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Bamboo

 
          
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I was thinking about planting some bamboo.......I think it would be handy to have some for building various things...

So I did some research.

I instantly came across Green Home Building's Bamboo page. And this picture in particular.



Not sure exactly what it is. Some sort of large shelter dealio.

Other than quite a few good pictures, he lists about 28 bamboo resources! Books and videos.

Some of them are :
Bamboo Architecture by Robert Henrikson and David Greenberg
The Art and Craft of Bamboo by Carol Stangler
Building With Bamboo by Gernot Minke

Here is a really pretty neat video of a guy building a bamboo house in 6 hours.



Here are some more pictures:

Bamboo fence:


This Beautiful Tree House thingy:

(source)

So I saw a lot of really positive things about bamboo building, but here is another side of bamboo building which I figured I'd post to keep things interesting.

The Reality of Building With Bamboo



Anyone have any experience with this? I am really curious to hear people's thoughts.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I have one Bamboo - Phyllostachys dulcis , aka Sweetshoot.  Not in a good location so I plan to move it where it will get more water.  It seems to be 100% drought tolerant as it has survived drought in Central Texas with no irrigation, but has not grown enough to produce edible shoots.

Be very aware bamboo can be invasive, of course!

 
Gary Park
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Where are you located?  I'm in Zone 5-6 central U.S., plan on buying 3 different kinds this spring to play with/propogate.  Most of the cool ones are zone 6 and up, so a bad winter in my area may kill off some of it, but I'll have some in a green house someday.  People say blackberries are invasive too, and I've had a patch for 3 years and work it down about an hour or two a year and it's fine.  There are varieties of bamboo that will grow near anywhere too, they just don't get as big(diameter of culm)--they still get tall.
 
          
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I live in middle ga ( zone 8 )  ill be doing some research on what variety to grow for my needs...ill post as this progresses
 
                    
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Georgia has a nice bamboo research center:

http://www.bamboo.caes.uga.edu/

I've got black bamboo - Phyllostachys nigra. It produces beautiful canes that are about 2" in diameter, up to 40' tall. It's well adapted to N. Florida, but is a runner... in a small space like a lawn, it could be a problem.
 
Paula Edwards
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There's a discussion further down on bamboos.
I've just planted 7 plants, Budda's Belly, Alfonse Karr and Multiplex.
If you can in your climate I would go for the clumping or plant it where lifestock keeps it from running too far.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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Ben_R wrote:
I was thinking about planting some bamboo.......I think it would be handy to have some for building various things...

Anyone have any exp with this?


I grow bamboo here in Oregon for projects around the property.  It's an amazing grass.  Just make sure to check what kind you are getting.  I.E. - Clumping or Spreading.  Spreading types must be contained by a 2' deep border that is +several inches above soil line to keep the roots from getting out.

Happy Building!

 
          
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thanks for the feedback everyone.....i keep getting more and more excited about this......so, i found a place less then 10 miles away and will be getting me some in a few days.....gonna go for the Japanese timber and may a cpl other varieties...
 
Mariah Wallener
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I would like to grow some bamboo on our 4 acre property. Can the clumping types be used to provide poles for making trellises, stakes, etc? And if the spreading variety would be better, someone mentioned using animals to tame it - would pigs do?
 
Mike Turner
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In the tropics and hot summer zone 8, clumping bamboo are fine for pole production, but the problem is that thew cold hardy clumpers are smallish and slower growing (compared with the runners), only getting 7 to 20ft high with small diameter canes compared to the cold hardy runners.  Pigs would likely end up digging up the bamboo rhizomes and end up killing it, grazing animals like cows, goats, and sheep are more compatible.
 
                            
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There are gaps in the woods on the hill where I have planted some bamboo and plan to plant more. My intention is to have the bamboo grow up in the gap but not be able to get out because of the border of shade and trees. I do not know if this will work. Might have some more to say in a few years.
 
                                    
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I started planting hardy bamboos here in SE Michigan 20 years ago this spring.  I started with Phyllostachys aureosulcata, but I now have about 10 different species, mostly Phyllostachys but also a couple of Fargesia and a couple of the mini groundcover types.

I love bamboo.  Due to the cold climate here, the size is restricted, most getting no more than 15 feet tall and canes about an inch and a half diameter at most.  And, it's quite common for most of them to winter kill to the ground many winters.

It's great to have an abundant supply of bamboo poles and whole stalks for making all kinds of trellis structures for growing various vine crops.  The bamboo also makes a wonderful hedge/windbreak/screen.

Oh, and yes, I have been able to use some of the unwanted spring shoots for bamboo shoots in cooking.  There is some debate about whether or not various Phyllostachys species contain poisonous compounds in the shoots, or so I've read, but the toxins are water soluble and sensitive to heat, so I've always just parboiled the sliced/slivered shoots in a change of water which is then discarded prior to continuing with my recipe, and have never had a problem
 
                                    
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Emerging spring shoots of a bed of Phyllostachys aureosulcata.  The top growth winterkilled the prior winter, and was cut and turned into teepees for pole beans.  This photo was taken 06/01/2008.  That year, May was particularly cool, and the bamboo shoots were actually probably about two weeks behind the point they should have been. 

 
Matthew Fallon
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fantastic for building things. it's what got sucked me into music and craftwork. i began playing cultural bamboo flutes,then making them,then found woodworking,then rustic.

here is a WONDERFUL site/forum for bamboo.
it's a must-visit if you're looking to work with bamboo

http://www.bamboocraft.net/

i'm ashamed to say i havent been active there in quite a while,


edit:  my heart sank as i noticed the passage on the main page just now.this is shocking.
Mark Meckes.creator of the site(along with his beautiful wife carol)  passed away in 2007.i had no idea.
i had the great pleasure of meeting Mark and Carol in 2003 at the international bamboo festival in Miami florida...he was an amazing artist ,community builder,and friend bamboo lovers worldwide.
bamboo-fest 069.jpg
[Thumbnail for bamboo-fest 069.jpg]
 
          
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tribalwind wrote:
fantastic for building things. it's what got sucked me into music and craftwork. i began playing cultural bamboo flutes,then making them,then found woodworking,then rustic.

here is a WONDERFUL site/forum for bamboo.
it's a must-visit if you're looking to work with bamboo

http://www.bamboocraft.net/

i'm ashamed to say i havent been active there in quite a while,


edit:    my heart sank as i noticed the passage on the main page just now.this is shocking.
Mark Meckes.creator of the site(along with his beautiful wife carol)  passed away in 2007.i had no idea.
i had the great pleasure of meeting Mark and Carol in 2003 at the international bamboo festival in Miami florida...he was an amazing artist ,community builder,and friend bamboo lovers worldwide.




NICE WEBSITE!
 
rose macaskie
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  Geof Lawton mentions using bamboo along swales because it does not have deep roots.   
    I dont know but maybe deep rooted things near a water course or in a pond tend to lead the water into the ground and as a swale is desig¡ned to hold water that will sink into every part of the hill at the height of the swale, if the water all went the way of the roots of one plant  that would be counter productive.
    There is a good video on a bamboo plantation in japan where everyone goes to get bamboo shoots in spring when the new bits of bamboo start to poke up through the soil. The shoots need boiling well they are like almond stones they have a bit of, synide is it, in them.
  They pick the bamboo shoots to eat and they cut out bamboos to use, so you get a nice open Bamboo grove. I suppose tha the chinese and japonese have lots of ways of keeping bamboo in order, they plant it a lot.
      I enjoy pruning and such it is outdoor exercise that is not as heavy as digging but i think i have to learn to dig at a regular pacce but a slow one, it is not the sort of job you can go at like the clappers without doing yourself up. agri rose macaskie.
 
                            
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rose macaskie wrote:
  Geof Lawton mentions using bamboo along swales because it does not have deep roots.   
     I dont know but maybe deep rooted things near a water course or in a pond tend to lead the water into the ground and as a swale is desig¡ned to hold water that will sink into every part of the hill at the height of the swale, if the water all went the way of the roots of one plant  that would be counter productive.
     There is a good video on a bamboo plantation in japan where everyone goes to get bamboo shoots in spring when the new bits of bamboo start to poke up through the soil. The shoots need boiling well they are like almond stones they have a bit of, synide is it, in them.
  They pick the bamboo shoots to eat and they cut out bamboos to use, so you get a nice open Bamboo grove. I suppose tha the chinese and japonese have lots of ways of keeping bamboo in order, they plant it a lot.
       I enjoy pruning and such it is outdoor exercise that is not as heavy as digging but i think i have to learn to dig at a regular pacce but a slow one, it is not the sort of job you can go at like the clappers without doing yourself up. agri rose macaskie.


I was thinking of planting rivercane on/beneath a swale right next to the front of my house to serve as a privacy screen / water catch. The only concern I have it's within the dripline of a black walnut. From what I've been able to find so far, bamboos (at least the Phyllostachys sort) don't seem to have trouble with Black Walnut, so we'll see about Arundinaria...
 
                                
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I have a stand of the big kind. I don't know the variety but the canes

are 2-3 inches in diameter. They grow to 30 feet or more in height.

It is beautiful and useful but RHIZOME BARRIER IS A MUST!!! There are

non-spreading varieties but a lot of them run like crazy so define your bed

with some kind of barrier that goes down 15-20 inches to contain the stuff.
 
Matthew Fallon
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this local article was jsut posted on facebook group: American Bamboo Society . some dope in th township proposed banning it or soemthing (not likely! there is tons of it in the area,all golden and yellow-groove..)
http://www.smithtownradio.com/2011/02/10/2219/bamboo-ban/

coincidentally it is 45 minutes from me and i used to harvest all my bamboo for flutemaking around there .

Like Matthew(#2  ) said, ya Gotta have a rhizome barrier.  Iwas always told to put it to a depth of 36" and sloping away from the plant like a ramp,with 1-3" sticking out of the soil. this way when the rhizome encounteers it, it wont try to pierce through nor grow UNDEr, but rather go OVER and poke out of the ground where you can see it and clip or redirect it.

if any of you are on facebook , this is a good group to join. (they need to make a custom/vanity-url!)
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_167951359890085
 
Suzy Bean
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Just read a little article  in farm show, vol 34, no 4 called, "U-Cut Bamboo Business." It talks about a guy who has folks come out and harvest their own bamboo that he raises, for $5 per pole. The guy, John Branham, says 'the bamboo grows about 50 ft a year once the roots catch hold.' Later in the article, it says under ideal conditions, bamboo can grow up to 4 feet per day, and you can actually hear it growing! It is the fastest growing land plant in the world.
 
Dave Burton
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Here's a cool video from Japanology+ about bamboo: its cultural significance, uses, types, and a little about its life cycle.
 
Jorge Fonseca
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If you get bamboo you will need a machete... very versatile material... benches, stools, tables, and you can make regular walls and cover them with spreaded bamboo, apply some varnish... looks beatiful... needs talent, of course.
 
Julia Winter
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I asked about using the timber bamboo at Columbia Ecovillage in Portland (OR) and was told that things they've made of bamboo have only lasted 3 years or so. I don't think they put the bamboo up away from the ground, though, that might make a big difference in longevity.
 
Christian McMahon
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I just received my oldhamii bamboo. I also have some Giant Bamboo Seeds coming. I remembered back in the 70's having some grow here in Palm Springs. I will see how it goes.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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So here is part of one of the houses that I mentioned in the dailyish email. This was at a little farm in costa rica. They built everything with bamboo. Their buildings. Their fences. Their pathways.



Here is part of a little goat fence:



Here is some bamboo set up waiting to be used!

 
Richard Forster
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Julia Winter wrote:I asked about using the timber bamboo at Columbia Ecovillage in Portland (OR) and was told that things they've made of bamboo have only lasted 3 years or so. I don't think they put the bamboo up away from the ground, though, that might make a big difference in longevity.


There are various factors that can influence the longevity of bamboo. The time of harvest is reputed to be very critical - that is, for greatest durability the culms should be harvested during the dormant period of the plant's growth cycle - when sugars and starches have been drawn out of the culm and down into the rhizomes, as it is these sugars and starches that attract the boring insects that are the most common cause of rapid deterioration of bamboo poles. The bamboo culm itself also needs to be harvested at the right age - for most species the culm should be at least 3 years old, ideally in its 4th year... Then too, some species are better suited for some uses than others.

There are also various forms of post-harvest treatment that can extend the useful life of the bamboo. Chemical treatments (such as copper sulphate or borax/boric acid) are probably the most straight-forward and effective, although traditional methods such as soaking in salt/brackish water and/or running fresh water, and heat treatment can apparently also be helpful. Robyn Francis of Djanbung Gardens in northern NSW has an interesting article on using trans-evaporation to get chemicals into the cellular structure of the bamboo. Be sure to check out the discussion in the comments as another Permie in North Queensland also reports on their experiments which are now into their second decade, if I remember correctly...

Proper curing - drying for six months or so in a shaded location after harvest and before use is also pretty important to avoid shrinkage and cracking...


I recently used some bamboo that I planted about ten years ago, harvested a couple of months back and treated using the flame from a propane torch (I know, not very cool, maybe for my next project I'll use a rocket stove!) to make a frame for a "flow-through worm bag." I'll try to get my act together and post a pic soon
 
Jewell Hemenway
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I have grown golden bamboo for about 30 years. Mine tends to be rather clumping in form, but I keep it fairly heavily harvested for garden trellises. The few times it has run I have pulled the runners back to the main plant and cut them off. I don't water it and the dogs have a path worn beside it with a six foot path between the fifteen foot long bamboo patch and a woodland perennial bed. Had neighbors on the north side of us that didn't mow their lawn for a couple of years. It did escape over there but with constant regular mowing it seems to be back under control.

From my experiences the bamboo trellises get brittle after a few years and do need to be replaced even if they aren't touching the ground.

Many people are very anti bamboo. If not maintained and harvested several times a year I guess it becomes a problem. I am just guessing that the regular harvesting is an important key to maintaining bamboo. I have enjoyed having such a readily available source of supports, fencing, trellis material. I also use it chopped with the mower for mulch.
 
Barbara Du Mond
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1. Get to know different bamboos. There are a lot of different types of bamboo, thought the two main categories are runners and clumpers. Clumpers do grow outwardly, some at faster rates than others. Although it is usually best to use a 30" deep barrier around bamboo, you can sometimes get away with not using it around clumpers if they are slow spreaders. Different runners also have different rates of spreading. Some are extremely aggressive and will run 50' or more under concrete and foundations and resurface. Some will push up through asphalt. You will probably need to use a barrier with a runner, especially if it is near a property edge. Bamboo roots only grow within about the top 24" of soil, so a barrier that is 30" deep is usually sufficient to contain it. But make sure it is installed with a few inches sticking out above ground and that it is properly angled and the right thickness. This is thick material specifically made for bamboo, not whimpy plastic. And you need to make sure that it is properly sealed where it meets. Bamboo roots will find the weak point in a seam and find their way through it. And don't use material that will corrode or break down, no metals. Even tough barriers will need to be replaced at some point.
2. Know where you want to grow it and the environmental needs of your bamboo. Some are drought tolerant but most need moderate to high amounts of water. Most need sun, but some only grow well in shade. Some do well in wind while others will break or fall over. Some will be ok in very cold weather and others will easily be damaged or die if temps drop too low.
3. Know what you want to use it for. There are some timber bamboos that grow to 50' or more and are large in diameter. Most of these are also aggressive runners. If you don't need something so large, perhaps a less aggressive runner or a clumper will do the job for you. There are also bamboos that are specifically used for textiles like clothes, sheets, and towels. And there are others that are best for eating the shoots. And there are also a lot of bamboos that are just grown for their beauty, as visual barriers, to create a forest feel, or for the sound they produce as the wind moves through the grove. Timber bamboo is one of the strongest building materials if properly harvested and cured. But you would not want to try to eat that same bamboo. Some grow only a couple feet high and make great ground covers while others grow 60" plus and make great forests.

So do your research and decide why you want to grow bamboo, where you want to grow it, and how much work you are willing to put into maintaining and harvesting it. Answering these will help you decide what type of bamboo is appropriate for you to grow.
 
Rod McLaren
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Cassie asked for input regarding bamboo. Here is a video that I did of my son's eco-lodge on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea www.escape3points.com . He uses bamboo extensively in his construction, including some new chalets that were built entirely from bamboo after this video was shot. Bamboo is an invasive species, introduced many years ago, and grows throughout much of the southern part of Ghana. The video also demonstrates the use of compressed earth blocks made with a TEK block maker designed and made in Ghana.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QE8PxlQp0E [/youtube]
 
Cj Sloane
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:
Here is part of a little goat fence:



Is it just me, or do those goats look like they are starving?
 
Tina Paxton
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Richard Forster wrote:
Julia Winter wrote:I asked about using the timber bamboo at Columbia Ecovillage in Portland (OR) and was told that things they've made of bamboo have only lasted 3 years or so. I don't think they put the bamboo up away from the ground, though, that might make a big difference in longevity.


There are various factors that can influence the longevity of bamboo. The time of harvest is reputed to be very critical - that is, for greatest durability the culms should be harvested during the dormant period of the plant's growth cycle - when sugars and starches have been drawn out of the culm and down into the rhizomes, as it is these sugars and starches that attract the boring insects that are the most common cause of rapid deterioration of bamboo poles. The bamboo culm itself also needs to be harvested at the right age - for most species the culm should be at least 3 years old, ideally in its 4th year... Then too, some species are better suited for some uses than others.

There are also various forms of post-harvest treatment that can extend the useful life of the bamboo. Chemical treatments (such as copper sulphate or borax/boric acid) are probably the most straight-forward and effective, although traditional methods such as soaking in salt/brackish water and/or running fresh water, and heat treatment can apparently also be helpful. Robyn Francis of Djanbung Gardens in northern NSW has an interesting article on using trans-evaporation to get chemicals into the cellular structure of the bamboo. Be sure to check out the discussion in the comments as another Permie in North Queensland also reports on their experiments which are now into their second decade, if I remember correctly...

Proper curing - drying for six months or so in a shaded location after harvest and before use is also pretty important to avoid shrinkage and cracking...


I recently used some bamboo that I planted about ten years ago, harvested a couple of months back and treated using the flame from a propane torch (I know, not very cool, maybe for my next project I'll use a rocket stove!) to make a frame for a "flow-through worm bag." I'll try to get my act together and post a pic soon


ummm...very interesting! There are folks in my "hood"...within a few mile radius of me...that have bamboo growing in their yards and/or ditches. A few years ago, I harvested some (with permission) but I wasn't sure how to cure them and they ended up splitting. Likely I wasn't harvesting at the right time and the ones I harvested were about an inch in diameter at most. But, I would very much like to have my own patch of bamboo of the right type to use for building/fencing materials.

I live near salt marsh/esturaries so if that is a good method to cure the poles that is doable...how long do they need to soak?

How did you treat the bamboo with flame?
 
elle sagenev
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Cj Verde wrote:
Cassie Langstraat wrote:
Here is part of a little goat fence:



Is it just me, or do those goats look like they are starving?


They are looking a bit thin but goat farmers I know always say goats in milk look thin. So maybe they are in milk?
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Cj,

These aren't my goats and I was only there at this farm in Costa Rica for two weeks so I don't really know them super well. But while I was there they grazed in their little pasture, (not just this pen, probably about an acre) and we took them out of their pasture for about 2 hours each day so they could graze more. BUT I do know that shortly after I left they got rid of the goats so they might have realized they couldn't feed them well enough.

Also, just a quick note: When I was in Central America, ALL of the livestock I saw looked like those goats. I am not over-exaggerating either. Every goat. Every cow. Every horse. So, there is something to think about too.
 
Cj Sloane
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Cassie Langstraat wrote:
Also, just a quick note: When I was in Central America, ALL of the livestock I saw looked like those goats. I am not over-exaggerating either. Every goat. Every cow. Every horse. So, there is something to think about too.


Even beef cows?
I know dairy cows can look really skinny/boney but I don't think you should be able to see their ribs.

I wonder if it's parasites?

Not trying to derail the thread, just hard to focus on the bamboo fencing while looking at those goats!
 
elle sagenev
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Cj Verde wrote:
Cassie Langstraat wrote:
Also, just a quick note: When I was in Central America, ALL of the livestock I saw looked like those goats. I am not over-exaggerating either. Every goat. Every cow. Every horse. So, there is something to think about too.


Even beef cows?
I know dairy cows can look really skinny/boney but I don't think you should be able to see their ribs.

I wonder if it's parasites?

Not trying to derail the thread, just hard to focus on the bamboo fencing while looking at those goats!


A breed thing maybe. Have you ever seen a Viszla (It's a breed of dog) We had one who died of old age last year. His entire life he was scary to look at because you could see all his bones. He was very well cared for. At the vet constantly to make sure he was fine. Died of old age at 13. The few people I met who had visz's all said they were just boney dogs. Just how they were.
 
Cassie Langstraat
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Even beef cows. It was very very alarming to me when I first got there. I grew up on a black angus cattle ranch. My dad's cattle are freakin fat, and that is how they are supposed to be. It was very weird for me to try to understand it because there is SOO much green lush land in Central Cmerica. I couldn't understand how or why they were all so skinny. I still don't really understand it.
 
kadence blevins
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@ thin goats comments

Goats look skinny to people who havent had goats a long time. Visitors would call our goats skinny and be whiney at us about them but the few that took up my dads offer of going to see large scale ((ie 200+ milkers/breeders)) immediately saw that ours were healthy just a bit over condition.

That said some goats are skinny and healthy and just dont ever seem to plump out. Others get fat on water and pasture to nearly a fault. Ie fat animals dont breed.

But yes those look like they get penned up there and have eaten and stomped it to dirt.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi CJ et al, (Cassie...thanks for the note...)

I didn't want to say anything....this being a post about bamboo...and...some folks are "sensitive" to this type of talk about their animals..but...yes they are definitely starving...and probably have one of the intestinal worms common in the tropics. I also believe there is another pathogen common to goats (et al undulates) down there...I just can not remember what it is...The primary symptom is a 'wasting condition,' which is common among many undulates in the tropics. Yes it is prevalent...no it is not healthy...no it is not normal...it is the norm nevertheless...

The pelvic girdle of many of these different breeds are indeed "pronounced" and this does lead some to question whether the are fed well enough...yet to "animal folk" the difference between breed characteristics and what we too often see in the tropics is completely different. Cows, and goats and the rest, even in the tropics, when well taken care of (Argentina for one example that I have visited and in Panama, Jamaica, etc.) are fat, sassy, and happy...The goats in the photo are neither healthy or in good keep...sorry to say.

Respectfully,

j
 
David Miller
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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For me its always been one of the basics, use what you have. I don't currently have bamboo so I don't use it. I'll be planting some eventually, but...
 
Guerric Kendall
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Those goats do look really thing. Dairy cows can get pretty thin the same way. But I have never seen any goat that wasn't just recently with kids, look like that. Could be a breed thing, but I hope you're getting an exceptional amount of milk from them with that look.


Anyway, on the topic, I have a stand of Yellow Groove bamboo and have come to appreciate their uses. Even though they aren't thick enough to build anything with, they do come in handy with small projects. Anyone have any idea how they get thin bamboo strips laced together into sheets as in the video?
 
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