Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Putting Away Equipment for the Year

Now that the harvesting is done we clean and then put a lot of our equipment into the shed, which measures 40' x 120', so that it's protected from the elements.  We'll take it out again next spring.

After some thought, Dad and I came up with a way to pack it all in.

Take a look, before -


The two birds, a guinea and a chicken, that I zoom in on were escapees the day we slaughtered all the other birds.  I missed catching the chicken in the net and the guinea backed out of the killing cone before I could grab it's neck coming out the bottom. It then ran, fast.  It's been at least two weeks since the day we slaughtered and neither of these two birds will let me get anywhere near them. I'm not going to try catching them so they're on their own for the winter. I'm curious to see if they make it.  There's all kind of spent grain lying around, and maybe they'll eat snow.

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And after -



The little bit of space left by the double sliding doors will be taken up by the Case 7140 tractor, which has been at the Case dealer in Menomonie,WI since the fuel pump went out while I was tilling this past September.  I was told it would be done in 7-10 days.  That was about 8 weeks ago.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

First Curing Fire in Masonry Heater


It will take three fires a day, starting very small, for a total of 7 days, and ending with the firebox full of firewood, to "cure" all the mortar.  The place I bought the doors and refractory slabs from, Solid Rock Masonry in Duluth, MN, gave me a helpful users guide that I'm following.

It's looking real good. There's a strong draft from the chimney; the fires just jump. The design of the firebox door has a lot to do with that. In the video I put my finger into an air intake slot, located below the glass door panel on the door frame. The door frame is hollow steel tube so the intake/combustion air goes up the sides of the frame and then across the top of the frame where it enters the firebox. Once lit, the flame goes "looking" for air and is drawn, by design, upward, giving the fire a strong reason to head up.  This design also, according to particulate/emissions tests done by Solid Rock Masonry, gives a much "cleaner" (and hotter) burn.

There's quite a distance traveled in internal channels before the smoke actually makes it to the chimney. From the firebox its five feet straight up, then seven down the sides of the firebox. Then around two corners under an eight foot bench, and finally up the chimney through the second floor and attic.

It's been a long time coming. I first heard about masonry heaters almost 30 years ago and the idea really stuck with me. I never lived in a place where I could build one. Here in NW Wisconsin is the perfect spot.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Masonry Heater is Done

My friend Andy came up from Chicago to lay the fieldstone I'd picked and prepped around the masonry heater.



Next spring I plan on applying a clear sealer to the heater so the the colors - blues, greens, yellows, reds, white, oranges, browns - of the stones "pop". You can get a sense of what that will look like by simply spraying the stones with water, which I did in the photos below.

(Click on any of the photos to make them bigger.)

The firebox side, showing the clean stone.



How the stone looks when wet.




Oven side, dry clean stone.

Oven side, wet stone.
 All these stones were handpicked from our fields. Even after pressure washing them it wasn't obvious what they'd ultimately look like. I'm really happy with how it's turned out. Thanks Andy!



There's still one big test to come - Does it work? Early signs are promising, as there's a nice draft from the chimney.

We finished about a week ago, and the mortar still needs to cure for another 10 days until I can start curing it with a series of small fires.  That'll take another week. Meaning I can't really use it to heat the house for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Masonry Heater Update #2

I've got the precast downdraft channels attached to the sides and the clay flue liner run from the base of the heater to where it starts going up to the roof.

Andy is supposed to come here in the next day or two and help me clad the whole thing with the fieldstone that I've pressure washed.

I picked up a load (~1000 lbs) of masons sand, now in the back of my truck, and, on one of his trips up here, Dad brought 10 bags of hyrated masons lime .  I'll use a soft mortar - 5 parts sand to 1 part lime - so that when the heater expands/contracts due to fires, it won't crack the mortar between the stones.


 (Click on any image to make it bigger.)


The oven is on the side of the heater away from the camera, opposite the firebox on the right. Exhaust, to the chimney flue, through the 7"x11" hole cut in the gray downdraft channel seen in the lower left corner.

Fibreglass will act as an expansion joint. Mortar from the fieldstone is laid up against it. Once fired, the heater will burn it off, leaving an 1/8" gap between the firebrick core and the fieldstone. This should minimize cracking from different expansion rates.   The concrete block supports the back edge of the limestone bench top.



You can see two of the clean outs in the 8"x12" tile. There are two more on the backside of the heater. Fieldstone will be laid up the front face of the tile and a 2" limestone cap will rest on the concrete block and the fieldstone to create the top of the heated bench.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My 70 lb Lapdog



I spent the day trying to fix a tractor, not working on my masonry heater (among other things). The days go by quickly, filled with a seemingly never ending list of projects. Its hard to plan as very often I'm forced to completely drop what I'm doing due to circumstances beyond my control. All I can do is start up with another task.

It's getting cold in the house - no heat. Maybe in a couple weeks I can finish up the heater. Still need to build the chimney and clad the thing with fieldstone.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Masonry Heater Progress

 Some of the smaller rocks that we've picked were dumped near the house earlier this summer. They still have a bit of dirt on them, which I'm now cleaning with our balky pressure washer. The motor surges and eventually dies.

The internet has a solution, which has worked, somewhat.
The idle (pilot/lo) circuit in the carb is gummed up. What happens is when the engine achieves the desired rpm's, the governor closes the throttle. At small partial throttle, the engine must run on the idle/transition jets. Since they're obstructed by varnish, it starves for fuel. Rpm's drop, the throttle opens, the engine now draws from the less obstructed main jet, rpm's recover, throttle closes, repeat ad nauseum.

2 choices. Remove the "main jet" from the carb and clean it again (special attention to drillings along the side of the jet), and poke out the idle circuit while you're in there..... Or:

Add "Sea Foam" to the tank at double the recommended ratio on the bottle. The stuff is good at removing varnish, and in a little while the washer should be happy again.

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 I still have a lot to do on the heater. Finish up the core, another 6 courses, then put the downdraft channels on either side. Next would be building the clay chimney, which is routed through the 6 ft long bench and 9 ft up to the ceiling where it transitions to a double wall metal chimney and goes through the second floor and the attic/roof.

Finally, the whole core/bench gets clad with the field stone. 

I was hoping to get a little help from my friend Andy. I'm not sure if he'll be able to do so. In either case it'll be tough to get it done in the next month given all the other stuff that I need to do.

 Wikipedia has a good entry on Masonry Heaters if you want to learn more.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fall Tillage






(Click on either picture to make it bigger.)



Tilling ground uncovers a lot of rocks, ones that are big enough to do damage to planting and harvesting equipment, so they need to be picked up and dumped at the edge of the field. It's an ongoing problem. There are large piles of rocks all around the border of the field, put there in previous years, decades. I think the land was first tilled in the late 1800's, so there are probably piles dating back that far.

Because I was tired of lugging rocks up the steps of the tractor and putting rocks in the cab, then finding the cab floor full before I could get to the end of the row to dump them, I decided to make a "rock box". I found a picture online of one that another farmer had made and using his basic idea put one together from steel angle and plate. The task was complicated by the fact that there are cast iron weights, 600 lbs, already attached to the front of the tractor.  (Keeping the front end down when doing heavy tillage is an issue with tractors.) The welded unit I made is bolted to the tractor, in two relatively manageable pieces, so it can be removed when its not needed.




By running the disk over this field I'm hoping to do several things. One is to hasten the breakdown of the clover and oat material/residue. The disk chops, and to a certain degree buries, the material. I'll still have to do some tillage next spring as I need a relatively smooth seed bed to let me row cultivate next spring after I plant. Too much residue will plug up the row cultivator.

Another goal is to get as many existing seeds to germinate this fall, causing there to be fewer seeds in the soil longer term to interfere with the crops I want to grow. Any time you disturb the soil you'll get dormant seeds to sprout, something that is never going to change in an organic row cropping system.

No till is an intriguing option, but its next to impossible to do in an organic system. No till relies on herbicide, instead of mechanical tillage, to control weeds. Soil is conserved at the cost of a higher chemical footprint.

...................


After I see my videos I usually want to edit them for some reason or another. It seems I'm always pressed for time, and don't have much interest in learning how to use the software, to make changes to them. In the video above I noticed that I said the noise coming off of the disk was due to hitting buried rocks. That's only partially true; the linkages in the disk are loose, and the hitch pin rattles as well.  But trust me, plenty of the sounds are rocks.

As far as other corrections I'll refer you to our customer service department.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chemistry

After applying heat, followed by soaking it in PB Blaster failed to free up the moving parts on my rotary hoe, I'm using electrolysis to hopefully get rid of the rust that has seized it up.  If this doesn't work I'll look into buying another one at auction.




(above image found here)


Chemistry wasn't my best subject; it's a kind of magic that isn't made any clearer by the language/formulas used:

The cleaning process has 4 components - a battery charger, the water with sodium carbonate (washing soda) dissolved in it, an anode (stainless steel object such as a spoon) and the cathode (the rusty iron).
The solution:  The solution of sodium carbonate has two purposes. First, sodium carbonate is basic. The electrochemical reactions that occur at the rusted iron work best in a basic solution. Lye( sodium hydroxide) would work as well but it is less safe to use. Sodium bicarbonate, baking soda, may not work as well as sodium carbonate because it is less basic. The other purpose for the sodium carbonate is to make the water conduct electricity. When the salt, sodium carbonate, is dissolved in water it becomes sodium ions, Na+, and carbonate ions CO3-2 . These positive and negative charged ions carry the current in solution. Carbonate moves to the positive wire from the battery charger and sodium moves to the negative wire. This movement of ions through the solution results in a current, just like electrons moving in a wire results in a current. Pure water has a high resistance, about 20 million ohms per centimeter, and negligible current would pass without the sodium carbonate ions.
  For electrolysis to proceed at a reasonable rate, a high current must flow which requires a low solution resistance. Solution resistance goes down (current up) as the anode and cathode are made closer together as well as when the concentration of washing soda is increased. A 5% solution of washing soda is a good starting place to try. It is best to surround the rusty item with the anode so the distance between the rust and the anode is about the same so that the current reaching each part of the rust will be about the same. When this arrangement is impractical, the rusted object should be rotated occasionally to get uniform electrolysis.
The battery charger:  This is the source of electrical current and voltage. Current is the flow of electrons in a wire. Voltage is a measure of the electron energy. So, the battery charger provides electrons with an energy of 12 volts at its negative lead and accepts electrons at its positive lead. The current indicated by the meter provides a measure of how many electrons are flowing. Current can also flow through water, if the water has ions dissolved in it, as provided by the sodium carbonate. When the battery charger is connected to the solution with a metal anode and cathode, the negatively charged carbonate will migrate to the positively charged anode and sodium will migrate to the cathode. The solution completes the circuit so a current of electrons can flow from the negative wire of the battery charger to its positive wire.
The Anode:  The simplest anode to consider is an anode made of stainless steel. In this case, the anode is inert, that is, the stainless steel does not undergo any chemical reactions. Its only function is to provide electrical contact between the positive lead of the charger and the solution. The copper connector of the battery charger must make good contact with the stainless steel but it must not touch the solution. If it does touch, it will dissolve. The copper that dissolves will wind up depositing on the iron object being cleaned and cause it to rapidly rust (see advanced chemistry section for details). When 12 volts is applied to the anode some chemistry does occur in the solution touching the anode, which will be explained below.
  There are two chemistry terms, oxidation and reduction that must be explained in order to understand the chemistry that occurs at the anode and cathode. Oxidation is a chemical reaction where something gives up electrons. When a chemical species gives up electrons we say it oxidizes. For example when iron metal oxidizes it looses two electrons to become ferrous iron, Fe++. If iron loses three electrons it oxidizes to become ferric iron, Fe+++. Reduction is when something accepts electrons. For example, if Fe++ accepted two electrons it would become iron metal, Fe. We would say, ferrous iron was reduced to iron metal.
  Oxygen likes to be reduced. When oxygen is reduced, accepts electrons, it makes oxide, O--. If we put oxygen together with iron metal, the iron is oxidized (gives electrons to the oxygen) and the oxygen is reduced(accepts the electrons lost from iron). The product is one form of rust, ferric oxide, Fe2O3. It is always true that whenever something is oxidized, something else must be reduced. Electrons must come from some where (oxidation), to go some where (reduction).
  Getting back to the anode..... The anode is hooked to the positive wire of the charger. The positive wire accepts electrons. If the positive wire is accepting electrons something is losing electrons( oxidizing). When 12 volts is applied to the anode, water is oxidized at the anode surface and gives electrons up to the anode. The product is oxygen. The bubbles you see coming from the stainless steel anode are oxygen that resulted from the oxidation of water.
The Cathode:  The cathode is connected to the negative wire of the battery charger. The negative wire supplies electrons. Therefore, something must gain electrons at the cathode (reduction). Two things are reduced at the cathode, water and the rusty iron. The reduction of water produces hydrogen. The bubbles coming from the cathode are hydrogen gas. (A safety note: The fuel for the space shuttle is hydrogen and oxygen. Rust electrolysis should be done with good ventilation (outside preferred) so that explosive concentrations of hydrogen and oxygen are not reached.)
  The evolution of hydrogen plays a beneficial role in the cleaning process. All these tiny bubbles forming at the surface blast things off the surface that aren't stuck tightly. Loose rust, grease and even paint are removed by the action of the hydrogen bubbles. This process is sometimes called cathodic cleaning. I suppose the anode is scrubbed too, but who cares.
  The reduction of interest is the reduction of the rust. Rust is typically a mixture of many iron compounds. Which iron compounds are present in rust depend on how much oxygen and water was present when it formed and many other factors. The electrochemical reduction of rust is very complicated.
  During electrolysis the rust turns from orange to black. It is natural to wonder what the black stuff is. In most cases, the rust next to the iron is reduced to iron metal. This reduced iron will form a somewhat porous layer of new iron on the object cleaned. After electrolysis the iron object will rust very quickly unless it is protected because this porous layer of new iron has a high surface area and it is particularly susceptible to oxidation (rusting). The rest of the rust may reduce to a variety of compounds depending on the compounds in the original rust and the details of the electrolysis. Typically the black stuff that can be rubbed off after electrolysis is a mixture of iron metal and magnetite, Fe3O4 , an oxide of iron. Magnetite is an intermediate product in the reduction of rust back to iron metal. It is the black stuff in magnetic recording tapes.
Advanced Chemistry:  Rust is a complicated material. Typically, it is a combination of ferrous and ferric oxides, hydroxides, and hydrated oxides and some of these compounds may be present in several crystal forms.
  There is much speculation in the chemical and archeological literature about the products that form when rust is reduced in sodium carbonate. In searching for an answer, people may find a lengthy publication on the DENIX web site. Much of the electrochemistry described is not correct and the conclusions drawn about reduction products are not in agreement with most chemical literature. It was not until 1996 that some chemists from the Swiss Federal Institute and Brookhaven National Lab did definitive work on this subject (see papers by Virtanen in J. Electrochemical Soc 1996 and 1999). Using a sophisticated X-ray technique they determined what was going on at the cathode when iron oxide is reduced. Normally reductions occur in solution. That is, something has to dissolve before it can be reduced. However, they found that iron oxide will conduct electrons and therefore can be reduced without going into solution. This process is referred to as solid state reduction. The ferric iron atoms in the rust begin to reduce to ferrous oxide, which initially results in a mixture of ferric and ferrous oxides. This combination is called magnetite and is often written as Fe3O4. Eventually, all the ferric oxide becomes ferrous iron. Under less powerful reducing conditions the product would be ferrous carbonate or ferrous hydroxide. However, under the extreme conditions of reduction powered by a 12 V battery charger, they found that ferrous iron can be reduced all the way to iron metal. All this chemistry can occur without any of the iron going into solution. So, based on this work, when we see the rust slowly turning black, we are seeing the formation of Fe3O4 which is black and eventually iron metal, which is also black. Finely divided iron is black, not shiny like a solid chunk of iron. All this work was done under laboratory conditions.
  We wanted to find out what happened when a rusty plane iron was reduced in a bucket. We did reductions of a heavily rusted iron object in sodium carbonate under conditions normally used for cleaning rusted objects. We used either a 1 or 5 % solution of sodium carbonate and a 12 volt battery charger and continued electrolysis for about 2 hours. The iron piece was dried under an oxygen free atmosphere (nitrogen). The loose black deposit on the iron surface was removed by sticking it to a piece of tape and it was analyzed by X-ray diffraction. We found that the deposit was magnetite. No iron was detected and no ferric oxides were detected in the black material that readily came off on the tape. Therefore, under our conditions, all the rust was reduced, but the reduction of what had been loose rust did not proceed all the way to iron metal. Perhaps it would have if we had continued electrolysis for a longer time. We had no way of determining whether the rust at the surface of the iron object reduced all the way to iron. We expect that at least some iron was formed at the surface, because after reduction the iron surface rapidly forms red rust (ferric oxide) if it is not quickly dried. Magnetite does not rapidly rust, but finely divided iron will form rust in just a few minutes if it is wet. We conclude, based on our work and that of Virtanen, that rust reduction under the conditions normally used for cleaning, results in the formation of magnetite and possibly some iron metal.
  The other chemistry that occurs is the electrolysis of water. At the anode water is oxidized according to this equation:
2H2O = O2 + 4H+ + 4e-
The H+ formed is quickly neutralized by the carbonate to make carbon dioxide. So, some of the bubbles at the anode may be carbon dioxide as well as oxygen. At the cathode water is reduced:
H2O + 2e- = H2 + 2OH-

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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

New on the Farm: John Deere 7200 Conservation Planter




I bought it a couple of days ago at a farm retirement auction and drove west 100 miles to Rogers, MN to pick it up today.

It appears to be in really good shape and won't (hopefully) take much work to get it ready for next spring.  Conservation means that it's able to do "no-till planting" of corn, beans and similarly sized seeds.  We aren't no-till; the main way to get rid of weeds in an organic rotation is to till the soil. However I'd like to start minimizing the amount of tillage for a couple of reasons.  It has benefits to soil health, and secondly, I'm hoping to reduce the number of times that I have to spend tilling the soil prior to planting in the spring. There's a small window to plant. Any extra rain means I can't till until the soil dries out which can cause a delay in planting.  Late planting leads to lower (or no) yield.


click on any pic for a larger, clearer image






Lastly, I put some paint on the 300 gallon diesel fuel tank. So many things here are beat up and falling apart it makes me feel good to push back against all the decay.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front


Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1973. Also published by Counterpoint Press in The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, 1999; The Mad Farmer Poems, 2008; New Collected Poems, 2012.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Farm Update: Replanting Soybeans + Birds in the Yard + Sickle Mower

The first planting of beans, about a month ago, didn't take, so we'll do about 38 acres again.  First dad (76 yrs old and works like crazy) re-tilled with the field cultivator, then we planted them with the drill.  Crop insurance will cover a percentage of the loss, not sure of the numbers.  Towards the end of the video we go a little off topic, but I don't really know how to edit these things. I'm also not interested in spending the time to learn.




Here's a short video of the birds as they move around outside. At about 8 weeks old they roam around looking for, and I'm hoping, eating ticks. There is a big problem up here with Lyme disease; I check myself constantly for ticks. I can occasionally feel them crawling on me but more often than not I lift up my shirt or pant leg to find nothing. Which is good, but it starts to play with my head after a while.



I got the sickle mower that I bought at auction hooked to the tractor and so far it's working. In a week or so I'll pull it 10 miles down Highway 63 and mow the 65 acres that are in clover. It's a slow process but given the equipment we have, the best option for getting rid of weeds ahead of next years corn.

Since I shot the pics, we took off the duals (the outside tires). They're good for added traction when you want to till, but when they're off its easier to mow. (They don't trample the grass ahead of part of the mower.)


Click on either of the images to make them bigger.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Moving the Birds Outside

My nephew George and my dad came to the farm to help move the birds from the brooder to the outdoor coop. Now that their feathers are in they can manage the cold nights. After getting acclimated to their new home they'll start wandering around the farm eating, I hope, ticks!



For some reason, to see a clearer image of any of the pictures below, you'll need to click on it --









Friday, May 26, 2017

Auction Buys

I bought a New Idea model 255 sickle bar mower and a 300 gallon diesel fuel tank.  After putting a new hydraulic cylinder on it and giving it a "tune up", I'll use the mower to cut weeds on the 65 acres that's in clover.  By cutting them before they go to seed, I'm hoping to reduce the amount of tillage I'll need to do next spring/summer.

The tank will get a coat of rust converter paint, a couple of new fuel filters, and a final coat of John Deere green.

Kind of amazing what you can move with ropes and chains.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Planting Corn

We hire out the corn planting, as right now we don't have a planter!

He is using a John Deere 12 row model 1770.

This has a been a very cold, wet spring and the corn is going in late. We'll see how that affects the yield.




Monday, May 22, 2017

Trying to Dry Out a Field


We try to plant our corn by May 1st. This year has been wet and cold, but there was a small window last week and we missed it.  So, in between the rain, my dad (Gramps), is hoping that by running the field cultivator over this ground the wind will dry it out so we can plant it tomorrow.   The ground is sandy and well drained. It's supposed to rain in the afternoon, so we'll see. 

I had tilled this piece (roughly 30 acres) with the field cultivator almost three weeks ago. The soybean residue on it from last years crop was incorporated fairly easily into the soil.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Heavy Weather



The neighbor's rain gauge says we got 5" of rain.

I like the distorted images.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Baby Birds in Brooder



The birds - guinea fowl, chickens, ducks, geese and a lone turkey - are about a month old. In a week or two they'll have enough feathers to stay warm at night and I'll move them outside for the summer.  I'm counting on the guineas to eat enough ticks to spare me from Lyme disease.  I find myself checking twice a day for ticks; at this point I've only found 3, but I think there will be more as it warms up.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Farmhouse Construction Update #7

I said in the video that it was 0º.  Make that temp 32º (F).  My "mistake" means that my project of learning to think in degrees Celsius is working!  

I won't be able to work on the fireplace until June, when my friend Andy plans on coming up from Chicago to help me.