Sunday, December 29, 2013

Frozen Water

Everyone has issues in the winter.  I can deal with most things, even repair minor fencing issues in the winter.  But the big thing for us, frozen water.  Hauling water for a herd of cattle, a group of horses, 100 chickens, several goats, and several pigs everyday, a couple times a day, takes more time then I have in a day.  Caring for three small kids, DH off at work half the day, hauling water to everyone is not an option.  So, of course we turn to deicers.  Now, this may sound like common sense, but I don't think you get just how cold it is here.  You see, here -60 C (-76 F) is not uncommon as lows a few times during winter.  Thankfully, most years -50 C (-58 F) is the normal low.  Although, -70 C (-94 F) is not unheard of, but thankfully very rare.  So, add in some wind, and you have colder then some of the deicers can even thaw.  Now imagine the power goes out for a few hours.  It happens a couple times every winter.  Right now the floating deicers work the best for us.  The sinking ones tend to still freeze on top.  When you have four troughs though, the power can really add up.  So, then, what do you do?  We have looked into some other ways and found something that we will be trying this next winter as we have to have it set up prior to the snow falling.  We are thinking of using system that recirculates the water by shear heat rising and cold falling.  The tank will have a line that leaves the bottom (cold water) and enters into a wood stove or metal barrel.  As the water heats it will rise to the top.  The line will be coiled inside to allow the most heat (without getting the water too hot) to come in contact with the water in the metal coil so that as it heats and rises it will then flow out the top and back into the trough.  With a good sized log and a system designed for long burning (controlling how much air enters the barrel can do this) we should be able to keep it defrosted most of the day.  I obviously cant tell you how well this works til next winter.  But we are always open for alternative ideas to keeping water defrosted.  I also have heard of using fire brick, putting it in the oven for a couple hours in the morning, then setting a ceramic crock on that to keep rabbit waterers defrosted for a few hours.  As it stands, anything we haul water to that does not have a heater will freeze in about an hour.  Lets hear some of your ideas!  Oh, and just as a side note, here trying to break the ice open on top, does not work as the whole thing freezes solid.  So what have you tried?  What worked and what didnt?  Any changes to your system you would make?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Location Importance

This is one thing I find not everyone actually takes into account.  Your location can be your savior or your downfall.  So, lets break this down a bit.

1.)  Climatic location:
This one is not thought of often.  If you could have a farm, were would you want to be?  Well, lets really think about this.  Dream of a place that is warm, but not hot year round.  Green and little irrigation needed.  You can grow your own stuff when ever you want to.  Yeah, that place with the creek running through so that you don't have worry about water.  Trees to provide shade.  Yeah, that dream place, you are picturing it now.  That place, does not exists.  Once you realize that, you will be ahead of the game.  Realize that you if you decide to purchase new, you have the world (or your country) open to you.  So, realize that nothing is perfect, unless you figure out how to make it so for you.  For warm climates you may have to dig extra wells for adequate water.  For freezing climates you may have to find a way to keep water defrosted.  Coastal climates you may have to have buildings that will stand up to a hurricane.

2.)  Location to city:
The location to your nearest city can be very important depending on the type of farm you are going to do.  If you are going to grain farm and sell to an elevator, then it wont matter as much if you are close to a city.  If you are going for a mixed farm and sell the products of your farm to the general public, then being close to a city will be the best thing for you.  It gives you the outlet you need with out traveling long distances yourself.  On the other hand, you don't want to be too close to a city.  Closer you are, the higher your chances of violence occurring on your farm and towards your animals.  Also the closer you are to a city, the higher your taxes usually are going to be.

3)  Location of your farm buildings:
(a)This is just as important as the other two.  Your farm buildings need to be located where you can access them.  May sound easy, but think of this.  It is winter, you live where it snows, and you just got hit with a snow storm.  Getting to your farm buildings may not be as easy as you think.  Or the opposite.  You are in a very hot climate.  When the weather is 100 F and you have 90% humidity, just walking 500 feet to a barn carrying bales of hay can really over heat you.  So think of your climate and weather when you are planning your buildings.
(b)Another thing you need to take into account is the smells.  It is a farm, and they are animals, and they do defecate.  So, if you are going to have them enclosed for any reason, you may want those buildings a bit farther from your home so that there is not an unpleasant smell if you choose to open your windows.
(c)Also, if you have a water source you may think that having your barn close to that to water animals would be logical.  But think of your average rain fall or snow run off.  Be sure to not place it within a flooding area or an area lower then the surrounding land so that your barn will be dry.
(d)Do you plan on moving animals from one pasture to another?  How will they access the barn?  The water source?  All of these things, plus a lot more has to be considered when you are looking at locations for your farm buildings and fences.

Your locations, climate, buildings, and closeness to a city, are all things you need to consider when you are wanting to start a farm.  If you are buying and starting from scratch if you consider these things carefully that can be your first success, or your first failure.  These things can all be overcame, but it is not easy.  There is hope for those, like us, that inherit a farm and you have to figure out how to get around every one of these.  But if you are starting new, do it right and do it in a way that works for you to start with.