Thursday, November 16, 2017

Grain Sprouting Update

New and Improved Seed Station

Or, protecting and taking the stink out of the seeds. 

 My last post was about the idea of sprouting seeds for our chickens gastronomical pleasure.Since then, I have run into a few problems that I think I have solutions for, we'll see.

This is my Sprouting station as built:
A standard set of big box store shelf racks set up on the ground near a water source. Seeds soaked in a bucket for 24 hours (convenience, as they need only 8-10 hour soaks) then spread out in an even layer on a 10" x 20" garden tray with pre-punched holes.
Problem 1. Water distribution. Dry seeds in one side, flooded on the other.
Problem 2.  During the night rats and during the day the birds  are getting to the seeds eating and fouling the trays with husks and their waste. Between the two shifts, I am losing almost half the seeds to these scavengers.

This is my Sprouting station as it is today:

We added 5 more shelves, a larger water recovery tub for recirculating the water, added more trays as we have upped the grain feed to three trays a day, and a direct water line from the pump to the emitters. More on that below. We added a Bamboo floor decking under the station to level the rack out, added a cage surround to keep out the seed marauders, and an inner window screening liner in an attempt to keep out the fruit flies that have become Problem 3. We are now employing a more chemical deterrent for the fruit flies, pheromones. The  hope is that by enticing them away from the seeds, there won't be a cloud of insects when I open the door. They are also stinging the seeds and perpetuating their kind right in the cage. Not something that I want.
I am also changing the way I water the Station. Initially I thought using a pump to recirculate the water from a collection tub up to the top trays and let it trickle down through the subsequent trays would be awesome. And it is, but there is a major set back. The odor that builds up over a day or two. The water rinses the seeds and washes all the carbohydrate rich dust off them and no matter how many pre-rinses I seem to do before setting them out in the trays, the water reeks after two days. This is the current system and how I am going to change it.

I'll be taking the pump out of the system altogether, using a direct bottom up flooding system rather than the top down system I am using now. It is said to promote better root growth with lower fungus and mold growth by not wetting the greens from above. The double trays means that in the lower tray, holes placed only in the lower front of the tray allows the tray to fill for a time period dictated by the size of the holes. With the upper trays having lots of holes the seeds and roots have time to soak up the water and still allow drainage to avoid over soaking.

I am not sure at this point if there will be any method to take 100% of the odor away from this kind of thing. I notice that most people sharing their systems online are either avoiding the smell issue or discounting it to a single mention. I am determined to decrease the smell to as close to zero as possible. I bleach the system every day I drain it using a supermarket strength 5% bleach solution cut further to 1:10 so it won't poison the seeds nor the chickens. The residual bleach will dissipate within 24 hours when left open to air so an 8 day growing cycle should allow enough 'airing-out time' for their safety.

 Next post: Garden Update

Friday, October 13, 2017

Feeding Chickens on the Cheep!

Use Sprouted Grains

How much can I expect it to save me? 

Wow, that is a good question. In my last post I outlined what I was spending on the chickens to "save" money and I realized I needed to bring the feed bill down even further. I had a few options.

  • Feed scraps only
  • Feed commercial feed only
  • Feed fermented food
  • Feed sprouted grain

or a combinations of the above. Wait, before the comments go off on the "Free Range" options, we choose NOT to free range our birds for a number of reasons. Some are based in our laziness in not wanting every morning to be the Easter Hunt / Bill Murray Ground Hog Day debacle on our one acre, we don't want to chase the wild child chickens roosting in the trees, and now that we have turkeys, we know that is where they want to be (that is a story by itself!) and then there are the Mongoose that are invasive here.  Yesterday the girls killed a rat that somehow got in. So rats are not a real threat for the adult birds, but the
From "Rikki Tikki Tavi"
Mongoose is a predator that is used to killing snakes and fast prey items. It is has a darker side to it somewhat like some of our baser human-kind selves. They have the tendencies to go off, caught up in the moment killing simply for killings sake not just for something to eat. Mongoose attacks are not common but when they happen, it's usually wholesale slaughter.
The biggest reason we keep the chickens in a pen is that we do not want our chickens to be our neighbor's dogs dinner. I have said this many times in the past, and I still mean it now, but because we won't have the chickens free ranging and foraging for most of their food, we'll need to provide it for them. 

We have 59 chickens and 10 turkeys right now and at 1/4 pound of food per chicken and 1/2 pound for each Turkey, that adds up to about 20 pounds a day.

We will be dividing up that number with the following ratios: 

  • Commercial feed for us is 16 - 20$ for 40-50 pounds, Walmart vs. TSC or .40 cents a pound 
  • Fruits and Grasses are free as we use over ripe fruit and collected grasses
  • Sprouted Fodder is barley, one pound per tray and works out to be about .40 cents a pound
At .40 cents a pound and feeding 19.75 pounds that comes to $7.90 per day. How do I make that go down? 

We are already feeding the girls fermented feed. That is something we started a few weeks ago. One 6-8 pound bucket of layer crumble in a 5 gallon bucket, water to cover, and we add a bit of our Korean Natural Farming IMO and LAB solutions to the mix, cover and wait 2 days. I did this for 2 days before I started feeding it so I would have a bucket for every subsequent feeding. Every time we feed, we take 6-8 pounds of commercial feed, the previously fermented 5 gallon bucket and some of the fruit and scraps we saved from the day before and feed it to them in the morning. In the afternoon we take one bucket of 6 pounds of commercial feed to be sure they aren't hungry when we gather the eggs. At 14 pounds of commercial feed plus the fruit and grasses, they seem pretty happy. 

My sprouting station
Wanting to drive the $$$ output for these primal dinosaurs even lower, I looked into something I found on the internet, sprouting grain. Just plain ol' grain. Grains like wheat, barley, rice , oats, etc., can be used though the rice I hear is a bit persnickety. Just about any seed you want can be used.

I look up a few more articles on the subject and a quick trip to the feed store, H.D. (list of supplies needed is below) and a lighter wallet later, and I have the makings of a semi-automated feed sprouting station! 

The idea is simple: Add seeds to a tray, soak seeds till they sprout and wait till they grow their foliage up a few days. But its tougher than it seems since if the seeds soak too long, they can rot.
Not a nice "earthy" rot smell like good compost, but the foul, just-opened-the-cesspool kind of stench. The solution?
From, "Fodder"
I use planting trays that are perforated that have holes well under the seed size in them but you can drill 1/8" holes in any tray you like. I use a shelf rack system to stack these trays one over the other so when I fill the tray with water, it slowly drips out of the upper trays  filling the lower trays until it gets back to a sump container under all of them. This allows me to essentially 'change' the water as often as I add water. This has to be done many times a day to make sure the seeds and the growing fodder don't dry out.

Since I am basically lazy, I opted for using a submersible pump and a timer that allows me to set the times I 'change' their water.  I chose a timer that I can set multiple on and off times so the pump comes on a total of 5 times during the day and once through the night. The pump is on for 5 minutes each time then shuts off, waiting for the next wetting. I do have to change the starchy water in the collection bin below the trays every other day or the water starts to smell a bit off- not good for the seeds or the chickens. 
 Here are the steps:
  1. Scoop the seeds into an appropriate sized bucket. I use a 2 gallon bucket since I use only 1-2 pound of seeds in a tray. If you use more seed or need to seed more trays, you'll need to get a bigger bucket.  
  2. Fill that bucket with water 1" over the seed level. Remove any chaff, debris or floating husks or seeds. Most seeds sink if they are viable for germinating. (but know your seed- that variety may all float) and soak for 12-24 hours. Do not soak more than 24 hours! 
  3. Next day, empty that bucket into one of the clean perforated trays and allow to drain then spread in a thin even layer.
  4. Set on your rack of choice and wait for the magic to happen! 
  5. This does take a few days so make sure that the seeds are never dried out, but not swimming in water and in three days you should have both rootlets and small sprouts. 

 You are done at this point and can feed them to your chickens, ducks, etc. for sprouted feed, but I wait a few more days till they can get the full seed potential and the greens that can come along with the seed value. The photo shows my trays in different stages of growth, all one day apart. I did this for one week before I was able to take any fodder to the girls so it is a do ahead thing. 
Parts list for this project:
  • soak bucket(s)
  • shelf rack
  • perforated sprouting trays
  • submersible pond pump with head pressure of at least 6 feet 
  • clear tubing to fit pump and related fittings (drip heads or spray will work)
  • zip ties to hold the tubing in place
  • timer
  • seed
This is a satisfying project since it results in an increase of both feed weight and nutrition; the growth enzymes trigger nutrient blooms for anticipated plant growth, and the chickens go nuts for it! 1 pound of food is grown into 4-5 pounds which decreases the net grains usage for us, saving us feed $$$. 

Happy chickens, better nutrition for them and a fatter wallet for us? Win on all levels!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Teenagers started laying

Our "Teens" started laying

The eggs are a bit on the small side for one of them. We got 15 eggs today, including the Peewee egg. We are ramping up our bid for food independence by raising our own chickens for meat and eggs, and for that, we need hens. We are building our laying flock up to 30 adult hens and will maintain that level until we feel a need to change. We obviously can't eat 25-30 eggs a day so the surplus eggs are to being sold to offset the feed cost. We are already selling to a local organic restaurant in a town down the road a piece.

We keep our hens in a coop and run so while they are "Free-Range" according to the US Government, they are confined for many reasons. One of which is that we do not want our chickens to become our neighbors dog's dinner. Their Coop is 64 square feet, with a second internal story, and the run is 20x20, so plenty of room for our initial flock. The small 'Mini-Cooper' on the left is the brooder we intended to house the growing chicks, but proved to  be too small. The chickens just grow too fast. To keep to the recommended square footage per bird we will need to modify the pen to house the hens for 30 eggs a day. That means a new build and more will be coming on that. For now, we are living at the top of the numbers, but still within the guidelines. 
Annie the Araucana
If you noticed, two of these eggs are a bluish-green. Totally natural coloring from our teen-aged Araucana. We originally bought 4 supposedly 'white leghorn' chicks from a breeder down the street. 2 died and only the rooster turned out to be a leghorn. Leghorns are the breed most commercial egg producers use, though that is changing over to a new 'breed', the Red Ranger. Red Rangers are a Cross Breed like the Cornish Cross is for meat. They are not a fast grower like the Cornish Cross, but they are an early egg layer and prolific at laying eggs. 300-350 eggs a year is an awesome production rate but like most things, you give to get so their 'peak production season' isn't too long. 2-4 years and the bird is spent. We are thinking of trying a few of these birds, but I don't think we will be replacing them altogether.  

So the new teens are laying and we have the next wave in line ready to go. 22 chicks of mixed sexes and these are already 10 weeks old. We are doing successive breeding/hatching to both build and replace the birds numbers at a pace we think we can handle rather than just buying and then starting out with big numbers. Our incubator will handle 40 eggs at a time and between the sex division hatch rate (@50% Female to Male) and natural attrition, this builds both our laying hen numbers and meat production quota without too many of either at one time.  Pullets start laying at 20 weeks or so, and the roosters can be slaughtered any time after about 12 weeks so we decided that we will set a new batch of eggs for hatching every 20 weeks. Once the laying hens reach our goal of 30 birds, we will cut back on the number of eggs set out to hatch to the number of meat birds we need. Yes, even though it will be 40 every 12 weeks to keep the freezer full, we are thinking that we should do 20 every 6 weeks to keep both the feed rate down, and the freezer full. Until the hens total 30, we keep the hens hatched out, and the males go to the freezer, but once we reach 30 hens, both male and female chicks will become meat birds out the hatching.  

The Math: 
We are calculating 2 chickens per week (4 meals) so over the 20 weeks we'll need 40 in the freezer at a time. 
We want 30 hens laying that lay 25-30 eggs a day and that means that we'll have 
25 x 7=140 days  :
140 days x 25 /day = 3500 eggs  : 
3500 eggs/ 12 per dozen = 292 dozen
over the 20 weeks. 

Price for chicken at the local KTA is 20$ so
40 birds @ 20$ = 800$ in meat value or savings

Price for organic eggs at KTA is 8$ so 
292 dozen x 8$ =  2336$ in Egg value or savings 

That comes out to 3136$ of food value every 20 weeks, minus the cost of feed. extrapolated out for the year, that is 8,153$ in savings (not buying at the supermarket) for the year! 
We spend 25$ per bag of feed x 2.5 bags per week or 3250$ per 52 weeks for a savings of 8153$ - 3250$ = 4903$ in food savings over buying chicken and eggs at the supermarket. WIN!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Chocolate Grows on Trees? Sign me up!

Are there really such things? 

Yes, Virginia. Chocolate grows on trees.

Willy Wonka's ultimate dream! Rows of trees with bars hanging low for easy picking. 10-12 bars on each branch, 200 or more on each tree- Ready to make into Truffles, bars, creams, sauces and powders. What a dream but alas, all dreams fade in the mornings first light.
Oh, Chocolate does grow on trees, but not like this, though it would make pruning less of chore wouldn't it?

They grow like this. Medium height tree, with the seeds that chocolate is made from set in thick football shaped pods that grow directly out of the trunks and limbs rather than out on the outer portions of the terminal branches on fruit spurs like most other fruit. 

And unlike other fruit, chocolate pods have to go through an intensive set of processing steps to become what we know as Chocolate. Fermenting, drying, classifying, milling, pressing, heating, mixing, tempering and a few I can't remember off the top of my head just to get into an advent calendar, an easter bunny, or a dove bar. 

From "Food Anatomy", Julia Rothman*
Funny thing though, I am allergic to chocolate. So why would I plant this any where near my garden? Easy. JoAnn loves chocolate. I love her, so I planted 2 of our 4 cacao trees (to date) so she could have her favorite type of chocolate, nibs. Nibs are found in the middle of the chocolate process following fermenting and drying and roasting; the nibs are what the dried seeds break into when you do the first rough grind. She loves them. This is a simplified diagram on how chocolate is processed- Link to the book is below.

When I transplanted this tree into the new bed, I noticed these flowers growing on it. I was so excited since all the info I've read said it would take a few years to get pods. This little plant is the biggest we have, but at just 3 feet, I wasn't expecting any blooming this year.  We have plenty of space for more than 4 trees, I'll be planting them all over the property, tucked into small beds here and there- two to three trees to a bed for pollination. These are not self pollinating. 

The bed is roughly 5 feet wide and about 15 feet long. I laid Ohi'a trunks along three sides and filled that space with just over 1500 pounds of mulch, just under 12" deep. Our County provides heat treated mulch for free- you go get. We can haul away up to 10 cubic yards for free, but only one load is put in the truck by skip loader, the rest I have to load by hand. I get one load a day. 

The cacao trees are slow growers so I paired them with papayas we grew from seed. These are fast growers that grow up tall and straight, up to 12-15 feet for some varieties. They are another trunk fruiting plant. The thing with papayas is that they only fruit if they are either a female or a hermaphrodite, males do not produce fruit. And since the papayas are self fertilizing, males are not needed at all.

They are planted in multiples because there is no way to tell if it is a Male, Female or Hermaphrodite until it flowers! The males are then culled and added to the mulch piles, the females and hermaphrodites allowed to grow and fruit.  

I will be adding flowers to all my vegetable and fruit beds to 'round' out their overall look.  Function first, which is food, then aesthetics so a walk in the garden isn't all about just getting the food off the plant, it's also a peaceful place to be. 

Next post: Updates

* Link to the book, "Food Anatomy" :

Monday, September 4, 2017


The Pineapple Bed is in

Start from a store bought pineapple
I went for mulch yesterday and decided instead of putting it in the new chicken pen area (yes, I know that mulching the expansion should be this post, but...), that I would start a new pineapple bed. 

I have been collecting pineapple tops from the ones we and our friends are eating and putting them into our saved and recycled pots. Its been a few months and many have really established roots on them. One or two needed to be planted as their roots are feeling their way out of the drainage holes. 

I am a newbie to pineapple growing so most of my info is coming from interweb searches. This is a two to three year investment of time and space since I get the starts free.
 This is what our little ones looked like in the front horseshoe last year. They turned a bright yellow and wow, did they small good! I have both the yellow and white varieties of fruit, white being preferred here by the locals. I still can't tell the difference because the flesh of both is yellow and yummy. 


Today was a good day to plant; sunny and warm, with just a hint of a breeze. I put up 14 new plants in the new bed and we have 5 others still left in the front horse-shoe in the driveway. These had produced pineapples already so we are going to have to wait until they send up slips, or keikes that I will then replant. These are tough plants. I had thrown one to the side meaning to trash is on the next trash run, but forgot about it and it set roots and produced a mini pineapple! They can be tough to get rid of around here. 

Once a pineapple plant fruits, that plant will only bear smaller and smaller fruit so while the mini-me pineapples are still yummy, they just are a double or single serving so we wanted to farm bigger ones. The suckers, slips and keikis (Hawaiian for child or baby) will produce full sized fruit and are easy to propagate. Which is why I can do it. 

Trimmed for planting
To do it yourself using a store bought pineapple, trim the top off the pineapple and pull off any of the fleshy fruit. Remove the lowest leaves until you have about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch clear. You may see roots already between the leaves- this is a member of the Bromeliad family and while most get their water from the air, pineapples are one of the few varieties to put down roots.

Use your favorite potting mix and let the pot dry out slightly between waterings. It my take a month or two for you to notice the change, but if you cut back the leaf tips with shears you will notice the new whole leaves easier.

When you see roots peeking out the drain holes, transplant into an outside bed for best results. Grown indoors, it is a spiky and belligerent plant if you brush by it or get too close, but the satisfaction of growing your own tropical treat is well worth the occasional poke.  

Add caption

Here is a better picture, a little closer to show that it is a miniature of the supermarket fruits. Once they get to this stage, its hard to resist tearing them off and eating them, but these are worth the wait. 

Yummy treats, just waiting to happen
Here is my bed of 14, transplanted into just 8" of mulch over a cinder base. This was a bare spot between the Aloe plant on the left and the Areca palms on the right. There is a little space for four more to be transplanted as the others grow up. Hopefully the rotation of old and new plants will continue to yield new fruits so we can start our journey into self sustainability. 

Chocolate trees next!  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Some Weeks Are Just....

Bad News

Personal choices can have a far reaching effect on people that we just cannot comprehend.

While the following information would be best discussed in a different forum, this very personal news is shared here only to point out that my past few weeks
started on a less than stellar note.  Two weeks ago, I got a call from a family member that my sister was in the hospital and would most likely not go home. Turns out that though she has been getting treatment for multiple myeloma, a specific form of leukemia, for 3 years she has known about the disease for 6.  I and my siblings found out this info only last Tuesday. Of course I got on a plane the next day on the first flight out of Hilo and stayed the next week. She stabilized and seemed to be doing well enough that she went home. Most of my other siblings including me (we are 5 strong), started to head home one by one. That was bad news #1

JoAnn met me at the airport and on the way home she mentioned that the turkeys all had sores on their heads. The sores were just on their heads and neck areas that weren't covered with feathers. Once home a quick check on the internet confirmed the diagnosis of Fowl Pox. Both the turkeys and the new hatchlings had it. The adult chickens had varying degrees of involvement but not nearly as bad as the turkeys. Bad news #2

The following day, my sister relapsed and needed to be re-admitted to the hospital. This time it was total organ failure secondary to the leukemia. 2 weeks after I got the first phone call, I got the second, informing me that my sister passed away. Bad news #3

Not having any thing I could do to help my sister, I instead plowed into finding out more about how I can care for the birds I thought I can do something about.
Bad news #4- Fowl Pox is viral and there is nothing but palliative care that I can do for the birds.
We haven't dealt with this before so we called on a friend from 
Turkey Talker Farm to come over and tell us what we need to do. Batina was quick to say yes, and set to work. She showed us how to remove the scabs that needed to be removed, clean out the ears that needed to be and showed us how to identify which ones that could be left alone. A dab of triple antibiotic and the turkeys were marked with a zip tie and let go. 

We marked them for a couple of reasons, first, we'd know which ones were done and which needed to be checked, and second, any birds unmarked were free of visible pox so we would be able to tell if there was another outbreak.  There have been cases of a flock getting the fowl pox, but skipping a few birds. It could be that they actually got the virus, but didn't show outward symptoms.
Thankfully, once these birds get the pox, they are going to be immune to the next exposure. Not so for their offspring, so we know now that we need to immunize any future chicks. Its a two part medication, adding half of the blue liquid into dry powder, mixing until powder is incorporated, then adding the remaining liquid into the medication to complete the mixing. Using the scratcher supplied, you dip into the liquid and poke the bird through the web portion of one of the wings to inoculate. Check a week later for signs of a small blister or scab and that's it. 

It's been a few days and the birds are already showing fewer signs that they had the pox. 8 of the 10 turkeys are clear, two are lumpy, none of the chickens are showing signs except the babies. This pox can turn 'wet', meaning it can turn inward, in the respiratory tract and cause a pseudo pneumonia.
One of the chicks was suffering unduly and we culled it out of the mini flock both to prevent other chicks from getting this and to ease its pain. We dispatched it as humanely as possible, we wanted no more suffering for the little one. Each bird at our farm is a valuable asset, whether for eggs, meat or company so even the little ones are a big loss.  

Everyone gets bad news, and occasionally we can tend to get it in great lumps. The adage, "Time heals all things" is woefully inadequate, but pretty much the only thing we can cling to in these times. 

Next Post : Expansion and updates

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Chicks have Hatched!

Our Second Brood

We recently purchased a commercial version of a home incubator. A fancy way of saying a nice styrofoam box to hatch out chickens. We picked this up our local Del's Tractor Supply (no they don't sell tractors.) This one was the top of the line they had in stock. The Farm Innovator's Digital Circulated Air Incubator with Egg Turner.
 It has a thermostatically controlled heater, a circulating fan to reduce hot and
cool spots, a tray with room for 41 eggs, a motorized egg turner so we wouldn't have to, a lower set of water channels for maintaining the proper humidity, and small weave hardware cloth to keep the chicks out of the channels and the water once they'd hatched. It also has a large viewing window for watching the process, and a control module that keeps track on monitoring/ displaying the temperature, humidity % and the number of days left for incubation. Temp of the heater is preset, but you can change it to whatever you want in 1/2 degrees from, I believe, 98.5-101.  You can also set the egg hatch time for using this for turkey, quail, geese or any other bird's eggs.
This product did all it said it would, turned the eggs, though initially this mechanism was a bit loud, I was able to get it whisper quiet by applying a touch of Vaseline to the gear tracks. Didn't make a sound after that. 
We loaded up 41 fertilized eggs in to the unit and set it to work. After a week we candled the eggs, BTW- they provide a Candler! - and found that of the 41, 40 had embryos! We kept the 41st to check again at the next candling date, just in case. Second check same as the first. 40 developing embryos one clear egg. Third candling showed us only dark forms in the shell, and the outline of a very clear air spot. We could see movement, but no real definition through the brown shells. 

We were a bit surprised on the the first two chicks arrival since they hatched out a day early. Along with the new incubator, we tried setting eggs the commercial way. That is, chilling a number of eggs for a number of days to try to get them all to hatch out on the same single day. Whoops- didn't work so well at first. 

The next day was busy for the chicks- most of them hatched out this day- we had 12 eggs not hatching. We did get two more from this group to hatch out after midnight, so a total of 31 of the 41 we set actually hatched. We had one pip out that later died, but over all a hatch rate of 73.1 % or a 50% increase over our first time! Lightening is getting better at this the older he gets.  

We did get three chicks with Splay. This is a ligament stretching that leaves the chicks with their feet "splayed" out hence the name. They have a hard time standing since the ligaments are out of place. Most people with these chicks cull them out, but we are trying to fix this so we can keep the chicks in the flock. So far it is promising. we should only have to treat these little ones for another day or so. They are already up and walking, even hobbled as they are with the soft band-aid 'brace".

We are starting a Korean Farming Method of raising our chickens. We've been attending classes at the Hawaiian Sanctuary and per their instructions, we started them off by feeding them Brown Rice for the first three days. We start the boiled egg yolks for them tomorrow. And finally, we are moving them into their new home today, the red brooder in the coop, to get used to the hens they will eventually be flock mates with.

We have another new item to keep them warm; a brooder heating plate. 
Rather than a light that can burn out or worse, start a fire, we have a new flat plate heater that we can adjust the height as the chicks grow.  They are under it now, so I thin they'll be fine using it one we set it in the coop. This should comfortably fit all 30 of the new chicks and I will post an up date soon! 

Next: Growing chicks and prepping the new runs.


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Whats happening here

Something other than Chickens

What do you mean,"other than chickens?"

 Yeah, there is life other than chickens at our little one acre farm. Today, JoAnn and I got the log moving system perfected. Let me go flashback a bit to explain and get you up to speed on this. One of our good friends, Julia  introduced us to couple that had just gotten their Rainbow Eucalyptus cut down, but the tree guys left it laying in their driveway. Our friends knew I had a chainsaw and thought, how nice it would be if we could go over and cut up the tree and haul it off for them. If you've never seen one, the Rainbow variety of the eucalyptus is stunning while alive, sporting an exterior set of reds, greens, some yellows and a few shade of the above. The inner wood is a rich set of browns, and pale off whites when dry. This photo is not me, nor my friends but it was the best non-"enhanced" picture of the tree I am speaking of. It can grow quite large, 'ours being 30" and the base to about an 18-20" diameter for the smallest segment. 

The things we didn't have
We cut the trees (there were two) into 8' lengths that I would estimate at about a ton each. There were a total of 6 pieces at this length, with a single one of about 5' being cut up into 6" stepping "stone" slices for our friends. The last of that log went to Glenn and Julia for their garden as a bench project. We then had the fun of figuring out how we were going to get these things off the ground and onto my puny pick up truck. 

I had a chainsaw, a tow chain, an O'o Bar which is a large prying lever, some rope, and a come-along. I like to think that I can sometimes be a bit smarter that a log, so I thought, "what would an ancient do?" I came up with this: 
Enlarge the photo to see a tripod made of 2) 4" x 4" x 96" wood and one 2" x 4" x 96" bracing leg held together with a 5?8" galvanized bolt. With this contraption we are now able to get the log up off the ground, one end at a time, Balance it in the air, drive the truck under it to wedge it on the bed, where we then use the O'o bar to hold it in place as we re set the chain to the rear of the log still on the ground. Lifting this last end up, we can then pressure the log to slide on the plastic bed liner. It is working so well that we actually got two logs today! It's been a week of building the a frame, testing it, lifting the logs, cutting the stepping stones, delivering them. Then working out the lifting procedure for logs that weight way more than my truck, let alone what it is supposed to handle carrying. 

 JoAnn is standing by the truck here with the last log we hauled today still inside the bed. We attached the log to a stump I had left for this reason, and I simply drove out from under the log.  It bounced a bit  but it was easily put into place next to the others.

SO what am I going to do with 8 ft logs? Ahh- the 64$ question. I am going to mill them into dimensional lumber and build some furniture out of them. I have plans for a behind the couch table, and a custom door to name just 2. Stay tuned for that adventure!