Category Archives: News, etc.

More hay

Despite the 80 degree day on Friday, I had to go get my second load of hay. 17 bales, plus the 21 we already have purchased. This should get us into January with what we already have. We need one more load of 17 to get into March. Hopefully we can stretch to make the last load last till the pastures have had a chance to fully recover. Keeping the cows off of the pasture just as it comes out of dormancy is tough. They want all that green grass and we want to stop feeding hay. We will see how long we can make it go.

The good news is the new (to me) truck and trailer are doing well. I was burning more fuel and getting only 8 bales before. Now I get 17 per trip and do so in style.

Princess chores


Today I had The Princess for my helper and you can see her unrolling an eight hundred pound hay bail before sunrise. Two points from these pictures.

One, for you boys out there, despite a cute outward appearance a farm girl will break you. Don’t mess with her.

Two, I may have helped her a little bit. For you boys out there. A farm girl has a dad that can do all that she wants done to a boy who broke her heart and is adept at making sausage from most any meat and will serve it to the nice police officers who stopped by to inquire as to your whereabouts.

The takeaway here is don’t mess with farm girls.

A fallacy I’ve heard before

We live longer today than in our great grandparent’s time, right? With all the advances in medical science we’ve gone from dying at like 35 to living into our 70s. At one point I believed this too.

I hear this from people when they ask me how I lost so much weight. As soon as I say Atkins they say, oh I couldn’t do that, I’d have a heart attack. That soon leads to a conversation on real food vs. packaged food and the history of real food. Then the person comes up with life expectancy as the basis for their belief that Atkins/Paleo/etc is bad for you. Yeah, about that. Turns out it’s not true. People lived to ripe old ages in the 1200s. I’ve traced my own lineage back to 400AD and even then I had relatives living into their 70s routinely. Infant mortality is the big change over time and is the metric that is considerably improved. Average age, not so much. For more information on the fallacy of life expectancy, go here. It’s a blog about nutrition but has some links to more information in the post.

Remember the old saying, there are lies, damn lies, and statistics.


Turning off the wood heat

This isn’t exactly farming but as I have said here before, this journal has whatever random stuff I need to document. Today I need to document the procedure for changing from wood fired boiler heat to electric heat or electric/LP heat. The reason for this is if I suddenly get hit by a train, I want the Mrs to have a documented procedure. For anyone who is interested in hydronic, well here you go, a behind the scenes look.

The procedure for switching from boiler heat to automatic heat. In all of these pictures, the system is currently set to wood boiler heat.

First go down to the boiler. On the front of the boiler is a switch labeled off/on. Turn the switch off. This disables the boiler blower. Its best to have the fire go out by itself prior to this step.

Go to the heat pumps and LP boiler enclosure. Its on the back of the house and looks like a matching half wall coming off the back of the house. Once inside raise the roof behind the LP boiler. There is a hook on the right side as you are facing the house. This hook matches an eye bolt on the wall of the house. Raise the roof on its hinges just like opening a car door and hook the hook into the eye bolt so the roof stays up by itself. Above you can see the roof raised and locked.

Now go to the left side of the LP boiler and bend down to look at the panel. You will see a switch that has been added and is labeled in sharpie as the wood boiler boost pump. Turn that switch off (down position).

Now look at all the pipes, valves, and pumps under the roof you raised. There are three valves that need to be moved for this step. All are on the left side, have yellow handles, and are pictured above. The big valve that is leftmost will be off. Off is when the handle is 90 degrees to the valve/copper line. On is when the handle is inline with the valve/copper line. For the leftmost valve that is off, turn it on. To the right of that valve are two valves. They are both on. Turn them both off.

DO NOT forget to lower the roof when you are done. It is insulated and keeps the pipes from freezing.

Go in the boiler room in the house. If the heat is going to be off for the summer or a long period of warm weather with no freezing concerns, then pull this plug located just above the hot water storage tank. If there is any concern of freezing then leave this plug plugged in. This is the master power for the pumps and by leaving them running you keep the pipes from freezing. The downside is you are burning electricity.

On one side of the hot water tank are two doors. One is large and one is small. If you are standing in the entry door looking at the tank, the doors are on the left hand side. The small door is directly on top of the large door. Open the small door, it is hinged on the top. Inside you will see a set of controls. The one pictured is labeled hot water. There is a small black slider switch that is labeled pump is on, pump is off, and automatic operation. The switch will be in the on position. Move it to “pump is off” and verify that the red light goes out. This turns off the domestic hot water circulation pump.

Now go to the utility room nearest the kitchen. Locate the hot water tank and the valves pictured. These valves have hanging labels. The one in the middle is labeled “hot water makeup always open.” The other two are labeled hot water loop. Leave the middle one open and turn off the two hot water loop valves.

Last step, go into the house to one of the two thermostats. Open the little door on the bottom and click the “advanced” button. Then click the button on the right beside where it says next. Scroll to the last menu which will look like this.

Use the silver scroll button and select “system in control”.

REPEAT THIS STEP on the other thermostat and you are done.

There, you go. Easy! 🙂

More shop projects

This long weekend has been occupied with shop projects mainly of the gift variety.

I had Zack from Florida to help me this weekend making wooden swords for the kids to play with. Here you see Zack hard at work on the sword he is working on.

And here is Zacks sword so far. This sword is made out of walnut and is based on Sting from The Lord of the Rings. Zack did all this work by himself with very little advice from me. Pretty good work!
Unfortunately Zack had to leave to go back to Florida before he could finish his sword but we put it in storage for him so he can finish next time he is up.

We did get one sword finished so far.

This one was for Spork.



No cow pics today. I have a video of two cows fighting all over the pasture this morning after milking. However as I have said here before, black cows in the black of night just aren’t very photogenic. I do have a picture of the pigs as they enjoy their Thanksgiving feast.

I fed them till they were ready to pop. Then I loaded ’em down again. They are sleeping in the sun now with a pile of food still in the trough. Its a good day to be a pig.

The cows also had their Thanksgiving breakfast of a new paddock and a new roll of hay.

So while all the critters are having Thanksgiving, I am working on Christmas. Spork doesn’t know it yet but he is getting a knife for Christmas. And not just any knife but one I hand made for him. Today I worked on a custom sheath that is stamped with his initials and the year.
Here is the sheath after I have just started.

And the final product.

Its a big day in a boys life when he is old enough for his first knife. I have about 4 days invested in this present so I hope he takes care of it. Whatever he does with it I am excited to give it to him.

The wood boiler

I promised a while back that I would share some info on our wood burning boiler. Here is a shot this morning of the boiler as I was putting some wood in after milking.

20131127-065605.jpg We use the boilers hot water to heat the entire house and to heat our domestic how water. Compared to the heat pump, its a very warm heat. It’s also nice for the domestic hot water because it’s effectively unlimited and it’s very hot, about 150 degrees which SWMBO loves.
In the picture above you can see part of the wood that we keep seasoned and ready to burn. Here is a video we did on the wood rack if you are interested in how we handle the wood.

Here you can see the back of the boiler with its green spray on foam, transfer pumps, solar connections, etc. This part of the boiler is basically forgotten as it just quietly runs day and night. There is another part of the system I will share another time, the part in the house where all the heat transfer and control take place. I will share that in another post later.

Here you see the business part of the boiler. This is todays load of wood. Since it’s going to be in the upper 40s today, I didn’t need much wood. I will restoke the boiler tonight with more wood because we will have cold weather moving in and we will be going into night time. It will probably take about double this amount of wood.