Chad Anderson

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since Feb 20, 2015
Dawson Creek, BC, Zone 2a
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Recent posts by Chad Anderson

I learned this lesson, this year. I butchered the roosters for the sake of the neighbours (who had not complained about the racket) before moving the hens down to the summer pasture. Very shortly thereafter, the raven and his two friends arrived and started stealing eggs. It seems to me that the roosters would have made life very difficult for the ravens.
2 years ago
The molasses metaphor is a good one. I live on a steep east-facing hill (100 foot drop over a 660-foot long 5 acre lot), sheltered from strong prevailing winds from the west (the other side of the hill is British Columbia's first wind farm.) If it's not too windy on a cool fall night, we can actually watch the uphill neighbour's wood smoke roll down our hill a few feet above the ground. Last year, we had about 6 or 7 more weeks of frost-free growing season than family about 270 feet lower, a couple miles away and nearer the bottom of the valley.

But even a few inches makes a difference as the cold air rolls down the hill. I noted severe frost damage on tomato branches that fell over the side of 10-inch raised beds, several weeks before the tops of the plants finally got killed.

This year, I'm going to try to create some of those night-time "frost fences" to channel cold air away from some garden beds. The trick on an east-facing hill, is to design them as daytime sun scoops, and night-time frost fences. Basically, I'm trying to create hot, still air all day long for some heat-loving pumpkins, melons, etc., and trap that heat there as much as possible, in thermal mass and undisturbed air, overnight.

I've just ordered some cheap min/max fridge thermometers to do some experiments with some microclimates around the yard in the spring, to guess at fall conditions with similar daylight hours, when the evil frost returns to shut us down.
2 years ago
If they have continuous access to grain, crumble or pellets, maybe they're not hungry enough? Picky eaters of all species are cured by a lack of options. Maybe only put their favorite stuff out at dusk, so they have a good appetite to put them to work on scraps and compost during daylight hours. Chickens, like my children, more readily recognize vegetables as food in the absence of sweets!
2 years ago
Harvesting cattail leaves for livestock bedding in winter is convenient if you live far enough north! We've had plenty of cold weather and the ice is plenty thick in the shallow cattail habitat of our sewage lagoon to go trim some well-dried cattails for poultry bedding. I used a bow saw, which effortlessly zipped through the stems a few inches above ice level. By volume, it's a low-effort and quick harvest.

It was easy to pull them up through the ice, too, but then you get the fragrant reminder of unfrozen anaerobic decomposition. Hopefully, trimming a few inches above the ice level after a quite a few weeks of dry, sunny cold ensures a level of sanitation suitable for a chicken coop.

I piled them up on a 8x12 tarp, and pulled the ends together and it made a fast, bulky but almost weightless bale for transport.

Given the huge air cells inside dried cattail leaves, I can't imagine a warmer bedding. (But, for the same reason, I doubt its utility as a fuel.) Time will tell how absorbent and durable it is over the course of the winter - and whether it contributes to or minimizes odors in a deep (usually frozen) litter. At a minimum, I expect the litter to be well oxygenated top to bottom, due to the air cells in the leaves.
2 years ago
There are a lot of variables at play, so I doubt anything but "wait and see" experimentation will answer this. I live in northern Canada between Rocky Mountain foothills and prairie, and in our case, 4 inch vents don't seem to be drop the temperature early enough or keep it low enough long into February / March / April, even though nighttime temperatures are well, well below freezing. Some of my variables: ours touches an uninsulated foundation of the house (soon to be insulated), and the vents are not in particularly exposed locations, and not aligned with the prevailing winds.

If it's near enough to the house, a $15 battery-powered weather station with a wireless transmitter is a handy way to monitor the temperature in the root cellar. Plug the vents, partially or completely, if the weather's getting too cold.

I'm going to be using a timer outlet to run an in-duct fan on the vent at night - with the addition of an thermostat to shut off the fan before everything is frozen solid. (Inkbird ITC-308.) With the fan, timer and thermostat, I think I should be able to keep the place at ideal temperature well into April and probably even May, given our cool nighttime temperatures. It's a little too high-tech for my liking, but should keep us in root vegetables until we're planting next year's crop. If it works well, I'll have a 12 x 14 foot refrigerator for a microscopic fraction of the electric bill that would otherwise require.

(I THINK you could use two of the Inkbird thermostats in series, to run the fan anytime it's cooler outside than in the root cellar, but I can trust overnight cool temperatures, and already have the timer.)
2 years ago
Do the proceeds from your stuff on Scubbly get into your PayPal account right away? Are there any downloads can I buy that will help this weekend? I sure appreciate all that you've given to the world, Paul, and I want to start paying back!

...but I'm a Canadian hoping to avoid that international shipping if I can. If there are no downloads that meet the need, I do see some alternatives in the list...