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Animals in the Orchard  RSS feed

 
Don Eggleston
Posts: 42
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Just discovered this site.  I've been fascinated with Permaculture for 30 years.  Here are some ideas:

I've been experimenting with chickens in my apple orchard.  Most of the local diseases and bugs are under control organically, except for the coddling moth, so I built a portable summer home for the chickens in the fenced in orchard hoping they would pick off the moths or pupae.  I've tried the commercial pheremone traps (never caught anything) and now I'm experimenting with a homemade molasses/amonia/cider vinegar mix in a gallon jug.  Does anyone have experience with chickens supressing coddling moths?

On a related note, I've been experimenting with sheep in my orchards also.  Since most of my trees are semi-dwarf, the sheep ate the leaves of the lower branches at first.  With the evergreen trees --guavas, avocados, citrus and blackberries -- I found I could keep the sheep from eating the leaves for three weeks with the commercial rotten egg deer repellent.  (The hot sauce deer repellent didn't work.)  Since the pome fruit and stone fruit trees defoliate in the winter, the sheep don't bother them during their dormant season.  Thus, I keep the grass and weeds down in the orchards with no work beyond occasional spraying of lower branches of the trees the lambs favor, and I harvest a lamb or two for the freezer in the fall.

Other permaculture ideas I'm working on: 

Graywater draining onto kiwis, which need much more water than my drip system provides to the other trees. 

We lost a litter of pet bunnies to heat (97 degrees) a few years back, so I planted a grape and put an arbor over the cages.  We barely get enough heat here (foggy in Santa Cruz, CA) for the grapes to ripen, so spreading out over a hot tin roof should provide ripe grapes and cool bunnies.

This one is pretty common:  I get wood chips at the municipal dump for $7/ pickup load and pile them in the chicken coop.  I spray them down occasionally and throw out a little cracked corn.  Chickens poop and mix it up nicely, and when I spade over a shovelful, there is an infinite number of worms for a high-protien lunch.

I've got 24-hour mosquito abatement:  Violet green swallows are very clean and I've got maybe 5 active nests on our exterior walls.  Then, at night, the bats take over.  We have cedar shakes on the exterior, and they live in the shakes.  We don't get any bites from mosquitoes.

I have a barn owl nest and a sparrow hawk (kestrel) nest which are still unoccupied.  They are intended to tackle my worst remaining pest problem, which is gophers.

Deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, etc., have not been a problem since we got our Australian Shepherd.  Every couple of weeks there is a scout that probes the perimeter of our property, which results in a terrible racket for a half hour or so, and then subsides.  Haven't lost a chicken to predators or a rose to deer for years.

When not in the orchards, I chain up one lamb and let the others roam in the yard.  As long as I have sprayed deer repellent on the roses, blueberries, and few other kinds of vegetation that the sheep like, they stay in the same area because of their need to be together.  So, I haven't used the lawn mower for over a year.  Sheep don't provide as clean a cut as a lawn mower, but that's OK with me.

Thanks for the resources here.  I'm enjoying reading others' experiences.

UnkleDon
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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sounds like a beautiful property and set up.

 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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It is amazing how well Mother Nature works if we allow her to.  It seems that the more mankind interferes, the more off-balance things get.
 
Michael Radelut
Posts: 204
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
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Don wrote:
When not in the orchards, I chain up one lamb and let the others roam in the yard.  As long as I have sprayed deer repellent on the roses, blueberries, and few other kinds of vegetation that the sheep like, they stay in the same area because of their need to be together.  So, I haven't used the lawn mower for over a year.  Sheep don't provide as clean a cut as a lawn mower, but that's OK with me.

UnkleDon


Have you considered using Shropshire sheep, and save the deer repellent ?

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Deer and all kinds of other varmints come into the yard even though our Border Collie is running loose in the yard during the day.  She plays tag with the deer; they've learned not to take her seriously.  She's tried to play tag with a baby skunk, twice, with the expected results. 
 
Don Eggleston
Posts: 42
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Thanks for the responses. 

To Hugel:  Why shropshire sheep?  I presume they would also eat blueberries, blackberries, avocados, and citrus.  Of course, I guess all sheep prefer grass, but they seem to need some variety, and that can mean stripping a tree.  The sheep I have are a straight meat breed, called Dorper and Painted Desert.  They shed easily, so I don't have to shear the ewes that I keep for breeding.

To H Ludi:  I bet your border collie is a puppy.  After a year or so, it should get territorial, especially if you leave it out at night.

Don
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9691
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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She's about six years old.  We don't leave her out at night because of skunks and porcupines.  She's territorial but not aggressive toward other animals - she just chases them but they seem to know she won't attack.  She spends most of the day chasing squirrels and deer, but can't be everywhere at once. 

 
                              
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Great work!
 
Marissa Little
Posts: 63
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We tried guineas in the orchard but found it too much work to clip their wings to keep them in.

And our trees are still a bit small.  All of the apples were stolen by the chickens.

I like the wood chip idea, I'm going to try that one in the coop!
 
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