Friday, September 29, 2006

Deck Family Farm Website is Up

I've been posting farming related topics over the last year in conjunction with my more nerdly posts on GIS. We now have a website for our farming venture at Deck Family Farm. Check it out if you are interested in natural meats. We are starting to take orders for direct-shipped frozen meat boxes!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fence for home on a farm update

Here is a photo of the fence that I wrote about last November. Most of it is done with the exception of gates. I am very pleased with the design as the fence went up pretty quick, even counting the phone and septic lines we managed to precisly locate with our auger.

In the photo is a small section of cob wall we have near our front gate. The cob is built using Oregon Cob, a new method based on a very old technique using clay, sand, and straw to build the wall. The straw acts like rebar, holding the whole mass together, while the clay holds the sand together, and the sand adds the mass. We have yet to put the outer coat on, which will be a clay-dung (yes, its dung-- we are going to use llama poop) mix and on top of that a linseed oil/ beeswax mix.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Alternatives to Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer

We are raising organic beef. Though we are not certified at this time, we are following the rules. One particular aspect of being organic is not using synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. This is a big deal when most livestock producers around you are using synthetic nitrogen. The benefits touted are more grass for hay and forage and the grass responding to the nitrogen will respond better than the weeds. In the words of one rancher on our decision to not use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer- "You won't get nothin' from that land without it".

After some reading its clear that there are a number of ills associated with using synthetic nitrogen, including: reliance on fossil fuels to produce it, changing soil chemistry, investing in methods requiring intervention as opposed to using time & energy in other methods that may be more productive.

A few sites detailing the ills of synthetic nitrogen:

Finally, i mentioned "other methods" above that could be used instead of synthetic nitrogen. This is where I want to begin to focus my attention. Some ideas are:

1) Management intensive grazing. For reading see:

2) Overseeding legumes. Legumes fix nitrogen so used in permanent pastures can have a positive impact. Timing on this is critical.

3) Planting combinations of early & late season grasses to extend the grazing season. (I have some references on this that i'll post when i find them)

4) Fencing off creeks and providing water in the pasture. This helps keep nutrients on the pastures where they belong instead of the creeks where they cause no end of problems. We are pursuing options with WRP and CREP currently to help fence our nearly 2 miles of creek frontage.

More on this topic later!

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My friend Collin Bode and I were sitting around one afternoon bouncing ideas around & through a lemonade and a beer. The big idea came up to create MapWiki. The name says it all. I realized later others have done this. (e.g.

We specifically wanted something that could integrate well with natural history collections databases and also include spatial certainty, linking back to source specimen records, and a registry of organizations and names.

Anyway, a rough prototype lives at:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Layerwing WMS services with GoogleMaps >= v2.36

With the change in code in the Google Maps API v2.36, some things broke in my previous post about how to do WMS layering in V2 of Google Maps. I've posted a working sample of the WMS code for v2.36 and up here.

NOTE #1 (June 9th, 2006): I deleted the code references in the blog and instead point people to the sample link above, where a working version of the code is maintained (the key component is the file called wms236.js).

NOTE #2 (June 9th, 2006): Thanks to Guilhem Vellut for fixing up some Javascript code to make the Mercator Projection work more accurately. Now, it can be used at all zoom levels.

->Mike Williams V2 Reference & custommap code

->Brian Flood V1 WMS code

->Kyle Mulka V1 WMS code modifications


->Modified by Chris Holmes, TOPP to work by default with GeoServer.

->Guilhem Vellut for more accurate Javascript Mercator Fxn

Friday, January 27, 2006

Layering WMS services using GoogleMaps API V2

NOTE: I changed this posting substantially on February 1st as the previous code did not work when using GPolyline methods. This code now works with polylines.

Here is my method for creating GoogleMaps API V2 WMS Layers. In version 1, I started with code developed by Brian Flood and Kyle Mulka and ended up re-writing most of that class for V2 using code and examples from Mike Williams. The dd2Mercator conversion bits can be left off if dealing with small scale maps only.

Click here for a working example of this code. NOTE: On June 9th, i deleted the code references in this blog and instead refer people to view the source of the working example linked to above.