A bunch of questions from someone who dosen't know

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Lumbering ox, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. Lumbering ox

    Lumbering ox Member

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    Some of these questions might seem stunned, but I've always thought that it is much much better to know where you are ignorent on a subject then to just assume you know everything.

    I am not a homesteader, if I ever did become one it won't be for a few years.
    If I did take the plunge it would be without a mortgage, with enough money to pay financial costs, and with the goal of simply growing enough for myself. I am 35, no wife, no kids and too ugly and weird to be able to assume it will change.

    As my production needs are limited, I would prefer to avoid having to buy the more massive machines, I figure even a plowing team of oxen would be overkill.

    I will try to group the questions by topic

    Meat:
    As I drive on the highways, I notice that the vegitation when uncut is usually quite a bit beyond the snow level which leads to the first question
    1:Instead of harvesting hay, can one say let half the land grow to full hight and let the animals graze during the winter. Does this differ from type
    2: If one has the land and are not trying to get every once profit out of it, is grain feeding needed. It is my understanding that grass fed is better in terms of nutrition, fat content, more omega 3, etc. Could one forgo even grain for dairy [goat or cattle]
    3: If one did go with oxen or horse for farm power and kept them off the road, are "shoes" really needed?
    4: Chickens, I've read that they need 14 hours of light a day to lay eggs, is this true? If doing the free range thing exclusivly, how much space is required, is free range possible through the snow.
    5: Butching, I didn't grow up with it, and am now 35. Is it the sort of thing you get used to, anyone have any bad experiences. I've read it costs 3 bucks CDN for a chicken.

    Not the meat
    1: Greenhouses, will they produce in winter without extra light as a lessor rate, or will growth shut down with the winter levels of light.
    2: Been reading in MEN of using intensive methods for grain and getting 20 to 30 pounds per 100 sq feet by hand, is this possible/realistic? How much work once things are set up would it take to get his 20 to 30 pounds per season.
    3: Do root cellers actually work, I've heard some say they can't get them going well, and others that by the end of the storage season what remains is pretty iffy.
    4: Anyone know anything on growing golden flax seed on a small scale? Say 25 pounds a year.
    5: Are Almonds and Peanuts doable in Southern Ontario or NB/NS/PEI
     
  2. 59classics

    59classics Member

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    The only question I can try an answer at. The light will effect growth almost as much as the temp. You will need additional light source. Flourescent lights with grow light tubes work fair and are inexpensive to run. Depends on what you want to grow tho.



    K
     

  3. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    I don't think almonds are doable in the northern states. They're really a dessert plant and can't take hard freezes and still produce (my Dad grows almonds and wine grapes in CA).

    Hay is cut and dried when it's full of good nutrition. During autumn, plants start pulling all of their sugars out of the leaves and into the branches or roots to survive the winter. That makes the grass that's left standing once the snow flies pretty poor feed - the critters will still chew on it for something to do, but they won't thrive and put on weight. If you don't want to feed over the winter, the best course would probably be to buy feeder cows and bummer lambs and butcher them when the grass starts to wither.

    You can run dairy goats without grain, but you won't get nearly as much milk out of them and they won't milk as long.

    I have had good luck with storing produce for the winter. I use my garage, I dont have a root cellar. Any place you store your veggies you will have some rot to deal with. It's just a matter of sorting through every week to get the bad stuff out of there before it spreads, and planning your meals to use up the iffy looking sweet potatoes (for an example) while they're still edible. What you don't get to while it's edible goes out to the goats, chickens, or pigs to eat - or it goes into the compost heap to nourish next year's crop. It's not actually wasted.
     
  4. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Corn here in Kansas CAN run 200 bu/acre if the conditions are IDEAL. That means ideal amounts of sunlight, amounts of water, amount of heat, and great soil fertility. 150 bu/acre is considered to be quite good, though.

    Wheat and oats yield much less.

    200 bu/acre times 50 lbs/bu is 10,000 pounds/ acre, or about 1 lb per 4 square feet. Approximately, anyways.

    As for grazing in the winter, after the seeds are dropped what is left is straw instead of hay. On the GOOD side, I have heard that a dry cow or steer can use quite a bit of strw in their ration. Mind, I do NOT live in your climate!

    As for root cellars, my husbands uncle in Tennesee had one while he was growing up. They worked well for his family, though the storage season would be MUCH shorter! And, some veggies keep longer than others. There main keeping veggies were turnips and potatos.

    Also, here in the States some people will put bales of straw on growing root vegetables to keep the ground from freezing, and dig them as they need them. Again, we are in a different climate.

    As for grazing livestock, you might check out a book called "Salad Bar Beef". Basically, he fattens his cattle on grass by turning them onto a new strip in the evening. The cattle of course want to eat the tasiest bits out of the pasture (clover and such), so they eat a little more than they would have otherwise. Then, in the morning, they wake up hungry and eat their fill. In the evening, the electric wire is moved again, and they again eat the tastiest parts. In this manner he gets good results without grain.
     
  5. Ozarkguy

    Ozarkguy Well-Known Member

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    Hello friend:

    Now I call THAT, very wise thinking!

    You sure put out a lot to chew on at one time, but maybe I can add a "little" bit of information for you.

    I have a cinder block root cellar that I've used for 30 some years. Keeps LOTS of bulk bought can goods, everything we've canned ourselves, as well as everything I can save from my garden. An example would be the tomatoes in my garden that were still green up until the last frost. I pick and wrap them individually in newspaper and they go in there. They will SLOWLY ripen if kept that way cool and dark. All the way through December of this year, I still had tomatoes from my summer garden.

    Chickens? Hmmmmm..... If you're trying to learn about chickens, what you DON'T need is just another chicken article. Let me suggest you go HERE: http://www.minifarmhomestead.com/Critters/chickendef.htm

    I hope this helps, and good luck!

    gotta love those hills.....

    Ozarkguy

    .
     
  6. sancraft

    sancraft Well-Known Member

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    Firstly, you don't sound weird and ugly is a matter of opinion. If you really want a signifcant other, she'll come. Next, get the book, The Homesteading Life and How to Live It. It will answer your questions.
     
  7. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I highly recommend any of Gene Logsdon's books. I also like all of Joel Salatin's books, but "Salad Bar Beef" is about a very elegant, efficient way to raise beef. Two books by Eliot Coleman will answer most of your summer and winter harvest questions, including a root cellar. "The New Organic Grower" and "Four Season Harvest".
     
  8. Ozarkguy

    Ozarkguy Well-Known Member

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    And sancraft is right. No, you don't sound weird at all. Or at least you're in the right crowd, here. :) Most of us would seem strange to many in society now a days. What? You want to raise CHICKENS? Why? .... They just don't get it......


    And yes. The "homesteading life" book is a good one. Another book that MANY of us have found useful on making soap, raising chickens, slaughtering hogs, and so on. I consider this one a "must have". Many call this one The Homesteader's Bible:

    The Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery

    .
     
  9. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    Meat:
    #5 - Butchering.

    Some do, some don't. The first time can be a bit rough but it does get better. Start small, like rabbits or chickens, progress through a goat and pig then on too beef.

    #4 - Chickens.

    Yes chickens need long days to produce eggs at the highest rate. Some breeds more so than others. An option is to put lights in the hen house to extend the day a bit or you can focus on breeds that are not as sensitive to day length. Mine were free ranged in the mountains of NE WA with as much as 6 feet of snow on the ground no problems. They would find areas in the woods and under trees to look for treats. The hen house was for night lock up (cougars ya know) and I had about 5 sqft per bird.

    #2 - Grain feeding is great for fast finishing of beef and it does help some with milk production but nothing beats a grass fattened steer. There are many cattle out there who have never seen grain...

    #1 - Hay.

    You will get much more milage out of that grass if it is cut, dried and baled and then used for feed through the winter. Proper baling keeps the grass fresh and nutrients high inside the bale wheras standing grass in the fields will continue to dry up to the freeze and lose some of its nutrition. It also can be laid flat by the snow making it hard to get to.
     
  10. Lumbering ox

    Lumbering ox Member

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    I am not weeded to any idea as of yet, just trying to figure what is possible.
    I have read a few books, including one by John Seymore, if I got his name right, his book was reprinted in the archives of Mother Earth News. I've also gone through the archives.

    I find the books are good at supplying ways of doing things, but not so usefull as telling you if a particular way is really doable. A lot of written material seems to be rightly focused on levels of production that far exceed what even I could eat, as well as a focus on the more economic methods of production, which if one has a morgage, kids, and the need to finance taxes and the like, is important. For example, I've never read about using beef cattle as a source for dairy, but if you only want enough for a family, and are not planning to sell, it seems better then a dairy breed. To use an example from another thread. I was thinking along these lines myself.

    As ask about lighting wrt egg laying and greenhouse, more with the idea that if I went off grid supplying power for such needs might, or might not be excessive.

    From what I've read, I am can see what I think it was the Nearings say, wrt how animimals own you just as much as you own them. :yeeha:

    I am half thinking, of trying to make things as self sufficent as possible, having males on hand [which would make cattle out of the question as being too much meat] for breeding so not to have to bring any new animals in, except to prevent inbreeding. I ask about leaving the grass/whatever in, likewise to avoid the dependency of bring in hay from the outside. I would prefer to whereever possible to minimize cash expenses if at all reasonable.
    I assume and could be wrong on this, that enough hay to keep enough meat on the table for one person wrt winter feed would be too much to do by hand, but not nearly enough to make it worth animal/machine power. But I am willing to stand corrected on this.

    On the minimixing cash expenses, I would love to locate within say 3 miles of a small university town. A place like Sackville NB has only 5000 people, but has a 2500 person university with what on line seems like a pretty good library. 3 miles is walkable I do it now, allows one to forgo the car. I lived in a town of 8000 people, about a sq mile that had everything I could need.
     
  11. GREEN_ALIEN

    GREEN_ALIEN Sunny, Wet, Tornadoey SD!

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    Prior to mechanization hay was made with a scythe (sp?) and then long stacked either in a barn or left in the field. Labor intensive yes expensive no. A slightly more expensive way is to pick up an old Johnny popper or similar with a sickle bar mower on it. Cut the hay and and long stack. The secret to a good long stack hay pile is sprinkling a bit of rock salt on each layer as you build up. If out in the open a tall, domed stack, if in a barn just pile it up. The center will be the freshest and last for the season.

    Depending on the length of winter where you locate at you can get by on a few tons of hay per animal per year.
     
  12. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    [/I]Peanuts might be, if you start them indoors, and grow them in tunnels or under row cover. Almonds, no, I don't think so. They bloom very early, and their blossoms and the early fruit would get frozen by your late frosts. For tree nuts there you'd do better to look to butternuts, beechnuts, and hazelnuts. Also, maybe acorns (from the white oak family) and pine nuts.

    Kathleen
     
  13. Lumbering ox

    Lumbering ox Member

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    I would like to thank everyone who has responded so far. It has all be quite helpfull.


    "Prior to mechanization hay was made with a scythe (sp?) and then long stacked either in a barn or left in the field. Labor intensive yes expensive no. "

    If using the scythe, how much time from start to finish would it take to put up enough feed for say a cow, or a few sheep?


    "Do you have any kind of a yard where you are living now? Can you have a garden there, even if it's a small one? "

    As for my current set up, I am urban, and it isn't my place. I think this summer we are going to put in a small garden which is a start. We have about a 30 by 100 foot space, if it were mine and I was planning on staying here, I think I would go hog wild.. without the hogs of course and start digging up the place by yearly stages.

    "Butchering isn't really that difficult. Butchering poultry and rabbits, once you get used to it, isn't all that much work, either, and if you don't try to do a hundred at a time, you can easily do your own."

    WHen I mention butchering, I mean more the actual killing part. I am not PETA, well people eating tasty animals yes. I've lived a life away from having that sort of stuff in my face and don't know how I would handle it. Better to be up front with myself, and try it with someone elses animal then find out that Francis the walking porkchop just won't die in the fall ;). I guess I worry that I would try it and get freaked out by it, I am a bit weird that way. I can watch those Butcher type videos the animal rights people show while eating a steak, but don't know if I could do it myself.
     
  14. Xandras_Zoo

    Xandras_Zoo Well-Known Member

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    Start with something like chickens. Most people can get over that pretty quick. Especially if you get a mean ol' rooster (just to get you started on the concept, mind, it probably wouldn't be good eating), and if you have a gun- a believe even a pellet gun will do- just shoot them.
     
  15. D

    D Well-Known Member

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    I grew up holding back rabbits' ears on the chopping block and plucking chickens, and have been helping to process venison for several years now, but I'm still not always sure I could wield the axe or the gun. I figure if I get hungry enough, I'll find a way. So will you, I bet. There's nothing wrong with being sensitive. But there's nothing wrong with surviving either.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and as you can tell, your ideas are not unattractive in the eyes of the likes of HT folks. If you want a mate, stay open and forget that stupid mirror: you don't really want the type of lady that overemphasizes the outer shell anyway. On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with going it alone if that's what you choose to do. Just recognize that it's a choice, and possibly even a privilege, not a self-pitying status.

    About root cellars, if what you want is grocery-store perfection in February, you'd better stick to Piggly Wiggly. There, we're accustomed to picking through the veggies to find the best ones; but if they all already belong to you, you throw out the rotten ones, pick out the next worst, make a yummy stew, and pray for Spring. Also learn to can -- your County Extension Agent probably has free how-to books.

    If you really want to know more about what's doable for your particular area, check out local old-timers or homesteaders in your area. HT can help, but on the specifics, pay more attention to the ones closer to you geographically. You might even consider an apprenticeship-type position.

    If you really want to simplify your life maybe even further than the Nearings, you might check out <http://pages.prodigy.net/jmiller.cb/s566.html> and <http://www.december.com/simple/live/>.

    Regarding having males on hand, if you're lucky enough to settle where there are other small farmers, ya'll can trade and borrow when the time's right -- you don't have to feed several males year round unless you just want to.

    Good luck, and have fun with your dreaming stage. ;)
     
  16. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    1:Instead of harvesting hay, can one say let half the land grow to full hight and let the animals graze during the winter. Does this differ from type


    As plants (hay) gets older it drops nutritional value and becomes little more than card board as far as food quality. It is possible to harvest garden crops for animals and by rotation have fresh greens for them year round. The reason hay is harvested and stored is to save the nutrition. Your colder climate would require alot in protection for the plants, such as earthbermed cold frames or green house.


    2: If one has the land and are not trying to get every once profit out of it, is grain feeding needed. It is my understanding that grass fed is better in terms of nutrition, fat content, more omega 3, etc. Could one forgo even grain for dairy [goat or cattle]

    I freerange, buy grain only as training aids and treats, so you are correct in thinking they don't have to have it. But they will need a large enough area to feed on so that they can not eat it all and can walk all day looking for food. and never get it all. I get more milk for one dairy goat a [good quality nubian], than I can use for myself all on free range

    3: If one did go with oxen or horse for farm power and kept them off the road, are "shoes" really needed?

    Our horses are not shoed, we have alot of sand stone which helps to keep the hooves worn down too.

    4: Chickens, I've read that they need 14 hours of light a day to lay eggs, is this true? If doing the free range thing exclusivly, how much space is required, is free range possible through the snow.

    I free range year round, they lay a few eggs during low light time of the year and eggs can be stored for many months. I get more winter sunlight than you do, but some birds will lay in winter with very little light and I have read some reports that even a light just bright enough for them to find food and water helps a great deal. I plant small blocks of greens for the chickens for winter use, I use cages to keep them out until time for the "harvest" I haven't tested the idea yet but I think 20 square feet of 'garden' would be enough to raise most of the food needed for one chicken. ( a 4x5 raised bed )

    5: Butchering, I didn't grow up with it, and am now 35. Is it the sort of thing you get used to, anyone have any bad experiences. I've read it costs 3 bucks CDN for a chicken.

    If you allow yourself time to learn how. It takes time to get accustomed to touching dead animals, and then eating them. Often those new to havesting meat, get upset with themselves for "not doing it right" the first time, remember once the animal is dead it doesn't hurt any more, If you have cut up a whole chicken from the store you are well on your way, even those that haven't and really want to do it, can learn to harvest your own meat, .


    Not the meat
    1: Greenhouses, will they produce in winter without extra light as a lessor rate, or will growth shut down with the winter levels of light.

    As far north as you are, it could be a challenge. but ask someone that lives near you and buy seed from places that grow for northen latitudes. a web search should find several Small leafy greens should grow ok

    2: Been reading in MEN of using intensive methods for grain and getting 20 to 30 pounds per 100 sq feet by hand, is this possible/realistic? How much work once things are set up would it take to get his 20 to 30 pounds per season.

    If you move to a place where there are other farmers, they can tell you what works for them as far as which crops produce well, and what you will likey need as far as soil improvemets. ( a soil test is a good idea) I think one person could havest ect, at least 1/2 acre going easy at it, in one day, without too much stress. There used to be several people on this list, that did grow their own hay and grains all by hand. {We are just getting started at field crops}

    A 100 sq ft, is only a 10x10 bed, and 20 or 30 lbs may sound like alot, but ask any one that bakes and you will find it isn't really very much. But a bed that size would be easy to put a row cover on to protect it from rain etc;
    .


    3: Do root cellers actually work, I've heard some say they can't get them going well, and others that by the end of the storage season what remains is pretty iffy.

    Yes, a well built root cellar does work, the larger it is the better, the deeper the soil covering it the better, and good ventilation is a must. Things getting "iffy" at the end of the season, is expected and normal, the end of the root cellar season, is the beginning of gardening season

    4: Anyone know anything on growing golden flax seed on a small scale? Say 25 pounds a year.

    just fix one of your 10 x10 beds and plant it, grow it out and if you don't get as much as you want make another bed and grow more next year


    5: Are Almonds and Peanuts doable in Southern Ontario or NB/NS/PEI[/QUOTE]

    How many growing days do you have? What are the soil temps? If your location meets the needs of the plant you want, it should grow fine, if not, can you change things to meet the plants needs? with a cold frame or a hoop house, or a green house, It all depends on how much time, money, and sweat you want to invest. But, as far as "possible" is most things are possible.
     
  17. KelTech

    KelTech Guest

    Ox here is a web site that has lots of info also. Lots of publications on just about any subject you care to name. http://www.attra.org/publication.html

    Take a look at some of those and see if you don't get more ideas and need more answers. :p
     
  18. Lumbering ox

    Lumbering ox Member

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    I just started looking at the site, WOW.

    A question for you all regarding winter feed. I am a bit confused about something. Out on the foothills of the Rockys in places like western Alberta do they feed the cattle hay or do they have them winter graze for straw.
    The impression I get from here is that with the brutal cold temperatures, the cattle wouldn't get enough calories to survive, or am I missing something.
     
  19. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Here in Kansas, some farmers feed straw as PART of a ration, assuming the cow was not lactating. Even in warmer KAnsas straw is for dry cows and steers.

    The OTHER part of the ration will be hay.
     
  20. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    It may make more sense if you understand that cows etc, don't live directly off of the hay or straw or grass etc they eat,.... the microbes in their digestive tract eat the cellulose and then the microbes feed the animal. and in the process of digesting the plant matter they produce heat, sort of a mini composting system inside the cow.