Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Rainy Day

It's raining. This is January, last I checked, and it's not supposed to be raining. (typically not anyway) There was even thunder in the night... What ever happened to the good old days where it was cold in January?

This winter has been rather disappointing in my opinion--not very many cold days and not much snow. Must be that darn global warming committee is having another meeting--all the big wigs traveling really heat things up....That or it's one of those natural cycles that are sooooo improbable....

Well lately I've kept rather busy with a sort of new, kinda old "project" that's been in the works for a few months now. The plan is that in August (this summer) I'm heading up to Alpena Community College (ACC) to attend their Trade School to become an electrical linesman (like for a local electric co-op). Since we firmly believe that the government has no place in supporting education, and we obviously won't be accepting any govt. funding, I've been working on filling our a couple of independent scholarship applications. ACC is still technically a govt. supported school, but unfortunately it's the only school in the state that has the hands on part of the course work integrated into daily activities. It is also the very best around, by the several accounts we've heard from people we know.

Currently we're (using the term loosely--mostly it's Research Central [Mom]) investigating the possibility of combining ACC's two years into one year and several "examinations for credit". These are tests that the college will accept in lieu of taking (and paying) for the actual classes--saving both time and money. That way I could earn an Associates in applied Science Degree in the time I'm will to waste (uh, that would be
spend) in learning the trade before I start working full time. Otherwise I think that I'll just stick to the basic Certificate, and get on with life.

My plan, Lord willing, is to spend this fall and the next spring semesters in obtaining the degree and then get a job with a local utility and work through the 3 1/2 to 4 year apprenticeship until I'm a qualified journeyman linesman. Meanwhile putting in all the hours I can, and saving at least half of what ever income. After 4 years we'll see what happens as far as advancement within the company, or employment with a contractor or something; still working and saving as much as possible.

After 5-7 years of working I hope to be able to have enough saved to purchase a farm. Several people have suggested that I buy one as soon as I have enough for a down payment--but I have an extremely high aversion to debt. About the only possibility I
might consider is getting a place if I had at least 70% down--but only if everything was exactly right. That way I could get a few years head start on the orchards, and wood lots. I firmly believe that good things come to those who wait.

In the meantime I'm doing some experimenting....I was able to rent about an acre and a half across the road this year, and I've got a half acre reserved for a garden (frost seeded to oats for a green manure crop) and the other acre is for pasture for the chickens and other animals... Hopefully, I will be able to rustle up some sheep, from one of the farms I've been working on to graze ahead of the chickens and provide some fertilizer. Also I'd like to attempt raising some PotterVilla Pasture Pigs in addition to the Pastured Poultry--we'll see how that goes.

The Chickens I've kinda got figured out, the sheep are simple--give 'em some water and a little salt, and they graze, but the that will be completely new. I've worked with swine a fair amount but never on pasture, I'm not sure how it will really work out. I know that Mr. Jeffries in VT does well with them, but he's got a lot more acreage than I do to work with. And the occasional load of peanut butter from Ben and Jerry's!

There will be a few new things in the garden but for the most part, that should be fairly basic too. Keeping the weeds in submission shouldn't be too hard because I have a super duper Planet Whizbang Wheel Hoe! And I've got a garden cart too--they'll get a workout this summer.

I'm also going to attempt a heated greenhouse this year too. I just need to get the hoops up and the stove in place and build the wall for the stove and put the plastic on and not forget (like I actually did...) that I planted some two hundred and thirty cloves of garlic in there somewhere!

Hopefully I'll be able to do a little bit of the Farmer's Market thing, but unfortunately, I'll be in Alpena when the vast majority of the fall crops are ready. I could come home on the weekends, but it would cost an average of 75 bucks in fuel every time, which doesn't make that a very viable option.

Another interesting project I've recently completed is rebuilding a trailer. I bought a frame (axle with electric brakes and basic steel supporting beams) which used to be a camper, and then purchased extra steel and substantially beefed it up before putting a 2x6 deck on the thing and wiring it for lights. I've since carefully inspected a commercially built trailer, and I think I may have over built mine a smidgeon ;-) Ah, well. Now I've got a excellent wood cart, if only I can get the spring on the truck replaced. (They're shot and since the trailer is only a single axle there tends to be a little tongue weight)

The other exciting news is that Grandpa is giving me his old Farmall M. He has it all painted up nicely, and running well. I believe that he said that he's got a plow to go with it as well. That will really make the garden work a lot easier, if I only have to borrow tillage equipment rather than a tractor too. I may even take it out to the W. farm to rake hay with. That would be fun.

Well that's all I can think of for now,



Herrick Kimball said...


It's good to read your update, and it sounds like a great plan. You have set practical goals for yourself and you are making a effort to achieve them. That is very admirable. Those plans may, in time, change to some degree, but the important thing is that you are moving in a positive direction, pursuing many different interests. The electrical trade is a good one. You are an exceptional young man and I wish you the very best!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the update! It sounds like you have plenty of projects to keep you busy... Keep up the good work!
So, you like working with electricity, eh? Be careful! There are a lot of volts running through those lines! :-) I'm sure you already knew that though...
If you need some more cold weather, you can come visit us! Right now the thermometer shows -13°, Brrrrr! We need some more linemen up here just now, as the last blizzard has left many people without power.

Andrew B.

Jonathan said...


We agree with you about government funding of education and the avoidance of debt, so your plans sound good to me!

Someday it'd be neat to visit you guys and see everything you have going. We have a Farmall M, too, only it needs more repairs before it is useable. There's always something to do, that's for sure!

Jonathan Bartlett