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New homestead. All advice welcomed!

 
dan long
Posts: 269
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So, I plan on moving back to the Pacific Northwest and moving back in with my parents (the greatest shame a man can endure in the West, but totally cool for my Taiwanese wife and myself). I hope to grow 90% plus of all of our food organically, on the property. I don't know exactly how much property is there or how much of it i can use for what. For the time being, I would plan on 1/4-1/2 acre for the food forest. The annuals will be planted in a different section on hugelbeds.

I would like to have an *ideal* number of animals in the orchard/food forest but they have to get along. The property has horses, sheep, turkeys and chickens (the latter two i know cant live together because of pathogen risk). I am not sure if I want to commit to a milk goat so I am assuming these for the time being. There will be 5-9 dogs coming with us (all rescues) who are all mutts, predominantly Formosa Black. This breed has a strong chase instinct so they can't e trusted around animals that are small enough to be killed by an overly playful, 40 pound dog. I can either put them in the orchard/food forest or make a run specifically for them, but that would be such a shame since that space couldn't really be utilized for anything else (unless you folks have any ideas). I know some animals can get sick from eating too much fallen fruit. Is this unlikely to occur if I keep the right number of animals in there? I am seeking advice on what animals would do best in the orchard/food forest and which should have their own place (or another arangment).

There is always alot of garden waste. It seems so wasteful to just throw it in a compost pile when it can be used as feed or as bedding. Weeds and slugs would ake great animal feed. That got me to thinking about the road crews with their giant chipers and the leaves that people bag up and leave on the curb for the garbage man. Is there any reason i cant use woodchips and leaves as horse stall bedding? Is there any reason I cant dump a big pile of leaves in the chicken pen and let them pick the bugs out? On that subject, is there any labor unintensive way to collect slugs for chicken feed? There are plenty of sustainable methods to repel them, but why reple them when i can utilize them?

Is there any really good reason that pine needlese wouldnt work as a final, light mulch. In Taiwan, they use rice hulls and drop them right on top of the starts. It doesn't stop weeds, but it helps to keep the rain from hitting the soil dirrectly. Are there any other great materials to use for this kind of mulching?

Doese anyone have any insight into the advantages of hugelkuure vs keyhole? What about a hugelkulture keyhole vs rows of hugelkulture mounds. I just dont see keyhole doing anything that hugelkulture doesnt already.

Would it be worthwhile to cultivate local weeds? Mainly dandelion, plantain and nettles. I can get all of these without cultivation, but since they grow so readlily it wouldnt take much effort anyways. I think that plantain in particular would make good cover crop and living mulch. Besides that, its the only way i would know 100% sure what is what BEFORE it bolts (with the exception of nettles which are perenialls and grow in the same spot year after year. Anyone know what plantain and dadelion guild with?

Sunchokes are awaesom but they become invasive. Pigs are awesome but they will dig up EVERYHTING. These two seem like they were made for eachother. ARe pigs likely to wipe out the sunchokes and leave none to grow again next year? Any great ideas on rotating them? I am thinking of doing 2 or 3 small, fenced patches in whereever the pigs are and opening one every year then replanting it. Do you have any better ideas?

Kinda jumping around, but back to the dogs. I would ideally like them to stay with animals that will stand up for themselves against a playful dog but need the extra protection from coyotes. Problem is that since most of them are 40 pounds, give or take, the dogs themselves are potential coyote victims. I have thought about improving on the spiked collar idea and making a sort of spiky armor for all of them but anyone who has read Swiss Family Robinson knows what happens when they all try to lay down next to eachother for warmth.... does anyone have ideas or experience with coyotes that i may find useful?

You have read this far? I congradulate and appreciate you! Go ahead and shoot some of those great, permaculture ideas my way. Criticizm, preferably of the construtive variety, is always welcome!
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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It's really a lot of fun to dream about what you're going to do, but until you get there a lot of it is just wheels turning. I made so many plans about moving here that, once I got here, I realize weren't realistic, just because there weren't enough hours in the day! Think about what you most like to EAT and plan around that. Don't grow plums if you never eat them.

If you save receipts from groceries and restaurants you can get a pretty good idea of where your money's going - if those items are things you can do for yourself, that's a good place to start - also look at lists of the most polluted or nutrient-robbed foods and see which of those you often enjoy, see if you can grow them yourself. Build your food forest around what you use and what you love.

Goat's milk that is super-fresh is nothing like anything you can buy, tho, so if you like cow milk then you'd probably like goat milk.

Sometimes tastes change - for instance I have an abundance of sweet/tart apples. A friend told me about fried apples for breakfast, which I'd never had. I think we need extra storage space now to save as many apples as possible for fried apples! So don't be afraid to add some new foods to your forest that you're not sure of, especially if they grow really well in your area, but mostly plan it around things you know your family will appreciate. Also, there are some things you'd use much more if they were more available or less expensive - like figs, blueberries, strawberries, etc. If you can freeze them well, and will have freezer capacity then add those to the "must-have" list, because they are also incredibly healthy.

And herbs for cooking - it took me years to learn the best ways to use fresh herbs, but they make meals taste so much better than when I use the dried herbs! So plan on adding in cooking herbs, even if you don't currently use them, so they are there for you to learn to use when things settle down and there's time for learning new cooking things.

Think about how long you'll live there, too. If you have young kids, plant fruit trees NOW so they can enjoy them while they're young! My kids love the fruit more than anything else I grow.

Turkeys catch blackhead from wild birds, too, and not all chickens are carriers - if you add hot pepper to the food it will kill the parasite. I know of many people who raise them together, tho turkeys can be bullies to chickens, especially around the food.

The dogs don't need to be in with the animals to protect them, yappy dogs in the yard will keep away many predators and garden pests. How much you have to worry about coyotes depends on the area - in some places they will lure guard dogs to where the pack can kill them, in other areas they are much more shy, secretive, and loners. And that can be a difference of a few miles. If your dogs are playful it sound like they may hurt each other with the body armor. Active dogs combined with a motion-sensor light will do wonders for a lot of problem wildlife.

Smaller pigs like kunekunes, pot belly pigs, etc. aren't nearly as destructive as the larger ones. I kept mine under the fruit trees all winter and they didn't damage the root or bark of the trees. But other animals enjoy garden waste too - chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats, etc.

Ducks like slugs a lot more than chickens do. My hens would be like "Eww! Gag!" when I tried to get them to eat slugs.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2295
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Of course chickens like slugs. Some yayhoo posted this in YouTube a while back



There's the wet board method, the wet board with yeast method, the saucer of beer method, the grapefruit rind method, they all work to attract slugs. You just have to remember to put the bait out at night and collect them early in the morning for best results. I like the wet board method, because when I turn it over and push it into the chicken tractor, they all fight to get into the buffet line.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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Greetings Dan L. Welcome to Permies.

What part of the PNW do you live in? I'm on a small homesteading lot in Coupeville on Whidbey Island, but I make semi-frequent trips to Bellingham and Marysville (family and friends).
 
dan long
Posts: 269
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I will be in Lyman. It's East of Mount Vernon. I'm not there now. I'm in Taiwan, but i will move back next September. I'm just makin all my plans now.
 
Brian Hamalainen
Posts: 100
Location: Chimacum, WA Sunset Zone 5, USDA Zone 8B
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I used to have a Permie friend out in Lyman, back when I was about 16 or so (29 now). His farmstead was totally off the grid, even though his neighbors had no idea. I lost contact with him years ago and heard rumors that he'd moved away so hopefully his place got bought by someone who could enjoy it for what it was.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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coyote won't bother a larger dog, you can put your dogs on radio control perimeter collars or underground dog fence...and keep them in an area near the animals but not with the animals..thus keeping the coyote from coming round...hopefully.

you will have to pen the pigs..so why not plant the sunchokes on the fenceline..some will always spread OUTSIDE of the fenceline and some inside..so the outside ones won't get eaten by the pigs..you can cook sunchokes for chickens also.

you can also plant the orchards on the outside of the pig fenceing..and some of the fallen fruit will fall into the pig pens..but the trees will be protected.

chickens can eat outside the pig pen and then keep the dogs even farther out with the radio fencing
 
William Trachte
Posts: 37
Location: Deerbrook, Wi
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That many dogs leaving "messages" everywhere is sure to keep the coyotes away. Since we added a second dog ( the big boy) last year, nothing larger than a chipmunk has shown it's face around here. No prey, no predator. But then, animal husbandry is not our thing. Good Luck.
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Making the rounds
 
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