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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Here is the start to the attached greenhouse.

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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.

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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.