Thank you for that, it's a good tip and I will definitely keep a close eye on how they react to it. The breeder - who comes highly recommended and with several generations of experience - says they have used up to 50% SBG at times when it was available and the pigs have thrived. But as we're newbies we'll be cautious.
Just wanted to clear up this common misconception that spent brewing grain has been fermented or is alcoholic. It's not. In the brewing process you take malted grain and mash it - basically steeping it in hot water - usually for no more than an hour. You then strain out the solids, and the wort - the liquid - goes on to be fermented into alcohol.
So the grain has only been steeped in hot water, thus extracting the fermentable sugars (most of the carbohydrate) and leaving behind high bulk fiber and protein content. The resulting SBG is in no way fermented or alcoholic. It will go on to ferment if left like that, but there is also a high risk of spoilage. We find that our SBG keeps fine for about a week in sealed plastic tubs, but I wouldn't feed it to stock beyond 1 week old. Our chickens love it but they only ever eat about 1/3 of what they are offered (whatever the amount) - I think they pick out the best bits and leave the chaff.
We are getting our first pigs soon and hoping that SBG will form a large part of their diet - the breeder we are getting them from says that for up to 50% of their diet it should be fine.
Yep, that seems likely, I have seen some of those pupae cases in the compost pile and in the lasagne bed. I had not noticed any in the tunnel, but I guess that's likely. So what do I do? Some sites said basically, just assume a certain % of loss, some suggested eggshells.coffee grounds/DE, and some said cultivate heavily - bit of a problem there since i am aiming for no-dig/little-dig in much of the garden... any suggestions?
I grew borage from seed and planted about half of them out when they were sort of palm-sized with two pairs of true leaves. Some in the polytunnel (my first season with indoor grow space) and some outside. Nearly all of the ones I planted, both indoors and out, have been nipped off right at the soil level but otherwise undamaged, just left lying there.
Ive got broad beans coming up in the tunnel and a few days after the borage massacre, about 1/3 of these were also nipped off at the ground, but left lying there. I've never really had this happen before.
There is other stuff around and growing, both inside and out, although not tons.
Some slugs have been spotted, not much damage yet, and this doesn't look like slugs to me.
All but one of the borage seedlings were NOT near any mulch or woodchip.
There certainly are mice in the area but not really infesting, as far as I can tell.
I don't know - I don't know anything about horn fly. Just from googling, it says eggs are laid in fresh cow dung and the larval stage is not that long. The cow muck we had was delivered (from a local farmer) in October, and it was already a couple of months old then. The heap steamed for a couple of weeks and then cooled down. In late October I spread it thickly on the lasagna beds and left the rest in the heap. We have not had a cold winter, temperatures have stayed above freezing except a few brief hard frosts, we have had a lot of rain. I don't know if HF maggots would still be around after all that time?
Upon further investigation I saw fewer of the things that looked like actual worms, and more of the things that looked like grubs. White, less than 1 cm long, and not wriggly in the same way as worms. They are most concentrated in the 'lasagna' bed where large lumps of cow muck have not broken down well, they are in the middle of such lumps. They are in clusters, not throughout.
I'm interested to hear how your work goes. I know dozens of people around here who feed SBG straight to pigs with no processing, in many cases making up 50%+ of the pigs' diet, and have only ever heard positive things. We have a nanobrewery and currently our chickens and ducks eat most of the waste, but we're planning on increasing production and feeding the SBG to pigs - it was appealing because of the ease and convenience. if an intermediate step is necessary it's a lot less appealing! But as I say, this is not the experience of people I know, so I am curious.
I have discovered tiny white worms in two places. The first place was in a large pile of woodchip - shredded fresh a few months ago and left untouched except for the chickens scratching around in it. Then the chickens were gone for a month and the pile had lots of rain. When I came back I dug out a scoop and discovered tiny white grubs, 1cm or less long, and very thin. they looked like grubs but they might have been worms.
The chickens did have worms at one point in the fall, I cleaned out their coop thoroughly, disposed of the bedding far away, dusted everything with DE, and have not had any obvious reoccurence of worms. I don't think the grubs are the same as what I saw in the chicken coop but I can't be 100% sure. The chickens free range over a very large area.
Then yesterday I went to check on my 'lasagna' bed - last August I piled up 12" of woodchip, 8-12" of semi-composted cow muck (cow poop mixed with straw), topped it with 12" of dried hay. It's been out in the rain since then untouched. When I dug into it I discovered these white worms in the cow muck layer - but impossible to tell if they came from the cow muck or the woodchip. I'm not 100% sure these are the same as the ones in the woodchip pile, as these looked more like worms and less like grubs - these are 1-2cm long and very thin and wriggly. They are totally white. This bed has not decomposed as much as I would have hoped - all the elements are still indentifiable. But it also has plenty of nice fat, healthy-looking earthworms in it. I think mostly earthworms, not red wrigglers, although I have plenty of those in my garden compost heap.
So, does anyone have a clue about this white grubs and/or worms? Should I panic - are they horrible parasites and having them near my chickens, compost, and vegetable garden going to make me terribly ill? Or are they juvenile earthworms? Or something else? Help!
I want to put some pigs on a swampy/marshy area. The problem is how to fence it because the ground is so wet - some is mud, some is standing water, it's all covered with tussocky grass. I'm not sure about getting fence posts in there solidly enough for wire fencing, and with electrical I am worried about clearing an area well enough to keep it from grounding out. One side of the area is a very steep old railway embankment fenced off with a solid fence which is two strands of barbed wire. I don't know if they'd be able to get under the wire, or if they would try to climb the bank (my brother who has experience with pigs reckons probably not but isn't totally sure). The other side, if they got out of whatever fence I manage to erect, is a small river, 6-8 feet across and 2-5 feet deep. Would they swim this? How worried would I need to be about that? My plan is to get weaners and keep them in a small paddock on a raised dry area for a while until they are used to 'homebase' and a bit bigger, then give them access to the swampy area. But I am concerned about how to keep them in a contained area of the swamp. Any advice appreciated!
My very cool and very permie brother (age 30) is currently visiting us in the UK and wants to travel a little bit in southern Europe. Nothing long, just a couple of weeks of tooling around. He's particularly interested in visiting and learning about sweet chestnut plantations for example in France, Corsica, and Italy, but that's not essential.
Mostly he would just like the opportunity to meet some interesting people and see some interesting stuff. He's up for doing some work too - experienced with livestock, vegetables, fruit and other trees, earth and water works, and more. Plus he's handy with entertaining kids!
If anyone could maybe host him for a few days, or has any suggestions, please post here or send me a message, thank you!
Michael, you speak a lot of sense about the rightness of willow in a yard like that, however I disagree about shifting (either selling or giving away) willow cuttings - they fetch good money in the UK! I don't see why it would be any different in the Netherlands, especially in an urban area where a lot of people won't have vast resources of their own.
You could also use the willow but in a different way, using cuttings to create a fence or hedge. These are fast-growing and need to be pruned every year but they make a really nice garden feature - you can even build living willow structures like play dens for children.
Yeah, I would cut it off to a stump as Michael suggested but definitely cut some of the younger branches and pot them up (as many as you have space to store!) and once they have rooted, sell them or give them away if you don't need them. Or if you don't want to bother potting them up, then at least ask local gardeners (or freecycle, if you have that in the netherlands?) if they want some - you can saw up and season for firewood all the woody bits, and pot up or give away all this year's (more flexible) growth.
I have no idea, everyone's definitions are different. Here in the UK you can register as a smallholding at any size (you need to get a SH number in order to have any livestock), but it's not until 12 acres that you automatically get certain agricultural rights (like automatic planning permission for agricultural buildings). Where I live if people want to build new homes they have to show that they are 90% self-sufficient from the land, that includes feeding themselves and raising enough of a profit to meet their basic financial needs. So I do know quite a few people who are 'farming' by the previous poster's definition, on just a few acres sometimes. Then again I know a few sheep farmers (the dominant occupation around here) who have many acres (70+) and lots of sheep (500+) but a spouse with a full-time off-farm job for income.
For our own part we have 4.5 acres, at the moment it would best be described as a large vegetable garden with poultry, and I feel silly calling it a smallholding although we do have a number. Eventually our goal is to be producing all/nearly all of our own fruit and vegetables, eggs, a good proportion of meat and dairy, from a variety of animals. This will still not be our source of income, but if we get to the stage of producing nearly all our own food and possibly slight surpluses from time to time, I would happily call it a smallholding/small farm.
It is indeed. I don't know if this applies to cows as well, but in humans one of the biggest risk factors for developing mastitis is curtailed feeding - not nursing often enough or for long enough - or the baby inefficiently emptying the breast.
Thanks Michael. I so dearly wish that we had a collection of old outbuildings, an old privy would be such a boon! I will get a copy of the book for sure, and hopefully be able to figure out plans for building an outdoor loo in the next few months...
Yeah we are using a sawdust (well, wood shavings) bucket at the moment, pee only though. I will get the book, been meaning to read it for ages anyway though it wasn't urgent before! From discussions of it that I have read though, I've gotten the impression that it's vitally important to compost the poop at hot compost temperatures in order to be safe. My compost heap isn't that big and it doesn't really get that hot, so I'd be concerned about that.
So we still can't use our drainage system Now we think there is a blockage in the system, but my husband spent almost all day rodding the drain and it hasn't solved the problem so it seems like we'll have to get a pro In the meantime we have been peeing in a bucket outside during the day and peeing in a bucket of wood shavings at night. That is all working fine, I've just put the woodshavings on the compost heap. We are lucky that the cottage next door is unoccupied and belongs to my parents in law and its system if fine so we have been going over there to poop, but that is quite a pain especially with two small kids. I dont want to poop in the bucket. I wouldnt mind emptying it too much, well at least not on a short-term basis, but I don't know what would be a good solution - can't put that on the normal compost heap obviously. What about burying it in a hole? Possible though a lot of work. Would it be safe?
Ha! Good tip on the clothes. I think I will still try it as an experiment, but maybe just a few items. We do not have good drying weather for most of the year it must be said, but we manage without a tumble dryer. If we try to wean ourselves off the spin cycle though I may have to invest in a real mangle...
I should say, we already bathe very sparingly. We have no shower, only a bath, and due to water heating issues (only an electric immersion heater at present and for the foreseeable, not counting pan-of-water-on-the-stove). We don't bathe daily - the children about once a week, the adults 2-3 times per week. We tend to use a shallow 'sitz' bath so water use is already as minimal as is practical, I think.
And the other really huge issue that I should have mentioned is that our house is in a depression - even the vegetable garden and lawn area is up a flight of stone steps - the house is immediately surrounded on ground level by a patio, a concrete slab parking area, and gravel around the rest. to get the drainage out to the septic the pipes are DEEP under the lawn area - around 2-2.5 meters deep. So while my preference would be to just disconnect the baths and washing machine from the system and switch to grey-watering the garden, I don't see how this is feasible without huge excavation, effort, and expense. So it does look as though we're stuck with the septic system for the foreseeable future, which is why I'm trying to come up with some creative think-arounds.
There is a drain at the front of the house into which most of the gutters drain as well as one sink (weird old house), this goes to a pipe that runs under the road and presumably into the river or into a 'soak away' drainage area near the river. I have confidence that this would in theory handle the volume of grey water we produce however this is in full view of the road and therefore not an option as it would undoubtedly get us into big big trouble.
We live in a large house fitted with a modern septic tank system, mains water, and all modern conveniences (washing machine, bath, dishwasher, toilets, etc). We live in a very high rainfall area so while we are not wasteful with the water, it's really not something we need to worry about. However it's so wet here that it's actually creating problems with the septic system (at the moment we can't use it as the drain field is completely sodden so it's backed up). We're thinking about all the ways that we can change out behaviour and create new infrastructure (long term project!) to address this. Basically, we're happy to keep using the mains water, but need to come up with ideas to bypass the conventional drainage system. So for example, we will build an outdoor composting toilet, for now for occasional 'emergency' use, but perhaps transitioning to that more in the future.
I'm interested in building an outdoor shower but that would certainly not be useable for large portions of the year. I LOVE the idea of a little bath-house with a fire, but that's a very long-off dream.
What else? Washing clothes? We have a small river on the border, and are in the fortunate position of knowing the entire upstream course of the waterway - it is short and completely clean, no industry, no big road, no agrculture, only some low-stocked sheep grazing. I was thinking about trying some system where I put clothes in a large net bag or box and tie this in the (fast-flowing) water for a day or two - would this get them clean? I might not want to do this for all laundry, but it would be interesting if it worked.
We have been using the dishwasher because it is more efficient in terms of the energy to heat the water (long complicated situation) but can't at the moment due to the drains. Obviously it's not a problem to wash by hand in a bowl, and currently I am doing this and then tipping the water out the door rather than draining it down the system. Could I just unplumb the sink from the system, and drain it into a bucket that gets emptied once a day or something?
So this is a slightly unusual situation in that we can use more or less as much mains water as we like, but want to avoid using the drainage system. Does anyone else have any ideas for other ways to deal with:
miscelanneous kitchen and bathroom use (handwashing etc)
I know absolutely nothing about milking cows, so this is pure speculation, but I know a lot about breastfeeding, and what you're describing sounds very familiar. In humans, and as far as I know in all mammals, the milk won't flow unless there is a hormonal response, and this is inhibited by stress. If the milk is dribbling down the calf's face then it sounds like there is plenty there, but it's not flowing when you milk her. In humans this would definitely be a stress response. Just guessing, but I'm wondering if she is getting stressed out when you separate her from the calf, and therefore the milk isn't flowing? If this is the case I don't know what to suggest since I know nothing about managing dairy cows, but I'm sure someone else will.
We are thinking about a treebog, having seen plenty of these in action, and I think we have a place that could be ok for it, not too far from the house, on a hill so not right on the water table. For occassional use I guess it doesn't matter too much anyway, and then if it seems like it's working pretty well we could try to use it as our main one and just use the indoor loo for really bad weather...
Thanks, that would certainly be an easy solution! So then what would you suggest doing with the contents of the bucket? Burying it in a hot compost heap? (having issues getting my compost to heat up consistently), burying it in the ground? Urine I'm not as worried about to be honest, obviously urine+sawdust could go right on the compost, and we usually have a pee bucket outside the backdoor anyway that gets diluted and poured on the garden. But what about feces? Seems like this is the tricky one to dispose of in the absence of a fully thought-out composting toilet set up.
The house we bought a year ago has mains water and a septic tank system, and all mod cons inside, which we've been using more or less happily, and ocassionally thinking about how wasteful it all is. We do conserve water as much as possible, but frankly we live in a very wet area. Well, too wet as it turns out! We've been having bad rainstorms, and the septic system is backing up. Not into the house, yet. But the manhole covers near the back door are at the brim, the problem appears to be that the septic tank simply can't drain the liquid away as the ground is so sodden, or even worse-case scenario, the ground water might even be backing up into the tank. So since we discovered this today, we haven't been able to flush or put anything down the drain. Definitely think we need to work out a compost toilet back-up! (We are trying to figure out if there is anything that can be done to fix the septic, aside from wait until the ground dries out, errr, never, winter in Wales!) We are hoping our current system is fixable and that it will continue to be our primary system, but this experience definitely tells me we need a Plan B, which would be for occassional use, although perhaps in future we could transition more use away from the septic.
Anyway. There is SO MUCH info out there about different systems. The only one I have personal experience of building and maintaining is at my folks' cabin in the woods - that was weekend use, and it was a very shallow pit, surrounded by stones, with an open hut on top, every few years we just shoveled it out and put the compost in the forest. At the other end of the spectrum are the complicated urine-diverter, dual-chamber, super-engineered toilet castles. I think I need something in between.
For ocassional use, would it be ok to just dig a pit (how deep) as long as I know it's above the water table (we have a high water table on part of the property but we're on a hill, so uphill a bit should be ok I think?) and put a little shed on that?
Would anyone like to share some ideas with me for a simple system? This would probably all be against building regs - I know composting toilets are allowed but I believe they need to be of the very complicated variety which I'm not into right now. Just hoping to fly under the radar on this one.
I dont think it's gross as such, I just don't feel it's necessary as we already conserve water with the way we wash. We don't have a shower, just a bath. I bathe 1-2 times per week, usually just running 3-4 inches of water, the bare minimum to scrub and rinse the bits that really need it - maybe a bit more water when I wash my hair (maybe once a week). My husband bathes a little more often as he needs to be a bit more 'presentable' for work, my young children bathe about once per week but they have more water as they like to play. Consequently, the water is pretty grubby after a bath - when we bathed more often we'd share it (cleanest person in first, then next person adds just a little more water to the same bath) but now with less water and less frequent washing the water is pretty cloudy so we don't share. For clothes we only wash them once they're pretty dirty/smelly (a family of four, two kids under 7, we do a lot of outside work, a lot of exercise, and an awful lot of playing in mud) and I probably do an average of 3 loads per week. When clothes are really caked with mud I will hang them up outside in the rain for a few days (we get a lot of rain!) to 'pre-rinse'. I guess actually I could 'wash' some clothes that way, maybe every other load, hmmm something to think about.
Thanks Brian, some interesting ideas there! I don't think we can dig a pond there sadly, as though in many ways it would be a perfect solution, since the area is also part of the drainage field for our septic tank I cannot dig a pond.
I'm very interested in the fact that American woodworkers all seem dead set against green wood working, while here (in the UK) everyone I know doing this kind of thing much prefers green wood. There are books, courses, a whole traditional craft centered around working with green wood. I've only done a few spoons, all with green wood, and had no cracks or problems with warping. My biggest problems were when the wood started drying out before I finished. It is SO much easier to carve nice soft, green wood. I tried to do a little whittling on a piece of dry cherrywood I had and it was impossible to carve with my spoonknife, and a struggle with a straight knife. I've made spoons out of apple and hazel, green, both were nice.
Thanks everyone. It looks like that might have been a fluke day, as the past few days we've had 4 eggs in the coop per day, so I'm hoping that this continues! We do have magpies and crows around, really annoying. Either they or rats sometimes get duck eggs if the one of the ducks lays outside (we don't let htem out of their coop until after 9am but sometimes we get a late layer, and then find the eggshells on the path later on).
I do give them some food in the run in the morning, and when I chase them in in the late afternoon. When the weather is really bad (heavy rain) they're all back in the run/around the coop anyway.
I'm still very nervous about having them out, it's really only a matter of time before we lose some or all to foxes, but it's a risk I'm willing to take at least for now because they seem to be happier like this. What finally tipped the balance was that a couple of the hens were getting pecked - this had not happened before, and then all of a sudden two of them had small patches. I think it's pecking rather than moulting though. And actually in the week they've been ranging, one of them is worse - bigger bare patch - even though I have observed a lot less bad behaviour among them. I hope they settle down and leave the poor girl alone! It really can't be a protein deficiency, or boredom, at this point.
It's a great idea, but wouldn't work for us. For one thing it's hard to fine that many free pallets in my area, and another thing is transporting them - even with a trailer I can't move more than about 10 at a time, that's a lot of trips! And of course that design would only work on a very flat area, which we also lack. I love making use of pallets, I just wish I could get someone to deliver me about 50 of them!
From my understanding, swales require a slope to work. Part of the reason this ground is so wet is that it is virtually level. I mean, really, really level. So the water puddles - it has no where to run to. I can't really dig a swale without any slope, I'd be digging a pond.
I'm not entirely sure on the septic drainage, I think I can do basic tilling and light digging no problems but I'm wary of going much deeper than say 8".
I hadnt thought of water chestnuts, I don't know anything about them, will look into that great idea though!
We have a flat area of wet ground. I believe it is wet for a number of reasons in combination: a) it's level, and we get a lot of rain, so without a slope it doesn't drain well b) it's compacted by previous recent use of heavy machinery c) part of it is the drainage field for our septic tank. Last winter it was sodden and standing puddles from about October-April. It dried out in the summer but still sported wet vegetation (common rush). We have cut the rush and tilled about 6", and it was looking ok but now we've had a few days of heavy rain and we do have standing puddles again. There may be a possibility of installing a land drain but as it's so nearly flat it's doubtful. I am wondering about the possibility of building hugel beds on it, to take small trees and fruit bushes. I really want to use this area for this purpose (one reason is that it's the most sheltered spot on our land and gets great light) but as it is, it is too wet for nearly all edible trees and bushes.
Would building relatively tall hugel mounds create enough drainage space for trees to thrive in this case? If it's a possibility, then I need some input on what to cover the mounds with. I would not be digging a trench at all, since the idea is to get up and more height. I don't really have another area on the land to grab topsoil from. What could I do? Perhaps buy a truckload of topsoil. Definitely I can get cheap cow muck (manure and straw). If I built the mounds and covered them with cow muck in the fall, do you think I could plant shrubs in them in the spring or would I definitely need topsoil?
We've had our chickens (5 old warren hens, a big rooster, 3 young orps 1 rooster 2 hens) in a static run and coop (big) for a few months and it was going ok but lately they've been fighting so we decided to bite the bullet and open the run. This week they've been free-ranging and loving it. I let them out around 8.30 and shoo them back in before twilight, then they go into the coop themselves and I lock them in at night.
They've been going back to the coop to lay - we're averaging 3 eggs a day lately- so perfect. Today, no eggs. I had a look around where they seem to have mostly been hanging out (mulch piles) but can't see anything. There is a false egg in the coop to encourage them to lay there. Is there anything else I can do to encourage them to come back to the coop to lay? They normally lay between 11am-3pm, so I would rather not keep them in the run until they have laid, or it would mean only a few hours of ranging.
Jared Stanley wrote: We have also used hay as a covering, but then hay is expensive and/or requires expensive, loud, fuel burning machinery to create as well.
Not always! I cut it with a scythe and rake it by hand Since I haven't yet perfected my haystack-building, I have mounds and mounds of fantastic mulching material. But obviously you have to have a meadow that is big enough for your needs and not too big as to be unmanageable.
I hear what people are saying about woodchippers, on the other hand I do think that woodchip is really useful in some ways. We have a small garden chipper someone gave us that I haven't actually used because we do other things with our prunings and trimmings. But I have made a lot of use of the chip that I got for elsewhere - the local sawmill chips their waste (and they're very selective, they're not chipping things that could be used for something else - that is forming a nice thick deep bedding pile for the chicken run. And the fact that I don't like wood chippers isn't going to stop the entire world from using them, so I made good use of several tons of ramial woodchip created by the power company pruning around the power lines in the area. In certain situations you really do want faster breakdown (like building soil on top of undiggable subsoil), so throwing armfuls of unchipped branches would have been pretty pointless.
I think my point is, it's always good to look at things, especially ubiquitous machines, and ask if they are really the best solution to a given situation. We need to stay critical and look for ways to improve. At the same time though, it's silly to turn your nose up at a useful and freely available resource just because it's maybe not the absolute best way of processing wood.
We started tilling today and results are mixed. It's hard going, but it is going. At least we are breaking up the rush rhizomes and freeing up the top few inches of soil. Now im trying to decide what to do with it over winter. Any ideas? I could plant more alder in (seedlings from 2'-saplings 7' freely available) although ideally I would ultimately like to have more food production going on here. Though I guess I could plant the alder for now and take it out in time when the area is in better shape for other things. I could mulch over winter - either with water permeable landscape fabric or with lots of biomatter (the scythed rush, and lots of rotten ahy/mulch) and try to plant radish tiller in the spring? I could also put in fruit trees but I think it's probably too wet for almost anything, at the moment.
It is indeed an ancient brewing herb, used in combination with others to bitter ale before hops were widely used in Europe. It is also one of the most useful medicinal herbs, I use it all the time, to treat bleeding (externally and internally), fever, headache, and other ailments.
Thank you terri. That had been my initial thought - that we should just treat this area as a permanent wet zone and only plant tolerant plants. I have started planting alder there, with willow to follow (some is coming up as volunteers anyway). But after a year of observation I now think that it is behaving as a permanent wet zone mostly because of recent soil compaction, rather than it's 'natural' state. Which led me to think, if I can find a way to decompact it, it would aid drainage, and then make the space more useful for growing a wider variety of things. Which is of interest to me because this is by far the most sheltered area of the property, so would have good potential for growing lots of food, if we could sort it out. Ugh, it's so hard to figure it out!
I think we are going to try tilling a small section as an experiment. We are just starting our wettest time of the year, so if we till it up now we can observe if that changes the way the ground behaves over the winter, and then go from there.
If we don't have success that way, I will just work on getting lots more alder and willow established there so at least we can have firewood and fix some nitrogen.
John, thanks for your reply. That looks good, although PFAF says that the branches are vulnerable to wind damage, which could be a drawback on our very windy site. We are further south than Scotland, but since PFAF says it only sets fertile seed after a long hot summer I'm guessing it doesn't in the UK haha. I would definitely like to give it a shot though, the more varieties the merrier really, and I'm very intruiged by the idea of a conifer that takes well to coppicing, that sounds very promising. Please include me on your list, I will send you a PM. thanks!