Got the door today to use as a worm bin cover. It even had hinges attached so all I had to do was heave it up there, center it and screw it down. It needs a handle as it is a solid core door and moderately heavy. If I used a standard indoor version, the weather here would eat it up in short order. I moved it over by the house as it is a bit shadier on that side. I’m not thinking barbecued or steamed worm would go well on a salad.
I ordered 6 pounds of worms today and they should be arriving next week. As red wrigglers can eat half their weight in scraps a day, we will be using anything from kitchen scraps, coffee filters, newspaper and cardboard, to donkey and goat hay and chicken manure, discards from the food bank that Zina works with, as well as weeds, grass, spent straw, and garden waste to keep up with the 3 lbs. of food they will need every day. Looking forward to a bathtub full of black gold. I also found two, 30 gallon steel garbage cans for the biochar burners. It’s not ideal, but it will get the project underway. Now to find a couple of 4 foot lengths of stove pipe so I can finish the build.
How many of you did THIS over the last week? I drove out to Boulder to go to my favorite construction site recycling warehouse and yard (You think Habitat’s Restore outlets have a lot of stuff – this place is a goldmine of rich Boulderite discards). I picked up two steel 55 gallon barrels in order to make a couple of Biochar furnaces. This is a process that creates charcoal via gasified wood that is turned into carbon. The end product is then inoculated with compost and worm “tea”. This gets buried in the garden beds and can increase overall yields by up to 40%. Biochar gets beneficial microbes into the soil to help make nutrients available to the plant’s roots. I’ve hit a snag though. I need a smaller barrel to go inside the 55’s as a part of the retort. These have proven difficult to find. Soooo, I’m brainstorming.
In order to inoculate the biochar with worm tea, one of course, must have worms. We have a worm bin for our kitchen but it can’t possibly make enough vermicompost for a couple of acres of gardens. So on my quest, I also scrounged up a used bathtub to make a ginormous bin to raise thousands of worms who will, in turn, provide me with righteous compost, second only to composted chicken poop. This combination of worm castings, composted animal manure and biochar, will virtually eliminate my need for garden inputs. It will also be helpful in building the soil for the Permaculture Food Forest I’m going to be embarking on.
Here is the almost finished Worm Hilton:
You can see the barrels on either side that will be turned into the furnaces. I am heading back out to Ecocycle tomorrow to scrounge an old door for a cover. This location is right by our clothesline so it will double as a table for the laundry basket when we are hanging clothes out to dry (We don’t own a dryer – the sun is just as fast here in our arid climate).
I will be ordering about 5 pounds of worms here shortly (Yes, you heard right. You order red wrigglers from folks who are obsessed with this kind of thing, because they are about the best worms for this task). Never received worms in the mail before? It’s a head turner to be sure. Usually comes at the same time as the Victoria’s Secret catalog. Win, win. After you finish looking at bras and thongs, the worms will eat the catalog. Junk mail turned fertilizer.
After having my little junkie putter around town car crap out a quarter of a mile from the farm on Tuesday and having to go get my truck and tow it the rest of the way, this was the highlight event of the week for me. Does one count worms as livestock? If so, do you have to count them? 5 lbs. is a lot of worms.
While taking a walk through the greenhouse, Zina got some photos of all the progress. It appears the damage from the initial chill is a memory. According to the forecast, summer is set to arrive this week with daily temps around 90. East of Steamboat Springs got 2 feet of snow this weekend. We’d attribute that to global warming but we all know that’s a myth. After all it’s snow right? 5 years. Harvard Professor says we have 5 years to fix it. Never happen. Plant til you can’t.
Next up in the farm evolution is a huge Permaculture development of a “food forest”. It will involve ponds and swales, pollinator attractors and habitat, trees, vines, bushes and ground cover. We will be making lots of vermicompost, utilizing hugelkultur techniques and making furnaces to create bio-char for amendments. It will be the biggest soil building project I’ve ever tried and easily as big a job as the initial farm infrastructure was to build. Stay tuned!
Its been awhile since I made the first video tour of the farm. In this one we go over to the north and walk through everything that is happening over there. Meet the pigs, the boy goats and the chickens!
When you have a problem, sit and stare at it for awhile and let your mind come up with the answers. We have three issues that the eastern flat-landers don’t have: 1. Very dry air and desiccating wind, 2. Hail, and 3. Intense sun. Last year’s drought really pissed me off. We lost virtually everything. Being who I am, I was not about to let that become a recurring theme; at least not without a fight. So as you have seen with previous posts, we ran a high pressure hydrant to the garden areas which has jump started the drip irrigation. We also built the hail guards and sun shade cloth on all the beds. As of today, the hail guards have been successfully tested with inch sized ice and the shade cloth is doing exactly what it should. None of the gardens looks stressed. In fact, they are looking very healthy (along with the evil Bindweed). My green beans have not come up and I think it’s because I used older seeds; so more are on the way and I’ll replant those when they arrive. Even the frost bit tomatoes have all rebounded. We are back on track.
I even got Spinach to germinate this year! It’s planted with the Cauliflower.
A Bajillion Peppers from Bell to Habanero.
Our usual forest of Garlic. Scapes soon for Pesto and the actual harvest around July 4th. This bed will get replanted with Green Beans.
Much to my son’s displeasure, the Broccoli is luvin’ life!
All of the tomatoes have snapped back from the frost. It looks like we will be making plenty of sauce this year. There are 60 plants plus the cherries.
The Black Beans are up.
Farmer Juan taking a break to rough-house with the boys. They are the sweetest, most rambunctious guys ever.
Ya baby! It all fit and with inches to spare! That oughta hold a bird or two. Of course now Zina wants me to build one for the dogs. Maybe in the fall. This one is for our chickens, but we put 17 new turkey eggs in the incubator today. We have to clip the flight feathers on the teenagers tomorrow. They’ve found out how to escape the pen. Free ranging is fine…… right up until the hawk flies away with you.
I’m trying to stay ahead of our baby chicks. The Jersey Giants we ordered are 2 weeks old now. After about 4 weeks they need to come out of the brooder as they will be fully feathered and about a third of their adult size. We have a dozen or so Red Rangers in the broiler coop and they are pretty big birds. Putting young’ns in with them would be an ugly thing to witness. So in order to accommodate said providers of growing future dinners, I got busy making the little coop for them that will go into our chicken grow out coop. We keep the turkeys on opposite sides of the farm from the chickens because turkeys can be susceptible to a disease called “Blackhead”. Chickens carry it but don’t get it, but it can be fatal for turkeys. So the chickens need their own world and the turkeys need theirs.
I thought the shelter turned out pretty cute. We don’t have a source for old barn wood so I used cedar pickets for the cover which will weather gray over time. I think it almost looks like a building you’d see in “Tombstone.” I have some sheet metal left over from our barn construction that I’ll put on tomorrow for the roof. I’m going to put on a flip up door in case we get wind (guaranteed) or nasty rain and hail (also guaranteed). It doesn’t need any fancy ventilation or insulation as the big coops have it, and we don’t anticipate anyone occupying either turkey or chicken grow out pens in the winter. I’ll post the completed project when it’s all finished.
This hut will go inside of the fencing below. We also have shade cloth to bungee over the top so they won’t get roasted in our searing sun.