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Isa Delahunt

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since Jan 21, 2014
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Recent posts by Isa Delahunt

I prefer to butcher with a small paring knife, about 2 or 3 inch blade.  Very sharp.  I do everything from cattle to deer to hogs to small stuff like rabbit or chicken with the same knife.  Once you know the anatomy, it's easy to just disjoint to remove hoofs, head, or whatever. It's like having a very sharp finger. Big knives are dangerous, especially if you are working with someone on the same animal.  I have lots of other knives, as one does, but I always end up back with the paring knife. And an old toolbox sized saw to split into sides, until I discovered using a cordless saws-all for that,which is the wonder tool of our time!  Yeehaw!
5 months ago

A Raaymakers wrote:Thank you, Jay Angler!

Well, we live in the North Island of New Zealand, I believe the weather where I am is considered temperate.  We have been having cold but sunny winter days recently, although not TOO cold - its 16 degrees Celsius outside at the moment.  

The lemon tree is planted on a grassy bank with quite sandy soil.  We get a decent amount of rain here, I'd say.  (How do you measure rain levels?) I have mulch around the lemon tree.  I am considering extending its surrounding garden bed, so getting rid of the grass around it, and planting beneficial plants, and mulching down.

From what I've gleaned over the internet, comfrey seems very desirous around trees like peach, and pears, but I'm so curious about lemons - it seems hard to find its companionship status with citrus!!


If you want to find out more about own your climate look your town or area up on wikipedia and you will find the Koppen climate zone, as well as lots of other interesting information on temperature and rainfall.  Once you have the Koppen zone number, you can look that zone up and see even more information, and using a Koppen map, you can find climate analogues--other places in the world with your climate.  Lots of directions to go with all that, of course.  

I don't now anything much about outside lemon trees, but you can grow them inside in the Pacific NW in a very bright, winter heated sunroom or the like.
11 months ago
I put it in potato salad.  
1 year ago
For potholder use I suggest you make your crochet item from wool yarn, somewhat oversized, and then full it.  That closes up the holes and makes a denser fabric that will offer more protection from hot surfaces.  (Be sure you aren't using 'superwash wool' , which won't felt)  

If you have a washing machine, just throw it in the hot wash, like you'd never do with wool socks or sweaters.  Check it for size and then either pull it back into shape and dry flat or throw it in a hot dryer if you want to continue the felting/shrinking process.  You could also do this by hand.  Wet the finished potholder in warm water, rub some soap on it, and scrub it together between your hands, roll it up, bash it about, unroll, bash it some more, rinse with cold water, use hot water and soap again.  Repeat until you like the amount of shrinkage, then pull back into shape and dry flat.  Fulling is also a great tension reliever, and kids love it too!  
1 year ago
Catie, I'm 4'10.  The Radwagon is supposed to fit people from 5'2-6'2.  Once I'm on, it's very comfortable, and once I figured out how to get on safely, it's no problem and feels very safe.  
1 year ago
Last fall I got a Radwagon, 7 speed electric assist cargo bike.  It's a local Seattle area company.  I like it a lot, and once you figure out how to contain your things, you can haul a lot of stuff with it.  Being in the PNW, I have two big weatherproof panniers for everyday use.  The front rack on this bike is fixed to the post and doesn't move when you steer, which is a little disorienting at first, but much better if you have a load there as it doesn't affect the steering like on a regular handlebar type rack.  The headlight is on the rack, which can lead to a less than optimum light when going around a sharp turn at night.  It has regenerative braking, so if I drag my brakes on the downhills it makes up the power I used getting up.  It has pedal assist, with 5 levels, plus seven regular speeds with the gears.  You can also do nothing and use the motor only, but that is a little crazy and I only did it once to try it out.  That sucks power, as you'd expect.  I can ride around for more than a week on my regular rounds before I have to think about charging the battery.  I have yet to load up to capacity in terms of weight, or to where I felt it was unsafe, and I can haul everything I need to on a daily basis, plus the coop order or gas cans.  It's very well balanced if you load it carefully.  There is a motorcycle type kickstand that is very stable for load/unload.  

I'm very short, and I barely fit this particular bike.  The stepthrough is quite high because the battery fits down there, though there is definitely room to have both feet on the ground straddling it.  Getting on can be a little tricky, but only for a really short person.  The balance takes a little getting used to, but that's the cargo bike length.  I like having the weight low.  The pedal assist is akin to having an extra set of gears.  I find it makes me able to get stronger, as I can set a pace and keep it and not have to get off and walk when it's too steep for me to pedal.  The headlight is super bright, there is a tail light and when you brake a brake light.  Radbikes make several other models.  My neighbor has one of their very fat tired mountain bike styles, and he loves it too.  The cargo bike has disc brakes, which are great.  It rides pretty rough--no shocks--but the mountain bike version has better suspension.  I changed out the seat for a little more comfy ride and mine is fine.  

Where I live there is not much road, it's all gravel, and only a handful of vehicles on the island.  No streetlights, and lots of mud and potholes and sudden sandpits in the road.  So far, the bike has performed really well. I have to park it in a dry spot, for sure, and wipe it off after a rainy, muddy ride.  I  was a little worried about the mud level, but as long as you keep it wiped off no problem with the pedal detection system, which tells the bike to engage pedal assist. Definitely get a good helmet!  Top speed via the motor plus pedaling is around 25mph, and it's easy to cruise around at 15mph as a regular thing.  You can ride this bike just as a bike, too, though it's heavy unless you take off the battery, which weighs maybe 5lbs.  Like any regular biking, you need raingear and proper clothing.  This bike works fine with skirts and dresses.  A cargo bike is much better than a regular bike with a trailer.  The balance is better, the handling is better, you're just more contained and compact.  I'd think it would be safer in traffic, though that isn't an issue here.  

The ebike is a good compromise if you need to haul a bunch of stuff around, or if you're a little old or sick and need the extra help occasionally, or if you need to go a bit farther than you are comfortable walking but is a ridiculous distance to use a vehicle for.  It wasn't cheap to buy, but it hasn't taken long to offset the initial cost by not buying fuel for a truck.  
1 year ago
Woman or man, it doesn't really make a difference.  You have to want to make your homestead, and want to do it enough to focus on it with all your heart, in spite of all the well-meaning advice from everyone.  Working alone you have to be safety conscious, just like you do in any setting, but even more.  You have to take the time to use your brains instead of brute strength, and walk away from a problem for a bit if things start to go south.  Dogs are great company and good workers, and I always feel much safer in the woods than the city, personally.  You do have to be ready to work long hours, especially in the beginning, and especially if you have another full or part time job.  Chores by headlamp, before and after work are just part of the routine, and are quite grounding.  When I had small children I treasured my milking time when I had a few minutes of quiet to put two thoughts together consecutively.  Building a homestead alone is an exercise in honestly confronting yourself, as there is no one else to blame when the firewood runs out before winter is over, or something falls apart because you didn't build it properly.  But the other side of that is the wonderful feeling of all the things that you do get right, or try a few times and finally master, or seeing the place thrive and transform toward your vision.  The downside of homesteading alone can be the times when you feel overwhelmed or lose sight of the larger picture and get bogged down in the day-to-day issues.  But unless you are actually a hermit, and have no contact with anyone else, friends and family can be a force toward the good.  Relationships are great-I've had some really good ones--but it's a myth that a person can't be a functional adult and not be in one, and be able to accomplish whatever they set their mind to.  Especially with homesteading, where your project is so self-defined.  Go for it, whatever it is!  To paraphrase someone in the thread, no one is coming to get it done for you.  
1 year ago
I'll preface by saying I tend toward using the "Armstrong method" as a default.  That is to say doing things by hand.  But holy cats, the difference a little horsepower can make is astonishing!  I'm pretty strong, but I'm a small woman, and there are a lot of tasks that are just slightly too much for me.  As I get older I'm more aware of how long small injuries take to heal, like strains from trying to move or lift stubborn things, which it seems like life on the farm is mostly composed of.  At 63, as a single homesteader with cattle, sheep, poultry and a bunch of gardening/forestry projects and building jobs, Plus a full time job off farm, I have my hands full.  I have a BCS tiller, and as someone above says, it's a beast, but a great help.  I don't find it that hard to handle, but I mostly use it to work new ground.  I an leaning toward a compromise solution of getting a small, used, older 4wd tractor like a Kubota B2150, with a loader, mower, pallet forks and a small trailer.  Then I can turn compost, haul stuff around, lift and transport carcasses when I butcher, drill post holes, etc., and use other aids like blocks to lift and position logs or that kind of work. I've borrowed this size tractor and found to be a good scale for the size of my operation.  When I need a bigger machine, there are plenty to rent or trade for the hire of.  The thing about planning to use other people's equipment is that everyone needs to do the same work at the same time of year, so it can be hard to schedule. And I find I end up doing things I really shouldn't be doing, because I don't want to stop and go find someone to come over with the machine and do it.  Those marginal tasks are where I think, for me, the real gain of having a tractor on site will come in.  

If you are contemplating your machinery needs a good place to start is to make some lists of what you actually think would use a machine for.  How many hours a week would you use it?  How much time would it grow moss while parked?  Also, borrow or rent some machines to try out.  I'd never driven a tractor before, and there is a learning curve, for sure.  If you can try out different size machines you can see pretty fast what fits your roads and the work you need to do, and if you aren't fixated on a particular solution when you start this process, you can assess as you go and make a coherent decision.  And you can also talk to the people you meet this way and find out what they think about their equipment, what it's advantages and limitations are, and a whole bunch of things that are useful to consider as you decide how to proceed.
1 year ago
Great thread!  I'm 4'10", but quite strong for an old lady.  I do everything on my farm myself, from carpentry to mechanics to stacking hay, but I do it kind of slow, and in smaller bites than your average bigger person.  I haven't seen the height and reach issue addressed here yet.  Everything from grocery store shelves to normal height carpentry is about six inches out of my reach, which is on the extreme end of things, but many women work in a world sized for taller folks.  As a great tactic to avoid using a ladder all the time, try a really sturdy milk crate. You can move it easily, it's stable, even outside if the ground isn't super sketchy, and you can use it as a mini sawhorse too.  

Having a tool that I'm not fighting makes a huge difference!  I use Makita 18v cordless tools a lot, and they have served me well.  They are very light, and one thing I appreciate about cordless tools is when you hit a dead stop with a drill, say, they don't torque so hard it tweaks the wrist.  Corded tools cause me more wrist problems, I find.  I can't take the batteries off one handed either--my hand span is smaller than they are designed for.  For all tools, especially power  tools, you have to learn to use them safely!  I'm not much for getting help, but do find someone who can show you simple rules like keeping your fingers tucked in when hand sawing, or positioning yourself so if a tool slips you are not in the line of it.  It's really dangerous to use a tool that is dull or that you can't really control.  If you can't rig it up safely, walk away and think about how to do it a different way.  Every time I've hurt myself it's been when I thought I'd "just go ahead and do it this once".  

I cut handles off to the right height on lots of tools and also shave them down to a better diameter.  If your shovel handle is too long it can whack you in the jaw!  Yes, keep tools sharp!  Learn to chainsaw on a small saw first, to learn how to do it.  My neighbor swears that cordless chainsaws are much safer and lighter, but I've yet to try one. I can handle a middling sized saw now, but have a very clear sense of my limits.  On the subject of anything with a pull start, shorten the pull cord so the moment when you have to use force is not when your hand is way up above your head somewhere, but down where you still have some physical advantage.  Electric start tillers and generators are great, but it's good to be able to pull them, when the battery gives out, which it will.  I like Japanese style saws, and a cheaper hardware store version is the Bear Saw.  You can get lots of different blades for them.  I use these for teaching kids carpentry.  It's good to stop and critique your stance and technique once in a while and ask yourself if you are overextending or in a weird position, and if that is just life at the moment, or if the tool is affecting things, or it you could set things up differently.  Smaller people need to use guile and intelligence to get things done rather than relying on brute physical strength--physics is our friend!

Try all tools thoroughly before you buy them.  I have a Stihl weed whacker that is great, except when I need to bump that little button to advance the string.  It turns out that you have to hit it square to the ground, and no matter how I adjust it, the angle is wrong for me and I can bump only one side.  I either find something to stand up on when I bump it, preferably next to a solid thing to hit it on as well, or I have to stop and manually advance the string, which involves shutting off the engine, getting out the pliers (did I mention the span is too wide to take the little case off with my size hand?), pull out some more string, reassemble it, and start it up again.  It makes me furious every time!  But, I've discovered using a blade on it, so much of the problem is solved.  Anyway, this is the machine everyone uses--it's really the standard one, but for shorter people, not so great.  So, before you lay out real cash, find one to work with for a while first.  And yes, I also use scythes, which are a fabulous tool, and are a good example of how having something sized to you personally is so important.  Do lay out the cash for a custom snath--it's very much worth it.  

Moving things like a sheet of plywood, where I am gripping it by just my fingertips when I reach across it, requires planning.  There are special handles for this, which I have yet to try.  I often screw a handhold onto sheet goods, or use a c clamp, if they have to go very far.  I use a lot of blocks and lines and temporary cleats and braces to hold things up, where a taller person would just put them up and hold them while attaching.  I recommend a book called 'Working Alone', by John Carroll,  for a zillion helpful ideas for holding, lifting, and moving things.  They apply to working when smaller too.  I'm sure actual carpenters already know a lot of these tricks, but people like me who are constantly reinventing the world with the materials on hand can find some good ideas in it.  

Mostly, don't give up!  Just keep looking at and trying tools, or modifying them. All things are possible, you just have to find a way around obstacles and not close your mind to possibilities.  If you focus how to get the task done, rather than getting stuck on using a particular method or tool, you take advantage of your brain, which is the most important tool you have.
1 year ago
Great tool!  I got two from Yuri this spring, a small one and a large one, and I love them!  They are versatile and maneuverable in tight places, very sharp, and sturdy enough to get in there and pry things out when necessary.  Very reasonably priced, and if you order them bare and make your own handle, they ship quickly and it's not expensive at all.  Try them--you won't be sorry!
1 year ago