Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Update, Life on the Farm, Home Resource Consumption Etc.

A lot of stuff has happened this year, so I thought I'd put together a post to tell you what I've been up to and the changes that have taken place around here.

I kinda expanded the farm, I brought back 5 beehives from Oregon, I also brought a rototiller, a table saw, and quite a bit of beekeeping stuff to expand my stock. Oh, I built the trailer from scratch too, and brought it back too.

The Banana trees have grown quite well this year, they are handily fulfilling their purpose of shading the heat pump to make it more efficient in the summer. They multiplied too. I need to whack them down, dig them up and move them inside for the winter in the next few days before it freezes.

Just installed a new window this past Saturday, it is quite a bit more efficient than the old ones. It is vinyl framed, low-e and argon filled, the best Lowe's has, but not apparently the best there is.

Here's the only pic I took of the tiller, it had been sitting in a chicken coop for nearly a decade, I got it purring like a kitten. Also on the farm this year is the mower, the 48 inch deck makes collecting grass clippings for mulch worlds easier.

Here's what I'm doing with the clippings, card board or paper goes down first, then the clippings on top. This is the start of my no-till gardening project. What's the tiller for you say? Preparation and for removing some bumps in the lawn.

This simple wire compost bin has been full several times this past year, but it quickly processes down. Here you see a trash can load of used tissues, they compost just as good as anything else.

Some fruits of our labors, a little round water melon. This melon was executed and eaten shortly after the picture was taken. It was then finished off in the worm bin.

A pretty big tomato.

A pretty big tomato worm. He also was promptly executed after the picture was taken. I didn't eat him though, he got composted.

This is the tomato where all the above action took place. To be fair, I believe there are four separate plants in this group, they were fed by composted horse manure.

This is my main apple tree. It looks a little weird because it had never been pruned til I did it the first time, and naturally, it will be a few years before it looks proper, but it did produce like a factory this year. I had people stopping by to pick apples and even offer me money for them. I also use the grass clippings to mulch under the trees as well.

This is where the beehives are now, shaded in the hot mid day sun, but not shaded in the winter. Curiously, even in high winds, the trees also seem to keep the hives from falling over.

Got some taters this year too, these were started from some that started growing in the fridge, they did quite well considering the fact that they were completely uncared for, and I actually accidentally mowed them once or twice to boot. Yes, that one is quite big.

Rebuilt the engine in my pickup, not the whole thing, just replaced the head, cam, clutch, pressure plate, starter, transmission, and all gaskets thereof.

This is my step-grandfather's cement mixer in Nesika Beach Oregon. 'Bout the coolest little thing I've ever seen. I like electric stuff. No wheel barrow necessary.

Hauled some manure from a local horse enthusiast family from church. Way overloaded, I couldn't go over 50 mph. Shortly after this, I undid the lowering I had done previously on the truck.

Blackberries. These things aren't thriving. I think I need more manure.

I tend to be an organic guy, but I'll spray me some poison ivy.

The garden in full bloom. Not very fertile soil yet, corn didn't thrive, peas failed, beans did ok, squash got eated by vine borers, pumpkins too, broccoli fine, cauliflower no. See if you can spot the garlic, carrots, and taters.

This is the hammock that got stolen from my little campground in the making.

Two new apple trees. I hope to add a few more next year. Finally got the deer to leave them alone, they both got practically stripped.

Just today I got my new worm bin, a Worm Wigwam. According to the feeding instructions for the WW, It should eventually be able to handle 20 lb. of material a day, producing 75 lb. of vermicompost a week. This totals to 7300 lb. of material processed into 3900 lb. of compost per year. Of course these are probably VERY ideal conditions, but I have heard of successful productions like that using this unit. If I plan to do anything like that, I'm gonna need a whole pile of manure and whatnot to supplement because I just don't make four tons of kitchen scraps per year. However, the Can-O-Worms wasn't doing the job on a number of levels. It's for sale by the way. I can't seem to add any more images, so you'll just have to Google "Worm Wigwam" to see a picture, it's not very exciting to look at, and none of the pictures do justice to the color, it's a nice dark forest green.

Also, power consumption is looking quite good for this year since we installed the on-demand water heater. August and September showed usage of 13.1 and 16.4 kWh per day respectively and this compares quite favorably to last years numbers of 29.8 and 21.1. August was probably so low because we were in Oregon during the heat wave, and some should be factored in for the mild rest of the summer, but September should be about where it's at. That should put August somewhere in the 20-23 range which is still quite favorable especially for the middle of the summer. Oh, and I just remembered, the radiant barrier insulation in the attic probably also helps substantially.

We'll see how it goes this winter, I hope to replace a few more windows. I hate drooling windows.

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