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Tim Bermaw

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since May 26, 2017
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Recent posts by Tim Bermaw

Nicole Alderman wrote:For those that back the kickstarter within the first two days--even at the $1 level--they get a whole host of free goodies (here's the list of all the goodies: And, one of the goodies is the first video in this documentary series.

Will international backers at the $100 level (or above) be able to access and watch all three videos, now that Stretch Goal #6 has been reached?
6 months ago
Dr. Elaine Ingham gives advice on choosing a microscope for soil microbiology:

More videos (setting up the microscope, preparing samples, etc.) have been posted by SustainableStudies on YouTube:
7 months ago

Eric Hanson wrote:Increasingly, even the JD tractors are coming with SSQA standard loaders, especially for the larger Utility tractors in the 4 series and larger.

That's good news.  It was inevitable that JD would eventually have to abandon their proprietary system.  The faster the change filters down to the smaller tractors the better.  :)
1 year ago
I got a Kubota MX5100 (51HP) to take care of our 22 acres.

The most important criteria when making my decision was that the tractor be fully mechanical.  If something breaks, I can work out what's wrong and fix it.  In an electronic tractor if some random 5¢ diode goes, your tractor is an expensive doorstop until some specialist with a magical diagnostics box comes out to isolate the $x00 or $x000 module that needs to be replaced, and replaces it.  Most competent folks can troubleshoot and fix mechanical problems.  The same cannot be said of electronic problems.

Our property is not a farm and we don't have large areas that need the usual types of attention (tilling, seeding, spraying, harvesting, etc.) that farmers need to give their fields.  The chosen tractor, therefore, needed to be an all-rounder.  Not so small/light that it couldn't pull a 6–700kg round bale or pallet off the back of a truck, but at the same time not so large that it can't manoeuvre between trees, or so heavy that it ruts up the yard.  The MX series is the cross-over range in Kubota's line-up between "proper" farm utility tractors and compact tractors, so was a good fit for our needs.

Speaking of rutting up the yard...  Put R1 Agricultural tyres on your tractor and you can pretty-much kiss your lawn goodbye.  The tread is so aggressive that lawn doesn't stand a chance under most conditions.  The R4 Industrial tyres don't have as aggressive a tread pattern, and have stronger side-walls, so whilst they don't provide as good traction (especially on clay), they do last longer, are more puncture-resistant (handy for those of us with woodlots), are more stable when doing loader work, and don't outright destroy your lawn.  R4 Industrials are the "all-rounder" tyre.

All that said and done, through, a tractor is just a mobile power plant.  It's what you connect to it that makes it useful.

On the back end you want a PTO and a proper Category 1 (or 2) three-point hitch.  Cat 1 opens up a world of possibilities.  Be wary of sub-compacts with Category 0 or 'limited' Category 1 hitches.  Category 2 is a luxury that comes in really handy if you need to hitch bigger/heavier implements (or other loads).

Hanging a counterweight off the three-point is the best way to reduce the load on the front axle that you will experience doing loader work.  It is about the only time that the placement of the mass matters.  When doing anything else what you want is more traction, and wheel-weights or ballast work absolutely fine for that (as well as freeing up the three-point for something else).  Unless you are in a place that experiences severe/prolonged frosts, put standard tap water in your tyres and the rims will be fine for a quarter-century or so.  You won't care about bleeding/empting them because the water only costs a buck or two, instead of a few hundred bucks as is the case with more exotic fluids (e.g. CaCl, beet juice).  The rear axle of a tractor is incredibly strong — you're not going to wear it down or break it by adding weight there.

Disclaimer:  Weighing down the rear wheels can give you a surprising amount of extra traction.  In the vast majority of cases this is a "good thing" in the same way that a sharp knife is a "good thing".  In certain edge cases, however, things can get 'exciting'.  If you don't mind a bit of 'excitement' in your life, go right ahead.  ;)

It should go without saying that any time you add anything to increase the weight of a tractor, the amount of rutting you will cause increases.  Shifting into 2WD and driving straight as an arrow can only help so much.

On the front end you should have a loader with a universal skid-steer quick-attach (SSQA) system.  Well, it's "universal" in that everyone in the universe — except for John Deere — uses it.  Buy into the JD ecosystem, however, and you're stuck with a much more limited range of proprietary (and nearly always more expensive) loader attachments... forever.

With a SSQA the world is your oyster as far as what you connect to it, and connecting stuff is a breeze.  Buckets, 4-in-1s, grapples, forks, you name it.

Based on the thousands of buckets of soil that I've excavated from the pond area so far, 4-in-1 buckets are fine as long as you're digging mainly sand (or slightly gravely/clayey sand).  The going gets tough when encountering cemented gravel or heavy clay.  A dedicated bucket with a tooth bar would help in the former case, an excavator in the latter.  I have a 500kg counterweight and it's not enough — the MX5100 breaks traction on a regular basis.  Most of Kubota's tractors (probably all modern tractors) are in the same boat:  They have a very high power-to-weight ratio.  You really need mass on the back end to harness it all.

4WD is mandatory for any serious loader work, and highly recommended otherwise.  Unless you're doing field work (which includes mowing) all day long, 2WD just won't cut it.

A hydrostatic transmission is pretty-much mandatory for loader work, optional for most everything else, undesirable for field work, but really easy to learn and use.

Then there's the backhoe question.  Over the next few weeks I'll be laying a few hundred metres of fibre-optic cable and 50mm water line for irrigation and bushfire defence.  I predict that will constitute about a third to a half of all of the "trenching" that I'll ever need to do on this property.  It will cost me ~AU$200 to hire the trencher for a weekend and get it all done.  A new backhoe costs ~$12,000.  One should really think long and hard before buying a backhoe.  You can rent an awful lot of specialised equipment (e.g. trencher, excavator) for the same amount of money.

Finally, and perhaps more philosophically, one should remember that a tractor was designed from the outset to PULL things behind.  It was not designed to PUSH or LIFT things in front.  If you think that most/all of your work will be done in front of you, then perhaps a tractor isn't the right tool for the job?  Excavators and Skidsteers are both remarkably capable and versatile machines that let you focus forwards.  Food for thought.
1 year ago

paul wheaton wrote:

Tim Bermaw wrote:My preference is for 35 MP3 files, with zero-padded chapter numbers as the first two characters of the filename.

.... in a zip file, right?

My preference is for 35 MP3 files, with zero-padded chapter numbers as the first two characters of the filename.

Whilst there are some people that actually listen to audiobooks on a regular basis, there are far more people that don't.  Those people probably don't have dedicated audiobook software that can handle fancy formats and features.  They use regular audio/music players — whose sophistication level is limited to playing a collection of files randomly, or in a serial, ascending/descending, alphanumeric order.

I think it makes sense to cater for the majority, and thus use a format that is widely consumable.

If download bandwidth is an issue, it might make sense to make both formats available, but only allow one of them to be selected — with the other option then becoming a paid upgrade option.  e.g. Item number 1234A and 1234B are two formats for item number 1234.  Same core content, only a different format.  If you buy/select 1234B then that's what goes into your account and what you can access.  1234A is then displayed and linked as a purchasable upgrade.  I would envisage that such a mechanism would have widespread application in a digital store.  Generally-speaking, a single product is broken up into a 'set of products', and customers have the ability to buy one or more parts of the set.  The more parts of the set you acquire, the cheaper individual pieces become.  Profit/cost-coverage is front-loaded.

Eric Hanson wrote:I have a roughly 800’ long living fence, and autumn olive grows rampantly there via volunteer....  I do maintain a trail that runs parallel to the fence line ... now I have to actively cut them back now or they will aggressively take over my trail and acreage....  It grows very fast..., grows back from a stump easily, will spontaneously grow up from shallow roots ... and is essentially unstoppable unless you spray copious amounts of roundup or other herbicide (and why would you do that).  The wood is classified as a hardwood, but is probably the softest hardwood available.  It should not dull chainsaws or chipping machinery quickly (but of course all cutting/chipping edges will eventually need sharpening sometime).

Having it grow on either side of a path or road makes sense from a harvesting point of view.  I don't have a problem with 'normal' levels of wear-and-tear — just want to avoid the 'abnormal' ones.

if I were planting new growth, I would also consider poplar, cottonwood, or is especially poplar/cottonwood hybrid.

Populus deltoides x nigra  ?

I don’t know how much you need.

A cubic metre of chips per week (average) to start with — so 52m³ (~1800ft³) in the first year (or thereabouts).  Scale up from that as things get streamlined and the woodlot grows...  Crunched some rough numbers and could probably stabilise at ~250m³ of chips per year.

I already have a few acres of mixed Eucalyptus, Pinus, Acacia and Banksia that can get processed whilst waiting for the dedicated crop to mature, so no rush on that front.

Dillon Nichols wrote:I was at a friends place yesterday.. last summer he dug out two ~20" cottonwoods in a field.  There are many hundred if not thousand suckers emerging in a 100ft radius from where the trees were...

Absolutely fabulous!  Just the sort of self-replacement and expansion I'm looking for.  I'd rather spend my time harvesting than planting.
1 year ago

William Bronson wrote:Bamboo or reeds are also possibilities.

Bamboo gets its great strength from a high proportion of silica.  Silica is basically sand.  We all know not to drop our chainsaw bars into the dirt because of how quickly it dulls the cutting teeth.  Wouldn't the same thing apply to the cutting blades on a chipper?  If so, then chipping bamboo might just wear out a lot of blades.

Then again, there are videos like this that show it can and does get done:

1 year ago

Dillon Nichols wrote:I have a lot of trees well suited for it thanks to PO clearcutting...

PO clearcutting?

I have been moving the wood(20ft trees piled high on tractor forks) to where I want the chips, then chipping it directly onto garden beds or storage piles.  I think it will be *much* more efficient to take chipper and dump trailer to tree location, chip into dump trailer, and move the chips back. A forkload is a substantial pile of saplings, but this turns into quite a small pile of chips. Way less trips will be involved.

Good tip.

The catch is my chipper is a pto/3pt model, and I cant move the dump trailer with it on the tractor. Once the logging road is fixed up enough for the truck the dump trailer method will be much more practical.

Assuming you have a front-end loader and your chipper has one of those outlets that can be swivelled/directed, could you aim the chipper outlet towards the front of the tractor and catch the chips in the bucket?  Or are the distances/volumes such that that doesn't make sense?
1 year ago