Monday, September 12, 2016

A tale of 2 farms

Over at Thoughtfulfoodfarm Jeff writes about his farming venture 5 years in.  It's an interesting read.

Meanwhile, Tim Young who can't figure out how to make a profit farming, is trying his best to make a profit by telling other people how to make a profit.  The blind leading the blind?  And there's some prepper stuff there too.   Oh, and he's podcasting again.  

Tim Young has tried every possible farming thing, and I don't think that he's ever made a profit on any of them, but this writing thing seems to be his latest scheme.   What's nice is that he can recycle all of the pictures from his failed farming ventures to show him happily homesteading or whatever. 

Tim writes from his house on 120 acres that he's been desperately (my opinion)  trying to sell for years; first listing it for sale for $1.5 million, then decreasing over time, and he's now offering it at the bargain price of $649,000.00  -- less than half his original asking price.    How low will he go?

listing as of 9-12-2016

Previous listing.  Price is dropping fast!
Of these two farms, I think I like Jeffs approach better.  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Volcanos, bones, geology and the land I farm

A couple of years ago we had a major disaster just up the valley from me - the oso landslide, and I've got one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in the united states up the valley not too far - glacier peak.
The landslide, and the volcano, were on my mind when I was looking at river bank erosion on a patch of the bank on my property.
Click for a larger version
 Near the top of the bank, the most geologically recent, there's a clear record of pretty stable conditions.  what's nearest the top is what appears to be lake deposits; very fine silt and mud that probably settled out of still water.  That's what I farm in; it's 4 to 6' deep, and rock-free.  The only rocks in that layer are ones that people added.  Below that is some stream deposits; small rounded stones and gravel, put down horizontally.  Below that is another settling pond of that I think is glacial sand and gravel - it's got less very fine silt in it, and it's a few feet deep.
Below that, about 8' below the surface, is where things get interesting.  When the oso landslide happened the trees in the area just got ripped apart; splinters.  Even big trees got split into small pieces.  And that's whats in the mud layer below the 2nd lake deposit.  A layer of mud and tree debris, with the trees showing every evidence of getting ripped to pieces.  Below that is river cobble, and below that is another lake deposit.

It's hard for me to tell the difference between lahar deposits and landslide deposits, given that they're both pretty much composed of the same materials.  If it didn't come down the valley when the volcano erupted last, it came down when the landslide pushed it down later, maybe thousands of years later.  

The trees in the debris layer might be 10-12,000 years old; old enough that there might be elephant bones in there if any had the bad luck to be in the valley when the event happened.  I regularly scan the river bank for artifacts, bones or fossils exposed due to erosion, and I've found a few bones.  One gave me pause - it looked a lot like a human fibula

I'll leave it to you to give your best guess.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Farming is looking ahead

We have had our first rains of the fall, and I'm busy doing all of the things that will wrap the farm up for the winter.

One thing that I'm doing is some late-season planting.  I've got between 45 and 60 days until the first killing frost, and that's enough time to plant ground cover on any bare dirt that exists anywhere.  Not just in the flood plain; anyplace where animals have worn down the cover it's the time of year to replace it.  So I'll be planting some alfalfa and some grass and a little bit of clover on 7 to 10 acres of fields just to make sure that they're all set for the winter.

The driveway and walkways around the farm can get muddy, and so a few loads of gravel and some grading are in order to make sure that the footing is good for the winter.   In one high-use area I may put down a concrete slab - the area directly under the augers that I get the feed from seems to sink pretty rapidly over the year, so I may put down a concrete patch there so that the wear-and-tear from the tractor going by doesn't dig a hole.

There are some drainage issues that I ran across last year, and I may address those as well.  Most of that is just making sure that clean water remains clean - so downspouts go into drains directly off the roof, and then into swales or wetlands from there, which keeps the water from picking up anything on its way though the farm.   I'm not required to do this, but I am surrounded by salmon streams and it is a best-practice for farms, and it'll be required if I do decide to get a dairy license, so might as well get it done now.  Plus it reduces the amount of water on the concrete slabs, and when it gets colder, it reduces ice buildup.  All pluses.

A final mowing for the orchard area, maybe some tilling between the rows and eradication of anything that I don't want to keep for next year, which basically means working down fencelines and trimming back everything that interferes with the fence.  I want the electric fences to be good and hot, even though all of the animals will be in barns when it gets cold.   A hot fence will kill young vegetation that grows next spring, so might as well help it along.

I've still got a little bit of time to spread the final manure from the lagoon, and then there's the equipment maintenance.  Everything with an engine gets greased and run, oil change, filter changes, and tires checked.  Stuff that needs to be welded can be done when it's colder, but I'll update my list.  I'm also thinking about some sort of heat source for one of my barns to make shop work more pleasant, and maybe some insulation.

Busy busy busy