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Holzer's climate, and pigs Pigs

 
Andrew Schreiber
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Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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Wondering if people know about hte specific climate/precipitation regime on Holzer's land? Haven't found it mentioned anywhere.


Also, Wondering if people have knowledge of Holzer's pig paddock system? I have been reading over and over Holzer's Permacutlture book, and want more details. some basic questions I have include:
-How large are his paddocks, or how dense are the pigs in them?
-What's the rotation of the paddocks like, seasonally and such?
-how does he manage the pigs with the annual vegetables (like what looks like parsnips to me)? does he have to go reseed the annuals after the pigs?
-If he is fencing them in, what's the fencing like? is there a diagram of the paddock system somewhere?


Any leads on this stuff is much appreciated!
Thanks.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Joshua Chambers
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Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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I attempted to ask him some of these very important questions last spring in Montana at the 11 days with Sepp course. Though my question may not have come out quite as I wanted it through the translator, he basically answered: "Ask the paddock, ask the pigs, next question."

Admittedly I found this answer a bit disappointing, though I do get the point, that the answers will depend on the maturity and diversity of the vegetation in your paddock. He implies in his second book that he makes his paddocks quite large, I'm guessing more than an acre even. Also, he does very briefly mention in his second book (in the section on pigs) a density range which seems QUITE low to me, I believe it was 3 - 12 pigs per hectare.

Though I will attempt to get more information out of him specifically about his paddock system at the Krameterhoff, I am planning a paddock shift system with 24 paddocks of a 1/2 acre each, with 6 four-doored earth-sheltered barns acting as hubs between them (one barn for each 4 paddocks), and the whole thing totaling about about 12 acres. Additionally I am planning to maximize my diversity by using Holzer-style mixed seed broadcasting, but with some strips of "field crops" (grains, legumes, mustard, etc) between hugel beds with a total mix of all plants on them.

I'm hopeful that this will be robust enough to be successful, and am even suspicious I'll eventually be able to have higher densities of pigs, with somewhat shorter rotation durations (he doesn't say in his book how long he leaves them, but I get the impression it's a fair while) I'm also planning on chickens accompanying the pigs.

--Joshua
 
Andrew Schreiber
Posts: 208
Location: Zone 6a, Wahkiacus, WA
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Hi all,

Thank you for the leads, and the info.

I understand that Sepps system is probably very nuanced and far too comnplex to define in a way that is seperate from everything else he is doing, but it seems like poor form on his part to shrug of your question like that.

Still wondering about his climate, and what his summer precipitaiton is like, high temps, cloudcover etc. Wondering if he experiences a prolonged summer drought like many inner continental climates do. Or if he gets regular rain because he is in a mountain range.

Having this information about climate would greatly help me to understand the context of his success with non-irrigation techniques like his raised beds. I am working on a Huge hugelbed that is sunken into the earth. There's a forum about it http://www.permies.com/t/20131/cascadia/Permaculture-Edge-weekend-forest-permaculture#179689" target="_new" rel="nofollow">here it is a 6ft wide by 4-5 ft high bed, with a 2x2ft trench underneath, and 80 feet long along the downhill side of a 12ftx80ft terrace.

We've tried Hugelkultur before, but there was not a critical mass of material capable of holding moisture through the summer. The young walnuts we had planted there were NOT happy, and several of them died. So we are making the bed an order of magnitude larger in the hopes that it will retain enough moisture for the trees and veggies to survive through the long hot dry summer.

Thanks again for the quick response about the pigs
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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From what I understand of Holzer, his setup is similar to ours. Not surprising as similar climate creates convergence of methods. Thus I might be able to give you some insight:

To find out his climate and precipitation look it up for his area. Keep in mind there may be micro-climate differences. This is especially true for people who live in mountains like we do. Typically Spring comes a month earlier down in the valley than it does for us. Winter comes a month earlier as well.

A photo of his place that I saw in an article looks remarkably like ours. Winters are cold and deep, summers are warm and moist but not hot or dry. Our summer is typically in the 60's to 70's with a high of 86°F (maximum in last 25 years) and our winter temps are typically in the -10°F to +10°F range with lows often of -25°F with occasional dips to -45°F. Lots of wind. Because of our location on the lee of the mountains we get more precipitation than other areas around us as the rain and snow both dump here. A lot of our precipitation comes in the winter as snow, about 14' a year that packs to about 4'. Lots of wind as we're both high up in the mountains.

We graze about 400 pigs on pasture using managed rotational grazing. The size of the paddocks vary greatly. Some are several acres, some are a quarter acre. The size depends on the use, that is to say what age groups of pigs, as well as terrain and geography. If I use a small paddock with a large group or large grazers then I move them through faster. With smaller grazers or a smaller group I'll move them more slowly. A good way to look at it is how many pounds of animal are on the paddock rather than how many animals.

Don't use time or dates for livestock moving-out of a paddock but rather use forage height. They should mow down a paddock in three days to a week, never more than three weeks because you don't want them picking up parasites from eggs they've dropped. A big part of managed rotational grazing is breaking the parasite life cycles naturally. The move-in time is a minimum of three weeks with a month or longer being better. How you size the paddocks is going to depend on how many animals of what size you have and how fast your forages grow.

Another factor is what are you trying to accomplish. Sometimes I'm renovating what used to be forest, sometimes I'm grazing developed pasture, sometimes I'm tilling up a garden, sometimes I'm killing down weed species I want to get rid of and then hand broadcast seeding behind the animals.. All of these require different management. If you want to till or kill you mob-graze intensely.

An example of density is this week we had about 100 roaster to finisher pigs on one pasture that was about three acres for about a week. This was new pasture we were reclaiming for forest. After they had been on it for most of the week I broadcast seed while they were still stirring it up. Two days later I moved them to the next paddock and it rained which sprouted the seed. This sort of timing with the weather helps avoid the need for mechanical seeding (tractor) which is important on our steep slopes. Some of our land we have terraced but the majority is sloping mountainside that one would not want to drive a wheeled vehicle on, or more likely roll downward. This is why grazing livestock works so well in the mountains.

We fence primarily with high-tensile smooth wire electric around the outside perimeter and then mostly polywire on step-in posts for paddock divisions. Typically one to two wires at low and walking nose height. Mostly we don't fence for piglets, they follow the herds. We have livestock guardian herding dogs for moving the pigs, retrieving escapees and eating predators. We also use some woven wire, some netting and some stock panels.

The pasture season runs about April (warm year) or May (most years) through October or November (warm year). During the winter the animals are up on top of snow pack and have open sheds with deep beds of composting wood chips & hay. For their diet, we replace summer's pasture with winter hay. Hay is not as good as pasture but it is better than nothing. On days like to day (-7°F, high winds) one pretty much hunkers down and waits.

In the fields we plant turnips, kale, rape, legumes (alfalfa, clovers, etc) as well as grasses, grains, millet, etc. We have fruit trees which provide fall food. There are also nut trees. We plant pumpkins, beets, turnips, radishes, squash, sunchokes, sunflowers and such in the winter paddocks which provide fall and early winter food - unfortunately this never lasts until spring. We don't buy or feed commercial hog feed/grain. We do get a small amount of spent barley from a local brew pub. Look around for resources in your area for things like that.

See:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site:sugarmtnfarm.com+managed%20rotational%20grazing

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2006/05/15/of-tiller-pigs-weeder-chickens/

http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2010/09/15/frost-seeding/

Every location will be different with varying resources, climate, etc. The key is to adapt to what you have rather than trying to mimic someone else's methods. What others do is merely a jumping off point, a small guide.

Cheers,

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
in Vermont
 
Joshua Chambers
Posts: 71
Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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Walter,

Thanks for your insights! Your system sounds wonderfully developed. Indeed I think you are correct that your climate is much like Sepp's at the Krameterhoff, though he may be at higher elevation. Rather less "brittle", it seems. I get the impression Sepp's summers are fairly wet.

I, on the other hand, am dealing with a highly brittle climate here in Cascadia. Though our winters are MUCH milder (rarely below the teens F, and usually t-shirt weather for much of the winter, as it is today, a fair bit of snow, but fast to melt more and more every day. The 6 feet or so we got a month and a half ago is almost completely gone in most places here), our summers are completely dry and hot, with absolutely no precipitation from around May/June to around Sep/Oct, and almost no humidity at all.

Dealing with a mostly flat terrain, I'm going to make a lot of enormous (12' ish tall and with the wood starting a foot or two into the ground) hugel beds and (hopefully) they will effectively hold moisture through the summers. We'll be getting our first pigs this spring, and I'll see how it goes.

--Joshua
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1085
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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a highly brittle climate.


What does 'brittle climate' mean?

Dealing with a mostly flat terrain, I'm going to make a lot of enormous (12' ish tall and with the wood starting a foot or two into the ground) hugel beds and (hopefully) they will effectively hold moisture through the summers.


We have a _relatively_ drier period in July and August. I suspect it is wetter than you are used to during that time. I have found that terracing helps greatly. I started building terraces here back in the late 1980's because I saw the rains wash down the mountain. With them they took our nutrients. I noticed that in the forest where a tree fell across the slope the soil built up behind it. Same thing happened along the old stone walls. With this in mind I began fencing and terracing with the contours to help retain our soil and water. That has worked wonderfully. We also built a number of very small ponds. These fill up with the rains and carry us over the dry weeks in July and August. From these we water our livestock and gardens. Our soil is naturally very thin and poor. The livestock and the terracing have produced rich soils in those areas and even in the sloped fields the livestock have improved the soil coupled with planting legumes which suck free fertilizer from the sky.

We'll be getting our first pigs this spring, and I'll see how it goes.


Start small and grow slowly. There is much to learn and doing is the best teacher.

My biggest suggestion: Plant fruit trees now. Some. Every year.
 
Joshua Chambers
Posts: 71
Location: the state of jefferson - zone 7
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What does 'brittle climate' mean?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savory_brittleness_scale

I have been reading the fantastic book on grazing and more called Holistic Management by Allen Savory. I highly recommend it to anyone, even those not engaged in land management, but especially those that are. I found it quite insightful and helpful.

Fantastic on the terraces. I certainly plan to put those in as well, particularly on our other site here on the mountainside. The flatter site is a downtown property that we've bought as a forming non-profit with some others in town. In less than a week I am going to make my big proposal for the slow but steady development of the place. I am quite excited, we even have an excavator to do the big work!

Here on the mountainside, it is incredibly rocky, but I do plan to make lots and lots of terraces. And I have already begun planting fruit (and nut) trees, at both properties!

Thanks!
--Joshua
 
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