My Uncle’s Farm

November 30, 2007 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

Over Thanksgiving I had the pleasure of spending a day upstate at my aunt and uncle’s farm near Cooperstown, NY. It’s not a commercial farm, but they’ve got a lot of cool stuff up there and I wanted to share a bit with you.

First of all, they’ve got a herd of heritage breeds sheep which are super cool looking (sorry, no picture available because they kept running away on account of my aunt’s 6-month-old dog). If you want to learn more about heritage breeds, check out the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, where you’ll learn why it’s important to keep rare livestock breeds from going extinct (let me boil it down for you here: if we continue to raise only a few breeds and let others go extinct, then we lose genetic diversity and put our livestock at risk of losing all ability to evolve and fight disease).   
My uncle also keeps a vegetable garden where he grows food for the family. As it’s November, there wasn’t much left in the ground, but there were tons of carrots and turnips, which we dug up and ate with our Thanksgiving meal – very delicious and as fresh as can be. They’ve also got a mustard plant, which I’d never seen before. Rather than using the mustard seed to make the yellow stuff that we all know and love, you can take a leaf off a mustard plant and put it right in your hotdog – it tastes spicy and delicious, plus you get the added benefit of fiber!

And then there was this thing:
What is it, you ask? Well, it’s a wood furnace. My aunt and uncle’s house is heated entirely by burning wood – which I like to think of as the original biofuel. But this isn’t a wood stove or a fireplace with a chimney, it’s a clean-burning boiler that gasifies the wood and produces heat in a super efficient and clean way (by turning the wood into gas and separating out the ash so that it isn’t released into the air). It’s made by Econoburn, in case you’re curious.

A couple of months ago a microburst hit the farm a knocked down a huge tree on the property (and one of the barns – luckily the sheep knew what was up and high-tailed it into the woods where they were able to stay safe), so my aunt and uncle have plenty of wood to keep the house warm all winter. I’ll leave off here with a nice photo of some of the wood, just to give you something to look at while you ponder the amazingness of wood gassification:


Entry filed under: energy, gardening.

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