Some weird problem with one of my showers in our house. There is a 50mV to 60mV DC voltage on the showerhead, while the pipe it connects to is properly grounded (a teflon tape appears to isolate the showerhead from the pipe). It is DC, not AC, like the house mains electrical. It is a low voltage (1/1000th of normal AC voltage at the outlets) but is enough to produce some twiching when touched. When all the breakers are off, there is still ~ 15-30mV residual voltage. When the breakers are back on, but the phone wires are disconnected in the phone interface box, there is a ~ 15mV residual DC voltage on the showerhead. When both main electrical and phone are disconnected, there is still a residual DC voltage of 15 - 30mV. There is never any AC voltage. The hot water pipe is grounded to the cold water pipe at the water heater. All voltages were measured with the negative of the voltmeter connected to earth (round prong of a 3-prong outlet). Our wireline phone has a constant humming sound which is very annoying (symptomatic of a bad ground). We actually discontinued the service due to poor audio quality. I am thinking the house has a weak grounding rod, maybe due to corrosion. A google search points to other people experiencing such problems. The recommended solution is to separate the phone interface box ground from the house AC mains ground, although I was told that codes require a common ground, which I tend to agree with, a good ground should have 0 potential on it.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
The first flush diverters on the rain water system were left open yesterday. We had several frosty mornings in the past few days. If the diverters are allowed to freeze, they will bust, so rain water collection is stopped at this time.
I also got a compost thermometer yesterday to measure the temperature inside the compost heap. It was the same temperature as the outside air, in the 40s, which indicated the forced air system is not really working. I will devise a way to put a much stronger fan in the system.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
|Crop||Yield per acre||Protein Content||Protein Yield|
All yields are close, except the incredible Comfrey (are those numbers real?). The numbers are for Russian Comfrey, which should grow well in the PNW. It is a heavy nitrogen feeder. It is a perennial that will produce at full yield starting the 3rd year, once the deep tap roots are well established. It can be cut every 5 weeks during the season. It is also difficult to eradicate once established. One option would be to plant it directly inside the chicken run, and protect each plant, then let the chickens feed on one plant at a time.
I may plant at leat 5 plants in the chicken run next year, and protect them the first year to allow them to grow to maturity, then use them as feed supplement.
Aside from Comfrey, we can see that protein yield per acre is a lot more constant that whole yield, and should actually be the main criteria for selecting a crop. Corn, barley and peas seem to be the winners, while sunflower can still be planted as an ornamental while providing some additional proteins.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
We stopped at a food stand this afternoon, and I saw eggs at $6.50 a dozen. Wow, prices have gone up! This got me thinking, would it be worth to sell eggs, in a situation where I would need to supplement my income (such as retirement for example)? Assuming $5 a dozen and customers for them, 25 layers, 2 dozens a day, for $300 a month. The only cost is feed, and that alone may eat up a lot of the revenue. What about growing my own feed, since I do have good land?
From a study:
"Feed consumption and its efficient utilization is one of the major concerns in commercial table egg production as feed cost is one of the major components of total cost of production. Feed alone may contribute from 60 to70% to the total cost of production in egg type layers according to Mian (1994) and Qunaibet et al (1992). Better utilization of feed and avoiding unnecessary feed wastage could be the leading factors in minimizing total cost of production (Elwardany 1998). A layer requires 2.5 kg of feed for 1 kg eggs produced (Ascard et al 1995). Elwardany et al (1998) reported a daily feed intake of 102 g over a 52 weeks production period and 2.07 kg feed/dozen eggs laid. Petek (1999) reported a daily feed consumption/layer (115 g)."
Since our layers are free range, they will eat a lot more feed than caged, at least 30% more if I recall previous readings. So the 2Kg/dozen translate into 5lbs/dozen. Our need would then be 10lbs a day for two dozen eggs, which is a little more than what we actually use, so a good round number for a conservative estimate. Assuming a little less feed needs in the winter, due to less egg laying, the total yearly feed need for 25 chickens is about 2500lbs. This already seems a very big number.
What to plant? Layer feed must have about 18% protein content.
- Corn (10% protein)
- Barley (13% protein)
- Peas (18% protein)
- Wheat (18% protein)
- Comfrey (20% protein)
- Sunflower (25% protein)
- Lentil (35% protein)
First formula: 25% Sunflowers, 25% peas 25% corn and 25% commercial formula. The commercial formula will be bought on demand. The rest will have to be grown, dried and stored. I will need about 600lbs of each ingredients. Next is to determine the yield.
Corn yield ~ 100 bushels per acre, 60lbs per bushel, or 6000lbs per acre. 0.1 acre needed, or 4400sqft.
Field peas yield ~ 40 bushels per acre. 0.25 acres needed.
Sunflower yield ~ 1200lbs per acre, 0.5 acres needed.
This gives some scary numbers, I don't see myself hand shelling 600lbs of sunflowers after growing and harvesting them on half an acre. We can estimate that we would need one acre of land to provide 100% of the feed needs of a flock of 25 chickens. That seems an enormous amount of land (and work!) for just $300 a month. Clearly, growing vegetables seems a better income maker.
I would still like to grow some of my chicken feed. Some companion planting may be used here, using the corn or sunflowers as stakes for the peas for example, while the peas provide nitrogen to the soil. A good star would be to grow 1/10th acre of corn, and the peas that would grow with it. Before that, I need to try out the crop, so using one or two of the 10x25 garden beds is probably the best approach. One bed could have corn/peas, while the other sunflowers/peas.
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Yesterday night, I also noticed a baby garter snake in the grass. Good to see they reproduce near the garden. Those snakes feed on slug.
Some slugs are too small to be picked, and yet are still very destructive due to their number, so I do rely on their predators as well as picking.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sunday started with cutting the grass on the street with the sickle, almost half the way. The grass was then collected, which ended up taking more time than cutting it. The chicken house was cleaned, and some of the grass used for bedding. The goat shed was cleaned too, and grass added as bedding. I passed the mover to finish off the grass that was cut by hand. This too was a hard job. I got help setting the solar panel in place, which allowed me to clean half of the garage, and park the car in there. Finally, the hot tub second beam was leveled, but some adjustment will have to be made on the first beam.
Good progress this weekend.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
A normal compost pile will deplete its oxygen within 15mn, then go anaerobic (smelly), or dry up. I noticed with my compost, that the top layer would compost OK, but then, down 4-5 inches, it would be packed and un-composted. I would have to harvest my compost by layers, then let the top layer compost further, etc. It takes forever. Seeds are not killed by this cold composting system, like they would in a hot compost pile, so I get volunteer plants everywhere I spread my compost. I decided to use forced air, like Cedar Groove, but on a smaller scale.
Information is available on line:
Aerated Static Compost Pile
Here is my system, in pictures. I bought less than $20 of part, and one part (~$3.50) was not used. The fan and solar panel I already had.
The black pipe is 3" corrugated French drain. It has small holes that are the right size to let air out, while limiting the amount of compost going in.
I forgot to wrap the vertical section with duct tape. This section won't be burried in compost, and will let most of the air escape. This will have to be done later.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
- Finish pasture sheds (screw loose siding panels).
- Plant cover crop.
- Clean junk along corral.
- Run a load to the waste disposal facility.
- Get a bid on a roof deck and deck beam repair.
- Stain the deck.
- Add forced ventilation to compost (similar to Cedar Groove system).
- Clean up garage.
- Sheetrock garage.
- Build shelves and greenhouse window in garage South wall.
- Remove old electric water heater. Install solar tank. Install new electric water heater.
- Winterize beehives.
Saturday, September 1, 2012
Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
- Barn clean up. Although there is still to do, the barn is a lot cleaner, particularly thanks to rodent trapping.
- Front Yard cleaning. This was started in late 2011, and is still ongoing. Compared to Summer 2011, the yard is a lot cleaner now.
- First full honey harvest. We harvested one full honey super, which yielded 2 gallons, or about 25 pounds.
- Poultry flock contained. The hens used to escape and roam throughout the property. They are now contained in the corral.
- First garden. The hens used to destroy our garden. Now that they are contained, we grew beets, carrots, salad in the cold frame, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers.
- Installation of a greywater system. Nasturtium, sunflowers and bamboo is growing from the water.
- Kitchen electrical is fixed. We had a rusty outlet which eventually melted, opening the whole kitchen outlet circuit. This is fixed, thanks to Jack and Andy.
- Hot tub is cleaned and running. It had been sitting for 2 years, and was dirty. A few parts still need replacement.
- Flower beds along the driveway. We planted a few flowers along the driveway. They have a semi-automatic watering system that appears to work well.
- Some perennials planted (blueberries, apples, cherries).
- Pasture sheds sided. The 4 pasture sheds are now sided, although some work still needs to be done on them.
- Brush mower fixed. This tool helps cutting grass too tall for the riding mower (along the street).
- Hay collected for the winter. Cutting the tall grass along the street with a sickle makes great hay for the goats.
- Finish the pasture sheds. Siding needs more screws before the windy season comes in.
- Plant cover crop in the garden. Field peas will provide poultry feed.
- Plant a winter garden.
- Remove the junk along the corral.
- Finish the hot tub solar heater. Purchase hot tub replacement jet pump, light, heat exchanger.
- Clean the driveway of all the grass.
- Add forced ventilation to the compost heap. This will speed up composting, and improve the quality of the compost (less weed seeds).
- Clean up the garage, sheet-rock the South wall, install shelves, setup a mini-greenhouse in the window for 2013 Spring planting.
- Stain deck, at least the floor, railing can wait.
- Replace the electric water heater. Corrosion has damaged the lower heating element, and soon or later, the heater will leak. Better replace it soon.
- Breed Dolly, our LaMancha goat, to have a continuous supply of milk. Jubilee, our Nubian, will go dry in January. Dolly needs to be trained, she is too wild at this time.
Monday, August 20, 2012
After a few weeks catching rats, mouse have been the problem, mostly because the mouse traps I had were not sensitive enough. I just received "The better mousetrap" from Intruder, and those work great. I have caught many mouse with them. The fact that mouse are now more a problem than before suggests that rat residents have effectively been eradicated.
As far as rats, I lost a trap a few days ago. I thought a rat got partially trapped and escaped with it. I found the trap this morning, the rat had his two front legs caught.
Not a happy sight, I don't like to make animals suffer. This rat must have died of thirst. This was a first rat I caught in a while, while many mouse have been caught in the past few weeks.
A year ago, I started cleaning the barn. Rat fras was a big problem, due to residents. Today, the barn is clean of rat fras, and only have some mouse fras around the rat traps, from which they can eat the food without triggering then. To solve this, I will set a mouse trap next to each rat trap. The traps are cleaned and reloaded about once a month (or after a catch), and checked every day.
The previous owner used poison, and dead rats would be found in the open. I don't see the point with poison. You still have to regularly reload, so why not reload traps, that way there is no handling of dangerous substances and disposal of contaminated bodies, and no impact on their predators.
For me, trapping is the way.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Thursday, July 5, 2012
Cutting hay is done early in the morning, while the dew is still on the grass. Wet grass cuts a lot better than dry grass, which folds under the blade. Cutting grass early morning, in the silence, allows you to hear the sounds of Nature. Beside, the grass has to be cut anyway...
Saturday, June 30, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Monday, April 9, 2012
We will still need to see a vet eventually, to know if we should dry her earlier, what precaution should be taken for drying her, and if we should breed her again.
I am now thinking on breeding Dolly, the LaMancha, with Papa, our Nigerian buck, to get mini-Manchas. They are not as noisy as Nubians, and Jubilee, as a Nubian, is VERY noisy. So for folks living in town, a mini-Mancha is more desirable than a mini-Nubian.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
She is eating well, acting fine, still walking a little odd, but standing her ground against the other does, head butting at time. I need to get that udder to flow on both sides.
If we save Jubilee, we will have spend more money than the market says she is worth, but for us, it will be our first victory against our animal illnesses, and it would mean a lot.
Mastitis is caused by bacteria, and once it has happened in a farm, it is difficult to get rid off. Be careful when you buy goats. If it happens that our other does are infected, we will stop breeding them, and use them only as bush eater, still caring for them, but without risking their life in breeding them.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Since we arrived home late at night, he spent the night in the barn alone. Saturday morning at feeding time, I let Achille, our Nubian doe, enter the barn. They were talking to each other before I opened the stall door. Papa appeared afraid at first, since Achille is a little bigger than him, but that passed quickly. They both went on the pasture, and lost interest with each other for the first few hours. In the early afternoon, Achille approach him and put her nose in his side. He didn't seem much interested. Interesting behavior from Achille though. Later, I walked them through the entire pasture. They stayed close to each other and to me, Papa being the one seeking my attention the most. They stayed together for the rest of the day.
Papa is a very friendly buck. If he does his job well, he will be a great addition to the farm. Now it is just up to Achille to get in heat...
Friday, February 3, 2012
It was hard to see her getting weaker and weaker, then walking like a drunk goat(due to weakness), and finally resting down.
This is a hard lesson. Poppy was a good goat, and brought two cute goat kids to our farm. Winter can be hard on animals, Nubian goats are not cold weather animals, and even though our pasture give them almost ideal conditions in the summer, they need care in the winter, which is where I did not provide well enough for them.
To accompany her passing, we will make a bon fire ... with the remainder of the old moldy alfalfa mix still laying in the barn.