Sunday, 29 April 2012

Lynx's Notebook on a Farm, April 27th, 2012

So, the farm here has a lot of garbage. Although glass jars are used for storing milk (we happen to have a lovely Jersey milk cow and calf), we don't really have an other food storage containers, glass or otherwise. Leftovers are kind of wasted. Often they will get eaten, but they also get thrown out. Or they get eaten and I'm simply not there. There are pieces of garbage just everywhere. Shouldn't an organic farm be making an effort to not produce garbage? And to not have what garbage there is strewn all over the property? He uses plastics and paper feed bags. What about canvas? Couldn't those be reusable, especially if they're good quality? Same with twine. Use twine from a biodegradable source, such as cotton, jute, flax, and hemp. If you cut it as little as possible when taking it off of bales, and keep the used twine on rollers or even just bundled up, you can reuse it for a myriad number of applications. Also, if you always carry a bag (used feedbag) or a backpack with you, you can stuff any cut ends of string or cut wire in it. It can also be used to hold a hydration pack, nails, hammer, and any number of items. This way, there is no garbage strewn on the ground.

Chickens should be made full use of. The layers have a great skill of scattering manure. Make and use an eggmobile. Also can use electric fence or netting. Details as in Pastured Poultry Profits.

Yesterday I set up fencing for a new pasture for the cattle. The electric fencing is really easy to do. The cattle are easy to move. If you are moving them a fair ways, you do need a fenced corridor, but that is easy enough to set up. To get the cattle to follow, simply have a bucket of oats and throw handfuls on the ground to your side. If you're simply moving them to a new pasture that is directly beside the old one, just open the fencing and they will go through. Well, they will go through if there is fresh grass, and they're used to going through. This fencing system is easy enough that one person can do it. One person could farm the land. For haying, you could hire a neighbour to cut and bales the hay and/or straw.

Hay bales and straw bales. I think I need to investigate this more. Personally, I prefer the rectangular bales to the round bales, or hayballs as the other WWOOFer calls them. I think that although the hayballs and strawballs are nice, they require big tractors to lift and move them. One person and a tractor can handle them. The rectangular bales however, specifically the two-string bales, one person can handle without any machinery (although hay is quite a bit heavier than straw). It would be possible to load a trailer full of bales and then move them via truck. It would probably use less gas than the tractor. If you only wanted one or two bales, then simply loading them onto the back of your pickup truck would work. The hayballs are quite nice for winter though, as you can simply stick it in the feed/round hay holder, and the cattle feed from that. I would think that generally one is not using hay in late spring, summer, and fall - those are the times to be collecting hay, not using it. All the herbivores are eating grass. For horses and donkeys, one should probably offer hay anyways, but that wouldn't be using much. Overall, I think I would go with the rectangular bales over the round bales. It is something to be researched however.

Going back to fencing and watering, apparently you can get a good fencing system for about $2000. He uses a watering truck, that is a truck with a large plastic tank in the pickup bed, to water many of the animals. The other WWOOFer and I were discussing fencing and water supply. He had several ideas on how to improve the current system. What you could do instead, is buy the land, look it over, choose the house location (if there is no house yet), figure out the water supply or source, the sites of outbuildings such as barns, sheds, and granaries. Then (or first, if you like), you figure out how you're going to use the land - where the pastures are going to be. You can set water lines, specifically very well insulated water lines in the ground (probably about four feet down, below the frost line to avoid freezing), as well as wire for electricity, and have access points coming up at various points where you're planning to pasture. As well, add permanent fence posts to be corners for your fencing. The reason for the permanent corners is that the corner posts are put under a lot of strain and when they are the fibreglass or plastic posts, they tend to bend, break, or fall over.

Set up in this fashion, one post could service four fields. Depending on the size of the fields, and especially in summer where you don't have to worry about freezing water lines, you could have on EWC (electricity water corner) service 16 fields - the adjacent fields and the fields adjacent to those. Just use garden hoses to extend the water, and wire to extend the electricity. In winter, one could quadruple the field size (would be quadrupling the field size in winter be a a good thing?). The initial investment would be quite high to set up a system like this, and if there were any problems such as leaks in the water line or corroded wire, it would be difficult to fix, but I think that the amount that you would save would be huge, in both money and time. You would simply have valves that you can turn, opening and closing EW pathways, to get the water and electricity flowing to where you want it. You can also put the cattle in a barn or barns for the winter, and have said barn adjacent to four fields. Have a road to the barn. It would work. Especially if you put the barn, house, and other outbuildings in the middle of the land. That would give equal access in all directions.

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