October 2010

On the sustainable energy front.... this month Swampy Acres converted all electricity usage
over to "Green Rate" from PSNH (Public Service of New Hampshires, state electric
company). We are trying hard not to buy oil from countries that hate us. With this program,
you need to cough up an extra 3 cents a kilowatt hour, but PSNH will then buy an
equivalent number of Renewable Energy Certificates. You can read aboutRECs here.
Although we technically are not actually buying energy from renewable sources, with this
program we can completely offset our electricity usage and essentially become
carbon-neutral. Additionally, we switched over to "Bioheat" home heating oil. This is a mix
of anywhere between 5 and 20% biodiesel. We are making these changes for the following
reasons:

1) We are tired of buying oil that causes us to be linked to and fund countries that essentially
hate us. Venezuela and Saudi Arabia in particular (the third and fourth largest suppliers of
U.S. Oil, after Canada and Mexico). Keeping the "oil lanes" open requires huge amounts of
military expenditure. We should definitely try to wean ourselves off this oil... and we are
trying to get there

2) Reduce Environmental Degradation. Even if we got all our oil from "Friendly" countries,
global warming is still and issue. We are going to run out of oil sooner or later anyway, might
as well get a head start.

3) Get rid of "Big Oil" the huge petrochemical companies have half our politicians in their
pocket. Time for a change in this direction too.

Besides making pseudo political statements... there are other happenings as well. Nothing says "reduce
environmental impact" like a brand new tractor!! We finally made the plunge and bought a small tractor for various
farm chores. We were back and forth a bit between a New Holland, a Kubota and a John Deere. We finally went
with the John Deere and selected model 2320 with a 200CX loader and ballast box. This tractor is a diesel and will
run on biodiesel, but unfortunately, we can't find a single place in the area that sells it. Also, there isn't a single
tractor this size made in America... (even John Deere!!!). I was told the next model up (the Deere 2520) is
"assembled" in Georgia (with foreign parts).. but that tractor was just a little out of the price range. As such, we
settled for a Japanese tractor marketed by an American company. I guess we don't make anything in this country
anymore.

Mission one with the new tractor was to fill the ballast box with portland cement. The reason is that the loader
weighs 800 pounds and can lift around 1,000. If there isn't significant weight in the rear, the tractor will tip
frontwards when using the loader. Even if it doesn't tip, the back wheels will lose traction and help to keep some of
the load of the front axle. So... we filled the ballast box with about 700 pounds of cement and put in two PVC pipes
as a handy tool holders.

We put the tractor to work right away, helping us move the tons and tons of wood from the field-making project.

We also put the tractor to work moving 20 yard of loam to expand the vegetable garden a bit. Normally, shoveling
and wheelbarrowing this much loam would take all day... we did it in about 15 minutes with the tractor (below). I
can see we are going to have alot of uses for this around here! My regular plow guy's truck is dead (for our road,
which the town won't plow) , so I would have had to find a new guy to plow us out.. well, definitely going to put the
tractor to work this winter on snow removal. The John Deere guy swore up and down you can use the loader to
move snow and no need to buy a plow, he also talked me out of buying tire chains. He said you don't need either
with this tractor.. we'll see. I did shell out the 150 bucks for the block heater as I am wondering if the tractor will
start at 20 below zero.

Well, the garden is almost dead... only a the carrots and swiss chard are left. It is a little sad to see it croak, but as
you can see, we are already gearing up for next year.

We have been so busy clearing the goat paddock (about an acre) we wouldn't have much time to spend in the
garden anyway. We have continued to clear hundreds of trees and have about 5 cords of wood stored up. Here is a
video that shows our progress to-date.

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