Archive for November, 2009

I must get better at blogging in the present; September’s fence-building trip was ages ago, and I’m still not done writing about it, but there are other things Farm-related that are newsworthy.  Which is the whole point of keeping this blog, so we’re moving on.

You’ll hear about the Big Pencil Sharpener another time, then.

We had a six-month extension to file our taxes this year because of my deployment, and so October was all about sorting through receipts and filling out my Form F, accompanied by more research and reading of tax law relating to sole proprietorships and farm businesses.  Lots of reading.  And finally, the light went on.  Like smelling the proverbial cup of coffee, I got a strong whiff of exactly what I need to do in my particular situation, which is to take concrete actions toward making my farm business a reality.

So, I’m wrapping up an eight-week online course on Writing a Successful Business Plan, and although The Plan is a long way from actually being written, I have the tools and skills I need to write it,  know what research needs done and what needs to be included in it.  It’s a daunting task but, broken down into separate elements, quite doable.  And so I’ve begun.  I’ll share bits and pieces here, as I draft my mission statement and drill down into the details of setting up a grass-fed livestock enterprise.

I also took a huge leap and booked arrangements to attend the Acres U.S.A. Farm Conference in St. Paul, MN.  I fly out on Monday, to attend a two-day intensive pre-conference workshop on livestock systems entitled “Full-Circle Grazing Managment – Cow, Soil, Management, Grass”.   Learning from and meeting experts like Jerry Brunetti, Gearld Fry, Greg Judy, Neal Kinsey and all the rest will be a life-changing experience, I’m sure, along with the opportunity to meet like-minded farmers in all stages of production. 

Should be an amazing week, and I’ll try to journal it here as it unfolds.



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Plumbing the hinge post

We dug 12 post holes in all; four large enough for gate posts, eight fencepost-sized.  Not by hand, of course, or at least not entirely by hand.  The PTO-operated posthole digger with a 9- and a 12-inch auger did most of the work, but Kentucky Jack digs postholeshas its share of rock, which resisted the machine’s auger tip and had to be busted out by hand.  The old-fashioned way, with the tools you see here, and lots of elbow, back and arm grease.  Once the buried layer of rock had been punched through, the auger was able to finish the dig.  I’d say of the 12 holes, only 3 were uncomplicated by a 4-inch layer of rock that lies about 12-inches beneath this area.

A few lessons learned:

1) Lining up post holes is easier said than done.  Check them after they’re dug by propping the posts up in the holes and stringing a line across their tops, if you want the fenceline to be straight.  We measured and flagged every one, but they all had to be adjusted before the posts were set.  Posthole diggers are not precision instruments.

2) Body weight helps when using the spud bar to break rock.  Get the guy to do that part.

3) Don’t even think about digging postholes or setting posts without a spud bar.  Tool of choice, nonpareil.

As for plumbing the posts, the approach varied from the textbook version of using a level since our posts weren’t milled perfectly uniform from top to bottom like store-bought posts would be.  Cedar trees taper and are larger at the bottom than the top – how to plant a post plumb then?  Skidder had the solution, learned from prior experience; a stake laid across the top of the post with a line and plumb bob hung from the end gives a vertical reference through the post’s center.  Viewed from two different angles 90 degrees apart ensures a perfectly plumb post.  Worked like a charm.  I’ll plumb all my posts this way from now on.

farm fence and gates

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