Posts Tagged ‘farming’

Sustainability at the Flying T Ranch


Solar PanelsOur family mission is to glorify God in all ways.  We live this out at the Flying T Ranch as we raise, manage, and use His creation in a healthy, sustainable, humane, and respectful manner.

Over the past years, we have found the “sustainable” goal to be one of the most elusive.  Sustainable practices with our livestock began with the species and breeds we chose for the farm.  Some of these have been successful, and others not so much.

For example, our first few years with Muscovy ducks were very productive.  We chose them for their hardiness and reputation for being good at reproducing and raising young on their own.  However, when we later ran into significant problems with predators, we found that they didn’t do well at all under such pressure and when we penned them for protection, they weren’t nearly as happy, and thus not nearly as productive.

Likewise, our journey towards better stewardship of the natural resources involved in producing energy for electricity and heat has been rocky at times.  Some of our ventures have been less productive than others.  However, over the past few years, we have steadily improved in this area, primarily by reducing demand.  Much of what we have done has been relatively “low-budget”: improving our energy use practices, installing energy-efficient lighting, using timers and thermostats for heat lamps during the winter and kidding season, and servicing our heating systems for instance.  Others have cost more: programmable thermostats, installing better insulation and replacing some old leaky doors, and swapping out some appliances for more efficient ones.  These have all combined to reduce our demand significantly.

Recently, we took a step towards the supply side of sustainable energy, through the installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system.

We originally considered solar several years ago, but at that time, it simply wasn’t affordable, and the time for us to recoup our investment was almost beyond the life expectancy of the panels and inverters themselves.  Since then, the efficiency of panels has gone up significantly, while the cost per kw has gone down as well.  Though that ratio of performance-to-cost continues to climb, we had saved the money we needed and felt we were in a “sweet spot” this year to go forward.

We approached three companies who do business in New Hampshire to evaluate our needs and potential and to submit bids.  Each of these companies came up with similar project proposals, but with a significant difference in cost.  Two of the companies particularly impressed us with their organization, professionalism, and other aspects of their proposals, and after negotiations that brought the bid down considerably, we signed a contract with Tesla/SolarCity.

Because our energy use increases in the winter (and especially in late winter during kidding) while available solar energy decreases, the system we have installed will not supply all of our needs in the winter.  However, in the summer when our energy consumption decreases while solar energy increases, we should exceed it by quite a bit.  Over the course of the year, we should come close to providing all of our electricity needs, and as we continue to lower our consumption, we hope to have a net positive yield.

As part of the project, our utility company installed a “net meter” that keeps track of electricity we draw from the grid vs what we send back.  On months that we produce more than we consume, we will receive a credit in our bill for the excess.

The system has been in operation for just over a week at this time, the calculations in our project proposal forecasted our production to be roughly equal to our consumption in April.  Weather has been relatively typical, with intervals of sunny days and complete overcasts.  We have had a day of heavy rain and two of light snow.  And the results?

Here’s a snapshot of our best day this past week:

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Now, granted, every day hasn’t been that sunny.  Our worst day was a low overcast where we only saw 7kWh of production, and the others have ranged from the 20s to the low 60s.

But, over the past week, the average has been more production than consumption, and her is what our meter looked like a couple days ago:

Meter

Yes, it’s rolling backwards from zero.  Our current meter reading is negative 111 kwh (and it’s dropped more in the past couple days).

If you’re looking to install solar (or to buy a Tesla vehicle), consider using our referral code: (https://ts.la/patrick34826).  Doing so through that link will qualify you for incentives from Tesla/SolarCity, which currently include a 5yr extended warranty for solar panels or free supercharging for certain Tesla vehicles.

Full disclosure: Doing so will give us a referral bonus (currently a credit towards our next project, which we hope to be a PowerWall battery system).

We continue working towards more sustainable and resilient practices at the Flying T Ranch, and we would love to hear from you.  What are you doing at your home and/or farm to increase efficiency, reduce consumption, and incorporate renewables?  Comment below!

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2015 Boer Goat Kids for Sale


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Well, our kidding season is over – 12 kids from 5 does! – and all are growing healthily.  At the Flying T, we prefer to allow these kids to nurse on their moms for a bit over two months ’till weaning, so we are taking deposits for June transfers.  All may be registered with ABGA either as Fullblood (100%) or American Purebred (at 99%).  You can check out more information (including contact info) on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheFlyingTRanch or our website: http://www.flyingtnh.com

First is Phoenix, an all-red girl with dark highlights, born 3/25, offered at $350 obo.  Her sister, Chili (looking at the camera), is Reserved until after the Hopkinton Fair on Labor Day

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Their brother, Turbo, is offered at $300.

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Tweet, born 4/1, is a traditionally-marked female, offered at $325.  Her brother, Hercules, is our best buckling of the season and is offered at $350.  (UPDATE: SALE PENDING on Herc.  We are taking backup offers).

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Raptor is a male born 4/9 with a half-blond face (hard to see in this pic).  He and his brother Orion (hooded) are offered at $300 each.  (UPDATE: SALE PENDING on Orion, Backup Offers are being taken).

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Kiowa, born 4/9 is traditionally-marked American Purebred, offered at $300 (UPDATE: SALE PENDING, backup offers will be taken).

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Her fellow triplets are brothers, Hawkeye (paint with spot on back) and Tomcat (Traditional), also offered for $300 each.

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Piper and Dragonfly, born 4/13 are American Purebred females and are reserved until after the Hopkinton State Fair.

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2015 Kids – Part 2


Our second of five pregnant does gave birth yesterday.  A traditional red-headed doeling followed by a similar buckling.  This is a bit unusual as more often than not, bucklings are born first.  Both were very-good sized, much bigger at birth than Jessie’s three surviving quadruplets.

IMG_8194Ruby is our “loudmouth” doe, and the doeling takes after her.  The human kids have decided to name her “Tweet,” after the T-37B trainer aircraft known as one of the loudest in the Air Force inventory (it was also known as the “6,000 dog whistle” and the “Converter” because it was the most efficient machine ever made for converting fuel into noise).

Tweet’s brother has been named “Hercules,” after the C-130.  Herc is a big boy, and once he dried off weighed 11 pounds and 12 ounces, more than a pound heavier than Tweet, who was on the heavy side for a doeling (10 lbs 6 ounces).

We still have three girls left to kid, and the barn is getting full and loud!

Finding Nemo


Winter storm Nemo is just starting to arrive.  The ducks don’t seem to mind.

Like Snow off a Duck’s Back

Well, one of them might mind a little bit…

Captions are welcome in the comments section below.

 

Mystery Chick Contest Update – 10 Days


The chicks are doing well for the most part.  We lost two barred rock chicks in the first few days, but the others are thriving.  We’ve already removed 2 sides of the smaller enclosure to allow the chicks a bit more room.  They grow pretty quickly, and for those of you participating (or desiring) to compete in the contest, here are some updated photos.  Feel free to change your answers at any time as the chicks become more recognizable.

Chick A – 10 days

Chick B – 10 days

Chick C – 10 days

Feel free to join in!  Just click here to read the details and submit an entry.

Contest: Identify the Mystery Chicks!


Our first contest…  Be the first to identify (correctly) the breeds and genders of our mystery chicks and win our grand prize!

As a surprise for David, we added 3 hatchery-choice “mystery chicks” to his order of Barred Rocks without his knowing it.   They are supposed to be 3 different breeds of brown egg layers.  The kids have made guesses on their breeds, and I think they’re definitely right on two of the three, but I’ll keep their guesses secret for now.

Rules:
1) To enter, simply post a comment with ONE guess for each chick’s identity.  Something like:

  • Chick A: Pearl Guinea Fowl, female
  • Chick B: Ruffed Grouse, male
  • Chick C: Purple Tribble, hermaphrodite

2) We’ll keep the blog posted with pics as the chicks mature, and announce our findings when we’re really sure.
3) Any disagreements on the breed will be settled by Judy, “the Chicken Lady,” at Clark’s Grain Store.
4) Winner will be the first (based on the time/date stamp of the comment) with all three breeds and genders correctly identified.
5) Make sure there’s some way for me to get in touch with you – if your sign-in name doesn’t have a way to do that, you can shoot us an email (our contact info is on our farm website: http://www.flyingtnh.com).  Just make sure to identify yourself and your post.

The prize?  Public recognition on our blog, bragging rights, and (if you desire) a guest-post on your blog acknowledging your chicken identification expertise!

Three hints:
1) They should all be breeds that lay brown eggs.
2) They are supposed to be females.
3) Hatcheries make mistakes from time to time, so the above hints might not apply.

So, without further ado, I present the lineup of our dastardly suspects:

Chick A: Wanted for possession of an unlicensed peeper

Chick B: Accused of appearing in public with an indecent hairdo

Chick C: Wanted for grain rustling

A Christmas and New Year Message from Us at the Flying T


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

His plans, not ours…

It’s so tempting to believe we can plan our lives completely.  To decide what we will do and when we will do it, and to forget that our loving Creator has plans that are so much better.  Yet, “In his Heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” (Prov 16:9).   As we step into this next chapter, we know that the Lord has wonderful plans for us, and pray that we trust in His faithfulness and place our feet in the steps He has determined.

Hope and a future…

It’s not an empty hope we hold, but onebased on His demonstrated goodness, promises He has made and fulfilled in so many tangible ways, and especially through the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of His Son.  And that hope includes our knowledge that our ultimate future is eternity with our loving Father.

Seek with all your heart.

Expectantly is how we are to seek.  Not knowing what lies around the corner, but excited that whatever it is, it is good and brings Him glory!

Here we are.  Send us!

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” – Isaiah 6:8

All of us here at the Flying T wish you a very merry Christmas, and God’s continued blessings for you in the new year!