John Gratrick

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since Mar 17, 2012
Mallorytown Zone 5a
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Recent posts by John Gratrick

Hi All

I've found that my compost bin is starting to attract Raccoons. Usually I wouldn't worry too much but with the tick population growing I'm trying to limit contact with certain critters in the area.

I'm trying to keep a good balance of carbon and nirtogen going, and I do not mix the pile at this time. I'm still building it up. Any ideas on how I can keep the trash panda's away? I don't want to close the bin in because we produce a fair amount of scraps but I will if I have to.

4 years ago
Hi everyone and thanks for the

Ok so I'll try to answer as much as I can, I'm sure I'll miss something but oh well.

Right now I'm living on the land. Total is just about 21 acres. We are rural but are 20 min away from a 22k pop town, 40 min from 150k+ and if we push it to 1 hour we are close to 900k city population.

I was thinking about chickens as a start but mainly for the eggs that they would give us. I can go through 2 cartons a week with my kids. Selling after we are taken care of is a possibility. There are 2 restaurants close to us but are supplied from suppliers so I may be able to do something exotic like microgreens but that will come in time. Right now we are testing out a small plot to see how the heavy clay soil is responsive to what we have. So far tomatoes, corn, lettuce/kale are doing well, the beans are doing great, peppers and zucchini not so much.

Local producers are very limited. We have 2 farmers markets close by, and one in the town 20 min away. the 2 close by operate one day a week for a few hours in the afternoon on the weekdays (Wed and Fri). The town seems better but haven't had a chance to investigate as been working.

It isn't so much about wanting more jobs as wanting fulfilling jobs. I would ultimately like to eliminate one job and replace its income from the farm. Then expand from there until the farm is providing my revenue.

Tools are an issue as money is tight. I have shovels and small hand tools but nothing more powerful like chainsaws, tillers, etc... so far everything is being done by hand.

So far there are a lot of sickly pine trees, a few maples here and there (too small to tap) and a few oaks that we have been planting from collecting acorns from the park. Apart from that I've been harvesting some cattails from the back of the property, dandelions from wherever looks clean and been getting weird looks at the dinner table. Its free so oh well.

Infrastructure I want is mainly chicken coop, goose or duck house and maybe cold frame as well as solar dehydrator. I don't really want big buildings all over the place. I want to enjoy the openness of it all. I've put in some roses, a dwarf cherry tree, red currants, rhubarb, asparagus, and 15-ish strawberry plants I got for free from job #2.

I've been banking about 35% from each pay to set aside for bigger purchases or bulk buys when I can get any deals on things (or retirement: thanks to ERE and mrmoneymustache).

I've been trying to develop some kind of land design as to where to put this and that, but I can't seem to get things to a point where I'm happy with them. I'm willing to risk some of my small savings to start up, that doesn't bother me even if I lose it, at least I tried. My main hindrance is that I want to do everything to the point where I overwhelm myself with what I want to do and in the end do very little. I need to come up with a to do list and work from that.

Thanks to everyone for the great ideas and responses
4 years ago
Hello all. I was wondering what kind of advise you can give regarding getting started. Right now the Mrs has 2 jobs and i'm doing 3 jobs (all part time) but I would like to ween myself away from working for someone else to working for me and providing some food and income for the family.

I guess the question is where to start. I have 20 acres, mainly 5 of pasture and the rest is wooded area and rock. I want to garden, food forest with trees and scrubs, various birds, smaller dwarf pigs or sheep, rabbits etc... Basically I want to do it all.

I'm just kinda stuck as to where to start the process. I would like to get something going that I can turn around pretty quick for a small income stream while longer term production gets slowly put into place. So garden or birds? Pond or trees? When I start to look at everything I want to do my brain gets a bit fried and I don't want to waste the season planning and not getting anything done.

Advice? Motivation? My budget is very small so it would be a growing process. What would you do?
4 years ago
I've been keeping an eye on the Kingston, Brockville and Ottawa region but not a lot of prospects that I'm finding. A few looking to get rid of males, which would work short term but I'd like to start breeding them. Not even that many breeders listed in the area. One around Picton who I contacted but they are out for the season. I'll keep my eyes open
5 years ago
Hello Fellow Ontarioians

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas where I could get a few dozen guinea fowl for my property. I can't find many breeders for Ontario or beyond. Ticks are starting to make their appearance and I want to get something here going that will control them. Hopefully breed them as well.

Any info is greatly appreciated
5 years ago
Took the plunge and backed. Couldn't afford to get in to the higher lever but every dollar counts. Congrats
5 years ago
I was thinking the exact same thing with a chicken coop. Plus if you build the pile right next door the chickens won't have to travel quite so far to feast from it. Would be perfect for winter conditions.
5 years ago
Wow some really great thoughts on what could be done. Just had one while reading. What about building a compost pile under something similar to duct work outdoors, then running the duct though the basement insulated like a RMH so that acts as your thermal bench, then venting outside again. The whole system could be run using a small solar powered fan to get the warm air moving. This way all fumes would be in the ducting, sealed in cob, making it safer for the home, the compost would be outside but close enough to possibly get transfer heat through the basement wall.
5 years ago
I thought I heard Paul say in one of the podcasts that hay has the perfect Carbon:Nitrogen ratio. Maybe I'm wrong. Hmm never thought about BTU amount needed. Have to do some calculations to see what a pile could generate. Wouldn't help if I needed a pile as big as my house to heat said house.

No termites to worry about, and moisture is no problem. I'd divert my dehumidifier drain to go into the pile to keep it moist. But the gases thing is something else to consider. If it isn't organic I would have no idea what may be entering the air and if I have to run a purifier then I may as well run the furnace since my savings would be nill.

Thanks for the input, I'll keep on pondering.
5 years ago
Don't know if this is somewhere else but had an odd thought the other day. I know that well made compost can generate 130+ degree temperatures so I was thinking about building a few 3-4 cubic foot size compost piles throughout the winter in my unfinished basement. I figure that the heat will help cut some of the cost of heating the house while I get a RMH built in the summer. Not worried about heating water as solar heating is going in soon (hopefully). Any ideas if this would work? Really new to composting so I have no idea. And no I won't be using manure or food in the house piles, all that will be in the outdoor one. Indoor will be mainly hay and wood chips.

5 years ago