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27yo F, Colorado grass farmer  RSS feed

 
Amy Hutton
Posts: 6
Location: Basalt, Colorado
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Hello!

This is my first year running a farm of my own in a small mountain town of Colorado, raising goats, hogs, poultry, bunnies and worms. Just looking for someone to have great conversations and share my passion with!

I also teach sustainable agriculture at the community college and vet tech in the winter months. I have a pack of border collies (just 2, but some days it feels more like 6!) and a green mustang filly, so I spend A LOT of time running and hiking and riding and training and playing. A reformed vegan, I slaughter my own livestock and eat paleo, but I'm not masochistic - I'll always make an exception for good tacos! I'm very attracted to intellect, creativity, and a fast murph/marathon/crit Not particularly 420 friendly, much prefer hard-working doers to crazy-bearded dreamers.

Look forward to meeting some of you!

~Amy
 
Matthew Nistico
Posts: 276
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
14
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Amy Hutton wrote:...Not particularly 420 friendly, much prefer hard-working doers to crazy-bearded dreamers.


Hahah! Just wanted you to know that you gave me a good laugh with that one. Avoiding the crazy-bearded dreamers can be a real challenge among us permie types, I'm sure. We are often more prone to lofty ideals and noble visions than to actual, practical accomplishments; all the more so the more 420 friendly we are. I've notived that as well. So, good luck with that!

And good luck with your fledgeling grass farm, too. Sounds wonderful : )
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Wow Amy,

You really went full bore with the critters in your first year out! I myself spent my first year creating the garden spaces, and the last six months working on the chicken paddock system. Great fun as I know you know already!

A reformed Vegan, bravo... I too eat Paleo, 85-90% I like to say, because living life just includes some other crap, right Paul? (big pie fan) I try to eat venison as my staple red meat, and eggs daily, but I had some difficulty with public hunting this year and was only able to get one beautiful young doe, so a ration it is....

We are both dug in at our current locals it sounds, but I wanted to say hi anyway. I occasionally make it out to CO and hope to be in the northern hills this fall for an Elk hunt, so if you care to we can always chat as like minded humans?

I am 31, I love real conversation about meaningful topics, I don't have a beard, and my ingestion of mother green is very low key.... lol

J,
 
Amy Hutton
Posts: 6
Location: Basalt, Colorado
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Glad someone's on the same page, and thanks for the well wishes Matthew

Francis, I'm so relieved to hear you don't have a beard and would love to talk farming. I wish I had access to venison, but I currently don't know how to hunt anything undomesticated, which is a terribly sad state to be in! I've been working on my foraging skills, but yikes it's hard to learn from a book. I definitely ate some poisonous vetch last summer. So sticking mostly with stuff I grow myself until I find me a mentor.

Yeah, my farm IS very animal-heavy. I endured a rather rough year of toil on a veggie farm, and decided it wasn't for me. I love rotating happy animals on delicious pasture though. What's your chicken paddock system?

~Amy
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
166
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Amy, isn't there a permaculture school of some sort up in or near Basalt? Is there a growing permies community up there?
 
Amy Hutton
Posts: 6
Location: Basalt, Colorado
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The Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (Jerome Osentowski) is in Basalt. I don't believe there's a growing permies community, but I could be wrong!
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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Amy, you had me laughing! I can't grow a full a beard, thus a little shaggy is as bad as it ever gets! You can actually see an example of that in a picture I posted below in another response.

Foraging and books, yep, I would agree that can be risky behavior. Try finding some chickweed, look at a color photo online, then go find it. It is easy to identify as it has a single row of hairs that run down its stem. Good eating in a salad or by itself, and a good super food!

Some additional advice if you care for it...? Start planting a bunch of perennials, (raspberry, apple, mulberry, sage, etc etc...) They will grow easy enough with no experience, and you can buy them from a place like TYTY.com for cheap where they are already started for you. Then just play with one or two annual varieties from seed (tomato, squash, carrot, whatever) until you feel comfy growing them and build your food arsenal.

Here is link to the paddock system, it goes to a permies post I made looking for some answers, and shows a basic drawing I did of the area. I am working on the fence right now, everything else is done and good to go. http://www.permies.com/t/20962/chickens/Tiny-paddocks-chickens

Feel free to email at mor4humanity@live.com, its a disposable email so if your crazy I will just start a new one... LMAO

J,
 
Matthew Nistico
Posts: 276
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
14
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Francis Oublieux wrote:...Some additional advice if you care for it...? Start planting a bunch of perennials, (raspberry, apple, mulberry, sage, etc etc...) They will grow easy enough with no experience, and you can buy them from a place like TYTY.com for cheap where they are already started for you. Then just play with one or two annual varieties from seed (tomato, squash, carrot, whatever) until you feel comfy growing them and build your food arsenal...


@Francis - Have you actually ordered from TYTY before? I have perused their web site many times over the past several years, but have always ended up ordering from somewhere else. They have a vast selection, and their prices are usually very competitive, but I get such an overwhelming feeling of "cheesy" from their site that I have always thought it best to avoid them. Seems like a high likelihood of getting low quality or mislabeled trees, you know? Maybe that makes no sense, but I just always thought it strange that they advertise their nursery like it was a used car dealership. Am very curious to know better from somebody's actual experience.

I have generally found nurseries like raintree.com and burntridge.com to be my go-to sites, with the best selection and prices and reliable customer service, but I have ordered from many others as well.
 
Matthew Nistico
Posts: 276
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
14
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@Amy - You should really listen to some of Paul's various podcasts on raising animals in a paddock-shift system, if you haven't already. Some really good info in there. Many of the perennials Francis mentioned you can be using to augment your forage, as well as grow food for yourself! Including the big trees like apples and mulberries, too. I believe that mulberries are very traditional additions to chicken yards, because they drop fruit over an extended period. And a mix of apple cultivars - from early ripening ones, to late season ones, to winter-keepers - will achieve the same effect, and your pigs will thank you. And of course, for pigs you can't get any more traditional than acorns. Check the threads here at permies: there has been a lot of talk about which species of oaks make the most palatable acorns, though I can't remember which. I also know I read somewhere that cows will chow down on willow branches like candy - I can only guess that goats might, too. And the willows grow like weeds (as do mulberries, actually)! Comfrey is a very nutritious perrenial fodder, and there are a lot of annuals that reseed so reliably you can essentially consider them perrenials. Sunchokes are a good example, with roots for the pigs and leaves for the rest (they don't reseed as much as grow back from root fragments, I think, but who cares about the technicalities). Also lambs quarters and amaranth and such (leaves and copious seeds for chickens).

You might check out this web site and maybe call this old guy up for advice: http://www.happycowcreamery.com/ His farm is located about 40 mins from me. He is really nice, and I buy his milk and beef all the time. His "12 Aprils" grazing program is the best example of permaculture-esque animal husbandry I have ever actually seen with my own eyes. You might also enjoy this site: http://cawcawcreek.com/ Some nice videos on that site to watch. I really like what these people are doing with their pigs, at least according to their site - I have not yet visited that farm in person (though I can attest to the quality of their bacon!).

Do you graze your diverse herds all in the same areas? I have always wondered what difficulties there are trying to optimize a pasture paddock to more than one species at a time. Will your pigs root up all of the seed crops you plant for your chickens, for example. I've actually spent some considerable time contemplating such questions, even though I have too little land (1 acre) to raise any serious livestock, myself. I do plan on raising a few meat rabbits in hutches, as well as hopefully a few free-range muscovies. I am also very attracted to the idea of establishing a permanent paddock structure by establishing productive perennial hedges along the wire fencing. I envision a densely planted mix of traditional hedge species like hazzlenuts with thorny species like black locust, osage orange, rugosa rose, etc., and copicing after the first few years so that they grow back even thicker. The hedge would overgrow the wire and eventually make it obsolete; it could just rust in place. I always thought this would be a very aesthetic way to define one's paddocks, while adding extra browse and fruit drop for the animals at the same time, and nooks where the smaller ones (chicks and rabbits) could hide from overhead predators and get some shade. I'd probably plant some comfrey and other perennial herbacious species along the base of it, too. Would love to see photos if anyone reading this knows anybody who is actually doing something similar.

Speaking of photos, Amy, why don't you post a few? We would all love to see what you look like, even guys like me who can only dream from across the continent of actually meeting a nice permie girl like yourself. As a veteran of online dating, I can tell you from long experience that good photos will multiply the attention paid to your thread ten-fold. Just some friendly advice : )
 
Francis Oublieux
Posts: 34
Location: Great Bend, Kansas (border on zone 5/6, 20"-25" yr)
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@Francis - Have you actually ordered from TYTY before?[/quote wrote:

Yes sir I have. Do people really recommend stuff they have never used? I actually did have a bad experience with them last fall/early winter, it was not in any way their fault however! What happened with my experience was I made an order expecting it for a late fall planting, but I wanted to ad to my order so I went to their site and it was gone, phone dead too. I was pissed even though they never charged me. What happened is they had a massive computer issue (800# tied into it) and they lost over a thousand orders due to a technology failure. Once I learned what happened I placed my order again, and will again in the future. I felt terrible for them, that is the kind of stuff that can kill a business, especially when asses without a clue of what happened go on ranting without all the info.

Raintree is fantastic also as far as quality. But they have ZERO spirit for what they do, or offer,,, no spunk. I love the cheesy videos at TYTY and their plants are shipped in water retentive material and tightly wrapped. Never a dry root, never a badly broken plant, never a mislabel? Though they have included free trees as a bonus....

I have put over a hundred trees in the ground just this late winter for myself and another (the order that was supposed to be for early winter), All TYTY. Not to mention three or four dozen last year.

So any who, I dig them, and love the attention they give to each plant on their site.
 
Matthew Nistico
Posts: 276
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
14
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@Francis - Excellent! Good to hear that you recommend them so highly, and from extensive experience. Thanks for the info. I will definitely give their site a second look in the future when next I need to order some trees. So much for first impressions, LOL!

P.S. Yes, sadly, people do recommend stuff they have never used. All the time. People do and say all sorts of stupid things, so you are usually better off asking the obvious question.
 
Amy Hutton
Posts: 6
Location: Basalt, Colorado
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Thanks for all the great advice! I love how the permaculture community is so generous about sharing good ideas.

Unfortunately, I'm not only broke, but haven't a square inch of land to my name (bad news for perennial planting). Which is, of course, why I'm on here. Lonely landed gentlemen, where you at?

Fortunately, the land I'm leasing (4 ac, 1 yr crop share lease) has a pretty good perennial ecosystem already in place and just needs a little livestock therapy. No need to replace the native grassland with edible species as long as I've got ruminants on my team Someday, when I've got a longer term land situation, I'll build another food forest, but for now I'll focus on what I'm good at and sell some meat!

Francis - I like your paddock design and will be excited to hear what works best! I've experimented with mostly annual crops for livestock and had a really lovely time with it. It's awesome to delegate harvesting, tilling, and mulching to creatures who are thrilled to do it! This year I'm lacking the irrigation necessary to do the annuals I've had luck with in the past, so I'm feeding local waste products and fodder. Not ideal, but I'm just a one woman show and have to hold a job to fund my business start up costs. What are your local predators? Mine give me hell (and an excess of corpses), and I've had a heck of a time sorting out the best fencing options. Do you have any good tricks? I recently saw a Ted Talk about this kid in Africa who invented some moving blinking, lights to stave off lions. I'm considering experimenting with it if my 10,000V and welded wire prove inadequate again.


Matthew - I appreciate that you're assuming I have the foggiest clue how to post a picture! Me and computers are definitely not on such intimate terms for amazing feats of jpg attachment.
My hogs and poultry are penned together and follow a week after the goats, to utilize the fresh regrowth. The rabbits are in tractors and I pretty much put them where ever needs a mow. Some breeds of hog are less aggressive rooters than others, so I'd imagine you could rotate them on chicken forage without much damage if you moved them fast enough.

Happy Monday!
 
Matthew Nistico
Posts: 276
Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
14
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@Amy - Hmmm... the plot thickens. So you are leasing your acreage. Interesting. As for your question about predators, the obvious and effective answer is one or more livestock guardian dogs. They will do the trick. Paul has at least one or two good podcasts on this topic as well! The problem for you will be that a good one already well trained is probably going to cost you some $$
 
Jonathan Ezell
Posts: 2
Location: zone 7
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Matthew Nistico wrote:@Francis - Excellent! Good to hear that you recommend them so highly, and from extensive experience. Thanks for the info. I will definitely give their site a second look in the future when next I need to order some trees. So much for first impressions, LOL!


Hmm, wow. I don't have any experience with them directly because there is literally a mountain of bad reviews for that business on the web.

Edit: Oops, didn't mean to distract your thread further! I don't even see a delete option...so, good luck to Amy Hutton also!

P.S. Oh, if it helps, there is an option to attach photos below the text box and to the left when you are writing or editing a post.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
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Hi Amy,
Thought I would introduce myself, as I live just over McClure Pass in Paonia. My name is Adam and my wife is Alison, we run a 12 acre Biodynamic farm named Bella Farm. We have a small herd of grass-fed Brown Swiss milk cows, a large market garden, fruit orchard, trout pond, range chickens, greenhouse, etc, etc. We started our little farm 8 short years ago, and it has been a very satisfying and hard-working adventure. Over the years we have tried just about every type of livestock, made a million mistakes, sold produce everywhere we could, and have learned a whole lot! I'd love to chat farming anytime, and welcome you over here for a visit if you have the opportunity. Our farm email is bellafarmer@gmail.com Feel free to drop us a line with questions, comedy, or whatever. This is our life, to the fullest, and we love to share our passion with other like-minded folks.
cheers,
Adam
 
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