Farm life and Semi-ER

Where are you and where are you going?
IlliniDave
Posts: 3136
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:46 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by IlliniDave »

Pine bark beetles of the variety native to the extreme north of the central US (where my hideout is located) tend to utilize sick/damaged trees (or limbs) rather than healthy ones, and generally don't kill healthy trees. They also can utilize downed trees and branches that have been dead for up to a year or two. Mixes of native and non-native often lead to imbalances.

Assuming fire is suppressed in the area, it's usually healthy for an ecosystem to have sections of tree growth periodically removed. Even though it is painful to see, that is something else to consider as a potential silver lining. Of course, if you are managing the property as a timber farm and not as an ecosystem, that is not much consolation.

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@IlliniDave - the problem here is that almost all spruce trees are weakened/unhealthy. They can't cope with the little rain we have been seeing in the last decade and are easy prey for the beetles. Our neighbour is pretty keen eyed with spotting beetles, and my husband (no newbie when it comes to trees) was amazed that the bark of few perfectly healthy looking spruce trees was teeming with beetles after cutting down. It's really a bad situation, but like I said, that's whats going to happen sooner or later with monoculures. It is sad but a necessary process going back to more natural woodland.

Fortunately, my husbands grandfather (who bequeathed him this forest lot) was a wise man and planted different kind of trees mixed with the fast growing spruce (he was actually mocked for this 40 years ago by neighbouring owners!), so we will still have some wood after getting out all of the spruce.

kan
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2020 7:35 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by kan »

Hi horsewomen, do you already know about the many subsidies in bavaria for bark beetles? https://www.stmelf.bayern.de/wald/waldb ... /index.php
E. g. 15 € per solid cubic meter for transporting beetle wood out of the forest. There are also subsidies for planting new trees that cope better with the dryness and the climate change.

There is also free consulting offered for private forest owners (this is a requirement before getting subsidies).

We have gained good experiences with "catch trees". In early spring we cut some trees and then let them lie in the forest. After that, we regularly check whether there already are bark beetles in the trees. If yes, we wait some time and then get the wood out of the forest before the bark beetles reproduce.
Later in the year, we are doing the same when we are harvesting our firewood.

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@kan,thanks for the link! My husband did get the free consulting when the first infestation hit a few months ago. Apparently we have not enough woodland/damage to fall into any of the programms.

Our neighbour would get an apoplexy if we did that with the "catch trees". He tends to be slightly obsessive/agressive when it comes to bark beetles and he is not above calling/harassing us 3 to 5 times a week if he thinks we are negligient... In his view any wood lying on the floor is negligient *sigh*.

My husband would not be stressed at all about the infestations if not for this guy and his agressive behaviour. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do about him besides selling the wood, which we don't want to do, so we have to deal with it as bestas we can.

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

The days are pretty full right now on the farm! Veggies and fruit come in droves and I'm always behind with cooking/preserving.
My freezer is filled with green beans, and I've made 3 kinds of jelly. My favourite is the one in which I chuck every fruit I have not enough for a separate batch into my blender and mix it up. It is a surprise every year but so far it was always delicious. This year it was blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and pears. There will be another issue featuring red currant, since these are at the moment in my MILs freezer, waiting to be processed.

At least the horses are pretty self-sufficient in September, they are out on the pasture round the clock with fewer insects to torture them.
This means almost no poop in the paddock and no need lug hay around.
We have been out on a ride the first time in almost two months yesterday, before it was too hot and too insect-y, poor horses. Autumn is my favourite season, hands down.

DHs cousin is staying with us for a while and the two of them got started with the DIY conservatory, which we have been dreaming of for years. The beams and the roof are done, right now DH is working on some masonry, and once that is done the structure will be filled up with reclaimed windows.

Image

Image

The roof run up to €1000, since we wanted high quality sheets, but otherwise everything used was either reclaimed or repurposed. I have high hopes that this structure will heat up our often uncomfortably cold ground floor. It is pretty annoying to fire up the wood stove in August, but we often feel the need to do so. Additionally, we hope it will be a good place to start seeds in spring. Even now with only the roofing in place it feels more comfortable in our living room - the conservatory is attached to this outer wall.

@alphaville - here is the promised pic of my bean stalk, or rather part of it! I need to water them, the leaves droop a little...

Image

We will harvest them with our front loading tractor. A few years ago DH build a cage-like attachment out of a steel palette, in which a person can be lifted very high to safely reach the top of trees, or anything else high up. I'll definitely plant more of this sort next year, they grow like crazy and taste great. I have had good results in the past with letting the beans dry on the stalk, so preserving/storing is easy as well.

In regard to work, things are crazy but good. I'm in my home office permanently now, and like it pretty well. My job is safe and all aspects I did not like in my job previously had to do with the department the other boss took over, so I'm well rid of them. Since I need to put in place structures for the new company while still being heavily involved with dismantling the old company I spend thinking way too much about work right now. But on the other hand, creating new stuff is exactly what I like, so it is not too bad. Once the dust has settled I'm sure my focus will shift away from work again.

DH (who is a social worker) will take over a client in my workplace as a side job. Our mission is helping distressed families and adolescents in cooperation with government agencies, and I have been hinting for a while that he would have a sweet deal with taking on one client. Men are pretty scarce in this field, while often recalcitrant (troubled) 17yo boys don't take well to female social workers. DH is super popular with the adolescent crowd at his main job (in the plant nursery in a facility for disabled people), so I see a opportunity to do something he is really good at while being paid very handsomely in the bargain! My boss got a inquiry about a perfectly fitting case close to us, so he'll give it a try. Another pillar added to our semi-ERE strategy... Isn't it nice when everything comes together so seamlessly?!

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

We've been in lockdown again for a few weeks now. Our politicians call it a “lockdown light” and I suppose it is. Schools and shops are open, only restaurants, bars etc are closed and one is not supposed to meet more than one person from a different household.
Since schools are open life is not much changed for us, like in spring. I miss my band, rehearsing and performances are all canceled, but I got some collaborations with other musicians going for studio and video projects.
So far the virus has not really touched us, neither with a sick family member nor financially. I feel very lucky in that regard.

This pandemic has been rather reaffirming in terms of how important it is to have a low-cost lifestyle, with different income streams. We are not affected at all, which is of course great for us, but I notice the disconnect with other people even more now. I realize that it is very easy to be supportive of the lockdown when one has no fear of lost income and a large property to roam, but on the other hand I have very little patience with people who are up into their eyeballs in debt because of too large houses, cars and living over their means for years. Of course they feel the strain now with reduced hours or lost side hustles. Then I wonder if I'm too much in a position of privilege and if I'm I jerk for having these thoughts.

There is a growing movement of dissenters here in Germany in regard to government measures and it is starting to divide friends and family – I imagine this is what the two-party system in the US must feel like! There are violent protests and there seems to be a coalition forming of corona deniers and right wing folks. It is all very scary right now.


In more pleasant news, I bought the ERE audiobook! I like the narrator, but it is a bother that I have to listen on my mobile phone because of the app. In the past I've ruined a few headphone jacks with listening to audiobooks on my phone, so I'm wary of moving around too much while listening. Since I typically listen to books on my small mp3 player while cleaning or mucking out the stable, I have not progressed far in the book.

I hope everyone on the forums is well and save! While I read most new posts, I haven't felt much like contributing lately, mostly due to laziness because I got into the habit of doing all my reading on an old phone, and I hate typing on phones. DH is hogging our computer with his music production and to keep our teen from developing a full-out phone addiction we have restricted Wi-Fi to a few hours a day. I need to be less lazy and fire up my old laptop more often.

Ama
Posts: 19
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:42 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Ama »

Glad you are well and safe, I am in a similar position and feel very lucky.

How are things with the DIY conservatory? It's looks beautiful in your last post, I'd love to try something like this some day. I made a (very) small coldframe this summer and it's already done wonders extending our arugula and kale harvest

Alphaville
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alphaville »

horsewoman wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:29 am

@alphaville - here is the promised pic of my bean stalk, or rather part of it! I need to water them, the leaves droop a little...

Image
whoa whoa how did i miss this—giant! magic beans go into the clouds! wow!

that is impressive.

glad also to read from your updates that things are going well.

ertyu
Posts: 1518
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by ertyu »

Your bean stalk is impressive. I have two large western facing windows with a large balcony in front, so I’ve been toying with the idea of planting runner beans in front of them to provide both shade and hopefully beans. Your beanstalk is very motivating when it comes to pursuing this idea.

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Yeah, this beanstalk was pretty neat! Getting the beans down from the top was not easy, but DH managed it. I will plant another one next year, since it was also very decorative.
Ama wrote:
Tue Nov 24, 2020 3:58 pm
Glad you are well and safe, I am in a similar position and feel very lucky.

How are things with the DIY conservatory? It's looks beautiful in your last post, I'd love to try something like this some day. I made a (very) small coldframe this summer and it's already done wonders extending our arugula and kale harvest
It's 75'% finished, DH lost some steam and there are still not all openings sealed. But it is already very noticeable inasmuch that our living room (to which outer wall it is attached) is less drafty. The dogs enjoy lolling around in it as well.
Since we have a regular green house as well we have no plants in it so far, that will hopefully come next year when it is sealed all around.

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

Yesterday I was at work in the tailor shop the last time before Christmas, now all of my family will stay isolated on the property until 24th, so that we can visit our parents safely. There is a general curfew in southern Germany right now, so hopefully that's what most people will do. The numbers are getting slightly scary, compared to what they were so far in Germany. It is no hardship to "stay in" at our place, so I'm not complaining.

A few weeks ago we've adopted 3 chicken from an organic egg farm. DH was not sure about getting chicken again, but I missed having those little critters scratching around and the funny sounds they make all day long. But no rooster this time around, I don't miss these sounds at all!
They look pretty similar, but it's funny how different they are in temper and behaviour. I'm really enjoying a steady supply of eggs again and no bad feelings if we have left-overs no one wants to eat.

Thanks to all those eggs I reintroduced a former favourite meal in my rotation, a Bavarian traditional meal called "spaetzle" - it's basically a few eggs mixed with flour and wheat semolina and a pinch of salt, until a rather viscous dough comes out. Afterward the dough is scraped over a special board with holes in it into boiling water.
https://youtu.be/T1QBSpa7WhM
Here is a visual if anyone is interested. Super delicious, either drenched in melted cheese with roasted onion rings ("Käsespaetzle") or with gravy. Usually spaetzle are served a side to meat, but in our vegetarian household it is a main dish.
Tasty!

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

We're still in lockdown, and our area continues to be amongst the hardest hit with the virus in Germany. Meeting more than one person (socially) is prohibited so if course there are still no band rehearsals, which I kind of miss. But the silver lining of this enforced ban of bands is that I had to knuckle down and make solo stuff. My narrative of myself was "I'm a band musician, not a solo artist" - turns out, I just was to lazy to get down to business.
The last few months I learned about homerecording and musical production, and stuff is happening that I actually like. So no matter how long the virus makes live music impossible, I'll probably come out a better musician at the other end.

There is not much happening on the farm, as is the normal way of things in January an February. Now that we are having only 4 horses we still heavily profit from the systems we installed when we did the commercial boarding horse thing - it more or less runs on 1 hour a day of actual work.
I actually enjoy getting out and cleaning the paddocks after sitting in front of a screen for hours (either working or making music).

The chicken are doing well, even though they came to us at a rather inconvenient time - 3 weeks after getting them there was an outbreak of bird flu in our area and all poultry has to be locked in to stop the spread. Luckily we still had everything in place from the last bout of bird flu. They have a nice covered scratching area, but still, usually our chicken are completely free-range. They look content, as far as I can tell, but I still hope we can let them out again soon.

At the moment I'm having some motivation problems with recording our expenses. It seems kind of pointless, since we spend only money on groceries, and I know that I don't overspend on that.
I'm not sure if keeping the spreadsheet for a few years was enough to teach me that I don't need it any more? Is it laziness or did I pass into a new level? I honestly have no idea. The spreadsheet used to give me the feeling of security, but now it feels as if I have all the flows of money kinda internalised.
Before the spreadsheet we bought a lot of stuff online, but the actual entering of the amounts in to the column quickly got rid of that habit.
Also, we bought often stuff that we ended up not using very much - this has changed as well. The few things we bought recently are used daily.
So while the recording of expenses was a great sharpening tool for our already pretty lean lifestyle, somehow I feel like having outgrown it.
At least I hope that's it :)
Since I'm on the fence with keeping/not keeping the spreadsheet at the moment, I'll still collect my receipts (it's habit by now, so no bother) and keep them in monthly dividers. Should I get "spreadsheet remorse" I can easily (if tediously) revive it. That feels like a sensible compromise!

Alphaville
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alphaville »

i vote for new level & throw out the charts! :D

i'm late to your story so forgive me if i ask--what's your instrument?

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@alphaville first and foremost I'm a singer. The only instrument I can actually play is the harp but I do dabble in a few others (mainly flutes and the bass). What I have been learning recently is music production on the computer with a DAW (digital audio workstation), which opens up a whole new world for a solo artist since I can program the instruments I don't own/play.

Alphaville
Posts: 2464
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Alphaville »

ah! i asked because i was thinking about booth setup, mics, interfaces, etc...

many years ago i used to have a protools interface. it was expensive and complicated and so big and heavy. i was glad when i sold it. the software itself was powerful but a pain, needed a big computer.

these days we record on an ipad with garageband :D plus a simple motu2 interface with 2 xlr inputs and phantom power--all powered from the ipad, which blows my mind a little...

Frita
Posts: 601
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by Frita »

Throwing out the charts sounds like a great experiment. Regardless of the outcome, you’ll learn something! (We still track expenses though the budget went away in our mid-20s. Our minimal spending is automatic and the reserve seems to grow effortlessly. This year my spouse started doing the charts and graphs, though we don’t really use them.)

horsewoman
Posts: 553
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Farm life and Semi-ER

Post by horsewoman »

@alphaville it is really amazing how cheaply one can record at home these days, with a mic and a interface.

@frita I've never really had a budget going, that was never necessary, only tracked our expenses for a while.
With all our savings and investments automated it will probably not have any negative repercussions. I've set on a pretty high amount of money that is transferred into our saving accounts (for real some additional real estate in the future, possibly), and we hardly notice it.
Still, I'm glad I did record our expenses so meticulously for a whole,since it taught me some really important things and reinforced prudent behaviours.

Post Reply