Eugene Howard

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since Jan 06, 2016
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Recent posts by Eugene Howard

One additional thing, I think a fence of the type I describe is best used to confine birds to a larger area. I have never tried using it as something like a tractor fence  to keep a large number of birds inside a relatively small confined area. For that, poultry netting, which is as much a physical barrier as a mental one.....might work better. At least until they start flying over it.
1 year ago
The process shown in John's youtube is the basic concept.........except you use 2, 3 or even 4 strands. I prefer this type of post......

Not endorsing that brand or source, only showing the type I use. There are 3 or 4 outfits making them, and they are often sold at farm and home stores, or anywhere locally where electric fence components are sold.

First strand is always the bottom clip.....which will place it about 5" off the ground. I then space the posts at about 20 foot intervals on relatively level land. Closer if area is undulating. You want to take out any rises or dips, to maintain that 5" gap between the wire and soil. Depending on how secure you want to be, keep adding additional strands. I have never used more than the bottom 4, which means the top wire is only 20" or so off the ground. Most folks can simply step over it....yet it still works.  For short runs or small pens and temp fences, I'd use the poly rope or poly tape, which can be tightened by hand. Even an acre or more can be worked by hand. For larger areas of more or less permanent fencing, switch to 17 gauge aluminum wire, with same step in posts, but use braced corners. Wire has to be tightened by using strainers.

Predators encounter these type of physical fences all the time and simply crawl under or through them. They will try to do the same with these fences. Goal is to have the animal make contact with the is NOT and I repeat NOT a physical barrier. It works because the animal makes contact with the fence and gets the holy crap kicked out of them, leave and never come back.

What also seems strange is that such a fence will also work to keep the chickens in. I have always trained mine with just the single bottom wire. They will walk up to it, step on it or try to crawl under it and get zapped on either their foot or comb........and it lights them up as well. After one or two shocks, they will run around and forage up next to it, but always keeping eye on where it is. After then have been trained on the single wire, then add the extra wires for predators.

In both cases, it speeds things along if you bait the fence. Hang a strip of raw bacon over a fence and clip it down with a clothes pin. Predators will sniff or lick it......let out a yelp and head for the horizon. Chickens.......either let them find it on their own or bait under it with scratch.

1 year ago
Once a person has the fence charger, and a basic understanding of how electric fences work, a better alternative to using the poultry netting is to build your own fences from components, such as poly tape, poly rope or electric fence wire. With components, you can scale it up or down for size and it offers more flexibility as to where you place your corners, etc. Even a simple 2 or 3 strand system will work to keep chickens in and predators out.
1 year ago
For now, we have covered the fallow area of this garden with clear plastic sheathing to "cook" it out. (soil solarization). Will cover the balance of it as the limited garden produce is harvested and tops pulled.

The notion that it might be edible may account for it's spread. Bad idea, as nothing can compete with it, so any garden area infested with it becomes a barren mono-culture wasteland.
Finally got a chance to borrow and use the Earthway seeder. I was surprised to discover I like it better. The build quality.....if measured by the heft of the no where near what the Hoss is, but for me, it is all about accurately metering out the seed. In my case, the Earthway was head and shoulders above what I was able to achieve with the Hoss. On the green beans, I was watching it drop and it was flawless. And when they came up, the stand was even. Same with the sweet corn. By comparison, while watching the Hoss, I would see some seeds spin around 3 or 4 revolutions before dropping and that was after I had already enlarged the holes. The rows planted by the Hoss, when they came up, have included a large mix of skips and doubles. In very few places was the stand even. Worse, that was the case also with peas and a couple other crops I tried like spinach. Have not tried the Earthway on either of those, but plan to.

So for now, if I was picking one over the other, I'd take the Earthway if it was even money. Still plan to keep working with both, but for a seeder for a small home garden planting green beans, sweet corn, peas, etc., the Earthway looks hard to beat. In my humble opinion, the vertical plates do a much better job of evenly picking up and dropping the seeds in the elongated slot above the feeder tube. That is where 100% of the difference lies.

PS: I should mention the unit I borrowed is an older one. Green wheels and red seed hopper. Old enough the sweet corn plate has 4 slots to plant 9" spacing. It may be different than the newer ones.
3 years ago
Does anyone know if chickens will eat quickweed? If so, they might be the answer I'm looking for. Pile in a bunch and let them grub it into the ground. Avery single sprout.

I know where there is a garden that has become infested the stuff. It is mostly fallow now as nothing can compete with it, so garden gets tilled every week or so in an attempt to thin the horrible infestation of quickweed. Nothing will grow with it around anyway, so might as well till it to kill it. But if the birds will eat it, we might have a better option.
Thanks for the reply. Your experience with the HOSS seems to mirror mine. I just need to gain more experience with it. In the past few days, I planted my third wave of sweet corn along with some pole beans and bush beans. For the beans, I spent some time fiddling with the plates to get the right hole sizing and it seemed to help. I am wondering if it may help to enlarge the holes more than you might think is needed. On the beans, I noticed two things. The round holes running horizontal are actually pretty good at sizing your beans, allowing the smaller seeds to drop and the larger seeds.......those a bit longer than the hole is, to skip, and in a short while, all you have left are the large sized seeds. So maybe make the holes large enough they all fall in and take the doubles to avoid the skips? But I also had a couple doubles wedge in the holes and refused to drop. Those made a couple laps around the pool before they fell out. This seems to be in issue with all seeders with horizontal plates that feed by gravity. Time will tell and I hope to post some photos of my stands once they come up. I would already have done that, except my last planting of sweet corn never made it. We had nearly 10 inches of rain on it right after it was planted, and while it may have survived that, it didn't survive the field mice, which dug up every kernel just as they were starting to sprout.

But again, my observation was that as long as I slowed down to give the seed time to drop into the feed tube, all went well. By slow I mean at least 1/4th the speed of my normal walking pace. Maybe slower. I watch the plate holes as they come past the drop tube. If they are loaded coming out, seed didn't drop. So I slow down until it does. No big deal. That is such a small price to pay for the overall speed and accuracy of planting with one of these things. The other thing I do is to make sure both sides of the brush are loaded with seed. That way it has two chances of filling a hole. I have observed that the first side empties first, so that is a good thing, as two shots at filling the hole assures fewer skips.

On your experience with the Earthway, that too mirrors what I've read. The ironic thing is that in the world of high tech farming, those vertical rotating seed plates are used almost exclusively as the most accurate method of metering seed. We are talking corn and soybean planters that cost well over $100,000 in which vast sums have been spent on research to achieve near perfectly spaced skips and no doubles.......and they use vertical plates like those on the Earthway to do it. Although most modern planters use air pressure to pick up then hold the seed, Kinze pioneered the use of these with a mechanical system that used only brushes to load the seed. It seems like such a system should work on these smaller planters too. Of course the commercial guys are only seeding a handful of crops. These garden seeders are expected to do it all. This is clearly in evidence with the Jang, which uses all those drums........they may offer 20 or more, plus an assortment of cogs for the chains.

I now have access to an Earthway and hope to give it a try. Curious to see what happens. Am also curious about both Jang seeders.......but for now, I'm not curious enough to pop for one!
3 years ago
Not sure if this is the place for it (vs. beginning garden section) but most likely followers of this forum will be able to contribute more.

Went from a small garden last year to a much bigger one this year. Not for market, but for personal use. Fresh produce, canning and freezing, plus stuff to give away to friends and family.

For some reason I got the idea in my head that I needed a garden seeder. Had never used one of any type, so did the usual stuff......checked out online reviews, youtubes, etc. and in the end, purchased a Hoss Wheel Hoe package with the seeder attachment. So far, I've not used the thing in "hoe" mode......only the seeder.

First impression? Again, the only thing I have to compare to (other than a farm tractor pulling a corn planter or grain drill) is digging rows and seeding by hand. So the first thing I noticed is how fast this thing plants. As in about 10X the length of row in about 1/10th the time. If you were only doing a couple 50' rows, you could do that OK with a hoe and go. But before you could get 1/2 the first row laid out, you would be done with the planter. On the other hand, if you are only planting a 10' to 20' row something for a small home garden, it's hardly worth the effort to get the thing out. Just scratch out a row and go. The point being I don't know how large of a garden a person needs to justify one of these planters of any type, but it would have to be on the large side of a personal garden. The average person growing for table produce from a home garden doesn't need one. And even if you do have one, it's only going to work for seeded stuff. Transplants like tomatoes are still done by hand. BTW, total area I'm now planting is about 40' wide x 100' long. Not all of it is seed crops.

Second issue was the first time I used it was early in the spring when I attempted to plant peas in an area freshly broken out from grass sod, so it still had a lot of grass root clumps. Since this has a fixed opener vs. disk openers, it would constantly drag up clumps of root wads and clog up. Lesson learned is it won't plant in a trashy seed bed. A planter with disk openers might, but not with the fixed opener. Lesson learned was these things need a clean, well prepared seed bed to work well. I also tried using it for a short row of spinach. By short, I mean a single 20 foot row. I screwed up somehow, as almost none of it came up. By comparison, the stuff I planted by hand is about ready to start picking. That was discouraging.

Third issue is I found the seed metering on my Hoss to be less than precise. When you study how these work, the Hoss and perhaps the Yang TD-1 seeder have horizontal rotating plates. On the Hoss, the seed drops into the seed plate hole, which then rotates over the drop hole, seed drops by gravity through to the ground where it is buried. For this to work, seed hole has to be large enough the seed is a loose fit or it will bind and stay with the plate past the drop hole for another revolution. So with hole large enough to assure all seed drops, what I'm finding is I get a few double drops if the seed is irregular on the small side. No worries.......I do this by hand now and then too. But a related issue is the seed has to have time to drop. It is only over the drop tube for a short period of time. So what I learned was I had to slow way down to give seed a chance to drop. Accuracy went up when I did, meaning no skips. Still plants way fast, but not as fast as I could walk. So for better accuracy, SLOW DOWN. I plan to try this again on spinach and will SLOW DOWN for it next time.

Also, for really small seeds like carrots and lettuce, these are nearly too small for use with mechanical planters unless you go to pelleted seed, which is almost impossible to find locally. Most of that has to be found mail order and is limited as to variety.

Other than that, I've had no issues with it. Covers well. Press wheel works well. Depth is easily adjustable. And it's easy to push. Actually, it is a joy to use. I think once it and I come to an understanding of proper depth, correct plate size and SPEED for the crop being planted, I'll be OK. I could double or triple what I"m doing now and it would be no more effort as far as planting is concerned. Harvesting and what to do with it all would become the major problems after that.

But since my experience with the HOSS, I've also looked at the Earthway 1001-B seeder to see how they compare. Not the quality, but how they work. On the Earthway and the Jang JP-1 seeders, the seed plates rotate on a vertical axis. The Earthway seed plates have cups that pass through the seed reservoir and as they rise up, pick up the seed, which then passes a long slot near the top of the plate's rotation where the seed has ample time to drop into the elongated slot behind the plate, then tumble into the drop tube. Some say though, you have to "lean" the planter over to the right to improve seed pickup and drop. Again, seed fills the cups in the plate from the side as the cups dip through the seed reservoir. The plates on the Jang JP seeders are not really plates at all......more like rotating drums, with depressions on the edge of the drum for seeds to fall into. On this version of the Jang, the seed reservoir rides on top of the edge of the drum to there is nearly 100% assurance the seed will drop into the dip or depression in the drum and pass on towards the drop hole.  On the small seed sizes, these are said to work so well that planting speed is not an issue with them. There are videos with users pushing those at almost a run. The Jang TD  seeders have the horizontal plate similar to the HOSS but have a bit more of a slot to work with.

So for cost, Earthway is entry level around $100. Hoss in the middle and Jang and similar way, way on up there at $600 to $700 and up, depending on options and how many of the expensive seed wheels you need. Hard for a home grower to justify a Jang, but if money is no object.............

Also, on the Jang, the JP is said to be for small seeds. The TD is for larger stuff like corn, peas, beans, etc.

Anyway, I would be interested to hear what other's experience is and how they are using their planters. Also, how much area you are planting.

3 years ago
To the OP Dan, hopefully you have it figured out by now, but if not...........

2nd photo showing horizontal bracing is the right one. Diagonal wire runs from bottom of corner to top of brace. That way when you tension the diagonal (which BTW, I'd use two loops of #9 wire), the wire pulls from the base of the corner post to the top of the brace post, which is then drawn hard over to towards the corner. The fulcrum of the lever that is the brace post is the ground at the base of the brace post. So when you tension the fence, if the top of the corner tries to move in the direction of the pull, it pushes against the top of the brace post, which then pulls against the base of the corner, which is to say it is pushing against itself. Done this way, it can't lean, it can only scoot sideways, which it won't do. Get the brace wire diagonal backwards and the leverage reverses and tensioning the fence helps collapse the whole thing in the direction of the pull since now both the fence and diagonal wire are both pulling against the top of the corner.

The hole for the corner and the brace is dug to at least a foot or so below the frost line, so in NW Missouri, about 4 feet. When setting the post, you tamp it it, which may take almost as long as digging the hole. More if you use an auger to dig the hole. Tamping is not simply kicking the dirt back in the hole, tamping is compressing the dirt to a level that is the same or greater than what exists in the soil surrounding the hole. A tamping rod is narrow at the bottom to fit all the way down and a narrow end will keep poking holes in the dirt. Start tamping by kicking in a few inches of dirt, then start tamping.  Keep tamping, tamping and tamping until it all does the tighten up. Then kick in a little more dirt and do that again. Keep working around and around the hole, raising the level of compressed soil surrounding the post a few inches at a time, all the way to the top.

Get yourself some hedge post corners and hedge brace posts (hedge will not rot), set them this way, and they will still be there long after you are gone.
3 years ago
To the OP Tim, do you currently have any of these animals, and if so, what problems are you having?

Or, are you now thinking of keeping animals, and for now are anticipating what problems you may have?

For 5 acres, the least expensive, fast, easy and effective fence you can have is an electric fence. A really hot electric fence. These are psychological barriers, not physical ones. Wild animals encounter physical barriers all the time and easily get past them like they are not even there. They don't understand the source of the pain coming from an electric fence, but do understand the pain itself and quickly learn to avoid it. That applies to just about all of them.......all varmints large and small.

Normally electric fences are thought of as a tool to keep livestock in. Properly constructed, they become a perimeter zone of protection that stops movement of animals in or out.

3 years ago