Wednesday, October 3, 2012

5th Week (September 24, 2012)

Remember a couple weeks ago how I told you I didn't recall ever being as sore as I was after loading and unloading hay.  Well Thursday I remembered and the memory was from picking rocks at the Pete Brutcher (sp?) Farm outside of Little Falls when I was in high school.  Thursday was a lot like those rock picking days, we worked on leveling out the dirt subgrade (by hand) and then hauled rock (by hand) for the 18-inch rock thermal mass for the winter greenhouse.  We are doing a post-frame construction building and I am guessing the material costs will be about $5,000 (I will post the actual costs once we have them).  The greenhouse we are building is based on the book "The Northlands Winter Greenhouse Manual a Unique, Low-Tech Solution to Vegetable Production in Cold Climates" by Carol Ford and Chuck Waibel.  The greenhouse is pretty much a basic greenhouse with a simple passive solar heating system incorporated into the design.  We were fortunate to have Mr. Waibel on site providing guidance while we were working on the greenhouse.  He interviewed each of us for a new book he is working on.  So who knows maybe I will be famous someday.

Hauling rock to get the first 7-inch lift down prior to placing the warm air distribution piping.

Here is the work crew.  The black tubes on the ground are 4-inch perforated drain tile and used for distributing  hot air collected from the ceiling, and blown down into the rock to heat up the thermal mass.  The tubes will be covered with rock to obtain a total 18-inch rock thickness.  The vertical white tubes are the hot air supply and cold air return lines.

Author Chuck Waibel and myself
Friday morning was spent at Bluebird Gardens learning about their high tunnels (similar to greenhouses but you plant in the ground) and how they are operated, how they use them to increase production and extend their growing season.  The rest of the morning was spent harvesting squash.

High tunnel tomato's.  The tomato plants are started from seed in the house in January, then moved to the greenhouse in  March and finally planted in the high tunnel in April.  As the plants grow they are clipped to the netting for support.  In addition to the tomato's they have been experimenting with planting secondary crops like lettuce to get an additional before the tomato's  get big.
Cumbers in the high tunnel.

Trickle tape irrigation is used to water the plants and also feed nutrients as needed.
Picking squash using the Veg-Veyer only took us about 45-mins to fill the wagon.    The Veg-Veyer is a conveyor that drives through the field, you put the picked produce on the belt out over the field and it loads it in the wagon.  It saves a lot of time having to walk back and forth to the wagon.  I had a video of it working but am having an issue uploading it.

Friday afternoon was farm skills and fence building was the skill worked on.  We expanded on last weeks work by running the bottom strand of wire and installing a tension spring.  Installed H-brace's at one of the corners and started on installation of a gate.  We are in the process of building a demonstration fence for the October 13, Energized Fencing Workshop (12 - 3 pm).  You are all invited, and a lunch comprised of locally produced foods is provided.  The following link provides information on the workshop and how to register.

Here is my perfectly tied New Zealand Fence Knot.  Now if I could only remember how I  tied it .

Saturday was a new day and a new adventure.  We headed to rural Pelican Rapids Minnesota to attend Fiber Day at the Dave and Joanie Ellison Farm.  The Ellison's raise wool sheep that they sell to spinners, weavers, and other artists.  Fiber Day had hands on demonstrations of making wool felt, dying wool, carding and spinning wool.  Dave and Joanie also have developed a thriving market for their lambs.  They raise and sell about 70 lambs a year from their 40 ewes.  Their primary market is to individual families who buy the lambs to roast when celebrating an important event celebrated by their culture.

The raw material.  The sheep are rotationally grazed on 10 1-ac. paddocks.  They are fed hay (harvested from the farm) in the winter.

Here I am working on making a wool felt can cozy which turned out really nice and I expect  it will  keep my beer very cold on a hot summer days.  I will try to remember to post a picture in next weeks blog.

Dying wool
In this picture the group is demonstrating how to do a cloth-stitch, which is used to weave lace.

This little hand cranked machine is called a drum carder.  It is used to card wool, to straighten the fibers so it can be spun into yarn.  its invention was a big improvement over the previous method of using paddles for carding the wool.

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