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Fish Scale Terracing - transforming steep slopes to tree sites utilizing goats

 
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Location: Ellisforde, WA
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What the goats are doing actually has a name! The "slopes" around here are about 45°. I've noticed the goats are scooping/raking out an area that is just big enough to plant a tree.
That's in the goat pen, but I can use the knowledge in other places.
 
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Liz, this sounds like it could be the answer I've been looking for! I have a steep slope near our house that I'd like to start terracing on our next visit but I've been worrying about the gradient. Could you please post up some pictures of your goats handy work?
 
Liz Hoxie
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I'll be glad to try. It's dark out right now. I'll try tomorrow.
 
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Thanks for posting this Liz.  

I think that this is a great example of a person making an observation that leads to an innovation.  I think that this is an extremely useful method that many people can utilize to create small terraces on steep slopes, and put goats to work.  

It's so simple that it makes me wonder why I haven't heard of anybody else doing it on purpose.  Simply brilliant to observe it and make note of it, and super awesome to share it with us here.  Thanks!  

One note:  If your title was changed to "Fish Scale Terracing/ Transforming steep slopes to tree sites utilizing goats!"  (or something more descriptive of the gist of the project) You might get more people viewing this very cool thread and thus getting this idea out there more.  Just a thought.  



 
Roberto pokachinni
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I can see a goat tethered on a slope, creating a very perfect downhill fish scale that would be a great tree planting site.  I'm assuming that your goats are not tethered in their pen, and are still doing this, of their own accord simply by standing and working an area for feed in your steep penned area.  I'm looking forward to seeing pictures.  

Interesting somewhat non sequitur: The astrological sign Capricorn (my sign) is sometimes depicted as a goat with a fishes tail.  
 
Liz Hoxie
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Tony, it snowed last night, but I'll try to describe what it looks like in the summer. The goats make a shallow depression about 2'x3', starting about halfway down the hill. After a few years these areas were well fertilized, and the plant growth, mainly wild mustard, was abundant.
These aren't my goats, but they are allowed to overgraze this area every year. Actually, that may have helped.
I wouldn't tether them, I would let THEM decide where to put the depressions. Just fence off the area, put wethers on it until late fall, and then butcher. Start over in the spring for a few years. You've now got fertilized terraces.

Roberto,  that's a good title. I wish I wasn't challenged by technology, it would be easier to edit.
That's interesting about Capricorn. I never knew that. We had no Capricorns in the family, so I never paid much attention.

More memories: I had to remember in which order the goats worked. The first area was the steepest slope at one side of their area. Then the steepest part of the middle of the area. Then it became all over, until I could go straight up without holding on to a fence! They also seemed to lessen the steepness overall.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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HI Liz.  If you go to your original post in this thread, and click on the edit button, which is located with a few other buttons in the top right corner of your post.  Then you will get a screen that looks much like what you have when you are posting it initially.  There is the title line, and you can change it.  It might take a few days or a week for the moderators to change it permanently, or it might happen right away.  But, anyway, that's how it's done.  It's as simple or probably a lot simpler than creating the thread in the first place.
 
Liz Hoxie
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Thanks for the instructions. I'm on my phone (only internet), and I don't have an edit button.

BTW, thanks.
 
Liz Hoxie
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Every other one of my posts has an edit button, but my 1st post doesn't.
 
Tony Hallett
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Thanks Liz, I think I've got the jist of it! I'll have to brush up on my Portuguese and ask our local goat herder to take a different route through our land next time we see him.
 
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That's an interesting observation of the goats on a slope creating small fishscale terraces perfect for planting trees...filed away that tidbit for possible future use.  Thanks for sharing.

Someone on permies used pigs to create terraces on their land.  They put a lane of fencing on contour and the pigs created a small terrace.  I can't recall who it was, or what the topic is called....but it's on here somewhere...with pictures if I'm recalling correctly.
 
Liz Hoxie
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See if the goat herder would like to rest them in a certain area during the heat of the day. If you offer them shade (could be from a building), and water, they'll happily rest, chew their cud, and make your terraces all at the same time.
Good idea about the pigs.
 
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Could you please post some photos? I didn't understand how does (or should) it look like.
 
pollinator
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Joshua Parke wrote:
Someone on permies used pigs to create terraces on their land.  They put a lane of fencing on contour and the pigs created a small terrace.  I can't recall who it was, or what the topic is called....but it's on here somewhere...with pictures if I'm recalling correctly.



You might be thinking of Walter Jeffries.  I know that he does this at Sugar Mountain Farm.
 
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