Donal MacCoon wrote:So totally blown away by your excellent, thoughtful, helpful response!! Wow! Perhaps you are the one to write the book! Thanks so much!
harvesting the fiber off live [bison] is difficult and dangerous, big hydraulic squeeze chutes make it barely possible. Mostly we work with shed fiber, by placing street sweeper brushes on fence posts, and harvesting it that way. You don't get much per bison, so raising them strictly for fiber is pretty much not worth it. If you harvest a 1/2 lb of shed fiber per animal, that would be lucky. Then after scouring and dehairing it yields 4-6 oz. Most of the fiber we get is from the packing plants, and taken off hides.
Hans Quistorff wrote:I have a field of flax that self sows and some of it seems to be perennial. In the past it has produced tall stalks and I have shared some with the fiber arts people locally. This year was a drought so the stalks are quite short. The field is clay soil and floods up to a foot deep some winters. The flax seems to be able to grow in the water like rice. If I mow the grass high when it is in pollen stage and taller than the flax The flax begins to dominate.
I plan to mow the field wit the riding lawn mower during the next dry spell to spread the seed because the plants are so short this year. I could harvest some seed if someone is interested. I am in the same climate zone as the Victoria group just a little further south in the Salish Sea.
I like using the flax for mulch because the fibers last longer than grass fibers. That is one of the reasons I have been managing this field to favor the flax. The seed is too fine I think to use for food. It has an umbrella for the wind to spread the seed but usually gets to wet for it to do so here. I may plant some golden flax where I was thinking of trying rice and see what it does.
Hans Quistorff wrote:
I plan to mow the field wit the riding lawn mower during the next dry spell to spread the seed because the plants are so short this year. I could harvest some seed if someone is interested.
R Ranson wrote:<SNIP>
Bunnies: This is your second most space saving critter.
You wouldn't think it, but the smaller the livestock is, the more time one needs to dedicate to keeping it healthy. Fibre bunnies are very time consuming.
Bunnies breed like rabbits and can very quickly become overcrowded. Most fibre bunnies don't produce good meat... so... what are you going to do with the excess bunnies? Build 8 new cages the first year, 50 new cages the next, 1500 the year after that? Breeding rabbits requires thinking about what will happen to these critters. The most horrible thing I've seen happen to bunnies is someone gets three, breeds them, changes their mind about killing them, has almost 20 rabbits living in the space barely adequate for 3.
Bunnies are tricky, but can be very rewarding if you do it right. Angora (the fibre from angora rabbits, fibre from angora goats is called something else) is a very sought after fibre and can fetch quite a decent price IF you know where to sell it. If you get a rabbit that makes good meat as well as fibre, they are the most efficient producers of animal protein of any livestock.
Looking at bunnies from a permaculture point of view is very interesting. When I raised meat rabbits I hated that the rabbits were breed to eat only commercial feed and couldn't stomach a handful of greens. Yet, when my dad was a kid, the rabbits only ate greens. There is a lot of interesting work being done with rabbits, and if I was growing them again, I think I would probably catch a wild one, make certain it's health was pristine, then breed it in with my domestic ones to increase their genetic diversity.
If one's never cared for livestock before - and pets don't count - rabbits are a good starting point. One or two fibre rabbits, not a breeding pair, learn to care for them, brush them daily, keep their nails trimmed, &c and so on.<SNIP>