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Author Topic: Microfarming  (Read 1251 times)

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #30 on: August 11, 2019, 10:42:54 AM »
Youtube channel Sow the Land follows the work and play of a small family microfarming on 1.5 acre, living in a 1000 square foot tiny home.

I was really impressed with this tutorial for making chocolate pudding from their homegrown sweet potatoes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1deVjFdlZ0


Yes, very interested in trying this, as this is the first year in over a decade the sweet potatoes are going  crazy and there should be a good harvest with plenty extra for desserts.

The only thing I'd change is the baking temperature.  I bake sweet potatoes and winter squash in a very slow oven, usually 250 deg. F for 2-3 hours.  It seems the longer and slower they bake the more they want to caramelize.  But most people are in a hurry, so the recipe as is will work fine for them.

Need to look for raw cacao, as that does sound much healthier than the processed-to-death other forms of chocolate.  Thanks for posting.

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #31 on: August 11, 2019, 03:43:10 PM »
If you find it, could you please post info back here Ilinda?

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2019, 05:26:31 PM »

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2019, 06:08:39 PM »
Thanks Ilinda - my husband was wondering where to get it  :)

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2019, 03:23:51 PM »
Until seeing that video on making sweet potato-chocolate pudding, the raw vs. processed cacao wasn't even on my radar, but now it certainly is.

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2019, 05:49:18 PM »
A good homesteading or microfarming skill to have is building your own fences

While makeshift fencing, such as bundled picketing, netting, or hammered posts and mesh can serve a lot of purposes in a pinch, there may come times when it may be better to install a fence with greater height, strength or durability.

If not working under the stressful conditions of peak summer heat or winter freeze, post-setting is much easier than it may sound, especially if working with a partner. 

Begin with a vehicle good for hauling things, such as a truck or SUV, or be prepared to pay for delivery, which can be steep.  Delivery may be the better option if the weight of your materials exceeds the carrying capacity of your vehicle - you don't want to damage the transmission and flatten the tires, or risk having a loose item do harm to someone in the event of a road mishap.  It's a good idea to keep rope or bungees in the back in order to tie lighter loads down.

Since arsenic is no longer used for treating lumber, copper pressure treatment may be the best of several options for fence posts, especially in damp climates.  Opt for yellow pine timber rather than white pine, as yellow pine is around triple the density of white for the same price.   You can tell the difference visually by the solid wavy grain in yellow pine, as opposed to the thinner lines in the grain of white pine.  Posts that are rated "ground contact" and have been doubly treated with micronized copper cost very little extra.

Note the heavier wavy grain of the yellow pine on the left, as opposed to the white pine on the right.

Except for gate posts, spacing can range from 8' to even longer extensions, depending upon what will be between the posts.   Wire alone as a fencing material attached to the posts for grape or bramble cordons or large animals may require a tightening tool for heavier gauge wire:

For smaller livestock, a finer grid fencing will be necessary, such as chickenwire or 1" x 4" grid, the latter of which is inadequate for chicks. The minimum height for poultry would be 4' if wings are clipped, but higher offers better protection for them.  Light-weight fencing can be attached to the posts with larger galvanized staple gun staples (an important tool to have on any microfarm), or better yet with heavier U-nails and a hammer or mallet.  Top rails or diagonals are only necessary for strengthening corners where the fence line takes a turn, though aesthetically appealing.


An even finer galvanized hardware cloth, which can be costlier, is needed in order to make a fence snake-proof where venomous snakes are in the area.  A minimum of 1/4" grid, 23 gauge galvanized is required, but 1/8" 27 gauge is even better.  Higher gauge means thinner material, but it's the grid size that matters.  These will also help keep rodents away.  The bottom 6" of the hardware cloth needs to be buried beneath ground level for this application, and height should be a minimum of 3'.  Snakes can climb vertically, so I suggest adding an inexpensive and fairly invisible veil of open-weave bird netting to the exterior - we did this to help keep poultry in a shorter fence at one time, and discovered that a snake had died becoming caught in the mesh while trying to scale the fence.  He had managed to get 3 or 4 feet up some chickenwire fencing before getting stuck in the mesh overlay.


Galvanized hardware cloth fencing
Post-setting requires about 2 bags of quick-setting cement per post, a post hole digger, a post-digging spade, a wheel barrow, a hoe, a flat-tipped shovel and an empty plastic gallon or half-gallon jug.  If not comfortable eyeballing a straight line for the posts, either a chalk-line or string can be used.  About a 3" diameter stick also comes in handy for tamping down shovels full of wet cement to remove air pockets.


Manual post-hole diggers generally come with either wooden or fiberglass handles.  Look for one which has jaws that bite completely together, so as not to lose some of the dirt back inside of the hole.

The post holes should be 1/3 the height and about a foot wider than the posts.  Soil can be loosened up with the spade, followed by use of the manual post-hole digger in order to remove deeper soil.  If you hit a rock that is too big to remove or break up, simply move the location for the hole. 


Another name for a post-hole spade is a drainage spade.

Once a post hole is dug, or several, it's time to mix the cement.  The quick-setting kind works best for fence posts, but you have to move fast.  Dump a bag of cement into the wheel barrow, add half a gallon of water, and mix with the hoe.  If necessary you can spritz a little additional water on it to keep it pliable, but the less water, the more strength.  It will be ready to use within about a minute of mixing.  Add the first shovel-full to the bottom of the hole, and set the post in the middle of it.  The post can be braced with a board, but with quick-setting cement, this will only be necessary while you're filling in the remainder of the hole, as it literally dries that quickly.  Tamp with the 3" diameter stick or tamper bar as soon as each shovel-full is dumped into the hole, before it sets.  Ignore some advice to dump the dry mix into the hole and then dump water on top - I'm told that that technique lacks the same strength of pre-mixing it in the wheel barrow. 


Each post hole will need about 2 bags of cement, so if doing a number of posts, this is where paid delivery comes in handy.  I've found that for a woman setting posts in the heat of summer, about 6 per day is the most that can be done alone, and maybe twice that number with help.  Your mileage may vary  :)
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 06:31:35 AM by R.R. Book »

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2019, 03:29:08 PM »
Lots of good fence information there, so thanks.  As a woman setting posts in the heat of summer, I'd probably conk out after 1 per day!  LOL

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #37 on: August 15, 2019, 06:00:50 AM »
 ;)

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #38 on: August 18, 2019, 05:35:47 PM »
This tour of Sunshine Farm blew me away, because it's a first-year no-till garden in upstate New York near the Canadian border.

 The young farmer has used the Back to Eden technique of spreading shredded wood mulch the previous autumn and allowing it to degrade slowly into rich soil. 

For a location that far north, with its short growing season, the abundance and variety produced were simply astounding:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFimh6WVaXQ

« Last Edit: August 18, 2019, 05:57:34 PM by R.R. Book »

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #39 on: August 18, 2019, 05:41:28 PM »
Just as a post-script, a different young farmer, linked below, has complained recently of the above-mentioned Back to Eden wood chip method attracting termites to wooden structures, so shredded wood needs to be used in judicious locations:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VFHXFDUVMY

Jimfarmer

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #40 on: August 18, 2019, 10:45:18 PM »
Just as a post-script, a different young farmer, linked below, has complained recently of the above-mentioned Back to Eden wood chip method attracting termites to wooden structures, so shredded wood needs to be used in judicious locations:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VFHXFDUVMY

Also, cockroaches love wood chips.

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #41 on: August 19, 2019, 10:11:46 AM »
Very true here!

ilinda

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #42 on: August 19, 2019, 01:36:19 PM »
Those wood-chip paths and the mulch looks beautiful in the garden, as it did when my mother kept spreading it all over the garden.  She wanted it and wanted to do the work of spreading it, so it was great for a while.  She used cypress bark mulch.

But in not too long a time, weeds began to germinate and poke through, and believe me weeding in those wood chips is 1000X more difficult than weeding in soil.  And if a person wants to avoid most of the weeds, they can lay down plastic first, then spread the wood chips on top, but then there's that pesky issue that plastic breaks down, and often into thousands and thousands of tiny pieces.

I'm back to liking old hay for mulch (directly on the ground), as seeds are no longer viable, and even old hay, if thick enough, will repress weed growth for quite some time.

R.R. Book

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Re: Microfarming
« Reply #43 on: August 19, 2019, 02:36:14 PM »
That sounds like an improvement Ilinda.  Am now dividing everything that I see and use outdoors into two categories: "Snaky" and "Non-snaky," depending upon whether it provides surreptitious habitat...

Not sure if hay is snake habitat?

« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 03:06:07 PM by R.R. Book »

 

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