Incidentally this cabin happens to be just down the road from Snowy Pines Farm that was mentioned in last weeks blog.
Duane built the entire cabin by hand. Including using a hand plain to make the tongue and grove boards used inside to panel one wall. Cordwood constructioin basically involves making the wall by stacking cordwood and mortaring in the logs in place. This type of construction is very economical and energy efficient. There have been couple articles in Mother Earth News describing how to do it. The cabin is off-grid but they do have it wired for a generator if needed. This cabin would make for a nice cozy inexpensive home for somebody starting a homestead.
Thursday morning had us back in the classroom having an almost typical college class lecture on the various types and structure of matter. From there we discussed the 4-Principals of Ecologic Sustainability: Reliance on Solar Energy; Biodiversity; Nutrient Recycling and Population Control, (see figure below).
Here is an interesting factoid: Animals are made of protein and plants are made of carbohydrates (cellulose). People can breakdown starch but not cellulose. To breakdown cellulose you need bacteria, which happens to be found in the stomachs of ruminant animals (cows, sheep, deer etc.). From here the lecture went to seed anatomy.
In Principals of Sustainability Class the assignment was to read the first two parts of "The Gift of Good Land" by Wendell Berry. The book is a collection of essays written by Mr. Berry, between 1878 and 1980. Mr. Berry is one of the founding fathers of the sustainable farming movement. This book is worth reading if you are at all interested in working and interacting with the land. Persons interested in both conventional and non-conventional ag. will benefit from reading it. Each person was to read the first two parts of the book and select two of the essays, write a paper about how the essay relates to what we have been learning in the program. Most of the class was then spent in a spirited discussion of the essays chosen. It was very interesting to find out that just about everything that stood out to me in the reading, and my take on it was very much different than what most of the class got out of it. I assume it has something to do with my thinking like and engineer.
Friday at Blulebird we started putting together one of the new High Tunnels.
High Tunnel building steps followed:
- Roughly measure and level building site.
- Square building, mark post locations, 4-ft apart
- Drill post holes
- Anchor posts in concrete and attach posts to 2"x6" for support
- Assemble rafters
- Lift Rafters and set in place
- Install purloins
- Add soil
- Install tracks and plastic in tracks (this will be done in spring)
- Install water lines in spring and plant.
|Unpacking the boxed high tunnel kit|
|Rafter layout and assembly|
After the tests were completed we took a load of 10-cows in the trailer to a pasture where they would be grazing corn stalks. Steve said doing this they are able to get in a couple extra months of grazing thereby avoiding having to spend as much on feed during the winter.
Following the quizzes in Farm Skills we jumped into Crops and Forage Class with a discussion of Forages which are a primary component of most ruminant livestock rations. We began with Legumes and how they play an integral part of sustainable ag. practices in the Midwest. They serve as: livestock feed, perennial ground cover, green manure or cover crop, nectar for pollinators, nitrogen fixers and have exceptional soil building properties. The importance of good soil structure is demonstrated in the video of a "Slaking Test" that can be found at the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEOyC_tGH64 It only takes a couple of minutes to watch and I highly recommended it if you have any interest in soil conservation.
On Saturday we went to Paradox Farm where we got to observe butcher Craig from the Evansville Meat Market, butcher a goat and a sheep. Craig went over the whole process from properly sharpening the knives, proper tools, killing and bleeding the animal, then skinning the animal and aging it. Once the butchering was completed we had coffee and Craig fielded all of our questions, including questions on his career and business as a butcher.
|Craig butchering a goat on his custom made skinning table.|
After the lunch we got a hands on lecture from Dr. Prieve on small ruminant (goat and sheep) physiology. Dr. Prieve worked his way through the entire digestive system of the goat and the sheep from inlet to outlet.
|This is what the inside of the rumin looks like.|