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Podcast 050 - Toby Hemenway on Animal Problems and Solutions

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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Credit: Vida Norris

Paul takes a roadtrip and sits down to do a podcast with Toby Hemenway author of Gaia's Garden, and a group of permies.

Paul breaks the ice with Toby and they start off the discussion with the subject of deer control methods. Paul points out that Toby didn't mention as much about this problem in his book, but had gone into detail about it in response to a question asked several years earlier. Paul asks Toby to give some of those details during the podcast.

Toby shares his experience of starting small, with minimally invasive techniques like fishing line fences, peeing around the property, and setting up shrubs and bushes that kept the deer out. Toby points out the flaw with this is the deer eventually get wise to it and will still come after the food. Toby gives a few other strategies but overall says it's about being knowledgeable about the deer, their dislikes and likes and most importantly where they are coming from. He says if you can predict what they will do you can better defend against it, while at the same time being accepting some degree of loss from the deer. Otherwise, you have to be more extreme with things like 8 foot deer fencing.

Someone in the group brings up Sepp Holzer's bone sauce as a way of keeping away deer from trees. Toby doesn't know much about it so Paul gives a run through of how to make it and how effective it is.

The discussion moves onto other animals as problems. Paul brings up Sepp Holzers view that if you have an excess of
voles or moles, you have a deficiency in pigs. Toby agrees that using predator/prey relationship to your advantage is great way to solve animal problems.

Paul brings up predator pressure, and the use of dogs to help keep away animals like deer from your property. They group moves on to discuss the presence of animals that are drawn there are indicators of the need to heal a problem in some way, like moles being around to eat an abundance of grubs or gophers decompacting soil.

Paul and Toby remark on how these animals are multifunctional and can actually be used to our benefit, but initially when there are so many that they have become pests, something is out of balance which can be frustrating but you can design it in such a way that it becomes balanced and is incorporated as part of the system.

They finish up discussing the work of Allan Savory, as well as the downsides to using fencing to keep out animals. Lastly, Paul asks Toby if he'll join the permies forums once a month to answer questions (he says yes!) and Paul ends off inviting people to post more in the forums, which he thinks is a place where permaculture can grow.

Relevant Threads

Livestock Guardian Dogs
Sepp Holzer on Moles and Voles
Allan Savory's Work

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