Hi 1974 – no I really don’t have lots of helping hands at the moment on any sort of regular basis – but do use help from some strong young men that will be part of our group when needed. So, ok1 974 you asked, so here’s the basics of what I do. Sorry will make as short as I can.
Now don’t faint,please! I don’t own a tractor. I ditched it because 1) I am not interested in mechanical stuff – I have zero patience (and that after almost 60 years of trying to develop some) and 2) it makes me too dependent on others to fix it and of course SHTF considerations. Why get used to it/keep using it? I love to solve/experiment fixing problems/issues/alternative solutions.
My orchard is all dwarf trees and aren’t any taller than I am so I maintain them easily by hand and use a simple pump sprayer for organic oil spray when needed and net them due to pests, mostly the damn stink bugs. The nut trees just do their own thing on a different part of the property. I have a pet baby doll sheep I graze there to keep the grass around the trees in check. I turn the chickens out there as well from time to time to eat bugs and stuff. I have espaliered apples in particular around the perimeter of my enclosed main food garden.
My Main Food Garden is entirely enclosed/fenced with solar wires at top. I use raised beds with t-poles at the ends that allow me to water with soaker/drip hoses when needed by attaching 5 gallon buckets to a hook on each side from which a piece of 6′ garden hose is attached to a fitting I drilled and installed at the bottom sides, the soaker gets attached to that. Rain barrels can be used to fill them but I usually use a hose from a pump that runs from the well. My beds are 4′ x 25′ and there are 12 of them, plus one larger 24x 24 bed I grow oats, barley or wheat in to gradually build and replace my stores. Around the perimeter with the espaliered apple trees (not in raised beds around perimeter) I also grow various sunflowers, principally the oil seed variety. I keep rabbits in a big pen in the corner (it’s a little bit of a ‘cute’ building for looks ’cause I like that, being orderly and all and visually inclined) that I use at the moment solely for manure purposes. Don’t need to wait to add it like the chicken manure/bedding I let self-compost outside their shed/enclosure. I built a washing/prep station in another corner from salvaged wood pallets with a sink I run with an elevated rain barrel. I mulch everything with straw that I shred up and wood chips I rake up from firewood cutting. In winter 1/2 the beds are covered with pre-cut pieces of wood so don’t have to weed them in the spring in order to plant. The other 1/2 have frames I place over them (2 sections for each bed) that I made that have double-walled sheeting on them that allows me to walk in carefully and stay standing and work/harvest the beds and extend my season. I have a hobby greenhouse that came with the place but they put it on a concrete slab and ran propane to heat it – and well propane is expensive and growing in pots is not so productive so I only use it for starting seeds for spring/overwintering stuff. I intend to build a walipini this summer God willing. then I will sell the thing.
My fields consist (a former horse farm) off four fenced turnouts about 1/2 to 1 acres each and one large field beside and around the spring fed pond (which is fenced). There are about an acre or more of woods at the back and one side with a stream. Entire property is about 12 or so acres. One turnout has a small run-in I converted to a chicken house and large chicken runs (which I grow grape vines over to protect them from hawks and such) on one end with an automatic solar powered chicken door ( I rotate them to let grass grow back etc the whole chicken tractor thing was a nuisance/more work seemed to me) – the other is for tools. The rest of this turnout/field is the nubian goats kingdom (and their guardian miniature donkey) although I pen them up in their shelter at night due to coyotes. (My pet sheep follows me around the farm and either hangs with the goats during the day otherwise, but she lives at night in the barn in a stall).
The other three turnouts and the fields I use for my two horses year round almost – one , the biggest, next to the pond is where I grow wheat or alfalfa during the summer. One draft cross, one quarter horse I ride. In bad weather they are in the barn. In winter they are fed small round bales at present but last year I practiced cutting hay from a neighbors field with a scythe (art to that) and making a few hay ricks. In spring I bring in young cattle and first rotate them through the 3 paddocks then out into the big field. I use movable solar powered electric tape fence to section it off and rotate them through portions of the field at a time to keep the grass growing and available for them. In the early fall I stop rotating them and start feeding some grain (which I buy at present) to pick up their weight and let them graze down the big field. (They are watered by a solar pump that pulls from the pond) While hay is cheap I then confine the horses to two of the turnouts and feed hay when needed until after the cattle leave mid/late-ish fall and I have harvested the wheat or alfalfa. It’s a bit of a dance I worked out.
When I plant wheat or alfalfa in the one turnout I run a cultipacker over it then heavily seed it – that’s about it. I do currently use a friends sickle bar to cut it but I could do it with my scythe if I felt like it/had time or when I get the draft horse and old sickle bar I found on the place working.
The fields and turnouts are over-seeded in late fall with tillage radish. It fixes nitrogen in the soil, helps un-compact it as it has hugely deep roots, takes a couple of hard frosts to die, horses love it, and then rots in the spring.
Equipment I use a Polaris Electric ATV and a few attachments around the place if needed. (Got a great deal from guy retiring/moving) I can recharge it from my solar generator if nedeed. Mostly I use it for the seeder, cultipacker, gang reel mower and a small trailer to haul stuff. Any ‘lawn’ is mowed with the Polaris/gang reel or a solar powered push mower.
I use a scythe instead of a weedeater around the pond and the fence lines every once in a while. Some fence lines I use vinegar on to kill the grass so I don’t have to do that in certain stretches for ‘looks’
Barn lighting/equipment shed/chicken shed and watering is solar powered.
Use a small electric chain saw for cutting up small stuff. We have a wood cutting party on a different friends place, and we rotate, every year and we all pitch in. I want to have one of the wood splitters I previously posted about made this summer to use to split it meantime.
That’s the basics 1974! of what I am doing