Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A Dollar Short

Welcome to our "Dollar Short" blog post that is clearly a day late.  Before we say anything else, Hobnob, one of our Indoor Farm Supervisors, would like to have a word with you.

A rare Hobnob appearance in the blog.
Hobnob would like to point out that all the humans out there are improperly using throw rugs in their homes.  THIS is how a throw rug should be placed and arranged.  See, even our blog gets delayed by ads... in this case, it is a public service announcement.  Perhaps we can be forgiven for that?

Farmers Considering Hydroponic Chickens in 2019

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  When Mother Nature gives you excess moisture,  you consider altering your production techniques to fit what is given to you.  We've been noticing that both hydroponics and aquaponics have gotten a great deal of attention lately.  In fact, it has gotten to the point that 'x-ponics' are down-right trendy.

Well, just like TV shows and movies, once someone comes up with what looks like a new idea and others decide it could be a good thing to do, everyone else copies the basic premise and dresses it up differently.  So, of course, we have noticed all sorts of off-shoots from the basic hydroponics idea.  A fairly recent development has been the 'hydroponic poultry system' that has been getting significant attention in poultry productions states that dealt with excess rain in 2018.  Apparently, poultry producers were noticing that flood waters broke into feed bins and mixed the feed into the water.  The birds were quite adept at finding the food and water mix, stationing themselves on perches that allowed them to dip their beaks into the water and getting everything they need nutritionally at one time.  The other positive was that their droppings could be moved away by flowing water, which meant the farmer did not have to clean out a coup.

Apparently, the new system features a recycled water system with a series of perches placed at the water surface.  Automatic feed distribution systems place a nutrient-rich feed mix on the 'supply end' of the 'pond' and filters on the other end collect the 'back-end product' (yes, that would be poo) which can be composted and used for fertility in fields.

We thought we'd skip the perches and get the birds inflatable life rafts.  Or maybe we would just do ducks...

Rhetorical Farm Cart

If a 'rhetorical question' does not require an answer, then it makes sense that a rhetorical farm cart does not need to carry any payload.  Sometimes, it is all about the existence of the item and the point it is trying to make - at least that's what we've been told.   We purchased this new cart at an auction recently for $15.  Why did we buy it?  Well, we were running short on cash and needed an influx of money somehow...

Now, hear us out on this.  Usually, a little cart like this, in good shape, with good tires, would cost a minimum of $100.  Heck, we've seen a pile of tires go for $15.  In fact, we've seen another running gear without a deck with similar characteristics go for a couple hundred dollars.  At the very least, we figure we saved $50 on this rhetorical farm cart.  So, technically, we are in the positive by $50 or more.  We're still working out why the balance in the checking account went DOWN however.

Volunteers Defeat Invasive Plants on the Farm

Invasive species are a problem in nature, but human tendency towards cultivation and other modifications of the landscape actually increases the odds that invasive species can take hold in every environment.  Our farm is not immune to the problem.  We have had a number of "Rogue Sunflowers" popping up through the snow drifts in March.  Happily, we often have service trip groups from Wartburg come out the farm each year and this year's task was Rogue Sunflower removal.  Nice job ladies!

Straight Line Genetics

We have been working on breeding vegetable crops that have a 'straight-line' trait to help us control competing weeds.  Anyone who farms agrees that rows and seed beds that run in parallel lines are much easier to cultivate AND it makes it possible to run drip line for irrigation.  Can you imagine running drip line for rows that look more like a snake than a ruler?

Plants with the new 'straight-line' trait operate a bit like some of the Computer-Assisted Design software products.  Plants "snap to grid" and correct their position within the established row, making up for human fallibility when it comes to planting.  We are noticing that the genetics have had a tendency to drift away from the target plants, however.  Did I mention that the Rogue Sunflowers seemed to be in a straight line?  Hm.

There is one obvious issue with the seeds from this new breeding program - we have to be careful how we orient the seed when we plant it in the ground.  If they get turned in the seeder, the plants won't be able to agree on WHERE the row is supposed to be.  Needless to say, we're working on a seeder to make sure each seed goes into the ground in such a way that all of them understand where the row is supposed to be.

Now, if we can get the weeds to grow in straight lines, that might a good thing too - as long as they don't choose the same line as our crops.

Tiny House For Felines

You probably have noticed the 'tiny house' concept for humans - well, here is the next new thing for pets - the litter bucket tiny home!  We read about cat lovers in a Chicago suburb placing litter buckets in the alleys and other locations where feral cats tend to be found.  After all, those poor critters suffer in the elements too!

There have apparently been a few issues with this approach that have yet to be addressed.  We have addressed one of them with Soup's personal 'tiny home' on the farm.  You see, most of the buckets in Chicago were put out with the lids on.  People were forgetting that cats do NOT have opposable thumbs and opening a lid is not likely to be easy for them.  When asked about this, one person said they were worried that the open side would result in the cat getting wet in a driving rainstorm, so they wanted to leave the lid there as a 'door' that the cat could shut.

Our solution allows the cat to get in and out just fine.  We figure if there is a driving rain coming in the opening, the cat can jump out quick and spin the bucket around in another direction.

There were several other problems noted with these tiny homes, but we'll let you figure out that bucket list on your own.

Some Assembly Required

Used kitchen for sale - some assembly required.
Figured It Out Yet?
We're always a 'day late and a dollar short' for our April Fool's posts.  So, if you hadn't figured it out by now - this is your official notice!  We hope you enjoyed it.

If you'd like to see prior year installments, here they are!
2018 April Fool Post
2017 April Fool Post
2016 April Fool Post
2015 April Fool Post
2014 April Fool Post
2013 April Fool Post
2012 April Fool Post

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