Sunday, June 23, 2013

Egg Shells Protect Against Moles

This year I planted 25 pea seeds at the beginning of April.  At the end of April only 3 of those plants came up.  Disappointed, I went to check on the other seeds.  I tried to dig one up.  All I found was a mole trench.  I replanted a new batch moving the peas inward by three inches and filled in the mole's trench.  A few weeks later and still no peas.  I checked and the mole trench was back in the old spot.  moles eat earthworms, but I swear they are eating my pea seeds too.  There are a ton of snakes in the garden this year and they could be the issue as well.

There were no problems with peas last year.   Then I remembered last year I started the peas in egg shells and planted the egg shells in the garden.  This year because of direct sowing the seed, egg shells were not used.  Therefore, I decided to do an experiment.  I saved some egg shells and planted the seeds in them.  I planted about twelve new starts and ten have come up so far.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Christmas Trees as Mulch

When we first moved here, we bought some would chips from a guy that collected Christmas trees and chipped them up.  That gave me an idea that I executed on last Christmas.  Some cities have drop off locations for Christmas trees.  My dad stumbled upon one of these locations up by where he lives.  We ended up picking up two, 12 foot trailers worth of trees, about 30 in total.

I paid my stepson to cut the branches off leaving just the trunk of the tree.  The trunks of the trees are 2 to 4 inches thick and narrow down quickly.  I used them as landscaping timbers to line the fences and pathways in the orchard.  They can also be used to hugelkultur beds.

There are many theories on what makes pine trees acidic and if using them as mulch has a large effect on the soil. The theory that I am going with is the green needles are acidic. The trees sat over the winter and into spring, for about 5 months.  Most of the pine needles dried out.  The ones that fell off were thrown in the compost pile.  Ten gallons alone fell off in the trailer during transport.

I tried to chip the dried branches, some with needles on them.  Unfortunately, chipping in a small Craftsman chipper was a pain.  The branches where too flexible, still sappy and were too wide to go down into the chipper.  Then an idea came to me as I was adding more purchased wood chips to put in the orchard.  I laid down cardboard like normal to kill the grass.  Instead of putting the wood chips on top of the cardboard, I laid out the Christmas tree branches instead.  Most of the branches are fairly flat, so they lay down nice.  Then I put the wood mulch on top of the branches.  This cut down the need for some of the wood mulch and allowed for quick use of the Christmas tree branches.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Work Truck and Trailer

We purchased some Alpacas recently to mow our lawn and fields.  While a local vet offers house visits, they cost more for trip time, and we would need to buy a chute, which costs over $1000.  Therefore, we needed to get a trailer to haul them to the vet. This also enables us to haul them to a shearer and if the kids want to do 4H.

We found a nice looking two horse trailer on Craigslist for $1250.  Except for needing new tires it was in excellent condition.  The owner barely used it and it parked under a cover.  The trailer was built in 1976 so it is solid steel which makes it heavy, but sturdy.  We ended up offering $1100 because of the tires.

We have been looking for a work truck for a few years now, but decided to save some money instead.  Normally we borrow a truck from someone or rent a UHaul.  While inconvenient it is cheaper for us than paying licensing, maintenance, and insurance on a truck.  I don't have a lot of knowledge about car repair other than simple things; therefore, I was looking for a truck with low miles.  I wanted to get something in the 250 (2500) size, preferably with a diesel.  This way I can haul things like cement and rock with less trips.

Even with the trailer purchase, our plan was to haul it with dad's truck, though, it is a little under powered being a Ford Ranger.  The Ranger also needed an upgrade to a 7 pin plug for the trailer.  While my dad was at the Ford Dealer inquiring about getting the trailer plug upgraded, he took a look around the lot for used trucks.  On the lot he found a 1996 Dodge RAM 3500 Dually with a V10 Magnum.  It had only 96K miles on it and one owner.  The used car manager priced the truck wrong when he put it on the lot for $7900 instead of $8900.  They said they will honor that price for my dad if he bought it that day.
I drove up to Longview that evening and took a look at the truck.  It drove great and was in excellent condition.  It had new tires which is worth quite a bit when buying a truck.  While a bit more power than I was looking for in a truck, my wife and I decided to purchase it.  The Ford dealer was originally going to throw away the canopy because of some paint damage.  I had them throw that in as well.