Michael Grantz

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since May 18, 2014
Forest, VA
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Recent posts by Michael Grantz

I'm working on designing a HUGE cob oven for small commercial bread production here in Forest (just outside of Lynchburg VA). Our hope is to get building in the next 2 months or so. It will involve lots of cob mixing of course, so if you are in the area and want to check it out or volunteer to get some hands-on-the-oven experience, please hit me up!
3 years ago
cob
This winter we fed our ducks fermented feed on a daily basis. We get a non gmo layer feed from nearby and would ferment one of the ducks' two daily rations. To start the starter, I mixed a ration of feed, a cup of ripe sourdough starter, and enough water so that the mix is the texture of wet cement after the grains have absorbed the water. Stir the mix in a 5 gal bucket, put on the lid, and Wait a day or so depending on the temperature, then feed the ducks about 75% of the mash. Use the same bucket, and add a ration of feed and water. Repeat!

In a few days the starter was going hard, and the feed smelled a delicious sour just like dough! I'm sure it unlocked nutrients for the ducks and helped them digest. However, I might be cautious to not feed them too much fermented food. It's a low pH and my guess is that their digestive system wouldn't want acid food ALL the time. So we fed them every other meal this way.

I think this is better suited to the winter, when cold temps make mold and funky flavors unlikely. You have to adjust your timing depending on the weather if you ferment outdoors, meaning you might have to do 2 or 3 buckets at a time during the cold parts.

As for other options, you might look into black soldier fly larvae for protein. Ducks supposedly like borage, so we are growing some they can eventually graze. I'm sure they would love almost any seed humans eat if it's sprouted. Best of luck!
3 years ago
Does anyone have experience combining pigs with ducks on pasture? I have 33 layers and want to get 2 pigs some time in the next year or so.

Would there be conflict over water or food? Would electric poultry netting keep both ducks and pigs inside? We live in a suburban environment next to a busy road so we need to be sure the pigs won't get out.

Any other ideas on breeds, what age to get them, or other pigs tips is welcome!
3 years ago
Wow! It sounds like there is so much interest in cob construction, but a real lack of knowledge and experience in VA. My partner and I are starting a small farm here in Bedford county, just west of Lynchburg. I bake sourdough bread for market and would love to build a badass cob oven to make real wood-fired hearth loaves (right now I'm using a home electric oven). We built a small cob oven 2 years ago in a very rainy part of Tennessee. The oven is still holding up solid, but I haven't found any new outlets to learn cob construction.

There was talk earlier on the thread about having a workshop in the area, and we do have the space and amenities here at our farm where we could host a good number of people for 3-7 days. We could build an extra-large oven but also discuss construction principles, techniques, and other applications of cob besides ovens. Would any of you have an interest in planning or attending something like this, say this summer or fall? Excitement! But still just an idea at this point, it's encouraging to hear about your all's projects in central VA.

We certainly don't have the experience to lead the class, so any suggestions of who could teach cob, maybe someone based in the Asheville area? Look forward to hearing your all's feedback on this idea.
3 years ago
cob
Thanks for this post, John! At our farm in Roanoke, VA we are also starting to put in our summer crops. Going to try peanuts in clay soil (but with plenty of organic matter has been added) as well as chipilin, an edible nitrogen fixing shrub popular in Central America. I'm thinking we will try planting this with a heavy feeder like squash and see if the nitrogen can be shared with the companion. We are also trying a method of no-till dry beans used by Salamander Springs Farm, which in simplest terms involves broadcasting bean seeds and then scything a cover crop (rye and clover for us) over top of these seeds. Planting our 3 sisters starting this week or next, the first patch is covered with rye straw soaked with compost tea and the latest spring rain.

A few questions for you:

Would it be worth planting pigeon peas this late into the season?
I haven't heard many complaints about squash bugs in our area, but if I do run across them, have any tips besides planting later in the season? We also have that option in our climate, so maybe we will need a second round of squash starting in june.
4 years ago
I'm at an urban permaculture farm in Roanoke, VA and writing to see if anyone has experience with or knowledge about growing Chipilin (Crotalaria longirostrata) as an annual in temperate climates. I learned about this plant in Guatemala, where it is used as a perennial nitrogen fixer and edible shrub. Also a traditional ingredient in Pupusas from El Salvador! It's been pretty hard for me to find info on growing this, the best I've found is: http://www.growingmagazine.com/print-5120.aspx

I have some heathy, young chipilin plants but am not sure the best way to grow this as an annual, can anyone help me out?

A number of questions:

How should I care for it besides putting it in decent soil and keeping it well-watered?
Could it become invasive?
Why is seed so expensive?
Will I be able to save seed in USDA zone 7?

Thanks y'all!

4 years ago