David Miller

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since Sep 13, 2011
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Recent posts by David Miller

I'd like to add my own request for feedback into this mix.

I have a 1856 home with a limestone foundation. The main house has a walk-in basement with low ceilings but servicable area that someone many years ago limewashed the interior walls. It needs redoing.

The exterior of the house was unfortunately cement stuccoed. This is my current task

I want to lime plaster over the very rough cement stucco. The stucco looks to have been finished with a heavy sponge and has peaks and valleys of "daubing" that are apx .5-1 inch in depth or height. It is extremely rough. I'm hoping to lime plaster over it but would love to have some serious people verify my approach.  Because of the roughness I'm hoping to be able to plaster right onto it after pressure washing it.

Thoughts, feedback, stern talking to?
1 week ago
I just want to add in here that there are so many NRCS/Extension/USDA etc grants for going no-till and other new practices. If you're switching over, don't leave the money on the table. Make sure you do the paperwork prior to changing your practices
9 months ago
Some old photos to give you an idea of what I used. Ps, I'm no longer raising rabbits, anyone near Harrisonburg VA that wants one of these, I have 1 left to gift away.
4 years ago
I don't have any plans to offer but the general outline is pretty simple, so I'll try to summarize.

First, everything is based on a single sheet of metal roofing from Lowes.  That's the measurement from which everything else is based.  

Materials list:
1 sheet of metal roofing
1x2s apx 8ft long from Lowes or lumberyard of choice.
1/4 or 1/2 hardware cloth (smaller is better because kits are suicidal)
Scrap plywood or a new sheet is handy
Some scrap 1x4s are hand for building the nest box

Take the apx 2ftx8ft section of metal roofing (the cheaper the better of course), and lay it flat. Take two 1x2s and lay them on top of the metal long ways.  Cut the 1x2 s so that they are 4 inches shorter than the metal roof (overhang is crucial).

Then cut another 1x2 to build a frame from them. This shape should mirror the metal but be at least 1" shy of the edge in all directions. Now you have a rectangular frame. Build a two of these frames (one for top one for bottom).

On the bottom frame, run 1x2s the length of the frame with 1/4-1/2 inch between each one to allow for grazing (but acknowledging that if kits get out of the nursing box too soon, the slats are a death trap if they're too big). This will be the bottom. Miter each end when you trim them so that you can drag the bottom instead of it catching on the turf.

Now decide how high you want yours to be.  I liked mine a little deeper, about 2 1/2 feet because does don't mess with trying to get the roof open if they can't reach it.  Cut 4 1x2's in the same height and use them to connect your top and bottom. Now you have a rectangular box.

Using plywood (thinner is better!!)make a nesting box on one end. This provides structure and the nest box is mandatory, kits cannot live in the open air.  Make sure to build in a hurdle at the entrance from the nest box to the open area so that kits that can't run and jump, can't get out, they will die if they get out too early so I usually used a removable hurdle that only the doe can get past and then remove it when the little buggers get big enough. One small hurdle should remain (apx 2inches) att the bottom though because I did mine 4 seasons and this helped limit the cold air in the nest box.

Once the nest box is built, take your roll of hardware cloth, screw it down with a washer and screws to the nest box, then wrap it around the length (sides) of the entire tractor back to the nest box on the other side. Washers are crucial! Get this tight, I used a makeshift brake to bend the corners because they were hard to get taunt otherwise.

Now its time to put the lid on. I liked hinges but always found that the screws let water in. The crucial thing is the overhang as you don't want water dripping anywhere in the tractor. I was amazed at how dumb rabbits are. They'd just sit there with the water dripping on their heads, then die of cold if I had let them.

My best setup included a bucket on top with 1/4 or 1/8 plastic tube to watering nipples for water and standard food box cut through the wire but the food always was a challenge with the elements so I'd suggest trying to think about how to mount the food box inside the enclosure with a way to fill from the outside without allowing rain to get at it.  My system was not perfect.

Handles on both ends are crucial. I also like a drag line as my back sucks. I'll try to find some old photos but I hope this helps.  
4 years ago
I have a lot of slopes too, and I don't go there on my tractor. The pucker factor is a great way to phrase it, and my tolerance is low!!  I have the geared option and though I wanted the hydrostatic, I think geared was a better option for the amount of soil work I do. That said, I have a power reverser that makes loader work far easier than it would be. Also, as mentioned by many others, 4x4 is mandatory!
4 years ago
I'm going to add my rambling two cents. I have 26 acres of mostly Lodi silty clay loam. When I bought my farm I hacked at the overgrown fence lines with a variety of billhooks, hoes, machetes and a pushmower. It took me a year to clear 1000 ft of old barbed wire fence that was encrusted with all kinds of fun poison ivy and rose. My back still hurts.  I lugged the chopped up barbed wire pieces to a central location as my own draft animal. The work was demoralizingly slow but felt good on the soul. I wanted to key line my property and spent the entire first two years shopping for the right tractor while doing everything manually. The two years was crucial to figuring out what I needed. Not that I got it perfect but it helped me understand what my needs would be. I needed horsepower to key line with a plow (I wound up with a single bottom plow that works great for swales). I needed material handling to really get the work I wanted to do, done.  I needed to dig ponds for surge protection at the ends of my swales. I needed to maintain roads and create new ones. I needed to brush hog the property lines and the roads to maintain their access, additionally I needed to maintain any brush work I had succeeded at and go further on those old barbed wire lines.

I bought a 50hp 4x4 JD 4700 used as hell. It had 3000 hours on it when I bought it from a third tier dealer who had purchased it at auction from a Graveyard. It had been a gravedigger. The platform was factory mated with a backhoe and that is what sold me on it. I immediately sent it to the JD dealership to fix old hydraulic lines, and to get everything back into field ready condition. It cost me $20k used and I put another $2500 into it with repairs and a replacement tire.

Pros: Big enough to do almost everything I need, more so usually. I can put the backhoe on and haul as big a scoop of topsoil as I can grab in the front end loader without worry of toppling. I can mow with my backhoe and it looks like finish mowing, I can tiptoe around all of my obstacles and manicure my land decently. I can dig 8 ft down with my backhoe and grade decently with my front end loader.

Cons: My neighbors will hay my fields if I ask, but the tractor can't safely carry the roundtables, they're huge and it just isn't safe. It can lift them but I'm not comfortable. I occasionally regret not going with the larger platform JD that has the same size wheels front and back, they're more competent in the field.  The backhoe option meant that the tractor didn't come with a 3pt hitch setup, this was a much bigger problem than I dismissed it as being when I bought it! 20 year old parts matching isn't straightforward and is damn expensive.  Being old, my tractors joints are all loose. I didn't realize it but every front end loader and backhoe joint wiggles and sways in an unproductive way. That being said, I save 20k off new.

Some thoughts for those contemplating buying a tractor. I wish I had a BCS also. I have a high tunnel and this tractor is not appropriate for it. I mow with my zero turn now that I've tamed the land with my 4700. I would not want to be without the ability to jump in and go dig a hole, or scoop up something, or grab a telephone pole out of the ground, this capacity has helped me turn motivation into action.  $25000 is a ton of money. I took out a 4 year loan to buy it. I was able to pay it off early but it was $400 a month and that was not easy on top of everything else. $25000 would have gotten me 1/6th of the way to paying off my farm. This was a serious tradeoff in time for debt. My tractor could be slightly bigger. I thought I was buying too large, I wasn't. I could easily go back and decide to buy the same HP but larger platform JD, the functionality would have paid off and the prices were similar, I was just intimidated.

Hope some of this helps someone.
4 years ago
Thanks for all the ideas everyone.  I'm building a pit system with a hood that I used in another life for BBQ.  I am building the pit so that I can load and unload with my front-end loader. Any similar designs out there or people with experience with this, please share.
4 years ago
Yes but I want something to permanently alter the ph for the hazels, oaks and chestnuts permanently or at least something that doesn't require annual applications #permie
4 years ago
Kevin, thank for posting!  If you have time for a followup tangent I am trying to brainstorm on ways to bring my soil ph up for Truffle production on the East Coast of the US (Blue Ridge Mountains VA). The prescribed culture for truffle production calls for 7-8.5ph and my soil sits at a beautiful and even 6.  Your post about Biochar struck me as a much better solution than annual liming. I wonder if there is knowledge out there about long term impact of ph change on biochar addition to soil. Any thoughts?
4 years ago
I fuse glass in kilns.  I have a few thoughts that may or may not help.  If the collector could be used to heat a plate of salt that could then be used to heat a kiln with an electric controller to take the temp to apx 1500 f it would grant you control. Keeping the glass at 950f for an hour after melting will anneal the product. I'd personally try to take an old ceramic kiln and retrofit it with a heating plate that could be accessed by a diagonally drilling into the kiln.  I'm not sure how a controller would work but being able to anneal the product when you're done is mandatory and keeping control over the glass temp is as well.  
4 years ago