Thursday, April 14, 2011

The End of QE2 is in sight...

It is easier to blog than it is to run a homestead operation - hence, posting has been a bit light. I did want to share some pictures before I get on with my rant.

I start my garden with seedlings bought from the Amish folks up in Scotsville, KY. I constructed raised beds that are 14 inches deep (12 inches of cedar on top of bricks to keep them off the ground and dry), and am using the square foot gardening method this year. Each bed should produce at least 2 sets of 32 plants per year... or at least that's the plan.

Corn, potatoes, beans, and melons are grown in the field. This is my first year with "soft fruits": raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and black berries. I'll let you know, but I think we'll be fine as I have good guidance from the Amish family that sold them to me... and we have been doing the "pick your own" thing for 5 years now, making jams and preserves.

I milk at least one cow per day, and in the future when there is more milk than the family and the pigs can consume I intend to get some bottle calves and put them on the cows.

Over all, a family of 5 would need to raise 2 hogs per year, one steer, 100 chickens (for eggs and poultry), keep 2 milk cows (cows dry out every year so you'll need 2), several goats, a 1 acre garden and at least 3 acres in corn to keep everybody fed (we have more livestock than that, for reasons not entirely clear even to me). It sounds like a lot, but I think it takes about the time it would take to get in my car, drive to the gym, change my clothes, work out, shower, and drive home. Instead of dirty gym clothes I have food stuff coming out of my ears, and enjoy being outside and having something constructive to do.
Raised beds. 8, 8 x 4 cedar beds plus 1, 64 foot cinderblock bed.

Seeds planted and forced are outside hardening off but protect from wind in this box.

Here is my Hog Yard. Next month the hogs get penned in the back and corn, beans, and pumpkins will get planted in the yard (a little over .5 acre). The Hogs will harvest the produce themselves. See those Guinea hens in the background? I let them roam the farm as they are excellent natural pesticide.

We have 5 cows, 1 Bull and 20+ goats on pasture. They are grass fed and well cared for. We eat the males and milk females.

This is my breeding pen for meat birds. These are Jersey Giants and 2 Rhode Island Red Roosters whose daughters proved to be good egg layers. At least we think these are the Dads... nothing's perfect.

I use an incubator to hatch out a couple hundred eggs per month during the summer. I give the chicks we don't need as presents to friends and neighbors. We eat 2 birds per week, and only half or so survive to adulthood or harvesting... so we need to hatch at least 200 birds per year for our own consumption
This is the laying/breeding pen for layers.  After their second season I give them away. Poor folks do not look a gift chicken in the mouth. During spring and summer we have eggs coming out of our ears... enough for us to eat a dozen a day, fill the 270 egg incubator every month, and give some a way. That pen is on 2x4 sled runners and I move it several time per day so that the birds can have fresh grass and bugs along with their layer ration. Its a bit heavy but I'm only a chromosome or 2 away from being a Neanderthal, so it works for us.

The end of QE2 is in sight. I have to say that I have egg on my face for underestimating the impact that QE1 and QE2 had on the markets, but I think that the markets will not be kind to the longs as we get closer and closer to the end. We shall see.


kathy said...

I'm going to try the squash and pumpkins in a seperate field this year. Our season is much shorter than yours and I think my yeild would be better with more sun. As I have the space, it's not a problem.

PioneerPreppy said...

So do you butcher all those birds yourself? Livestock is something I just haven't gotten to yet, or at least past the planning stage as I just cannot see working it into my limited time yet. I cannot think of any other options except the way we did it when I was a kid and there is just no way with my work schedule.

Also stimulus bill cash runs out for schools at the end of this school year. Things are going to get even more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Like the pictures, looks pretty good. Best of luck with Bartholomew's sq ft' method. I have used a hybrid of that for many years now with good success.

The only thing I row plant-elsewhere are the squash/big growers. I still suggest Amaranth, it should grow well in your climate, golden giant produces plenty of high protein gluten free seeds--easily ground into flower. Mine grew too well last year, grew 10' tall and fell over in late September before the seeds were finished--always something different to mess things up with growing food :)


kathy said...

PP: The stimulus loss is probably going to cost us our small schools. It bought us two years but now there is no way to keep up services, especially with the increase in transportation costs. It's the downside to rural schools. Our legacy and health care cost are killing us. Our teachers retire at twenty years at 80% of pay and benefits. They often go on to sub at nearly full-time salary, thereby denying someone else a job while they (IMHO) double-dip. I homeschooled for several years to keep my teen-age daughter out of middle school. I guess that will be on the table for my youngest. I hope she doesn't mind a major in canning.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


I process all birds and goats, and some small pigs for roasts and suckling pig... big hogs and steers go to a local processor.

Stephen B. said...

I too really underestimated the brute force with which the fed inflated the markets starting at the end of 2008. After allowing for a decent bounce, I started shorting stuff, especially NQ futures. Now relax, I kept stops and due to years of practicing this kind of stuff, I actually scalped out a goodly number of profitable trades in 2009 and 2010, part time trading that is.

Still, I had a real problem with what was going on. The only reason the markets were up was due to the whole sale, monster inflating that was being done by the govt. bank. Now, of course, one never should fight the fed, but I'm sorry, things just didn't deserve to bounce back that way with all that printed and electronic money, from a moral point of view.

I did not lose my shirt. For 2010, I was profitable on trading (having just done my taxes.) Still, I have gotten to the point that I just don't want to participate in equity markets much any more because the last 2 years have proven that the whole thing is just so gamed - so much more than even I already knew, for now I just refuse to participate even on principle any more.

I know letting everything collapse would have been a disaster, but QE and QE2 was just so wrong. The feds and the Big Boys will have to find somebody else to fleece. They almost got me, and they missed, but I'm not playing any more (though I reserve the right to change my mind at some point.)

The farm looks great!

Stephen B. said...

One thing on Blogger....this thing still gives me an error that says "I'm sorry but we are unable to process your request at this time" or something largely to that effect each time I first attempt to preview or publish a comment. If not for learning to copy nearly every post of mine before submitting, I'd be retyping nearly everything.

'Hope Blogger figures out what's going on soon.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


We are blessed with a long growing season... and frightfully hot summers... though not as bad as your native Texas.


I have the hives coming May 10. I can't wait.

We are getting closer and closer to homestead self-sufficiency in that we can trade and sell our excess for most of the food stuffs we can't/don't grow. But not enough to pay for modern bills - cell phones, internet, cable, air conditioning... unless the price for Ag production moves much, much higher.

Anonymous said...

But not enough to pay for modern bills - cell phones, internet, cable, air conditioning...

That is okay Jeffers, if we keep on heading the way we are you won't need that stuff anyways.


P.S. I am very happy for you; I have been watching you build your homestead on here for 3 or 4 yrs now. Though I don't think I responded once until a yr or two ago. Anyways your property looks great!!

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Thanks Dex:

When I got here, I didn't know a goat from a sheep, didn't know straw came from wheat, didn't know anything...

It takes a while, but it can be done... and it is really, really fun. Of course, at the end of the day I am walking a little funny, but I have no problem falling asleep.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered some mulberry trees? The berries are similar to blackberries, at least the trees I have are, however some are different. They ripen about the same time as my blackberries too, just a little before. However harvest is a whole lot simpler. Simply lay out some old sheets and shake tree, then pick up sheets by the corners. Repeat every few days until the tree is done for the year.


Anonymous said...

I went all in on fund to track the S&P 500 on March 9th then got cold feet over the weekend and pulled it all out on the next Monday. Been on the sideline kicking myself in the dairy-air since then. However I still think my analysis is right, these companies look awful and this makes no sense. That whole don’t buy what you don’t fully understand thing.

I have been asking myself, do I buy QE3? While on some levels I want to, I think probably not, I think I’ll just stay out until we have accounting I can believe in. Until accounting fraud is taken seriously I am going to have a hard time buying anything.

Also, what’s wrong with buying companies that make products you like, and pay dividends, at 6-8 times earnings and selling them at 12-15. And I think dividends are key here; I don’t care what your lying auditors say, if you want me to believe you did well- prove it. I can’t help but think at some point real fundamentals will return.


Donal Lang said...

Dan, you're right about fundamentals, but I'd go further. The underlying economy of real people making real stuff and selling it, without subsidy, market distortions and protectionism. Real education for real needs; proper jobs, agriculture, forestry, fishing, engineering, mining, building things.

Solar and wind power yes, but the ultimate solar is a piece of land growing stuff, not a PV panel with zero EROI imported from China.

Ultimately Greg's fundamentals; real food in your backyard. Looks great Greg!

The end of QE means a reassertion of the fundamentals, and the economies (not just in the USA) will rediscover gravity.

PioneerPreppy said...

I think you will enjoy the additions of your working girls Greg.

I am just waiting to get past any frost danger to start some splits and hope to double my hives this year.

Progress around my place is slow until work calms down and the seasonal layoffs begin then I go whole hog. I really need to follow your example and look into some more livestock other than the sheep and horses my mother keeps here.

kathy said...

We lost several hives this winter. Massaschusetts had brutal wind and that's really hard on bees. The new hives are in and the new queens just arrived. The surviving hives are strong and we'll do some splits as well. If you want a real treat, get the equipment and learn to make creamed honey. It's our biggest seller. I have put some nut trees in but the buggers take forever to produce. I am hoping to have hazelnts this year. The Fedco order arrived yesterday. That's what I'm investing in; trees and fruit bushes. I'm loving permaculture. Less work and more food. I'm glad that my family immigrated to Massachusetts. The winters are tough but spring, summer and fall make up for it.

Anonymous said...


I don't think that QE3 or even QE4 will be the end of it. In a post several days ago you talked about us being beyond the point of no return, and logically TPTB should extend things as long as possible. Perhaps that is just what's going on. Extend and pretend until it becomes impossible. These are very interesting times.


Coal Guy

Unrepentantcowboy said...

Excellent, sir.

You're one of few.


Anonymous said...

Coal Guy,
I fleshed out some of my reasoning behind stating that default is inevitable on my blog. I was going to post here but alas it is too long and I don’t feel like fighting blogger. It’s only about a page and I think it would probably take about a dozen pages to fully nail it down and explain my assumptions but I haven’t got time at the moment.