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D Nikolls

pollinator
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since Feb 18, 2015
Victoria BC
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Recent posts by D Nikolls

I've got an 8"chipper on my 50hp tractor. Would advise against it. Too much money, too slow, capacity too low, hp requirement too high... can't use tractor to feed it...

Your smaller tractor would be even less satisfactory.

Would rent a huge one once a year if redoing, or in some cases maybe hiring a skidsteer with a forestry mulcher would be worth it.


For the rest it all depends on the job at hand. I am very fond of my subsoiler, the post pounder is infrequently essential, and the heavy duty hitch/log skidder sees more time on the tractor than anything else...
34 seconds ago
Grinder is fine if you have good access.

If there is enough thread showing, you can grind flats on the thread, and get a wrench on that to stop it spinning as you loosen the nut. You will probably need to clean up the threading around the flats with a hacksaw or the like, but the nut ought to still pass over. Usually more fuss than it's worth.

I have used a metal cutting blade in a hackzall to get bolts that a grinder cannot reach. Makes less of a mess, too.

Best tool is patience. If it's not an emergency I try and go do something else and let it soak in diesel mixed with ATF for a good while, repeated applications.. then try heat in moderation before picking up the saw or grinder..
9 hours ago
I would think that trialing as many as possible would be a great starting point. You might decide on the 'best' one after much research, just to discover it does not thrive for you...

I hope to experiment more with this eventually. So far I have tried amaranth inside the fence, and buckwheat and fall rye outside as cover crops. The amaranth performed quite poorly, and the rye and buckwheat were utterly destroyed by deer... so not a lot of data from the first year!


What are your plans for harvest, processing, storage?
1 day ago
There are some other options to consider... light-clay straw, hempcrete... if you really like the idea of mass inside insulation in the walls, maybe earthbag with insulatiion-filled bags on the exterior?

I am working through this decision process myself..

I have to believe that strawbale your friend saw had some serious design and/or build errors. Armoring against rodents is not optional. A fibreglass filled wall will also become a rat colony in no time, if they have any way to get in..

While it would technically be possible to enclose a cob house in another insulating structure, it doesn't sound like a great idea to me given the time involved, and the amount of inside space consumed by the cob. I would rather add thermal mass to foundation/floors and maybe a cob bench(rmh?), and rely otherwise on the insulation.
1 week ago

Travis Johnson wrote:

D Nikolls wrote:I really don't like gas, compared to diesel... but fuel handling is indeed a thing with the larger equipment.

A lot of pickups around here have a tidy-tank permanently taking up 1/5 to 1/2 of the back. I don't want to use up that much space permanently, so hoping to mount one on steel skids with a lifting point so it can easily be pulled out...

Until I find the right tank, I fill 4 jerry-cans, totalling 20 gallons of diesel, pretty much every single time I am in town.. it has definitely gotten old.



Every fuel company delivers diesel fuel. They take their trucks to construction sites all the time, they will swing by your house and fill up your tank for sure. Just buy a 275 gallon oil tank from Home Depot, or find a used one and buy that, and have your fuel delivered. I do that, and have a hand cranked fuel transfer pump to move fuel from tank to tractor. It takes 30 cranks of my hand pump to fill my tractor...

You might even be able to get away with a few 55 gallon drums. Here we cannot because the fuel companies do not like to dump diesel fuel into 55 gallon drums, but we used to do it that way.





My driveway is not something a fuel truck will risk, and while this will work for fueling the tractor once the driveway is fixed, much of it goes to the excavator, which I am not willing to drive back to the shop area for refuelling...

There are some pretty tight regulations about the tanks that fuel can be stored in up here, so legal tanks are not cheap.

Otherwise a better idea for sure..
1 week ago

Dan Boone wrote:What kind of wireworm issues did you actually have?  And how certain are you that wireworms were your culprit?

I'm only asking because of the University of Virginia Cooperative Extension Service pamphlet I linked to in another thread that seems to suggest wireworms usually don't go after root crops except in heavily cultivated/sprayed fields where they can't get the other insects and weed roots they prefer to eat.

Now if we could only train the little worms to read the pamphlets...

The way I read that pamphlet, the more cover-crop type things you interplant between your garlic rows, the better.  But it's book learnin', not experience.



Interesting link, thanks!

I had a lot of chewed on bulbs. The damage looked exactly like pictures of wireworm damage, and I found wireworms around the bulbs, and a couple actually in bulbs,  between cloves.

The potatoes, planted nearby, had similar and even more extensive damage, and I found wireworms embedded in a few at time of harvest. I sent half the potatoes straight to a neighbour for their chickens, and only about 60% of the better half are edible, once diced and many hidden gnarly parts cut out.

The soil in this area has definitely been heavily disturbed between the previous owner clearing, stumping and burning, and then me cleaning up the remaining mess, but there were plenty of weeds quite nearby and in the paths, and the area in question is only a few thousand square feet with many acres of rough pasture adjacent.

I am pretty confident this particular patch has never been sprayed, and never been cultivated, as it had big firs and cedars until a few years ago.

I would guess that I probably have some other pest issues too, especially in the taters, but a problem ID thread will have to wait as I can't post pics right now, connection too poor..
1 week ago
Last fall I planted garlic, in an area that was previously(prior to my purchase in 2018) a huge burnpile, built by inept dozer operators who also scraped most of the topsoil into the mess. Before that, perhaps 8 years ago, it was forest. Last summer I pulled the 8ft tall broom and the big stump remnants with the excavator, sorted through the remaining mess with tractor/subsoiler, scraped it roughly level, and went through 3x with a mattock getting the smaller stuff out, including lots of barbed wire and scraps of old steel.

The soil has obviously taken a beating through all this.


Turns out, I have a LOT of wireworms.

I attempted to prep an area for this falls garlic by planting buckwheat as a deterrent, but the deer got it all. So, the garlic is now in the ground anyhow, about 20ft away from where it was last year. Same area/soil type, and there is no reason to expect less wireworm issues.

I am building stone piles for snake habitat... but don't really expect this to help much for this round.


I had to plant the garlic with the aid of the tractor, as my hands don't let me run a pickaxe for days on end any more. It is pretty spread out as I used a subsoiler to rip the furrows; 3 furrows per row 1ft apart, with cloves about every 5.5" within the furrows. Between the rows are paths about 30" wide.

I am tempted to try buckwheat again in the spring, as the area is nominally deerproof at this point. But, how far does the deterring effect spread from the buckwheat?

Will planting stuff to deter wireworm in the paths make my issue worse?

I am also going to try some bait crops between furrows and between rows, not sure what yet.


Anyone used these strategies, or others?
1 week ago

James Whitelaw wrote:

Richard Cleaver wrote:We use a twin-wheeled BCS 740 walk-behind diesel, on 20 acres to make hay, dig swales and ditches, plough, chip wood, mow, grade, and move tools and stuff around the site on a trailer.  This is all great but my favourite bit is the 0.13 gals p/h



This! One of the things I dislike about the idea of having a full size tractor is then I am dealing with full size fuel stuff. Go on the tractor forums and you see all sorts of strategies for moving or storing fuel, so not needing to keep a lot around is good for us. Ethanol free is available nearby. That and I finally found a fuel can that works reliably w/o spillage.



I really don't like gas, compared to diesel... but fuel handling is indeed a thing with the larger equipment.

A lot of pickups around here have a tidy-tank permanently taking up 1/5 to 1/2 of the back. I don't want to use up that much space permanently, so hoping to mount one on steel skids with a lifting point so it can easily be pulled out...

Until I find the right tank, I fill 4 jerry-cans, totalling 20 gallons of diesel, pretty much every single time I am in town.. it has definitely gotten old.
1 week ago

Ben Zumeta wrote:I have to ask, if the primary purpose of a very expensive piece of equipment is to mow, why not get some grazers and electric fencing and let them do the work? Seems like the maintenance costs of the tractor alone would be greater than the fencing and even feeding of an LGD or paying a herder. I have used both tractors and excavators to do earthworks, and for most projects that I would associate with permaculture I’d say a rented excavator is more efficient and cost effective. Of course a neighbor helping with their tractor is an offer you can’t refuse, but I do start to wonder how many zeros are on y’alls budgets for heavy equipment and How that effects financial flexibility.



For me, it is a roll of the dice. My tractor is middle aged bought at 3000 hours, the excavator came with almost 13k, god only knows what the 1971 dozer has on it.

I am gambling that my time plus this equipment can accomplish more than that xx,000 would buy contracted out. What breaks along the way, and how much I can fix myself, will be the main determinate of success by this metric plus the used equipment market!

Doing it this way, I am learning about my property as I go, and have a lot of flexibility about what I do, how much, when...

I do some brush mowing; only goats would have a prayer at eating the stuff I am mowing, and LGD would not be optional. I am confident given the dispersed nature of the stuff I mow that I am saving time and money doing it by tractor for now. Plus, I am not risking my fruit and nut saplings near goats without 2 layers of Really Good Fence.
1 week ago