James Freyr

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since Mar 06, 2017
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James is in his forties, is an active homesteader who is married, and has no children aside from five cats. He is a graduate of The American Brewers Guild and while he no longer brews beer he does dabble in the fermentations of food and dairy. He resides in the state of Tennessee where he runs a small farm. An avid gardener for more than twenty years, he also raises chickens and cows, has a few fruit trees and hopes to add bee keeping, pigs and goats to the farm. When he has free time he enjoys hikes through the woods and reading books.
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Recent posts by James Freyr

I made another birdhouse as a Christmas gift for my wife this year. Birdhouses are generally what I make for her for Christmas. I got the inspiration and design from the book Natural Birdhouses by Amen Fisher. The log I used is red oak, and next time I will use a soft wood species. I used a forstner bit in a drill press to remove the bulk of the material and now I need to look into resharpening forstner bits. I then used a chisel to clean things up a bit. Some pieces of pine bark and a few pine cones dress up the exterior along with a cedar branch. It looks pretty good now, but I imagine in a few short years the pine cones and flakes of pine bark will be in poor condition from the elements. I do think mushroom of some sort, perhaps turkey tails will grow from the oak if I put this birdhouse in a shady location.

1 month ago
How about a visit to local farmers markets and chat up the farmers. Many market vendors are small scale with gardens under an acre and they may be interested in small quantities of what you have to offer instead of truckloads.

1 month ago
For those of you out there who've had subscriptions to magazines and saved all the issues, then years later no longer want them, what did you do? Do libraries want such things? I had subscriptions to homesteading magazines such as Grit, Cappers Farmer, Mother Earth News, etc from some time in the last ten years and I want to find a new home for them. I feel like they contain a lot of quality information for the niche that folks here on Permies are interested in. I really don't want to toss them into the recycling bin. Is anyone here interested in them?

1 month ago

Before I comment, I want to briefly add a quote from Phil's post above:

Phil Stevens wrote: ... if done correctly.

Phil's post above is excellent, and I just want to play on it. I raise cows, not sheep, but they're similar as they mostly graze ground growing forages and browse a little shrubbery and tree leaves. One difference they have in direct impact to forages is cows only have one row of front teeth, and they pull forage into their mouth with their tongue, then bite and pull. Sheep have two rows of front teeth and can bite closer to the soil surface than a cow. This means sheep have the potential to overgraze a paddock worse than cows, even possibly denuding a soil.

Like Phil's post, it's all about management, and keeping the animals on the move. Some say it takes three days for a grazed grass to begin regrowth, and that's the number I use on my farm. During the growing season, my cows are in a paddock for three days, then I move them. Always. Even if there is what appears to the eye to be ungrazed grasses which some of my neighbors may interpret as "wasteful". It is anything but that. By me moving my cows, all the forages in a paddock get to rest, allowing time to not only regrow above the surface of the soil, but to also store carbohydrate energy in their root systems for the next grazing. Grass regrowth energy comes from stored energy in the roots, and it's very important to allow time (generally three weeks but it varies) for a grass to build back up the energy stores in their roots after a grazing. Failure to do this results in weakened grasses or in a worst case scenario from repeated overgrazing is grass die-out. Nature will rapidly fill the void of dying grasses with other things, sometimes things that grazing animals don't want to graze. Rotational grazing done correctly, which is allowing for rest, stimulates grasses and other forages such as legumes to spread and improves pastures.

On my farm, I move my cows every 3 days, and it is usually 4-5 weeks before the cows have run a full circle circuit and are back grazing the first paddock again. In the spring when cool-season grasses grow rapidly, my cows can't keep up so I mow to keep the grasses tender and higher in protein instead of letting them get stemmy and go to seed. In the summer, I don't need to mow the warm-season grasses to maintain anything.

There is another benefit to this type of rotational grazing I will mention, and it breaks the parasite cycles in grazing animals. Many adult parasites come out in animal poop, lay eggs in the soil, where they hatch and then the larvae crawl up grasses and other forages waiting to be ingested by a cow, repeating the cycle. If too much time lapses, the larvae die, thus breaking the cycle. Similar things with sheep too, but may I suggest looking into sheep parasite cycles to make sure rotational grazing is done accordingly to break those parasite cycles as I am not familiar with sheep parasites.

Paul Ladendorf wrote:With only 5 sheep per acre will they build the soil back up without other inputs?

It will build up the soil biology, but it will not increase soil mineral content. Soil biology is what makes soil minerals available for plants to use, so increasing soil biology can help make available minerals in the soil that are otherwise less available in lower biological numbers.

 I assume I'll have to supplement their diet heavily.

Maybe not. I do suggest they have a mineral appropriate for sheep available free choice.

2 months ago
I used to have a molar sensitive to cold and hot and it progressively worsened. Back when it was bothering me and I still went to the dentist, he wanted to sell me a crown, and I declined. Now it doesn't bother me, and I can chew a cold apple right out of the fridge. There are several changes I made in my life that I contribute to the healing of my teeth such as eating actual food*, but what I consider most important and having the most direct effect is stopping the use of commercial toothpastes. Most toothpaste contains glycerin, and glycerin leaves a coating on ones teeth, preventing the bodies natural ability to remineralize teeth. Years ago I switched to brushing with a 50/50 by volume blend of baking soda and diatomaceous earth.

Last year a piece of mercury amalgam filling came out of one of my teeth, and I did nothing about it. I believe the spot where if fell out is now repaired and healed with new enamel. None of my teeth hurt or have sensitivities to cold/hot or sugar, an indicator of a cavity.

Memory escapes where I read it, but I recall a story of a person who's crown came off a tooth one day, and they opted to leave it. With time, this persons tooth stub glazed over with new enamel.

* What I mean by food is more than ten years ago I stopped eating food like substances that masquerade as food. Junk food such as fast food, frozen convenience foods, highly processed foods, etc. Changing my diet to eating >90% actual whole foods, and organic if I can get it that way, that can be identified on a plate by looking at them. I do still eat some processed foods, such as pasta, and bread, which I bake myself.
2 months ago
I made my modification today with some 3.5" split wire loom held together with zip ties. After seven days, the cows have managed to wear through some of the duct tape revealing sharp steel underneath. I was surprised they duct tape didn't last longer. I feel pretty good about the wire loom, and I reckon only time will tell how long it lasts, either from it wearing through as a result of the cows rubbing on it, or sunlight making it brittle and it falls apart. The wire loom and zip ties are UV stabilized, so I hope it will last at least a few years.

3 months ago
It's really quite impossible to know if she is bred, this early. Has she been mating with the bull? Quite so, I think. If she goes a month without cycling into heat, odds are good, if she goes sixty days without a heat cycle, she's been bred. There is a blood test called BioPryn you can purchase and take a blood sample 28 days after breeding, mail it off and get results from a lab if you need to know for sure early. That is as early, that I am aware of, that a positive pregnancy can be confirmed in a bovine.

Last year I had a heifer in with my bull and it took him four of her heat cycles to finally get her bred. Sometimes a heifer/cow will get bred on the first try, sometimes it doesn't stick and take numerous attempts.

3 months ago
Today, October 12 is National Farmer Day. I'm a farmer, are you?



3 months ago
I didn't get around to submitting a soil sample to the lab this year. There were a couple chances amid the drought when the ground got soft enough for a day to take a sample but I didn't get to it. Perhaps next year. I did however get a load of chicken litter delivered and spread on my hay grounds. I've had hay cut three years in a row and I desperately need to give back to the soil. I wanted to spread mushroom compost but no one I know has a manure spreader I could borrow or rent, which is the right tool to spread that damp & clumpy stuff, so I bought a semi truck load of broiler litter and rented a lime spreader to apply it. My neighbor let me borrow his backhoe so I could use the loader on it instead of unhooking the tractor from the lime spreader every time I needed to refill the lime spreader. It was really convenient and I got it done in a day. The backhoe's brakes were broken, but I was able to keep the backhoe from rolling downhill or crashing into anything and needing to change my underwear. I also bought another pallet of Sea-90 but I haven't broadcast it yet. The ground is so dry, I'm leery of adding too much amendment at once, as the soil really just needs water. I'm hoping for decent rain to appear before the year end and get the Sea-90 on the ground too. Hopefully this will continue to nudge the soils here in the right direction.

3 months ago
You can fry them. It's a southern thing, and they're delicious. Basically sliced a 1/4 or 1/2 inch thick, breaded and pan fried. An internet search for fried green tomatoes will yield a variety of recipes, and the 1990's movie by the same name.
3 months ago