DIY Cold Frame

Just planted some lettuce and spinach and hope to extend its production as late as possible.  Hate to spend money, so found this old kitchen cupboard and a storm glass that is close in size and put them together.  We have lots of cupboards and windows, but i did have to buy the t-hinges.  Tons of hinges around our place, but no t-hinges.  It’s likely that future cold frames, i’ll use the hardware from the door of the cupboard, but the door on this one was missing already.

 

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Cupboard found – missing door.
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Old aluminum framed storm glass – nasty things, but perfect for this project.
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Cleaned up and painted with paint we already have.  I used an outdoor rated spray paint simply because it needed using before it became useless and won’t spray out.  Dark colour is great for absorbing heat.  Before painting, i removed all extraneous hardware.

 

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Cheap hinges from Orscheln’s
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As you can see the top hole of this hinge doesn’t reach the side board, so using a Sharpie marker, i located a spot that would reach.
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Then using our drill press made an extra hole in each.  However, when i installed the hinges, I found that two screws would be sufficient for the hinged glass ‘door’ would have been fine.
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Box completed – no use doing anything to the inside though i may add some sort of insulation on the bottom.
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Voila!  Ready to go to work.  Too early yet – we are expected to have temps in high 80s for another week!

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Making Investments vs Creating a Job

Economic definitions:

Investment – an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth.  to put (money) to use, by purchase or expenditure, in something offering potential profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.

Job – a paid position of regular employment.  a piece of work, especially a specific task done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price. Everyone has goals in life – some will involve being financially secure.  If you are interested in building financial wealth, there are a few basic premises which need to be incorporated into your plans.

1) Your saved dollars must be put to work!

2) Break free from the bondage of financial slavery by changing your spending habits

3) Invest in yourself – education or your own business

4) Learn to manage the money you do have – more money will not necessarily fix your financial problems

5) Debt is a hard task master – avoid it!

6) Use your income from a paid job to make investments that will gain in value while you continue your paid job.  Later you can retire from your job and enjoy your investments.

Many, many economic experts have different ideas about how to invest, so it’s up to you to decide who or what you want to invest in.

Dave Ramsey Investing Philosophy

How to Become Wealthy  – Nine Truths that can Set You on the Path to Financial Freedom

Rich Dad/Poor Dad – Dave Pratt, Ranching for Profit newsletter

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

Annuals Scheme – Final Analysis

Today marked the last day of my experiment with rotatilling, pneumatic drilling/harrowing, and grazing annuals as part of a pasture improvement scheme.

Grazing comparison data is as follows:

2013-2014 – Paddock 22 – 3218 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1871 lbs  Total:  5089 lbs

2014-2015 – Paddock 22 – 3567 lbs, Paddock 23 – 2007 lbs  Total:  5574 lbs

2015-2016 – Paddock 22 – 2072 lbs, Paddock 23 – 1222 lbs  Total:  3294 lbs

2016-2017 – lost all my records

2017-2018 – Paddock 22 – 1547 lbs, Paddock 23 – 695 lbs    Total: 2242 lbs

As you can imagine, i was shocked at the lack of grazing days provided by the annuals, but this was my first experience.  When i turned them in on the annuals, the cows and calves grazed it all down in four days!  In a few days, i was able to turn them back in for a couple more days grazing to boost that yield just a bit.  However, at this point, the paddocks will take a very long rest.  One thing i did not observe and record in previous years and that is cow condition.  At least for this year, these cows were slick and shiny healthy coming off the annuals, but they were that way going in, too.  So…..

So, in a nutshell, it cost me a total of $1842.12 to plant 18 acres of annuals for grazing.  The purpose of annuals to help rejuvenate the soil microbe community and not necessarily for gain in grazing.  Good thing, because it certainly failed in that department.  However, as i had written before, the goal is to eradicate toxic fescue and build organic matter.  It does look like that has happened at least in short term.  It is very hard to measure long term benefits.   However, from this point, i’m planning to tack the sail and switch to tilling then no-till a permanent ley (grassland).  Whether or not that will work remains to be seen, but i’m keen to find a way to reduce then eliminate any tractor work.  I hope to get that scheme underway and perhaps even completed this week.  This new scheme, although i do plan to till before planting to permanent ley, will provide a side by side comparison of planting annuals first vs planting permanent pasture once and done.  There will be a few spots, too, that won’t be tilled and seeds will be drilled straight into established pasture.

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I drive through the annuals with my Gator to make it easier to set up a polybraid fence through it.
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Grazed part next to ungrazed annuals.  That tall stuff still standing in common ragweed.
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My ground is very poor in most areas and this is all it will grow in a 65 day period of the annuals.

 

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This is along the fence line (see fence on the left).  What a difference in where i tilled and planted vs undisturbed.  The ubiquitous Kansas ragweed (lanceleaf) is still thriving where it is undisturbed.

 

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Those cows didn’t waste any.  They really, really enjoyed eating the succulent annuals and snarfed down the volunteer yellow foxtail.  The stalks are trampled nicely.
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This is a close up of the left behind common ragweed.  That step in post is 36 inches tall.
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A closer look at the Kansas (lanceleaf) ragweed in undisturbed soil.  Same step in post.
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Larger area shown here of what is left of the annuals after grazing.

 

Spraying Done for this Year

One of the main projects i had planned for this year was to spray brush.  Truly had hoped to cover the entire farm, but there is just so much that between regular work and windy or rainy days – well, i did get quite a lot done actually and i’m pleased.  My focus did switch to completely covering (spot spraying) the west 160 and that was accomplished by July 1.  It is important to keep track of that date because three years from then, the farm can be used to grow certified organic crops.  Weed and brush management from now on will have to be by brush hogging and intensive grazing.  One of the ironies of ‘certified’ organic is that i can’t chemically treat individual plants even once for three years, but i could burn all the fossil fuel i want mowing them down.  But rules are rules.

So to finish the project also means to clean up and put away the tools used.  My 30 gallon spray tank and pump were purchased new at Orscheln’s this year and i hope to get several more years’ use out of it.  Their brand name is Country Tuff and it has worked flawlessly all season.  I did switch out the coiled hose for a straight one we already had – i just didn’t like the coiled one.

For the chemical, the easiest and most effective in my opinion is Crossbow.  i buy it by the case (4 gallons) at a cost of $200.46 at Butterfield & Associates Grain in Meadville, MO.  Mix half gallon to 30 gallons of water and you are ready to go.  This spring and summer, I sprayed about 1200 gallons of mixed spray.  That’s about 45 hours worth of spot spraying.

Cleaning up:

  1. drain and rinse out the tank with clean water
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This photo shows that i place a 2×4 between the tank and the edge of my Gator bed which keeps the tank from rubbing on the side and also keeps the clips that hold the sprayer wand from breaking off.
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i used a couple tarp straps around the tank to secure the tank in place.  The 3×3 inch board in front keeps other items from bumping against the tank and the motor.  (My Gator is usually full of other stuff)
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Under the motor, the draw pipe is located.  Shown here, i’ve undone the pipe from the tank and showing the screen is partially plugged.  The sprayer will operate with this little bit of stuff clogging it, but you will definitely notice a lack of spray distance.  It’s important to use clean water and keep stuff out of the tank which can clog the orifice and screen.
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I’ve cleaned the screen and replaced it.  (Yeah, i know, i need a manicure badly!)
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This tube actually had a small part of a leaf in it when i set out to clean the tank for storage.  I knew i had a lack of power and had cleaned the screen before.  I just thought maybe i had run the motor so much it was worn out.  However, i have no doubt now it was because of the leaf blocking this tube.  I’ll remember to check that next year.
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Inside the tank is the draw tube.  This is where that leaf had gotten trapped.  i’ve cleaned it out now.
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The electrical plug and wire goes from the motor and up through my Gator back window and down under the passenger seat to the battery.
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Horrible photo, but black to negative and red to positive for battery connections.
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Cleaned, drained, ready for winter storage
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Properly labeled as to what was used in this tank and when.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

The Bull is in the Freezer – Part 2

Allen had his checkup on 8 August.  Doctor’s orders full in work.  There I was upsetting the cart trying to make things run more smoothly in anticipation of the previous call of a 10 week recovery .  Thank goodness all is back to normal.  Only 17 days.  So many prayers – powerful!

As a dear friend says:  “Absolutely AMAZING!!! Wow, what favor from our Creator!”

Cheers!

tauna

 

 

Cows on the Annuals

It's been a rather busy and momentous month, so i'm way behind on reporting on the annuals for grazing and pasture improvement project.  Here are photos of growth at 60 days.  Turned the cows in on August 1, 2017.  Yah willing, my final report will be coming soon.  It will take some number crunching and analysis, so will be several days, but i'm ready to put paid to this project.

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The Bull is in the Freezer

On the 20th of July, as Allen was bringing round the last of 22 bulls for semen checking, it turned on him, knocked him into a board fence, then commenced to roll him around and punch down with its head.  The veterinarian and his man were in the pen lightning fast, beating the bull back and, son, Dallas, grabbed him under the arms and dragged him to safety.  I called 911 to no avail, so after being transferred  to another line and explaining the situation and state of emergency a second time – we gave up and Allen wanted to get in the back seat of my pickup for the 15 minute ride to local hospital.  Despite incredibly slow traffic through Laclede (that NEVER happens), I made a fast 95 mph drive once on the highway with lights flashing and honking my horn so no one would change lanes in front of me.  Met not a single copper!

Long story, but 7 broken ribs (badly broken), but no punctured internal organs and no bleeding was enough to send him on by ambulance to University hospital at Columbia, MO, where he was stabilized, scanned, and x-rayed then waited in ER for five hours before moving to a room.  He had surgery to insert drainage tubes out each lung which drained for several days, then spent about 5 days in ICU.  Still had one lung partially collapse, but on 29 July he was released.  Moving mighty slow and on pain meds, this will be a very long recovery, but it could have been so much worse.  If it had to happen, could not have been better timing since all three children are home until the 17th of August.  (almost a month long visit) with Jessica not leaving until the 24th.

John, who worked for Allen and his dad for 44 years and officially retired now nearly 2 years has jumped right back in to help tremendously with the work load.  I will be making major management changes to allow Dallas and me to manage until Allen is fully recovered which will be a minimum of 10 weeks, but perhaps even longer.  He needed to make changes before but wasn’t wanting to – this may make him accept that he’s no longer 25.

Be safe out there!

tauna

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Huge thank you to Purdin Processing for coming out on short notice. My latent anger finds joy in killing this bull. Thanks to Jessica for taking extra fat to their shop so the ground beef won’t be too lean. Stay to the right! (recently returned from Ireland/Wales)
Explanation: As some of you know, Allen was beat up by this bull Thursday morning last. He is in ICU at University. Earlier he didn’t want me to tell anyone, but the news is out now. It’s been really rough week. Seven broken ribs and beat up lungs but chest tubes are out now. Deep breathing has improved a lot, but pain is not under control.
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Jessica sorting steers from heifers as we prepare for selling calves on Monday at North Missouri Livestock Auction, Milan, MO.

Faith, Family, Farm

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