Friday, March 28, 2008

More on Tomatoes and Chicks

Another sunny day here, almost all of the snow melted (we only got about two inches after all, I knew the Weather Service couldn't be right two times in a row!) so we're back to mud :-) Oh, the joy of least it means that spring is coming.

Well today I slept in till about 8:30am, and got going kinda slow but tomorrow I'll probably be up by 5:00am, to get ready to cut wood all day--so it sorta averages out over time I guess. The guy I cut wood with--Mr. Joe--is a fifty-odd year old bachelor who lives with his two dogs (the dogs eat like royalty, and so does anyone who he has over to eat) on his folk's farm (although they have been in paradise for some 10 or 15 years) and works at a lumber mill in town as a mechanic and truck driver. He is having surgery on his foot (for the third or fourth
time) in a week, so we're trying to get all the wood cut we can before that, and before thing get too muddy (or the fields are planted). We met him when we started going to Ainger (Bible Church), and I helped him with haying a year or two until he quit. Now (and then) we cut wood together. He just has a small wood stove in the kitchen and so just burns small stuff (we cut up buzz poles and buzz them up on his buzz saw). The saw is belt driven (off of a Case SC) and makes quick work of linking up the long poles.

This afternoon I spent a few hours working on my version of an electric lamp brooder, (just need to quickly attach the light fixtures) and a adjustable growing light hanger. I think I'll need to move the chicks outside sometime tomorrow as well. Here's a picture of them in the basement quarters:

A chick's eye view!(they sure didn't want to stand still!)

Here you can see better all the different colors and kinds that the hatchery sent this time:They kinda took exception to the flash :-)

Here's how I built the brooder:
First I sketched it out roughly and listed the materials I would need.

Then I cut out the pieces on our table saw (don't mind the mess--it's not as bad as it looks, we can still climb through it all ;-) and the tractor (the thing with the snow blower) makes a great auxiliary workbench)With all of the pieces cut up on the floor, I got out the tools I would need. Now were did I put those screws I wonder.....

Once I found the screws (they were hiding under the turkey deep fryer (to the right of the tractor in the photo above) the deep fryer, (a fancy one with a drain even) that we picked up at Lowes for about $16--it had a price sticker on it for that amount, and they honored it without any question, quite amazing really, considering that it was originally on sale for $79.99! What a find--thanks Mom, I would have walked right past it!) I started putting pieces together:
Then I realized that it wouldn't work that I tried again...And then I put it together again. And realized it wouldn't work. (are you beginning think I like to just try stuff to see if it will work, rather than waste, I mean
spend time trying to figure out if it will work in the first place?) And after taking it all apart and cutting some off of the long sides, and reassembling it this is what I had:Now for the sides (1' x 2' and 1' x 4' ):
Here is the interesting corner I ended up with:
I'm sure that if I did it again I would do it a little different, but this seemed to work out all right in the end:Some friends had actually let me borrow their old commercial style brooderbut when I tried it out, it seem to have only one setting--just barely warm. The thermostat must be going bad.
As you can see it's an old coil thingamabob type (similar to the whatchamacallit style) :-)

Then I started in on the plant light stand.

Screw a few more pieces together and viola!

From concept to finished product in use in only about three hours.
I like projects like that! It seem to work well on top of all that. An extra bonus.

On the tomato front, someone asked about what I used the egg shells for--here's picture.
Just gently break out one end of the egg and rinse before leaving to dry. Then pack with soil, add seeds and let 'em grow. Then when you want to transplant just crush the shells and then remove (or not) and put the root ball into the new potting stuff. I understand that this method works especially well for melons etc. that need extra calcium. These are Ground Cherries. For the tomatoes I just sprinkled the seed over a flat (of the homemade improvised kind--meat trays, old plastic berry containers, and of course egg cartons) of potting soil and covered with wet newspaper. I do have a special place set up for germinating seeds--an electric blanket covered with plastic, on which I put free-after-rebate boot trays to hold water and the flats. You can see it pretty well in the picture of the light stand-hanger thingy.

Maybe someday I'll get around to showing how we cobbled together our not-so-permanent hoop house--not tonight though! :-)

Well I must be off to bed,

So long for now,



Goodolboy said...

Mornin Matthew, Man you have been busy. Things look like they are comin along fine. Tell Jonathan that my site counter says 2050 hits but 2000 of those are me checking to see if anyone had looked at my blog yet :-). I got a late start this morning too. I like the egg shell pot idea. First time I have seen it. Goin to tell the wife about it. You were askin on how to sharpen a shovel. I just put a good sharp edge on the part that cuts the ground. File will do it or if ya want to do it a little fast a grinder. Natural deal is for the metal on the edge of the shovel to be blunt. Put a nice sharp edge on that blunt end. You would be surprised at how much easier it is to dig when the edge is sharp. This mostly goes if you are digging ground for a garden or trenching and such. It don't make much difference if you are shovelin gravel. Now, I am talkin spade here. Grain and snow shovels don't really get sharpened. One thing I do and alot of people don't bother is clean and oil my shovels after I use them. Prevents them from gettin rusty and a clean shovel digs easier and the dirt/ snow don't stick to it. Kind of basic stuff. I am sure you all know this all ready. I used to have a pail of pea gravel that I had poured used motor oil in and would run my shovels up and down in there. Cleaned and oiled it at the same time. When we moved I lost my pail (or didn't take itwith me) and I have not put together another one. It has been three years I guess maybe this summer I should put that on my very long list. Wife just hollered breakfast so I better get or she will throw it to the dog. Talk to ya all soon.


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Herrick Kimball said...

Hey Matthew,

You sure can cram a lot of projects into one blog post! ;-)

I'm impressed with the electric blanket seed germinating heater and egg shell planters. Good ideas.

My son and I were studying your brooder base and wondering what kind of wood you used for the frame. It almost looks like a hardwood. Is it?

And, yes, indeed, your Mom sure did get a deal on that turkey fryer!

Best wishes,

Herrick Kimball

Matthew said...

Hi Mr. Kimball,

Some days are more productive than others :)

For the brooder frame I used Oak. A friend from church has a portable saw mill, and he milled up a bunch of oak boards for me to use for the hoop-coop (that makes it quite heavy, but the oak should last better than pine and I can still move it OK), and I used part of the extra boards for the brooder. If you follow the link to the page about the "electric lamp brooders," they have a materials list and several pictures. The design is from the 1940's I think. Originally, the brooder was meant to 4' square, but I didn't need that big of one (or have the space for it inside the hoop-coop) so I made mine 2' by 4'. I moved them outside last night, and today they are wandering all over the hoop-coop and returning to the brooder when they get cold or whatever, so that type of hover seems to work fine. I hope to get some more photos up soon.

We hope to get a hot water heater modified for a scalder, but if not the deep fryer will work. We are very thankful that God worked things out so that we got it. We were only really at Lowe's on the spur of the moment to double check some prices on some other things--it is amazing how God works.


Mrs. Deering said...

I love the eggshell/tomato pot idea! If my tomatoes don't start flourishing... I may have to try it this year.