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  #21  
Old 06-26-2012, 07:02 PM
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Success! Just finished doing a little horse trading for some feeder pigs. Going to pick them up next Tuesday. Not the breed I eventually want to have, but good enough for now. They're 3/4 Duroc, 1/4 York mix. We bought 3 last year to butcher and they are a very good quality mix. Good marbling in the meat and excellent flavor. More importantly, they do well on pasture. Eventually, I want to raise Large Blacks, but they're proving to be somewhat hard to find in this area and kind of expensive. I do have plans to save back a couple gilts from this batch and get a Large Black boar to cross them with next spring. I think that will make a really good mix.

Still dry, but we got a little break from the heat today. My station shows 80 degrees and a pretty nice breeze. Looks like a good day to get the straw baled before it hits 100 in the next few days. I dread that. Better get busy.

5 hours later..

Well, my old $300 baler made up for the combine this evening. What a dog. It mis-tied about every 4th bale. Anyone familiar with the old International model 47 twine square balers knows exactly what I'm talking about. Regardless, it's done. Made enough bales to mulch the garden again next spring and bed the chickens in the meantime. With the ~300 bale surplus we already had, we'll get through the winter. Still plenty of stubble to plow down as well.

I really can't say enough good things about this variety of spelt. IMO, the straw from it is great. Soft and fluffy, almost white in color. Now to test it in the kitchen. The grain, not the straw.. I think I'll grind a little batch and make some M&M cookies this evening.

Last edited by krapgame; 06-27-2012 at 12:39 AM.
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  #22  
Old 06-27-2012, 01:21 AM
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M & M cookies???

Time for me to go see krapgame!
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  #23  
Old 06-29-2012, 02:10 AM
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Hot doesn't begin to describe today. I recorded 106.5 (a number more appropriate for an FM radio station than a temperature) on my weather station and was told that the bank in town showed 109 at one point. Insane hot, at least for here anyway.

After the sun went down a bit, DS and I went out and drove steel posts and set panels for a temporary pig pen out back of the chicken pen. The piglets we're getting Tuesday are only about 20 pounds and I'm concerned 1) that they may find a way under the fence in the main hog lot and 2) coyotes or neighbors dogs could pose a problem for them. Figured it best to keep them close to the house until they get to 35-40 pounds.

Picked our peaches tonight. Not many but we'll have a few to eat fresh for a few days. Also saw some grapes starting to get ripe. Actually found one small cluster that was ripe. They didn't survive.

The M&M cookie plan got pre-empted the other night when DW decided to make home made ice cream instead. However, we did have biscuits and gravy the next night and used the spelt for flour in the gravy. So far so good.

DW has been collecting food grade buckets the past 2 years when she works at the local U-pick bakery. We probably have over a hundred of them now and seem to use them for everything. Tonight, we drilled a small hole in 5 of them and put them next to some of the new trees we planted this spring to fill with water. About 3.5 gallons each, it takes about 3 hours for them to empty. That seemed to be a good drip irrigation of sorts for our new trees. Fill them up a couple times a day for a week or so to get the moisture level back up then cut back to once a day for maintenance. I'm hoping the slow drip will give the water more chance to wick into the dirt than just pouring water directly on the ground. We'll see how it goes.
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  #24  
Old 07-01-2012, 05:20 AM
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If you have any extra M&M seeds, would you be willing to share?
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  #25  
Old 07-01-2012, 02:11 PM
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I tell my 6 yo granddaughter that what the goat leaves behind are M&Ms. Haven't had her try to plant them yet, but it might work.
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  #26  
Old 07-01-2012, 04:46 PM
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Unfortunately, I don't have any open pollinated M&M seeds and the hybrid ones only produce chocolate chips when you plant them. Still looking though.

Day 4 of 100+ is on deck and no end in the forecast. The humidity has been unusually low for our area, <30%, and we've had 5-10 MPH winds with it. The last week has had about the same effect as a convection oven on our area.

Plowed under one patch of straw stubble yesterday to try to control some weeds. Surprisingly there is some moisture in the dirt in places, but most of it plowed really hard. Went ahead and disced it down to keep the big clumps from baking out like boulders. One minor treat; when I was plowing I found a pretty nice piece of flint that was either a really large arrow head or a small spear point. I'm thinking spear, but really don't know. Either way, it is a complete piece. No burial sites AFAIK in this neighborhood, but I've found many relics here in the past 40 years. I always thought that the high ground and relative proximity to water here probably made an attractive camp site. It would be really fun to know the pre-history of this area.

Today we'll finish watering and mulching the raised beds. Also need to engineer some kind of watering device for the little pig pen. Will probably spend some time re-arranging the barns some too so we can start getting things put away, just in case it ever does rain again.

Scored a pretty good find last week from the local "junk" dealer; a Danuser post hole digger for $150 and a Massey Ferguson 7' sickle bar mower for $400. Mower is basically ready to run, the digger would run but really needs a little attention. Both items usually bring $700-1200 around here, so I felt pretty good about finding them for that price. Planning to pick those up tomorrow.

The drip buckets are working well on the trees. 3 days and the wilted ones are perked back up and looking good.

Talking with a local farmer/customer about buying a steer from his kid at the 4-H fair auction coming up. We've been buying a quarter or two from him for the past several years anyhow and decided that the business could use the PR for supporting the local farm community this year. Went and looked at them Friday night. They're showing a pure bred Hereford that we'll probably buy. Impressive looking animal! This guy comes from a long line of cattle ranchers and really raises some outstanding beef. I only hope to do as well someday. He offered to bring the animal back home and rehydrate and de-stress it for a week or so after the fair so we'd get the best possible meat from it. You just can't beat dealing with local producers.
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  #27  
Old 07-01-2012, 05:26 PM
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" It would be really fun to know the pre-history of this area."

It isn't too much "pre-history," but it is some good history:

http://www.backwoodshome.com/forum/v...721#post314721
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  #28  
Old 07-01-2012, 05:39 PM
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Cool! Thanks, Grumble. I'll try to check that out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumble View Post
" It would be really fun to know the pre-history of this area."

It isn't too much "pre-history," but it is some good history:

http://www.backwoodshome.com/forum/v...721#post314721
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  #29  
Old 07-01-2012, 05:47 PM
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When I wrote that post, I'd only read the first half of the book, where the "frontier" hadn't expanded very far. The second half includes the goings-on all the way into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Louisiana.

If you've ever been curious how some places got their names, this book could answer a lot of those questions.
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  #30  
Old 07-01-2012, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grumble View Post
If you've ever been curious how some places got their names, this book could answer a lot of those questions.
Well, there is a little town west of here called French Lick that there's been a lot of jokes made about. Wonder if they mention that one?
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  #31  
Old 07-01-2012, 07:45 PM
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YES!! French Lick is a salt spring (or used to be, anyway) where animals would gather to lick the evaporated dirt to get salt. When the French tried to get the local Indians to join in against the colonists and the English, that's where they met.
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  #32  
Old 07-01-2012, 10:08 PM
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Lots of history in French Lick. The big hotel there was built by some of the big named mafia guys back in the 20's or 30's. If you've ever had Pluto water, that's where it came from. Both are a result of the natural mineral springs there. The whole town smells like sulfur, especially after a heavy rain. I always knew about the mineral lick, but never knew what the French connection was with the name.

That's interesting. Thanks for passing it along!
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  #33  
Old 07-04-2012, 01:08 AM
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We finally have pigs. They're in the temporary pen for a day or two and we'll probably move them out to the big pen this weekend. They ended up being a little bigger than I thought, I think they'll stay in the bigger pen just fine. It concerns me though, we put them in the pen tonight, they all huddled in one corner briefly and when the meeting broke up two of them commenced digging a tunnel. Hopefully we'll still have pigs in the morning. I think I'll be checking on them periodically tonight. If they're still around tomorrow, I'll post a picture.

Slight break in the drought Sunday, got about 3/4" of rain. Enough to settle the dust a bit. Unfortunately, the humidity is up now and even though the temperature is cooler, it feels hotter.

Got the mower and post digger last night. The mower works pretty good. Needs new knife sections and some minor adjusting, but I mowed with it a little this afternoon and it did surprisingly well for as bad as the sickle bar looks. Probably won't do much with the digger until this fall or after the rains start.
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  #34  
Old 07-07-2012, 01:22 AM
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Still hot and miserable here. Hopefully some relief in sight, forecast for rain looks better this weekend and cooler temps, mid 80's, forecast for next week.

Pigs are doing well, no problems keeping them home so far (fingers tightly crossed) and they seem to be adjusting to their new surroundings. Still have them in the temporary pen to get them used to being around people a little more and hopefully get them better trained to come when they hear a feed bucket rattle. I put a small, plastic kiddie pool out there for them to cool off in. Probably have the only pigs in the county that have their own swimming pool.

Been fooling with the new mower a bit tonight. Replaced 4 of the worst sections with new ones that I had on hand, and watching a couple of e-bay auctions for a deal on more new ones. Time to be stocking up on things like that when the price is right. Took it out and mowed a couple fence rows about dark. Even with the ledger plates worn and most of the sections dull and the grass being tough, it mowed surprisingly well. I'm well pleased with that money spent. Once I get it all tuned back in, I think it should do pretty well.

Planning to spend the weekend making one last pass through the corn patch with the cultivator, getting the combine cleaned up and ready to run oats next week and grinding feed for pigs and chickens. With both days predicted to be over 100, none of it will probably get done too fast.
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  #35  
Old 07-08-2012, 10:54 PM
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Finally had our turn with some rain. About 2 inches so far and still rolling through. Weatherman says the bigger chances are still to come, so hopefully we'll get some life back in the plants for a few days.

Just had the first sample of the spelt M&M cookies. Oh yeah!! Not big and puffy like some people like cookies, but exactly the way I like them, nice and chewy with a little richer flavor than wheat flour. Now to expand the horizons and experiment with some breads and whatnot. Also need to come up with a way to "final clean" the berries a little better, get the weed seeds and the ones still in the husk removed. We hand picked about 12 cups of berries and removed less than 2 tablespoons of undesirable stuff, so all in all it would still be an acceptable percentage of contamination, but I think I can get it better.

Didn't dream I'd be saying this a week ago, but hoping the ground will dry just enough to get back in the field to run oats about mid week. I've had really bad experiences with hulless oats and blackbirds in the past and I want to get these before the birds set in on them. So far so good, not seeing many birds but that can change in a day and they can clean an acre in just a few days.

With the rain, I think we'll try to plow down the straw stubble later this week as well. It's the best way to control weeds that I've found so far, plow them under before they make seed then hit the plot about every two weeks for the rest of the summer with the disc to break up anything that re-sprouts. If anybody has any better suggestions, I'm all ears.
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  #36  
Old 07-10-2012, 12:34 AM
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According to the counter on the forum, this should be my 500th posting here. Nothing significant about that really, but seems like it ought to be.

500 posting ago, I had a lot of plans for the homestead, lots of things I wanted to get done. Yeah, we were doing some stuff, but seemed to mostly be just chasing our tails. Since becoming active here, we seem to have gotten more focused, actually getting more done. Maybe it's because we're more motivated by events that seem to be unfolding and we're working more diligently to prepare for those contingencies. More likely, I think it's because of reading all the things that other members are doing and have done and that has inspired us to get more done ourselves. Whatever the reason, I still think it's appropriate to take time to say thanks to all the folks here that have help keep us motivated, that have shared experiences that we've learned from and have provided moral support. We're all in this together and I appreciate all that we've gotten from this forum. I only hope that in some small way, something I've said on here at some time has done for someone else what so many others have done for me.

Spent this evening doing some final detail work pig-proofing the hog lot. Yeah, I fret over details like that. With the weather being 25 degrees cooler than last week, it actually made it pleasant to get some work done. I think we'll move the pigs out to the new home this weekend. The lot is as pig tight as I can make it and the little fellers are starting to settle in more now and getting more accustomed to having people around, I think they'll be fine.

Now, out to the chicken house to see if I can get a shot at the raccoon that's been slipping in about dark for the past couple of nights. I still hate raccoons...
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  #37  
Old 07-12-2012, 01:01 AM
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The oats are in the barn. More like, I pulled the combine through a weed patch and found some oats in the tank when I finished. Taking a break at the moment from getting them cleaned, so much green trash in them that they'll heat and turn bad if I don't get them cleaned and spread out to dry pretty quick. I'm thinking of naming the plot where I planted these the jinxed plot, because the past 3 seasons I have managed to make just about every mistake that could be made in this plot. Regardless, I think I got back more grain than I planted so I'll have enough seed stock to try again next year.

Combine is cleaned out, going to use it stationary this weekend to re-thresh the spelt that didn't clean on the first pass. I've never used it stationary, but I think it could be a good thing, just to measure what goes in and what comes out to get an idea what percentage is getting left in the field.

Pigs are coming right along, growing noticeably and starting to tame down to the point that they'll come to the fence and let you scratch their noses now. Still spook a bit whenever they're walked up on, but less than they did a week ago. My supplier should have the next batch weaned sometime next week and be ready to get three more, maybe four. One little gilt in this batch that I'm really tempted to keep back to breed this winter. Fine looking little pig, guess we'll see how she develops.

More rain in the forecast the next few days, we need that. Raspberries are making their second crop in full force now, sweet corn starting to tassel and the field corn has really jumped since the last rain. Another good rain will really help out everything. Makes me wish I'd gone ahead and planted some late soybeans now.

Time to get back to the seed cleaner. Gonna be another late night.
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  #38  
Old 07-12-2012, 01:29 AM
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Hope the seed cleaning goes well. I'm anxious to see these hulless oats! Be nice to those pigs, too, since I have a vested interest in at least part of one.
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Old 07-12-2012, 04:07 AM
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Well, it could have been better. So much "wet," green stuff and moisture in general that it won't winnow out. They cleaned about 60%, I made a drying frame to spread it out on until it starts to rain, hopefully a few hours of hot sun tomorrow morning will dry the green stuff enough that I can get it separated out in a day or so. Looks like gonna end up with a couple bushels, that'll be enough to try it again next year.

Not to worry on the pigs, they are living quite well right now, and will live the way pigs were intended to right up till the time of their demise. I guess that's the best a slaughter animal can hope for.

All of the experimenting that we've been doing with various grain varieties the past few years is about sustainability. As I've posted before, bread wheats really don't do well in the Ohio River valley. The spelt we're using now seems to be a reasonable substitute for hard wheat for our purposes. It also makes a good quality animal feed and, according to my Amish friends, can be fed to horses without problems whereas wheat can't. We don't have horses now, but someday may so this could be a consideration.

The Jarvis corn we're growing, the hulless oats and the hulless barley I'm working to propagate are all much the same. We've made hominy and corn flour from the Jarvis with good success and it also make a good animal feed - the pigs are loving it. We've grown hulless oats in the past and believe that this variety will also serve a dual purpose, both to us as well as the animals. This variety is a very high protein that has shown great results with pigs and should be almost high enough in protein to use as a layer ration for chickens without additional protein. The barley will be a substitute for rice in our diet and, according to locals, is extremely good for the flavor and texture of beef when fed to cattle. I'm also planning a cattle finish ration that will use our sorghum instead of molasses as well as using it for our own purposes. Most importantly, all the varieties that we've settled on are sustainable, meaning we don't have to depend on being able to get seed stock from outside sources.

I've posted several times elsewhere here that, IMO, bulk calories are the bottom line when it comes to food self sufficiency. According to research I've done, that can be achieved either through meat or grains. For me, preferably both. One bushel of corn contains about 95,000 calories. A quarter acre, tended by hand, can easily yield 20 bushels, or 1.9 million calories, enough to provide 2000 calories per day for three people for almost a year. A bushel of spelt contains almost 92,000 calories, oats almost 85,000, barley 77,000. Whether the grain calories we produce are consumed by us or by our animals, calories matter. I'm certainly not against spinach, green beans, tomatoes or whatever, but the math says they just don't have the calories that it takes to keep going. We'll absolutely keep growing the fruits and vegetables, but the grains are what fuel everything and that's why we're putting the efforts into finding what works for us.

Beside that, experimenting with this stuff is just plain fun.
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Old 07-12-2012, 05:07 PM
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You've got me jealous of your grain capabilities, krapgame. I know I need them, but I am not there yet. My no-till raised beds don't lend themselves to 1/4 ac of this and 1/2 ac of that. Your last paragraph on calories is right on. I'm going to have to get some type of tiller. I don't see chicken tractors doing it unless I had 100 chickens

This spring I thought, I need to focus on staples - we couldn't survive on brocolli and tomatoes. I had just ordered The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe, and when it arrived, lo and behold, she's all about growing staples. Great timing. She has settled on corn, squash, beans and eggs for her staples. Her ducks forage for most of their food.

I sowed (broadcast) the orchard with clover, millet, sorghum and sunflowers last spring for chicken forage. But my timing was too late; I needed to get the seed out before the last freeze so the ground would heave and bury the seeds. I'm sure the field mice had a good treat . I do have a nice stand of clover, now. It will be great if I have to feed my rabbits on my own.

This year I'm doing sunflowers for chicken feed. I'll try amaranth next year for the humans and chickens. If I can find an affordable tiller this winter, I'll be expanding the garden for some serious grain growing, next year. I've got a long ways to go to catch up with you, though.
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