Building an Ohio Brooder

This past week was difficult as all but one of us was taken down by the flu.  It was disappointing as the children were to sing on Easter Sunday morning service and missed all the holy week practices.  We regained our strength enough to have a quiet Easter weekend at home to catch-up on some much needed spring farm work.  One of those chores was to build the new brooder.

I went to the local building supply store and purchased the materials I needed from the plan I devised.  Much to my delight customers were hardly to be found.  I also purchased additional lumber for the boxes that my honey wanted to use as raised beds.

Building the Ohio brooder went much faster and smoother that I had imagined and I worked on the task joyously as I reflected on what specifically the meaning of the day was for me.  Earlier my brother had stopped by to retrieve some items he left from a prior visit and our brief discussion involved some deep spiritual learning we had both undertaken.

So what is and Ohio Brooder?  As any corporate senior director would respond, “That’s a very good question.”  Searching on all the known sources does not reveal much information as to where the brooder originated by if I had to guess, I would say Ohio. I am now ready to be promoted in the corporate world to the highest level of my incompetence.

Anyway, the basic idea of an Ohio Brooder is a box with four corner legs that keep it slightly off the ground so that chicks can run underneath and gain access to the heat source inside the box.  The heat source is usually a brooding lamp with the heat being retained inside the box.  I built mine with some hinges to access the inside of the box for cleaning and light bulb changes if necessary.  Nothing fancy, just need to have a place where the chicks can stay warm.  The idea is self-regulating.  they run outside to get food and water and run back under the box to keep warm.

And that’s it. With our production schedule of meat birds this season, I may build another one just like it but need to decide where to place it as a draft free area is hard to find for us right now.  The one recently build is inside the garage.

So until next time, do something for your farm or farm business everyday.

Peace, love, and farming.

 

Time Management

One of the biggest problems that we are dealing with on FiveDollarFarm right now is time management.  There is just so much to do that on some mornings after not having enough coffee we can seem lost.  This is exacerbated by the fact that we still work off farm in an operational position where planning is difficult due to constantly fighting fires.  Our primary short-term goal is to leave the off-farm job and generate enough income from the farm to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Rooster Time

I know that the Wall Street crowd will not be pleased to hear that this is an increasing trend for many that are simply disillusioned with the status quo.  Because we have shifted our focus away from accumulation and into productive quality, we possess an alternative perspective on value and wealth.  This also assists us in making our time more valuable because we feel we have eliminated mundane tasks, not by doing them faster or “outsourcing” them, but by making them less mundane.  When a task is done joyfully it sometimes seems more like pleasure than a chore thus he spoke, “do what you love.”

Yet still we find a limit to our joyful tasks with the ones that may not yet have become so joyful.  How do we deal with these? We have gone back to the basics and utilized the list of to do’s.  This time we have broken them down into three categories: short-term, mid-term, and long-term tasks.  This has seemed to work rather well for us.  We have set aside a time to discuss what should be included in the two latter categories while the short-term list is my daily direction to get to the mid and long-term task completions.

Using checklists.
Using checklists.

Building on a small success as crossing an item off the list helps to build on future successes by keeping us motivated to move forward with our plans and where we want to go.  One particular difficulty this can bring especially in our situation is the dependency of tasks to be completed.  For example, I need to prepare the seed starting area in the greenhouse but the water system is not yet fully installed.  Sometimes larger projects are forestalled by the amount of time available needed to complete them, the material resources necessary and available, or the prerequisites for that particular task.

This problem is solved by breaking larger projects down into smaller tasks that need to be accomplished.  For instance, all materials for the water systems project have now been purchased and are available when the time becomes available to complete that job.  Before we know it, the water system is ready and then the next task in line is completed.  Remember every now and then that it is a good idea to review previous lists of tasks to see how well you did in completing them and making notes of improvements that can be made the next time a similar task is attempted.  Success builds upon itself.

Let us know how you manage your time.

 

 

Capturing Solar Energy

The picture below shows a Google Image search on the phrase “solar energy”.  As I have been saying, this is disconcerting to me because solar energy is so misunderstood.

Humans have a tendency to tear things apart and put them into pieces while ignoring the whole from a distance.  We need to have a “bigger picture” mentality in my humble but accurate opinion.  Take a step back and think about solar energy from a different perspective.  I have the idea in my mind that the idea should include sustainable agriculture.

 

When searching Google Images these images show the major misconception of solar energy.
When searching Google Images these images show the major misconception of solar energy.

Why sustainable agriculture?  Because sustainable agriculture is the bigger picture that we need to better utilize solar energy.  On a small piece of land solar energy is collected in the open fields and produces grass.  But when we include cattle that are grazed with intensive management techniques followed closely behind by chicken tractors containing meat birds and free range poultry, something new begins to happen.  The bigger picture becomes more clear.  Our food is better as well as more healthy.  We can make better hay to feed the cattle in the winter.  The cattle manure makes the grass better.  The cycle will never cease unless we disrupt it somehow and for some reason.

We can quickly take a small piece of land and make it more productive, more profitable, full of health, and at the same time use it to feed many people.  The grass stores our solar energy.

We can quickly solve a few other problems by doing this as well.  We are removing confinement operations that have a tendency to concentrate illness that puts a food source at risk.  If we also keep the production and consumption local as well, we eliminate the fuel used to transport our food across the country as it is now.

Many are starting to realize that our food system is broken.  They are searching for some other alternatives and as farmers it is our responsibility to give them better choices.  We can store solar energy and create better food at the same time.  Learning to make a system work as a whole as opposed to tearing it apart and utilizing one part or only a few is counterproductive.

What do we do now?  We educate others that solar energy is not just putting up a panel and using about twenty per cent of what we collect as a convenience or a conversation piece to establish our nobility as good earth citizens.  Going further can also mean eating locally grown and produced food, supporting local farmers markets, and being responsible with your own personal choices.

This will not happen overnight but it is happening at a faster pace as we look around.  People are demanding more options and making better choices.  When that happens, we all win.

A beautiful scene.
This garden collects about 5 times more solar energy than a solar panel ever could.

Organic Farming

What exactly is organic farming?  Thank goodness the USDA has a website that defines exactly what that means.  Not really.  I find it hard to espouse and embrace the organic culture as it has been defined recently.  To think that for thousands of years humans grew food, tended animals and lived off the land without our benevolent government to tell us the correct methods is not commonly accepted.  Actually, I personally despise the certification of the food I grow and the methods of which I grow it.

How is it that humans lived so long without an agency to approve of the methods of food production?  Maybe the free market had something to do with it.  Perhaps if someone produced bad food in a community, word got out that the food was no good and the locals ceased buying from that producer.  Word of mouth advertising is more prevalent today than ever with the explosion of social media usage.  When you find a good restaurant or local produce stand you surely tell your friends and family.

And what of the producers?  What are their motivations?  Do they wake early in the morning determined to produce the best possible product that they can? I believe most of them do.  But lately, I have met some local farmers who think it is important to have a USDA Organic label on their products.  I ask them why and the response is that it proves that the food was produced responsibly.  But does it really mean that this is the case?  I believe the jury is still out on this issue.

 

The sun provides all the energy we need.
The sun provides all the energy we need.

 

What must happen to insure the safety of our food supply?  I have given this much thought and have come up with some answers to my own questions and provided myself with some standards that I will utilize as a new farmer in my community.  Please note that the items listed below are my virtuous attempt to get to an ideal.

  • FiveDollarFarm will leave the land in better condition than we found it.
  • We will not use chemicals to produce food or enhance the mediums in which food is grown.
  • We will care for our animals humanely to the best of our ability.  We will not cause suffering or discomfort.
  • We are thankful for the sacrifice of the animals given to us for our sustenance.
  • We acknowledge that we are merely caretakers for God’s gifts to us and that they belong to him.

 

 

 

More sunshine

 

Soon we will explore in more detail the solar energy that is available to us and how we understand it and use it to our advantage.