Tuesday, September 29, 2009

General Update-090929

I didn't actually work on the farm today, but I did build two saw-horses which will help me with building the rabbit nest boxes. I felt pretty stupid in that I should have built saw-horses years ago. They could have helped me build the other stuff though up until I placed the last cage in the rabbitry I used the top of one of the cages to work on.

I also built a little platform to hold the metal cage that I've had for a few years now. I nailed a 2"x4" between the two rear inside rabbitry poles then added a cross piece and a leg. The cage had a galvanized "poop-pan" so I simply set it on the platform and placed the cage on top. I think I will also build some storage below the cage. The cage is kinda in the way but I thought I might use it to house the rabbit I try my experimental feed on... maybe not, maybe just overflow or quarantine, not sure.

I also spent some time planning my ferro-cement hut. I watched an lecture on TED (www.ted.com) concerning growing your own air which caused me to think about adding a small "air pod" to the design for growing plants in to increase air quality. The guy lecturing from India, kamal_meattle, said that they have been creating good air for their offices by growing three different plants in their buildings. He said that they had been logging an increase of something like a 1% oxygen increase over a 10 hr period. The URL for the lecture is:


They added Areca Palm, Mother-In-Law Tongue, and Money Plant in certain amounts per person and Kamal said that with those plants at those levels a person could live in a bottle. I thought about air quality of a sealed hurricane bunker. I imagined not having to worry about air quality, however it all relies on the health of the plants also so... Anyway, I added the air pod then tied it into a small aquaponics system with the water fed by the water catchment system. I have plenty of time before building this tough I would like to have it started this year if possible. I do need to spend a little time and money on my current house.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

General Update-090926

I finally fixed the rabbitry roof today. I used a 2 ton jack to lift the bow out of the middle, then cut and screwed in a 2"x4" on edge. Previously I had layed the orginal roof support in flat so as I added the shingles the roof began to bow.

It occurs to me that I should comment on the size and configuration of my rabbitry:

My rabbitry consists of two seperate pole constructed frames with a 2.5' isle in between. So, four poles on the South set and a lean-to roof sloping to the South. The 2.5' and another four poles and a roof sloping to the North. So basically I have two 3'x8' roofs. Each four sets of poles are wide enough to support two 2'x2'x8' cages one over the top of the other.

I built the cages seperately and slid them into the frame. The South two cages are actually divided into two 2'x2'x4' cages so 4 cages in all. They will house the two pairs of breeder rabbits. The North cages are divided into 3 cages each for a total of six cages. These will hold 2-3 "fryer" rabbits, those heading for the freezer. All the doors to both sides face in. I also built four 2'x8' trays that go beneath the rabbit cages to catch their manure which i will add to my compost pile.

Before I took the bow out of the roof it had begun to drip into the front. Now, there is a 12" gap between the two roofs but it just hit me wrong that I should also funnel water in the middle! Anyway, fixed now.

I am ready to set up the chicken coop, placing feeders and waters, as well as begin to buy feed and hay. On the rabbit side I still need to build nest boxes but I did get the basic diagram of one so I can build it. I have most of the plywood. Then I will need to buy the waterers and feeders, about $100, I think, all totalled.

Then onto the aquaponics system. Part of me just thinks buy some cheap koi, and goldfish since we don't eat a lot of fish, then the otherside kicks in so I think about some fried catfish and selling, trading, or giving the rest away. Even with goldfish I can raise the vegies.

My plan (currently) is to utilize fero-cement technology. I plan to lay out my 1/2 55 gal drums, join them temporarily, then lay chicken wire down and coat it with cement. Let it dry, flip it and coat the other side making 12' long troughs for my grow bins. I will use the same to build a sump, then use the polly-tank for the fish tank. I figure 2-3 12' grow bins will probably do me well but I will have to work out the correct numbers for the amonia-nitrogen conversion so the fish won't suffer. But even then, I don't intend to raise 200lbs of fish so 2-3 long grow bins will probably be enough.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

General Update-090921

Today I did my usual Books A Million (BAM) thing but was kept distracted by a family with three pre-teen boys and a little girl toddler who slobbered on store merchandise, and carried a 10 lbs diaper. I finally had to leave. I came home motivated to get out and work- probably the mocha talking -but ended up watching a movie.

After the movie I went outside, finished the roof on the chicken yard, then begin stitching up the wiring on the end. I still need to place the bottom boards and the latch on the gate, then hang the feeders and waterers. As I stated before the roof netting kinda bubbled up. I ran some wires from the over-laping piece pulled it tight and anchored it while I clamped the pieces together.

I also trimmed bushes around the chicken coop and fed the compost pile. Thats it.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

General Update-090919

I worked on the chicken coop today. I purchased some more chicken wire and poultry staples. I placed chicken wire on the sides and end. I also ran some wire from the chicken house to the end post, I then took some wire-cage clamps that I was given to build wire cages, and clamped the top of the fence to the wire.

I layed two bowed 2"x4"s across the middle and end poles of the chicken yard, then ran three strands of wire from the chicken house, across the top of the center board and anchored it to the end board. This is intended to help support the chicken wire roof pieces of chicken yard. Since I widened the yard the chicken wire can't sit on the top evenly... so disturbing for a perfectionist! They should be flat and stretched tight but alas, they're wavy!

I will add a board screwed to the poles that runs along the ground between poles the length of the yard. The chicken wire is lose at the bottom and animals would be able to climb underneath. I think a board will add some strength and allow me to tack the chicken wire on to the board.

I also noted that one of my rabbit pellet trays was cracked and sagging so I bought a 1" steel brace and screwed it in. I hope it will hold so I don't have to take it all apart and replace the broken board.

I also bought two 2"x4"s to use to brace the bowing rabbitry roof. I will jack up the roof to remove the dip then screw in the new boards to brace it.

I priced rabbit feeders and waterers online from BASS. I think I will need to spend around $50+, and about the same for the waterers so not looking forward to spending that money however I think It will save me some grief in the end. The waterers are adapters for 2 liter soda bottles that also come with a bracket to hold it to the cage. I will start with 10 bottles but will probably end up putting two bottles in each fryer cage.

The feeders are the self-filtering type that allow the feed dust to fall through. They will range from 11" for the fryer cages to to 6" for the breeder cages. I will also make hay racks out of wire caging.

I researched nest boxes and will begin to build them soon. I found a great site that showed how to make ten nest boxes with one 4'x8' sheet of plywood, however the boxes were too small. The basic design is easy though and should be no problem to build. I will try to finish up the chicken coop this or next week then move on to the nest boxes.


Monday, September 7, 2009

General Update-090907

Today I finished the poop trays for the rabbitry.. what pain, and nasty since I used tar to glue the tar paper to the OSB. I used OSB because it was cheap but knew it would not last in the elements so I have used left over tar paper and tar to weather proof it. I will build a thin scraper to scrape the trays regularly. I also bought handles for the breeder cage doors but didn't put them on. I power screwed my ring finger bruising one side and putting a blood blister under the other side.

I must now build the nest boxes for the breeder cages and maybe a open sided box to offer the fryer rabbits more comfort during harsh weather. Then I will bu the bottles and feeders and the rabbitry will be ready.

The chicken coop is almost ready. I need to add caging to the yard and some shelter, maybe another nest box beneath the first, larger I think. I may also build a small shelter area at the other end of the yard, and including a perch.

I managed to break off two branches off of two blueberry bushes. Maybe I can root them, maybe not.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

General Update-090906

I think I must be the worst blogger in all bloggerdom. I should be taking pictures as I work on the farm so that I can show before and after but I simply find myself out working and not thinking about later when I blog. Something I need to work on for sure!

Yesterday I managed to plant two types of tomatoes, two types of cabbage (green and red), 4 acorn squash plants, and some garlic. As usual I bought too much garlic. One bulb breaks down into like 15-20 cloves, each one to be planted. I bought two packs each with three bulbs, enough to give Gilmore, CA a run for their money!

I went to Lowes earlier and bought two bags of topsoil and one bag of peat/humas for each of three raised beds. Thi8s adds bulk to the beds and adds nutrition. I had previously added a little triple 13 to each bed so I think that will last for a bit.

I also worked on the chicken yard, hanging wire- which was a pain! Wearing gloves helps but wearing gloves hinders holding the poultry nails. I will need at least one more large rold of 1" chicken wire to finish, possibly two since I am also doing the roof.

As far as the roof I had originally thought to run wires on a turnbuckle the length of the yard to support the netting but I found two warped 2"x4"s and thought I would use them instead. I still need to add a 1"x2"x8' and replace a 1"x2"x4' with one that's 6' long. These are the top and second from the top rungs of the ladder/perch respectively. I'm still thinking about adding another covered perch to the far end of the chicken yard. Also, I think I will need to add a board running along the length of the yard to give a surface to nail the bottom of the wire to and also to keep animals like raccoons from pushing underneath the wire.

I thought I could make the shelter big enough that it could be a perch but also a place for the chicken waterer and feeder to hang. I will reread my chicken book but it seems to me that the feeders and waters are also located IN the house. Also, I wondering about a door to the ramp. I mean if the animal can get through the 1" fencing of the yard it can get through the one inch fencing of the house I think.

Tomorrow I will either work on the pellet trays in which case I will need to get 4- 1"x2's and 2- 2"x2"s, or I will get some more chicken wire and see if I can finish the chicken yard.

I was also thinking that I will build a stand at the far end of the rabbitry and sit the wire cage I have. This can be for my experimental bunny I feed dehydrated veggies and hay to. If I built the stand correctly I could use the underside for storage. The wire cage is a commercial cage about 3'x3'x2' and has a galvanized metal tray beneath it.

Mark Ns family has a lemon tree that has giant lemons on it, seriously the size of green softballs. Perhaps I could get some clippings and try to grow some myself. I noted that Lowes is selling blueberries and blackberries again, and their stock of fruit trees is back up. I might get a few more bushes but I think I will wait on the Spring to purchase and plant anymore trees to avoid a cold weather kill. I would like to get a couple kumquats which I will prune to around 4' and keep them bushy.


Friday, September 4, 2009

General Update-090904

Today when I got home I cleaned out the two 4'x8' raised beds in the front yard and the long raised bed on the West side of the house. I sprinkled some 13-13-13 on all the beds then turned the soil. I decided to pick up a couple of bags of top soil for each bed but when I got to WalMart they had no top soil so I will wait until tomorrow when I go to Lowes.

I found it interesting that in one of the beds was full of large very active earthworms. It was obvious that the worms liked the soil that was rich in organic material. The soil was full of un-rotted compost. By next Spring my compost should be ready and I will add it to the raised beds.

After I get the top soil I will plant the tomatoes and squash plants then move on to the rabbitry though I may also need a small drill bit. I might also get some 2"x4"s to put together some saw horses to help with the manure trays. Also I will spend a couple minutes on the chicken coop ladder and planning the other nest box. I will also spend some time putting up chicken wire on the chicken yard. I will need to saw off the end posts to the same length.


An Introduction To Intracyclic Dynamics

The idea of intracyclic dynamics is very old, ancient in fact. It involves creating sustainable cycles of food production, then finding ways to integrate the cycles into each other. Perhaps the best way to describe it is by using an example:

> A rabbitry is built. It house 2 breeding pairs of rabbits. The rabbits eat vegetables and hay and produce meat and fur, they excrete high nitrogen manure that is caught on trays positioned below the cages.
> At some interval the manure is collected and placed in a composte pile and a worm bed. The composte is ammended and amps up the nutrition value of the composte with nitrogen and trace minerals, and the worms in the worm bed eat the manure and produce a highly prized soil enricher.
> The composte can be used to suppliment the worm's diet, and it can be used to amend vegetable garden soil. It can be used to make "tea" and used to feed any other plants as a spray or from a watering can. The worm castings can also be used as a highly nutritious soil ammendment for plants.
> Some of the vegetables are harvested, used raw or dried, to feed the rabbits. The tops and unused leaves and stems can be fed into the composte pile, while the nutritious parts can feed the rabbits. The worms can be supplied to the garden to benefit the soils, as well as used in an aquaponics system to feed the fish.
> The fish are harvested and a small portion dried, ground and added to the rabbit food to increase the protien portion of the rabbits diet.
> The some of the rabbit offspring are harvested and their intrails are fed back in the composte pile.
> There might also be a water catchment system that both waters the rabbits, worm bin and garden, though not to much feedback applies to it.

As you can see the individual cycles are established then interlinked to support a more effective total outcome. The human, or steward, taps the cycles to feed and cloth himself. The more cycles you can establish the more you can possibly interlink to create a richer and healthier environment. As I stated before, to some extent our ancesters-maybe as close as our fathers, grad fathers or great grandfathers lived this way though I suspect they never had a need to write it, it was probably established in them from an early age. Spreading manure on the hay fields, harvesting the hay and feeding it to the cattle which make more manure is an early example.

Though enjoying its own philosophy and methodology Permaculture is very much like this- utilizing and combining natural processes (cycles) to effect a positive multiplying effect on the whole.

I beleive that with some preplanning and work an entire farm could be developed using this intracyclic dynamic. I will supply some diagrams at another posting.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

General Update-090903

Today I was able to place one row of chicken wire down the back side of the chicken yard. It amazes me how difficult poultry nails can be to hammer in. Its never about a flat board on a hard surface. I had to bend over and hammer in the nail while stretching and placing the chicken. I think I may only need one more role of chicken wire, maybe two with the roof. I think I will use the turnbuckle and wire support for the roof.

I also bought 6 tomato plants, three Celebrity's and three... Sundowners, something like that, and four Acorn squash plants. I also have a packet of squash seeds I will put out too. I think I'll put the tomatoes in the front raised beds, and the squash in the raised bed on the side of the house. These will be easy to clean and plant, though I'll need to use some fertilizer. I hope the tomatoes will produce outside the normal bug life cycle.

This weekend I will try to get all the chicken wire I have up, and build the rabbit pellet trays. Maybe even jack-up and fix the roof. I need will need a couple straight 2"x4"x8' boards and some 3" exterior screws, and my jack. For the rabbit trays I will need to buy another gallon of tar though I think I have the needed wood.

A thing I learned recently is not to store boards standing up. I think it makes them warp. Store the flat; horizontal.

I was also thinking recently, after the success of my new gate made from 1"x2" s that I might make 8' sections of fence the same way... basically a 2"x4" on each end, a 2"x2" on the top and bottom and 1"x2" boards spaced out at around 4" running in between. I could eventually replace the interior wire fences and ugly green metal poles. Its something to think about, after I fix the things wrong on the house this Fall/Winter.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

General Update- 090901

I went out this afternoon and dug two post holes for the last two posts for the chicken yard. I mis-measured on the first post and had to pull it and re-dig the hole. So, all four poles are in and I used the old dog kennel gate for the entrance to the chicken yard. I need to change out the second to the tol rung of the ladder/perch in the chicken house and add a longer last rung.

I need to add the chicken wire to the chicken yard and figure out the configuration; where to hang the waterers and feeders. I also need to think about creating further shelter. I will either add something to the chicken house, or add a little nook somewhere in the chicken yard.

Maybe add a slightly bigger nest box below the first box. If I did this the wood-row would protect the house from the East and the box from the other three directions.

I also want to run some conduit and wire to the coop area and the rabbitry; lighting for the coop and rabbitry, and a fan(s) for the rabbitry to help combat Summer heat. I could also run a line to the aquaponics area. I will also need to run a water line to the chiken and rabbit areas. I will also develop a rain catchment system to compensate for the "city water".