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 Post subject: A Farmer's Life for Me!
 Post Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:59 pm 
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Been talking about it so much I figured I might as well create a full topic for it. Basically speaking, I've started down the path of the Farmer and have taken my first few tentative steps down the path of self sufficiency. Last year I began work on a compost pile using the leaves and branches from a nearby forest as well as copious amounts of wood chips. After that every single time I had leftover vegetation from my meals like strawberry tops or banana peels I'd take it out to the compost pile and bury down in there. This year I harvested the end result and have been plowing it into the field I tilled to make raised mounds to use as crop beds. Soon I'll be planting the corn seeds I've had germinating in pots and follow it up with some beans and some squash plants.

I've also gotten my hands on a straight run mix of male and female chickens. Six in total. I have plans on acquiring six more females in the coming weeks to start my own small flock of them. Get myself some good egg layers. Already got a fenced in area that will be great for holding them. Probably gonna plant an apple tree there that they can use for shade as well as feed on the old apples that fall from the branches that got worms and bugs in them.

Later on down the line I'm gonna look into getting myself some goats. Six or seven of them if possible. Researching the various plants and grasses in the area to see if it makes good grazing stock and figure out what other nutritional needs they'll require.

I know it's not really much to talk about but if anyone has any advice on the matter it'd be greatly appreciated. Or even if you just wanna talk about farming and self sufficiency in general. I'd love a chance to talk about anything like it.

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 Post Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2014 7:56 pm 
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I wish you the best Kajin. Sincerely. However, my only contribution to the topic at this point takes the form of a snide remark which might actually cause the thread to swerve into POOP territory. I'd hate for that to happen so I am self-censoring. If you wish, I will post it.

I know very little about farming and self-sufficiency so I hope this thread takes off on its own merits.

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 Post Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:06 am 
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I'm told, on very good authority, that it's a terrible mistake to put the cockerel's enclosure right outside your bedroom window. Apparently they sometimes crow at 2 a.m., not just at dawn.

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 Post Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:37 pm 
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Roosters crow whenever they please. And hens aren't exactly mute either.

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 Post Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:00 pm 
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Leaves, twigs, and wood chips aren't compost so much as mulch; there's no nitrogen there, only carbon. To break it down into humus the fungi need something to work with; things like animal matter (chicken guts, blood, feathers, and manure work reasonably well, though your neighbors may not thank you for it), mammalian manure, 'night soil' (you need a hot pile to make that safe, and again your neighbors won't thank you), or some inexpensive nitrates from the feed store (ammonium, say). Vegetable kitchen waste will work, but you need a great deal of it; it's not that heavy in nitrogen itself.

As for the three sisters, remember that corn is very nitrogen demanding; the local indians used to put two or three dead fish into each mound to keep it happy. Absent that it'll take a good deal of manure or some very rich compost to keep the soil from getting depleted.

Just an aside, you can get rid of a stump in a season by drilling a few deep holes into it then packing them with ammonium or potassium nitrate. Given a surplus of nitrogen, the fungi will tear the wood apart; it'll be reduced to rotten chunks before you know it.

Final thought (yup, really). You may want to glance at a book called The Omnivore's Dilemma; in it there's a chapter or two about a fellow down Virginia way, who gets a lot of mileage using grass to feed chickens (there are cows involved). It may give you an idea or two.

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 Post Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:37 pm 
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Composting has definitely been worth my while. I didn't use manure last year because I didn't have any access to it, but now that I have the chickens I'm planning on taking full advantage of having it. Every time I change out the old wood shavings I'm using for bedding I dump it on the new pile of compost I'm working on.

I did a fair amount of research and I know about needing a proper mix of nitrogen and carbon to get the carbon to break down quickly and successfully. I can't use any meat products because I live in an area that's somewhat rural and there are wild animals everywhere. I tried it last year and they tore the mound apart trying to get at the meat, so I have to settle on using only plant scraps which don't seem to attract as much attention. It's not too much of a problem using plant scraps, though, because I love eating fruit. Banana peels, strawberry heads and shriveled grapes all go in the compost heap every week. I have to add more carbon in to the mix as I work it over just to keep the ratio of nitrogen to carbon right.

I've added all the compost I built up last year to the beds I'm using, but I'm not overly satisfied with it so I'm planning on going into the woods that surround my property and acquiring myself some of the sweet, fertile forest dirt. Gonna take the tractor to the forest edge with a dump cart and take several cart loads worth to add to the beds before I transplant the corn from the cells I've got them growing in.

CCC wrote:
I'm told, on very good authority, that it's a terrible mistake to put the cockerel's enclosure right outside your bedroom window. Apparently they sometimes crow at 2 a.m., not just at dawn.

The pen is a fair distance away from my bedroom, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

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 Post Posted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 5:24 am 
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I have absolutely no advice whatsoever since I have never grown anything more advanced than a pepper plant inna pot (the pepper grew to a diameter of 1.5 inches, it was cute), but I do enjoy reading your farming stories.

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 Post Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:03 am 
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...Karl? ;-)

My coworker did the same. Ducks, chickens, bees, etc. he just bought a farm with his fiancé and he's always talking about the stuff. It's neat, but so far removed from my suburban life that it's hard to relate to things like "time to hunt the coyotes" on his many acres.

Best of luck with it, sounds like a lot of hard work, but rewarding too!

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 Post Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:11 am 
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Celadon wrote:
he just bought a farm with his fiancé

When's the funeral?

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 Post Posted: Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:58 am 
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I'd love to raise bees. Don't much care for honey by itself, but I can use the honey for various things like food preservation and canning once I boil it down a bit to concentrate the sugar. I'd also like to put in a fruit orchard. Surround the orchard in fencing and keep chickens in there too. Have them eat all the blemished apples and eat the insects that might cause harm to the trees.

In other news, my chickens are almost three weeks old. Wings are fully feathered and their tails are starting to become feathered as well. Can't tell what gender they are yet, though.

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 Post Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 12:58 pm 
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There's a fellow up near my mothers' place who put in a vineyard for tax purposes (passive agricultural subsidy); thought he'd make wine as a sideline. Then got excessed from work. Now he's doing pretty well running the only winery in Sullivan County. His wine is actually rather good, I occasionally buy a few bottles myself.

Oh, and you don't need to cook down honey; it's already saturated. Let it sit and it starts to crystallize, after all. Though if you want easier to come by sugar for preserving, plant some sugar beets. Cut them up, soak them, cook it down, and you get a sugar syrup suitable for everyday sweetening or canning (a very common farmers' trick after about 1820).

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 Post Posted: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 am 
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I've looked into sugar beets before but I've never thought about planting some for myself... Guess I should think about taking a whack at that.

Some heavy storms came in and tore down a small number of my corn plants, but the root systems and the stem up to about a foot are intact and they've still got leaves on them. They'll live but I doubt they'll grow big enough in time to get pollinated by the other plants and get good corn. The chickens are close to being sexually mature now and they've long since gained distinct sexual characteristics. I have one male and three females. Contemplating getting some more baby chicks in the event I actually get some more spending money. I certainly have the space for them.

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 Post Posted: Sat Jun 14, 2014 2:32 am 
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There's also the side benefit that the leftover sugar beet pulp makes good animal feed. Commercially it's usually processed into pellets and fed to cows, but I've read a couple of references to feeding it to chickens (who apparently like it).

From what I've read if you do decide to cook the syrup down to the crystal stage, you'll probably wind up adding the leftover molasses back to the pulp to feed to the animals. Most folks don't like it.

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