Travis Johnson

+ Follow
since Feb 03, 2016
Travis likes ...
books cat chicken duck rabbit transportation trees woodworking
9th generational farmer, our farm having officially started in 1746, but dates back to the Mayflower. We had the first sheep shearing shed in new England, and always had sheep to 1988. For 20 years we went without sheep until I took over the farm in 1992, reintroduced sheep in 2008, and in 2015 retired at age 42 and started full-time farming. We are still struggling at farming, and probably always will, but the goal is the same...another generation.
Apples and Likes
Total received
In last 30 days
Total given
Total received
Received in last 30 days
Total given
Given in last 30 days
Forums and Threads
Scavenger Hunt
expand Pollinator Scavenger Hunt
expand Pioneer Scavenger Hunt

Recent posts by Travis Johnson

john mcginnis wrote:"It is not fair to retire at age 42" -- Travis

Boy that shows a mindset right there. Travis that is exactly what most would say and its sad. That is a slave at a drone job, consume, get gold watch, watch a few sunsets then drop dead sort of thinking. We have lost the understanding as to the idea that an individual can be a producer and not just a consumer at any age.

"Well, you cannot just not have a job Travis". That was what my own father told me, who incidentally, retired 3 times becaue he just could not quit. In fact we had a retirement party for him on Saturday, and on Monday he was back at his old job, working, just not for money.

But they are filled with consumerism. I make no bones about it, my mother is a shopaholic, the cities she goes to are based on one day of the week it is. (Monday=Belfast, Tuesday=Bangor, Wednesday-Newport, etc). They also have a 5,280 sq ft house. They also have a garages and shops that add up to 8 garages in size. They do buy everything in cash, and are not exactly poor, but it is out of control. They either spend $5500 in oil to heat their house, or 16 tons of pellets!

THAT IS NOT ME. I am a minimalist.

I love our new Tiny Home, a concept my parents just cannot understand. My father is forever thinking about additions for this place, but me...while my wife and I do not have a bedroom, we are trying to devise ways to make our home work without adding on. Small does not have to equate to "cramped", and that is what we are doing as we add creative storage solutions here and there.
10 hours ago
In high school I figured out as a Freshmen, that if I took extra classes instead of study halls, did my homework at home, by Senior Year I would have all my required classes done, and could have an easy year by going to vocational school. So I did that, and while other kids made spit balls and talked during study hall and got into trouble, I was planning for my Senior Year. When my Senior Year came, all the other kids saw me down to Vocational School, taking Welding and Diesel mechanics. They all said what I did was not fair.

But I also planned right out of High School. Compound interest is not hard to calculate, even in those pre-internet days! :-)

Like in High School, I worked every day, if not welding battleships together for the Navy or Hauling Freight on the end of a Tug Boat or on the Locomotive of a Train, I was working on my farm making it better.

Today people say the same thing, "It is not fair to retire at age 42", but that is not the case at all, in both cases they failed to PLAN, where as I strategized. It does not mean surprises will not happen. I would get a job tomorrow...for a little while anyway...if i had to in order to get through a tough time. I am Not painting myself into a corner. But my long term goal will not change.

23 hours ago

john mcginnis wrote:Being on the roller coaster can be fun for a while but you soon realize its all for naught. I asked my wife when 'enough is enough' and her answer was never. I was at the divorce lawyers a month later. She is now my ex. Sometimes the price of FIRE can be very high, anticipate it.

John, I used to be cynical like this as well, and was that way for the same reason you were, my first ex-wife could not see the long term financial plan and wanted out. I re-married again, and she wanted to be just like everyone else. I am married to someone who understands long term strategy a little better.

There is no reason to believe that such a thing will happen, it could, but it depends upon the marriage. I do DivorceCare at my church, and have noted some trends. It would be wrong for me to say this is the reason, or that is the reason, but rarely does a person just quit a marriage, they check out of a marriage longgggggggg before talking to an attorney most of the time. It toom me a long time to understand that fully, sadly well into my second marriage, but now that I got a better grasp of life, have realized my part in my failed marriages, forgiven both of my ex-wives for their part, I am a much happier, and better person for two hard diveorces. (Aren't they all though?)

23 hours ago
It is hard to get around petroleum on the homestead because of all its uses, so these are a few hacks regarding just them:

Have plenty of fuel on hand. My back up generator is diesel powered so I have several hundred gallons in storage, that way if there is an extended power outage, I can have the house lit without having to panic about getting to the store.

I have at least 10-15 gallons of gasoline for chainsaws, lawn mowers, etc.

Bar and Chain Oil? I have not bought that in 20 years. I use spent motor oil, vegtable oil, hydraulic oil...any kind of oil. A bar is $30 for a chainsaw and will last at least 100 cord of wood. That is cheap compared to $10 per gallon bar and chain oil that still does not save your bar from wear. Don't waste your money on it.

Some oils are required. in gearboxes, they need GEAR OIL!

Still, ANY OIL is better than no oil. In a pinch, anything will do. 2 stroke mixing oil for chainsaw gas? I have used 10w-40 before.

WD-40 makes a much better CLEANER than a lubricant

Got a stuck bolt? Try acetone mixed with transmission fluid at 50/50 ratio. You will NEVER use anything else again.

Ivory soap is amazing outside of the bathroom. When I need to drive a screw in deep, I coat the threads in Ivory Soap and my screwgun sends it home.

A friend is a housemover and an 80 x 100 foot barn once moved 8 feet due to the wind alone; the barn was sitting on wooden skids on other wooden skids coated with Ivory soap.

Always check the fluids before starting a machine. I have had vandals, leaks, and surprises sometimes that would have cost me a fortune if I had not.

Full synethic oil is always worth the extra cost. It has everything that is required, and nothing that doesn't unlike mineral oil that has contaminents by its very natural make up

Because of the two reasons above, I seldom change my oil; my equipment is old and still functioning, my cars go to 250,000 miles, and I am not wasting money on oil changes. Run full sythetic oil, check it often, and keep the oil full and the engine will be sounds for years and years.

Grease is cheap, use plenty of it

Cheap grease guns are a lesson in frustration. If they are a pain to use, they are not used. That makes greasing a fitting harder later on...or fixing the worn out bushing. Buy quality grease guns.

1 day ago

I took it as 100,000 birds at once.

We raised 50,000 birds (broilers) as PART of our farm because commercially speaking, that is not many birds at all. Chicken barns around here anyway can reach 200,000 birds, and their might be 4-5 separate barns.

The problem we ran into in Moldova was that they did not feel the manure had value. it "burned the seed", so they dumped manure into landfills. This kept some sheep farmers from cleaning out their barns for over 3 years! I understand deep bedding, but this was not that, this was just not cleaning out the barn! For those that do not have sheep, this is bad as they are prone to respiratory problems due to their high ammonia.

So we had to figure out why they did not spread the manure around.

Well what happened is, being a social country, the person who spread the manure got the same pay no matter if he spread the manure around then he did if he dumped it in one pile. Since that guy could spend less time dumping in one pile then evenly spreading it, that is what he did.  Then the person that planted the corn would just come through, and being one to just plant the seed, and not really caring what the crop did, just punched through the pile of manure. So when the seed hit that pure manure, and literally tons of it, the seed would die. From what the Moldovian's observed the manure "burned the seed", and hence the view that manure was no good and sent to a landfill.

Now we have to realize that a lot of Moldovian's are from other areas, many can only trace their ancestry back to their Grandparent's, so they do NOT have farmer backgrounds. They are just trying to survive! So to really get down to the heart of the problem, we had to change how a lot of things were done, get a few harvests in where the way we did things actually proved to be better.

I need to ascertain some of the issues before I give advice.

For instance, 100,000 birds would constitute a CFL or Concentrated Feed Lot here in the USA, and the farm could not even achieve 100,000 birds without having a written plan in place to disperse the manure generated (a Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan). This leads me to believe that the OP is not from the USA.
1 day ago
I looked into this extensively, and there is four ingredients that is needed for hot composting. Jean Pain only used wood chips because he was a forester and not really trying to create home heat, he was trying to find a creative use for precommercial thinnings that made for proper forestry. He was sound in his thinking, before his time, and very permie in thoughts; get a secondary, every day use from something that should be done (proper forest management) anyway.

But that did not mean he got the ultimate in high heat.

Ideally the mix should be about 50% woody debris and 50% green plant debris. This is what we used on the dairy farm to compost dead cows and the bones would be creamated in about 2 months time. Cow manure is not a good product because like biogas production, by the very nature of the digestive system of the cow, the best parts of the food the cow has been given has been burned off in the form of energy.

But beyond wood and grass (wood chips and hay), you need lots of air, and a LOT of water.

So just make a non compacted pile of hay and wood chips and make sure it is drenched, and she'll cook.

I'll see if I can find a picture of one of my compost piles on fire. They can get that hot!

1 day ago
As a logger, I have to build bridges all the time to cross streams, ravines, and ditches.

My preferred method is with crane mats. They are timber mats made out of beams that are 10 x 10 inches thick and 16 feet long, then bolted together to make 4 foot wide "mats"  Placed side by side, I can have an instant bridge that is 8 feet long and 16 feet long that I can drive a skidder over (16,000 pounds). Most of my bridges are tempoarary so I cart them around from job to job, or from the area of my farm that I formerly logged, to the one I am currently logging. Still, if the nats are made out of hardwood, they will not rot for a very long time. Even if they do rot in 10 years time, they are so cheap to produce, new ones can be made.

Here is a quick video showing how loggers used Timber mats to build a quick 32 foot, 2 span bridge. As you can see by the center pier, all they had to do was build more piers to make even longer bridges.

2 days ago
First I have to know where you are from to understand just what kind of issue is afoot here. I say that because in the United States this is not so much of an issue at all, especially high-nitrogen chicken manure. But from my work in Moldova, it was completely different. In fact to get at the heart of the problem, we had to get right down to preconceived notions on just what manure was. It is not that the Moldovian's were being silly, they just do not have the experience that we have here, and their observations caused them to have poor disposal choices.

I am sensitive to that, but need to know where you are from. I suspect, outside of the USA???
2 days ago