Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Seven Fat Cows 1.1: The property

Rick spent the second day doing inventory. It is of no value to have “stuff” if you cannot find the tool you need in five minutes.

Rick had three fence post driver, a dozen hammers, more screwdrivers than were worth counting etc., ad nauseam.

That is when he made a fundamental decision. Rather than grouping items by what they were, he grouped them by task. One fence post driver went into the pile for pasture fencing. One went into the pile for gardening. The third went into the pile for “back-up”. To make them easy to find he painted them white and made a mental note to paint over the white with a fluorescent orange...if he had time.

A distressing number of items were junk. He started a burn pile and covered the pile with “natural” wood. The township was pretty easy-going with regard to the ordinance against burning “manufactured products” but he knew better than to rub their noses in the fact that sometimes the occasional broken shovel handle ended up on the bonfire.

The inventory revealed that he had enough pesticides to last for a decade but he was woefully short of fertilizer and certain kinds of seeds. Lots of bicycles and twice as many flat tires.

He leased twenty of his forty acres to a local farmer who grew the traditional corn-beans-wheat rotation. The last rotation had been wheat and consequently the fields were fallow in late December. If events wobbled the very worst possible way the farmer would not be planting corn the following spring. More likely he would get them planted but the prices would be so low come November it would not pay to harvest. Or maybe nothing would happen.

Rick and Kate had a horse that Kate occasionally rode. And when they had a bunch of kids at home they typically raised a couple of beef animals each year. They ran those animals together on about three acres of pasture behind the house. The house sat on two acres along with the garden and orchard.

There were ten acres at the back of the property that Rick had never done much with. It was low and swampy and filled with “gopher wood”. That is, wood that burned really fast. Over the last few years Rick had cut all the dead ash out of the woods as it died off from the emerald ash borer. He had also been scattering walnuts and acorns at the edge of the swamp in hopes of up-grading the stock and improving the hunting but so far those trees were very young.

The last five acres was along the west edge of the property. Rick had dedicated that to a wildlife travel corridor. While the trees were a little bit of everything he had planted clumps of Black Locust such that 25% of the trees were that species. Not only was Black Locust great firewood, it made durable fence posts and the nitrogen the trees fixed help their neighbors grow better.

When Kate came home Rick said, “I have been thinking on this Ebola issue. I don’t know if it is for real but I want to move up some of the improvements we have been talking about.”

Kate sighed. There had been a scare five years ago and Rick had done the same thing, although to his credit he had lived like a pauper until the pre-spending had been paid for.

They fed the stored grain to meat chickens and kept the entire, extended family in meat for two years.

“How much and what do you think we should spend it on?” Kate asked.

Next Installment

1 comment: