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Layering Species - my plan

 
Posts: 10
Location: Southern Oregon
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I have a plan with a hole in it. This spring I plan to put in an elderberry orchard. My idea is to also plant nitrogen fixers between the rows, deep mulch (wood chips?) under the trees, chickens and guineasfree range, bees everywhere, mushrooms in the wood chips, mushroom logs also under some trees, comfrey and other nutrient scavengers scattered around, medicinal herbs along the fences, etc.

What I'm missing is an animal to graze between the rows. From what I'm reading, sheep like elderberry leaves, so mi idea of them acting as lawn mowers is now in question. Goats don't like it as much, but goats are problematic in other ways. We are not ready for large stock yet, so cows, horses aren't an option.

Does anyone know if sheep would really be a problem? Would they eat back the bushes or just nibble on them?

Any other ideas for grazers that mow and fertilize and that would not ruin the bushes?
 
pollinator
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Location: Henry County Ky Zone 6
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Sheep would eat anything they can reach and may eat the bark. Geese are supposed to be good grazers. Heritage Turkeys do some grazing you would need to clip flight feathers.
 
pollinator
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How big is the space between the rows are we talking silvopasture 60ft+ spacing or the usual 20ft between rows/trees.
Not having more info, I would recommended ducks.
 
Daniel Bowden
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Kris schulenburg wrote:Sheep would eat anything they can reach and may eat the bark. Geese are supposed to be good grazers. Heritage Turkeys do some grazing you would need to clip flight feathers.



Great to know! We had 2 sheep a long time ago, but they were always in a pen.

Geese... Not sure on that one. I plan to make the orchard a U-pick operation, so I'm not sure I want aggressive geese on my grass. Otherwise they donsound good, as do ducks.

Regarding turkeys, would domestics be at risk of disease from the wandering flocks of wild turkeys that cross our property?
 
Daniel Bowden
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Location: Southern Oregon
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S Bengi wrote:How big is the space between the rows are we talking silvopasture 60ft+ spacing or the usual 20ft between rows/trees.
Not having more info, I would recommended ducks.



About 16' between rows, which will be more like hedges than spaced orchard trees. They'll follow contour under a high, open canopy of oak, madrone, fir, and pine. It is currently a wild and wooly woodlot, so plenty of poison oak, wild vines, etc to deal with even after we remove most of the trees this winter. My goal is to get 6' wide grassy lanes between the berms of wood chips that the trees will be planted in.
 
gardener
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Daniel Bowden wrote:

Geese... Not sure on that one. I plan to make the orchard a U-pick operation, so I'm not sure I want aggressive geese on my grass.



Considering that you're U-Pick operation would have people on-site just a fraction of the year (at most, about 3 or 4 months ), it wouldn't be that difficult to separate humans from geese during the picking season.  Clip their wings and fence them in with electrified netting.  Move them to fresh grass daily, and keep them out of the lanes where people are picking.

Joel Salatin talks about turkeys being a keystone species that does more to regenerate the land than any other bird or animal.  They could be a significant value-added enterprise to your operation.  Some people pre-sell birds like this: "If you want to assure that you get your free-range heritage breed turkey for next Thanksgiving, pre-pay by July 1."   Sell them at $50 a bird.  If sales are slow and you don't sell all your birds, then next year increase the price to $75.

If it were me, I'd go with chickens.  Free-range layers are a big income producer, and they do a nice job of keeping the grass short.  My wife sells a dozen eggs for $6 to the people at work and they are thrilled to get them.  Free-range, heritage breed brown eggs, no GMO's and 24-hours old/fresh, if we had 30 more birds, she'd still sell them all.  And chickens are the easiest thing in the world to raise.

Are you familiar with Stefan Sobkowiak's "Miracle Farm" up in Quebec?  If not, you'll be wise to check out how he farms his U-pick operation and integrates livestock within.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3riW_yiCN5E

 
Daniel Bowden
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Location: Southern Oregon
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Hey Marco, I finally got around to watching that video. Thanks! That is kind of what I have in mind, only my vision was not nearly as expansive. Now I'm inspired to look for more plant species to integrate.
 
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