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Welcome to Wild Farm

 
James Colbert
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I would like to share so pics and information about my new farm and CSA "Wild Farm." The property is 9 acres in West Sacramento near the Sacramento river. The area is suffering from drought which makes establishing trees and crop a challenge but I am having fun figuring it all out. For the first year I will be focusing on about 2 of the 9 acres (zone 1?) and the remaining 7 acres will bailed for mixed hay and slowly converted to food forest with the help of our pigs an chickens.

We have 4 American Guinea Hogs and 10 mixed breed chickens. We built pens from wood pallets which are large enough to keep them contained on fresh pasture for about a week. The chickens come in behind them and clean up nicely.

A note on community and Permaculture: I am able to farm this land because of my community and my CSA members. I do not own this land, I lease the land through profit sharing. I pay no money out of pocket. The chickens were free from the ex-wife of CSA member. The pallets for the pigs pens were free from another CSA members job and that same members boss wants to start composting yard waste from his landscaping business instead of spending $350 a week to dump it. This may even result in getting a free tractor to use on the property to manage the compost and tend the farm. This can result in income for myself my CSA member and his boss.

Now some pics...



Something tastes good



Some fresh pasture to decimate lol



The whole gang, chickens seem to really like the pig pen, plenty of bugs to eat.



Pigs sharing the wallow



The pigs first pallet paddock, They get a new paddock about once a week




Pig Pallet Paddock Pasture #2



Two of about 30 newly planted fruit trees



Well mulched pomegranate trees... just needs some clover, lupines, and comfrey under-planted

Next time, double dug hugelkulture beds with back to eden wood chip mulch growing potatoes. More to come.
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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This is a great example of what can be done without having to own land....looking forward to more pictures.
 
James Colbert
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Thanks Judith. More pics to come for sure. The big mamma pig is gone to the big chest freezer in the sky. Haven't had a chance to sample yet but should be real good. I plan on setting up some mini mobile pig pens using pallets so I can clear space in the jungle of oat grass an mustards, then plant my crops for the season. Giant sunflowers, Red flint floriani corn, amaranth, squash, etc.
 
Galadriel Freden
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Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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Looks great! It sounds like you've got some good plans, too.

Would you share how you manage a moveable pallet fence for pigs? I can see the posts against the pallets; are they actually attached somehow? How long does it take to move the paddock?
 
James Colbert
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Galadriel, I would be happy to share how we manage our pigs. First I should say that the pens in the pictures are semi permanent. It takes two people a little over an hour to assemble. About 3 hours for one person. Having someone help really cuts down on the time it takes. The movable pens haven't been made yet but they will be small and made to hold 3 or 4 pigs for a day only. So perhaps 8 feet by 16 feet. They should only take about 30 min to set up. The pigs will go in and eat and root clearing the land for planting. Chickens will probably be used as well to further fertilize and prepare the land.

The pallets are held up with t-bars and bailing wire. Then we ran large tree stakes through the openings of the pallets near their bottom end to connect the pallets together and reinforce the structure. Before we did this the pigs would get out almost everyday. Pigs are strong close to the ground like little bulldozers, but pigs don't jump very well lol. The pens you see pictured will hold 4 pigs for about a week. We plan to build 5+ pallet paddocks about the size of the ones pictured. In the long term the pigs will be contained with fedges (fence hedges) made of tagasaste. It only takes about 18 months to establish an effective hedge and it is readily edible. The property perimeter will have a hedge made of something thorny osage or honey locust. This will be the last line of defense but I want their paddocks to be like pig heaven so edible fences instead of thorny ones.

Hope that helps.

 
John Saltveit
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Great pictorial! Thanks for showing not just how you manage the farm, but also the innovative ownership strategy that allows this to happen. I predict many will see your example and follow.
John S
PDX OR
 
James Colbert
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Thanks John, I hope that other will benefit from my experience. The number one permie complaint I have seen is "I can't afford land." Well Ag land is expensive to buy but cheap to rent or lease, free if you can work out a deal with the land owner. Maybe I will do a quick guide to acquiring land for permies.

I had a bit of free time today so I went ahead and laid out the 3rd pasture pig pallet paddock (say that 3 times fast). The first pallet enclosure needed to be rebuilt so I just cannibalized that one. Now you can really see the work the pigs and chickens did in comparison with the surrounding vegetation.




As you can see they have left a loose mulch perfect for broadcast seeding some more ideal pasture plants.

Here you can see I am laying out the new paddock around another black walnut tree.




The Mulberry tree from the first paddock. Plenty of mulberries forming. This tree stands alone in a field and has not been irrigated for year perhaps ever. I think I will clone her and plant some more around the pig paddocks as they make great fodder for the pigs and chickens over a very long time.




More to come soon...

 
Jose Reymondez
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Location: Galicia, Spain Zone 9
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Did the pigs not till or did they not get enough time to or do they have nose rings?

I'm doing something similar myself, a sort of pig food forest/dehesa/savannah with all kinds of fruit and nut trees, will definitely include some coppiced mulberry hedges.



 
James Colbert
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The pigs definitely do not have nose rings that just seems cruel. You probably can't tell from the picture but the ground is very uneven. The mulch hides this. So the pigs did root but not a bunch because the soil was dry and they were only in the pen for a week. If kept on moist ground for longer they will root/till even more.
 
George Meljon
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Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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James,

I might save thousands on a perimeter fence thanks to this thread!

Thank you!

 
James Colbert
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George I hope your talking about the fedge and not pallets lol. The pallets are great for a quick cheap enclosure but I don't expect them to last longer than a couple years before they fall apart. Do you know what species you want to use? Something thorny no? Black/honey locusts, osage orange, and even jujubes supposedly make good hedge species for livestock containment.
 
George Meljon
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Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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James Colbert wrote:George I hope your talking about the fedge and not pallets lol. The pallets are great for a quick cheap enclosure but I don't expect them to last longer than a couple years before they fall apart. Do you know what species you want to use? Something thorny no? Black/honey locusts, osage orange, and even jujubes supposedly make good hedge species for livestock containment.


I suppose you're right about the duration of the fence. When you weigh the cost vs maintanance it may or may not work out. 80% of the perimeter is wooded area and that often gets crushed by trees and branches falling. Makes me not want to spend any money on a lasting fence anyway.
 
Daniel Clifford
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Location: Eastern Massachusetts
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Hi George and James,

James your fence reminded me of this video of Paul's I always wanted to build one of these after I saw it, it may be of interest. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWQ13GCgc-M


Daniel
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
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Thanks Daniel, that is a good link. Here is also something on when pallets are safe to use:

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-determine-if-a-wood-pallet-is-safe-for-use/

They should show marked HT for heat treated if they are safe.
 
John Saltveit
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Don't give the pigs nose rings until you notice that they have tattoos and listen to a lot of alternative music. Then you know it's their choice.
John S
PDX OR
 
James Colbert
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Daniel, I had not seen that video, thanks for posting. Her statements in the video seem to contradict mine about durability and she would know better than I would. Perhaps they would make a good cheap perimeter fence.
 
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