Dan Grubbs

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since Nov 30, 2012
I'm a 25-year PR professional working in the corporate sector while starting a new small farm of 15 acres using regenerative techniques. PDC in spring of 2015 with certificate from PRI.
northwest Missouri, USA
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Recent posts by Dan Grubbs

My apologies for misleading you, Pearl. I was thinking of this Kansas City thread:
11 hours ago
First off, I have to ask the question I should have asked myself before I started a couple of earthworks projects ... can I design a different solution and achieve nearly the same results without earthworks. If not, then I consider earthworks. If I can get close with different design, then I'll avoid the earthworks. I know it's not as fun, but doing surgery should follow other solutions, right?

That out of the way ... I agree with Miles in that your tolerances are probably less critical than you may think. I use a bunyip level for establishing contours and I prefer them to lasers. What laser can go around a corner or go through an object? What A-frame level can span 15-20 feet and miss a big tractor tire rut?  The bunyip is my preferred tool.

Comment 1 - Unless you're really really good with a backhoe (track hoe, excavator), your 1/2-inch variance may not matter when you're roughing in your swale. As Miles said, you can groom things to better tolerances if you think you need that exactness. I personally found that I don't worry about a 1/2-inch variance when the measurement from the bottom of the ditch to the top of the berm is at least 24 inches. I don't see a structural issue if there is a wavering of even an inch of the top of the berm. I know for a fact the berm soil won't settle evenly over time and the contour of the top of the berm will vary more than an inch.  That's my experience, at least.

Comment 2 - If I want to ensure that I don't continue a linear error and magnify it down to the end of the contour line, I do what I call back points -- a kind of back checking. My bunyips are normally made with a clear hose of 25 feet (about 8 meters). If I measure back points, I'll start with my back pole at the first steak (A), pull my front pole out about half the distance of the tube and steak there (B), then pull the front pole out the full distance and steak (C). Then set the back level pole at B and check C with the front pole and then pull out front pole to full distance and stake (D). Repeat this process as a double-check way to ensure your contour line is accurate.  I have done this, but don't feel it's really necessary because of grooming the berm/ditch to refine things.

Maybe I'm all washed up and more experienced people can refute what I describe. I'm open to that.
1 week ago
Great tip. Thanks for sharing.
1 week ago
I will also attest to the folks at Green Cover Seed. Deeply knowledgeable in no-till, cover-crop methodologies and can design mixes based on what your desired outcomes are and what your current conditions are. I would encourage you to give them a call.
Green Cover Seed

Here's their YouTube channel if you want to digest the extensive library about different kinds of cover crops, their options for use, etc. If you hear the term BMR, that's a reference to a plant that has a brown mid-rib structure to its leaf. Keep in mind, these videos are targeted to farmers who can speak slightly different language. I learn a ton when I watch their videos ... only a fraction of which I can apply to my specific setting and goals.

GCS YouTube channel

Companion to alfalfa: perennial ryegrass, meadow brome, tall fescue, oats
Companion to buckwheat: cowpeas, grain sorghum, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, peppers, squash; buckwheat can be used as a nurse (companion) crop with summer seedings of alfalfa or alfalfagrass mixtures much the way oats are used with spring seedings
Companion to oats: nearly any legume, orchard grass

Hope that was helpful.
1 week ago
Here is the amphitheater from Kaw Point Park, which is the location for one of the long encampments of the Lewis and Clark expedition at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers. On each of the placed stones you'll see the inscribed name of the members of the expedition. The rest of the amphitheater seating is the limestone shelves behind. I love the fact that they didn't clear the trees out for sight lines.

2 weeks ago
Great note, Marco. I may have overstepped my generalization when I mentioned Osage Orange in my post. Love the visuals of a farmer walking along dropping seed and kicking soil over the top.
2 weeks ago
If you drive along country roads and state highways out in the Great Plains, you'll see hedge rows as if man had come along and planted them in these neat quarter sections, half sections and mile squares. Fence lines in the Great Plains (as well as riparian zones) were some of the rare perch places for birds. After more than a hundred years of fencing, many of the trees have grown quite large. Many a hedge apple (Osage orange) tree, mulberry tree and other species grew up after having being planted by birds along fence lines and not being mowed or weeded out by ag equipment due to the fence being in place. Much poison ivy, as well.

Lots of habitat, lots of biodiversity as well. I know many like to keep their fences clean. Maybe, it's not necessary.  Just a thought.
2 weeks ago
Hope this photo will show up but this shows the expanded pen now that he has added a dairy cow. The cow is a new addition about a week ago, so we'll see how that turns out.
A friend of mine keeps goats and chickens in a large movable pen. This pen has a winch powered by a 12v battery connected to a solar panel. The winch is set on a cheap timer to turn on every so often and pull in the cable which is staked out far away from the pen. The net effect is the pen is automatically moved to new grass on a timer and my friend doesn't have to touch it except to move the stake and pull out the winch cable to restart the whole process again. This keeps the goats on fresh grass without having all the labor of moving the large pen. He's been running this for nearly two years now. He has the timing dialed down after a short trial-and-error period. Daily fresh milk and eggs from animals that are grazing on new grass all day. Pretty sweet set up, actually.