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Paul Ewing

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since Dec 28, 2011
Boyd, Texas
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Recent posts by Paul Ewing

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.
6 years ago
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.
6 years ago
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.
6 years ago
To confuse things more, the swales and berms put in by the CCC back in the 30s and 40s were called terraces at least in the South so you will find that reference used in a lot of older writings.
6 years ago
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.
6 years ago
The CDC releases the warnings after the tests come back and are traced. It is getting to be an annual Spring thing with them. Google "mt healthy hatchery salmonella"
6 years ago

mick mclaughlin wrote:

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.
6 years ago
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.
6 years ago

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_.
6 years ago
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.
6 years ago