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My Dreams get Crushed in a Single Conversation -- but, can I adapt?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Western North Carolina - Zone 7B stoney
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I have been having fun out on my land, planting a few spots intentionally, and broadcasting seed over some other areas.  Everything was going great, up until the time that I talked to one of my neighbors.  He lives right across the street from me.  It's good to know your neighbors, and the conversation helped ..... but, it's also a bit demoralizing.

We talked about the struggles that he has had on his land.  He use to have livestock, but found that bears would break into his chicken coops too often, simply to steal his chicken feed.  He has seen something like 8 bears just in his front lawn.  This really crushes my dreams of raising quail and muscovies.  At least I can refocus some of my energy on projects that are not destined to fail or attract unwanted visitors. 

This puts a small hamper on my ability to create a fully self sustaining homestead, but I have come up with another gameplan.  I'm not scrapping everything that I have planned prior, just doing a pivot with some of the details.  In addition to trying to grow veggies on my shade farm, I found out that I have the perfect ecosystem for moss.  I have an absolute ton of it on my property.  Looking at the prices online, I can see that it is quite lucrative.  All I need to do is perfect the ways to propagate it, and I should have infinite sources of different mosses.

It's intriguing that you can blend up the moss, and that signals the growth factor to start growing throughout the entire moss culture.  I am definitely going to utilize the water repelling ability of it for the roof of structures that I build, and even beehives that I plan to start.  If I can not bank on raising all of my own food, I can at least plan on selling some high value plants to supplement my income.  I was surprised at the sheer number of things that moss is used for.  I think it would make a unique farmer's market booth, as I haven't seen moss being sold at any that I have visited. 
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Your area grows bear, if you can get a license to take one per year that problem can become a protein solution.

Rabbit, quail and Cuy aka Guinea Pig (not to be confused with guinea hogs) can be raised in indoor systems with rooftop exhaust that wouldn't broadcast the exact location to the local bears.

Lastly, are these brown bear or black bear? Black bear are much easier to repel with a livestock guardian dog.
 
Posts: 110
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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that's ok out my way bobcats, coyotes, hawks, owls, wild hogs can do some damage and the occasional mountain lion up here in western Texas.
 
pollinator
Posts: 484
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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William,
You are at a fork in the decision tree. That seems like a whole lot of bears, which are normally fairly solitary.

Why so many bears? Is it because they have lots of well-intentioned people bringing them a stable food source? Is it normal in that area due to amount of forage and prey?

Philosophically, I try to see if there is something I can do to naturally recreate the normal habitat. If this is normally bear central, I would agree that you are likely to need to coexist. You will drive yourself crazy trying to make a lush bear habitat free of bears. If this is a human-produced ecosystem, you may be able to engineer a better system, perhaps with exclusion or hunting or other means.

Based on my calculations from produced biomass I can support around 800# of herbivores per acre with rotational grazing (which should improve quite a bit over time). Based on my observation, the live weight of deer on these fields is currently about 600#, and they are not rotationally grazing, the soil is not improved in the same fashion, and they leave the unpalatable stuff to seed. This is an unnaturally high amount of deer, the hunting pressure is pretty low, and there are some nearby areas they have zero hunting pressure by law so there is a reservoir for rapid repopulation. The deer move to the dense neighborhoods as soon as rifle season starts. A month after the end of season there are 8 deer in each field. The only real predation of deer in this area is by humans and vehicles especially, although there are some coyotes.

So based on these statistics, I can either raise deer at 600# an acre, harvest them when the law says I can, which is very time intensive and I don't want to buy another freezer. There are so many deer around here no other hunters are interested (but everyone wants me to butcher and deliver venison). Or I can exclude them with high tensile electric, and establish a herd of herbivores whose movements I can control and harvest more ad hoc. The cost of the fence is probably about 3x the cost of a freezer, uses much less energy and is solar, and will take me the same amount of time to install as hunting four deer give or take. I can run the fowl through the excluded areas on schedule to diminish the parasite loads (ticks are awful and the deer are sickly). The fence would work to contain an LGD which is on the future plans. I would love to have a third way, but at this point in the maturation of my ecosystem, the deer pressure is a problem, and the standard permie solution would be to harvest, but the department of making you sad won't let me do it. I even looked into a crop protection permit but because I am not commercial, it is not allowed. The deer have easily defeated the junkpole fence from last year, although it did channel them nicely. I can still hunt deer in the non-excluded areas to do my part about the initial problem.

Often there are no purist answers. You can look at your design parameters, make a value judgement based on your goals, and then try something within your means. Then adapt accordingly. Hope this gives a perspective on your plight. It has been a couple year project and next year may be different again.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2196
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I used to do a lot of work for a well to do guy in town. He would get all his ducks in a row, get his permits, then...and only then...announce what he was going to do to the media. By then, no one could derail his plans by trying to get around it through meetings, protests, etc.

I learned a lot from him.

I have found that when you plan to do something and announce it, 1 out of 20 people might agree with you. The other 19 will come up with tons of reasons why it will never work. Me, I just stay quiet and do what I think is right and see how the project comes out. Do not get me wrong, I am humble, and admit later the wrong rabbit paths I followed, but I am not one to let someone else have the pleasure of bashing my plans without having to do any of the hard work to see if it really would work out.

...

In farming, people could do the exact same thing I do, and still have different results. I don't pay much attention to naysayers, believing in your plans is half way to success.
 
pollinator
Posts: 513
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I kind of think that stating that your dreams have been "crushed" is a bit premature.  Bears can be repelled by electric fencing, for starters.  And your neighbor's problem with bears wasn't the bears themselves, but the fact that he was effectively feeding them.  Of course they're going to keep coming back for chicken feed, when he keeps restocking the shelves.  The solution is not, "Now I know I can't raise poultry."  The solution is, "Now I know I have to keep the feed in a place inaccessible by bears."
 
master steward
Posts: 10891
Location: Left Coast Canada
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What a demoralizing blow.

We have a saying in our neck of the woods, "there's no such thing as a problem animal, it's all problem people".

It means that animals act according to their nature.  They are honest.  It's when humans don't understand this nature and try to work against it, that conflict starts. 

Bears on our island aren't interested in people or livestock - but they can be trained to eat these things.  They prefer fish and fruit.  But their favourite food is toothpaste (go figure).  They like fairly open environments and although they eat blackberries, they don't like going through prickly briars.  They can outrun a racehorse, but would rather not as this takes energy and time away from eating and napping.  They can peel away the roof of a car as easily as I can open a bag of chips (which isn't as easy as most people, but you get the idea), but why bother unless they know there is food inside?  They can leap over or destroy just about any fence a human can create - but won't unless there is quince on the other side.  These are our local bears.   If one tries to eat you for some reason (and they would rather not as humans don't taste enough like fish) then with these bears you fight back - playing dead makes you look yummy.  With other bears, you play dead. 

Bears have different behaviour in different parts of the world.  Knowing how my local wildlife acts, I can create a system that doesn't attract them.  The local parks have lots of information on how not to attract bears to one's campsite.  I don't let my quince over ripen and rot on the ground. I don't store toothpaste near my campsite.  I don't store fruit near the livestock.  By knowing how wildlife acts and reacts, I make my farm less attractive to predators than the neighbours. 

It's like this bookshop I worked in long ago.  They had trouble with theft, loosing over a thousand dollars a day to shoplifters.  So they invited this guy from the police in and he showed us how to rearrange our shelves, move the art books with paintings and photographs of naked people away from the front door, and stuff like that.  Some sort of crime prevention through design.  After we implemented the suggestions, we had less than $20 worth of stock go missing per day.  This shop was located in the hottest hot spot for theft and crime in the city

What I'm trying to say is, perhaps you can start a thread "seeking permaculture design advice for living in bear country"

I bet there are loads of people here who live in bear country who can offer tips and tricks to avoid conflict with these critters.  Another help would be to discover what kind of bears they are and what their natural diet and behaviour are like. 

 
William Wallace
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Western North Carolina - Zone 7B stoney
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Sure, Bears can be repelled by electric fence ..... but I had these grandiose dreams of a self sustained and completely off the grid ecosystem.  The one thing that I hadn't planned for is bear.  I had never seen any sign of bear on my land.

8 is a bunch of bear.  I am wondering if he saw the same couple of bears with it adding up to 8 sightings.  He has 3 LGD that bellow quite effectively, but found that the bears took advantage of the times when he wasn't on the property (and so neither were the dogs).  I admit that it is a bit sensational to say that my dreams are crushed, but that is a huge portion of my plans that is now "in the wind".

Kyrt, I am a big fan of Cuy, and I still plan to raise them.  Their food source will be much less attractive to predators, and I can keep them in more enclosed and secluded locations. 
 
pollinator
Posts: 1799
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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If LGDs leave the livestock they are supposed to guard, it defeats the purpose of having them. What your neighbour did was set up a bear-resistant system and then sabotage it by removing the lynchpin.

Do be discouraged by others' mistakes. Learn from them.

-CK
 
Wes Hunter
pollinator
Posts: 513
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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William Wallace wrote:Sure, Bears can be repelled by electric fence ..... but I had these grandiose dreams of a self sustained and completely off the grid ecosystem.  The one thing that I hadn't planned for is bear.  I had never seen any sign of bear on my land.



Electric fence is, of course, only one option.  And you can, of course, use a solar-powered (read: off-grid) charger, so electric fencing isn't necessarily at odds with your plans.

8 is a bunch of bear.  I am wondering if he saw the same couple of bears with it adding up to 8 sightings.  He has 3 LGD that bellow quite effectively, but found that the bears took advantage of the times when he wasn't on the property (and so neither were the dogs).  I admit that it is a bit sensational to say that my dreams are crushed, but that is a huge portion of my plans that is now "in the wind".



My knowledge of bears is only enough to be dangerous, but I'm assuming those eight bears were not all seen at once.  Perhaps he has had one bear in his yard eight times, or perhaps he has identified eight individuals, but surely there isn't a pack roaming the neighborhood.  So, again, I think you're being a little premature with your sackcloth and ashes.

And as Chris pointed out, when you take livestock guardian dogs away from their livestock, they're no longer livestock guardian dogs.  They're just dogs.  So the proper employ of an LGD or two is still a perfectly viable option for allowing you to see your dream to completion.
 
pollinator
Posts: 964
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Your area grows bear, if you can get a license to take one per year that problem can become a protein solution.



And if you've got 7 friends who also want to take a bear this winter, you can sell them rights to hunt your land.  Bada bing, the problem now becomes a financial solution.

Step 1:  Go to the local bakery and ask them to save whatever donuts they don't sell.  Just throw them into a big plastic garbage bag.  When the bag is full enough for you to pick up like Santa Claus and sling over your shoulder, you'll pay them $10.

Step 2:  Pour the grease from 5 lbs. of fried bacon over the top of the big bag o' second-hand donuts.  Mix.

Step 3:  Dump the pile of greasy good donuts in the middle of a spot in your back-yard, away from the prying eyes of people who don't need to know your business. 

Step 4:  May I recommend a Ruger Hawkeye with .375 H & H Magnum ammo for stopping power.  If you keep the range within 40 yards or so (perhaps from your back porch to the pile 'o donuts), iron sites are sufficient.  No need for a scope.
 
gardener
Posts: 402
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
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I have found that many people giving advice on permaculture tend to discount the challenges of working with wildlife. More often than not, I hear something to the tune of "grow a little more than you need so they can have your fill and so can you." I think this strategy works really great for urban and agricultural areas where there is little to no wildlife. A few deer come by maybe 2 or 3 times a year and grab a couple of plants — no biggie. But in all of the rural areas I've lived, dealing with wildlife has always been the biggest challenge to growing food. Bears, deer, voles, rabbits, and blue jays are a constant challenge and I continue to learn how to deal with them effectively. "Growing a little extra" does not really work when a single rabbit can eat hundreds and hundreds of seedlings in a single night.

For your piece of land you will need to work through those challenges. Bears are your challenge today, but another animal may be your challenge tomorrow. Bears are big, scary, and extremely powerful. But they are opportunists. They do not enjoy conflict or even to be seen. They can often be scared away by motion lights, motion-triggered noises, firecrackers, pepper spray, large livestock, and LGDs (as others have mentioned, they will take the opportunity should the LGD not be present). If it's uncomfortable, the bear is likely to pursue a more comfortable route.

Don't be thwarted by a single challenge. There will be many. Things don't often go to plan, but if you're persistent, eventually your plan will adapt to your challenges.
 
pollinator
Posts: 134
Location: Outside Detroit, MI
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There have been some awesome comments given here.  I agree that the situation of your neighbor may be bleak only because he set it up for failure.  But maybe the conversation included a lot that we didn't read here.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and plans once this initial 'emotional road bump' is passed!

Good luck!
 
Posts: 571
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Another aspect of this conversation is the chance
e to work with your neighbour and show him another way of sorting things out.
Think about it!
 
Posts: 13
Location: Rocky Mountains, British Columbia zone 4b?
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Shooting the bears doesn't seem very permaculturey to me. Traditional farming is an endless battle to kill off "competing" nature. If bears live in the area, there will always be more. So you have to work with what the situation is.  There's heaps of bears where I live, people around here manage to deal with it. There's both grizzlies and black bears.

My friends have 9 apples trees and have very good luck protecting them with a simple string of electric fencing. They also have a little bulldog who likes to bark at animals--but the dog isn't always at home. I have two other sets of friends with  small farms with chickens and pigs, they they use livestock guardian dogs who stay on the property.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Oh, that's the very definition of permaculture. A pest to your intended crops becomes a foodsource. A predation issue solved, another source of protein. That's some pretty effective function stacking. And if they keep coming back, that's just more bear sausage.

-CK
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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William Wallace wrote:I have been having fun out on my land, planting a few spots intentionally, and broadcasting seed over some other areas.  Everything was going great, up until the time that I talked to one of my neighbors.  He lives right across the street from me.  It's good to know your neighbors, and the conversation helped ..... but, it's also a bit demoralizing.

We talked about the struggles that he has had on his land.  He use to have livestock, but found that bears would break into his chicken coops too often, simply to steal his chicken feed.  He has seen something like 8 bears just in his front lawn.  This really crushes my dreams of raising quail and muscovies.  At least I can refocus some of my energy on projects that are not destined to fail or attract unwanted visitors. 

This puts a small hamper on my ability to create a fully self sustaining homestead, but I have come up with another gameplan.  I'm not scrapping everything that I have planned prior, just doing a pivot with some of the details.  In addition to trying to grow veggies on my shade farm, I found out that I have the perfect ecosystem for moss.  I have an absolute ton of it on my property.  Looking at the prices online, I can see that it is quite lucrative.  All I need to do is perfect the ways to propagate it, and I should have infinite sources of different mosses.

It's intriguing that you can blend up the moss, and that signals the growth factor to start growing throughout the entire moss culture.  I am definitely going to utilize the water repelling ability of it for the roof of structures that I build, and even beehives that I plan to start.  If I can not bank on raising all of my own food, I can at least plan on selling some high value plants to supplement my income.  I was surprised at the sheer number of things that moss is used for.  I think it would make a unique farmer's market booth, as I haven't seen moss being sold at any that I have visited. 



Others have brought up several of your neighbor's Missteps, those happen to be huge mistakes (especially taking the LGD's away) when you have large wild life in the area.
First off, do not become discouraged, you can have your dream, it will just take planning and perseverance along with following your daily routine so as to not forget to button up everything every night.
I know folks in Alaska that do it and they deal with not only black bear but Grizzly and Moose along with Wolves. If they can keep their animals safe throughout the year (and they do) then you should have no problem doing so too.
Being off grid means you will be making your own electricity since they don't make Ice Chests these days, and you have options depending on wind, cloudy days, running water nearby. This will be part of your planning.
Bear are very powerful animals, so thick walls should be the norm., my Alaskan friends build log houses that do take some attacks by grizzlies now and then, bears are territorial, if your neighbor saw 8, most likely it was the same one or two at most, seen repeatedly.
So, if you have two bears that have become accustomed to finding food, you have to get that food stored so they can't get at it. Once they have tried a few times, they will figure out that the source of easy grub is gone and they will be gone as well.
If you were on their migration path, that migration time would be when they would try to destroy buildings they perceive as being in their way.
If you aren't on such a path, then you might not ever see them again once they have found out there is no easy meal to be had.
Remember always that bears can sniff out food (or any thing else) from miles away, literally.

Chickens should not be kept where the food for them is kept, the feed should also be inside a rat proof metal can that is inside a well built, thick walled and doored feed shed that is locked every night or better all the time you are not inside it.
The same goes for any other livestock.
LGD's are very good at keeping all but the most determined (usually caused by being in starvation mode) wild animal away, but they have to always be on patrol.
If you have coyotes in the area, be sure to have at least 3 LGD's, you need a small  pack so that if coyotes come along your dogs will survive the encounter, one dog verses two coyotes is a dead dog, add more coyotes and that is a certainty. 

If you want to grow moss as a commercial venture, pm me, I can help you with how to get set up and how to propagate mosses.

Redhawk
 
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