Monday, March 26, 2012

Turnips & Wheat 2012 - Update I

The Lord has graciously brought a mild winter and plenty of rain, and has granted that our turnip and wheat crops begin to flourish!

Here are the first turnips collected:

Turnips 2012 Collected in a Basket


You can see the size reference with the boot on top of the basket. They're not all this big, but indeed some are fairly large:

Turnips 2012 Size Reference


And here is what the turnip field looks like currently. Many have bolted, and the tops of some of them have begun to rot--we had several days recently after rains where the sun didn't shine and things remained wet, although the turnips themselves are still good. I also think I waited too long to begin harvesting:

Turnips 2012 in the Field


We are using the turnips basically as pig food right now, and they love them! There haven't been many more joyous and satisfying moments here on the land for me than when I am able to feed our pigs solely from off the land--truly "living our dream" of being independent from the world and dependent on God and His provisions directly!


Here is the wheat field currently:

Wheat 2012


And here's another picture with a closer view of Sue so you can get a better idea of the height, which is about up to our knees:

Wheat 2012 Up to Our Knees


We look forward to continuing to harvest the turnips and later the wheat, as the Lord wills; and we are grateful to Him for granting these provisions, and we pray He continue to help us in the steps of separation from the world as unto Him!

-- David

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A House - Update XV - Main Roof

Once the house trusses were installed, it was time to start covering the roof. In order to allow maximum air flow in the attic area, I decided to add vented blocks to each space between the trusses. Here is how our house-building helper designed them, cutting them and chipping them out with a chisel. This is the back side:

House Roof Vented Block Back Side


And this is the back side with the screening in place. We used aluminum window screening:

House Roof Vented Block Back Side with Screening


And here is the front side:

House Roof Vented Block Front Side with Screening


And here are the vented blocks installed:

House Roof Vented Blocks Installed Front View
House Roof Vented Blocks Installed Diagonal View
House Roof Vented Blocks Installed Inline View


Then, it was time to add the gabled-side overhang, which was for two feet overhang. First, the 2x4 braces were added by cutting into the top of the trusses notches to hold them; and then the 2x4 braces were installed:

House Roof Gabled Overhang Braces Long View
House Roof Gabled Overhang Braces Diagonal View


And here is the overhang fascia added:

House Roof Gabled Overhang Braces with Fascia


Then, it was time to add the covering surface that would go under the main roofing material. The plan was to have radiant barrier OSB (OSB that has aluminum foil on one side), which helps reflect heat, for most of the roof area, but use CDX plywood for the exposed overhang places:

House Roof Overhang Plywood


And here it is complete:

House Roof Plywood/OSB Covering Complete


This is what the roof looks like from the inside of the house:

House Roof Plywood/OSB Covering Inside View



Finally, the gabled end trusses needed their underneath siding, which again were covered with radiant barrier OSB:

House Roof Gables Trusses Siding


And here is the inside look at that:

House Roof Gables Trusses Siding Inside View


Finally, thanks to one of the kind listeners to our teacher Mr. Bunker's Internet radio show helping us out with some truss bracing information, in order to prevent them from "racking" (where the trusses basically can domino over) we added X-braces along the center posts of the trusses, on one side running from the high end of the gabled truss to the lower part of the internal trusses, attaching to each truss as it goes, and on the other side running low to high; and this was done for both gabled ends:

House Roof Trusses X Bracing


We are thankful again to the Lord for His provisions for the house, and for the continued progress.

-- David

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Too Mulch of a Good Thing

Recently, someone in the group here came across a video about how a fellow in Washington state had an interesting idea about how to keep moisture in the soil and keep it well-composted for gardens, orchards, etc. He was in the forest and thought about how the trees never need to be watered, but seem to have no problem being maintained by just rain alone. He looked down and noticed the ground covering of leaves, twigs, branches, etc. and reached down below that layer into the soil, only to discover how moist and fertile-looking the soil was. The lights went on and he thought that if he could replicate this for his gardens, his gardens would do very well.

The main theory behind it is that the soil needs to be covered by something that composts, and he thought about it and decided to use wood chips (ie. mulch). Well, his video is a documentary about the success of that experiment, and is called "Back to Eden." On that website, you can order the DVD or just watch the video for free. It's quite interesting, although we don't subscribe much to some of the gentleman's spiritual beliefs and concepts.

However, this seemed like a great idea; and so, everyone around here is beginning the implementation of this. We've looked into trying to get local tree trimming services to drop their chipped wood on the land; but until that is available, the Brownwood land fill allows people to drop their branches and trimmings there, and they chip it into mulch. They have huge, huge mounds of the stuff; and so it's just a matter of transporting it to the property since they won't deliver it outside their county.


For Sue & I, we have half a garden that, although planned for, has never been turned into garden
beds; and so, I thought that would be a good starting place for our mulching.

Here is that half of our current garden before the mulching:

Garden 1 Before Mulching


And here's the first mulch load:

Garden 1 with a Pile of Mulch


I don't have a flatbed trailer, and have just been using the truck to get the mulch:

Mulch in the Bed of the Truck


As you can see though, there isn't much back there; and getting the mulch we need would have taken a long time that way. Plus, the cost per load is the same regardless of how many scoops of mulch you can fit in the bed. So, I built a mulch carrier to fit in the bed, which has doubled the amount of mulch we can bring back in a load:

Mulch Truck Bed Carrier


If the mulch ever needs to be covered with a tarp or otherwise, I added some screws to which to be able to attach bungee cords:

Mulch Truck Bed Carrier Tarp Hooks


Here I am throwing the mulch from the bed into the garden. That pitch-fork works great!

Pitching Mulch from the Truck Bed


And here is William, our cat, supervising once again:

William the Cat Supervising the Mulching Process


Here is our current garden complete:

Garden 1 Mulch Covering Complete


And here is the result of the dirt shower you get when you pitch mulch on a breezy day:

Taking a Mulch Dirt Shower


My plan all along has been to have another garden across the way from our current garden, and so I figured it was time to get that going, since we had a quicker way to implement the garden preparation other than digging double dug beds and building raised beds. And so, here is the first pile of mulch for garden #2:

First Pile of Mulch for Garden 2
First Pile of Mulch for Garden 2 Facing Garden 1


After getting a few mulch piles, I began building the garden fencing:

Starting Garden 2 Fence Posts


Here are all of the fence posts in place:

Garden 2 Fence Posts in Place


And here is the fencing up. I just used 2"x4" welded wire pulled hand tight:

Garden 2 Fencing Up


And since we have had problems with rabbits getting between the 2"x4" fence squares, I added chicken wire all the way around:

Garden 2 Fencing with Chicken Wire


And this is where it stands today, almost completely mulched:

Garden 2 Almost Mulched


As I mentioned at the beginning, the mulch idea could be applied to orchards; and so, I began the process of mulching our current trees. Here are the piles around some of the trees:

Mulch Piles in the Orchard


And then them spread around the trees:

Mulch Spread Around Orchard Trees


And here is where it stands today, after replacing many of the dead trees from last year's drought or other years with new ones, and after adding new trees. The idea is to eventually fill-in the entire area with mulch and turn it into another area that can be planted, perhaps with root crops like turnips and/or sweet potatoes:

Mulch in Orchard North View
Mulch in Orchard East View
Mulch in Orchard South East View


We're thankful to God for this soil-covering idea and for the resources and provisions to hopefully, by His graces and mercies, greatly increase the means of provision available on the land so that we may become less and less dependent on the world and more and more under the direct providence of the Lord.

-- David