Su Ba

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since Apr 18, 2013
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Retired from veterinary medicine. My second career is creating a homestead, aiming to be self reliant.
Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Recent posts by Su Ba

Here's an update after two years....,,

I've given up using the flamer for fencelines. I tried very hard to convince myself that it was the way to go, but it couldn't handle the tropical creeping grasses. It worked fine on newly sprouted seedlings. But I was burning up a lot of propane trying to keep the grasses and vining things from reaching the fence.
1 day ago
My current favorite weeding methods......

...pull/chop and add to the compost pile, hugelpit, or chicken pen (then apply mulch so that I don't have to repeatedly reweed.
...flaming newly sprouted weeds in a garden bed I'm preparing to plant
1 day ago
I've used a Weed Dragon, which is one of the flamers using a 5 gallon propane tank. Lots of BTUs. Even so, it's only really effective on extremely tender type weeds or very young seedlings. I tried a lot of different situations, and now I only use the flamer on those tiny seedlings that are just sprouted. Come to think about it, I'm only using it on larger garden beds, the ones that I tilled a week or do ago and I'm seeing weeds seedlings sprouting. Sometimes I don't get around to sowing or planting a freshly prepared bed right away.

I tried my darnedest to convince myself that flaming worked to keep my fenceline so clear. It worked ok on new weeds, but my tropical grasses are aggressive travelers. The flamer couldn't keep them down without burning up a lot of propane and my time.

The flamer doesn't work well on established weeds nor grasses. It's best for those tender newly sprouted seedlings. I'm guessing that the handheld butane torch would work for small areas.
1 day ago
When I was a young kid (under 12) we got home delivery of several items including milk, eggs, bread, fresh vegetables, and pretzels. I learned later that the eggs and vegetables were direct from the farm.

I'd love to see peddlers return. But between the health department and the permitting department, I don't see it happening. The licensing fees the officials demand nowadays would be enough to prevent it, let alone any other regulations.
3 days ago
Here's answers to the questions ......

<<<Where did you live while you built the house?>>>
In a shed with a light bulb, a water pump, and a tiny solar system that could run either the lightbulb at night or the water pump the next morning. We often choose the water pump. It was raw plywood and exposed unpainted 2x4s with an uninsulated metal roof. A couple windows with no screens. A propane cookstove against the wall and a propane refrigerator. They provided the heat on chilly nights and damp days.

<<<Is your current community the same as the old one?>>>
We moved from New Jersey to Hawaii. We didn't know a soul in Hawaii. We moved "cold turkey" and have never regretted it.

<<<Did you just jump into the local relationships or dip a toe in first?>>>
We had been coming to Hawaii for several years, for short 3-5 day visits. Hawaii was one of the many places we visited in relation to hubby's employment. It wasn't until 2001 that we started looking for a place to move, and Hawaii was one of the locations that we checked into. So I suppose you could say that we had been dipping our toes for years, but it was never with the intention of moving there. But when we made the move, we knew no one except the two real estate brokers that showed us some properties. Once we were here, I got involved selling coffee at the local farmers market in order to make a few bucks, then met a lot of nice local folks because of this. I'd introduce myself as "Hi, I'm the new people that bought a piece of the old Lorenzo place across from the ranch."

<<<Did you buy land and observe it for a year?>>>
We bought undeveloped land that had been previously used for pasturing cattle. Sometime in the past there had been a house in the land, though the only indication now is an old cesspool cover. An a previous owner had bulldozed an area with the intent of building a barn, though that never came about. Did we observe it for a year? Heck no!!! We jumped right into building our house and weedwacking down the massive grass overgrowth.
    Over the years the farm developed. The land pretty much dictated where things would go. Only the front few acres along the road get sunshine, so most garden beds would have to be in that location without doing massive destructive (and expensive) bulldozing. The back 14 acres were only suitable for pasture without doing massive tree removal and bulldozing. So pasture is what they became. There were significant holes/gulleys beside the driveway (large enough to fit a large pickup truck and swallow it up) so they became hugelpits for growing bananas.
    Because we wanted electricity and balked at paying $30,000 to bring grid electric to the property, we quickly figured out where the sun tracked and how many hours of sunlight we typically got. We then installed a $20,000 solar system. We observed for about a month while we waited for the system parts to be delivered, then extrapolated the sun angles for the rest of the year.
    Rather than observe for a year, we tapped into the knowledge of our neighbors and other long time residents. They gave us valuable information about seasonal temperatures, rain patterns, wind cycles and history, climate cycles, ground water, local vegetation, etc. Most of these people had been living here for 20 years or more, so had observed a lot over that time. They taught us about the importance of elevation, plus the fact that soil type, rain amount, and wind effects  can change every mile.
5 days ago
Travis can give you the best answer for your area.

In my own situation.......
...purchase price per head = $35 to $150 depending upon breed and owner's idea of value. I bought my original dozen sheep for $50 each, and I've purchased a few replacements for $35 a head. Mine are mixbreed hair sheep. Woolies don't make much sense where I am because of the problem with flystrike.
...shearing, not much, since they aren't woolies. But I still need to remove any remaining "rugs" in order to prevent flystrike. So there is the initial cost of purchasing the shearing clipper. I bought mine 15 years ago and it still works fine. So it's an initial cost but over time it becomes insignificant.
...bander. And hoof trimmer. Not expensive and will last a long time. The cost of the bands is also insignificant over the span of several years.
...Vaccination and deworming is so cheap that it's not worth trying to figure out per head
...I do my own slaughter and butchering, so that's not a consideration.
...I have pasture year around, so that's a major cost I don't have to deal with.
...fencing is a major investment. I have well over $20,000 invested in fencing, which I had hoped would last 15 years but had to be replaced due to damage from acid rain and vog. So it only lasted half what I had hoped for. By the way, replacing the fencing was cheaper than the initial set up because I did the replacement myself.
...loses. Sheep die from various causes. Predation , stray hunting dogs, have been my worst problem. I get no compensation for dead sheep. So after wasting efforts and cost of extra fencing, a solar powered hotwire system, a perimeter alarm, I broke down and purchased a feral donkey. Dog problem solved.

So fencing costs are my major expense. Well over the value of the lamb sales and meat I get. So why do it?
1- Agricultural real estate taxes. I save a couple thousand a year on taxes.
2- clean, fresh, reliable meat source
3- I like having sheep
Juan said <<<What I find most remarkable about hawaii is the difference of average annual precipitation in just a few miles away. >>>

True! I have my homestead farm in one location and my seed & hot weather crops 5 miles down the road. The homestead is too moist for general seed saving, and too cool for crops like lima beans, soybeans, okra. The homestead farm gets 60-80 inches of rain per year. The seed farm gets 30-40 inches. A significant difference for only 5 miles. Half the precipitation.
Burra, right! That's the faggots I'm familiar with. Ate them at the local pub on a regular basis when I was living in the U.K. Yum.

By the way, I was a tad shocked when I saw who the OP was when I read the title. Huh? It surely got my attention, so I started reading. Ah-ha, good title. An attention getter, and it worked.
How about Society Garlic? It's not aggressive, and the flowers are quite pretty. I add the flowers to a mixed salad to add pleasing color.
1 week ago
Ryan, do you roast your coffee inside the house? If so, how do you deal with the smoke?
1 week ago