Kelly Craig

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since Oct 09, 2021
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Recent posts by Kelly Craig

I am not going to recommend a specific plant, because the orcharding I've done was large scale and it, all, had grass for ground cover.  What I will do is offer warnings that may or may not apply, depending on where the orchard is located.

One year, my associate insisted it would be ideal to let nature run its course and not mow the orchard.  I told him I had no real idea why orchardists spend millions a year, around here, mowing their orchards, aside from that it kept the grass from interfering with irrigation and made thinning, pruning and picking far easier, so more efficient.  Anyway, that there must be a good reason hands spent their entire summers just mowing.

When spring came, we learned one of the major reasons for at least keeping the grass down around the trees.  In our small orchard, mice girdled 150 of the trees.  The grass kept the snow off the ground and made for a great mouse empire.

All that said, we grew about five acres of spelt, which we bagged ourselves, using the processing plants sewing machines.  While there, I noticed bins of graded seeds. Things like mustard greens, kale and so on. It was all going to feed pigs, and they told me I could take all I wanted. I filled a few jars figuring we have lots of weeds anyway, so many of them might as well be something we could harvest [along side the lambs quarter, mullen and so on].

That was fine on the fringes of the orchard, because taller plants were not as big a problem to irrigating, picking and so on there.
1 week ago
Cool information., Daniel.  Well worth considering in home construction and to get soft lighting.

The light shelves you mention could have been aluminum.  When I worked for the Navy (civilian capacity), we'd refurbish those monster digital-analog monsters you may have seen in a movie. A sailor sat in front of them and the screen had little blips that would appear to show the positions of ships and things relative to Navy operations.

The blips were made using projectors with bulbs powered by 10,000 volt capacitors and shot light at an aluminum mirror inside the unit. The mirrored surface was used, rather than shooting the light through the glass in front of that surface (to avoid a thing called parallax, which can be seen when you put your finger on a mirror and note the gap between it and the mirrored surface.

Aluminum was used because there was no coating on the aluminum surface. If silver had been used, like most mirrors with which we are familiar, the black tarnish you may have seen when protective paint (keeping the air off the surface) fails on a mirror commonly used in homes and businesses. The aluminum will, slowly, oxidize, but will still function.

Daniel Schmidt wrote:The elementary school I went to was a fairly new building at the time, . . .

1 week ago
Snort. One lady, who had me install a light tube in the bathroom in the center of her home, commented that she found herself sitting and reaching for the light switch for the first month or so, because it was so bright there in the early morning, after the install.

Hans Quistorff wrote:Warning visitors to a restroom with solar tubes tend to spend futile time flipping switches trying to turn off the light before they leave.
But mine works great even moon and star light when available.

1 week ago
Here, electric runs around 5 cents a kilowatt. Someone was saying they were paying 47 cents in Europe. It might not be long before the cost of a tube would seem cheap.

The nice thing is, they are easy to install. Just have to remember to follow the tiling rules for roofs, so water run off doesn't penetrate the structure.

Pearl Sutton wrote:I dislike all roof penetrations after what I found when I tore the roof off my last home.  What a mess. And then they tried to repair the leaks...

The premade tubes are expensive, that's part of why I dislike them too. Very spiffy, but way too expensive. If you look at what they are, the kit has the skylight, and all the flashing etc to attempt to keep it from leaking, and tube. I believe the close to perfect mirror surface of the tubes is way overkill. I had a video store for a while giving me all their dead disks. I did a test run of a bunch in a box, being the reflective surface. Bounced a LOT of light around, and beat the mirrored one I tested it against in that the mirrored one made a slightly brighter, straighter light, but the disk made a more diffused light, bounced around the room more. Subjectively, the diffused light made the room look brighter than the single spot of more intense light did.


1 week ago
I have to scratch my head on this one, BUT, about forty years back, I started playing with bastardized fiberoptics, then got side track (you guys couldn't begin to guess, as to how many shiny things there are all around my shop and house).  As an avid yard sailor, I pick up many things experience tells me I PROBABLY need. One is, cheap Plexiglass and its equivalent.

One of the things I did was, cut 1/4" Plexi into strips about 2" wide. Then I cut them off at different angles. To see what would happen I played with sanding and polishing the various edges and shining light into the bottoms of the strips.  It made for some interesting results.

The idea was inspired of the fiber optics craze of banding hundreds of 1/32" tubes together and pumping light into them, and my purchase of an interesting display, which was an aluminum tube with a light in it that shined into a piece of glass that was locked into a slit made into it. You could write things on the glass, OR you could glass etch it and gets some interesting results.

Regarding the strips of Plexi I cut, the light would travel up the strips and seem to, primarily, exhaust on the end cuts.  The effects all depended on what I did in the way of sanding and polishing.  It was neat watching the plastic throw light from the angled and polished cuts.  I ended up making a art piece using three pieces of 6" PVC pipe I, also, cut at angles, before filling the cuts with wood I cut and into which I mounted the Plexi, with lights under them. Have ZERO idea of whatever became of that.

Any way, the conversation about light tubes (I installed about 5 of them and love what they did for rooms at the center of customer houses) makes me think there is so much potential here. In fact, it reminds me I wondered why the concept was no applied to, for example, sky scrapers, whether by way of the optics or the tube I learned about many years later.

NOW, all the foregoing aside, I, many times, wondered what would happen if I dumped a 4' diameter, 6 or 8 foot long culvert into the ground, vertically, and filled it with fine shale. THEN, used the parabolic lens, from a projector TV directed at it to heat the shale.  

SIDE NOTE: I have the parabolic lens (about 1/16th thick by about 3' wide and 4' long) in the overhead of my garage, to keep it out of the sun, because of the EXTREME danger it poses.  If the sun hit it and it was directed at my car, a board or something else not tolerant of super high heat, it would blister all the paint off my car, melt the plastic, tire or what have you, or it would start something on fire.

Directed at a brass padlock, the lens will melt it.

The stored heat could be released back into the house. To stop the lens from heating the rock, it would have to be covered.

I guess a great place to experiment with that would have been out in the cattle pen, in a built up (tires stacked with dirt, area to protect them from wind) pen in the nasty cold of the winter. If the culvert came up out of the ground, about 5 feet, the outer area of the filled culvert would throw off heat, giving the critters at least a little comfort.

For those not aware, the parabolic lenses on old projector televisions are like big magnifying glasses. They will melt metal, so they will heat rock and can even cause them to explode, if moisture is trapped in the rock.
1 week ago
I bow [very low] to you.....

I'd love that in my kitchen, even if I never used it.

Did score one of the big wheel wheat grinder's years ago for about thirty (and sold it ten years later for a few hundred), but, pretty as it was, it in no way is as purty as this.
2 weeks ago
Here, in farming country, we use a lot of tarps to cover haystacks.  You will never see a Harbor Freight, big box or other blue tarp performing the duty. They won't make it through the winter.  The ones covering the stacks are FAR heavier.

You can buy the tarps from hay storage companies after they pull them from stacks when they suffer wind damage. It's too expensive to repair (patch-sew) them, so they replace them. The pieces make great covers for cars and everything else under the sun.  They will last several years, baring damage from winds.
1 month ago
Love it.

It's funny, how many deals one can come across because others don't know it's a deal.

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:My local recycling centre has a take-it-or-leave-it corner, and over the last few months I pulled half a dozen kitchen knives out of there. Frankly, someone is cleaning out Granny's house and passing things along to others -- that's life. These blades are not junk, either: German and Japanese steel of decent quality, but needing a great deal of TLC to bring them back to life. And I guess they found the right guy who is happy to do that. And when I'm done, I will start passing them along to neighbours who confess they have junk knives. This is all very silly i guess, but it gives me a warm glow.

1 month ago
I'm confused by the suggestion to avoid solar chargers. Electricity is electricity is electricity.

We had seventeen cattle in our pen. When I got to the farm, the battery feeding the fencer had to be replaced [with a charged one] every week or two.  I knew my partner was not the sharpest tool in the shed, so I looked into why we were chasing cattle every few weeks. Even though the fencer, solar panel and battery were within 3' of each other, there must have been about 50' of wire between the three things.

After staring at the amazing wiring approach, it became obvious the output of the diode were feeding back into themselves, or something to that effect. I just said to hell with it and pulled all the wiring, then started from scratch.

I ran the solar panel to the battery via diodes mounted in opposite directions (the little strip on the diodes pointing the opposite way), so the panel could never drain the battery (current only flowed from the panel through the diodes to the end without the stripe, then out the stripe end to the battery.

The battery fed the fencer.  If the cattle were testing the fencer often, one could add batteries in parallel.

The end (about 12' of wire).

Over the next three years, we (insert lie here (see end note)) never chased cattle again and never had to replace the battery with a freshly charged one.   I did, however, have to listen to an idiot scream about me tampering with his wiring, which was "just the way he wanted it."  I reminded him I'd forgotten more about electricity and electronics than he would every know.

END NOTE: One cow had grooves on top her horns, where she lifted the fence to slip through, with a but zap/tag to spirit her along after she committed to the escape. [I do not regret eating her.]

The point is, the perimeter of our corral was about 1,000 feet. It was cattle and not hogs, but isolating the lower wires from ground so there was only draw when one of the cattle completed the circuit made for a long lasting battery.

If I was using, for example, hog wire, I'd isolate live wires on and just out from them. Say, three strands of galvanized wire to insure whatever touched the hog wire and one or more of the live wires off the fencer knew they'd met their doom.
1 month ago
I'm thinking you're over complicating it. We had mice girdle 150 trees in the orchard over the winter one year.

My partner thought we had to pull them and plant new. I pointed out to him people had been grafting to save girdled trees for decades and taking that approach would save us the five years it would have taken for the trees to mature and START to produce.

In the end, we bought a bunch of rootstock, planted them around the tree every 120 degrees (so three rootstalks) and grafted the tops just above the girdle point. We never lost one of the trees and they all produced well.

Grafting, essentially, just required splitting the bark on the tree, stripping the rootstalk top, then sticking the two together and sealing the wound against infection by bugs and such (paint).

Here, you could use a cheap step drill bit from Harbor Freight and go from there.
2 months ago