The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Latest homegrown chick 3.0

new chick in town 3.0 homegrown version 2nd of 2011

Our third homegrown chick showed up today a bit earlier than predicted.

Not sure when we'll get accustomed to all this eggcitement during the hatching phase.

In my opinion it's 10 times more entertaining than any television I can remember.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Now that we're officially on day 21 (we started incubating at 3:40 pm), we've already got a second egg pipping. Hopefully more will start soon, because chick 3.0 seems a bit lonely (and loud).
Comment by anna Mon May 16 16:37:22 2011
Shades of eggcitement with Vincent Price as Egghead and Adam West as Batman---Speaking of which in your agrarian situation, do bats have any place in your plans? The are a good source of insect control, so I was wondering.
Comment by vester Mon May 16 18:19:54 2011
We love bats, and we do have a healthy population in the area. On warm evenings, I can usually see at least a couple circling overhead, snapping up bugs. We don't do anything to encourage them (except for having a nice swamp to breed mosquitoes...), because everyone I've talked to says that bats are hard to tempt into bat boxes. I'd really like to have a bat box sometime, though, so I can collect the guano... :-)
Comment by anna Mon May 16 19:07:35 2011

Hmm... It shouldn't have surprised me that any discussion about bats would have lead to fertilizer.

Guano can be a first step to making gunpowder too, so I should also remember the virtues of guano. :P

Comment by Shannon Tue May 17 02:10:08 2011
Roland can probably chime in, but it seems to me (without doing any research) that you should be able to use any high nitrogen manure (like chicken poop) to make gunpowder too?
Comment by anna Tue May 17 11:05:21 2011

Dung heaps were indeed a common source of potassium nitrate. Especially when the ashes from wood fires were added. There were specially built nitre-heaps made for creating potassium nitrate.

Another method is to let urine decompose in straw for some months, wash out the calcium nitrate with water and filter it through wood ash to convert it to potassium nitrate, followed by drying.

The big disadvantage of black powder is the high amount of solid combustion products, causing fouling of guns. Apart from reproductions of older guns, I don't think many modern firearms would be suited for using gunpowder. Smokeless powder (based on nitrocellulose a.k.a gun-cotton) has been around for around 150 years now, and is much more powerful.

Search for "exploding apron" for an interesting story about the discovery of nitrocellulose. BTW, don't try that at home, unless you want to blow yourself up and your house. Guncotton by itself is not very stable.

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue May 17 14:02:44 2011
That's interesting --- I've heard the term "black powder rifles" but didn't realize we'd moved away from gunpowder for most guns. I guess making our own ammunition isn't as easy as it might be.
Comment by anna Tue May 17 15:57:13 2011

If you want to make your own ammunition completely yourself, you'd basically have to go back to a flintlock smoothbore musket or rifle muzzle-loaders. For those you only need;

  • charcoal
  • sulpher
  • potassium nitrate
  • lead
  • flint

The first three are needed for the propellant (black powder). Lead is used to cast bullets (no metal jackets in those days) and flint is needed to ignite the gunpowder.

Comment by Roland_Smith Tue May 17 16:43:03 2011
And just think all the above is from the tail end of the digestive tract. Ah well, remember the old saying, "Hay is the first stage of horse shit", or whatever other animal you're giving it to.
Comment by vester Tue May 17 17:12:15 2011

Roland --- And, presumably, the further back you get in gun technology, the less safe it becomes. I think that's one of the last DIY projects I'd actually undertake. :-)

Vester --- It seems like most of the things I love most come from the tail end of an animal. Eggs, compost... :-)

Comment by anna Tue May 17 19:10:24 2011

If you want to make it yourself, black powder is probably the least dangerous.

More advanced propellants like guncotton or its derivative smokeless powder are made by chemical processes that are not very suitable to DIY due to the nature of some of the materials (strong acids) and the required precise control of reaction parameters like temperature and purity of reactants.

Comment by Roland_Smith Wed May 18 13:17:58 2011
Well, I wasn't saying black powder was the most dangerous to make, just to use. I figure that gun's are already dangerous enough without homemade ammunition (but, then, I'm a bit gun-phobic.)
Comment by anna Wed May 18 17:31:39 2011

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