Friday, October 10, 2014

Trip to Wisconsin - Farm pics

Got back a couple days ago from a 3 wk trip to my Dad's farm. Will probably head up there in a week, staying for a couple weeks to work on bldgs and help with harvesting beans/corn. Having a blast.


Drove this tractor, pulling the orange grain cart, shown 3 pics down, for a bit.

rebuilt a concrete block wall that someone had run into with a tractor many years ago...

Jacked up, then replaced, a lot of rotted support posts that hold up the roof in the red mechanical shed

The orange grain cart is used to haul soybeans/corn/grain from the field, where it's harvested by the combine, back to the farm. Then it's transferred to a larger truck to take it to the grain elevator in town.

next trip up there I'm going to work on winterizing the old farmhouse. I'll stay there while I work. Wood stove, running water, electricity, a basic toilet - don't need much more!


Update: I went back up and did a lot more work.  Really enjoyed myself.

About the only pictures I have of the work I did are of the new electrical service (the wires that go from a main panel up the side of the house to connect to the wires coming from the pole) and a new main electrical panel.  This took the place of the old wires and fuses which seemed really fragile and frayed.

The old wire, with it's service cap hanging down, is on the left. The new cable is on the right.

 



My dad did almost all of the combining.

I'd drive the truck the 15 miles, back and forth, to the elevator where the grain was stored until a decision is made to sell it.

The elevator had long lines as everyone was bringing in grain at the same time. I'd usually have to wait an hour or two to unload.


The truck holds about 600 bushels, or roughly 30,000 lbs of either corn or soybeans.


Spent a lot of time driving this old truck. It had a hard time making it up the hills when loaded. We finished at about 4am the last night. Had to get the corn off the field and into the elevator before a big snow storm hit.

The whole thing felt like being in the middle of a science fiction movie. A lot of natural beauty punctuated by giant industrial machines and facilities. There's a kind of crazy logic behind everything.




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hoops for Hops

Hops grow like crazy--here are some from last year on our roof. 

Could Roots and Rays, a community garden in Pilsen, bring a hops planting under some sort of artful control? It's certainly looking like it. Bruce wrote about the beginnings of this project here.

Sam and Marc from the community garden
prepare for a good day's work

These structures are massive. The group has one hoop finished, a second almost there.
 
After first bending the tubing by hand in a jig, it was heated and bent in spots with an oxy/acetylene torch to form a perfect 10-foot circle. 

Bruce's metal shop,
where the work is being done

Pause to say hello
to the hens, happy for greens
 

Hoop feet

Rebar will be welded to the footings and the paired hoops moved to the garden. Then the rebar will be sunk into concrete to anchor the trellis to the ground.

Rebar positioned in footing

The first piece of tubing Sam and Marc bent on the jig was misshapen. Practice makes perfect.

Moving the bent piece
 from underneath a finished paired hoop

This finished hoop
will be attached to two others...

...with a long arm

The slotted tabs that, when welded on one side to the paired hoop and the other to the long arm shown above, will allow each of the three paired hoops to be bolted together.



...and look something like this

Beautifully done. Hours of work/play learning some basic metal fabrication techniques will surely pay off in a perfect marriage of structure, form, and growth. (And ultimately homebrew.)

Late pic from Bruce at end of Saturday...

Look at the perfect arc,
the car suggesting the project's scale
 




Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dirt Shop: A Session With Nancy Klehm

Our friend Nancy Klehm is conducting a seminar that might be of interest to our blog readers in Chicago.



From her PR Dept:

DIRT SHOP! - a hands-on composting intensive w/ Nance Klehm
Join us to learn how to re-build your compost pile!

Nancy will review basic composting principles and then dive deeper into the why and how as well as the differences between mesophilic and thermophilic compost technologies.

We will examine, trouble shoot and rebuild two existing compost piles using carbon and nitrogen sources from on-site. We will also learn how to finish off and cure compost so that it is a stable material you can use directly or in compost tea applications.

Please bring your questions, your gloves and pruning shears and if you have one, a sample of your garden’s or back yard’s compost pile.

where? Earnest Earth 2917 West Armitage
when? 4-7pm
how much? $25

Register here.

Great interview of Nancy here. Also, that's where I found the photo at the top of the post. She's an amazing person/resource - sign up!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

99 Gram Egg



Laid by one of my three year old hens today. More than 70 grams is a "jumbo".


It was a double yolk, add another egg + polenta and it's lunch.

Time for a little light reading in front of the computer with Tarzie.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Community Garden Trellis: Initial Fitting and Welding

Once the pieces were bent around the jig, I laid out my arc and began fitting and welding.

Unfortunately the jig didn't give repeat bends "exactly" the same. So I used a oxy-acetylene torch to gently heat, then bend, the pieces until they conformed exactly to my layout lines.






This is the first of four pairs of hoops. They'll then be stood up on site and joined by 3.5 foot long straight pieces of tubing to form a tunnel roughly 15' long.

More later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bending Metal for a Community Garden Trellis

H2's nephew asked if I'd help build a trellis for their community garden, Roots and Rays, in Pilsen.  They wanted to make it out of metal but had no idea how to do so. It will serve as an entrance to the garden as well as a support for hops, which they plan on using to make beer.

(Double click on any image to make it larger.)

A rough sketch. We've modified the design by adding another pair of hoops as well as more cross pieces to stabilize the entire structure.


I'm bending a piece around a jig to get the desired finished radius of 5 feet. I made and tested several sized jigs before finding the right one. The metal tubing is 1"x1" square and the walls are 1/8" thick.


Leaning up against my house, we'll weld more curved tubing on the bottom of each end to get the desired shape.




There are a group of gardeners who want to learn some fabrication skills and will be helping me put it together. We'll weld the pairs of hoops together, strap them on the side of my work van and drive down Ashland Ave to the garden. It should all happen in the next couple months.

For a good tutorial on how to bend metal tubing by hand, check out this post.

A short helpful video is here.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nelson Mandela – Prisoner, Rooftop Food Gardener

“A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it, offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a taste of freedom..."

Via City Farmer.