Nicolai Barca

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since Dec 16, 2011
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Recent posts by Nicolai Barca

You might want to listen to some episodes of the Farmer to Farmer podcast. Yesterday, I listened to one where a man was grossing $80,000 in sales from veggies from just 1/2 acre! He was using tunnels and a no-till style of gardening. Possibilities are endless.

Farmer to Farmer podcast
2 years ago
There are some good books on the topic on small farming profitably. People have already given you great advice and I can attest to the chicken hatchery idea. It can make good money if you can sell enough and is a quick turn around on investment. We do and with three small 42 egg incubators, make at last $500 most months. Brooder hens also may be more your thing and I've heard people proudly say they are better than incubators. ...make sure you have a good incubator. Some are terrible.

Realistically, you can make a lot more than $500 a month on an acre. I've seen figures saying that intensive gardeners sell $40,000 worth of produce annually from just an acre when sold direct to consumer or via CSAs.

Milk can also be highly profitable. I doubt you have the same situation where you are at but there is big demand for raw milk here. A milking cow at relatively modest production can get 4 gallons a day. Raw milk goes for $20 a gallon in these parts! That is one cow making $29,200 to $60,000 worth of milk. Seems ridiculous, right? Well, the secret is it's illegal. There are people who do pay off their mortgage that way. You'll want to check the law books on that one though because it is almost certainly illegal in most places. An acre also is not usually enough to sustain a cow unless you can bring in feed but an acre could hold milk goats. I don't know much about milking goats (not that i know much about cows either) but it may be worth looking into. Then there are cheeses and yogurts and other value added products you could potentially pull off and get other resources from like whey.

You may also want to consider aquaponics depending on the situation. I've seen very productive systems on very little space. I seen one that was somewhat of a hybrid using an available water source, farming tilapia and periodically dumping the water into fields where it irrigated and fertilized a high value local crop. ...not closed-loop by any means but in this situation, it was a better way since it caused no pollution and water was abundant. In this case, they had a very productive system, but the owner/operator had so much other things going on in his life that it was nearly abandoned. I seen another very successful aquaponics system supplying sprouts and garnish greens to high end restaurants. I asked how much they made with this small scale system on 1/50th an acre and was very impressed! Sprouts have a very quick turn around too. The fish were basically their pets in that case.

Main advice: 1) start small and expand products you feel comfortable growing and selling. 2) market direct to consumers. This may be difficult if you are far from a major market. 3) use tools to do the job you already do but more efficiently. ...the books actually have better advice. I'm trying to recreate what they said from the top of my head but I somehow don't think i'm quite "nailing it". 4) Plan your budgets. A farm is a business. 5) use permaculture principles that make you more money. Often when I am asked what permaculture is, I skip a lot of it and simply say "its a bunch of clever farming ideas."

Good luck and more importantly, have fun.
2 years ago
Hi Robert. I have been trying to incorperate fruit trees into the forests out here in hawaii and it has been a learning experience. In a nut shell there are very few plants that will work in a few situations. As stated, light gaps are an option however there are things to consider and you will not likely establish your trees very easily.

Part of the idea with growing a "food forest" is that you are in control of your resources. This is very important. You start off with open land, ammend the soil if needed, and plant about 90% NTFs and 10% fruit trees. As the system ages, you constantly prune back the NFTs to mulch and feed your desired long term canopy which eventually outcompetes the NFTs and grows from 10% to 90% biomass as the NFTs shrink from 90% to 10%. You mimicked the way nature builds a forest and tweak it to make your own.

Starting a food forest around existing trees will be more difficult because existing trees can send in roots that can outcompete your desired trees roots. Therefore, you are not as much in control of your resources and that is a big challenge.

What I found works in situations like your where you dont want to clear all trees is to figure out what late successional trees can succeed in the present situation. Late successional trees tend to:
1) have dense wood, 2) grow slow, 3) be shade tolerant to some degree, and 4) produce few but large seeds. This is opposed to Early successional trees which tend to:
1) have soft wood, 2) grow quickly, 3) be shade intolerant, and 4) produce many small seeds.

So in Hawaii I found that a few things worked. Avocado successfully grew up through and overtopped common guava when growing in deep soil in valley bottoms. But as a heavy feeder, avocado (and practically all trees with large fruits) did much poorer on steep slopes where soil was less developed. Mango grew up through most forests eventually becoming the dominant canopy, even if it took 10 years or more to reach the canopy. Avocado, mango, and breadfruit all seemed to succeed under large albizia overstory and in theory, one could kill the albizia standing and be left with just the dense fruit tree planting. A few others also worked but the list was generally small. Most trees did not succeed in most situations and were outcompeted by existing tree's root systems, even when fertilized and in light gaps.

Bottom line, to be successful, you either need to clear enough land to be in control of your resources, or you find the few species which can fill the successional nitch and naturally succeed what vegetation is already there.

Thats what I've found.
5 years ago
Is it an isolated population of the weed or will there always be new seed moving in from surrounding areas? As much as I don't like using herbicide, here's my advice: Dont bother useing round-up if it is just going to reinvade from surrounding areas. The only reason to use herbicide would be if other control methods are unrealistic and to get it to the point where you can manage it manually or eliminate it altogether from your area. You could try solarization too but that has it's own problems on soil life. Which is the lesser of two evils? I read only one pdf that mentioned solarization working. Good luck. Anybody else have other ideas? Maybe tilling would manage it just fine...


6 years ago
Same with me. The first pig shot with a 22 in a pen, I ended up missing the brain point blank. And I'm an experienced hunter- just not with 22s. The experience probably contributed to my reluctance to slaughter peoples' animals, although I gladly do the butchering.

If you can, use a larger gun so there is more margin for error. This is not going to sound good, but I've seen videos from other countries where they hit the pig in the head with a bat, then cut the throat. I reckon that's about as good as any gunshot and doable where firearms are not appropriate, like in a town.
6 years ago
Can you elaborate on how much rainfall and what types of soil (clay, sand)? Is this in a garden? forest? Any slope?

Wood chips will still allow water to pass through so the cardboard idea sounds better to me. But to maintain organic matter, I would continuously mulch with leaves and other more nutritious plant foods. Maintain that humus layer if you can and hopefully losses to leaching will be acceptable. Wood chips alone will not add much to your soil.

I like kame's suggestions of just going with the flow...
6 years ago
Haven't done much myself, but when I did, I realized I bit off more than I could chew, so I'm going to say "Start small and expand upon success".

If it is steep and you are worried about accelerating erosion, sonsider stacking logs and cut brush on contour.

As for stump grinding... never done it but it sounds labor intensive. Some trees will die simply when cut down. Others you could cover up with something to stop resprouts. I don't know about your area but there are many trees here that you cannot get rid of without herbicide because every exposed rootlet could become a new tree.

Consider if you can just kill the tree standing. It's ugly and you may need to worry later about dead snags falling, but killing trees standing provides some benefits like retaining some protection from the elements, less cost and labor than felling and clearing, and minimal soil disturbance.
6 years ago
In the first post I noticed a source for the problem: that habitat in the yard changed to favor rats. Unfortunately, rats reproduce quickly and can often keep up with predation or kills by traps and poison. So long as there is good areas for them to burrow and bed and food to eat, they are probably not going away. So... things you can do to keep your rat population at acceptable levels:

1. Get some good ratters. Cats or small dogs will do so long as they actually can catch rats proficiently. Most do not. Perhaps some wild critters might even chip in. Most cats are low maintenance. Try not to get too attached to a bad ratter. Next cat...

2. Clean up yard to reduce potential nesting areas and protective cover. (We had this issue in my own yard.)

3. Traps. Snap traps, bucket traps, cage traps ...there are many many types of traps.

4. poisons. Probably the most efficient means of quickly killing many rats but you need to worry about other things that might eat either the poison, or poisoned rats.

Traps and poisons are more temporary and don't usually address the root of the issue (low predation and favorable habitat).
6 years ago
Have you guys ever seen the youtube channel "EatTheWeeds"?
http://www.youtube.com/user/EatTheWeeds
6 years ago