James Freyr

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since Mar 06, 2017
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books cat chicken food preservation homestead cooking toxin-ectomy trees
Married, no children, and 6 cats. I'm a bit of a jack of all trades having always done my own auto and home repair and have been working in the skilled trades since 2004, currently doing hardwood floors and setting tile. My wife and I love homesteading and pursue it more each year and I love growing my own food. I enjoy books, tea and hiking in the woods.
Middle Tennessee
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Recent posts by James Freyr

Stephen Cross wrote:Seriously, the pack of pit bulls next door has killed a dozen chickens, destroyed an electric poultry fence and  terrorized my guernsey milk cow. Animal control confiscated one of their pit bulls, now they have seven more pit bull puppies. The owners haven’t paid their power bill in over a year. They subsist by renting out space to parolees and their deralect RVs.

Sorry to hear about the problem next door. I recommend researching the law in the state you live in. The following is an excerpt from tennessee state law regarding dogs:

§ 44-8-413. Injury caused by dogs; civil liability; exceptions; limitations

(a)(1) The owner of a dog has a duty to keep that dog under reasonable control at all times, and to keep that dog from running at large. A person who breaches that duty is subject to civil liability for any damages suffered by a person who is injured by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in or on the private property of another.

(2) The owner may be held liable regardless of whether the dog has shown any dangerous propensities or whether the dog's owner knew or should have known of the dog's dangerous propensities.

There are other sections in the law that note the dog owner is responsible for property damages and death of animals if said dog is running at large on other peoples property.

I imagine your state has something very similar in place. There are more sections of the law in Tennessee that allows me as a property owner to defend my animals from dogs running at large. I can shoot a dog on my property that is killing my chickens or cats or any other animal. I can not go killing a dog just because it's on my property, and I never would (I'm not into indiscriminate killing), but once I lose a chicken or a cat, then out comes the gun, and I have the law on my side.

Fun fact I must note: As I typed this just now, my neighbors dog who lives across the street, (and the only person in the neighborhood who does not restrain their dog by the way and lets it run at large), that dog just puts it's nose in the electric fence I have around my chickens. I keep my electric fence hot, having a 1 joule energizer going through a small amount of fence. I heard this awful yelping and I jumped up and looked out the window and the bad dog is high tailing it back across the street. Good!! That dog need not be over here, and maybe it learned a lesson. I do my part to protect my chickens with an electric fence. Every other person in the area around me has their dog in a fence, on a runner, or (unfortunately in my opinion) chained to a tree or dog house. The person across the street is the lone individual who lets their dog run loose when it's out (It's indoors most the time). It looks like some sort of german shepherd medium size mix. Every time I've been somewhat near that dog it crouches down, barks aggressively with a mouth full of teeth, hair standing up on it's back, like it's ready to jump on me. It appears to be an aggressive dog.
6 hours ago
Hi Susan-

Fear not! First I want to give a little more detail to what I said about not leaving beds empty. What I meant, but failed to give a good definition for, was to not leave a garden bed empty or fallow for an entire season or more. All my beds currently, nearing the end of winter now, have nothing growing in them. Most of my raised beds will be empty for about 3 months out of the year. What is also important with empty beds as with growing beds, is to have them covered in some sort of mulch. Exposed soil surfaces erode with the wind and rain, and the rain will also form a crust on the soil surface, which is not desirable. Even though my raised beds have nothing actively growing in them (except for my dormant strawberry bed since that is currently the only perennial I have growing), it doesn't mean that nothing is happening in the soil. The roots from last seasons plants are decomposing, feeding the microbial life that I put effort into nurturing.

I think your idea of utilizing the perimeter of the raised beds is a good one. The roots from those plants will spread far and wide, well into the middle of those beds and across to the other side, so that soil isn't going "unused". I also like your idea of maybe planting some flowers in the center to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. I don't know a whole lot about what varieties of flowers for those purposes to plant as companion plants (I'm still learning), hopefully others here at Permies who do know more about that will offer suggestions. While I'm talking about utilizing space, I've found that less is better when it comes to number of plants per bed. I used to try to plant too much in a bed and had problems with crowding, and the soil in the beds tends to dry our sooner, requiring irrigation more often if there isn't regular rainfall. I just browsed some past garden pictures I have and I've attached a pic of one of my beds growing one squash plant and one zucchini plant in a 4 foot by 8 foot bed. Each year I do this and at the beginning I think "man two plants in 32 square feet, certainly I can utilize this space better and plant something else in here", and each year I'm reminded about how large they get so quickly, and they'll just shade out anything else, and that those two plants is plenty for that size bed.
23 hours ago
Hi Karel, welcome to Permies.

It is possible that this compost is just very rich, and using straight compost even though mixed with peat/perlite is just too much for the seedlings. Seeds have all the nutrition they need contained within to germinate and sprout. High quality composts can be quite potent, and a little can go a long way, and it's certainly possible that this company is making some high quality stuff. It's also possible that there's still a some amount of nitrogen leftover from their composting process which may be fine for established plants but is too much for the germinating seeds. Perhaps try starting your seeds in just the peat/perlite grow mix and once they're up, apply a very light sprinkling of compost over the surface and water. Hope this helps!
1 day ago
Hi Ryan- I've always found the standard soil test to be sufficient for my needs and therefore have never tried the other tests, with the exception of the physical test which I got once for my newly purchased land last summer as I wanted to know the sand, clay, silt and organic matter %'s. I find the standard test satisfactory and contains the necessary information to provide guidelines for making accurate mineral amendments, including the all important Cation Exchange Capacity.
2 days ago
Thank you Redhawk! Your kind words mean a lot! and a lot of what I'm doing is taken from what I've learned from your writings in your awesome threads here on Permies.
2 days ago
The weather has been fair and there was a break in the rain this morning, and I’ve been meaning to add compost to my raised beds while they’re empty. There’s no better day than today, right? So my compost has been a long time coming and I’ve included some pictures below to show what I’ve done and how I’m using it. I figured what I’m doing certainly pertains to my never-ending quest for super soil and I thought I’d resurrect this thread and add a little update.

So it’s feels like spring, it’s been in the 60’s and even 70’s for several days, but is still very much winter according to the calendar. Today is February 22nd. The last few years I’ve been sowing seeds in my garden in march and planting my indoor started plants in late march, so I need to get busy getting the garden ready. Spring seems to come earlier now than it did twenty years ago. Our almanac last frost date for my area is April 15th, but the last frost date has been coming in March for a number of years now.

To get ready for the new growing season, yesterday morning I sprinkled Sea-90 on all my beds, and we got an inch and a half of rain yesterday and overnight. All the sea-90 has been dissolved as I couldn’t see any little white particles today. With the break in the rain this morning, I headed to the compost pile and figured I’d add a 5 gallon bucket of finished compost to each bed. You’ll see in the pictures my compost bin setup with my supervisor overseeing my work this morning. I use pallets stood up on end and screwed together, as they were free and took about a half hour to put together. So the bin on the right is where I started in about January/February of 2016, dumping chicken coop bedding, food scraps, autumn lawn mower clippings full of chopped leaves and grass (when I happened to get around to raking) and garden debris. That pile grew and shrank as I added to it over the course of that year and then I stopped adding to the right side in November of 2016, and proceeded to start filling up the left side. I utilized the dreaded big blue tarps to cover the piles occasionally during excessive rainy periods. I also left the right side essentially covered for a good portion of 2017 and even so far this year, but I would pull the tarp away and fluff the aging compost about once a month, just to keep oxygen in there. This pile shrunk at glacial speeds from what it was to what it is today. Today it looks dark, has a crumbly texture, and smells really good and earthy. This is what I’ve been waiting so long to achieve - a finished compost, with hardly any identifiable pieces of what was originally put in there. I’ve read this can be achieved faster, but I’m a sort of lazy composter, with compost being on the back burner so-to-say, just letting it go at it’s own pace in the background. The pile on the right looked like the pile on the left in November of 2016, and now I’ll spread it in the garden, and stop adding to the pile on the left, start a new pile on the right, and leave the pile on the left untouched to slowly finish at natures pace for a year (though I’m moving this fall so it will be the next guy’s small pile of gold).

The picture with the fork in the compost tries to show something that I was not expecting. I have terrible, dense, hard clay soil here. Even with all the soaking rain we’ve been getting it's still very firm and I can not push that fork into the soil out in the yard. Beneath the finished compost, that terrible soil turned into something completely different. It’s soft, somewhat crumbly, even after all this rain, and I was able to easily with minimal effort push my fork into the earth. The tines are in the native soil about 4 inches deep. This was a surprise for me this morning. It’s a great example of how adding organic matter, not even working it into the soil but merely having it on the surface, will with time, improve the soil beneath, just like how adding wood chips on top of soil will, again with time, improve the soil beneath.

The picture of my raised bed is how I’m applying my compost. In fall of 2016 I mulched my raised beds with straw and I sowed and planted in that straw spring of 2017 (as seen in the pictures above). Today I’m sprinkling a 5 gallon bucket of finished compost right on top of the straw (which is really beginning to break down now), and over the course of this coming week, I will cover this straw and compost sprinkling with wood chips from the giant pile that I got the other day by virtue of the tree trimming guys happening to be working down the road and stopping to ask them if I could have the wood chips when they finished for the day. They were more than happy to give them to me so they didn’t have to pay to dump them, and I was more than delighted to get 30+ yards of wood chips that the guys said was mostly red & white oak with a little sweetgum and a bit of hackberry and pine.
2 days ago
Great video David, I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work!
Well shit. I know better than to take things on the internet at face value and it got me again. I failed to click on the download now button. I really try to do my best to share accurate and credible information here on Permies, and I faltered again. My apologies to you BeeDee and to everyone else who has clicked on that link hoping to get a free ebook. I feel like I should know by now that free things are never free, but apparently I have yet to get that thru my thick skull.
2 days ago
Hey Lia-

I garden in raised beds and can offer my thoughts as far as them extending a growing season. Chris brought up a great point in that a raised bed in conjunction with a cold frame or low tunnel is really what provides the season extending capabilities. So my raised beds that I don't have covers on, like you mentioned, do warm a little faster than the earth below, but also tend to cool faster it seems. My raised beds that I have tunnel covers on is where I get season extension. Granted I'm in the south, in Tennessee zone 7a, but we still get a winter here, and my covered beds stay warmer than my other uncovered beds. The only crops I have growing during late fall and winter are of course the frost tolerant crops such as brassicas, kales, spinach, lettuce, etc. The lettuces are a good example, as the uncovered ones get nipped pretty hard when it freezes, but my lettuces in a covered bed at the same time are untouched by frost and look great. It has to drop into the mid-low twenties for my covered lettuce to show signs of frostbite. The spinaches on the other hand are much more freeze hardy. My uncovered spinaches look fine at 25(f) degrees and appear the the same as the covered ones. When it drops to about 20 degrees, then the uncovered spinach starts to get unhappy and show frostbite, whereas the covered ones don't. Each year so far since I've had my covered raised beds, I'm still pulling lettuce and spinach from the garden in December, and can sow seeds for the same in February.

Cold frames and covers such as tunnels have been the real season extender for me.
3 days ago
I forgot to mention that chick starter is really only necessary until they're about 6 or maybe 8 weeks or so old, then switch to a grower/broiler ration. The chick starter is teeny tiny bits that baby chicks can swallow, and when they get a little older they can handle the coarser mill of grains in the grower/broiler ration.
3 days ago