Envr Preparing to Survive and Thrive in a Solar Minimum climate

von Koehler

Veteran Member
Six years until the projected worst - more than enough time to start a raised bed gardening system, and put in some dwarf fruit trees that start bearing in just a few years (we've gotten ours from Stark Bros for decades) and berries. Even those with a tiny yard can do something. We're changing out our raised beds from wood to metal, and putting hardware cloth on the bottom to help keep mice out of root crops. Stocking up on mouse traps would be good. This winter's colder temps have increased the mice in our garden/chicken area. Fortunately the chickens love mice, alive or just trapped.

We have Irish Dexter cattle, and we're bringing down our numbers while keeping most of the smaller adults. For those considering goats/sheep for meat, milk, and/or fiber, suggest actually trying the meat/milk if you haven't yet. DH can't tolerate lamb, while I love it. I've heard that from a number of goat owners....love the animals, hate the meat. Now is the time to find what you really like, and choose that if you're planning on livestock. Nigerian Dwarf goats are a great size and produce meat and milk. Fencing is a huge hurdle with smaller livestock though, and predators will visit frequently in colder weather. Rabbits are good, too, as are chickens, ducks, and quail. Also, plan now for hay. It will take a LOT of hay to get through colder winters. We went through quite a few round bales and bought supplemental squares to tide us over during the worst of the cold...and so did everyone else....it was selling out quickly. Pallets and tarps will work nicely for squares if there is no barn space.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace (not the best, I know), now is the time to plan for firewood. I've seen neighbors doing that lately, and we should be just about out of winter down here, so I think people are taking this seriously. We're working on our deadfall now, marking trees for thinning as future firewood, and starting to plant young trees/seedlings for the future....we're just fortunate we have some wooded areas on our place.

Warmer clothing, extra blankets and comforters, a deep pantry, the list just goes on and on....six years, if we get that much time, is a blessing not to be wasted.
Dexter cattle keep coming up as an ideal homestead breed; during the LIA in Europe many cattle were lost to the cold, torrential rains [hoof rot], and lack of feed. A thrifty bred would seem to best. Tamworth pigs are also an good homestead choice; a hardy bacon type grazer.

von Koehler
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
On the topic of firewood, our new place has several large black locust trees in the yard. Some of them are going to need to come out in order to make a garden (too much shade, and one tree is already mostly dead); I may leave a couple that are on the west side of the house for afternoon shade, at least until I get something else planted there. But black locusts are one of the trees that will coppice or pollard. That means that when you cut them, they will send up sprouts from the stump. Whether you call it coppiced or pollarded depends on how high you cut the stump; coppiced trees are cut just a few inches above the ground, while pollarded trees may look like what some cities do to trees that have grown too tall under the power lines -- tall stubs with sprouts growing from them. Coppicing and pollarding were done a lot in England and Europe because the sprouts that came up were quite useful for tool handles, fencing, and firewood, among many other uses, and didn't require tedious splitting before use. I plan to let my cut black locusts coppice, for all of these uses. There are other trees that can be planted for this purpose, and some coppiced trees can be used for livestock feed. (Pollarding was done to get the sprouts up too high for the cattle to browse on them.) Coppiced nut trees will usually still produce a crop of nuts. The usual management technique was to cut sections in rotation, so there was always some new growth and always some mature growth. The lists below are not all-inclusive, but these are the types of trees that have been used the most.

Some Trees you can Coppice:

Willow
Linden/basswood (called lime in England)
Oak
Hazel
Ash
Chestnut
Black locust
Alder
Hornbeam
Beech
Poplar/cottonwood (not a desirable firewood, nor is it very useful for any outdoor furniture or fencing)
Pretty much any deciduous tree that doesn't bleed too much when cut (such as maples)


Some Trees you can Pollard:

Beech Fagus spp.
Black locust Robinia pseudoacacia
Catalpa Catalpa spp.
Hornbeam Carpinus spp.
Horsechestnut Aesculus hippocastanum
Linden Tilia spp.
London planetree Platanus xacerifolia
Mulberry Morus spp.
Redbud Cercis canadensis
Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima
Willow Salix spp.

Here is one of many articles online on this topic: https://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/coppicing-firewood

Kathleen
An advantage to coppice is that the shoots are already the best diameter for firewood; no splitting required. Just cut to desired length.

von Koehler
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
For Rodent control, if you have food storage or even a rural home you will really want cats or rat terriers (ferrets are still used in Ireland but they have to be trained, if you are good with animals you can trade your services because cats and dogs can't get inside walls easily).

Poison while perhaps useful at the start of things, runs out and produces resistance; cats can't catch everything but they do a good enough job that 9,000 years ago when the first farmers moved to the Island of Malta, they brought them along with their pigs, goats, seeds and farming tools.

Good breeds for cold weather (you can clip them in a very hot summer) would first be Norwegian Forest Cats and/or Siberians (they are really pretty much the same cat; just different areas of Northern Europe) the "Weggies" have specialized claws for climbing sheer cliff faces int he wild and live in Prides in the wild forests; the toms will tolerate their grown sons, often for life (and almost always if you castrate them, since spaying is only an option with modern medical care, that's an important skill too).

I'd pick "the Weggies" over the Main Coons (or do what we did by accident, combine them to make humongous "Vineland Cats") because while Main Coons are strong and intelligent they are also "loners," great if you only need one or two cats (siblings usually stay friends) for a cottage, but not so great if you need a farm colony for your home, grain storage, and several buildings.

If you just can't stand cats or have an extremely allergic family member (so even just having working cats is a bad idea) rat terrier dogs are a good option; you can do both but have to raise them together, otherwise the dogs tend to kill the cats (with individual exceptions that prove the rule).

In reality you will want everything you can get, including 10-year-olds with shotguns, killing rats who will try to ooze into your barns and below the floor of your home to seek the warmth; then have population explosions in the Spring.

Oh the other thing about Forest Cats (not sure about their Siberian Cousins) is that they will drop their long coats in the hot summers (which an Ice Age is likely to have) and pile them back on in Winter - their coats are recessive, so interbreeding with local short haired cats will get huge shorthairs but even they tend to have the double coat that repels rain and ice better than say a Siamese (who are also fantastic working cats but not for Ice Age preparations).

This may seem a silly thing to add to this thread, but it won't be if rodents and "varmints" get your seed crops or winter storage; you don't need THAT many of them, but you will want some help from animal companions.

Dogs have the advantage of being able to eat almost anything, cats do need some extra feeding but also can live partly on what they catch under bad conditions (we ALWAYS feed our barn cats but in an SHTF situation, they don't do as well on boiled potatoes for a week as a dog will).

I'm am starting to think that while this thread is fun, it might be a good idea to start something "Brainstorming: The Best Preps for a Coming Little Ice Age?" we could start ont the main and/or put it in the prep forums.

I'm only suggesting it because this thread is great, but it is a mix of science/commentary on the sun etc and also preps just in case.

What do others think?
 

TxGal

Day by day
As well as the warmer clothing and more blankets, I've gotten enough socks, underwear and washcloths to last me for months, as I do not care to hand wash a lot of clothing if I have to spend the colder winters grid down. And where I live in rural Arkansas,grid down will be almost a certainty. I don't mind wearing outer clothes a long time if underclothing is clean. I've knitted myself several pairs of long john bottoms and have fleece to make a few super warm outfits that will look sort of like pajamas or work suits but will be for daywear. I get cold very easily so this fleece clothing will be double layered.

I've put together complete sets of knitting needles and crochet hooks and lots of instructions and patterns, and I've accumulated enough yarn to start a small knit shop. Since I can't handle a large garden any more, knitting simple warm clothing items could be the best way I have to barter or just make friends.
Knitting and crocheting is fast becoming a lost art among the general population. I crochet and do needlework, but tending the garden and livestock often leaves me with little time or energy to do either. I can tell you honestly that while we were feeding livestock daily for weeks in near or below freezing temps with often single digit wind chills, we would have bartered meat or eggs for another knit scarf or hat in a heartbeat. That is a valuable skill you have and could be a true asset going forward....as would be teaching the skill to others.
 

TxGal

Day by day
This may seem a silly thing to add to this thread, but it won't be if rodents and "varmints" get your seed crops or winter storage; you don't need THAT many of them, but you will want some help from animal companions.
It isn't silly, believe me. We have always overwintered potatoes and some carrots in our garden, and always had some tiny potatoes perfect for seed potatoes in the spring garden. This winter we saw mouse holes in our potato area, and knew we were in trouble. We just started prepping our garden, and yep, the mice ruined what was overwintered - gnawed on bigger produce, and we didn't see any tiny potatoes at all. I just bought seed potatoes this week. This is the first winter mice have gone after our overwintered root crops.

Everyone needs to be aware of what could happen, even if it hasn't happened to them in past years. This winter has been a game changer for us.
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Six years until the projected worst - more than enough time to start a raised bed gardening system, and put in some dwarf fruit trees that start bearing in just a few years (we've gotten ours from Stark Bros for decades) and berries. Even those with a tiny yard can do something. We're changing out our raised beds from wood to metal, and putting hardware cloth on the bottom to help keep mice out of root crops. Stocking up on mouse traps would be good. This winter's colder temps have increased the mice in our garden/chicken area. Fortunately the chickens love mice, alive or just trapped.

We have Irish Dexter cattle, and we're bringing down our numbers while keeping most of the smaller adults. For those considering goats/sheep for meat, milk, and/or fiber, suggest actually trying the meat/milk if you haven't yet. DH can't tolerate lamb, while I love it. I've heard that from a number of goat owners....love the animals, hate the meat. Now is the time to find what you really like, and choose that if you're planning on livestock. Nigerian Dwarf goats are a great size and produce meat and milk. Fencing is a huge hurdle with smaller livestock though, and predators will visit frequently in colder weather. Rabbits are good, too, as are chickens, ducks, and quail. Also, plan now for hay. It will take a LOT of hay to get through colder winters. We went through quite a few round bales and bought supplemental squares to tide us over during the worst of the cold...and so did everyone else....it was selling out quickly. Pallets and tarps will work nicely for squares if there is no barn space.

If you have a wood stove or fireplace (not the best, I know), now is the time to plan for firewood. I've seen neighbors doing that lately, and we should be just about out of winter down here, so I think people are taking this seriously. We're working on our deadfall now, marking trees for thinning as future firewood, and starting to plant young trees/seedlings for the future....we're just fortunate we have some wooded areas on our place.

Warmer clothing, extra blankets and comforters, a deep pantry, the list just goes on and on....six years, if we get that much time, is a blessing not to be wasted.
The nice thing about a wood stove, if you have cows, horses, etc., is you can burn the dried dung in your stove to supplement peat or wood.
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
For Rodent control, if you have food storage or even a rural home you will really want cats or rat terriers (ferrets are still used in Ireland but they have to be trained, if you are good with animals you can trade your services because cats and dogs can't get inside walls easily).

Poison while perhaps useful at the start of things, runs out and produces resistance; cats can't catch everything but they do a good enough job that 9,000 years ago when the first farmers moved to the Island of Malta, they brought them along with their pigs, goats, seeds and farming tools.

Good breeds for cold weather (you can clip them in a very hot summer) would first be Norwegian Forest Cats and/or Siberians (they are really pretty much the same cat; just different areas of Northern Europe) the "Weggies" have specialized claws for climbing sheer cliff faces int he wild and live in Prides in the wild forests; the toms will tolerate their grown sons, often for life (and almost always if you castrate them, since spaying is only an option with modern medical care, that's an important skill too).

I'd pick "the Weggies" over the Main Coons (or do what we did by accident, combine them to make humongous "Vineland Cats") because while Main Coons are strong and intelligent they are also "loners," great if you only need one or two cats (siblings usually stay friends) for a cottage, but not so great if you need a farm colony for your home, grain storage, and several buildings.

If you just can't stand cats or have an extremely allergic family member (so even just having working cats is a bad idea) rat terrier dogs are a good option; you can do both but have to raise them together, otherwise the dogs tend to kill the cats (with individual exceptions that prove the rule).

In reality you will want everything you can get, including 10-year-olds with shotguns, killing rats who will try to ooze into your barns and below the floor of your home to seek the warmth; then have population explosions in the Spring.

Oh the other thing about Forest Cats (not sure about their Siberian Cousins) is that they will drop their long coats in the hot summers (which an Ice Age is likely to have) and pile them back on in Winter - their coats are recessive, so interbreeding with local short haired cats will get huge shorthairs but even they tend to have the double coat that repels rain and ice better than say a Siamese (who are also fantastic working cats but not for Ice Age preparations).

This may seem a silly thing to add to this thread, but it won't be if rodents and "varmints" get your seed crops or winter storage; you don't need THAT many of them, but you will want some help from animal companions.

Dogs have the advantage of being able to eat almost anything, cats do need some extra feeding but also can live partly on what they catch under bad conditions (we ALWAYS feed our barn cats but in an SHTF situation, they don't do as well on boiled potatoes for a week as a dog will).

I'm am starting to think that while this thread is fun, it might be a good idea to start something "Brainstorming: The Best Preps for a Coming Little Ice Age?" we could start ont the main and/or put it in the prep forums.

I'm only suggesting it because this thread is great, but it is a mix of science/commentary on the sun etc and also preps just in case.

What do others think?
Is this cat you are referring to?

 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
Knitting and crocheting is fast becoming a lost art among the general population. I crochet and do needlework, but tending the garden and livestock often leaves me with little time or energy to do either. I can tell you honestly that while we were feeding livestock daily for weeks in near or below freezing temps with often single digit wind chills, we would have bartered meat or eggs for another knit scarf or hat in a heartbeat. That is a valuable skill you have and could be a true asset going forward....as would be teaching the skill to others.
Agreed, and it's the main reason I haven't sold my wonderful, double bed Passap knitting machine, although I haven't found the time to use it for over 10 years. It will even knit socks in the round, as well as doing true ribbing, and fancy stitches, which can often be warmer than plain stockinette... I can't for the life of me right now think of the name of a stitch... I want to call it fisherman's knit, and that's not right. But it's basically a 1:1 rib knit for the entire body of the sweater, and the ended texture makes it super warm just like the waffle knit pattern in long johns used to. Is it waffle knit, maybe?

I have a wonderful wool Barbour heavy tweed sweater in that pattern, and it's one of the warmest and most comfortable sweaters I've ever owned. Sadly, I've worn it to death, and I didn't listen to my conscience and start mending small tears when they happened... Bandit was teething when it was fairly new, and that was the beginning of the end. :-(

I CAN knit and crochet by hand, and have made several knitted sweaters as well as baby socks, and crocheted baby blankets over the years, but im never going to be fast at it. The machine can make a sweater in a day, even multi color or in a complex pattern.

Summerthyme
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Is this cat you are referring to?

Yes those be the cats, mine aka The Vikiing, looks like the orange one in front, but his muzzle lis shaped more like the grey one on the left. The Viking also has ear tufts, they're blond.



Siberian Forest Cats have a distinct curve in their tails, and yes Melodi they shed two of their three coats in warmer climates.

 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
Guys... we're going to start using this thread for posts on the practical aspects of surviving a Solar Minimum and the resulting climate changes involved. I'm going to move my posts from the previous thread here now, and then, if Dennis doesn't have any problem with it, I'll try to get the rest of the "non-scientific" threads moved from the main thread over here.

Summerthyme
 

Martinhouse

Veteran Member
Might the knit stitch you are thinking of be seed stitch? I use it most of the time because it makes my sweaters and scarves lots thicker and warmer without the stiffness and weight of doubled or heavier yarn.

When I need thicker things like headbands (I have a touchy earache problem) I use rib stitch with a smaller needle and make the ribs in the direction of stretch so they don't spread apart.
 

Martinhouse

Veteran Member
P.S. Separating these GSM threads is a good idea, but I'm still going to read the science thread. Lots of important things to learn about there, too.
 

TxGal

Day by day
Dexter cattle keep coming up as an ideal homestead breed; during the LIA in Europe many cattle were lost to the cold, torrential rains [hoof rot], and lack of feed. A thrifty bred would seem to best. Tamworth pigs are also an good homestead choice; a hardy bacon type grazer.

von Koehler
We've had the Dexter cattle for quite a few years now, and we've found them pretty easy to manage. Their smaller size and tendency to browse is a true asset. I know some will train a cow to milk, and others have trained steers as oxen, but we have no plans to do so. We do supply our own beef and try to be as organic/natural as possible. I know we have at least one other member who raises Dexters, and there may be a few.

Briefly, they come into two body types, long-legged and short-legged. We have always had both, but due to the smaller size are leaning more toward the shorts (must watch the gene pool for the bulldog gene). A smaller adult animal obviously requires less pasture for grazing, less feed, etc., than a large breed. We've had a good many ranchers with the larger cattle such as Brangus, Limousines, and Angus, come by to chat about the benefits of the smaller cattle. We've found ours to be excellent mothers and downright protective if strangers walk down the road, dogs or deer are nearby, etc. We always go on alert if the cattle seem to be watching something we can't see. They are never wrong.

They are also a hardy breed. Ours have handled high heat, droughts, freezes, and snow, without difficulty. However, cold, wet, and windy combined is the absolute worst of the weather conditions, and we've had it in spades this winter for extended periods of time, which is very unusual for us. This is what we're planning for going forward. We'll add extra windbreaks where we can, and we'll have to be getting in a lot more hay than we usually do and likely more protein tubs. Wet pastures also increase the parasite load, so that means extra wormers, too.

With a solar minimum, everything we do will require more thought and planning going forward.
 

Jacki

Senior Member
Summerthyme, could the stitch you are thinking of be Brioche? If so, it is a little more time consuming than rib, but very very warm.

Jacki
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
I've seen lots of African and African Americans work in Deep Snow, I used to live in Denver; from the Janitors to the Bus drivers and EMT's; a lot of them were BLACK.

Yes, probably a lot had some European DNA, but there are also HIGH places that get VERY COLD in Africa too; I donated a bunch of wool yarn to a friend who was visiting a close African friend that runs an orphanage in Africa for Africans; they needed WOOL to teach the girls knitting because it gets REALLY Cold and it SNOWS in the higher mountains.

Yes; it is true that so far what we can tell of ancient DNA is that people move into Europe with DARK SKINS, DARK HAIR and Blue to Light Eyes and within a few thousand years they get lighter; and it is known that PHYSICALLY MOST far Northern Europeans are better Cold Adapted than those of say the Amazon Jungle or The African Rain Forest; the differences are not so extreme that good clothing, proper nutrition, and situational awareness can't make up for them.

Heck, some of the most cold-adapted people (from a physical viewpoint) on Earth are Orientals (the eye fold protects from harsh Winter/Arctic sunlight) my Japanese-American professor said he spent have his days in graduate school being "tested" by fellow P.h.d. students who needed guinia pigs to sit in cold chambers with him hooked up to monitors.

While it is true that certain groups of people are better adapted to one climate or another; that pales in comparison to the ability to tan hides and make clothing; in reality if it were really true the world was getting hotter it is the Northern Europeans (like those in Australia) that would be most at risk. We had a family visit from down-under and the poor kids had "Summer" clothing that covered them from head to foot and included backward "baseball caps" to protect them from non-existent Irish Summer Sun (we eventually got the parents to let them take them off).

Enough, lets get back to SCIENCE; or on the prep thread if we have any actual African Americans (or darker Skinned Latin American members) we can chat on that thread about the best ways to medically deal with severe cold and some of the special issues they might be at risk for, in the same way, that Northern Europeans are a higher risk for getting dangerous SUn Burns when the sun reflects off the snow (again 6 years at the foot of the Rocky Mountains with my "Celtic Properestant Fish Belly White Skin)...
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Summerthyme, could the stitch you are thinking of be Brioche? If so, it is a little more time consuming than rib, but very very warm.

Jacki
It would probably be a good idea to put the link to the Solar Minimum thread in the OP of this thread.
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
We've had the Dexter cattle for quite a few years now, and we've found them pretty easy to manage. Their smaller size and tendency to browse is a true asset. I know some will train a cow to milk, and others have trained steers as oxen, but we have no plans to do so. We do supply our own beef and try to be as organic/natural as possible. I know we have at least one other member who raises Dexters, and there may be a few.

Briefly, they come into two body types, long-legged and short-legged. We have always had both, but due to the smaller size are leaning more toward the shorts (must watch the gene pool for the bulldog gene). A smaller adult animal obviously requires less pasture for grazing, less feed, etc., than a large breed. We've had a good many ranchers with the larger cattle such as Brangus, Limousines, and Angus, come by to chat about the benefits of the smaller cattle. We've found ours to be excellent mothers and downright protective if strangers walk down the road, dogs or deer are nearby, etc. We always go on alert if the cattle seem to be watching something we can't see. They are never wrong.

They are also a hardy breed. Ours have handled high heat, droughts, freezes, and snow, without difficulty. However, cold, wet, and windy combined is the absolute worst of the weather conditions, and we've had it in spades this winter for extended periods of time, which is very unusual for us. This is what we're planning for going forward. We'll add extra windbreaks where we can, and we'll have to be getting in a lot more hay than we usually do and likely more protein tubs. Wet pastures also increase the parasite load, so that means extra wormers, too.

With a solar minimum, everything we do will require more thought and planning going forward.
It's funny, but we're doing the opposite... phasing out our short legged Dexters, and aiming towards a more medium sized cow (I prefer one about 42" in height... these little 36" cows are just WAY too small to produce a profitable beef steer, and beef is our "retirement" income.

Our customers are perfectly happy with a carcass that averages around 350# hanging weight.. much larger and it begins to be a problem in terms of cost and freezer space for your average suburban consumer. But the steers which hang at 200# (HOGS can be larger than that at 6-8 months!) just aren't profitable. We still get a few, but with selective breeding and a wonderful bull who has thrown 15 out of 17 calves which are medium/large (long legged) and only two short leggeds in the group, we're reaching our goal.

The smaller animals are being sold as registered stock to homesteaders who specifically want a small cow, although truthfully, they don't eat THAT much less than the larger ones... they tend to be SHORT, rather than "small".

The bulldog trait is easily eliminated... at this point, our bull is chondrodysplasia free, and probably all the cows but one 16 year old (the oldest daughter of one of two foundation animals we bought in 2000) are as well. For several years, we bred all artificial, using only tested free bulls, and once you're two generations into that, the gene (which is recessive) is gone. Thankfully!

Dexters are great cows! We almost never have to assist a calving, although last year one of our smaller animals had a bull calf who weighed almost 60# (average on the small ones is closer to 30#) and she suffered from uterine inertia... and the calf was coming upside down. I turned that blasted calf 7 times.... and 7 times it flipped back upside down. I actually called our vet (haven't had to have a vet assist a calving in many years, even with our dairy cows), but suddenly got a brainstorm that it just didn't feel to me like her uterus was contracting properly. I gave her a shot of oxytocin, turned the calf one last time (my arms were like wet noodles by that time, and went into spasm at unpredictable times for days afterwards!) and it stayed! We still had a heck of a time pulling it, which was explained when we saw the size of the thing, but the baby bull was fine, and the cow recovered with no problems.

We do routinely vaccinate for the various respiratory issues (which is becoming ever more important with the weirder winters we're having... for example, it's in the hig 40's again today, but will be in the single digits again Monday night.. and then back into the 40s again by Wednesday! We've always called that "pneumonia weather", because it's terribly stressful on animals) but they are essentially organic at this point. And they thrive on that regimen.

You're right about them being protective... yet they are oddly very easy to handle for US even when they have a newborn. One of our first calves born was born after a fairly protracted labor, on a night when the temps were well below zero. Just to make things more interesting, we had a cougar roaming around the farm that winter. Shortly after I'd delivered the calf, I was drying it off and my English Shepherd suddenly started eyeing the outside door and snarling in a way that chilled my blood... all his hackles were raised. I'm thinking, "great! Here I am, sitting in birth fluids and blood, and there's a cougar just outside the door (and a dog door in that door!)

Anyway, I dried the calf and then left it and the mother to bond, as it was a first calf heifer and they sometimes will get a little strange if you interfere too much. I went out two hours later to make sure things were ok, and was horrified to see that the calf hadn't moved... it was dying of hypothermia. I gathered heat lamps, a blow dryer, blankets, etc and began warming it up. And once I got it warmed up enough so it was holding it's head up, I realized that it had to get colostrum (the first milk which has all the antibodies they'll have for a few months) into it, and quickly.

And here I am, in a box stall with a 2 year old beef cow who hasn't ever been handled, no one to help (hubby was sleeping and I wasn't going to wake him up at midnight unless I really couldn't handle something)... and I needed to milk her to feed the calf.

I expected a rodeo, but decided to play it low key at first. I plunked a pail under her, gingerly reached down and began milking... and was stunned when she didn't even move. She looked at me, looked at her calf, then stoically looked straight ahead and let me milk her out. I fed the calf, tucked it in with blankets under the heat lamp, and the cow thoroughly nosed the whole arrangement, then carefully laid down as close as she could get without laying on the calf. They're SMART cows!

OTOH, our hired hand was walking home across our pasture with his .22, hunting woodchucks on the way, and the herd spotted him. They instantly went on full alert, and then (he told me this the next day, and was still clearly shaken), all got together in a group and headed towards him... as he put it, "they were hunting ME!" He had to shoot into the ground ahead of them to stop them!

I also observed them this spring gather all the calves together and group them inside a circle of cows, all facing outwards, when a strange dog trotted across the pasture. They looked like a herd of Musk oxen! We've had a couple which were dangerous... they get turned into hamburger as soon as we realize they aren't going to change their behavior.

Our cold winters and the rotational grazing practices we've followed since 1986 (we were the first dairy herd in NY state to adopt the then-new rotational grazing idea... it saved our farm and kept us solvent) pretty much mean we don't have worm issues. I worm my horses 2x a year, but we almost never worm cattle. We once did fecal testing on an entire group of 13 yearlings... not a single worm egg was found. Since we've kept a closed herd for over 25 years, we don't bring in problems, which really helps.

We do have plenty of barn space for the number of animals we can manage to feed on our acreage, so shelter isn't a problem. But they could be outwintered as long as they had access to some 3-sided shelters to keep them dry in heavy snow or (worse, as TxGal points out) cold rain.

I'm currently conditioning a very small coming-two-year old heifer to have her udder handled.... DS wants a milk cow where they live, until they move to our farm (in the next couple of years, we hope). Their slightly unexpected new baby coming in September (they have a 7 month old now) may have put a bit of a crimp in their plans... or may have sped them up. I'm not sure!) Anyway, we decided Cricket would make a perfect milk cow for them, provided DS will build a milking stand like they used to use for their milk goat, but a lot stronger! Trying to milk a cow whose udder is only 10" off the ground is a backbreaker!

The breed has one fairly major drawback... they mature sexually earlier than ANY breed of cattle I've ever seen (even Jerseys, which tend to be quite precocious). Almost every owner has had at least one "oops" where they suddenly discover that their 12 month old heifer is 7 months pregnant! The problem is, they can't have the calf that young. If you don't discover it in time to abort them by 7 months or so, a c-section is the only way to save them. Bulls are equally precocious... I've seen a 4 month old bull toddle over, breed a yearling heifer, and then trot back to mama and start nursing! It's nuts!!

So, they don't lend themselves to range type management. Bull calves need to be castrated (we band ours at around 4 weeks) young. And heifers MUST be separated from the herd bull by 4-5 months. The only other option is to plan on giving every heifer a shot at weaning to abort any possible early pregnancy. Done early enough, it's not really hard on them and doesn't affect their future fertility, but we prefer to have our cows pregnancy checked by about 120 days post calving (this year, the bull got every one of the 18 open cows pregnant within 30 days, and he was only 17 months old. Last year, he got all but three pregnant in the first month... at SIX MONTHS OLD. It took him 3 months longer to get the three largest cows in the herd bred!) and then pull the bull away from them. We could wean the calves early instead, but we prefer to leave them on their mothers until it's time to bring them into the barn in mid-November, and by then, all the heifers would be pregnant if we'd left them with the bull.

It's interesting to me that despite the very early maturity, they also are very long lived. (normally, early maturity goes with shorter lifespans). It's not unusual for cows to carry calves regularly into their mid twenties. Our 16 year old has a slight limp from an injured hip, but aside from that, she's hale and hearty, and is likely already pregnant after having her 14th calf in September.

We have noticed, though, that the extremely short legged animals in the breed tend to develop arthritis, especially in their hips and back legs. I suspect there is actually something like hip dysplasia in dogs going on along with that anatomy. Our foundation cow, Katie Rose, was terribly crippled by the time she was 13. We actually thought about putting her down, but then her hips apparently fused on their own... she HOPPED from then on, rather than trotting like a normal cow, but she lived until last fall, when we reluctantly put her down after discovering that she had pneumonia. She had had congestive heart failure for a couple of years, but was still leading the herd the 1/2 mile to the barn at a gallop every day this summer (granted, then she spent 5 minutes gasping for breath!), and was obviously still enjoying life. But winter was getting increasingly hard on her... last winter, I had her dressed in a purple pony blanket all winter, as she could no longer maintain her body weight very well and hence, had little cold tolerance.

I made the hard choice to put her down when I realized that I could probably save her despite the pneumonia, but that she was facing another painful winter, and her heart condition was only going to get worse. She'd had a wonderful summer and fall, and we decided we owed it to her to not prolong her misery. We led her up into a hayfield, and when she dropped her head and started tearing mouthfuls of sweet clover out of the field, hubby shot her and she dropped in her tracks. She would have been 20 in April.

I'll have to tell a couple of funny Katie Rose stories sometime... she was THE smartest cow I've ever seen, and if there could ever be one which could make us rethink eating meat, she would have been it!

Summerthyme
 

Stanb999

Veteran Member
Here are a few pictures of my greenhouses i took today. Two are hydroponic and one is in the ground.

In the last week we have fully cleaned them out. We also tilled, fertilized, and recovered the soil beds in the one hoophouse. You should note that my location is in the mountains of north eastern pennsylvania. Im very adept at growing in adverse conditions.
 

Attachments

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
Summerthyme, could the stitch you are thinking of be Brioche? If so, it is a little more time consuming than rib, but very very warm.

Jacki
Almost! I finally remembered... Shaker stitch, or "Fisherman's rib".

This knitting tutorial will help you learn how to knit the Fisherman’s Rib Stitch. This is a reversible pattern that creates a thick fabric with lots of volume and horizontal stretch. It is a great stitch for scarves, hats, and sweaters. It is similar to the Brioche stitch but has a slightly different look. It is also known as: Shaker’s Rib.
http://newstitchaday.com/how-to-knit-the-fishermans-rib-stitch/

Summerthyme
 

Stanb999

Veteran Member
Summertyme, we went with a Jersey. Dairy are just so much more dosile than beefers, IMHO.
How big do your dexters get on average? Are they much smaller than a smaller Jeresy?

P.S. my Jersey is a big girl pushing 1000lbs.
 

Stanb999

Veteran Member
Propane. Its the easiest way to do it "offgrid".

I only heat a few weeks in early spring and just the tomatoes so its not a lot.
 

packyderms_wife

Neither here nor there.
Here are a few pictures of my greenhouses i took today. Two are hydroponic and one is in the ground.

In the last week we have fully cleaned them out. We also tilled, fertilized, and recovered the soil beds in the one hoophouse. You should note that my location is in the mountains of north eastern pennsylvania. Im very adept at growing in adverse conditions.
Hey, put these in the greenhouse thread in the gardening forum please! TIA.
 

Jacki

Senior Member
Fishermans rib is a Brioche stitch. I actually found it easier to do two color brioche. I sometimes got the one color rib mixed on whether I was bping, or bking. That is if you are using two strands to do the fishermans rib.

Jacki
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
Summertyme, we went with a Jersey. Dairy are just so much more dosile than beefers, IMHO.
How big do your dexters get on average? Are they much smaller than a smaller Jeresy?

P.S. my Jersey is a big girl pushing 1000lbs.
We have a Jersey -Dexter cross for our milk cow. Her milk averages around 6% butterfat, and I swear as she gets towards the end of her lactation, it might be closer to 8% (I was getting a pint of heavy cream off 2 quarts of milk towards the end this time!)

She's approximately as tall as our tallest Dexter cow... 46". Probably 900# Plenty big to easily get a milking machine underneath.

OTOH, we have some Dexters that barely reach 34" tall. They still probably weigh at least 500#... as I said in my long post above, they tend to be "short", but not "small". Some people who have visited us were disappointed when they first saw them... I think they were envisioning something like a "minature horse", which can be almost perfectly proportioned, tiny horses. My mini is 37" tall, but only weighs 290#.

We do have a couple of yearlings (Cricket being one.. the other is Blondie, who is pretty much a Katie Rose clone, with much better leg set and better proportioned, and who is likely going to stick around just because of that) which are significantly better proportioned in terms of body depth and size compared to leg length.

I know what you're saying about beefers... they often tend to be on the wild side, even when handled regularly. Dexters certainly can BE wild... when we were milking our dairy herd, the Dexters sort of got pushed to the back burner (almost literally... we kept them back in a 20 acre woods pasture so they weren't stealing good feed from the dairy animals), and when we wanted to round them up and get them in the barn after selling the milkers, it took several Amish teens on horseback, plus several others with lunge whips and strong legs. It was a 3 ring circus.

And putting them in tie stalls and getting them tied up for the first few weeks was... interesting!

Now, we laugh about it. We had to find a new vet soon after we sold the cows, as ours had retired due to medical issues. His first question, when we had him come out for a herd pregnancy check was "can they be caught?" I assured him that they could be. He was stunned to find them all standing docilely in tie stalls. And even moreso when he asked "how long did it take you to get them in" (because we'd asked for a bit of notice before he got there, so we could get them in from the pasture", and we replied "15 minutes. 5 minutes for the Border Collie to round them up, and 10 minutes to sort them out and get them all tied".

They're smart enough that they respond to voice commands. They're all trained so that when we holler "right there", as they're walking by an empty stall, they'll turn 90 degrees and go into the stall. If they start going into an occupied stall (being cows, sometimes they just have to see if they can fit 5 animals into a double stall!) we'll yell "no!", and they stop, back out and head farther along the line until we say "right there".

It's actually possible for us to get the entire herd in alone, although it does go faster with 2 of us.

I'll have to try to get some photos of a few individuals to show size comparisons and type...
Summerthyme
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
Yep, those are the kitties and it is basically Fisherman's Rib on the Passup though I just got mine and promptly broke a needle; one thing about knitting machines, there is only one Company making them in China (that may change in a little while but I can't talk about it) anyway for now there is only one company and reports are the machines are not that great, they are quite expensive and only use the larger yarns.

The older machines, especially restored, are becoming scarce as hobbyist find out they simply can't get cheap machines anymore (you can get plastic round "knitting spools" that are easier to use for some elderly people and children - I plan to get some for my preps eventually, but they are not real machines, just giant knitting spools like children use to make with nails and wooden spool).

We (housemate and I) went for non-electric ones (though I will be getting an optional motor (hopefully) in the near future, but we wanted something that ran with mechanics and did decorations with mechanical punch cards rather than the old 80's computers that are still around.

I also have a floor loom, spinning wheels and Inkle Looms; right now they are a hobby but the stuff we make from them helps, I hand knit a lot of socks and in this climate we need them and if it gets even colder (little ice age) conditions we will need them even more.

I also pick up "on-sale" hunting or hiking socks made of wool (especially those intended for men) because they are also warm, wool and should last for a while when people are busy, especially if the SHTF.

And yes, those are the Viking Kitties; and the Russian Kitties; they are all probably related to Turkish Van cats and some Forest Cats LOVE water just like Turkish Vans. We met one at a breeder in the UK during one very hot summer; a breeding tom that spent almost all Summer in his outdoor run in a baby bathtub with only his nose stuck out of the water.

Our former breeder in Sweden had pictures of my husband's late special kitty playing in sprinklers and getting very wet; again Ice Age conditions are likely to have the very hot Nordic Summers in many places (including possible Ireland if the Ocean currents change) but the growing seasons are shorter; over here (and in Alaska) the long days help make up for that but that may not be true further South.

By the way, Texas has one of the pioneering programs for rehoming (and training) former urban feral cats that are in places they can't stay as barn cats; I don't have their address anymore (we now have this even in Ireland, our local feed store has adverts for "natural pest control specialists aka barn cats) but there are probably a number of rescues doing this now and they should be online.

Most farms and homesteads only need about five cats, more only if you have a number of locations (like different outbuildings fairly far apart etc); the best solution is indoor/outdoor or "kitchen cats" but most former ferals are just happy to have a nice barn and a food dish.

I really like this thread, it is a great idea....
 

Faroe

Un-spun
I like the live metal box traps for mice. If you leave them out all the time, the mice get wary, but used on occasion, I've trapped a dozen at a time in those. I crush them in a barrel with a long 2X4. Sounds brutal, but it is quick. We don't use poision, and I know what they eat (the chicken and rabbit feed), so I re-cycle them as fresh kill snake food. Daniella, the Sonoran Gopher can gulp down three in one feeding. (I've actually thought of breeding her, and letting the babies go free in the yard to eat the mice, but most of the offspring would probably meet unfortunate fates, and that would make me sad. The people in this town are not kind to snakes.)

As for knitting, I got back into practice with my spindle - it is a bit like riding a bike, but I'm still not quite at my best yet for a very fine, even thread. This year's goal is to make a pair of over the knee stockings starting from raw wool (I've done short socks and gloves before). I pulled out all the tubs of knitting/spinning stuff and ORGANIZED it. Remember, wool attracts moths, and if you look at surviving historical garments, you will notice that very few have come down to us that are wool. The same goes for old embroidery - we still have the pieces stitched in linen, but the crewl wool embroidery was mostly eaten up by moths. Don't let that be your clothing. I've had the best results with putting things individually in tied cotton pillow cases. Add a label on the outside, so you don't have to untie the pillow case to find out what is in it. Also, if spindles are your thing, check out Lois Swale's Spin like a Scots Woman video. She is using an unusual spindle here that is short, wider at the bottom, and doubles as a nostpinne. I would not bother with it for spinning fine threads, but it would allow one to skip the tedious winding step after plying, if used for that. Etsy has several makers of this tool, and Lois has her own store too. Not pushing that, I've not ever ordered from her.

I've been saving noiles and junky fleece bits for felting, but a surprisingly large amount of felt goes into something like a wool felt slipper. A few videos on that skill are worth watching to get the idea of how it is done. Maybe I'll have enough wool after processing for spinning a whole fleece. Coming wool produces much more junk wool than carding. I always comb - I hate carding, although flicking with dog brush can produce good results (and little waste) since your fiber stays straight w/o matting it up in the carders.

We had a frustrating prep FAIL this morning. The spigot to the Berkey water filter broke, and where were the spares?? We have spares...somewhere...and for a couple of years they were taped underneath the other water dispenser, but they are not there now, and neither one of us can remember what was done with them. I have two labled boxes for spare filter cones, washers, etc., but neither box has the spigots, and they are no where else to be found in logical places either. Grrr.... Obvious lesson is get organized, except that I thought we were.
 

Stanb999

Veteran Member
We have a Jersey -Dexter cross for our milk cow. Her milk averages around 6% butterfat, and I swear as she gets towards the end of her lactation, it might be closer to 8% (I was getting a pint of heavy cream off 2 quarts of milk towards the end this time!)

She's approximately as tall as our tallest Dexter cow... 46". Probably 900# Plenty big to easily get a milking machine underneath.

OTOH, we have some Dexters that barely reach 34" tall. They still probably weigh at least 500#... as I said in my long post above, they tend to be "short", but not "small". Some people who have visited us were disappointed when they first saw them... I think they were envisioning something like a "minature horse", which can be almost perfectly proportioned, tiny horses. My mini is 37" tall, but only weighs 290#.

We do have a couple of yearlings (Cricket being one.. the other is Blondie, who is pretty much a Katie Rose clone, with much better leg set and better proportioned, and who is likely going to stick around just because of that) which are significantly better proportioned in terms of body depth and size compared to leg length.

I know what you're saying about beefers... they often tend to be on the wild side, even when handled regularly. Dexters certainly can BE wild... when we were milking our dairy herd, the Dexters sort of got pushed to the back burner (almost literally... we kept them back in a 20 acre woods pasture so they weren't stealing good feed from the dairy animals), and when we wanted to round them up and get them in the barn after selling the milkers, it took several Amish teens on horseback, plus several others with lunge whips and strong legs. It was a 3 ring circus.

And putting them in tie stalls and getting them tied up for the first few weeks was... interesting!

Now, we laugh about it. We had to find a new vet soon after we sold the cows, as ours had retired due to medical issues. His first question, when we had him come out for a herd pregnancy check was "can they be caught?" I assured him that they could be. He was stunned to find them all standing docilely in tie stalls. And even moreso when he asked "how long did it take you to get them in" (because we'd asked for a bit of notice before he got there, so we could get them in from the pasture", and we replied "15 minutes. 5 minutes for the Border Collie to round them up, and 10 minutes to sort them out and get them all tied".

They're smart enough that they respond to voice commands. They're all trained so that when we holler "right there", as they're walking by an empty stall, they'll turn 90 degrees and go into the stall. If they start going into an occupied stall (being cows, sometimes they just have to see if they can fit 5 animals into a double stall!) we'll yell "no!", and they stop, back out and head farther along the line until we say "right there".

It's actually possible for us to get the entire herd in alone, although it does go faster with 2 of us.

I'll have to try to get some photos of a few individuals to show size comparisons and type...
Summerthyme
Please do share pictures... when Rose (our jersey) is out on pasture we can just call her and she will come running. I just go and yell " Rose ". Then she comes running. She is sweet as pie. Really a true honest to goodness blessing to our farm. She provides the base level of protein for the chickens and pigs, plus ample nutrient for the gardens.
 

summerthyme

Administrator
_______________
My horses have always been trained to come when I call. Frustrates the local Amish to no end, as they often require kids, dogs, grain or someone riding another horse to get theirs into the barn. And no, they aren't abusive (at least, not the ones I know and are talking about)... they just apparently don't bother doing the minimal training/rewarding it takes to have your horse absolutely thrilled to come to you, no matter what.

Bella, my current pony sized Quarter Horse, can be quietly grazing in the paddock or field. I'll go out and call "Bella, Ginger, come on in" (it's sort of a sing-song, in notes they recognize as being the "time to head inside" command). Her head will come up, she'll happily whinny and then she breaks into a dead run and gallops as fast as she can up to me, sliding to a stop just in time. I swear she's laughing...

The dairy cows (and now the beef herd) were trained to come in at normal times to "come boss" calls. It sort of comes out "Ca boss", and again, it's at least partly the tones it's called in that they recognize. But that doesn't work as well in the middle of the day, if we need them for a vet check or some other change in routine. And there are always laggards and just plain PITA's who don't feel like coming! That's where a well trained Border Collie is worth his weight in gold. We open the door, say "Bring them in, Prince", and he heads out to whatever field he saw them last. If they aren't there, he'll usually look back at us as if to ask "where did you put them" and we'll motion and say "way up" or "up the lane"... and out he heads, as fast as he can run. He circles around them, gets them moving... and occasionally just can't resist cutting one out of the herd and herding her this way and that, just to prove he can! Yes, he could use more work!

But he can bring an entire herd 3/4 of a mile from the back pasture to the barn by himself, without help. If some are being especially a problem, or he misses one (one hid back with a calf, or was just hiding over a small knoll and he didn't see her) we say "go find Whoever"... and he does. Don't know how we ever did without that dog!

Summerthyme
 

Deena in GA

Administrator
_______________
Great thread! I mentioned the solar minimum and the threads on tb2k to my husband and 19 yo son today and our son immediately said, "we need to grow more food and can more". Isn't it great when your child gets it?!!
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
Yep, those are the kitties and it is basically Fisherman's Rib on the Passup though I just got mine and promptly broke a needle; one thing about knitting machines, there is only one Company making them in China (that may change in a little while but I can't talk about it) anyway for now there is only one company and reports are the machines are not that great, they are quite expensive and only use the larger yarns.

The older machines, especially restored, are becoming scarce as hobbyist find out they simply can't get cheap machines anymore (you can get plastic round "knitting spools" that are easier to use for some elderly people and children - I plan to get some for my preps eventually, but they are not real machines, just giant knitting spools like children use to make with nails and wooden spool).

We (housemate and I) went for non-electric ones (though I will be getting an optional motor (hopefully) in the near future, but we wanted something that ran with mechanics and did decorations with mechanical punch cards rather than the old 80's computers that are still around.

I also have a floor loom, spinning wheels and Inkle Looms; right now they are a hobby but the stuff we make from them helps, I hand knit a lot of socks and in this climate we need them and if it gets even colder (little ice age) conditions we will need them even more.

I also pick up "on-sale" hunting or hiking socks made of wool (especially those intended for men) because they are also warm, wool and should last for a while when people are busy, especially if the SHTF.

And yes, those are the Viking Kitties; and the Russian Kitties; they are all probably related to Turkish Van cats and some Forest Cats LOVE water just like Turkish Vans. We met one at a breeder in the UK during one very hot summer; a breeding tom that spent almost all Summer in his outdoor run in a baby bathtub with only his nose stuck out of the water.

Our former breeder in Sweden had pictures of my husband's late special kitty playing in sprinklers and getting very wet; again Ice Age conditions are likely to have the very hot Nordic Summers in many places (including possible Ireland if the Ocean currents change) but the growing seasons are shorter; over here (and in Alaska) the long days help make up for that but that may not be true further South.

By the way, Texas has one of the pioneering programs for rehoming (and training) former urban feral cats that are in places they can't stay as barn cats; I don't have their address anymore (we now have this even in Ireland, our local feed store has adverts for "natural pest control specialists aka barn cats) but there are probably a number of rescues doing this now and they should be online.

Most farms and homesteads only need about five cats, more only if you have a number of locations (like different outbuildings fairly far apart etc); the best solution is indoor/outdoor or "kitchen cats" but most former ferals are just happy to have a nice barn and a food dish.

I really like this thread, it is a great idea....
http://www.ebay.com/bhp/passap

Is this what you are referring to? Seems like some good deals on eBay.

von Koehler
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
http://www.ebay.com/bhp/passap

Is this what you are referring to? Seems like some good deals on eBay.

von Koehler
For parts, yes; I noticed the machine like mine only with the old computer is 2400 dollars; I didn't check all of them as I used local resources rather than E-bay to get my machine(s) from a retired engineer and his wife who have a house full of them and restore them as a hobby.

I probably will hunt e-bay for things like extra needles etc, though again our local supplier (about a 50 mile drive so not close at 10 dollars a gallon gasoline but doable every so often) is probably going to be a better source (they go to shows in the UK and buy stuff from all over Europe).

These machines used are a lot cheaper in Ireland (I paid about 400 dollars for mine, including the optional pattern box) because many were used in the 1970's and 1980's for home "micro-industries" and people associate them with poverty.

They are also rather large and very heavy, so not a great idea for people living in tiny public houses, apartments or cottages (most Irish homes are much smaller than Americans, we live in a "Big House" which still isn't all that big, especially the room sizes).

From the research I did, if you are very lucky you can get a Passup 80 machine in the US for about 500 dollars used, but they are common at around 1800 dollars.

However, there are a lot of used textile tool boards connected to hobby groups and people often sell their looms, knitting machines etc for much less to a good home.

It is all about doing your research, deciding what you want to use it for and then doing a lot of looking around.

We got ours with the idea that if we wanted/needed to we could do production work but if not we could make most of the garments we would need as a household plus things like presents and the like more quickly.

The quick part doesn't matter so much right now, but it would if things got bad enough that we really needed the homemade stuff and didn't have 5 Euro wool sweaters showing up in the Charity Shops (aka Thrift Stores) the way we do now.

The moths in our climate mean that no matter how careful you are, there is a certain loss each year, especially in terms of work clothing - and I'd prefer my husband feed the horse wearing a machine knitted sweater I made in an afternoon to him wearing the hand knit textile art I make him for special wear.

Oh and these machines are not "cheating" over here they used to be called "Knitting Looms" because they really are basically a weaving loom (the old ones operate almost the same way) and do take some skills and practice to learn (I am just starting).
 

RDF12

Contributing Member
Hello everyone.
I just joined.
But I wanted to put in my experiences.
I live in the UpState NY/Central NY.
We get about 200inches of snow per winter. Single digits and negs are not uncommon. It was -23 in the morning last week.

I have Dexters. Only two, and the one did not take to AI last year. We will try again this year. While they are hardy, we keep them in the barn over winter. We get some serious winds up here and the windchill could kill them.
I breed the goats last year. 5 birthed, but one did not make it.
Last year I raised 3 hogs. They were on pasture.
I have grown Glenn wheat with good results. It was a small plot. I tried a larger plot, the following year. It took! And then the wild turkeys took the wheat.
I have grown barley with good results.
We heat with wood, so we try to keep several extra cords on hand. This year I am going to try to get two seasons worth off the land.
My gardens did not do well last year. Too wet and cold. Even the beans would not take! They would spout, but then rot.
A few years back we had a rat issue. My pellet rifle took care of that. We still have a few around, but that is to be expected. I put out traps in the barn.
Thank you all for posting your experiences. I got a few ideas!
 

von Koehler

Veteran Member
For parts, yes; I noticed the machine like mine only with the old computer is 2400 dollars; I didn't check all of them as I used local resources rather than E-bay to get my machine(s) from a retired engineer and his wife who have a house full of them and restore them as a hobby.

I probably will hunt e-bay for things like extra needles etc, though again our local supplier (about a 50 mile drive so not close at 10 dollars a gallon gasoline but doable every so often) is probably going to be a better source (they go to shows in the UK and buy stuff from all over Europe).

These machines used are a lot cheaper in Ireland (I paid about 400 dollars for mine, including the optional pattern box) because many were used in the 1970's and 1980's for home "micro-industries" and people associate them with poverty.

They are also rather large and very heavy, so not a great idea for people living in tiny public houses, apartments or cottages (most Irish homes are much smaller than Americans, we live in a "Big House" which still isn't all that big, especially the room sizes).

From the research I did, if you are very lucky you can get a Passup 80 machine in the US for about 500 dollars used, but they are common at around 1800 dollars.

However, there are a lot of used textile tool boards connected to hobby groups and people often sell their looms, knitting machines etc for much less to a good home.

It is all about doing your research, deciding what you want to use it for and then doing a lot of looking around.

We got ours with the idea that if we wanted/needed to we could do production work but if not we could make most of the garments we would need as a household plus things like presents and the like more quickly.

The quick part doesn't matter so much right now, but it would if things got bad enough that we really needed the homemade stuff and didn't have 5 Euro wool sweaters showing up in the Charity Shops (aka Thrift Stores) the way we do now.

The moths in our climate mean that no matter how careful you are, there is a certain loss each year, especially in terms of work clothing - and I'd prefer my husband feed the horse wearing a machine knitted sweater I made in an afternoon to him wearing the hand knit textile art I make him for special wear.

Oh and these machines are not "cheating" over here they used to be called "Knitting Looms" because they really are basically a weaving loom (the old ones operate almost the same way) and do take some skills and practice to learn (I am just starting).
For an absolute beginner, is there reference guide to the various models and their features? How do you know what to buy? What are the differences between models?

von Koehler
 

Sacajawea

Veteran Member
There are so many things to think about, and it looks like y'all have the food side pretty well covered. I had no idea this thread was going to take off - but each & every one of the shared experiences of snow/cold is going to help someone think what needs to be done at their place.

Welcome RDF! I have been thinking that things that do well in your growing zone, might be what I plant down in here WV. Because I'm on the west side of the mountain, quite often we can get lake effect snow - all the way from Michigan & Cleveland. Hasn't happened yet this winter... but February can be our storm month. Rainy, foggy and going to 55 today here. The twiggy ends of trees are starting to turn red now.

Our buildings and infrastructure systems can be impacted by the cold in ways that might not be foreseeable. Friend in the midwest had his septic freeze up during that month long cold. Yes, it was buried below the conventional frost line. My house got old windows/doors replaced - and the amount of glass facing west reduced (that's my prevailing wind direction). It has HELPED, but there is more insulation work in my future... and caulking. I used almost a full tank (787 gals) of propane last month... and that's with augmenting the heat with a woodstove. You don't want to know how much that costs here.

Snow would help insulate things from freezing so deep... but I haven't been lucky in that area yet. Now that things are thawing out... the top couple inches is very slippery mud. Road, driveway and ditch work is another area to think about improving. Torrential rains could very well be part of the "adjustment" toward a shorter growing season. Thin out trees and prune branches back that could snap in strong winds and freezing temps. You don't need broken windows/roof repairs in the winter. I'm considering adding exterior shutters. The rolldown metal storm shutters popular in hurricane areas will also give you another air pocket of insulation over glass - not much, but every bit helps. I'll probably have to go with wood. Heavy curtains/window quilts on the inside is another option.
 

Melodi

Disaster Cat
For an absolute beginner, is there reference guide to the various models and their features? How do you know what to buy? What are the differences between models?

von Koehler
I spent most of a week on the web googling things like "best knitting machine recommendations" or "Youtube Passup 80" or "Comparing Knitting machines. "

there are several free sites where people have done their own reviews here are a couple of them:

http://knittsings.com/how-to-buy-a-used-knitting-machine-gauge-and-parts/

http://www.woolfestival.com/articles/knittingmachines1.htm

https://machineknittingadvice.com/brother-knitting-machine-reviews/

My favorite was: http://www.aboutknittingmachines.com/
 

Faroe

Un-spun
One thing about knitting for those who won't have a machine, Pick one thing, like a sock pattern and knit several pairs of them of them. Knitters of the past seem to have had mainly a single style - Fairisle, Sedestal, fisherman, gansey, etc. One of my knitting books has a family photo of about twenty people all in the same sort of Sedestal sweater. Mine took me forever to knit, but I'm sure the grandmother who made all of those had a much easier time with subsequent ones.

IIRC, a skilled knitter could finished a mitten in a day, and that was completed with all with the other usual chores from a century ago. Same for socks, and the pattern was eventually committed to memory - huge time saver.
 

Deena in GA

Administrator
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Stanb, awesome greenhouses! Congrats!

Knitting and crocheting aren't quite as much of a lost art as some seem to think. I have a great deal of competition from others on Etsy, Amazon and at the market I sell at. And even other vendors who don't sell their crocheting or knitting do it for themselves. One of the things that I've found really cool is the number of young women and girls who come by my booth and chat with me about crocheting and how they are learning to do it. One young girl who is about 9 or 10 has been bringing her crocheted items by to show me for the past couple of years. Several of my young granddaughters are very interested in learning too. I have a lot of hope that these skills will not be lost.

Also, don't forget about taking care of our own health. Our homemade colloidal silver has kept us from having to go to the doctor or urgent care several times already this winter. In fact, my youngest son was bragging on it just this morning. Says its the only thing that helped his throat when he had strep. Its very easy to make. The generators and silver wire don't cost that much and end us saving you a lot of money.
 
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