Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Big Dig

It is sometimes funny how we arrive at an idea. Last year Walter from Sugar Mountain Farm had a post with a picture of one of his boys in a pool of green water with a frog on his head. The thrust of the post was that they had a small swimming pool that they allowed to go wild instead of treating it with conventional pool chemicals. That played into our long held desire to have somewhere on the farm that we could swim. Unfortunately, we do not have a suitable spring anywhere on the farm that would allow us to build a pond that wouldn't get stagnant in the summer. After a little time noodling around on the internet we came across a couple of sites related to "natural swimming pools". These pools, which seem to be fairly popular in Europe basically consist of a body of water held in place by a pond liner. Instead of pool chemicals the water is cleaned by cycling it through a biofilter which consists of a plant zone filled with wetland plants that grow in the shallow perimeter of the pool/pond. There is a submerged wall inside of that plant zone which creates the swim area and keeps the plants as well as the rocks and gravel they grow in where they belong.

A little further along our research trail we came across a downloadable book by a company called Total Habitat (www.totalhabitat.com) which is based in Kansas. The book is basically a step by step how to build a natural swimming pool. So anyway, we spent a lot of last winter planning out our pool and figuring out where we wanted it. Over the 4th of July we rented an excavator and roughed out the hole for the pool. We have been woking on refining the shape since then. We are now ready to install the underlayment for the liner (old carpets) and to order the liner, pump, etc.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Roller Bin

This year we finally got to the point where it made sense for us to start getting our poultry feed delivered in bulk 3 tons at a time. For the past five years we have been getting our feed made up a ton at a time. There were problem with that method. I had to go pick it up which takes time and gas. There were lots of plastic feed sacks involved (100 per month last year) that could not be returned or recyled. Having a pallet full of chicken feed in bags was beginning to draw in vermin, And expense. I had been looking around for a while for a used feed bin, but they always seem a little expensive, or in bad shape, and hard to move. Plus they need to be installed on some sort of concrete foundation. Then I remembered seeing a gravity wagon that someone had built a roof on and realized that this was probably the best solution to the problem.

So I went to a farm sale about 2 weeks ago that had 2 gravity wagons in it. I got beat at the sale, but after the bidding a man came up to me and told me he had one that he would take $700 bucks for. Now it has a roof on it. The roof just props up for filling. It is a flat roof, but since we don't have a level spot on the farm no matter where you park it it always has a pitch. Yesterday the first batch of feed was delivered. The best part about it is that after is is filled I can pull it out to the pasture where most of the chickens and turkeys are. This way I don't have to haul bags of feed out there every day

Thursday, July 05, 2007

And They're Off

About three weeks ago we had our first processing day in the new Evisceration Station. I got talked into doing all 200 chickens that were ready in one day by the elder Tile Hooligan, and despite the fact that it is about twice what we would normally do it turned out great. All together we had 6 people working for at least part of the day, and three of them had never butchered chickens before. One of them is a vegetarian.

Anyhow, the new processing digs worked out great. Everything inside of it is completely washable and cleaning up afterwards was a breeze. The flow was good too, although we used to move through the process clockwise, and now the chickens move counter clockwise. I think we will all be able to adapt. Since it is in the back room of the on farm store we had a great place to set up the scale and cash register out in the store