I haven't the time to read through all of these great comments but I would like to add my opinion even if it is redundant.
The old farm stead where I grew up had a 'milk house' designed to keep cow's milk cool. I think the same principles could be applied in this situation.
A windmill pumped ground water at temperatures in the low to mid 50s F into the concrete block building where the water filled a concrete trough to a height predetermined by a simple drain pipe. When the water level was higher than the drain the top increment of water would drain outside. In this way the tank was constantly being filled by relatively cool water and the warmer surface water is draining constantly. This was good enough to store milk for some time.
Additionally, the windmill also turned a horizontal shaft that entered the building at eave height and extended inside where a belt drive spun a generator that charged glass batteries and supplied enough juice to run some lights in the home.
We are looking to primarily heat water because we would like the system set up for multiple fuel sources. We would ideally like to heat the water using wood as the energy source because our location provides ample timber resources, sufficient for many, many years. We also are installing a large photovoltaic array to power an irrigation pump and the infrastructure is already in place for propane as an energy source for heating and electricity generation. Thus, we are looking for a system that uses a relatively universal method for transferring energy (this would be water) from our source of energy be it wood, propane, or electricity.
Initially the water will be heated with propane as we build the RMH. It is possible to build a mass within the greenhouse and I'm advocating for this but my boss may decide that he doesn't want to go that route.
I am also envisioning a stove with a batch box located outside the greenhouse and the heat riser located inside the greenhouse. This is basically one of the few mandatory features of the design.
We're looking to develop a rocket stove system to heat water that will then be circulated through pex tubing inside a custom fabricated bench where we will start our seedlings for a large organic vegetable farm. We may also desire to pipe the water through a heat exchanger with blower fan. Anybody have a proven system for heating water reliably with a rocket stove?
Greenhouse is roughly 20'x36' gothic style. Currently with single wall greenhouse film but we're preparing to replace that with some double layer of film. Located in Bangor, MI USDA Zone 6b about 15 miles west of Lake Michigan. Farm is 30 acres, completely off grid with solar, wind, and propane energy sources.
Also, I'm currently traveling from Northern California back to Michigan and would happily trade manual labor for the opportunity to view your system anywhere between here and home. Let us know if you're interested.
Experienced organic farmer seeking work experience on Grade A organic dairy, or fruit/nut/avocado orchard, or permaculture farm.
My dog and I will be traveling west this winter in order to avoid a Midwestern winter but also to expand our experiences of geography and culture.
She is a four year old, gentle and sweet Great Pyrenees known as Princess FuzzyBritches who plays well with all humans, dogs, cats, and barnyard fowl. She comes with her own mobile kennel (truck w/ AC) and portable electric net fencing outdoor run for segregation from your farm and animals if so desired.
I’m a thirty year old experienced organic farmer in great physical shape who is willing to work hard simply for the experience and knowledge gained and some food. I have a dream of owning my own farm that grows perennial crops almost exclusively, thus, I’m primarily looking for experience working on farms that raise dairy, forages, and perennial fruits and vegetables.
We will be traveling in our own accommodations and would need no special arrangements other than a relatively flat place to park our truck and possibly pitch a tent. However, we’re very flexible and would gladly accept other accommodations provided by our hosts. Looking for a 1-2 week commitment with the right farm. References and portfolio available upon request.
Organic Vegetable Production – Farm Manager and field hand experience on mixed vegetable farms both wholesale and direct marketing
Organic Free Range Livestock – mainly beef cattle and poultry in a rotational grazing system, also have experience with sheep and swine
Tractor and equipment operation – I have many years experience operating tractors, forklifts, large trucks and various other equipment
Also adept at using many hand and power tools. I’m a decent mechanic.
Hey Richie, I'm in a very similar situation - 31 year old single male journeyman farmer working in three oaks Michigan. I'm actually looking for a wingman for outings to local breweries and outdoor adventures. Maybe we can help each other meet women locally. Also, I'm looking for work on a different farm because this one is not a good fit. Please message me directly if you're interested in meeting or if your current farm needs additional labor for the summer season. Thanks!
The angle grinder attachment is definitely an easy way to speed up drilling but you may need to consider where else the project may bottleneck. You may find that you need an extra person filling and/or waxing.
A client I'm working with generates a large amount of spent coconut coir from a medium scale greenhouse operation growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and other produce in a hydroponic system. Their organic vegetable substrate would contain only coconut coir and composted laying hen litter while the conventional vegetables are grown with additional chemicals or non-organically certified products.
What mushroom varieties, if any, would be a viable candidate for inoculation of this substrate?
Could the coir be blended with other substrates to promote colonization?
Will residual plant nutrients be a problem?
The client also uses a large amount of fuel wood each season and has the potential to generate mixed species wood chips. Potential to generate single species wood chips would take a little more planning and organization.
Also available would be a large amount of green plant residues, the majority being pruned suckers from tomato plants, second being waste produce bound for the compost pile.
Strong possibility of acquiring spent coffee grounds or brewery grain as farm is located in a more populated area, makes regular deliveries in a very large city and has solid relationships in the local food environment.
Project can be conducted in heated greenhouse environment suitable for solanaceous crops or outside, in the shade, with or without protection such as clear plastic or row cover.
Inside greenhouse mushroom substrate could be located beneath a rack used for growing out seedlings where substrate would be shaded well and receive regular watering.
Currently coconut is contained in 3 gallon black plastic grow bags. Would mushroom inoculation and grow out be more convenient and/or more productive growing in the bags or in some other configuration?
Thank you for any questions or comments. I'm sure I'll post more comments here as I answer these questions and develop a plan.
My partner and I are currently traveling in Mexico with a planned return to the states by mid-March. Contact me soon if you're interested in getting a mushroom operation off the ground. Currently I'm most comfortable with producing Shiitake mushrooms on oak but would be open to other options depending upon your needs. I feel that the prices and terms in the original post are fair but as this is a start up venture I'm definitely open to negotiation. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. Contact by private message if you would like my email address or phone number. Thanks!
Before you can make dairy products you need to raise a cow, get her pregnant, keep her healthy and alive until she has the calf, then set up a milking parlor with associated equipment, and finally milk her which entails a lot of attention to detail, sterilization, storage, etc., etc.
Is there a PEP designed specifically for animal husbandry?
Chickens are notorious for eating almost anything. They need to have certain nutritional requirements met just like humans but how you go about that can vary widely. Authoer Derrick Jensen talks extensively of foraging chicken feed from grocery store dumpsters. If I ever move to a more urban environment I would like to attempt this.
Crops grown in situ can be great feed for chickens. Late this fall I moved my pastured chickens to an old garden that was being killed by frost. The chickens polished off all of the greens and nibbled the turnips right out of the ground. They love turnips! I also took my left over pumpkins and smashed them on the ground inside their fenced area. Given enough time and enough chickens all that will remain of pumpkins is the stem.
I've been wondering how to feed chickens with no purchased grain for many years. I think the important principles are planning out well in advance your rotation. Chickens should always be raised in transport coops. A diverse cover crop and vegetable mix could sustain them through the winter with supplements of stored squash and root vegetables. I'm thinking that one would want to plant a multi species cover crop mix in spring that produces seed crops like sunflowers, millet, barley, oats, amaranth, etc. in addition to root crops like mangrels, beets, turnips, radishes, etc. One could plant several different plots and rotate the chickens throughout the season. It is likely that you will need to supplement with stored foods in winter. However, if you simply let the grains mature and fall over then the chickens could do the harvest work for you. Having other livestock in the mix and utilizing insect protein as part of the chicken diet will help.
To make this work reliably I think one needs to do hard calculations about protein requirements for your flock and plan the crops accordingly. It is my sincere belief that this can be accomplished but will initially be much less convenient way to feed chickens though once the procedure is ironed out you may find that the chickens perform better and are more economical to keep.
First of all, you're probably going to have to let that grass go to seed. How the seed head is formed and how the seeds are arranged and various physical traits associated with the seed head are of great use in identifying grasses. I have used this book with great success.
Three season portable coop. Used greenhouse plastic placed over the top. Grass bales stacked on W and N sides. Each week I layered at least one bale of grass in the coop which soaked up excrement and began to compost. Two heat lamps next to nest boxes. ~90 hens.
I have found a company that sells an awesome line of completely natural soaps, shampoos, deodorants, moisturizers, face and body creams, etc. I find that their deodorant creams made with baking soda and essential oils work really well because you can rub in the cream and don't have any gross flaking or clumping issues. The ingredients are simple and wholesome. The founder even has a "Chemical of the Day" blog where she discusses the problems with chemicals used in common personal hygiene products.
Custom Mushroom Log Inoculation and Laying Yard Setup
I have a moderate amount of experience with inoculation and cultivation of Shiitake mushroom logs. I began inoculating shiitake mushroom logs in the spring of 2012 after completing an Organic University course on mushroom cultivation through the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service held at their Organic Farming Conference in LaCrosse, WI. This past spring my crew of volunteers inoculated over 125 logs with four different strains of shiitake spawn plus 8 huge diameter reishi logs. This inoculation event was operated sort of like a workshop for friends, farmers, and permaculture practitioners interested in the process. The shiitake logs were set up in a shaded laying yard with micro sprinklers and we ended up harvesting around 15 pounds of mushrooms this first season - only about 6 months after inoculation. The Reishi logs were cut in half (~20") and buried per instructions from my supplier, Field and Forest Products of Peshtigo, WI. We're still waiting on the Reishi to fruit I also have significant experience operating a market garden, CSA, and rotational livestock grazing system.
I'm offering complete mushroom log inoculation services on contract. I will bring my own tools and supplies plus sawdust or grain spawn for the species of your choice. Mushroom varieties that grow well on a wood substrate are Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, Wine Cap, Lion's Mane, Nameko, Box Elder, and Reishi. Each species of mushroom grows best on specific species of hard or soft woods generally prepared in a couple of different ways such as drill and fill, totems or on wood chips. Different species of mushrooms, and varieties within those species, will fruit during different times of the growing season - spring, summer or fall, additionally some varieties of mushroom may produce well in unheated high tunnels or heated greenhouses during the winter months. We can also help you inoculate a wood chip substrate for use as mulch in your permaculture system.
Shiitake, Maitake, Oyster, and Wine Cap mushrooms are the best choice for reliable production with a relatively quick spawn run (time between inoculation and fruiting).
Tools and Equipment
Kevlar chaps, hard hats, safety glasses, ear plugs, leather gloves, steel toe boots
Chainsaws + accessories for felling and chopping trees
High speed drills with special drill bits
Specialized spawn plungers
Wax, wax daubers, crock pot for melting wax
aluminum labels + staple gun
Custom workstations with rollers for inoculation
How This Works
Before scheduling a job we will discuss at length your goals, number of logs you would like to manage, which species of mushroom you are interested in managing, and what species of substrate you have available. We will develop a comprehensive plan which details your discrete goals and provides concrete measures for achieving these goals within the time frame outlined. There will be no ambiguity about what we are going to accomplish, how this will be accomplished, and the responsibilities of each party.
You select trees for felling based on the type of mushrooms you wish to grow and/or what species of trees need to be thinned from your woodlot. I will offer advice for proper tree selection.
Felling of trees and chopping into 40" logs or smaller totems can be performed by me, you, or both. Ideally you would drop the trees up to two weeks before the project is scheduled to begin.
I would prefer to do the chopping myself so that I know the logs are the proper length and of sound quality.
Myself and an assistant will drill holes in logs every 6" along their length. Rows will be separated by 2" around the outside of the log.
Using our specialized plungers we will fill each hole with sawdust spawn from the mushroom species of your choice.
Each hole will then be sealed with food grade wax.
An aluminum label with species, variety, and date of inoculation will be affixed to one end of the log.
Logs will then be stacked on pallets or other movable container provided by customer.
Additionally, logs can be set up in your laying yard with a custom irrigation system and/or shade cloth.
After 6-24 months, depending upon mushroom species and strain, the logs will fruit and customer will be responsible for harvest.
Hardwood Shiitake logs can produce for 3-4 years or more. Customer is responsible for care of the logs during their production period. We will offer free phone support or compensated visits to your farm if you encounter problems.
Felling and chopping of trees + inoculation will be based on a price per finished log. For example, we may determine each finished log is worth $8 and 100 logs would cost $800 with a 25% deposit, 25% upon arrival at job site and the balance due upon delivery of finished logs. This price will be negotiated before commencement of the job and will be dependent upon the total number of logs requested. Cash Only
Currently I'm thinking the price schedule will be as follows:
Less than 100 Logs: $10 / finished log
100-250 Logs: $8 / finished log
250-500 Logs: $7.50 / finished log
500-1000 Logs: $7.00 / finished log
1000 or more Logs: $6 / finished log
Set up of laying yard will cost $30/hour + materials
Chipping of limbs and smaller branches + inoculation with mushroom spawn will cost $30/hour + the cost of additional spawn and materials.
We would like room and board provided for the duration of the project.
Reimbursement of travel costs is negotiable.
We're currently scheduling jobs for February-April. Trees must be dropped before they begin to break bud and sap starts flowing. Felled trees can 'cure' for up to a month or two depending upon weather conditions, however, two-three weeks is optimal. Scheduling will roughly correlate with geographic location - southern locations will begin in mid February and northern locations will be scheduled for late March to mid April.
Minimum order: 100 logs within a 100 mile radius of Chicago, IL; 250 logs within 100-250 miles of Chicago, IL; 500 logs within 250-500 miles of Chicago, IL; 1000 logs for all other locations in continental USA
We can finish 50-75 logs per day. With motivated assistance from Customer or employees of the Customer we may be able to finish 100+ logs per day.
Customer must provide transportation for logs from woodlot to inoculation site.
Customer must provide a safe, relatively warm, and indoor inoculation site or workshop - a greenhouse would work great for this.
Customer must provide electricity for tools.
Customer may provide a wood chipper for chipping of limbs and branches. Wood chips are a great substrate for mushroom cultivation.
Customer may provide additional labor resources, however, this will not lower the cost of each finished log.
Customer may set up inoculation as a workshop (additional cost for lectures)
We will carry liability insurance. Signed contract with non-litigation clause required. Project Plan detailing our goals and steps to achieve those goals with specific timeline required.
I've used the crimped down cereal rye for several seasons. Make sure you plant cereal rye because ryegrass will not work. Seeding rate should be high. A lot of the broad acre farmers using this technique are putting on 4 bu per acre and this high rate is needed in order to generate a large amount of above ground biomass that ends up being the mulch. This method works really well when done properly. I advocate using cereal rye by itself. The technique works best with cash crops that are normally planted a little bit later in the season and/or can be transplanted toward the end of May in Zone 5 - the cereal rye (or hairy vetch) must be crimped at antithesis which is the life stage when the plant is attempting to reproduce. It will not have the energy or hormonal balance to promote more vegetative growth making the kill easier. Antithesis in cereal rye is evident when the small yellow flowers appear and begin releasing pollen. To crimp by hand I use a board with a metal 'cleat' bolted to the bottom and two rope handles - one from each end of the board. A coworker and I would take turns running the crimper by walking it through the field and pushing the rye down then jumping on the board causing the metal cleat to crimp the stems of the rye. This has worked really well but is a really tough workout. Having multiple people take turns makes it easier on everyone. For transplanting we then break into teams. Drip tape can be laid down then one person goes along the row making dibbles with a trowel or one of those soil augers because this ground will be much more firm than freshly tilled garden beds. The dibbling person can pour a little shot of water in the hole just like a water wheel transplanter. Next, someone can come along and put a small amount of fertilizer in the hole but this step is optional. Finally, a person comes along with the transplants and places them in the divet and firms the soil around your soil block
This past season I had an awesome crop of pumpkins and winter squash grown this way with zero fertilizer and very little pest problems. In the spring of 2013 I tilled an old garden and sowed a heavy mix of leftover cover crop seeds like hairy vetch, crimson clover, buckwheat, alfalfa, oats, and some pasture grasses. Mowed once during the summer then tilled under in the fall. I immediately replanted with a heavy rate of cereal rye. In the spring of 2014 I terminated the rye with a crimper. Note that current hairy vetch varieties still contain some "hard seed" meaning that it does not germinate the first year. Also, I've never been able to kill hairy vetch when I terminate the cereal rye and the vetch will eventually go to seed if you do not pull it by hand which is very easy to do.
Alternatively, some intensive scale organic veggie farmers are using opaque silage tarps to kill weeds and cover crops and prepare stale seedbeds. Check out Jean-Martin Fortier. In this method you would probably mow or crimp down a cover crop then place an opaque tarp over the vegetation. After two - three weeks the vegetation should be dead and you can plant into the seedbed.
I've heard anecdotal evidence that sudan grass is great at smothering out thistle. Also, old timers recommend cutting the plant off just above the ground then pouring table salt on the cut and exposed stem. You could also paint herbicide on the stem or probably use 20% vinegar. This is labor intensive but allows you to pinpoint the herbicide usage.
Pull some soil samples and send them off for a complete analysis. Logan Labs is a good place for soil analysis.
Next, take a look at this book: http://www.acresusa.com/weeds-and-why-they-grow Because most of the plants we consider weeds are opportunistic, they take advantage of specific niches caused by disturbance, compaction, unbalanced soils, etc. You may find much more success when you balance your soil in addition to these more mechanical methods of suppression.
When I get home I'll take a look at my copy and see what influences canada thistle.
I assume you've already perfect the art of tying knots in Remay when it rips?
I think maybe you need to change your attitude. Don't get me wrong, because I know using remay can suck a big one. You didn't even mention all of the time + capital expenditure that goes into holding Remay down on the ground and trying to fight loose remay on a windy day (maybe that's just an Illinois problem .
Maybe it you approach this issue knowing fully well that Remay sucks and is expendable then you'll be a little more relaxed about the process. First off you need to have at least three separate and distinct storage areas for remay. 1) New remay on rolls stored in a dry place away from rodents like rafters of the tool shed 2) Used remay that is in good condition and can be reused for bug and/or frost protection 3) Remay that has been used and is significantly torn but can still be used for things that need overwinter protection from the elements such as garlic, strawberries, spinach etc. You will probably use a double layer in these situations 4) Dumpster or Upcycle
Some farmers/landowners also simply sell the hay crop. What this means is that you maintain more control over the property but you are selling the forage crop to a local livestock producer or hay jockey. This person is responsible for managing the hay crop by timing the harvest appropriately and having all the equipment in place to correctly mow, rake, ted(optional), bale, and transport the hay. This kind of arrangement may simplify things for you. In this arrangement you aren't dependent upon someone doing a job for you because guys that have hay equipment available for custom hire will be very busy at those critical times when the weather allows hay making. However, if you simply sell the hay crop then the buyer is much more interested in getting the crop out while it is still in premium condition. If the pasture ground is of particularly good quality then chopping the forage into silage may also be an option.
There are some things you could do initially to start building better soil and better forage quality. If the pasture has just been grazed for many years then it is time to reintroduce select forage species. There are many varieties to choose from so I won't make specific recommendations. You will want to select a variety of grasses - some that will perform well in cool seasons and some that will perform well in hot seasons. Next select a few perennial legume species. There are also other perennial and annual species which make excellent forage. Techniques: broadcasting can be effective and relatively easy but requires a higher seeding rate (more $) and germination rate may be lower. Drilling the seed is going to give the best stand possible. You can custom hire this work and it may only need to be completed every few years or every year depending upon needs and management.
Ok. So to answer your original question. No. I do not think that would work but I would also love to be proven wrong I think that bubbling air through the water could keep it in a liquid state depending upon several factors such as ambient air temp, insulation on the system, frequency of air bubbling, etc. I think this only applies to the water in the tank and maybe in your piping. However, there is always a little water drop on the end of the nipple and a little bit of water around the seat of the nipple valve which I think would be the biggest concern here. If the ambient air temperature falls below freezing then the nipple will freeze. The water temperature in the nipple needs to be kept above freezing.
Another idea that I've never actually created would be to use the all metal nipples and attach a thin wire that could be used for resistive heating. The wire could be wrapped around the body of the nipple. A thermostat would be used to activate a switch and send current through the wire. This would heat up the body of the nipple and keep it from freezing.
This is getting pretty complicated just to keep the nipple system working.
What I think would be a far superior design is to only have a nipple drinker set up that works in above freezing temperatures but construct a coop such that it receives passive solar or other type of heating and keep the entire coop above freezing which would keep your nipple system working, eggs from freezing, and the hens would be happier.
If this property has a recorded cropping history then you may be able to qualify for cost-sharing through USDA Conservation programs such as EQIP, CRP, and CSP. Many of the programs available can help you pay for the cost of cover crop seed, planting trees, water diversions (swales), fencing, and many other practices. Check with your local NRCS office.
I've been wanting to do a wall calendar for the last couple of years but I've been trying to figure out the right design. This one is awfully interesting. I was thinking about doing something more linear but that could be slightly rearranged each year to account for the shifting of the way days are numbered. Ideally I would like something that is semi-permanent and becomes a work of art on the wall that grabs the attention of those who walk by and only needs slight modification or rearranging from year to year.
Maybe using this design one could paint the wall with a base paint or get a piece of slate/chalkboard and then draw the design on their with chalk or other medium that can be removed or changed easily.
I think Eliot Coleman addresses this problem really well and it is a problem that many people use as an excuse for doing nothing.
For example, I know a really stubborn old conventional farmer who does nothing about his soil erosion problem because he believes it would be impossible to stop soil erosion completely on his farm. That may be true. However, the fact that you may not completely and perfectly solve the problem is not sufficient reason for becoming complacent and failing to attempt any solution at all for mitigating the problem.
Coleman is a proponent of the 1% solutions. Find a way to improve what you are doing by 1% - whatever that means to your particular enterprise. If you can find a 1% solution here and a 1% solution there it does not take long to have found a 10% solution.
We can't expect perfection but we can expect to approach perfection by continually refining our enterprises in 1% increments.
My setup is a 5 gallon bucket with nipples mounted directly in the bottom of the bucket. Last winter I used one of them bucket heater submerged in the water. This kept the water warm and the nipples never froze. However, it was very energy intensive. Some things you could do to improve energy efficiency: insulate the bucket or find an insulated container on which the nipples could be mounted. I've considered modifying one of those five gallon igloo drinking water containers. Then rig up a bucket heater or other heater element inside the container that is actuated by a thermostat or thermocouple which is monitoring the temperature of the water. This system could also be used in the summer time in order to provide the birds with cool water.
Elliot Coleman uses a movable hoop house for his chickens. This would be one way to passively heat the chicken coop and water at the same time. Perhaps you would need very little electricity to run the system. Perhaps a well insulated container filled with room temperature or warmed water each morning or evening would contain enough energy to not freeze until you added more water.
I'm planning to build a nipple drinker system with one of these Igloo 5 gallon water containers. I like the idea of having the nipples recessed in the bottom by cutting away the insulation.
I like to use the outer leather glove + wool liner method during winter. Sometimes I use two liners - a very thin merino wool liner + a thicker knit style wool liner. This makes the gloves more modular and if the leather wears out then you only need to replace the outer layer and the liner (insulation) can often be reused for many seasons.
Finding a decent leather glove can be tricky. I've gone through dozens over the past years. I used to buy those $20 Kinco gloves that you find at Menards or Tractor Supply etc. They are good gloves and fit well but I usually wear them out after a month or two. Recently I've begun purchasing Made in USA leather gloves from Midwest Gloves and Gear. They offer plain leather gloves and pile lined insulated leather gloves. I tried their basic cowhide gloves and got about 6 months use out of them before a small hole developed in the finger. Right now I'm using their bison leather gloves and they are very durable. I've also ordered the leather choppers mitt which I'll wear with my wool knit liners. These gloves are very expensive $25-$40 on Amazon but I feel that the quality is top notch.
Additionally, to extend the life of your gloves you should oil them right away before first use. My dad had me oil my gloves with motor oil but I don't like that approach much. Nowadays I keep a tub of mink oil handy and thoroughly oil all gloves and leather products before first use. This extends the life of your gloves by decreasing the effects of friction and will also provide some water resistance.
Don't expect electric net fencing for poultry to contain chickens that young. You may try something to keep their attention focused inside the fence. Obviously something is drawing them to the outside. Maybe treats?
Also, you could try a fence with positive/negative wiring. This means that every other horizontal wire is positive and every other is negative. You'll have to connect one set of wires to the + terminal on your charger and one set of wires to your grounding rod. This may work better for poultry but I've never tried it.
Have you tested your fence? Is it properly grounded? Sometimes I just touch my fence to make sure it is delivering the shock needed to deter predators.
Honestly, I think you're better off doing all the birds at one time. For starters they will all be mature at roughly the same time and you'll start losing money to feed birds which are no longer gaining muscle mass. If you absolutely can not find anyone to help then maybe do a few birds each weekend. I like to do all of the birds in one shot because I've taken the time to set up all of the equipment and after doing about 5 birds my crew really gets into a groove and 25 birds will be done quickly. Also, you'll only have to clean up feathers once If you decide to do the birds in increments you may find that the overall time involved is much greater and you will have to relearn the technique each time.
Watch a lot of videos about the correct procedure. Maybe invite over a friend who has experience. Get a crew of at least three people together. If you decide to pluck by hand try to have at least two people doing that job. You'll need one person for catching/killing/scalding plus the pluckers, then one person for eviscerating and final clean up and chill down. Scalding properly might be the most important part of the process - a good scald helps the feathers release easily. Rubber gloves help hand pluckers grab the feathers. A garden hose with high pressure spray is excellent for washing away feathers and cleaning out the insides of the bird after eviscerating.
You'll want a sharp knife for cutting the throat because feathers tend to get in the way. I stopped using a knife for anything else except maybe cutting the joint between leg and foot. A high quality pair of stainless scissors does a much better job for eviscerating a chicken. You may want a larger cutting tool for snipping off the head and neck.
I think if you're raising a short-term group of meat birds then a coop may not be necessary. However, if you're raising a group of laying hens which may spend several years on your property you will appreciate having them trained to use a coop. For many of the reasons others listed the coop makes your life easier - collection of eggs is streamlined. Also, having a coop means that you can leave the chickens "cooped up" if you will be out of town overnight or for a short period of time. A lot of time chickens or pet dogs will alert you to predator problems but you have to be within earshot of the yard.
Last winter I simply covered my three season movable coop with a double layer of old greenhouse film to keep out liquid water and erected a windbreak on the west and north sides. Then we start a 'composting coop' by layering a bale of grass hay in the coop each week with about 100 birds. The hay and poop start composting which releases heat. Even on the days when the high temps were below zero no chickens got frostbite and no eggs froze.
Phil Rutter of Badgersett Nursery in Wisconsin talks about hazelnuts in his breeding program that are small enough for turkeys and possibly chickens to manage. Conceivably any nut crop could replace grain crops as livestock and human food.
A movable shelter may be appropriate. Roosters and chickens in general are very alert - when one gives a signal they will run/fly back to the movable coop in record speed. Another deterrent could be a Livestock Guardian Dog that has been raised with poultry. Look for a breeder or farm that specializes in LGDs that work with poultry. My Bear will patrol relentlessly when she's in the electric net fencing with the birds. Some LGDs have a 'skywatcher' instinct. Numerous times I've watched Bear barking in earnest with her head is pointed upward. I look up and see a hawk circling the pasture.