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HISFarm

You Can Have More by Having Less

You can have more by having less when you understand the time and effort that comes with building your homestead or farm.

Getting Started: Our Goal

Our goal is to grow nutrient dense food to eat and sell. We have been "practicing" now for about three years. While we have sized our greenhouse to be manageable by just a few people once it is completed, we still want to grow at a rate that is sustainable for us.

Practice?

What do I mean by practice:

  • Start small with the end goal of what you want to grow into.

  • Since our vision is to be debt free when the farm is completed, pay cash, or very few payments.

  • Take the time to test the systems you want to use on the smaller greenhouses.

  • Take note and record the weather and temperatures/humidity/winds and daylight at the greenhouse location.

  • What solar, wind and generator power systems will we use? Are they reliable?

  • How will the greenhouse be heated during the 40 to 50 below zero weather?

  • What automatic watering systems will we be using?

Test, test, test and evaluate.

Here is a photograph of our first small growing plot.

First small garden plot

As you can see, our first garden paid for itself. We are still growing at 7,000 feet while we look for land in higher country in Colorado.

We Purchased Land!

So together with our partner in this business, we were able to purchase land and pay cash. Forty acres at 9,000 feet elevation. It comes with a water well already in place and produces 7 gallons per minute of clean water! 

40 acres with a well

  • We put a small 5th wheel trailer on the property.

  • Decide where to place the greenhouse.

  • Dig a water line to that site.

  • Start digging the greenhouse based upon the research we accomplished.

Trailer and digging the water line 

We install two smaller greenhouses for the first-year crop while we finish the larger greenhouse, using the Food4Wealth system of growing a garden.

2 small prototype greenhouses

We lease the empty house next door for the winter months and grow a "kitchen garden" in the old buffalo pen.

Kitchen Garden

Greenhouse ready to plant first raised bed

Greenhouse Roof and Door in place 

Now, we have the basic structure of the greenhouse completed as well as have one raised bed in place inside. There is room for many more plants, hanging, hydroponics and aquaponics systems to be installed also. We also have the following ready to be installed:

  • Solar panels with all of the equipment to run the greenhouse and a new home (to be built later).

  • Weather station and monitor station to help us automate ventilation/heat and watering.

  • Lots of organic compost and Llama manure.

  • Seed for planting for this year.  (About two weeks away for cold crops, 1 month for heating system to be functional).

  • Testing supplies for quality control.

Time to Upsize Our Growing Plan

Now that our smaller steps have been proven successful, everything is paid for. We have also joined the local garden club as well as talked to local restaurants, stores and community centers about our Nutrient Dense Food business.

We have people ready to purchase our products as soon as they are ready!  

To Sum Up How We Have More by Having Less:

  • We have no debt on the property or materials.

  • We have two years at higher altitudes to test our growing beds and mineral content for optimum growth and quality using a simple system.

  • We have older equipment that is paid for.

  • Customers are already to purchase what we are growing.

  • We are off the grid, so no electric or water bills to pay.

We still have to build a home on the property. We will continue to lease the land next door with a house to produce enough food for ourselves. This also offsets the cost of the lease.

Living in the house also gives us more time to design and plan the home we will eventually live in. We enjoy the journey, the challenges and the friendships and community we have become a part of while we build our sustainable homestead.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about living off the grid or growing a Food4Wealth garden, contact us!

Today is a good day.
Chris Downs
HisFarm.org

Extreme Cold Weather Generator Repair and Maintenance

HISFarmLiving off grid, we rely upon our solar panels, batteries and generator to provide power and heat. As we are still building our farm, we leased the 40-acre farm next to us that has a house.

The challenge during cold weather is the house only has forced air heating. The owners' insurance does not allow for wood heat, other than a pellet stove. That would be PL, IF the pellet stove did not use more electricity than the furnace.

30 below and the generator does not want to start.

When the sun does not shine, we must use the generator to supplement our power storage to the batteries. No sun, no electricity, unless you use the generator.

We have had some extreme cold weather this last week.  We are prepared for it with our generator, or at least I thought I had taken all of the precautions I needed to:

  • Drained the fuel/water separator.

  • Checked the fuel filters for being clean.

  • Fuel tank fill strainer clean.

  • Added extra anti-gel to the fuel tank.

  • Tested and ran the generator when it first got below zero.

I Was Prepared!

At least I thought I was.

The first day of temperatures below 30, I woke up and found our outside thermometer was pegged to the negative side. It goes to minus 21 degrees. Our neighbor, who lives four miles north of us is usually about 4 to 5 degrees warmer than our house due to the wind and landscape here. He had 28 degrees below zero.

We were not cold in the house yet, but my family had not gotten out of bed yet. The temperature in the house was toasty 52 degrees! Not the warmest for most people, but a lot warmer that being outside. I turned the heat up to 60 degrees.  

Starting the Generator

I waited until it was 20 below zero outside to start the generator. We have a diesel generator and we add an anti-gel additive to the fuel to keep it from freezing in severe weather. At least that was the theory. I had added two times the amount recommended for temperatures below zero degrees.

Diesel fuel additives

The generator started and for 40 minutes ran great! At the 40-minute mark, the generator started running rough. I quickly got dressed for the cold weather and shut down the generator. The temperature was already up to 15 below zero. I checked the batteries and they were charged, so we had power for the day. The guel filters had less than 10 hours of use on them, so they should be fine.

I Did Some Troubleshooting

  • I had recently placed a new exhaust pipe on the generator to keep the exhaust outside of the generator shed.

  • I removed the exhaust to make sure it was not blocked due to moisture freezing in the pipe.

  • I checked the air filter, also new about 10 hours ago. It was very dirty. Probably from the shorter exhaust pipe we had previously had for the generator.

  • I removed one fuel filter and found some gelled fuel in the canister.

Diesel Generator 

I went to town, purchased a new air filter as well as some more fuel conditioners. The 9-1-1 additive was highly recommended for these extreme cold temperature.

After getting back home about three hours later, we cleaned the fuel filters, fuel/water separator and replaced them after adding 25-percent 9-1-1 per volume in each fuel filter canister and the fuel/water separator, then poured the rest into the fuel tank. It was getting dark and the temperature was close to 15 below zero. What was left from the 9-1-1, I placed in the fuel tank.

It was now 20 below. We fired up a propane heater in the generator shed. If it had been a gas generator, I probably would not have used it, but hooray for propane space heaters!

Will it Run?

We went through the starting process:

  • Prime the fuel system.

  • Glow plugs on for 60 seconds.

  • Turn the switch to Start.

The generator started, but it was coughing and running a bit rough. Dale, our neighbor who was helping me, recommended letting it run, and within two minutes, it started running smooth and clean.

Success and the Lessons Learned 

So the generator was running great. We had succeeded in getting the power we needed to heat the house. What we discovered is that even though we had more than enough additive in the fuel, we will need to remove the tank and check it also. The goop we removed we believe came from the tank, and after so many cold days in a row it was able to break loose.

The lesson learned is that in extreme cold weather, change out the fuel filters and drain water/fuel separators more often. We will be more alert to the cold temperatures as well as removing the fuel tank yearly to check for contaminants.

We will also build a rocket stove with lots of thermal storage for our home as we build, right after the greenhouse is producing our food!