David Miller wrote:A great deal of the difference here is that most of us planting comfrey under our fruit trees are practicing chop and drop while Mr Hills was researching comfrey as a fodder crop like we think of with hay. Sure comfrey would rob a fruit tree blind of all nutrients if we haul the veg matter it produces off site, but if we use it to mulch the fruit tree we get both its mined minerals and its weed blocking mulch property.
David, thank you for posting.... When I read John's post I immediately thought "Oh no, now I'll have to dig the comfrey up" but happily you posted and now maybe I can leave them. I do however think I'll need to change my management of them - I intended to chop n drop but the bees so loved the flowers that I've left them to maturity - whoops. I'll dig up some and put them elsewhere for the bees, then chop n drop the ones I leave under the trees.
If the grain overload is not promptly and properly treated, and if it is severe enough, the animal will slowly starve to death over the course of the next two weeks, because it can no longer digest any food.
Thanks Janet, that's really useful information. And this last part that I quoted I hadn't realised, that the condition lingers on causing starvation! Scary! My goats escaped last week for the first time in more than a year and one found the grain bucket (which ALWAYS has a lid on because I normally feed them but once, just once, my husband did the feed and left the lid off). However, she was sorely disappointed as I found them within minutes - they made such a noise. Phew.
I just love that little bridge/ramp that you've put in for the ducks
Sadly IME our ducks have eaten every water plant that's ever been in the water. The water lillies survived one season but there's no sign of them this year. Perhaps someone else will come up with a suggestion.
However, I'm wondering about a few other things -
If the ducks are flicking about in the water, won't that be enough to oxygenate the water?
The water will be moving quite a bit with the ducks in it - mosquitoes like still water so they may not lay their eggs in the bath anyway.
Won't the ducks eat any larvae - I reckon ours do as we don't have a mosquito issue here atall.
Will the ducks eat the fish?
Hi Dawn and welcome aboard. I'm afraid that I don't know the stocking rate for sheep but I think a lot would depend on the type/quality of pasture available. I'm guessing that it gets quite parched in the south of Spain around now? Here we have 11 sheep on about 3 acres (but we can move them to other areas if need be. This we manage on a rotation basis with small 1/4 acre paddocks within the big area - they trim it down, we move them on, until they've been right round.
There's a breed of sheep called a Basco Bernaise that is in the south of France/ north of Spain. I don't know if that would be an option for you in the south. They are awfully cute. Irene Knightley on here has some so if she drops in maybe she'll advise.
Other than that, hopefully other 'sheepy' people will contribute.
I stressed about this LOTS last winter as the temperatures dropped. They did the same as yours so I just had to give up and leave them to their own devices. The pond area is fenced though not fox or rat proof. The Muscovies would rather fly out of the fenced area and perch on a roof or under a shrub. The other ducks sleep on the banks but go into the water if alarmed at something. They have islands in the pond but rarely use them. We have Muscovies, Pekins and Indian Runners. Good luck, I think ducks teach one to be chilled out!!!
Oh definitely on the fence bit. We thought we had good fences until the goats arrived!!! If there's a weak point they'll find it. Plus they stand on horizontals and break them off so we've tried to repair with verticals and then have put an electric wire just inside it to try to discourage climbing. But there only has to be a momentary blip in the current and the goats will know about it and escape to the sweet chestnut lane - hey, they're SO cute.
We have 9 French Alpines with 4 does pregnant I reckon. Kids due to start arriving in about 4 weeks. They are good milkers and good brush clearers. Don't know about meat as we haven't crossed that bridge yet as I love them so much - however we have 3 intact bucks and that's two too many.
do ponds that have ducks in them appear to be cleaner or clearer water than ponds that dont? or does it seem more murky?
assuming boht ponds have plenty of plant growth covering every bit before ducks are introduced?
it just seems like everyones experience is that they devour water plants and such quite readily so i wonder if you had a bunch of plants in the pond before the ducks if you could expect them to be gone after teh ducks or just reduced in numbers or controlled?
Well my pond definitely is murkier. As for plants, I was worried about that before getting ducks as I have some lovely water lillies and grasses/sedges. However, last summer the water lillies were the best they've ever been and there were 10 ducks foraging around there full-time (as well as across 2.5 acres free-range). The grasses suffer a nibbling evry now and then but they come back good and strong.
What brilliant news and thanks for finding the paper Kari. Yes scotch thistle is indeed canadian thistle, sometimes called creeping thistle. Right, my goats need to be moved this summer into the south field.
Oh Lauren that's so sad. It's awful when that happens. I think you did wonderfully well and at least he slipped away in peace in the warm rather than out in the field undergoing stress. I don't think you could have done much more.
I had a doe reject her baby at birth two years ago. It took two weeks of doing bucking bronco every two hours round the clock with her to get her to allow her little one to feed. Now they have a really strong bond. But we were lucky that she had just the one kid.
Coming back here on the results of earlier posts...
Our big boar went to 20 months and had no taint - lovely meat in fact. It was quite funny to invite our farmer neighbours who raved about the meat and watch their faces when I told them it was from the pig they had proclaimed inedible. In terms of aggression, he was only a little more assertive once and that's when a male wild boar was hanging around (and actually banged up one of our sows - grrr). He didn't want anyone else in his bit of pasture I think because he was guarding it. We let him be that day and the following day he was back to normal, loving his back scratches etc.
His sons were uncastrated also and met the butcher at 14 months old. Again lovely meat.
However, we now only have females as we have enough in our outdoor 'larder' so we don't need a boar currently.
Guy Hawkins wrote:Anyway, the problem is that we will be going away for Christmas for a couple of weeks, and want to leave the goats here. We have a neighbour who will look in on them every two days, but since we've never left them before, and they are the first animals we have kept, we are getting a bit nervous. We are in Northern France, so no predators that we are aware of. I'm fitting a gate onto the entrance so they can't just wonder away, and we have an automatic feeder so they will get their pellets twice a day. What else should we be doing, or are we panicing over nothing?
All advice gratefully received.
Hello Guy and welcome from another France-based person.
No you're definitely not panicking over nothing - if you have animals you have a responsibility to ensure that all their daily needs are taken care of and that they are safe.
In my experience goats are creatures of habit and they seem to like routine. Ours (we have 9 currently) know us well and are looking out to see us at certain times of the day. Yours may well do the same and will definitely miss you. However, you say "we will be going away" so there doesn't seem much flexibility in the arrangement there. So, things you might want to think of...
Do your goats have a house/shed? A cold wet goat is a dead goat.
If they do, can your neighbour put in fresh bedding? If the weather is wet then goats spend a LOT of time in their house.
What about La Chasse? Do they cross your land? It may be as well to contact the local leader of La Chasse and tell them that you'll be away.
Tell any neighbours that have land bordering yours in case your goats wander off looking for you.
Can your neighbour pop in each day? Goats MUST have clean drinking water every day.
What if it turns icy? Their water will need to be defrosted. In Le Grand Froid last February we had to defrost their water 3 times a day!!!
I realise that the list looks long but keeping animals is a serious undertaking.
Superb Eric, just what I needed to know. I'm wondering if 'de-stabilising' is the same thing as lots of places seem to say that olive oil shouldn't be heated to a high temperature but I'm off to that source you quoted to have a look.
Kelson, I just love rosemary in the oil even if not cooking with it. I could even 'smell' rosemary when I read your post
Adam Poddepie wrote:could you use it to make some kind of stock with ham bones?
There's loads of it - like 10 litres (two gallons plus) - plus floaty bits of presumably killed bacteria. How safe would the liquid be?
Plus there are one or two little pots that have been almost pure salt to preserve sausage skins and caul fat.
In fact after we have brined and smoked the hams we slow bake them and the juice that comes out we 'freeze' and use to add to stock etc - lovely taste but mega salty. That's why the 'freeze' is in inverted commas as it remains fairly liquidy even in a deep freeze!!
Barbara, alas we're in mega rural France so it's dirt tracks here - about 8 miles before we see a pavement (sidewalk)!
Leila, Yep there's loads of those sort of plants but I'm worried about the amount of soil micro-organisms it would kill as well, even worms (and I love them)
Shawn, I wonder what the ratio is before the salt becomes 'toxic' - in that salt does occur naturally. Hmm maybe this is the way for me to go but I don't think I have any heavy fungi areas (and cool that you know that sort of stuff)
Clifford, that might work too. At least I'd then have a solid substance to do something with. I'm not sure that it could go to the livestock as it would probably contain 'gunk' as well.
We've used straw bales pushed into a "U" shape. If necessary we can sling a piece of tin over the top as a roof weighted down with logs or similar. The sheep seem to like munching the straw whilst the bad weather passes.
So after processing a pig and making hams in brine solutions etc, I really don't know what to do with the left over very salty solution. Can I just pour it on the land (eeek, the salt solution for storing the sausage skins is MEGA salty) or what?
In the past we have deep littered the geese, the pigs, the sheep and the goats. We still deep litter the geese - works fine. We still 'deep' litter the pigs though they eat lots of the straw so it's no really deep litter plus they don't poop/wee in their house. It works OK for the sheep as they spend quite a lot of time outside anyway and only use their shelter when it rains really hard or is freezing. But the goats - we no longer do deep litter. Because ours spend such a lot of time in their house - sniff of rain, puff of wind, not so sunny - they do lots of mess in there. It isn't a massive barn, just a little shelter following the goat-space allocation guidelines. We found that when they were all lying down in there then the wetness would wick up onto them unless the new layer was very thick, and that very thick layer was having to be topped up every two or three days and was using a massive amount of straw. Plus the level was getting so high that it was like climbing a hill to get in. Plus, their legs were sinking into it and they started being really reluctant to go in there. So now they have slatted wooden 'beds' with a thinner layer of fresh straw on that's renewed every week (the wee goes through the slats and so does a fair bit of the poo) and I swear I can see them smiling
But different things work for different folks. It's all about what works where YOU are. Guess that's permaculture.
Jackson, how lucky you are that your children eat only home-made cheese. My are the opposite and have got far too used to the shop bought stuff. Mind you cheese in France is pretty awesome, home-made or otherwise.
Jeanine Gurley wrote:I don't remember whether it was a female or a male. (my aunt always said to be careful about the females with babies) but it charged him and cornered him in a pen and he couldn't get away from it. Fortunately there were people at the farm that day that heard him yelling for help.
This happened over 40 years ago so I know it was not the type of chemically induced behavior that we sometimes see today.
I think that this was just normal behaviour for a pig who felt its territory was threatened.
When I read out your post about your uncle to my OH he was SO sceptical and poo-poo-ed it. HOWEVER, we have been looking after my friend's farm for 10 days and she has 4 pigs, all were piglets from our litters, all male, all UNcastrated. There is definitely a 'king' amongst them and he always has to eat first whilst shoving the others out of the way. When my OH returned from the farm last weekend he said "You know how some lucky soldiers were saved from being shot by having a cigarette case in their pocket, well..."
It went like this.....
My OH was just doing the normal rounds, the pigs were eating and he was doing their water. The 'king' rushed over for a drink then went back to eating so my OH continued to fill the water trough. All of a sudden the 'king' turned round and charged him and bit him on the thigh. Luckily he had an MP3 player in his pocket which took the brunt of it (that was the parallel with the cigarette cases) but he still got a whacking graze and a massive compression bruise. He threw the water and the bucket over the pig which was enough to give him a moment to stumble through the mud to get out. He said that it was a good job that it hadn't been raining as the mud just would have been so slippery that he didn't know if he could have got out quickly enough and there was no-one there to help him as the farm is quite remote (we live 10 miles away). Now he can see how things like this happen!! We think that there is a wild boar female in the area and that the 'king' is establishing superiority. My OH was doing the bulk of the work and a neighbour was checking the animals in the evening (he's not as agile as my OH) - after this, they did both the daily rounds together and my friend returned 4 days later. She has made an arrangement for the butcher to come in!
We are WWOOF hosts and one of our best experiences was with an American family - Mum, Dad, an 8 year old and an 18 month old. They worked it out that if Dad worked in the morning (with a bit of help from the family if the children felt like it) and Mum was carer, and then Mum worked in the afternoon whilst Dad was the main carer. It worked out well and there were actually a lot of things that the children got involved in, even the little one (she put all the onion sets in the holes that Daddy dug). I guess it depends very much on the farm and what's going on. For us, we don't have lots of machinery, we do have lots of animals but no big ones, we home-educate our own children so there's always others to play with. Just ask lots of questions, be clear on what you guys need from your hosts and what you can offer them in return, and go for it.
c cagle wrote:Most goats increase lactation amounts after the first time 'round.
I'm laughing again, Cathy. It's her second lactation - the first one we got about 100mls once a day but then she had a lil baby to look after that time round (I was just practising). She's not had an easy time really with this childbirth thing. The first she gave birth just fine but walked off the minute the kid popped out just leaving her in the grass. Thank goodness I knew that she was birthing as I was able to step in immediately and 'do my bit'. A long story cut short - after two weeks of penning them up together and having to hold Mummy still whilst the baby drank, she finally accepted that she'd become a Mum and did a wonderful job after that. This second one was again a single kid but stillborn after a very long and arduous birth where we actually had to 'go in' and pull the baby out. Maybe you can see why I'm so close to her - we've worked together a lot! That's why I'm scaling it down right now on milking as she didn't come on heat last week and they're running with the bucks so I'm guessing she's fallen - I appreciate Nicholas's advice but all things considered I think she needs time to be strong again without me sapping some of her energy.
Good to know that there are other lactation folk out there who go on to use their knowledge to help animals
I dry mine off when production falls below a qt/day. Not worth the effort!
Haha - I did the conversion and a quart (US liquid) is just under 1 litre (946mls) - my lovely girl (who had a stillborn) has only ever given a max of 900mls a day!!! But our goats are more as pets than serious milk producers - lucky that!
Well I went down to one milking a day a week ago and now we're down to just 300mls in the morning so I'll continue to the end of this week taking less and less and then finish up. Being a La Leche League leader I know all about mastitis!! The symptoms are horribly painful in all species so it's one I'm very aware to try to avoid. I helped a friend with a goat who had terrible mastitis and we did exactly the same things as I'd guide a human Mum to do if she got it!
I'm smiling here at fond memories of when my six geese were 'teenagers'. They wanted to be with me all the time and when I was working at the computer which is right by the patio windows, they would sit right on the step and tap on the glass to me... and poop everywhere just like your muscovies. What did we do about it? We grumbled and spent the Winter working out what we were going to do about it come Spring. However, as they have gotten older and more comfortable in their own company without me being there (mainly because we're not out working with them so much in the garden in the Winter), they only occasionally pass by and say "Hello" so the 'problem' resolved itself. Mind you, that first year when the rain washed the poop off the step and patio into the flower beds, boy did I have some great strong plants for my bees - every cloud has a silver lining!
We have our own goats' milk and easy access to as much raw cows' milk as we want so I've been making cheese for a while now. However, it has been just soft cheese or a hard-pressed farmhouse style of cheddar both achieved by warming the milk to 30C/86F, adding a little rennet, leaving overnight, draining off the whey, salting and eating (in the case of the soft cheese, maybe with garlic or herbs added) or pressing in my drainpipe mould with a bottle of port and a bicycle inner tube! However, I'd like to be more adventurous but whenever I look for the 'additives' (eg Penicillium Candidum, Geotrichum Candidum, Penicillium Roqueforti) I can only seem to find industrial quantities and I get scared. There must be lots of cheesemakers out there - what do you guys do?
We do relatively well with squashes here - better than any other veg actually. This year I grew spaghetti squash partly for its novelty value but also because we like squash. It performed fabulously with 22 large fruits provided on just one plant - each squash is large enough to feed our family of 5. So, today I baked one whole in the oven and we were so looking forward to it. What a let-down!!! Insipid was too good a word for it. I had made a garlic butter sauce to go on the 'spaghetti' but the squash was so watery that the sauce was lost. Now we have another 21 to eat Has anyone ever cooked one of these and found it pleasing? If so, please please tell me how you did it.
We have an exchange deal with a local hunter - he has piglets from us and we get wild meat over the winter season. So he arrived yesterday with a deer, portioned up for us. But I have no idea what to do with the belly - it's still got bone in. Any ideas/recipes?
We're still milking one of our goats but I think she got 'done' by the buck last time as she's not come on heat this week as expected. I'm guessing that I should tail off the milking? Or can they 'milk through'? And if I need to stop then would a week of slowly reducing the amounts (twice a day currently) be ok?
John Polk wrote:The hoof trimming depends a lot on breed and terrain. Some breeds require more frequent trimming than others. If your land is soft pasture, the trimming will need to be more frequent.
I know of a guy who moved a few large boulders onto his pasture. When the goats are not eating, they are perched atop the boulders. He never has to trim their hooves. Sounds like a permies technique...do a large chore once, and eliminate repeated small chores forever.
Ha, if only! Ours have a couple of large boulders next to their 'residence' and we still have to trim their hooves 3 times a year. However, the boulders ARE doing something as it is super lush pasture and browse and we're not trimming every 6 weeks.
Sorry, Monty, back to your question.... well we have French Alpines (9 of them), standard size, some with horns, some without (whatever Mother Nature gave them). We are currently milking just one of them and she normally gives enough milk for us as a family of five including 3 young children - that's cereals for breakfast and tea/coffee. However, if I need to make a white sauce or an egg custard then my OH sometimes has to go without his milk on the midnight cereal. As mentioned our children are young and the goats are really friendly with them. The only time that we don't like the children going in with the goats is when the does are on their 24-48hr heat as the bucks get a bit protective.
Does anyone have any knowledge of an ENORMOUS beetroot ("beet" maybe in the US??) that has lots of leaf sprouting points on it, kinda like 15 beetroots all modged together? A neighbour has given us one and my husband thinks he said that it was African. I have no idea how to cook it. Just hack it into manageable sized pieces and roast it?
If you plant them with animals you'll never see the plants again.
Pigs will take the roots, poultry will take the shoots, goats, rabbits cows wont even get a chance to demolish them. All these animals will demolish the plant at any stage. I've tried growing them in the duck pen but if the ducks have access to them before there 5 feet tall they'll push them over and chomp it down.
I didn't know that about chooks eating the shoots. I assumed last year that the mice/shrews/rats ate all the tubers I'd planted in October to overwinter but maybe the hens ate the tops as they appeared. We have actually got 10 plants surviving but that's not a patch on the 50 or so that I planted. Next Spring I'll know to put up some defense against the hens, and the ducks also (they are a new addition this year).
tel jetson wrote:depends on the vigor of the colony and how well it is adapted to handle the situation. .
How could I tell this? They are still very actively foraging - even though it's been raining here for 4 days, they still fly and 2 hours of dry this afternoon has seen both colonies go nuts. The C&C seems to be quite a hygenic colony, even bringing out not-quite-right alive bees and dumping them on the grass a distance from the hive. They've chucked out a few pupae, about 4 to my knowledge. There are about 10-15 dead bees in front of the hive each day but I'm guessing that this is normal. One of the hives still has drones coming and going with no hindrance from the workers.
tel jetson wrote:
it can be difficult not to fret at even the smallest indication that a colony isn't completely healthy, but it's a surprisingly resilient species and many problems turn out to be well within their ability to deal with. obviously the trick is knowing the difference between a minor problem and one that threatens the survival of any one colony, and that's not easy and doesn't come quickly
Wish it would hurry up, I lose a lot of sleep over 'my' bees.
tel jetson wrote:
personally, I would error on the side of not treating, but I also know that it was quite an ordeal for you to get the colonies you're working with and leaving them to their own devices might not be particularly appealing to you.
Yes it was and I'd really like to do everything I can to help them get to Spring. They both have sufficient stores (cooo those baggage weighing scales are just perfect for that!), solid floors are on, mouse guards in place. Would they still have brood? If not, can the adults make it through with varroa mites on them or will the mites kill them over Winter? The mites obviously wreck havoc with brood but if there isn't any now, if I treat now am I just shortening the lifespan of the winter bees that are already functioning perfectly? Would I now be best to wait until Spring and see if there are still signs of DWV in new hatchees and treat then if necessary? I'd like to err on the side of not treating (and maybe I have even left it too late though next week is supposed to dry, sunny and warm - 18-20C) but I don't want to lose the bees through not helping them in the name of the greater good. I'm aiming towards that greater good but I need to be a guardian of bees for a bit longer before I can be brave enough to shrug my shoulders and say that's Nature's way. I mean, if I don't have any bees then I can't help them to get stronger can I?
Oh, and the sticky boards had about 35 mites on in total over a period of 3 days.
James Slaughter wrote: Harlequin bugs (and other stink bug types) are very attracted to this plant, and it seems to be linked with there breeding cycle by what I researched.
That's interesting. If they like the mallow in preference to other things then the mallow could be 'used' as an attractant control plant and one could trap them before they move out. Otherwise I guess they go straight for the currants (or broccoli in my case). We don't have that super pretty one growing here as a weed, just the low growing, insignificant little pink one and that certainly doesn't have any draw for the little bugs. Maybe I'll pay that high price and buy some seeds of your lovely weed (I used to grow it as an ornamental in Scotland).