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  • Published Articles - Chicken Care - North Country News
    their habits So it wasn t me but Kati a fellow D Acres resident who noticed a listless swollen chicken in our lower chicken house After a few days it was decided that an egg had broken within her Singled out this hen was a creature I wanted to care for a creature deserving of attention and respect I was learning from Kati s care Both hens and roosters after all are an integral part of the farm Their eggs and meat are a reliable source of protein and their manure becomes compost that in turn builds nutrient rich soil Not to mention the wake up call that sounds well before sunrise So the viability of each bird is an important part of D Acres sustainability Attention and care are helpful impulses but really how do we handle a hen with a broken egg inside her A little bit of reading and some intuition go a long way Ultimately though it is a matter of learning by doing Until the event happened I didn t know this condition could occur I certainly had no means of remedying it Call it trial and error or perhaps trial by fire if you d like Either way now I know Being sensitive to the hen s reaction makes it fairly clear what is best for her We washed her kept her warm and comfortable and isolated her with plenty of her own food and water Her body in the end would have to do the work of flushing out the egg Infection was our concern loss of appetite energy and inquisitiveness were the symptoms we were wary of Within a few days however pieces of the shell passed out of her and the swelling began to diminish We returned her to her chicken

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/ncn/2009/chickencare.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Apple Picking - North Country News
    the leaves changing and the night s becoming cooler preparation for fall is underway One sure sign of autumn s approach apple branches weighted down with growing fruit the ground littered with eager produce So off we go with bushel baskets in our arms searching out our scattered trees the sweet ones the tart ones the wild ones the old ones the young ones the pink striped ones the deep red ones the mottled green ones Like kids on Mother Nature s jungle gym we stretch between tree limbs for ripened fruit then search on our hands and knees for apples already taken to the ground We gather up everything that is fair to middling and better There are a variety of colors of sizes of shapes and of flavors Some double as hobbit homes for worms others as the nectar of multi legged insects Some are just plain rotten others bruised by gravity s pull to the ground Rarely are our apples shiny and smooth nor clean and predictable It is I ll venture a metaphor for D Acres own efforts at sustainability and local living But just as hours of work gumption and tenacity have yielded a rewarding lifestyle of simplicity and seasonality here at the farm a few hours of cutting coring boiling simmering and cooking results in a similar if smaller scale reward A day dedicated to preservation turns our bountiful if slightly misshapen apple harvest into the delectable sauces butters chutneys and relishes that will delight our taste buds through next spring and summer The colorful jars of sweet spicy tart and tangy treats will be our reminder of seasonal change and the bountiful harvest it brings You too can keep a piece of the autumn season with you through the year Make some applesauce

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/ncn/2009/applepicking.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Bread Baking - North Country News
    Schumann and his Bread Puppet Theater www breadandpuppet org Sourdough culture is a process of catching wild yeast in a mixture of flour and water By regularly feeding the starter additional flour and water the microorganisms are provided with the nutrients and sugars necessary to stay alive It is this process that maintains a live fermented culture thereby enabling a sourdough starter to accomplish the same end as packaged yeast By utilizing a few cups of the former rather than a few tablespoons of the latter we are able to make bread with natural fermentation rather than a processed ingredient Of course yeast hardly makes bread without flour How many wheat fields have you passed in New England What about grain fields in general Exactly Considering that a century and a half ago New England farms were producing tens of millions of bushels per year of wheat oats and rye the current paucity is remarkable At D Acres we have begun experimenting with small scale grain growing but we re not our own breadbasket just yet Thus we are left to the ongoing struggle of sourcing organic flour from our region It s difficult We ve settled on bulk grain orders with Associated Buyers through whom we can purchase flour milled by the Champlain Valley Milling Co based in New York Bulk orders are also how we source oil and salt the other two ingredients in our leavened loaves It becomes apparent that deciding what is local and what has the least environmental impact is not always black and white Sometimes it means changing our habits sometimes it means using less sometimes it means expanding our concept of regional We don t profess to have all the answers but we want to ask the questions nonetheless Besides bread is a

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/ncn/2009/breadbaking.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Root Cellaring - North Country News
    potatoes but also as a place to store a host of fall vegetables because of course root cellars were the original refrigerators Potatoes fill our mouse proof wire bins while hundreds of pounds of carrots beets turnips parsnips and rutabagas lie in tubs of sand and heads upon heads of cabbage sit on their stalks in buckets of compost As our assortment of containers suggest there s no one right way Root cellaring allows for some creativity If you have an unfinished basement that could become an excellent food storage spot as could an unheated room shut off from the rest of your house Other methods involved trashcans sunk into holes dug into the ground cans keep out rodents and water or secure boxes stored outdoors for the cooler months climate dependent you don t want produce to freeze A root cellar is also an ideal place for fermented foods In this way our shelves become an ode to the color crop diversity and hard work of the warmer seasons From bins of bright orange carrots and deep red potatoes to jars of pale green sauerkraut and purple kim chi from emerald garlic scapes to the deep greens of piccalilli relish there is an intense beauty to the array of color A provocative beauty evoking memories of long hours dirty hands and satiated satisfaction Our shelves and our bins bespeak seasonality and the changing nature of our diet as we respond to what our gardens put forth We are providing for our own well being and doing so within the limits of our land You too can share in this Come by D Acres this Saturday October 17 for a Fermentation Workshop 1 3pm or a Root Cellaring Workshop 3 5pm Check out our website www dacres org or give

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/ncn/2009/rootcellar.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Traditional Arts and Ecology - North Country News
    living simply in community and in creating richness and texture in our lives from the resources immediately surrounding us Simplicity does not require an absence of beauty nor of art It does ask that artistry be created in response to the local environment To this end staff members and residents at D Acres engage in a variety of arts that reflect our habitat and local community woodworking blacksmithing fiber arts printmaking and music For example D Acres residents carve wooden spoons from butternut apple cherry and birch wood harvested on site by our team of oxen blacksmith products such as hooks handles pokers and rings are made from recycled and scrap metals Pursuing art that is local distinctive and functional encourages a community and an economy that is local distinctive and functional We hope to make this link between art and sustainability all the more tangible through the workshops events and films scheduled throughout the year here at D Acres please see our website www dacres org The Traditional Arts Ecology theme will culminate in a Traditional Arts Fair during the month of September This event will host a variety of local artisans and craft makers offering tutorials and demonstrations as well as offering their artwork for sale Music is also a central aspect of our D Acres community an art form that suggests continual creation and generation Around the farm in the barn tucked into various corners under tables and on top of windowsills are four guitars a banjo a cello a coronet a fiddle many harmonicas countless drums a recorder a didgeridoo a keyboard an electric guitar a couple of Jews harps and a plethora of homemade noisemakers with various capacities for pleasant cacophonies It is an understatement to say that making music is an integral part of

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/ncn/2009/tradartsandecology.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Building with Earth in Mind and Hand - Permaculture Magazine
    structure Building walls was perhaps the most rewarding and definitely the longest part of the process The walls were constructed using three earthen building techniques Building with cob was an excellent opportunity to utilize many hands or more accurately feet to turn locally available materials into sturdy walls The combination of sand straw and soaked clay was either made into cob balls to be thrown from the mixing site to the wall or transferred into forms to create stackable adobe bricks Building with cordwood proved quicker than the other two methods though the earthen mix was still integral as a mortar between the stripped logs Cob is a great material to sculpt a structure Here are some ideas to make it work well for you Good dance music is essential for mixing It is nice in bare feet but mud boots protect you day after day especially in colder weather Mix as close as possible to the wall under construction and locate the raw materials close to the mixing site this stuff is heavy We used a ½ inch drill with a rebar whisk attachment to pre mix clay and water into a slurry that was readily accepted by sand Next comes hay or straw which comes in many varieties In Argentina I learned first hand that hay can come with long thorns so beware The idea of mixing in hay straw is to incorporate long fibers that weave the cob together When applying cob try to stage the site so that you can comfortably apply the material at waist height This is important so that you can put adequate pressure to bond the cob as well as maintain the plum vertical integrity of the wall Our structure combines the use of different materials Our intention as an educational site was not only to create a functional building but to practice and evaluate the use of different materials and methods The different costs in labor cash outflow and natural resource use were recorded and now we are evaluating the performance of the materials Evaluation requires time to observe how materials insulate and serve as thermal mass and also how they last A major question is how the time and expense saved by not digging a full foundation will compare to the longevity of a monolithic foundation How long will clear plastic roofing last compared to metal Will there be shrinkage and air gaps around the cordwood installed in the cob Will the cob be affected by the severe changes in temperature and moisture levels Thus far the animals love the warmth of the building but there have been high moisture levels in the second floor chicken area possibly a result of this warm wet winter weather The roof overhangs the building strategically to keep the water away from the walls and foundation The roof is designed to shed the snow and water to the perimeter especially on the north side The base of the walls was built with masonry The

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/alternative-building/earthbuilding.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Homemade Earthen Plaster
    water at least 12 hours prior to mixing but ours soaks more or less all the time Sand can also come from the earth Our soil in Northern New Hampshire is a sandy loam which contains a considerable amount of sand We sifted this loam through a ¼ inch wire mesh but found that it didn t have the strength of our other sand source A truck from Rike Industries delivered a load of beach like sand that yields a much stronger plaster I guess the small amount of organic materials decreased the strength Some books say that beach sand isn t the best because the individual particles have been eternally rounded by the ocean and that non beach sand with jagged particles will lock together better But for the purpose of a plaster I think beach sand works just fine Straw can be attained at any feed store and cut with some thick scissors Every source of clay and sand has varying components that yield different colors as well as finished plaster consistencies Colors also vary depending on the source to keep a consistent color use the same sources for your materials throughout your project Step 1 Prepare Flour Paste White flour is better than whole wheat for your plaster but not your body It s also cheaper and can be found in any grocery store Bring half a pot about a 10 quart pot of water to a boil Pour a quarter of a pot of cold water into a mixing bowl and add white all purpose flour until it thickens to the consistency of maple syrup a pound is a fairly large batch Now add this mixture to the boiling water slowly stirring until the paste is thick and translucent At this point remove the pot from the heat and let the paste cool Step 2 Mix your Plaster The previously noted ingredients should be mixed together in the following proportions 4 Parts Clay presoaked overnight in water 4 Parts Sand 1 Part Flour Paste 2 5 Parts chopped Straw or Cattail Fuzz Depending on the purpose of your plaster you should choose either straw or cattail fuzz as the binding agent in your mix The straw will be stronger when a thicker application is needed and dry rough while the cattails will be not as strong but yield a smoother finish Also keep in mind that cattails can only be harvested in mid to late fall Beat the ingredients adding the least amount of water as possible until there are no lumps in the mix At this point it is possible to add color to your plaster The coloring that we chose for our earthen building is iron oxide which is non toxic and turns the plaster a shade of red Mica flakes can also be added to add a different almost sparkly effect If you do choose to use a powdered coloring alternative it is smart to mix it by hand with a little bit

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/alternative-building/earthenplaster.html (2016-05-01)
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  • Published Articles - Homemade Earthen Plaster
    in mind when you are locating an oven site include Is it close to the kitchen Where will you prepare the foods that will be baked Is there a water source near by This is necessary not only for the mixing of cob but also for fire safety Is the ground level or slightly sloped You do not want to build on ground which has too much of a slope Will the oven be built under a pre existing roof or overhang If not a roof will need to be built to keep the cob structure as dry as possible Where will the firewood be stacked The wood needs to stay dry too What are the fire hazards Can there be music on site It s great to have music while building and baking CHAPTER FOUR The Foundation We filled the masonry foundation walls with clean builders sand We filled up to the top of the stones and watered it to compact it Cob is a very heavy material If you build on your sand and rubble without compacting it first there is a possibility the oven will begin to sink and crack over time CHAPTER FIVE Mixing and Building with Cob Now that the foundation is all set we want to start building with cob The soil you want is subsoil NOT topsoil Topsoil is full of living organisms which will make your walls rot over time First figure out the proportions of clay to sand in your subsoil Who knows it might have perfect cob mix proportions around one part clay to about three to four parts sand To see what kind of subsoil you have put a handful in a glass jar Fill over the soil with water Put a lid on the jar and shake it up Set it down and see what happens The sand particles the largest particles will settle first within a few seconds The silt will settle second The clay will be the last thing to settle It may take minutes hours even days months YEARS to settle Our soil looked like about ten parts of sand to about one part clay More clay has to be added in order to make it a good mix We got a trailer load of clay from a near by excavator Neal McCarther People you could try if you are in search of clay are excavators contractors gravel pits etc Before you have anyone deliver clay to your site go check out what they want to deliver A lot of people mistake silt for clay Imagine a big truckload of silt being delivered to site There are a lot of things you can do to make sure you have a good mix Any of the cob books listed on the last page will have all of the information you need Bring the dirt as close to the building site as possible This goes for all of your materials You want to do as little lugging as possible The metal structure gets placed in the sand bed we ve made for it The curved top and back of the oven get covered with wire mesh This will support the cob as we build the walls up around the structure leaving about six inches of space for hot air to flow between the outside of the metal drum and the inside of the cob wall Mixing and building with cob is by far the easiest part of this whole process The best way to learn is to get out there and start building The only way I ve ever mixed cob is with my feet on a tarp I ve heard of people using rototillers on a cement pad to mix up big batches of cob quickely There are many reasons why using the rototiller meathod has it s advanages and disadvantages We re going to be foot mixing all of our cob Dump the sandy soil and the clay onto the middle of the tarp Add a little bit of water Start dancing on it Turn it often Every ten seconds The more often you turn it the better If will get mixed up more quickley and evenly What it means to turn the mix is to take the corners of the tarp and pull them so that you are rolling the cob mix onto itself creating something that looks like a big mud burrito Add water to your mix slowley it s easy to end up with a much more goopy mix than you had anticipated It is easier to mix when it s really wet but the building process is slower The walls won t be able to get built up very high when your cob is super wet Too much ooging will occur see the next page for more about ooging Adding straw is the last part of the mixing process Add as much straw as you can Keep shaking it out onto the mix stomping it in turning it in Keep going until you can t possibly add any more straw Turn the finished straw filled mix to form a cob burrito Next you ll need to get down onto the tarp with your burrito It s time to form little cobs Grab a big hunk of cob off of the burrito and knead it like you would bread dough Make it into a nice little loaf Keep doing this until the whole cob burrito is gone and all you have left are a whole bunch of little cob loafs cobs Next form a line of people going from the cob wall to the pile of cobs on the tarp Pass the cobs from on person to another until they get to the wall If you are working by yourself you could drag the tarp over to the wall or put the cobs in a bucket and bring the bucket to the wall Line the cobs up on the wall Then start

    Original URL path: http://www.dacres.org/media/articles/alternative-building/coboven.html (2016-05-01)
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