Jan 6, 2015

First Year Wintering Livestock, Goats for Now

When you enter permaculture and begin listening to the land, you soon learn to sense the site conditions as they change, sometimes before. Each season fine tunes our perception to deeper detail. It wasn't until I owned and tended livestock that I truly felt the harmonics of change.

The sensory connection to the land is immediate upon the implementation of a design or planting space. The connection with a living creature, especially one as intelligent as horses, goats or pigs brings a whole new level of understanding. Watching the thermometer, wind, and humidity brings a realization that something else is out there enduring the conditions that would otherwise make quick history of ourselves.
Two daily trips to the stables (at a minimum) requires preparation on my part for cold. -10ºF to 5ºF lately. I change out the frozen buckets for fresh water. Check the passively heated buckets for water level, fill the forage rack, and a give a nightly supply the supplemental pellet food (which they eat within minutes). Many times I fluff up the straw bedding area for their added warmth (this also drops the manure to the pallet slats below). Having separate feeding and bedding areas has helped reduce straw use.

Each week I pull out the feeding area floor tarps that are covered with manure and soiled straw, dump them on the winter pile, replace them, add fresh bedding, and rake around the outside areas. In one pen I am experimenting with shredded paper. The feeding area floor is 2" - 5" of paper, this is scooped to a wagon and piled on worm beds. The paper works much better than straw for the worms and is much cheaper. Liquid fertilizer will be plentiful in the spring.

Recently I bought a round bail of hay and alfalfa. Soon after the exterior grasses were used I found that we had what is called tobacco hay. This is spoiled hay that has turned brown and dried after being bailed damp. Further in the bail was Black and moldy, totally in edible by the animals. I salvaged what I could. I know I can harvest most of my forage from our property and we'll do that this year. Learning to be totally self-reliant with their feed is the goal before we can move onto other livestock.

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Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design

Permaculture and Polyculture Consulting and Design
Getting to know your property, the plants you have and those you can grow, is a fulfilling endeavor. With most I am the steward of the land. I give them good soil biology and they do the rest. If I group them in cohesive plant communities, they respond with greater yields. If I encourage the micro-organisms (Fungus and bacteria) , the roots obsorb more nutrients making a pest and disease resistant plant. A stronger plant that gives us more organic food and takes less energy.

A Ten Acre Farm Transformed to an Edible Forest Garden

A Ten Acre Farm Transformed to an Edible Forest Garden
Self Renewing Fertility, Soil Building, Water Catchment, Tea Trail Swale, Erosion Control and Native American Medicinals