This is a message I wrote on another list about my quest for freezers.
I looked into going with a walk in freezer pretty seriously before purchasing my last two 24 cubic foot chests in December. The reason is that in addition to the six 24 cu.ft. chests I have two 15 cu.ft. chests and an 18 cu.ft. upright (and four refrigerators).
The walk-ins are nice, but there are some drawbacks. I was looking at a 20 foot container or possibly a 40 foot one with a partition at 30 foot with a 10 foot area maintained at 35-40F for refrigeration.
First problem is price. These would run me $15,000 to $18,000 delivered. Part of that is that most large freezer units are designed to run on three phase power which isn't available out in the country here. The refrigeration system needed to be replaced with a single phase unit. You can buy phase converters, but it would be almost as expensive and add an extra breakdown point.
I also looked at some of the smaller 6x8 to 10x10 walk in units that you put together yourself, but they were still in the $5,000 to $8,000 range.
Another issue is all of these large walk-ins are very inefficient to run from an electrical standpoint. The big freezer container was going to run $200+ a month in electrical. I have all of my current chests and refrigerators in a 30x40 storage building on a separate electric meter which also runs a couple of barns and the electrical lines into the nearby field locations. Unless I am brooding chicks, that meter's electrical bill is about $60 a month.
And finally with walk-in freezers, you have a single point of failure with the refrigeration system and fans. If your freezer goes out, all of your product is in jeopardy. These large systems can take days or weeks to get parts for. Or if you are going with the original unit off of a shipping container, months to get the parts from Japan or China. My beef and pork processor had their main freezer container go down last year and were being told two months for a new compressor. They finally decided to just replace the whole system with a US unit.
With multiple chest freezers, if one goes bad, I can shuffle around stuff and hopefully have room to fit everything in somewhere else. It helps that I have a 15 cu.ft. I use to hold packages that I make up before delivery the next morning which I can use in an emergency. I still have to worry about losing electricity for an extended time, but I am looking at getting a generator. Our co-op is very good and the longest we have been down in the last 10 years has been two hours. The temps on some of the chest freezers moved up from -10F to -8F in that time. I check the outside thermometers at least once a day to make sure everyone is working and at the proper temp.
One thing with chest freezers is that I would recommend being very good with recording what is in each one and where. I have dedicated ones for beef, pork, and soon chicken. I keep all cuts together and when new stuff comes in, I pull the remaining stock out and put the new on the bottom. If you aren't careful, it is easy to have items get lost in the bottom for years. We eat these ourselves. If you keep your freezers at -10F or lower, properly wrapped meat will last years even though you can't really sell it after about six months except to very good customers. We just ate some roasts that were five to six years old and they tasted great made into Irish stew.
I would look at restaurant supply companies for a walk in freezer if you need volume or a lot of chest freezers. The key will be what kind of power source you have. If you have access to 3-phase you can get a 20 or 40 foot cargo container freezer for about $8000. If you only have single phase you are looking at $15,000 by the time you get the conversions done. You can buy a lot of chest freezers for that.
We did a pond with NRCS in the 80s and they didn't really put it in the best place for us. You need to remember that they are working off of fairly strict rules for soil conservation in most cases. You need to adapt and work within those rules. We also had them do cost share on some cross fencing a couple years ago. We did the work ourselves and what they paid pretty well covered all materials. The only thing is that you need to read their regulations on what they require (they call them Practices) and make sure you meet those specifications. We had to go back and change some things and I think the fence is overbuilt for the purpose but it is up. I am debating about working with them in the future. It can be worth the hassles if you have a NRCS office that is willing to work with you and understands what you want to do. Ours is very much a big ranch centric group and if you want anything not normal for that, you need to bring in exactly what you want and the Practices that you are applying so that they can fill out the forms. Some others in other parts of the state are more in tune with smaller scale pasture development and multispecies applications.
Grant Schultz has had some good luck with them and is running a seminar this fall with some topics on how to work with the NRCS.
The whole where to plant the trees thing is interesting because all the permaculture folks seem to say do it below the swale berms, but then when I apply the permaculture thing of observing nature, I see differently. In our back fields that were terraced by the CCC back in the 30s and 50s all the volunteer pecan trees are setting right at the tops of the berms. You could say this was some selection bias because the areas between the berms would be cultivated for row crops, but the last time that happened was in the 70s. Since then they have been pastures and most of the trees are 30 years or younger. I am not sure which I will do on the new property across the road, but I might continue the on berm planting on the fields already terraced and with trees in the back of our original property.
Connie White wrote:Where do you order or get your heritage breeds from? And actually - it was their white Heritage chickens that I ordered that were so dang tasty - I hope these cornish x that I got are as good!
I strongly recommend Mt.Healthy from Ohio. If you want breeding stock, I recommend sandhill preservation.
Mt.Healthy has had too many Salmonella infestations for my taste. The last three years they have been cited for it.
For those that might be interested, Grant throws a great workshop. I attended one at Versaland last year with Mark Shepard and it was both informative and enjoyable. The location is good and close to reasonably priced hotels and the Cedar Rapids airport has air service from most of the major airlines and is only half an hour away. I really want to attend this one, but I need to see if I can get the funds allocated soon.
D. Logan wrote:
For myself, I try to get people interested one of two ways. First is provably showing how much a feedlot cut shrinks down compared to the grass-fed beef. It is funny to watch their faces as the cheap cut that started out slightly bigger slowly shrinks down while the grass-fed cut remains roughly the same size. The larger the two cuts are to start, the more dramatic the difference is at the end. Weighing them at the end can be useful as well if you happen to have a digital scale handy. It doesn't make up the difference in cost, but it does show how the grass-fed can be made to go further.
I am not sure I would do that type of test with my customers. I try to stress that my beef is actually fully grass finished. This means that it will have the proper amount of intramuscular fat as a grain finished cut. The extra lean versions commonly sold is beef that hasn't been properly finished where it is constantly gaining 1 to 3 pounds a day on quality pastures. A good introduction to the difference is Alan Nations book _Grassfed to Finish_.
One thing to remember too is that at least in Texas and USDA inspections you must have separate areas for poultry and other animals to prevent cross contamination. This may mean a totally different building depending on your inspector's feelings. It is possible that they would consider time between processing to be good enough, but that will be a judgment call. Also there are generally pretty lax standards in game processing so what they can get away with is probably a lot more than a poultry processor could especially since there is no killing and gutting at game processors so the HACCP paperwork is much less. I have been hoping to get our local state inspected processor to add chicken processing, but they are looking at $100,000 or so of investment to add the needed facilities.
Your best bet would be to sell him as a whole, two halves, or four quarters and have him processed at a local custom processor. This will get around many of the problems with licensing and health department rules since you will legally be selling him to one or more people as a live animal and just delivering him to a processor for the customers. The safest thing is to have the customers deal with the processor directly for their cutting instructions and pay the processing fee themselves. We do this fairly often for co-ops besides our standard cut beef sales. I would charge at least $4/pound based on the hanging weight (this is assuming they pay processing and pick up). We are currently charging $4.50/pound for our beef animals (we do include processing because we have the needed licenses to resell meat and us a state inspected processor) but will be going up soon because cattle prices are skyrocketing.
For a dairy breed you will probably have a hanging weight of about 50% maybe 55% of live weight. You can then expect about 50% of hanging weight in retail cuts. I haven't eaten Guernsey, but I love Jersey meat. It has a distinctive sweet taste. The only problem is most of the cuts are much smaller than in beef breeds. Personal single serving round steaks for example. These were from 700 pound steers though.
Check around for local custom, state inspected, or even small USDA processors.
One thing you need to remember when feeding whey and brewers/distillers grain is that some states will require a garbage feeding license to use the products as pig feed. The only way you can get around it is if you are feeding items produced on your own farm. Anything brought in from other businesses would be classified as garbage feeding.
This isn't feed you will be able to get at a local feed store. It is only a very special feed that the large farrowing barns use when they early wean pigs at 2-3 weeks. At that age they need such high levels of nutrition because they should still be nursing that they have to feed them animal product feeds and the pig blood is a very big ingredient in them. When I was raising piglets I always left them on the sows for at least 6 weeks and preferably 8 weeks. The super early weaning is done to produce three litters a year for the magical 30 pigs goal. I always felt two good litters a year was enough and it didn't wear out the sows like the production factories do where they replace them every two years.
Personally I think that certifications are really only needed if you plan to sell wholesale where the customer isn't dealing directly with you or does not have any contact where you can explain your program and the benefits. For a certification to get enough traction to be meaningful in the swamp of competing labels, it needs to be watered down and have loopholes in it that leads to what we have with the current Big O standards.
What I do to find the State Nurseries is Google the state name +forestry +seedlings which will most likely get you to the right place. Start with your state then work around it and try to stay in a similar climate zone. If you know what trees you want, you can start looking further afield to find ones. Most start taking orders around September to November. Some states like Tennessee don't start taking out of state orders for another month or two after they open to in state orders. The trees will be shipped from January to May depending on the states and many will let you request the best time. If you want some of the popular or unique things it is best to order early since many states sell out in a few months on some things.
There are also some commercial seeding sources with similar pricing. I haven't tried them, but I probably will order from some this fall.
Musser Forests is in Pennsylvania but has lots of trees that grow here. When you get to the 50 to 100+ levels the prices are very reasonable for mass plantings.
Lawyer Nursery is more of a pure wholesale source. During the season they have a lot of fruit trees as well as "ornamentals" that would be great in permaculture settings. They also have decent pricing on Antanovka Apple rootstock.
Paul Ewing wrote:Stefan how do you train the pears? I have seen videos on pruning plums to keep them at 6-8 feet tall and may try that on some of my ones closer to the house that I intend to harvest for our use. Most standard mature pear trees I know of are in the 30 foot range or more. What are your opinions on the new dwarfing pear rootstocks?
Paul I learned AFTER starting to train all my fruit in this technique that pears respond differently. DO NOT train them BELOW horizontal but only TO HORIZONTAL. I was very fortunate to learn from the lead author in 2009 his techniques and also very fortunate to host the 2nd author at our orchard for a special one day course on Biodiversity in the orchard. Here's the book that started it all: http://www.amazon.fr/De-taille-conduite-arbres-fruitiers/dp/2812602287
Unfortunately my French is pretty poor. I could stumble my way around Montreal when I was on a project there, but there is no way I could get through a technical book. I did notice that the US Amazon has this book by the same authors http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Fruit-Trees-Successful-Management/dp/0393732568 Do you think that it might be useful to someone doing a small 5-10 acre orchard?
Here is a very big word of advice. Start with a couple or three cross breed or farm run feeder pigs. Raise those first and find out if you are ready for pigs, even like pigs, and make your mistakes with a $50 to $100 pig before investing in $1000+ exotic animal bubble pigs. Pigs are pretty hardy animals, but can be killed accidently with too much salt, not enough shade or water on a hot day. Piglets can be crushed if the farrowing setup isn't good etc. Do a couple rounds of feeder pigs, then get a couple farm run sows and a boar and try your hand at raising your own piglets. Once you get feeding, housing, fencing, and marketing worked out, decide if you still want a special breed and if it will work out financially for you. It is going to be very hard to recoup $2000 in the meat market. You will have to play the breeding stock game and hope the bubble holds long enough to recover your money.
I think you would do better looking for breeders that are raising their pigs outdoors than to worry about breeds themselves. I have run Chester Whites, Yorkshires, Durocs, Hampshires and crosses of those, which are all considered horrible confinement breeds by most hobby farmers, on pasture here in Texas with only a bit of problems with sunburn on the white pigs. The key is to get your stock from as similar of an operation as you can so you know the genetics are there to survive. If you are looking to sell a story more than a product, you can look into the so called "heritage breeds" but realize that before the 1970s or so all pigs were pasture, woodland, or dry lot raised. They might have small farrowing barns, but that was about it.
As far as Berks, they have a reputation for good meat and very good marketing behind them so it is probably a good middle road band wagon to jump on. I think I will concentrate more on Durocs with maybe some Hampshire crossing for terminal feeder pigs in the future. Durocs also have a very red marbled meat and are a nice hog that I have been impressed with.
Tamworths are a noted breed that gets a lot of press, but they are smaller and slower growing from what I have heard. They also carry the "Heritage Breed" surcharge for breeding stock. Interestingly most of the "heritage breeds" are Southern hogs so I am not sure how many there will be up in Canada and how adapted their genetics are to your area. The colder climates than traditional pig zones would doubly point me to checking for local longer term breeders no mater what breed they raised.
Cool. I knew he did that with the normally smaller trees. It is interesting that it works with pears. Does he cut off the central leader and just bend down the laterals? Hopefully US Snail will bring my DVD soon.
I didn't see you were in Europe. That probably bumps the price up a lot because the generally higher prices.
I order from these states(all prices figured using best break, usually 100+ including shipping charges prorated per tree): Oklahoma $0.44, Missouri $0.39, Tennessee $0.58, Arbor Day $0.84. I haven't used Arbor Day yet, but they have some that I wanted but weren't in stock at the states like thornless honey locust and a different hazelnut variety. I didn't get around to ordering from them though.
Stefan how do you train the pears? I have seen videos on pruning plums to keep them at 6-8 feet tall and may try that on some of my ones closer to the house that I intend to harvest for our use. Most standard mature pear trees I know of are in the 30 foot range or more. What are your opinions on the new dwarfing pear rootstocks?
I have been discussing this with Mark since I was at one of his workshops last year. His view is what Adrien said. Plant lots of tress and then go from there. I was talking to him about planting nut trees 20 feet apart interspersed with smaller fruit trees ever 5-7 feet or so. He said that was way to far apart. I should be planting every two feet apart and plan to use most of them for fodder, bio-fuel, or mulch later on. The way to do this is to buy from wholesale nurseries and the state nurseries or grow your own. You can get trees in bulk (100-500 of a kind) for 30 to 50 cents each. Three acres would be many tens of thousands of trees so you should have a good selection to choose from for the best trees.
I haven't had that much of a problem with small critters it is the large ones that do in my trees. Did you know that a bull thinks that a seven foot apple tree makes the best belly scratcher when it is walked over? I am trying to work out ways to run stock in to keep the grass and stuff down, but I lose trees to rubbing damage more than anything. The cows don't eat too many leaves but love to scratch or rub on them. I guess I need to break down and run lots of electric fence down both sides of the trees. Sheep aren't too bad once the tree is five or six feet tall. They will probably be my choice for grass maintenance in the more densely planted areas. Goats will do anything to strip every leaf off of a tree including walking around on their hind legs and climbing larger trees.
We have several mature A.Julibrissin here some with 40'+ diameter crowns and the grass grows very well under them. I can't say if this is because of nitrogen fixing or just that the foliage is not very dense and a lot of light gets through, but there is enough to moderate the climate as well to enhance growth. There are some on the fencerows by the road that have wild plums, hackberries, grass, and misc weeds growing under them fine.
The turkeys we have left here don't fly. The hens very occasionally will if startled, but the toms can't. They are a mix of Naragasant and Standard Bronzes. When they were young (under 6 months) they would try to roost in trees, but now they hop up on something about three feet up.
I agree the intent and size are what determines it. I see an orchard being more commercially focused and this will mean that it will need to be designed with commercial profitability in mind. This means easy and efficient harvest is a very major goal. It is one thing to wander about your back yard grabbing a bit of this and a bit of that for dinner like I see Lawton doing in some of the videos. This just doesn't scale when talking about producing enough to be profitable as a business. I guess if you have a large family or slave (intern/volunteer) labor to do the harvesting and sorting it might be doable, but those of us that would have to hire people at $10/hr to $15/hr to do that can't afford to have people wandering around 5 to 20 acres looking for what is ripe in a random wilderness. I don't see an orchard as having to have limited species either. In my plantings I have rows of peach, plum, pear, apple, persimmon, pecan, mulberry, plus flowering dogwoods and other pollinator attractants. I need to plant more nitrogen fixing (maybe) trees, but right now I am using clovers and other annual legumes for nitrogen fixing.
Sorry, Google "Jim Elizondo" which is what he goes by most often. He used to ranch in Northern Mexico until it got too dangerous there. He is now in Florida using similar techniques of high density fodder trees/shrubs in Bermuda and Bahia pastures. You can find more info at these places:
Tina Paxton wrote:One tree that I've read to be a good nitrogen-fixing tree in our area (if somewhat invasive) is the Mimosa (Japanese silktree) (Albizia julibrissin). I've also got a lead on some Autumn Olive seedlings. Other than that, I'm open to ideas.
I have heard yes and no on if Albizia julibrissin really fixes nitrogen or not. This seems to be similar to the honey locust where it doesn't have nodules like most nitrogen fixing legumes, but there are lots of people that say it does anyway. Personally I am looking at planting both mimosa and honey locust for the fodder value alone and if they happen to fix nitrogen, all the better. I have a few mimosa already and will be collecting seeds from them this fall and buying several pounds more. I plan to plant the seeds in dense rows in a pasture to use as a fodder crop following Jaime Elizondo's approach.
Beth wrote:I was considering running turkeys in my future orchard based on the video's principles. But I imagine it would be hard to keep turkeys in the alleys and out of trees and shrubs because they are flighty. I haven't owned turkeys but am in preliminary pondering stage...and wondering how they would work in conjunction with my orchard. As an aside--I have some fruit trees already but they are offset rather than planted in rows.
Maybe dwarf fruit trees would work better as far as keeping turkeys from flying up high into them. I would prefer to not have to do a fully-enclosed turkey tractor with roof. Stefan, what do you think of dwarf fruit trees for an orchard?
My grandmother's first job on the farm was herding turkeys down the rows of cotton to eat bugs. This was in the 1920s when kids for labor intensive things were common and pesticides were not on the farms.
These are some of what I noted when I looked into it a few years ago. I am in the ultra litigious United States and we are rapidly descending into nannystatism so these may or may not apply to those in other more sane countries.
Are you now a Retail Food Establishment? If so you will have lots of regulations and fees to the Health Department (city, county, and/or state).
Liability insurance for $1-5 million. Don't let them use ladders! This is one reason for the shorter trees. It is almost impossible to pick many of the apples from a standard tree from the ground.
Toilets and hand washings facilities close to the harvest points. These are pretty much a requirement for GAPs and will probably be for all fruit and vegetable harvesting in the near future.
I don't really go by zones that much. We are supposed to have shifted from 7B to 8A with the changed map, but the last two years have been colder than many in the last 20. The real damage is done here by late freezes that wipe out the buds and sometimes the more delicate trees like figs. Personally I don't think it is so much climate change as weather cycles. We are going through similar weather conditions both locally and in the Atlantic and Pacific as there were in the 1950's. This means long multiyear droughts broken by occasional rains for a season. The climatologists here are predicting another 6-10 years of the same.
My opinion is that nut trees can be very important. I am not sure how they would work with Stefan's model of timing harvests on rows to be the same would be thrown off with nut trees in the mix since most nuts are much later harvesting than fruits.
In my setup I am going with mixed nuts and fruits with different ripening times in my back fields because I plan to harvest almost everything with animals and want to be able to swing them through the rows three to six times a year going from mulberries to peaches to early apples to pears to late apples to pecans to persimmons.
This is a bit late for CX batches in Texas in my opinion. My last group will be going to the processor June 25th and I will not start the next ones till September. It is possible to go through the summer, but it takes more management and you can lose a fair amount in the last couple weeks.
The chief things are to be careful with the brooder temperature. During the day you might not even be running heat lamps at all. Be sure to get the lamps back on when the sun starts going down though. CX are more cold tolerant than layer breeds and feather out a lot faster but can still chill off if you are not careful. I would probably go with 2-4 125W bulbs instead 1 or 2 250W bulbs so it is easier to regulate the temp. If you have some 60W Real Light Bulbs horded those might be a better option. I have had swings or 112F to 86F in the first week and not lost any so the whole 95F then drop 5F each week isn't really as important. Cooling is much more important than heat in our summer temps. I would be prepared to take them out of the brooder at 14 days and no later than 21 days and only going that long if they have plenty of room to scatter in the brooder to stay cool. We are starting fly season too so less time in the brooder is less fly issues.
I have started using peat moss instead of shavings for my brooders and it is great. It absorbs the very fluid CX poop and spilled water quickly and keeps things dry which helps keep flies down. It also is slightly acid which helps keep down flies and reduces pathogens for things like coccidiosis.
Lots of cool clean water is a very big key to survival in the summer. If you can change out the water morning, noon, and afternoon at least. Don't let them run dry.
Try to keep some kind of shade for them. Keep enough height to allow the hot air to stay above the chickens or better yet use angles to funnel the hot air out. I have found the flat roofed 2 foot tall Salatin tractors to be way too hot for our Texas summers. I use a 6 foot tall hoop coop for them set in an electronet paddock.
Remember that in the heat the birds metabolism slows down and they don't eat as much. The feed conversion ratio also worsens so they will not gain weight as fast and may take an extra week or two to get to your market weight.
The Storey's Guide is a very good informative book that could work as the only book if needed. I also like _Dirt Hog_ also by Kelly Klober.
The DVD Pigs N Glens by Joel Salatin is very good if you are planning on running them in rotating paddocks with electric fence. It is mostly for the 100 pound+ finishing stage of the pigs life and doesn't discuss sows, breeding, or little pig care because Joel bus in heavy weight weaners and finishes them out.
In most cases protein amino acids are going to be your biggest issues getting away from soy. We use a feed with peanut meal for our pigs and one with peanut and fish meal for the chickens instead of soy. The corn is mostly replaced with sorghum(also called milo). Because peanut meal is low in lysine there is also extra lysine added in a mineral/vitamin pack.
Check out this document from Clemson University on developing swine rations.