I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

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What a lovely farm!    I miss Colorado (I grew up in Fort Collins).
 
pollinator
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I imagine there is a lot of cow whispering necessary to get a 1,500 pound cow to do something she doesn't want to do. Since I don't really have any experience with cows, how do you get them to go where you want them to, when you want them to?

I know all dogs are different, but normally a dog will do what you want if you understand their motivations. One dog is happy to do anything we ask for praise. Another needs to be bribed with food. The third feigns being deaf and blind, so only a gentle touch gets her moving, unless she is in the mood to play follow the leader with one of the other two. Basset hounds...
 
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Rick English wrote:I imagine there is a lot of cow whispering necessary to get a 1,500 pound cow to do something she doesn't want to do. Since I don't really have any experience with cows, how do you get them to go where you want them to, when you want them to?

I know all dogs are different, but normally a dog will do what you want if you understand their motivations. One dog is happy to do anything we ask for praise. Another needs to be bribed with food. The third feigns being deaf and blind, so only a gentle touch gets her moving, unless she is in the mood to play follow the leader with one of the other two. Basset hounds...


we have been trying a few different things to get her in the milking barn:
we have been bringing in her calf and tying her up near the stanchion-
we have also allowed the calf to nurse while we are milking - the calf gets 1 quarter and i milk the other 3. this works great but isnt a long term solution.
most cows are food motivated, so we have been using alfalfa pellets and molasses to coax her in.


~~ since we started this - the big guernsey has certainly gotten into the routine. now she heads straight for the milking door as soon as she sees me go into the milking barn. i have even had to shoo her away so i can get the brown swiss cow into the barn first.
it seems to be hit an miss. we do good for a few days, then something like fireworks spook everyone and i feel like we are back to square one.

we have separated the calves and have been keeping them bottle/bucket fed for now. my hope to to get the cows used to giving me the milk and not holding it up for the calf.

we have also been milking twice a day now to keep the cows udder for getting to big/hot.
we are getting between 9-10 gallons a day between both cows currently

 
Kelly Smith
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Renee Lynn wrote:What a lovely farm!    I miss Colorado (I grew up in Fort Collins).

Thank you for the kind words.

I havent spent much time up in FTC but i hear they have lots of farms up there. i wish i had more time to do some visiting up there.
 
Kelly Smith
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last week we picked up a new Kune Kune boar! he is a double wattled back and white spotted boar
our original boar, we thought, only had 1 testicle - turns out that he has 2 both they are both on the same side. we arent sure in/how this will affect his breeding abilities, but we wanted to get a 'normal balled' boar just in case.

as you can see the older pigs are pretty interested in him - although it could be the milk he is drinking that they want!


 
Kelly Smith
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Guernsey milk on the left, Brown Swiss milk on the right:



 
Rick English
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I have been getting golden Guernsey milk here - It is great! I haven't found any swiss milk for sale yet.
 
Kelly Smith
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how is this for multi species grazing:


5 species - Pigs, Chickens, Sheep, Cows and even a llama - all grazing together.
the Turkeys and guineas are missing from the picture
 
Kelly Smith
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i have recently been reading and watching up on cover crops and soil health

i found a great youtube channel with some good videos from a conference in CO earlier this year.

DCED - 2016 Gabe Brown - What is Soil Health?


DCED - 2016 - Jay Fuhrer, Soil Health Principles


here is the channel with a few more good videos on it:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpCOLvsvKC9Xq-Q_nAvr7AQ[/youtube]
 
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Hi Kelly, I really like what you're doing!  I had a look at your website too, and it looks great.  Please do keep updating;  yours is the kind of set up I covet

If you don't mind answering, what proportion of your income comes from your land, e.g. 10%, 25%, etc?  If you'd rather not say, that's ok.
 
Kelly Smith
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Galadriel Freden wrote:Hi Kelly, I really like what you're doing!  I had a look at your website too, and it looks great.  Please do keep updating;  yours is the kind of set up I covet

If you don't mind answering, what proportion of your income comes from your land, e.g. 10%, 25%, etc?  If you'd rather not say, that's ok.


Hi Galadriel,
Thank you for the nice comments!

Surprisingly (although not to some) our farm brings in very little of our income. I would say under 10%. The main issue is we do not do any farmers markets - so reaching customers is our biggest challenge.
We have also found that most people dont care about the 'art of farming' and really are just looking for a few key words (grass fed/pastured/free ranged etc). Most people do not care about what farming, even so called sustainable/regenerative farming does to the soil. I think people are so disconnected from farming and food production that 99% of people we meet assume that to farm you must constantly be bringing in inputs.
The end result of this being that we mainly farm for ourselves and a small group of people that 'get' what we are doing.

 
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awesome post! good luck with what you are doing.
 
Kelly Smith
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Katerina Luniova wrote:awesome post! good luck with what you are doing.


thanks! we are enjoying using one of your separators as well

https://www.slavicbeauty.net/cream-separators/electric-and-manual-cream-separators
 
Kelly Smith
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last sunday (8/14) we found a ~2day old calf in the local irrigation ditch. we spend most of the day trying to locate her momma and owner. we even had someone take her, but brought her back when his fresh cow wasnt interested in the calf.
after bucket feeding her for a few days the local brand inspector took the calf back. apparently, with lost livestock, the State takes them and feeds them for up to a week while they try to locate the owners. if no owners can be found the animal is taken to the local auction.
so we called thursday to check on the calf and found out no one had claimed her and that she would be at our local auction on Saturday. so we went out there and were able to successfully bid on her.

here is "Lucky"


 
Kelly Smith
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Cows, Sheep, Pigs, Guineas, Chickens and Turkeys
Mutli-species grazing at Cloud 9 Farms.

 
Kelly Smith
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we are still here and still farming.
we have recognized that the market isnt rational and are attempting to pull back a bit. we dont want an irrational market to mold they way we farm.

for instance - the market wants meat chickens. but in order to grow meat chickens i have to buy the chicks as well as buy their food. to me this isnt sustainable. i would prefer something like rabbits as a meat source. they can reproduce on their own, as well as eat forage we already grow. the market doesnt want to eat cute rabbits, even know imo, its FAR FAR more sustainable than chickens.

 
Rick English
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Rabbit is a hard sell, but not an impossible sell.

There are lots of health reasons to eat rabbit:

10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD EAT RABBIT MEAT

What Are the Benefits of Eating Rabbit Meat?

I do have to say, my wife, is not interested in trying rabbit. I like rabbit, but I grew up in a hunting family, and my wife did not.

I think if you could find local hunters, and sell them on the superior qualities of raised meat, you might find a willing audience.

Since my grandfather hunted, my grandmother knew how to cook rabbit. Part of the reason my wife is not interested in rabbit, is because she has never prepared any. Fear of unknown, especially because I think she suspects it is going to look like a rabbit.

Offering a few rabbit recipes may help:
Rabbit Recipes from AllRecipes

Taking a look at what a rabbit looks like:
google image search for "rabbit meat"

I think the photos of the meat broken down into parts is a lot less intimidating that the complete rabbit to somebody who has never cooked one before.

Having a page on your website would also help sell rabbit meat...

I hope some others with success selling rabbit chime in...
 
Kelly Smith
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bump -
we are slowing down for this year, but we are still:
milking a cow / operating a raw milk herd share. - currently trying to AI her for a Jan/Feb calf.
angus calf - we still have "lucky"  - the calf we rescued from the irrigation ditch last year. she is doing good. we will likely sell her later this year as we continue to downsize.
raising hair sheep - currently 5 ewes, 9 lambs and a ram. (we sold half our flock in early April) - we are going to year-round breeding. we will see if our forage can keep the ewes in good body condition and the number of lambs will also show the results of that (singles = not enough nutrition, twins = good enough nutrition - generically speaking)
kunekune pigs - currently have 1 litter (9 piglets) on the ground and 1 sow due in mid May. we plan to process our first hog once the pigs have been out on pasture for a few weeks/month.
layer chickens - 25 layers this year - still waiting on 10 to start laying.
meat chickens - only doing 25 meaties this year - hope to supplement this with rabbit meat
turkeys - we are doing 10 turkeys - we arent doing the heritage breeds we did last year (Narragansett and Royal Palm) as they didnt grow big enough - they also roosted on the top of the barn (20ft up) which wasnt ideal. the colored feathers were also not ideal. we plan to do white birds this year - we hope they will stay on our property and help with grasshopper infestation that is predicted again this year.
meat rabbits - we are starting meat rabbits this year. we plan to raise them in a colony type setup instead of cages. currently have 1 doe and we are working on getting the colony setup. i hope to have 2 does and and a buck in a colony by fall.

we are about to plant another 200 trees this year. we ordered trees from the CO forest service as well as the MO state nursery.  the MO nursery seems to have a better selection of edibles than CO, but CO has a lot of good shrubs. we also have 50 apple rootstock that we will plant this year. the hope is that we can graft good varieties onto the good trees over the next few years. there is a local apple variety that i am looking for called the - penrose apple.

we are still managing 10 acres in total. grazing our pasture and haying the other property. we are going to work/focus on cycling carbon this year. we plan to start feeding any hay we do use out in the field with an attempt to get 100% ground cover. we are also hoping any seeds in the hay will help fill in our pasture bare spots.
work continues on the swale/irrigation control ditch. we have to fence it to keep the pigs out of it as they have rooted a bit in the mount.

hope everyone is doing new/fun/permie things.
id be happy to answer any questions about what we are doing if anyone has any.

thanks.
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Kelly Smith
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we planted about 200 tree seedlings over the past few weeks:


we chose a lot of edibles this year.
paw paw, persimmon, hazelnut, elderberry, apples, osage orange, and red mulberry.
we even planted some non edibles honey locust and eastern red cedar.

we planted 50 antonovka apple root stocks this year. these are a card hardy apple from Siberia that produces fruit large enough to be considered "forage value". any that live will drop fruit  for our chickens and pigs, and the trees that do great we will graft on known good cultivars

 
Kelly Smith
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here is a quick video of how we raise our meat chickens

https://www.facebook.com/cloud9farms/videos/1386100784778135/
(i cant get the video to embed - and its not a youtube video.




 
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Folks surely are interested, just busy I'm sure.
It's amazing, the amount of progress you have ushered in in a few short years! The diversity is beautiful, exactly what any of us could hope for. It will be so exciting for you when all those fruit trees come in. I love the decision to get into raising rabbits especially, many folks are skittish of (culturally) uncommon food sources; I assure you though that they are a common site for many of us here.
In the years you've ran this farm, how have you seen the community change? Both locally and permaculture in general?
 
steward
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Is that a pregnant hair sheep in the top photo?  She's huge!

I'm curious, have you harvested a Kune kune pig, if so how did you find the meat?  We have a couple of American Guinea Hogs, which are similar. . .

If you give your pigs access to a wet spot, they might be able to make a pond for you.  There's a thread here that documents pigs making a pond in what started out as a gravel pit.
 
Kelly Smith
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Wyatt Bottorff wrote:Folks surely are interested, just busy I'm sure.
It's amazing, the amount of progress you have ushered in in a few short years! The diversity is beautiful, exactly what any of us could hope for. It will be so exciting for you when all those fruit trees come in. I love the decision to get into raising rabbits especially, many folks are skittish of (culturally) uncommon food sources; I assure you though that they are a common site for many of us here.
In the years you've ran this farm, how have you seen the community change? Both locally and permaculture in general?


Hi Wyatt,
most people in my area are either keeping horses or growing hay. most are on smallish (5-15 acres) irrigated parcels.  I dont see a ton of people raising food. very few are thinking of their farm as a system (as far as i can tell).
we do notice people slow down on the road that goes in front of our farm - it happens a lot when we have all of our animals out grazing together. we kind of keep to ourselves as i have found that unsolicited farming advise is almost never welcomed - similar to unsolicited parenting advice

there does seem to be a decent size permaculture surrounding Colorado Springs. there is a group up there that, as far as i can tell mainly works with smaller properties. they are mainly doing urban lots, gilded apple trees and the like.
we have been so busy (baby #2 arrives in Oct!) that i havent had time to reach out to the group lately. i would like to host one of their monthly meetings here at the farm and see what they think and hopefully get some ideas

 
Kelly Smith
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Julia Winter wrote:Is that a pregnant hair sheep in the top photo?  She's huge!

I'm curious, have you harvested a Kune kune pig, if so how did you find the meat?  We have a couple of American Guinea Hogs, which are similar. . .

If you give your pigs access to a wet spot, they might be able to make a pond for you.  There's a thread here that documents pigs making a pond in what started out as a gravel pit.


yes that is our main ewe in that pic - she is HUGE. she had twins again this year

we havent harvested any kunekunes yet - but our plan is to do that this summer. we want to butcher them here at the farm so that we can make sure we can use all of the animal (our processor, like most, do not scald/scrape).
we are also trying to figure out how to chill the meat for a few days without a walk in cooler. we may have to quarter them and keep them in a fridge or we will need a large chest freezer and a temp controller. i will post when we actually get around butchering them for sure!

we arent technically allowed to have ponds here - or at least you cant call it that. we may add a "tail water control pit" at some time but we have a few other projects to get to first.

 
Kelly Smith
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i found and updated overhead shot of our property where you are able to see the "irrigation control ditch" (ditch sloping at 1% towards the 'ridge')
you can also see our managed grazing pattern just above the swale as well as in the far south (lowest/wettest/best growing during the summer!)
we continue to use the laneway as access to the paddocks  (also visible below)  - we are using premier 1 electronet (sheep quikfence) and a kencove 6 joule charge. it seems to keep all of the animals (sheep, cows and pigs) EXCEPT the goats contained.

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Kelly Smith
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here is the zone map for reference
Zones.png
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Kelly Smith
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based on our farming philosophy of never keeping animals in confinement, we have recently completed and are testing out rabbit tractors:




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Kelly Smith
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our last batch of 30 broiler chickens are done and ready for shareholders.

this batch of chickens averaged 4.1 lbs. they are raised in a Suscovich tractor and fed a organic, no corn, no soy ration. processed and packaged on farm


 
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You've got a really inspiring set-up going there, Kelly! Thanks for sharing what you're doing, I've only just now read through it but there is a lot of good stuff going on.

You mentioned raising your rabbits colony-style and I was wondering what your set up is like, and if you would you mind sharing a bit more detail of your rabbit tractors? We're getting ready to build some tractors of our own for next spring and I've been checking out what other people are doing as a starting point for our design. Do you use them solely for growing out litters, or do you keep the rabbits in some sort of tractor on grass all the time? What are you feeding them? I've researched colony raising meat rabbits but so far I haven't come across a lot of examples of it being pulled off. All of your animals seem to be in very good condition so I'm really curious about how you're doing it!

Also, could you tell or show a little more about how you process and package your birds entirely on your own farm? What kind of regulations do you have to meet there to do that, and how have you set up to do that on the small scale?
 
Kelly Smith
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Rebecca Wooldridge wrote:You've got a really inspiring set-up going there, Kelly! Thanks for sharing what you're doing, I've only just now read through it but there is a lot of good stuff going on.

You mentioned raising your rabbits colony-style and I was wondering what your set up is like, and if you would you mind sharing a bit more detail of your rabbit tractors? We're getting ready to build some tractors of our own for next spring and I've been checking out what other people are doing as a starting point for our design. Do you use them solely for growing out litters, or do you keep the rabbits in some sort of tractor on grass all the time? What are you feeding them? I've researched colony raising meat rabbits but so far I haven't come across a lot of examples of it being pulled off. All of your animals seem to be in very good condition so I'm really curious about how you're doing it!

Also, could you tell or show a little more about how you process and package your birds entirely on your own farm? What kind of regulations do you have to meet there to do that, and how have you set up to do that on the small scale?


Hi Rebecca
Thank you for the thoughtful reply.  I hope i can answer all your questions. I will add some pictures later as well -

We haven't gotten around to raising rabbits in a colony style actually. currently the rabbits are still in the rabbit tractor, moving daily. we are actually going to take a break on rabbits for a bit. we have some other things going on and i dont want to spread myself to thin.
That said - i can tell you how i planned to do it. I planned to have a colony mainly for the winter and tractor the bunnies during the growing season. We only planned 2 does and 1 buck to start with. when you setup the colony, set up the feeder where you can close the rabbits off. use the feeders to help corral the babies and add piles of dirt for them to burrow in.  
we planned to breed each doe and put her and her babies in the tractors at ~a month old. tractor them all around together until ~5 weeks or so before the fryer rabbits are ready to process. remove the doe and put her back in the colony with the buck so her next litter is ready soon. we planned to do this with both does 2-3 times in a growing season. the buck would have the colony to himself most of the growing season.
the rabbit tractor i built is based on the "Stress Free chicken tractor Plans" ( https://farmmarketingsolutions.com/stress-free-chicken-tractor-plans/ ). I used shade cloth on top and closed in a small part in the back. I will take some pictures of the rabbit tractor later today and post soon.  we planned to use the tractors only for growing out litters in the growing season (aprilish - novemberish). we do supplement with a pelleted feed. i am under the understanding that you could raise meat rabbit with no food inputs, but the grow out times would be much longer. i try to give them enough food that the feeder is pretty low during night chores. i want the feeder to be empty and the ground cover to be eaten. i did find if you dont feed them enough they will dig our and go find food at the neighbors.
i also havent found many examples of meat rabbits in a colony only setting. i would be afraid it would turn into a rabbit feedlot.
you could keep the does in tractors in the winters if you wanted to. there isnt much to eat around here so for time sake, we would have kept them in a colony (i 'think' colony chores would be less than moving tractors)

as for the poultry - in Colorado we are allowed to process up to 1000 birds on farm, for sale direct to the consumer (not restaurants). there is some labeling that is needed but for the most part none of that is enforced unless you are at a farmers market. we are WAY under 1000 birds
currently our poultry processing consists of a 2 cone kill stand, a keg/propane burner (scalder) and featherman pro plucker. we eviscerate on large food grade cutting boards that can be washed as needed. we soak/chill in coolers. we bag in "poultry shrink wrap bags" .
currently we are limited to about 30-35 birds a day. we need more space/cooler to chill finished birds in.
next year we plan a fancier label and adding the ability to buy birds (some get get a set price - not pay by the lb)

hope this helps. please feel free to ask follow up questions or for clarifications (i am multitasking while typing this!)
 
Kelly Smith
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here is another overhead look at our property
Nov-2011.jpg
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Kelly Smith
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ok, here are some pics of the rabbit tractor:

tractor size - 6x10x2 (11ft overall length with wheels/handles)
i put shade cloth over the top

gravity fed waterer (5g bucket) on top (more pics in the next few posts)

notice the net - its to catch the escapees



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Kelly Smith
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i added a piece of wood to stop/slow the wind.
i also hung a bucket of food on the back of the tractor - keeps the weight low and the food out of the way

the wheels are removable 8in wheels and 1/2in x 7in lag bolts.
pics of both on and off.
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Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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i added a feeder into the sheltered area. i found that without enough food the rabbits would dig out and go find food.
now i have been adding just enough feed to get them through 2/3 of the day. i

the waterer is a standard HD bucket with a 1/4in line and gravity nipples.
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Kelly Smith
Posts: 722
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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here is a better overhead view of our farm.
you can see the swale/irrigation control ditch, a mobile chicken tractor in the field, milk barn, layer housing, pig area, dying orchard and other things.
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