm not getting any gas at all as far as I can tell.  It didn't get too cold, either.  The temperature inside my house has been 60-80 F the whole time.

    I built this biogas generator based on this video I saw on Youtube:

https://youtu.be/CmtAWQVZtl4

    It involves using a mixture of manure, plant waste, water, N-P-K fertilizer and rock salt to produce biogas much more efficiently than the mixture of manure/vegetable waste/water that many of us are familiar with.
    According to the video, the small 8-gallon tank of waste is supposed to generate enough gas to keep a flame lit for eight hours a day for one month.  Did anybody else try this/know about this method of creating biogas?
2 years ago
Don't move that peach tree or disturb the bed.  That peach tree has survived because it's strong and healthy where it is.  Besides, spring is a bad time for transplanting trees.  I think you should add on to the bed.  Then, to keep chickens from digging in the bed, cover it with chicken wire or some other sort of wire mesh.
2 years ago
Your climate sounds just like Texas, where I live.  Your soil does, too.

I've thought about using a double-wall method before also.  My idea was to ventilate inside the wall to cause moisture to dry up before it damages the insulation.  It would also help to cool things in summer.

Your window insulation ideas sound great.

Good floor ideas.  The standard way we build floors in Texas is to put the pipes down and then pour an uninsulated concrete slab over them.  The pipes won't freeze, and they do help to insulate the house.  However, if you ever leave your house empty in the winter and don't leave the heat on, the pipes could freeze.  It would be better if you had insulation in the floor.  I saw this person who used lava rock with earth over it as her floor.  She said the lava rock insulated the floor because it's porous and traps air inside of it.

Granite has been used as a building material for centuries.  I suppose it still could emit radon.  Maybe that's why they used to make ceilings much higher in old buildings.  From what I understand about radon, it won't be a problem as long as you can ventilate all the air out of your house on a regular basis--especially the air near the ceiling.

The rainwater storage tank placement sounds good.  I would use IBC totes for water storage because we can get cheap used ones around here.  I can get about 175 gallons of storage for $50.  If I try to buy new or used water tanks, they cost $1 per gallon.  Another idea I have is to build a sand cistern.  This would only be cost-effective if you have sandy soil on the property; otherwise, you're going to have to have a lot of sand hauled in.  If you have plants shading your pipes, they should be ok in the sun.  You really need to keep them shaded so the water doesn't get too hot.
2 years ago
Any kind of engineered wood product or plastic can be chewed by rodents.  Solid wood can't, and neither can sheet metal or small-hole metal mesh.  If you have metal mesh with big holes in it in the floor, snakes can come in.  We ended up building our coop out of solid wood framing and corrugated sheet metal, including on the floor.  We made a big "door" on the back that we can open up to let out all the hay and manure when we hose it out.  Your trailer gate could work the same way.  Just be careful not to park it in the sun because the chickens can roast inside if they're not let out early enough in the morning.  That could happen if you build it out of plastic or OSB sheeting, also.
2 years ago
I live in north Texas, and I've avoided building a greenhouse because of precisely these same problems.  My idea about greenhouses is this:  they're not really needed in TX-OK except for six months out of the year.  There's no way to ventilate or shade all that glass enough (unless you use 100% shade, which would also kill plants) to get the temperature down.  Nor would geothermal provide enough cool air to cool it down.  The glass should be removable so the plants won't roast in the warm season.

As for the cold season, lots of insulation is needed.  The sun is low in the sky that time of year, so only (removable) south-facing glass is needed.  The roof could be solid sheet metal with styro sheet insulation (and part of it removable for the warm season, the rest providing partial shade).  I was thinking the north side inside the greenhouse could have stacks of plastic barrels or IBC totes painted black and filled with water.  These barrels could absorb heat from the sun during the day.  Behind them, some cardboard covered with aluminum foil to reflect heat.  Behind that, a solid wall of stacked hay bales to add more insulation and make the wall airtight.  The outside surface of the hay bale wall could be covered with chicken wire and then cement stucco and then waterproofed to keep the bales from rotting.
2 years ago
(Jt Lamb) Sounds like where you live, you wouldn't have been able to have a tenancy-in-common with more than three families on the deed anyway.
2 years ago
BTW a land trust is still really the same thing as having one person own the whole property.  That person controls the trust.  The trust is revokable.  They might one day decide to revoke the trust and tell you you couldn't live there anymore.  That person also can sell the property whenever they wish.  Or if they die, their kids could sell it.  The owner doesn't have to be malicious or untrustworthy for you to lose your house.  A creditor might come along who could force the owner to sell the property to pay off a debt.  They could force him to revoke the trust at that time, too.
2 years ago