Water Conservation With a Vengeance

Since I live in the country, my water comes from a well. Let me tell you about my well. It’s 140 feet deep and delivers a quart of water per minute. That’s right — one quart. The rule of thumb is that a well isn’t adequate for a home unless it can deliver five gallons a minute, or twenty times more than what we have.

Here in Oregon’s Coast Range, we have the irony that it rains like crazy half the year (60-90 inches in my neighborhood), but the aquifers are very poor. The dry summers and the lack of water mean that agriculture is difficult — we only get one cutting of hay a year, for example. It’s not uncommon to have no rain at all in July and August. read more...

Keeping Cool at the Farmer’s Market

I had a brainstorm a couple of years ago about the problem of keeping fresh eggs and frozen broilers cool at the farmers’ market: salt-water ice. A saturated solution of salt water freezes (or melts) at zero degrees Fahrenheit. Not only is this cold enough to keep frozen broilers frozen, but it’s cold enough that water condenses as frost, not water, on the sides of salt-water ice containers, and frost doesn’t drip onto the egg cartons.

(One the ice inside the container melts, the ice on the outside will melt, too, but it works like a charm until then.) read more...

Welcome to the Blogosphere

After neglecting my email newsletter for some time, I’ve decided to throw in the towel and go to a blog format. This frees me from all the distribution headaches of maintaining a mailing list with thousands of names on it, and makes it easier to get material up on the Web where it belongs.

All the back issues of the newsletter are still available. Thanks to everyone for your interest in it over the years, and I’m hoping that this less-grueling format will allow me to provide you with plenty of interesting material. read more...

The Joy of Tractors

I like mowing. My parents built and ran a campground in the Redwoods when I was a kid, and mowing was my favorite chore. These days I mostly mow my pastures using a real tractor. You have to keep the grass short for the free-range chickens.

My tractor is a 1957 Ford 640. I’ve had it for over ten years, but it wasn’t until last year that I was really getting my money’s worth out of it. It was very hard to start. Changing it over from 6V to 12V and adding electronic ignition helped, but what really made the difference was having the tractor repair guy take it away and fix every single thing that was wrong with it. (John’s Mobile Tractor Repair of Lebanon, Oregon — highly recommended.) read more...