New upgrades and new project

We did some upgrades to our site and now have a members area, where you can sign up and interact with other like minded people. There is also a forum. I have started populating it with topics I get asked most. Most people want to know where to get stuff, from education, to plants, to materials. While I could populate it with some, I would leave it up to you to ask. All completely free. So “stuff” is the first topics I listed. If you want some other topics I would be glad to hear and possibly list them. We added the forum because not everyone has a Facebook nor do they want one. Facebook seems to be where a lot of dialogue comes in about different topics. This option can allow people to interact, ask questions, get questions answered outside facebook.  The link to the forum is here.

While we were doing the upgrades to our site we started investigating work for an exciting new project. We feel this project would serve many people, and something that is definitely needed. While still in development it MAY be out by this fall/winter. It would make getting food from the producer to the consumer much, much, much easier.  Alas it is it outside our current skill sets to develop the idea. We know how we want it to work, how it would be super awesome. We are looking for someone who has mobile App development skills to incorporate. Too early in the game to bring the developer in, the back end and infrastructure needs to be developed first. But if you know someone who is a mobile app developer please let them know and direct them to our opportunities page.

Ponds, Pools, and Aquaponics

Other than water what do these things have in common? They are all now products and services offered by Aquatic Designs

Last week I had the opportunity to visit with Dan, Scott, and Jessica at the store. My behind the scenes tour as always. I talked with Dan (the owner) about offering classes out at the shop, upcoming events like the garage sale (getting rid of used, and older parts and supplies). I suggested he start offering natural pools to customers. He had indicated that this is something they have done, and will be doing more of int he future. Up until recently this wasn’t something that many people knew about, nor wanted. But more and more people want to get away from the harsh chemicals and have a more natural lifestyle. If you don’t know what a natural pool is think if a conventional swimming pool and a pond had a lovechild. It is clear water, has a pump, no chemicals, and uses nature and plants to keep the water clean. I know what you are thinking, stagnant, smelly pond with cloudy water. If installed properly this will not be the case. Dan and team already have the plants, equipment and know how to install these types of systems. Here are some examples of what natural ponds can look like.

d526ce5a809598e9b8ed9a7760840ae6 c490b68a6f9f11b201a0eb87a4332780  716aae8d352712aa67ffcccc27c2e3f3 79a34cafa81050920c783761c5808fd9 45be135883f3ff9e941f3370e08a87c5 34d4e673d3e40310be1d3a11d87f8d1c 7f5d16b8cd016b8db9508b54b6b5501a

 

Now, who wouldn’t one of these? The bonus, no chemical checks, not testing, no adding of chemicals. Nature does it for you.

If this isn’t your style, they have the traditional ponds as well. But people typically stock ponds with Koi and other fish to look at, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But think about stocking with catfish, hybrid bluegill or yellow perch, all are cold hard, all will be equally happy to see you when you feed them. The only difference is, you can eat them when they get larger. You can eat koi, it is just a carp, but some varieties of koi especially the larger ones can go for big bucks. Aquatic Designs are working on programs to stock yellow perch and tilapia, and can get you a wide range of fish.

10311140_658881664184534_2948169361042686320_n 1497613_592831247456243_930883305_n 603558_377570345649002_453740869_n

Speaking of tilapia, because they are a warm water fish they will not survive here in Indiana over the winter and are better suited for aquaponics indoors. I have been very impressed with the speed and designs Aquatic Designs have developed their aquaponics programs and systems. They have everything you need from lighting, to pumps, to media, to fish. Not a DIY type of person, they have turnkey configurations or something custom to fit just your right spot. If you are having troubles with your system, they can help with that too. 5 years ago they were not offering such systems and I am glad I cam across them and opened up the dialogue. Now I have a local store to get parts. Before, I was having to order online and hope it would fit, or was what i needed. I am a hands on and visual builder. I usually go in with fitting and part asking “Do you have a fitting that works on this…?”. What I really like is they are hoarders like me and don’t throw anything away. I manage to find a part  I needed from a salvage they did on a customers in ground pond for my aquaponics.  Here are a few systems they have up and running. I need to do better about taking my own pictures when there. I am always so busy talking and checking all the new stuff out I forget. The last time I looked I think they have 12 or so DIFFERENT configurations. Scott is somewhat an experimenter like myself and always trying new configurations, designs, products. So they don’t just sell them, they test them and can give you great advice on what will work best for you. These are from their Facebook page.

10984059_817811521624880_7818212444304160192_n  1010466_598646593541375_2090050467_n

 

 

 

Here I am after a class I gave with the Indiana Koi group at Aquatic Designs this summer.

10580178_701928279879872_7668353665751058061_n10561588_701929813213052_4974088666355515025_n

 

 

They are located in Monrovia and is a pretty quick drive down 39 from 74 or 70 on the west side of town.

445 N Chestnut
Monrovia Indiana 46157

317-996-3106

Before you drive out, you may want to give them a call. During winter months they keep different operating hours than spring, summer and fall. They can be open by appointment and are usually on site, but in one of the back barns and operations center getting ready for spring or tending to the greenhouse so the main office isn’t open

They do have some opportunities available and check out the Projects and Opportunities page for details. We also will be having a tour date once winter is over, and a garage sale event.

I like the fact that it is both a place for the DIY and the installations spot. You can DIY and get your parts, then ask for help if you run into problems. At least for me, I can’t get everything i need in one spot, or it is a installation only company. I can get some parts here, some parts or supplies there, but not everything together so I can see how it fits. I love the DIY aspects of many of my projects. But for something like the natural pond, I think I will leave it to them, but help and assist as much as I can.

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid or advertising on Aquatic Designs behalf. I am recommending a business and staff I have repeatedly done business with over the years. I feel that not many people know about them in Monrovia, and many in my circle could benefit from their offerings.

Bring new education to your church or organization and build community

I had a meeting yesterday with a good friend who is part of a church with an aging congregation and some have never gardened before. They have a large meeting room they barely ever use. We talked about having a class in the meeting room and have a class about organic gardening now that spring is around the corner to get people something to look forward to and start planning. The more I thought about it the more I thought this was a great idea so I have come up with a solution to both help not only church groups but other organizations as well. Both options are a way to get your organization more exposure, and possibly a way to generate additional income, and help get more people involved.

Option 1

Book 3 hrs of classes and get 1 hr FREE. This could be 1 hr free consulting for the church or other group on how to build a community garden on the property. It could be 1 hr of time given, raffled, or auctioned with the proceeds to benefit the church or other organization. It could be added with the classes for a total of 4 hrs of instruction. We have lots of great classes to choose from such as aquaponics, beginning gardening, container gardening, permaculture, practicing permaculture, back yard chicken, and more. For more detailed list check out the Classes page. This could be closed to only members of your organization, or open to the public. I can advertise to bring more people in to become familiar with your organization. We have a direct reach of about 6500, and then organic reach of significantly more through shares, likes and other social media sharing. We also have options to charge for each person attending if so desired. Need flyers to tell your organization about the event, we can do that too.

Option 2

Open up your facilities to classes. We will charge per person in attendance with either select number of free tickets for your organization based on size of space, classes being taught, and length of time on site, or a percentage of ticket sales to go to your event or organization. Lots of different options available to suit your needs.

Be Prepared Series

The Be Prepared Series is a group of classes to help organizations and groups come together as a community and in the event they need them, have skills to rely upon during an emergency. For more information on the Be Prepared Series click on the link.

 

We can schedule the classes, accept payments online, in person, or over the phone. We can produce flyers, or other promotional materials to announce your event. All materials are provided for you.

If you are interested in booking some classes or want to learn more please use the Contact Us page we would be happy to help.

002 Chickens vs Rabbits for meat source on homestead

1st podcast in a long time and today we are talking about chickens vs rabbits for meat source on homestead.

One thing after listening to the show I never mentioned about what to do with animals in heat of summer and cold of winter. The rabbits have been fine over winter down to -10 here in Indiana, and they are under cover, and only covered with tarps over the whole cage area. No issues. The Chickens are in an enclosed coop and only a heat lamp, this is ONLY to keep egg production up. If we wanted to not get eggs over winter this wouldn’t be necessary. Summer, we add frozen 2L bottles of water to the rabbit cages only on really hot days. The chicken coop we take a pannel off and only have chicken wire to allow more air to circulate. So no real big issues.

 

Side note, ADD makes me all over the place, so be warned. I try to go by an outline and notes…ADD usually takes over. I will get better, I hope.

 

Links mentioned in the show

2 Midwest Guys

Rabbit waterer

How to build a community through gardening Feb 28th

Details here $20 and lunch is included

Indiana Small Farm Conference March 5th-7th

Details here. $ to enter but varies depending on day(s) and age/situation (adult, student, under 12 etc)

Tree Grafting Workshop March 21

Brambleberry Farms is teaching how to graft. $90 for 4 hrs of instruction all materials provided, and you take home 4 custom grafted trees.

Register and details here only 5 spots left.

March 23 7-9pm Rush Co Fairgrounds

Free class on Aquaponics, Hydroponics, organic Gardening

details will be here

 

Not only do we put out content on our blog, but we also share, post, and write information on our social media sites.

Facebook – Wolf-Beach Farms

Twitter  @WolfBeachFarms

YouTube - Content is thin at the moment, but we hope to change that this year.

For classes in and around Indianapolis we share them on our Meetup site.

New podcasts will be coming soon as well.

Rick also has a LinkedIn Profile.

New classes

Some great new classes are coming as spring approaches.

How to build a community through gardening Feb 28th

Details here $20 and lunch is included

Indiana Small Farm Conference March 5th-7th

Details here. $ to enter but varies depending on day(s) and age/situation (adult, student, under 12 etc)

Tree Grafting Workshop March 21

Brambleberry Farms is teaching how to graft. $90 for 4 hrs of instruction all materials provided, and you take home 4 custom grafted trees.

Register and details here only 5 spots left.

March 23 7-9pm

Free class on Aquaponics, Hydroponics, organic Gardening

Once confirmed, details will be here

Follow us on social media

Not only do we put out content on our blog, but we also share, post, and write information on our social media sites.

Facebook – Wolf-Beach Farms

Twitter  @WolfBeachFarms

YouTube - Content is thin at the moment, but we hope to change that this year.

For classes in and around Indianapolis we share them on our Meetup site.

New podcasts will be coming soon as well.

Rick also has a LinkedIn Profile.

Rabbit watering system for freezing climates

This is our first year with rabbits over winter and we were not sure how to handle the freezing temps and water. We did a little research and most people either used heater bottles, or changed the crocks our 2 times a day. We were not going to spend the money for heated bottles (around $40 each) and the reviews of them were questionable. We were doing the crocks 2 times a day but that meant we HAD to be home and could not travel to our small house project on weekends. I needed something to fit my needs. I stumbled upon a video of a guy who had a similar issue on YouTube. I would love to give the guy credit but after 2 days of searching I cannot find the original video that gave me the idea. If someone else comes across it please let me know in the comments so I can give him credit for the inspiration. He did slightly different setup, but this design came from his concept.

I took the original idea of what he had, and modified it to what I had available as to spend little to no money out of pocket. I had submersible pumps from aquaponics builds. If you do not have one you can get them for under 20 bucks, especially at local stores in fall when they go on clearance. (Aquatic Design and Supplies here locally has this exact one) The tank is an old kitty litter box. The tubing and nipples I got from Amazon. They were pretty cheap as well. The nice thing about the nipples and tubing is they came in a pack of 50 and I have enough tubing to make another complete setup at the new location (V2.0). The heat lamp we had for the chickens in winter so no extra cost there. If you do not have one, you can pick them up lamp and fixture for under $20.

Version 2.0 this was the first design to fix a need at the moment. I am designing some improvements into version 2.0 and some improvements are listed below.

  • I will be using a 55 gal drum for the tank for the reservoir
  • The tank will be filled by rainwater from the roof of the rabbit/chicken barn area (filtered before entering tank with homemade sand/charcoal filter)
  • There will be a heater in the tank. Probably a submersible fish heater unless I find a better alternative before then. I want the water to stay above freezing. The water moving helps keep it from freezing.
  • I will add nipples for the chickens as well. Different type of nipples than the rabbits. Rabbits needed all metal nipples at they can damage the plastic housing of chicken nipples.
  • Version 3.0 may switch over to off grid power and use a solar panel. It may be in V2.0 but time, money, and other projects may prevent that.

Some things I learned. The tubing did not fit tightly enough on some nipples. I added zip ties to make a more snug fit. You may want to go with a slightly smaller ID tube, or just use ties like I did. Not all the nipples leaked where the tubing fit.

If your hose comes out from the circulator, you lose circulation (power out, low water), the tubes, and nipples will freeze solid (if temps are below freezing) and the only way to thaw is wait until the entire thing is above freezing temps. adding warm/hot water MAY work if you have a shorter run of tubing. we had about 30 ft, and not enough pressure to melt the ice in the lines.

Before leaving for any period of time, figure how long it takes your rabbits to drain the tank, and take an average. Some days they drink more than others. Plan accordingly.

You may need to leave both watering systems in place for a few days until they figure it out. Alternatively, letting the old source dry up, and showing water is available through the nipple by pushing the tip, can help train them.

If one rabbit gets it, soon others see and catch on.

Rabbit Nipples

Tubing

Here are some other recommendations of products.

 

Tree Grafting Workshop March 21, 2015 1-5pm

So I can finally publish the workshop details. We are bringing up Darren from Brambleberry Farm to teach a tree grafting workshop. If you haven’t heard about Brambleberry I have some links to past publications with them.

Podcast of tour

Post on tour

Here is the flyer for the workshop

Tree Grafting

Here is the details and how to register

Tree Grafting Workshop

Saturday, Mar 21, 2015, 1:00 PM

Burke Farm
6020 E. Raymond st indianapolis IN 46203 Indianapolis, IN

6 Gardener/Homesteader Attending

Are you intrigued by the ancient art of fusing two trees into one but haven’t been brave enough to give it a try? Do you want to learn a skill that will let you create your own superior fruit trees for $2 or less a tree? Do you have a beloved old family apple tree that you want to start anew in your own backyard? Learn to graft and YOU CAN! This Ma…

Check out this Meetup →

We are still alive…

It has been a while since we have posted anything, and we apologize. We are still alive. We have been very busy lately. Here are some updates and some coverage from the Indiana-Illinois Farm and Outdoor Power Equipment Show.

Work continues on our small house. Walls are up, insulation, kitchen, bathroom, etc. We are making great progress considering we are cash flowing everything and doing the work ourselves. This is even a bigger challenge as almost all furniture and cabinets are custom made. We started with completely demolishing the inside of the building and gutting everything down to bare walls.  No plumbing, no electrical. All outlets, switches, lights, plumbing and drains had to be built. We also have constructed a “barn” from almost 100% recycled materials. The main component has been pallets. We have a privacy fence installed on a portion of the animal yard, and started fencing in the rest of the land area. We are shrinking from 1900 sq ft and a garage to 550 sq ft with a small storage area. So we have been doing lots of downsizing and donating. We are moving the majority of our medicinal herbs, permaculture plants in the process as well. It has been a lot of work but will be well worth it in the end.

Here are some pictures of custom projects. Some of these are older and we have made updates since then.

Master bed – We raised the bed 36 inches so that we could have storage drawers under it. Essentially it is like taking your bed and sitting on top of 3 dressers. We keep the storage and don’t lose any floor space. The entire place has over 10 foot ceilings so it doesn’t feel confined. The bedroom is only 8 ½ feet by 9 feet roughly. When finished we will have all sorts of photos and collections of where it was to where it is today.

20141113_171402

Tub – we wanted something unique to the space and keep with the rustic theme. We decided to use a stock tank for the tub and shower. Again, this is a custom job, not quite finished yet. We had to drill holes for the drain, coat the inside with a sealer, and install fixtures, and a curtain. The nice thing is this will be extra deep compared to a normal tub, and can be used as a soaking tub.

20141103_122741

20150104_143201[1]

Bunk Beds – with a smaller footprint for rooms we went vertical. These are triple bunks, made almost 100% from reclaimed wood from another project. Each bunk has it’s own power pack and lighting. It is strong enough to hold me and my wife at the same time. This is an older photo and they have since been painted and decorated by the kids. Top bunk is 8 feet off the ground, and plenty of head room. The younger two kids have already claimed the lower bunks. An additional loft bed is ready to be installed once the walls are painted.

20141123_154123

Bench-table – We needed a creative way to have meals without a table since there was no room. We came up with a bench behind the couch. There are also 3 additional spots on the kitchen island. We picked up some great deals on bar stools at Habitat for Humanity Restore  and Asset Recycling.

20141103_113952

Kitchen cabinets and sink – More custom. We got a great deal on 1950’s metal cabinets we sanded and repainted. Added a wooden top, and dropped in a cast iron sink we picked up for 1/10 the retail price. Sanded the wood top, and sealed it. The upper cabinets are what they originally looked like.  The lower cabinets are what they look like now. We painted in some areas, and are leaving exposed brick in many spots. It will be sealed once we decide how much plaster to take off the wall. We liked the industrial look.

photo 1-2

20150104_143111[1]

Here is the start to the attached greenhouse.

20141110_143004[1] 20141111_131047[1]

Building raised beds for medicinal and culinary herbs. We took old concrete field tiles that were being discarded and turund it into a raised bed.

20141103_162116[1]20141111_131015[1] 20141111_131002[1]

I went to the farm equipment show the other day, it was free at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. I went hoping to look into smaller farm equipment and see what is out there. Up until recently we haven’t had a need. Well, everything there was monstrously large, almost 100% computer GPS controlled. I was a bit depressed that this is what our farmers are today, not farmers, but an industry. Our youngest got a kick out of being able to run under the larger tractors. There wasn’t much for the small scale farmer and most wouldn’t talk to you unless you had over 1000 acres. I felt greatly out of place. It was all geared to soy, wheat, corn, feedlots, CAFO operations and little else. It was free, other than parking, so I wasn’t out too much. It was suggested I attend the ACRES events, if they were closer I would.

I did meet and talk with Organic Valley and what it takes to become an organic certified farm, and how to join their co-op. This sounded real promising for once we get larger land area. Being part of the co-op had many benefits such as borrowing equipment, grant writers, and marketing. Some of these would be cost prohibitive if we were doing it alone. One option was, if you plant some (acres here) black sunflower on your land, they can bring in equipment to press it for the oil, which you can then use for biodiesel on your land. Never knew that was an option. I also found that one of my inspirational heroes Mark Sheppard is part of their co-op and we discussed him for a bit too.

Another connection I made was with the living trust attorney. This is something we looked into and got more information. A living trust will allow you to put land and farm into a entity that doesn’t have to go through probate in order to be passed down from generation to generation. Many farmers, or large land owners are already aware of this option and utilize it. We are just being educated. If you are a smaller farm or land owner you may want to look into this. Probate can last 6mo to 2 years or more and that is if it is not contested. Who takes care of the farm during that time? Who pays the taxes? A trust can prevent many issues down the road. We have an appointment after the show is wrapped up, and I will share more of what we learn.

 

Today was a hodgepodge of topics but it has been a while and I wanted to take a few minutes to update. This next spring hopefully things will settle down and we can focus more on experimenting and sharing what we learn.

Growing and teaching sustainable and healthy food production