In search of a rototiller

Fun facts with Nate. Alot of people think I’m notoriously cheap. The 23 year old car, the pickle buckets. Wait till I show you guys the free windows hookup I got to build a small greenhouse and cold frames. That being said I will spend money on something that will last the test of time.

But here is the part that just blows my mind. I need a fairly Stout and reliable rototiller that can do some bigger areas and break ground..all the 50 year old tractors are way out the budget. Even the really trashed ones. So I do a little research and most reviews and talk take me to one make and one model.

The 1970-1990 Troy Bilt horse. Really!!! Everyone who has one of these swears by them. Some people have tried to buy one like dad and Grandpa used and found the new ones are garbage. Some people have been through a few newer models while dad’s still chug along. A few of the market gardeners are tilling acres every year with a thirty to forty year old machine. Some have ptos to run generators and welders..

I go one Craigslist and find that they are everywhere, they never break, and everyone knows this. How about the price is close to the price on a newer model with the same features and size?

This sets my head spinning, all this talk about technology and American jobs and we can’t even build a rototiller better than the one that was produced 40 years ago. If I hit the lottery I’m manufacturing rototillers. But anyways now to try to find one that’s sitting in a barn or a garage that’s not running.

If you have one let me know.


Disposable material

I can’t remember the last time I had a project that I started with all the recommended parts. Perhaps it’s that money is an issue, perhaps it is the fact that alot of times there is material that can be recycled and repurposed.

I think it’s a gift. Usually, it’s how every episode of hoarders begins. I don’t think many other people see stuff like I do.

For example, I saw this in the trash and it made me sad.

I have no use for corregated cardboard, but just look at it. Sitting all alone in the trash. Someone invented this, someone spent hours perfecting the process , and someone’s job is to feed material into a machine that spits this out probably all day long. Someone went home and told the wife and kids, sitting around the table, I’ve made a remarkable discovery with the cardboard today.

Its pretty strong too, I’m not a lightweight individual.

I told you that story to tell you this one. I need a heat sink to run LED lights. You mount your “bulb” to it and the byproduct of the light is heat. Most people just buy a prefabricated extruded aluminum shape and either blow air over it or passively let heat escape. Heat is the only real way to destroy these lights. I’m thinking about mounting my LEDs to aluminum cookware and then sealing the lid to the base and adding a few fittings and water cooling the entire unit back to a old radiator with a small electric pump.

Will it look as slick as this?

Probably not even close, but your talking to a guy who plans to grow in chic fillet pickle buckets. Will it perform? I think it will and maybe better than that slick extrusion.

Free buckets

Buckets is not on death row. It’s amazing if you walk into businesses that serve food and ask them for buckets they will give them to you.

They will look at you for at least a half a second like you were taking a dump on the floor or asking them to take a dump on the floor while you watch.

Frequently they must ask their manager first.

Then they ask why? I’ve grown tired of telling people the truth, so tonight i just randomly made things up.

Tonight I told the teenager working an minimum wage job that I was working on a homemade carbon deatomizer. I told her I had a whole list of things that I needed, a lots of buckets were on my list. Then while she was making my coffee I tried to say bucket list as many times as I could.

She warned me that all their buckets had some icing left in them. I told her they would have to be deionized or we could have complete particle reversal. They also agreed to save all their buckets so know I have to keep up this wild mad scientist gag, untill she quits her job.

Still worth it, cross it off the bucket list.

I also tried a sour cream donut ,which looks interesting enough and I can cross that off The Bucket List as well, but I’ll never do it again really yucky.

You snooze you lose

So you got to be quick or you miss out. It’s the first rule of dumpster diving. Me and Jamie Lee dropped off her youngest for volleyball and took a quick ride around town. In a old run down industrial area I see a sign that says free.

Well alright alright, faster then you can say you cheap bastard, I stop the car and go inspect the offerings.. 12 2X4s painted a horrible shade of pastel green, not a nail in any of them. 6 pieces of 8′ PVC electrical conduit and a bunch of oddball pvc pipe and fittings, a plastic pallet that I instantly think will hold four rain buckets.


But we don’t have the truck, we figured we can wait for the middle child to finish work and pick it up with the truck in about an hour.

So I threw a temper tantrum in a old run down industrial area, because someone else stopped and took the stuff I had already made plans for..

Not a complete loss, but those 2x4s hit me right in the feels.

What to expect when you’re expecting farming edition

I have a bunch of these and as they come up I’ll post them..

There is no such thing as a free horse.

If anyone ever tries to rope you (horse pun) into a free horse, just remember that they do not really understand what they are saying. Or they do and want to have a laugh at your expense.

Feeding, fencing, tack, getting their feet done. It’s the south so maybe, it’s getting their feet did? 15 dollar eye medicine, 15 dollar fly spray, it seems to never stop.

Sweet Juliet belongs here at the farm with us, I like it when I leave for work and she walks to the fence line to talk to me and say goodbye, but don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s gonna be free.

Winter on the farm

I try to enjoy the seasons, I try so hard not to be that guy who complains that it’s too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry. It doesn’t make much sense or do any good anyway.

New York has some seasons, sometimes you can have three in any given week. There is a lot of beauty as well. The first weeds on the Basha Kill start to peek up, the first green hues start to pop out of the brown and it says look I’m alive again.. the warm days of summer and light sheet weather, the snap in the air and the Shawangunk mountain slowly but then suddenly turning the autumn shades of orange yellow and reds. The way the pines get weighed down in our white snow and makes every shade of brown and evergreen vivid and striking.

North Carolina has seasons too, but it seems to be less drastic. It doesn’t get as cold, no months of snow, a summer that seem to last forever. Today is December and look at this picture. Sure it’s a Jamie Lee and Juliet and they both are pretty but look at the clovers still green on the ground.

It’s insane, we grew watermelons this year. Watermelons. We planted them pretty late too. You could easily do a spring and fall crop of certain vegetables Next year we have big plans above and beyond the hemp farming.

A short list.

Half acre of watermelons and some weird watermelon varieties too. Some yellow and orange fleshed melons, and a old heritage seed that is called stars and moon

Cucumbers for fermentation pickles radishes for pickling kimchi, some corn , tomatoes (if we can keep the goats away from them ) Jamie Lee wants to try pumpkins. I’m going to try cabbage in the fall.

I also have to figure out how to prep this area for my outdoor hemp crop. It’s off the road and kind of out of sight. I figure if I grow hemp to close to the road dumbass kids will see it and even if I put up a sign will either steal it or try to take selfies with it. Or every Dudley do right will call the cops.

This area has not had anything planted on it in some time. It’s all a bit over grown and it’s on the bottom of the farm, on the other side of the stream. So not only do I need to build at least a big enough bridge to cross the stream when it’s running good, but also would like to dam up an area to try to be able to pump water for irrigation.

I also still don’t have a farm tractor, no money in the budget for that anytime soon. My preliminary plan is to mow as much of it down late this winter, and try to aquire a good sized rototiller, I could even rent one for a weekend and abuse it like noone has ever abused a rental rototiller. I wonder how many acres you can rototill in a weekend?

Did I mention that I have a day job and a commute? Big plans and a lot of work in the next few months..

Lamont, you big dummy!

How do you aquire something that retails for thousands of dollars if you are as broke as a joke? When I started looking at this little silly be a hydroponic farmer idea, my head started spinning. I almost just wrote the entire idea off as economically not feasible. Then I saw a you tube video of a guy who was building a small basic system using rat poison containers..

I’m not making it up, he was going to grow lettuce in a container that held rat poison. HE WAS GOING TO SERVE HIS FAMILY LETTUCE OUT OF A POISON CONTAINER!Then I thought I’m smarter than that. Then I thought what’s the actual science behind the systems.

It got tricky, there is a lot of different hydroponic systems and they all have advantages and disadvantages. I settled on growing lettuce and herbs in a Nutrient film technique system and had it all drawn up on paper. Visited a high end hydroponics shop and bugged a real nice guy for about an hour as he showed me a lot of systems they were currently using as demonstration units. He told me something that I had already figured out on the internet.. there is a lot of bullshit on the internet. He told me in the context of buying a system from someone who has done the research, the parts design and knows the science behind it all..alot of fake science and bad ideas are rampant.

Then I asked a question that led me down this path, “how many of these hydroponics systems were designed for growing weed in a closet?” He said about 25% of his business was people growing weed in a closet. We talked, laughed and I mentioned the hemp program and he was familiar with it. He had a customer who was growing organically and had secured a permit for a few acres..

Let’s stop here for a second… If you plan on following me and my adventures there’s something we should cover. Full disclosure.. I sometimes have to tell you three stories to tell you the original story. Also, I tend to get a little nuts when I start researching something. It’s how I plan to go to bed at 10 and it becomes three in the morning and I am reading about quantum physics or Winston Churchill and can’t even figure out how I got here.. Damn you Wikipedia!

So I research industrial hemp, and alot of weed science since it’s pretty much the same plant except one is designed to maximize the amount of THC (what gets you high)and one is genetically modified to have almost no THC. Sort of like a wolf and Jamie Lee’s Yorkshire terrier’s are both technically canines. Wolves are designed to survive at all costs , out in the wild and are predators, the Yorkies shake alot and eat their own tails if you leave them alone or there is thunder.

Weeks later, I know what I want. I read a lot about Steve Jobs and before he was Steve Jobs and mostly a dirty smelly hippie at Atari, he was really good at getting things on the cheap. His father flipped junk cars and knew where to find parts.. he was good at asking for stuff, finding junkyard stuff, knowing what things cost and repurposing. I don’t think I’m building Apple here, but here we go back to the title of this post and the main point.. I know junk. Shit, I’m really good at junk. Dumpster diving 2004 NY State champion good. I once dragged home 40 mountain bikes and built 14 good ones, I drug home gas grills from the dump and used them for years. I brought home a cement mixer and never used it (ok maybe a bad example there) if you drag it to the end of the Street , I may stop and pick it up. I call it recycling, my buddy Bill says I’m a cheap fuck.

Here is what I want to build. See those sleek black light proof containers. Man o man, I can see me in the local newspaper with a goofy look posing next to them in a sleek state of the art grow room. See the Price.?

What’s a poor farmer to do? Down here in the south there is a chicken and pickles every block or so. That’s what I call chic Fillet. Chicken and pickles makes a good sandwich even if I think pickles on a chicken sandwich is weird. Its also good that they use so many pickles because some employees will tell you to go away, some will cock their heads and ask why you want them and some kind people will give you

Pickle Buckets! If it’s for free it’s for me. I got a local store that agreed to let me have all the buckets. All of them! They tell me to stop by every few days and take all the buckets. Nate may be a dirt poor farmer but he is now rich in buckets. Or as I call them hydroponic growth modules.

Stay tuned for more dumpster diving, high flying , building on a low budget, adventure into the world of hydroponic hemp farming..

Failure or success is secondary to if the story is good

So I always enjoyed writing and sharing the little tidbits of my day. I always enjoy a good story. So I’ve been busy with work, life, research on the latest farm venture and more than one of my loved ones told me, regardless of how it turns out, to document it.

It makes me think perhaps I will win and someone will ask me a question about the beginning, we tend over time to remember the big chunks and not the entire story. Or I will fail in a way that involves fire, a lawsuit or handcuffs.

So here it goes.. with no hands on hydroponics, electrical or hemp growing experience, above average researching ability, super scrounging and dumpster diving skills, and decent construction skills, I’ve decided to become a part time hemp farmer. With not a dime (get it? it’s a weed pun) to really spare for the construction and gathering phase, I have decided to build my own hydroponic units, lighting fixtures, grow rooms, apply for a license in a pilot program though the NC State, Dept of Agriculture.

Let’s be blunt (weed pun #2)I’m kinda shocked too, it started innocently enough with a web search on how to grow hydroponics cucumbers, to then growing some high end herbs to direct sell to chefs, to an actual government application printed off. I can’t promise success or failure but I promise it should be at nothing else an interesting story. Expect in the next week’s entries to find some humor, a disaster or two, all sorts of weed scientist, hydroponic nerd alert and me doing my best to collect supplies for free. Stay tuned.

A trip to the supermarket

So much like many nights, I was summoned to stop on the way home for some forgotten item. Did you know there is as least 12 different types of Oreos in my local supermarket. this perplexes me. I don’t even like Oreos, I don’t think I have had 10 total in the last 30 years.

I saw there was a general lack of any real local food. I saw  that the milk and the eggs were from North Carolina, as well as some sausage and that weird pimento cheese spread that Jamie Lee likes.

There is however more farming symbolism, that you can shake a proverbial stick at. If you looked at the way things are  marketed, you would think that every bit of food was grown and packaged on an idealistic farm just like the one on the country crock lid. In fact country crock is owned by unilever,  so the same company that owns Dove soaps and Treseme shampoo also manufacture and sell you vegetable oil spread

Try it next time you go to the supermarket. Find  a label talking about farm fresh taste, a picture of a farm,  or a barn or a chicken. Find out where it comes from, chances are its not the farm you are picturing in your mind. Turn it into a drinking game, start with a case of beer, and drink one every time you find a label that makes you think of old Macdonald.

you will be E I EI Oh no i’m hammered before you make it through the store.