Not a knitter, but next spring will have plenty of raw fleeces, clean and free of vm. Staple should be minimum of 3". Finnsheep and a few Finn/Polypay cross fleeces. White, brown, black, piebald or variegated and badger in various permutations. Micron anywhere from low 20's to 36+. These are from my flock.
Did my last batch of digging chokes yesterday while it was "nice". Sent all my orders out today that had been paid for or had promised to community gardens. Here are some of my larger ones with tape measure for comparison. The biggest problem with the bigger ones is getting them out in one piece. These ones shown will be going back in the ground today into an area using as a benching location for quick pickup when its time to move.
Hi Kazron, These do well planted almost anytime the soil is workable. I like fall planting as it gives them a chance to get somewhat established before winter. I have a heavy red clay here, but what has been happening is with a straw or leaf mulch over winter the worm population has exploded. The soil is getting darker and the consistency is no longer that of the hard pack clay began with. Its a much finer loamy type now. You'll also find as you are adding a carbon mulch pill bugs will be attracted. They dig around the choke tubers and create spaces around them. With the worms they'll actively harvest the tubers when stressed, but you will also find your soil becoming better. Usually worms just will go after the part of the plants that are the connecting stems attaching the tubers . Spring time and its winds dumps a lot of weed seed into my beds, so seed my "chokes" with oat hay in the spring. As its set down, just 3-6 inches works. The oat hay breaks down and the oats get established and provide a ground cover until the chokes start out growing them. Am finding my black peppermint is creeping more and more into the choke bed and that's not bad, just makes it tougher to harvest.
I'll be digging tomorrow for a new order so will be able to take some pictures. Do get a fair amount of the marble sized, but don't ship many of them often. Just replant the bed with them. Not sure what the diameter is on any of the larger ones, just what it is straight across so will measure that tomorrow when digging.
Do you get a lot of your worms in your "choke" beds? I have loads and every chance given thin them out for people looking for red compost worms. Donate many to local gardeners and community gardens. They love my chokes and by spring many larger tubers are making lots of new little chokes! Its one of the reasons my growing bed is so thick with tubers.
Thank you Brenda, The big ones can be in excess of 5" and be more than an inch across, but people don't seem to like to break them up, so try to stick with the smaller ones that are 2-3 inches long. Think they are Fulsea, but may be wrong about that. I'll be back to harvesting in a few days so will be sure to take a picture of some of the bigger ones with a ruler for perspective. I do share with friends or community gardens, this just helps provide a little income while waiting on other things.
Hi, The info you provided is correct, but if you have a strong worm population and little humus in the soil, you''ll end up with a lot of worm eaten pieces. Which does make a lot of new tubers. These plants like sun, the more they have the happier. Heat doesn't bother them as long as they aren't bone dry. They do need moisture in drier places. Mine are raised at 6250' and in both set downs and raised beds. The setdowns are used to harvest water off a barn roof and driveway and at the same time keep my j-chokes very happy. Also use those setdown locations for windbreaks for other crops. Windbreak and water harvesting are important here as we are pretty dry with 12" precip or less a year.
Many Thanks to those people who contacted me and bought " "chokes". Just about done for the season now and only have about 5 lbs available for sale now. $4 per lb + Priority Mail on order for minimum 3 Lbs.
Paul Wheaton has a great podcast on sunchokes. If you are interested in these plants suggest you check out the video. These plants work well as a seasonal windbreak and they also coppice nicely if you are feeding goats.
Some of my "thing" about goats is that I love them but also it is because they can be raised on a tiny piece of earth more easily than a cow. My all time favorite bovine is Highland. Excellent dual purpose but even though they are on the small side and excellent foragers I am beginning to "feel" my years and need a smaller animal to milk. I only need milk for my coffee and to make small quantities of cheese so a couple of Kinder Does and a weathers for company is plenty. That way I can breed them 6 months a part so I will not have one dry and those times of over lap will be able to make a bigger chunk of cheese. smiley I love Guinea Hogs too but want something even smaller. smiley
I'm feeling my years also, so insist on having animals that can work with easily. Even my pacas are easy, after working with them for a while. My place started with small, but in this dry climate, needed additional acreage for rotation. It's why I didn't head south for the winter. Needed a few more acres.
Why don't we take this conversation over to your Heritage Breeds Topic?
I have breeders for my rabbits here in the east but still it is a very very long drive to pick them up. I have always used hutches for my "girls" and they seem very happy and are exceptionally friendly. Even my Buck likes having a belly rub. Both Does are used to me handling the kits too. They are my primary animal protein source so I can't afford to have them become ill. Some places in the country don't have as much need for concern about coccidiosis but if the environment is moist it is much higher so I limit their contact with the ground especially in the Spring. If I had an actual living arrangement so they didn't live in my house then they would have their exercise run back but even then I controlled how often they were out in the "yard" and they were still confined to their own separate "run." If everything works out they will have much more room. They do live in exceptionally large hutches though (42wide x 24high x 30deep). My "girls" are really huge. A bit bigger than average. One is 17lbs. and the other is 18lbs. My love for huge rabbits but smaller breeds of goats (Kinder & San Clemente) and really tiny breeds of pigs (Kunekune) seems weird. hahahahahahaha
Most my protein comes from plant sources. The rabbits are for use as manure makers for the worms. Have also found kid goat manure works well up to a certain age around 6 months before it gets consigned to other uses. That's why some rabbits share space with them this time of year.
I'll likely get into the Giant Chins after things happen in the next little while. Just needed to remember some of the things had learned as a kid when raising and showing them enmasse. Won't cross them with the smaller breeds as trade these ones off for various needs.
Like you I'm mixed on size of livestock. Like my big goats, but also appreciate my smaller nigerian dwarf crosses that are polled. Had such a hard time finding a decent polled sable buck(from strong milking lines), am making my own with what is at hand. On these smaller does just use 1st year billies as it is easier on them. Am slowly breeding them up.
The few milk cows will have soon are just mixes for now. It's been a long time since I've milked moosers so am starting with experienced milkers, even though I've broken many, many young bovine ladies to milking. After getting that accomplished will look at a certain heritage breed saw back in the NE and is associated with a sustainable ag college. Triple use breed.
Like guinea hogs and the giant blacks. Both can be found in NM.
All my animals can be handled and loved on. And I really like diversity in my livestock and poultry.
Most often animals especially rabbits should be slowly changed to a brand new diet. That seems to be the consensus of opinion from the myriad advice from the available reference books. I have seen many rabbits with diarrhea and not because of a disease but from abrupt diet change. It is better to be safe than sorry. Do you have any idea how difficult is was to obtain those giant chinchillas. I wonder how you would feel if someone said oh just feed them whatever and even one of your difficult to procure giant chinchillas rabbits got sick and died. I tend to err of the side of caution.
Hi Dave, Have a pretty good idea how hard your giant chins are to get. That one buck that died, did so on his 1st little bit of choka weed. That was a tiny amount. Now all the rabbits just go for it and leave their pellets until the choka weed is gone. The dry does stay with young goats and clean up the alfalfa hay the goatlets waste and eat all the choka I can give them. Not breeding right now as it's been too hot, will wait until mid August or later to breed again. Like floor breeding as it has proven in my situation to be easier on rabbits and me.
The protein on this mix is pretty up there. Just make sure they have access to hay. I did hydroponic forage for some time and just feeding the hydroponic forage found that there were issues with very high protein. In cattle saw uric acid poisoning and was able to steer small ranchers/farmers into using more hay.
My milk goats and other livestock self regulated pretty well with access to good quality oat hay.
Sprouted or hydroponic you need to pay attention to condition closely.
[color=Blue]You have given you rabbits free access to whatever they feel like eating. My rabbits have access to all of the hay they will eat and fresh water. I have never fed them pellet feed. If they were raised on pellets it is best to break them in to new food slowly so they do not get sick.[/color
Sometimes, breaking them in slowly doesn't work and one is lost. Most won't have the problem, some are just way more sensitive than others. The offspring of that buck were culled, although it looks like I'm getting one back tomorrow.
Thank you Duane, I raise a lot of leaf crops year round and this may help me in a long term goal in feeding my dairy animals during dry times. Am familiar with gathering growing tips before dawn for Natural Farming methods, but this gives me an added tool that helps with my own nutrition also.
Have a very healthy carrot crop that is pretty weed free 4'X40', so may see if can work those greens into the process to begin with. Carrot tops are a natural antibacterial used as a tea, so it should be interesting what nutrition they provide. Along with the Swiss chard, spinach, beets and many other greens could be interesting grown year round.
Can eat some Moringa raw or in tea, but get downright ill on the dried stuff for some reason, so would need to be very careful adding it to leaf concentrate mixes.
Hi Ashok, I also have Moringa trees. I find them a tad to peppery for my taste, but they do do well as fermented plant juice for other plants and trees. Many of my mulberries didn't handle this past winter well, but those surviving will harvest some leaves once we get more monsoon rains. It's been too dry for the trees to harvest even a few small and new leaves.
Great story John, Guessing it had to be a cowboy that was still on his learning curve, maybe with a beer or two under his belt.
Argentina, to a ranch near Zapala. Estancia Ranquilco. Will be planting a good sized garden and carry it through until harvest. Then it's time to come home to my new "little" ranch and get started on that. Just have enough time before heading south to work on some problem areas and hire someone to take care of things while I'm gone.
Hi Dave, We're way off topic here so need to stop. Been nice. Getting ready to head to Argentina in September for the adventure of a life time and helping create a garden to feed a good number of people. A PDC looks to be happening also, something to look forward to! )
Guess it was because I had to check fences also and what was trapped and skinned paid well. Didn't do muskrats. Just fox and coon primarily with some other critters tossed in. I never stopped trapping until left home at 16.
Boys never came into interest in high school for me as just had too much to do on the farm and 4H. That and being a tom boy didn't sit well with most people at that time.
Checking fences and feeding the stock took place long before day break so could catch the school bus in time. Trapping fell in there just right as could do that quickly and then salt, roll and throw in the freezer.
I put out a trap line when I was in 5th grade and ran it until 8th grade (?) at least I think I had stopped by high school because girls were more important than trapping mostly muskrats. I checked it every morning before school and in the evening before sundown.
Dave, Did you have a trap line? Had to set mine out of game paths, because of the deer. Checked my traps most days 2x, but with bad weather it could be just once day. It's how I found most of the antlers, with the exception being a place in the swamp that many came to on an annual basis. Found the best irregulars there. We were in the snow belt, but still manged to find enough antlers every year to please my teacher.
I am very familiar with white tail deer. grew up with them in western NY. Some of my best playmates. The bucks can be very dangerous during rut and the does as you said will fight, if they have to. Usually they will run if they can.
I learned to watch for the antlers. Elk antlers do work better for buttons, but you can do them with irregular white tail antlers. An older gal taught me how to make many useful items from the items I brought her and those antler sets were part of those things.
Daniel asked about milking a deer. Antlers? In a lot of places finding shed antlers before they are consumed by mice et al would be considered a lucky find. Those small critter chew antlers into oblivion rapidly for the minerals. Even a small wild white tail will defend herself violently when cornered.
Have a few rabbits in colony right now and do feed harvested forage along with alfalfa or oat hay. Biggest problem has been snakes in the warmer weather, so am raising the litters in cages until they get get big enough the snakes aren't a problem.
Mine are just NZ x Californian crosses and do cull for body type. Lot of pinched hips going into the freezer.
My harvesting forage can be done by scythe, but right now generally just weeding and thinning my "raised" beds is enough. Choka weed, grass, carrot and radish thinning, swiss chard, spinach, lettuce etc and sometimes sweet clover. I do grow year round, so other than the hay, most is fresh.
Their horns can be used for many things. Everything from buttons to sewing needles and fishing jigs to drinking horns and numerous intricate carving projects. An you can just pick those up when they shed them, no running for your life.
The cows didn't leave much behind at all. Much of the grass turf and bunching types roots have been pulled out. Tumbleweed, silver night shade, snake weed along with a host of undesirable non-native plants are present.
In the grassed areas of the varying arroyos there is a good cover though. Too wet to put cattle on without them sinking. In those areas I've seen a good variety of riparian type grasses, but no willows or other riparian type trees. Will work in those areas where needed very carefully. They will be fenced off to all livestock for the time being.
If I hadn't lived here for so many years already might not try the new place, but after you've been here a while, you learn that in a decent year of rain, the landscape can replenish itself rapidly and a with a good variety of plants. Biggest need after looking at the soil is the typical lack of humus/carbon in the soil.
Have found using "used" oat hay to be very effective in treating damaged soil. The smaller pieces encourage a plethora of biological activity. Bunching grass with the thicker stems will also works well. The kind that "falls" over after a season.
I've been culling my dairy goats for years now. They have to make do on at very minimum decent forage. Last summer with no grain supplementation, but good quality dairy hay, they absolutely milked their hearts out. This is with mineral supplementation and a monthly dose of selenium. DE for worming.
In the next month, I'll be moving my little herd to a new place. Will have to feed for the 1st few years as the natural forage has been grazed off by cattle. The ladies will have several good sized paddocks at 20 acres a piece to start with and will keep them on just long enough to see some growth knocked down from our monsoon season-if it happens.
These 20 acre paddocks will be for 20 milkers and one or two small cows. Should be able to keep them on for a week at a time, depending on conditions. If ever any doubts, will have the dry pens to house them in until pasture comes back in. Just have a few of these paddocks to start with, but will do more as time and resources allow. May find need to make the paddocks bigger at first, so it will be trail and error.
There is only limited place for making hay and that only in a good year of rain, so very good range management will be a must. Already know will have to bring hay in at this point for the time being and winter/spring.
I've done a lot of work with improving sandy soils to a point where grass root growth has noticeable nodules on it and , so am fairly certain can do what is needed at our new small ranch.
Hi City Slicker, The prior suggestion is a good one, but you also need to know worms create warmth also. The more you have, the more the heat they create. That's why it's really important to keep them a bit cooler in the summer. Damp is always good as opposed to "soaked".
My rabbits eat sunflower or sun choke leaves, radish leafs or the whole thing if I've been thinning, choka weed (local high protein weed), young tumbleweeds, greens I accidentally pull up when harvesting, grass of several types and lambs quarter. They prefer this now over their rabbit food and are now eating far more green plants than the feed. Haven't had anybody die or get sick and does are feeding good sized litters in this heat on what they are being given several times day.
They get most the weeds when I'm weeding the various beds with the exception of the silver nightshade.
I'm culling the youngsters looking for those that are putting weight on in all the right places and growing well out of those big litters.
The reason I'm open to varied LGD's is because of things seen in childhood. My trapping took me through our family's back 40 and on that day, armed just with a 22 to dispatch larger trapped animals, found myself running for a tree.
The dogs could be heard coming from quite a way away and had no way of knowing what they were chasing. The baying could be likened to the Hounds of Baskerville, but with a viciousness that would unsettle the most avid horror flick fan.
From the top of the tree (just 25 feet off the ground) could see the deer the dogs were chasing. They were ripping and tearing at it, its cries simply stirred the dogs on more. They brought it down not far from where I was treed. Was able to pick some off, but for the most part, that young deer didn't last long once they got it down. As soon as it was dead, they left.
Most of those dogs belonged to neighbors. This happened in the middle of Saturday afternoon in fall, before frost. I was out trapping fox with mange as we had a very bad problem with that at the time.
Another attack got to help put down many sheep, well over 100. Same scenario, but at night. The Shepard was a neighbor and had taken his wife and kids out for a Friday night. He got home just in time to see much of his soon to be lambing ewes in the barn paddock (10 acres) either already dead or being ripped apart alive. We got a call to come help. Neighbors dogs, including one of ours were the culprits. My dog was put down that night after getting back from unloading a pistol many more times than want to remember. The numbers were great enough the Shepard sprayed the ewes with a red paint stripe if they were to be put down.
In both cases none of the dogs were wild. Well fed domestic family pets.
I will never leave my stock without some sort of protection from LGD's. My own experiences have taught me that an effective mix of species, non camleid in areas with dogs caused livestock deaths work best.
LLamas work well in areas where quiet is needed and aggressive dog pressure is low.
A large pack of dogs hunting sport will always take the undefended livestock first and will travel a good distance to do that. But on occasion, they will attack protected stock and its those occasions most people lose their LGD dogs, were there's just not enough to fend off the numbers coming at them.
For areas with coyotes, bears, big cats dogs work well alone with an occasional need for a donkey or mule where coyotes have crossed with domestic dogs or a big cat is on the prowl regularly.
Hi Len, Grass fed milk has been found to have higher elements of nutrition. Will let someone else get into that dialogue.
You are one hundred percent right about milk cows being used up by farm factories in a year. The genetics needed can be developed if need be, but now there is more people coming out and talking about what they have already been doing for years and they sometimes have that kind of genetics available that do well milking on grass. Maybe not as good of production as the farm factories, but most certainly good enough to feed a family or do cow shares with.
You learn by doing or finding someone that can teach you. When you can do that, when bumps do come down the road, you're better with dealing with them successfully.
Ok, then you have people like me having to come up with solutions. No attitude here, just resigned to that's how it is right now.
Have been pulling bunch grass for my milking goats who are bred to milk on forage. Sprouted oats and sunflower leaves to supplement for now. Will be using some Natural Farming recipes to enhance the local Choka weed and native grass feed values. In the mean time will be using barley for hydroponic forage until can get some other things have growing. In process of planting sunflowers in mass quantities and hooking them upto gravity fed irrigation. Am planting in the next two weeks an area 70 x 80' with just sunflowers. Just ordering the seed this coming week.
Have beds built out of goat tuft.That is what's the winds blows outside their yard. Have plenty of onions and greens growing in some now and am very pleased with the rate of growth. The leaves from the swiss chard, beets and carrots will be feedstuffs for them.
Hay here is either unavailable or so high in price(quality is poor also) its definitely not sustainable to purchase. The good thing is in won't be long before have this figured out for the goats.
The bad thing is milk production is in the dumps right now, but the ladies aren't the kind to develop ketosis. As things get better their production will increase, something else they have been bred to do.
Two things on my to do list-greenhouse for greens and sunflower forage and a warm shed for hydroponic forage.
Liked your list of what you want. Mine isn't much different.
You'd love my ladies with their heavy coats. That's the reason have some of them, too much hair for the local dairy. Am looking at ways to use their long hair. My own long time line also tends to be rather hairy also. My "Valentina" you'd swear she has some angora in her! )
Orifice size, teat length and shape, udder attachments, width between teats etc all play a part. Although I really like my bigger does, am working on better orifices as milking a gallon plus a milking is a chore. My nubies and those crosses on the sables are a blessing- I call it milking butter as it is a pleasure milking that small group of ladies. It just flows..................
Like you, I forage the goats as much as possible, but with the increasing prevalence of GMO alfalfa here, they get the best non GMO hay that I can afford. TDN isn't as good as the GMO alfalfa, but then also after using the GMO hay, the ladies started having problems with selenium deficiencies and a few other things. Unfortunately, I didn't realize it was GMO until too late. Paying for that now.
Our new home is well away from GMO problems and will be raising our own alfalfa. Will give me a chance to see if the TDN can be improved using natural farming methods and raw milk. Permaculture will play a part in helping the overgrazed landscape heal and in time the pasture will be what the goats and other livestock need.
Forgot to mention color. Who says milkers have to all the same color! ) LOL The diversity of color in my herd has people stopping and looking. I can't wait until putting this years' new crop of babies out - they are very colorful! )
Am looking at a way to keep babies with mommas at least part time. Can't do it now, but next year will have the stalls to keep babies with mommas at least part time. Know some people are keeping the kids with their dams the 1st two months and then weaning the kids and milking the moms.
Sorry to hear you had that misadventure on your nigi's. When you buy and pay for "good" breeding stock, those kind of problems aren't supposed to be had. Strongly brings to question about the breeder, world known reputation or not.
Glad things are working out for you now.
For myself, oopsies like that be it a doe or buck are relegated to the freezer. Have a couple does and doelings already slated for that this year as their mother's milking ability is in question. In two weeks I take a mother and daughter pair being dried off as they carry great weight, but have no udders literally. They and all their offspring are going in that direction by fall. Just tells me need to adjust what is being done on the breeding side of things.
Local small homestead people rely on me to provide consistent and reliable milking stock for them and their families. Nothing fancy, just does that can do a gallon a day on forage and maybe a bit of grain. I don't expect other people to be as dedicated as I am to to milking off a forage only diet.
I've done my homework on hermaphroditism Feral. It's why when given an opportunity to buy a nigi cross buck that was polled, jumped at it.
Amongst the alpine breeds there does exist that component of polled accompanying hermaphroditism.But, because once upon a time I had a very nice homozygous saanen polled buck and never had an issue with his many young, know that trait isn't set in stone for all polled goats.
I searched high and low for a buck like the one had years ago and couldn't come up with anything near his quality. He had it all. So, am recreating to the best I can with what is available to me that buck- not only polled and homozygous, but carrying the heavy milk production out of really good udders that let down readily on a large deep barrel framed body with strong feet and legs. A sweet disposition is also considered an important trait. Need to mention here also, that my goats are bred to make milk on forage, so that's another consideration.
There's more to it than that, but when you exposed to the extraordinary it's something you keep going back to.
I have found a goat stuck in a fence where something got at it. It was not a nice sight and just thinking about what that goat went through was enough for me to dehorn everything.
I've disbudded since then and as I do it myself try very hard to be quick and efficient. It hurts them. A lot! (At the same time, I'm working on introducing the polled gene to my homestead goats. Because I have a mixed herd anyway, am trying to develop a homogeneous buck using my polled does with my best dairy bucks.
Brought the polled gene in through a polled Nigerian dwarf cross buck on one of my sable does. She had twins, one being a polled doeling and that doe just produced a set of twins, one polled doeling and one horned buck. So will keep crossing them until there is no need for dehorning anymore. Right now those kids are 3/4 sable and will be breeding the new doeling to a really nice sable buck am getting soon. There are some breeders horrified on what I'm doing locally, but they don't seem to be bothered by the pain caused by dehorning, I am though.
Gary, If you don't mind, what kind of LGD's do you raise? My old dog(Anatolian/Great Pyr) is ok around poultry, but haven't tried his son yet. They both are busy with our ever growing dairy herd. I'm raising a few batches of turkeys on pasture this year and that's part of the reason have to add a few more guardians. Thank you, Pat