Brush Removal Day (F**K*NG Sotch Broom!)

ImageLooking out my Living room picture window this morning, hot cup of Folgers in my hand, the aroma from the coffees steam drifting up my nostrils, and the sun beaming into the living room from the East. “This will be a great day to do some spraying!” I think to my self. I havn’t posted anything in about a week, i started a new job as a machinery operator and overtime has kept me pretty busy. Yesterday (Saturday) was my first chance in a week to tend to the farm. We have new baby goats born earlier in the week that have taken up my workday evenings in feeding and casterating and general care. So saturday i grabbed the trusty Troy Built brush cutter and set out on the 20 acres with a full tank of mixed gas and a vision. “Brush Be Gone!” here in northwestern Oregon “Scotch Broom” and “Tansie” are the two main culperates. Tansie will actually kill alot of livestock, especially cattle if they injest it. So it’s a must for removal. I spray the hell out of it every year. Or if I am walking by and see a plant I will try and pull it up by its roots, leaving the roots exposed to direct sunlight to kill the little bugger. The other bad weed we have is Scotch Broom. This stuff isn’t really poisonous to livestock, but it literally will completey take over a farm around here in a matter of a couple years! It’s a real booger to kill. It’s a bi-annual plant, so it only comes back every two years, so just when you think you got it all killed, cut, sprayed and all gone, the crop from year before last comes up and you got a whole new crop of the stuff. The other problem is seeding! There are probably 10,000 seeds on one single plant. So once it goes to seed, one single gentle wind and the stuff has seeded it self over literally 5 acres! I will admit during bloom it is very pretty, but it starts off like a thick 1 ft tall carpet, by the next year it is 6 feet tall. After a couple years, I am not exaggerating, this crap will be an inpenetrantable solid wall 12-15 ft high! Spreading and seeding itself every year along the way and spreading. Long story short, who ever got this stuff started here in the Pacific Northwest should have a red hot fire poker shoved up their ass! Every year i spray, and cut, and spray and cut and spray and cut. Our farm was over ran with the stuff when we got it, part of why we got it so cheap. Every year it’s a constant year long effort, and every year I gain about an acres worth, it’s a hard battle to just break even and keep the stuff nuetral with out getting worse, let alone making head way one it. But, what i have been doing and has been successful so far, is i spray it a few times when i can, then go and cut it off with the brush cutter. I build a fence around the area etending the pasture, and put goats in it for about 2 years, as they eat off any new shoots and seedlings coming up. This seems to work pretty well, but is not cheap, and is a lot of work. Any ways, so yesterday, I took out the brush cutter. I cut a piece about 3 acres in size (yes, by hand with a darn weed eater with a blad attatchment, hence what I mean by alot of work). Some of it was sprayed and dead, other spots were not, and were still healthy growing plants. I cut them off any ways, so at least they will not goto seed on me, I can keep it kind of nuetral this year, and allows me to focus my real hardcore scotchbroom killing and removal efforts in other locations. And since the sun is going to be out today, as soon as the morning dew is heated off the grass, and everything is dried up a bit, I’m gonna fill up my back pack sprayer and head off. I will do one pack sprayer of CrossBow to spot spray Scotchbroom, tansie, black berry vines, and any other broad leaf weeds vines and plants i do not want. Once that is done, i will mix up another backpack sprayer full of my own custom mix. I will mix 1/2 Crossbow (and not water it down as much as reccommded) and the other 1/2 will be Round-Up (It too will be a little more concentrated that recommended). The reason for this mixture, is i use it along my fence lines, the driveway, etc. It pretty much kills everything. My fences have a hot (electric) wire running about 10 inches off the bottom wire, so i spray the fence lines to keep things from growing into the electric fence and shorting it out. I do this every year, and the result is about 6 inches on both sides of the fence line, that is just bare dirt, where nothing grows. PERFECT! It also makes fence repairs, removal, etc ALOT easier not having grass and weeds and vines growing up through the fence and making it all tangles up and hard to get out of the ground. Also, the less organic matter that grows, the less that dies, which leads to the least amount of decomposed organic matter, resulting in a LACK of top soil getting taller and taller each year, which in turn for the general farmer means that the bottom wire of your fence pretty much remains where you originally put it, instead of the bottom wire getting covered by dirt, rusting off, and comprimising your fence strength, usability, and helps the bottom line of actually keeping critters inside the fence where you want them. In case some people are not familiar with general herbicide applications, CrossBow is very useful, and kills broad leaf plants only(It WILL NOT kill grass), it great for spot spraying unwanted plants, weeds, vines, etc and not killing all the grass or having big dead spots all over. Round-Up is another very useful spray, but it kills grass, and smaller kinds of weeds like dandilions and that sort of thing. This is great for spraying along fences, spraying driveways or walkways, around flower beds, that sort of thing. Always be sure to read labels, and try and think ahead of what you really want your end result to be. In other words, if you want grass around to grow and look nice, or to feed livestock, or to choke out young upcoming brush and weeds, then keep Round up the hell away! On the other hand, if you are trying to keep grass out and keep vines or berries or other broad leaf organics alive, then keep the crossbow away from it. As i write this I keep checking outside, the sun is up pretty good now, I can feel the heat from the window, telling me it’s about time to go out and start mixing up some weed killer! Thanks for listening folks.

Baby Goat Born, welcome to the family

Image

I was out chopping wood Yesterday and in my own little world. My wife came out to chat for a while and have a smoke, after a minute of brief chattign we noticed a goat in the pasture bellowing. “What in the hell is going on?” we thought. 2 Does are ready to have kids, but we figured probably not for another week or so. We went out to investigate, and that damned LLama was sitting on top of the female Alpine goat, squishing her, and she was screaming for all she was worth. We tried calling him, tried pushing him, tried pulling him off of her. That stubborn son of a bitch wouldn’t budge. (As you can tell the Llama is not my favorite animal! If the wife would let me i would have put a bullet in it a year ago! So any ways, heres this stupid dumb ass llama, smashing our pregnant goat and not budging. Finally about a 3 inch diameter and 6 foot long Fir Branch laying on the ground across his skull got him off her. Once he got off, we saw two baby goat feet sticking out of the back of her. “Oh great, here she was trying to give birth, and that stupid llama probably killed it. Any ways, we started helping her, i grabbed the baby feet, and not pulling but more keeping constant outward pressure as she pushed. Low and behold both the mama and the baby lived. That llama kept coming over snorting, kept trying to stomp the kid, and finally got another branch across the face. The wife picked up that baby Alpine Kid, i picked up the mommy, and we carried them over to a small Kid pen we have. That way momma and baby would have a safe place to nurture and grow. We also have a LaManche Goat that is pregnant and getting pretty big, she has a decent bag hanging already too, and I think they were bred just days apart. So I baited her into the Pig pen with some grain. (No, we do not have pigs in the pen at the moment, butchered them last fall and have not gotten any new piglets yet).  But now she will have a safe place to have her kid/s as well. The pig pen is about 80ftx60ft. Natural grass pasture, with a shelter shed about 6ftx6ft. Some large fir trees for shade, a feeder, a watering unit, and a high and low placed hot wire all around the fence. Actually it is a pretty ideal Goat pen. The smaller pen i have mama and baby in now is smaller and more McGuiver’d together. It is only about 6ftx15ft. It has one of those Igloo shaped large dog houses in it (young goats actually love that thing, fit inside it well and when older they love jumping and playing on it), it too has a feeder, and watering device is actually just one of those round plastic Kiddy pools for toddler swimming. It too is a dirt floor kind of pen, we do not run any livestock on concrete floored pens of any kind. This smaller pen does have a wire room i had built. (Doubles as a duck, turkey, and overflow chicken pen). I used just normal woven field wire for the roof, propped up every 6ft or to with Forked wooden hand cut posts. Works great, Any ways, i threw a couple of tarps over the wire roof and tied them off, making almost a Yurt style roof. This should keep the rain off mama and baby enough so he can get a little bigger and tolerate the wet and cold better. More updates to come. Another baby due any time.

Catching Rain

I am sitting in my comfortable recliner, some annoying cartoon on tv that my 3 year old is watching, the fire next to me roasty and toasty, and on the window panes the rain beats hard. The past week or so it has been half way decent weather out, but here in early spring with fresh new fruit trees in the ground, seeds planted in the garden, we need a rain. Which brings me to my topic of the day. Catching, and using rain to our benefit, not work against us, and here in western Oregon we get TONS of rain! Lets start off by first mentioning that in spring, rain is needed to help growing trees and shrubs establish root systems, and provide water for the growing plant to begin structural growth, bud development, and over all cell structure. With out the rain, plants would just wither away and die. Same for seeds planted in gardens or flowerbeds. The rain is needed to keep these seeds moist and germinate so they can sprout and grow up through the earth. One way of harnessing rain that some may not think of, is i store rain water. I have rain collection units around teh farm here, from 5-gallon buckets at the bottom of gutter down spouts, to rubber maid tubs catching rain off the wood shed roof. Why would I collect rain water you ask? Well, if I was in the city the use of rain water for plants would be super beneficial due to city water containing so much cholorine and flouride and such and would provide the plants with a more pure and nitrogen enriched source of water. However, we do have a well here on the farm, so the purity of the water is not an issue. Mostly i use the collected water for animals. The rabbits and the chickens both live off the collected rain water (except in the summer, then it is well water). Its also handy sometimes having some easily accesible water for washing off farm or garden tools, rinsing off eggs, washing off dirty hands what ever. Rain is our friend, not our enemy, and has a million uses. As the years progress I intend on expanding my rain catching system to something a little more substantial, but in the mean time what i have will have to work. Happy rain catching every one.

Cuttin’ Kindlin’

Image

It was a bit chilly this morning so i made my way out to the wood shed for an arm load of wood and a handfull of kindling to get rid of the morning chill in the house. I saw my Kindling box was empty. An often occurance that I am sure many of you know. So i packed the wood into the house, then set off back outside for some morning twilight kindling chopping. Usually I will chop enough to fill my box, and stop there. The box is approx 2ft long x 1.5ft wide x 1.5ft tall. It holds enough kindling for a couple of weeks any ways. So If illed the boxy, grabbed and handful, and went back into the house and got a fire going. With the fire soon roaring and wood stacked into the stove and heat for the morning secured, I thought about my often occuring lack of kindling, and how much I really don’t care for chopping sticks in the freezing cold right before daylight. So I figured I should go out and chope a little more to play catch up. I filled the box to the brim, and still had some left over. I had an idea, and just kept on chopping. Once i had a small mountain of kindling all chopped and a couple of hours gone, I went to work tying bundles. Basically a bundle holds a few handfulls of kindling sticks (probably 2-3 days worth in each). Tied the bundles with extra pieces of string, crap rope, and bailing twine, just what ever cordage i had laying around the wood shed area. In all I chopped 15 bundles, on top of filling my box. My thought, is I stacked all the bundles into the wood pile, and will save them for next year’s use. The box I will use for this years. Next time my box gets empty, I will fill it and chope 15 more bundles. Doing the same process of storage. I figure that way it wont take but a few more cuttings, and i will have enough kindling for the whole winter next near.

Every year once fire building is all said and done, and we are into long hot summer days. I go to the wood shed, and throw every single stick of wood into the lawn. I then add and stack all the wood I cut during the winter to season into the back of the wood shed, stacking my way out. Once all of the wood I cut in the fall winter and spring are all stacked in there, then i restack all the dry wood I threw in the lawn from before. This gives me a good, and evenly dry/drying Cache of firewood. It is a bit of work, but like food or water storage, you gotta rotate. Any ways, this summer when i will be restacking all my wood, I will add these kindling bundles into the wood pile here and there every couple square feet. i am thinking this way, for next winter, when i go out to the shed to get wood for the day, i can grab an arm load of wood, grab a bundle, and all my fire needs will be met in one single trip, instead of one trip for wood, and another trip out in the eraly morning snow and/or rain to cut more kindling that I ran out of. So any ways, gonna give this idea a try, thought I would post and update the folks here on wordpress that fallow “Prepper Farming.”

Mulching and Wood Chip Day

As Spring continues here in the Pacific Northwest grass and weeds are starting to grow. I am seeing grass and weeds sprouting in our gravel driveway, and many other places around the farm that I will definately have to start spraying soon. I was thinking of this yesterday evening as i rolled myself a smoke, sat on the porch looking up the drive seeing all the scotchbroom turning dark green and healthy again. Darn stuff. I have about a 3 acre piece that is not fenced in yet, and goats and stock can’t be kept in there to keep the brush mowed down. So this particular piece of land, until i get it fenced, i have been keeping brush down by hand with herbicide, weed eaters, machette, and hand shears. Not very fun. And of coarse it has to be the brushiest, rockiest, most uneven piece of ground on the whole place where I can’t even take a mower into. Oh well. Any ways, was sitting on the porch last night, thinking about some fruit trees i have, some flower beds, and other things of that nature, and decided that with weather permitting I will make today mulch day. During the fall I save two large 100lbs feed bags (the white woven plastic strand kind). In one I pick up dead and fallen maple leaves and stuff it full. In the other I put wood shavings. The savings i get from cutting wood all year round. Sometimes when i have a big burly hunk of wood with knots every where I will just lay it on it’s side and use the chainsaw to split it into desired pieces. Yeah its more of a use of gas, but it saves having to beat and beat and beat on the darned thing, but also it gives me nice long wood shavings, which I use in around the place in lew of Bark Dust. Just a side note for folks, if you stand the block of wood upright and saw through it, the wood chips will be very fine, and powder like, if you lay it on its side and cut with the grain you will get those long strands I am talking about. Just a note.

Any ways, alot of fruit trees and flower beds (the ones that are planted already and sprouting up) will get a layer of crushed and crumbled broken up leaf bits (1/2 inch thick or so, maybe an inch) fallowed by an inch or more of wood shavings. Mulching helps retain moisture in the hot summer months, but it also help prevent grass and weeds poking up through. No it doesn’t totally stop them, but it does slow and impeede them. My only advice for others doing this, is I also take a soil ph tester with me as I do this. The wood shavings has potential of making the soil more acidic over time. each  year I test around the trees and beds, and ajust accordingly to what each species likes and needs. Happy gardening folks

Prepping and Zombies! Together Forever!

Image 

It seems today that two sub cultures are really developing! They have both been around for years but are gaining momentum like runaway trains! One is Zombies! They are every where. Books, television, movies, radio, parties and gatherings, flash mobs, magazines, etc. The second gaining popularity is “Prepping”. Shows like “Doomsday Preppers” captures this group of people, whom of which are people that fear the ending of the world as we know it in some way shape or form. I too am a large Zombie fan. I love reading zombie fiction, and i love watching good zombie flicks (Yes I too am a huge “Walking Dead” fan!) I was just telling a prepper friend earlier today that he may want to netflix the whole series of walking dead due to the nature of end of the world preps and prepping ideas that can be drawn from the Zombie Apocalypse.  And so came this idea, why not write something about the combination of the two!

Now i am not talking making a new tv show with Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, Cody Lundin, Joe Teti and dave canterbury mixing with a bunch of preppers and running from zombie hoards, however oh my god how cool of a show would that be! LOL. No, I mean for zombie fans you can learn alot of ideas for your zombie apocalypse by reading survival types of literature, survival books, watching shows like doomsday preppers, Dual Survival, things of that nature. And taking from those sources certain key points for your ultimate “Zombie escape and survival.” As I was telling my friend, there too is alot preppers can gain by watching and reading Zombie material. Sure the main threats are different, but as the saying goes “If you are prepared for zombies, you are prepared for anything else!” 

Any ways, this was just a thought I had, survivalists, doomsday preppers, die hard zombie fans, we all have the same goals, and the same interests…. To stay alive when Sh*t Hits The Fan! We have alot to discuss with each other, lets learn together. God bless you all. Have a great evening. 

Trapping – “Skunked again”

Image

I have had a bad time with coyotes digging large holes underneath my fence and coming into my fields. I really would not care, other than i have livestock with babies in that field which would be a perfect coyote snack. So I set a series of traps in the dig outs, covered the traps, and baited them. I check the traps every day to humanly remove any coyotes or other animals that may get caught so they aren’t there stuck for days on end. Any ways, today’s trap check brought bad news. I walked through the field, through the timber, around the back of the pond to the first set of the trap line. First trap, a big female skunk! UUUUUGGGGG! Damn i hate catching skunks in my traps! i hate it for one obvious reason, they spray all over the whole set, and even dead you still get skunk all over you getting the carcass out of the trap. I also hate killing them becuase they dig and eat wasp and hornet nests and bees and are actually a good farm critter to have around. Last skunk I got I had to burn all my clothes (was dark when I checked the set so i was right on top of him by the time i saw him, he saw me, i saw him, I raised my gun, he raised his tail, and we both fired! Both hitting each other). So Any ways, daylight this check, and I saw him from a ways off. I raised my pistol, told my boy to cover his ears, and put a bullet in his brain from about 15 yards. (brain shooting a skunk at 15 yards is not an easy task for a novice! like shooting a quarter at 15 paces!). Any ways, he fell limp and i decided to leave him in the trap for now. He is dead and the trap is set so it is not like another animal can come along and get trapped also. So we walked down the fence line 100 yards or so, second trap was untouched but bait was missing. “Hmmmmm, that sucks” I thought. So off we were to the third set of the line. Something grey, too small for a coyote, too big for a squirrel. It was a Possum! Far from a coyote. So for a grand total of critters cought in my coyote killing efforts totals : 2 skunks, 1 possum, 1 bobcat, and 1 owl (don’t ask how in the hell an owlgot in there! but he did). So i decided to call it quits for the trap line. All i am catching are the critters I don’t mind having around. So I humanly shot the Possum, and removed him from the trap, throwing him over my back to take home and skin out. We walked back up to my second empty set again so that I could trip the trap, as to not catch anything else. I will wait till the wife gets home tonight, and have her watch the boy while i remove the skunk from the one trap, and reposess all my traps. I don’t mind having him there, but I have to hop the fence to undo the chains off of trees and what not, which would leave him alone in the field with cows, bulls, not so nice billy goats, etc. Better to just let mama watch him while daddy does his thing. Any ways, so i am standing in front of the middle trap set, and shove a stick into the covered area…. nothing! i shove it harder and poke vigorously at other areas in the set thinking maybe i missed the trigger. Nothing! i dug the stick underneath the trap and lifted it up out of the cover and saw the problem. No wonder my bait was getting stolen and not catching anything. When i covered the trap with grass, pine needles, and sprinkling of dirt… dirt had gotten wedged in the hinges, locking the trap in the open position. Finally i got the thing to snap shut, breaking the stick as anticipated. Now all the traps are sprung rendering them nuetral again. And tonight, with pistol on my side and flashlight in hand, I will go and remove all the traps, and roll large rocks in front of the coyote dig outs, in hopes that maybe the scent of me near the fence and their entrances blocked maybe they will travel on down and go into the neighbors farm instead of mine. Here is hoping!