Thursday, August 10, 2017

Farmhouse Construction Update #9 - Foundation Stablilization

The block foundation under the north wall of the house was at the very early stages of failing.  Years (decades?) of water pouring alongside the foundation due to missing gutters and poorly graded soil had a lot to do with it.

I found a technique online that let me brace it from the inside, using steel beams. The other option was to excavate outside and either pour a new concrete wall alongside the existing, or simply rebuild it.

The wall had a slight bulge in the center, approximately 3/4" over 4 feet.  By anchoring the bottoms of the beams in the basement slab and lag screwing them to the joists overhead, I should be able to stabilize the wall.





Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Farmhouse Construction Update #8

I've been working on the north wall of the addition, which is where the kitchen (and my temporary bedroom is located).  I'm removing an old sliding patio door and putting a new window in its place. I'll also change the double casement window over the kitchen sink.  New 1" rigid insulation will go outside, then some new siding.

There was water damage from decades of minimal maintenance.  Basically water was getting where it wasn't supposed to be, leading to rotting wood which in turn attracted ants.  It wasn't as extensive as on the east part of the farmhouse, but I still had to brace up the floors and start cutting rotted wood out.





(Click on any image for a larger picture)











Things can take longer than I'd like. For example I thought I could install the window(s) in one day. Once I opened up the wall and had a look at the rot, I had to fix that. To date, I've worked three long days on this project. I still have to install the kitchen window, shore up the foundation with i beams, and put on the rigid insulation/siding.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dog, Squirrel, Tree

Carl loves to chase critters. There are a bunch of little red squirrels here, sooo...


Part way through the video my camera operator lost the plot. While making my way over to the tree I forgot what I was doing.

The way Carl has caught the squirrel before is either the squirrel tries to make a break for it and Carl catches him before he can reach safety or I walk over to the tree and “flush” the squirrel, forcing it to chose between me or the dog, which is what I did in the video.

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That plastic nailed on the tree was to keep squirrels from using the tree to climb up onto the roof of the house.  The tree was about 2 feet from the house and needed to come down.  I hired a tree service to do it, and $1150 later, the branches were gone and the trunk was in pieces on the ground.

My dad was here to stack the pieces up. Anything bigger than 8" in diameter will eventually get split. All of it will be used to heat the house after a year or two of seasoning/drying out.




I took a video of him a few seconds after taking the pics above, but it didn't make it onto my phone.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Look and See vs. Come and See

This movie, about the life of Wendell Berry, looks interesting. However for me it might be preaching to the choir.



In a odd, or maybe not, coincidence, the title is very close to this movie, which I think is the most moving, haunting anti-war movie I've ever seen.


If you look on YouTube you'll find the whole movie there.

Friday, June 30, 2017

7200 Planter Repair

The John Deere 7200 conservation planter I bought a week ago has a few minor problems and I've started working on them.

The fertilizer boxes have a metal auger and housings that were corroded by the caustic fertilizer used by the previous owner. I won't be using the highly corrosive ammonium starter that conventional farmers use, though I will still use the fertilizer boxes to apply a much milder poultry manure next to the seed.  For that I need to stop the "rot" by cleaning and repainting the affected metal parts. I'm putting in stainless steel fasteners where I can.

(click on any image to make it bigger)


Lots of scraping and grinding. Wire wheeling.


After (on left) and before (right) cleaning. For the next step to work I just needed to get rid of any loose flakes. It was still a mess.


There are 3 fertilizer boxes with a housing at each end and an auger that pushes fertilizer out each side, where it is dropped into a slit made by an opener ahead of each row.  The layout in the bottom of each box is roughly as shown in the pic above. The auger is driven by a shaft connected via roller chains to the ground wheels.


I used a product called Corroseal that converts the rust into an inert metal. To finish these off I'll put 2 coats of oil paint over them.

Rust, also known as Iron Oxide, is formed by a chemical reaction in which Iron oxidizes when in the presence of Oxygen and water or excessive moisture. Iron Oxide lacks many of the structural characteristics of the original Iron material and will continue to spread deeper into the material. If left alone, rust will almost always result in total failure of the panel or component affected. It should be noted that once Iron has been converted to Iron Oxide, it cannot be changed back. Thus, even if converted to a more stable compound as in the case of a rust converter, there will still be a permanent decrease in the physical properties of the component affected.
How a Rust Converter Works in Theory
Rust converters are designed to neutralize existing rust as well as prevent it from advancing its damage. The active ingredient in most rust converters is Tannin, in the form of tannic acid. This tannic acid combines with the Iron Oxide to form a more stable compound called Iron Tannate, which is typically black in color compared to the reddish color of rust. Many commercial rust converters will include both a polymer to act as a protective layer, and an additional acidic compound designed to accelerate the chemical processes related to the tannic acids. One such acid, known as Phosphoric acid may also work as a rust converter itself, by reacting with the Iron oxide and converting it to black ferric phosphate.




The drive (roller) chains - 16 for sure maybe more -  are a little rusty so I'm cleaning them with "Evaporust". Next I'll put a coat of chain oil on them and reinstall them on the planter.

I still need to hook up the planter to the hydraulics on the tractor and make sure the vacuum system, marking arms,  seed monitor, and fertilizer auger are ok.

Once everything is working I'll put it in the shed so it's ready to go for next spring.

Kim Chi

Before I started making it, at least 5 years ago in Chicago with H2 (¡Hola!), I was intimidated by all the different "recipes" online. The fact that it sits out on the counter and decomposes (safely) added to my worries.

Now I make a batch, in this case a gallon, every few months. It goes on everything. To me its nothing more than chopped veggies with salt, allowed to ferment.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dealing with Giant Ragweed

We don't have much, thankfully, though it's coming. Whether you spray (conventional farming) or till (organic) its a problem. Breaking up the timing of tillage by growing different crops seems to be key.



The Nordells, who farm in PA, have a "weed the soil, not the crop" approach that makes sense.