Nikolai Stepanovitch

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since Feb 15, 2020
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Recent posts by Nikolai Stepanovitch

Hey all,

My wife and I just bought a hosue that has solar installed and as I am planning our future permaculture farmstead, I am trying to figure out how best to make maximal use out of all the space we have. One of my first chalenges if deciding how to use the area taken up in the lawn by the solar panels. I want to be effcient in my uae of space, and also maximize water capture. So for this space I was thinking to set up rainwater capture off the panels, and maybe low compost bays underneath (they are in the yard but fairly elevated, there should be space for this under there). But I really don't know anything about solar, and I'm concerned about possible toxicity from the panels getting into the water or compost. Is this something I should be worried about? Do these panels ever leak toxic substances, or would it be pretty safe? And while I'm at it, are there any considerations I haven't accounted for that might mean these are bad ideas?

2 months ago

Rebecca Norman wrote:I lived near solar electric panels for some 20 years at the school I worked at. The panels don't get hot. Animals and people have to be trusted to avoid hard objects with sharp corners. What hazard are you thinking of?

None in particular. I seem to recall several years ago reading an article about massive bird die-offs in areas around solar farms, but I don't recall details and I don't think it was confirmed that it was directly caused by the panels, although it seemed to be strongly suggested. I guess that, and my general lack of knowledge about the specific workings of solar energy systems, made me want to be cautious. Since 3.3 acres is so much less than I ahd really hoped to have, I am looking to utilize every square foot to the maximum and I want to find the most effective and safe way to utilize even the area taken up by the panels. Just wanted to be sure I wouldn't be putting my bees or anything at risk by locating hives, beds, or pens next to them.
3 months ago
Hi all,

My wife and I have moved up our timetable for moving and starting our homestead significantly, and tomorrow we are looking at a property that, among other things, already has solar set up. This place is not an existing homestead, just a country house on a little over 3 acres (I was wishing for more like 10, but this seems to be more attainable) I like the place, but as I'm looking at the photos and thinking about possible permaculture farmstead setups, I'm concerned about the solar panels.  There is a battery of them to the side of the house in three rows, low to the ground. Would these things pose a potential hazard for the organisms on the homestead? Would it be detrimental to put beehives too near them, for example? Would they be a problem if animals got too near them? Want to make sure I'm not runnign myself into a potential hazard for my critters if I buy.

3 months ago
in your first post you mention using pigs to seal the area does that work exactly?  Not familiar with these things yet
4 months ago

John C Daley wrote:I suggest it is best to purchase land, where the access to water fits in with your needs.
45 years ago I dug drains and channels by hand when the ground was wet.
It was hard and slow, today I would hire somebody to help.
But I have purchased a tractor and ditch digger which is a rotating blade that throws the dirt sideways and leaves a semi circular shaped ditch.
I believe you need to budget for some equipment to make life easier and get things going faster.
As for spending money on stuff, if you plan to use 2 inch poly pipe things will be costly, but effective. Any smaller is really a time consuming effort.
Feel free to contact me when you are closer to purchasing.
Where are you hoping to go and what size block do you have in mind?

Thanks John,

We are going to be going to the Ft Wayne, Indiana area, looking to get from 5-10 acres. I'd prefer 10, but 5 might be more reasonable at this time. I'd really prefer to get a tractor to offer me these options, but we don't have enough saved to add that to our list of essentials. I want to look into getting some kind of agricultural loan to help us get that, and build an barn/outbuilding if needed. But my wife is very uneasy about getting any big equipment on a loan, at least at this point. Still working on that.
5 months ago

J Davis wrote:Goats might not be your best option to start with. They are hard on fences, They are escape artists, and they are picky eaters. From a breed perspective, smaller goats lkje dwarves or fainting goats might be easist to manage.

Pigs are also hard on fences, but they will really work your land. Chickens will enrich the soil but wont turn it or weed it.

Got fencing? I'd figure out your fencing plan as part of your initial strategy. Electronetting allows for rotational grazing. But is the land conducive?

Thanks to everyone for the replies.  I'm slowly forming a plan here and I'm trying to narrow in on the first elements first.  Very interested in this electro netting. Seems like a great solution because it would enable me to rotate the grazing sit as needed to clear more land as time goes on. But does it work for pigs? If not, whats the cheapest fencing option to help contain a pair of hogs?  And whats this about conductive land?

As far as pigs go, I'm starting to think they are probably going to be my starters if I can swing it. But whats the best breed of pig to go for? Ideally, I'll need the smallest breed that is reasonable. Also, the more they are able to sustain themselves on forage, the better. I plan to eventually produce all the feed I'll need for animals myself, but that's a long term goal. And since I bring that up...whats the best way to feed some hogs (should forage not suffice) for low expense?
Hey guys. Been around a little bit trying to do my research before my wife and I move to start a new homestead next year. Been dreaming of this for a while and never thought I'd get to do it, let alone this soon. But there's one question that's been troubling me more than any other since I began, and its the question of water.

We are going to have a tight budget starting out. No money for big irrigation systems or equipment (somehow I doubt most homesteaders use that anyways) and no money for our own excavator to dig irrigation ditches everywhere.  So I'm puzzling and puzzling over how to manage water for my crops? What do you all do? I don't actually have land yet, but general suggestions on how to keep crops watered without resorting to lots of equipment, or being relegated to hours with the garden hose, are very welcome.  Also, any suggestions for what to look for when buying land, as it pertains to water, are very welcome.

5 months ago
Hey folks. Back with more questions as I continue my quest to design and plan a homestead for starting next year.

A friend and I have the opportunity to purchase some hives from a friend's family who decided to get out of beekeeping (older farmers looking to retire soon) at half the cost of new equipment. We went to their farm to inspect it last week and it looks good to me. The only thing I'm wondering about at this point is how much I should really acquire to begin with. We do not have a very big startup budget for this homestead, and we still have some veggies and grain, plus a small handful of animals for land preparation, to purchase. As such, I'm looking to save costs as much as possible for the first year. The guy selling the gear recommended 4 hives to start, with about 2 large, 3 medium, and 5 small supers each. That sounds like a lot to me, at least for a beginning. I guess my big question at this point is; How many boxes and supers do I need for each hive in my first year? Can I get away with a lot less than that until the second year? I know the bees will need enough room to build up honey stores for winter, but is such a big stack really needed?

Also, I'd love to start with 4 hives but not sure I can pull it off the first year.  Would I be likely to regret it if I downsize to three?

Thanks, guys
5 months ago
Thanks for the reply. I should clarify that
1) I plan to start small. I want trust a couple animals of maybe 2 different types (a larger one for larger “clearing” and a smaller one for “detail work”). I’ll get into larger flock or herds later, and branch into other animals when I’ve got a handle on that.

2) My purpose here isn’t really just clearing, it’s also fertilizing. Basically I’m trying to find a way to turn a field of shorter grasses and weeds (or even lawn) in northern Indiana into fertile crop growing ground. So clearing, but also fertilizing and helping build topsoil as quickly and healthily as possible.  

Those being the goals, I’m trying to figure what the best starting animal combo would be.