Author Archives: John

Water Plants and the Nitrogen Cycle


Water Plants and the Nitrogen Cycle Why do my fish get sick and die?   Your koi pond (or any recirculating water environment) is a closed system; water stays there.  Fish constantly feed and emit waste products in the form of ammonia nitrogen, or NH4.  This makes the water progressively unfit for fish health. The Nitrogen Cycle  The biological event that cleans up the waste is called The Nitrogen Cycle.  Beneficial bacteria in your pond constantly convert NH4 (ammonia, toxic) to […]

Tags: , , , , , ,

Macchiato


The animal kingdom is sometimes harsh but pragmatic.  When our pregnant doe, Mocha, had triplets, I was so excited.  Not only was this our first set of triplets, but all the kids were girls. Shortly after the birth, I realized that Mocha did not seem to have the desire or capacity to nurse all three kids.  In fact, in the first few hours after giving birth, she was only nursing the strongest kid.  I had to hold up the two […]

Tags: , ,

Pond polyculture


  The fish ponds at J and J Aquafarms are a polyculture of organisms that utilize all levels of the aquatic food chain. It starts with algae which we seed and fertilize at the beginning of every pond cycle. Insects, mollusks, and crustaceans thrive on the rich green soup. Small forage fish eat the insects and snails. Large fish such as bass and catfish consume small fish and crustaceans. In the background, planktonic algae feed on the waste products of […]

Tags: , , , , ,

Chicken tractor from recycled materials


A chicken tractor is a great solution for mobile and secure housing.  It is called a chicken tractor because the birds are constantly pecking and scratching the soil. Soon, the area covered by the run is devoid of vegetation and bugs.   We resurrected an old abandoned farm trailer. We had to repack the bearings to get the trailer to even move.   We welded together a metal frame to which we secured reclaimed barn wood.   Corrugated roofing from […]

Tags: , , ,

Energy saving features in new home construction


Little House on the Fish Farm is designed with several energy saving features to reduce its carbon footprint. Six inch walls offer 50% more insulation than the standard wall. Instead of a cold cement slab, a sub-floor was built which allows six more inches of insulation. These two features conserve heat and help maintain the temperature of the house year round. An additional benefit of the sub-floor is the barrier it creates between the dry living space and the perpetually […]

Tags: ,

Livestock’s role in an integrated farm


Our livestock play an important role on our integrated farm. The cows and goats provide a non-chemical solution to weed control in the pond area. Our chickens help aerate and turn the soil. All of our animals are free range, virtually eliminating the need for antibiotics and other drugs. The waste products of the animals are eventually broken down into rich compost. The end result is healthy grass-fed animals, with the added benefit of weed and erosion control.  

Tags: , , , ,

Aquatic plants


  Our ponds provide the perfect growing environment for aquatic plants.  Fish waste is broken down by pond microorganisms into nitrates, the key ingredient in plant fertilizer.  A fish pond without plants will, by default, grow noxious filamentous algae. This is a fish farmer’s worse nightmare because it makes it impossible to net a pond. We grow water hyacinths, sacred lotus, bog plants and a dozen varieties of water lilies. The harvest is from March until July, and the plants […]

Tags: , ,

Building a “floating” goat house


We needed to build a goat and chicken house that was hard for predators to enter. Since we have abundant water, it seemed natural to build a structure utilizing the pond as a protective barrier. This led to the idea of a “floating” goat house. The goat house appears to be floating, but it is actually anchored to the pond bottom.   When the pond was dry, 18″ diameter concrete pipe was secured into the ground.  The redwood and cedar […]

Tags: , , , , ,