Jay Green wrote:I didn't take any pics, but that ugly brown dog with the squirrel in his mouth is a sheep cuddler born and true. He even licked the ewe's butts for them every chance he got and they would just stand there and lift the tail for him. They played tag every evening, first the sheep chased the dog, then the dog would chase the sheep. When a lamb was born, he would sound the alarm and summon me to the event..and this from a dog that rarely ever barks but does a lot of "talking" all the same. He and the lambs were boon companions and slept together, ate together and played together.
My GP/lab mix gal never had the rapport with the sheep that the Lab/BC mix dog did. She tolerated the sheep, she guarded the sheep...but she didn't love the sheep like Ol' Jake loved the sheep. Jake mourned the day they were sold and had much to say about it all, none of it pleasant. Lucy, the GP dog, was barely tolerant of the sheep and all their behaviors.
That blind spot that people have and preconceived notions of breed characteristics vs. individual dog characteristic is amusing to me. I also had three dogs that were high prey, bird dog breeds that never harmed a chicken in their lives. Only one would fetch anything, though they all three had retriever blood in them. The GP/lab mix girl was scared to death of cows and horses...deathly scared. How does a LGD get scared of livestock? Not sure.
The point is, not all LGD breeds are good LGDs and not all mutts are what they are presumed to be. The first pure Lab farm dog I had was an excellent herd dog~more responsive than any herding breed I've seen and with less noise or motion, excellent with all livestock, licked and loved on the meat rabbit kits, good in every way for livestock and home protection.
That LGD elitism is always a source of amusement to me!
R Scott wrote:Guys build special gates with a triangular shape notch (point down V) the dogs can jump through but the goats can't. They are also used for those that put out a self-feeder for the dog food. I will see if I can scrape up a picture.
David Miller wrote:I'm currently under invasion from Morning Glory (VA, Zone 7b, high clay soil) and I'm searching for a vine that will compete with the morning glory that is currently overrunning me! I'd prefer an edible but would settle for something sterile or just something that wouldn't climb everything like kudzu. This stuff is even trying to kill my trees! I don't spray so Fukuoka is my usual inspiration
Jackson Webb wrote:
Philip Green wrote:
Can I ask what your hoop shelter is made from? I know goats are rather rough on shelters and a lot of what I've read about them (and my own experience) involves collapsed hoop shelters.
I used 3/4" conduit that was bent on a hoophouse hand-bender for a greenhouse. I used some leftover 12' 2x6's to make a base. I thru-bolted the hoops to the boards with some carriage bolts. There was 1 ridge pole at the top. I laced a very cheap blue tarp with some 1/4" nylon line to for a 2 sided structure.
The goats themselves didn't destroy it. The worst they would do is to play with the string and unlace 1 section of the tarp. Never enough to make it blow off or anything like that. Thunderstorms on the other hand destroyed it 1 time. I patched it back and its holding up. v2 will have a larger diameter pipe (like 1-3/8"), swaged joints at the top of the hoops, 2 purlins on the sides, some 45* supports for the base and some wheels/handle to move it by hand easier. Hopefully all that will make the structure stand up to the weather a bit better. Might be a touch heavier though...
I found that moving them every few days really got rid of a lot of the "plotting" the goats did. They were more interested in figuring out how to get a low-hanging branch into their mouth or finding delectable weeds in the grass than they were with being escape artists or wrecking the few items in their paddock.
I also briefly considered having 2-3 smaller shelters (like a 5' tall by 6' wide hoop) and moving those. I thought they might be more stout, but given the materials I have the larger house is more in my budget.
Hope that helps.
Jackson Webb wrote:First post, I figured I would share my experiences with goats and grass.
I have been doing a mob/strip grazing scheme with about 13 goats (7 Angora, 2 Nigerian and 4 Nubians) with the goals of:
1.) Saving money on feed. I got very tired of doing/buying hay.
2.) Improving the quality of the fiber. Without dirt paddocks to lay on hopefully the dirt-load in the fiber would be less.
3.) Improving soil fertility. I was aiming to get vigorous regrowth and have more carbon deposited into the soil through the periodic trimming of the grass and also the deposition of the goat urine/feces directly to the pasture.
Things have been going pretty well with roughly 6 paddocks on a total of about .6 of an acre. My average stay on a paddock according to my spread sheet was about 4 days. The average period of rest was "only" 20 days. Within that 20 days the grass would go from roughly 3" to about 8-10". If the goats left an uneven cut or I was uncomfortable with the potential for parasites I would mow the paddock they just left to roughly 3". Also I would wait for the grass to regrow to roughly 6" and mow to keep the parasite load (hopefully) to a minimum. I have a 12'x12' hoop shelter I attached skids and a tarp to. I can move it alone but its a bit easier with 2 people. There is a small mineral feeder in the shelter as well. Water was close enough to just have on a hose fill-up every 2 moves. I used Premier fencing with a solar energizer.
For the most part I can reliably say I have hit all three goals. I am still waiting on soil tests to confirm the fertility goal, I know for sure I have saved money and have cleaner wool. Also I found the goats became much more active, their feet are much healthier and they are generally "happier" doing their thing all day. Also, since they are not in the same place, I don't have to touch poop/pee/bedding mix which is great for me. I did have to de-worm 1 goat who is prone to worms. The rest skipped their typical de-worm schedule and still have not had symptoms of worms.
- We have had an enormous amount of rain for the season since roughly March of '13 till now for my area. I can't say how much that played into regrowth times, but I am guessing a whole lot.
- When the weather got too hot for the fiber goats we transitioned to edge-forage along a friends hayfield. I don't have a whole growing season on grass alone to know if the .6 acre could support my goats in a period of dry, hot and slow growth of grass without abusing it.
- I will probably change my schedule to "run out" of grass more often and in those periods of hot-dry slow/no-growth move to more edge-forage. Giving more rest to the grass and avoiding the parasites, while also cleaning up some brush on a yearly basis. Also, the goats enjoy mixing up browse/graze.
Hope this helps. Again, limited experience (since April 11, 2013) but I am going to attempt to keep them "out" on forage/pasture until my "persephone" period in early December till late February. I attached a few photos where you can see the before/after and the shelter. That was earlier in the first rotation and the brown old-growth was eventually kinda trampled into the soil. I don't have a photo, but now its all very lush and green.
Cortland Satsuma wrote:@Adam
Thank you. Your input is very wise and I for one appreciate it.
On number 7; my thought behind that was he should not throw good money after bad money on questionable equipment off of CL. I am a huge fan of CL; but, I know its limits. We did look into that route and found that to be the case for us. I do not believe a 1977 unit would have a PTO; and, many of the older models do not have the needed attachment nor are they available. Currently, we are in the rent or hire as needed category. As our long term plans require a tractor and attachments for so many things, I just could not fathom managing the acres Philip is going to be dealing with so dreadfully under tooled.
I very much agree with the access bridge issue. I did not mention it since it would be all he can afford and I feared he would reject the sound advice. If he lives there for a season with his log bridge in an RV; he may rethink the seriousness of the access issue. Personally, I passed on a similar property with a bridge in (it clearly flooded over the bridge during the wet season). But, each to his own.
Our property is a similar size to yours and was purchased as a foreclosure with a decent home on it. We had to prioritize investing in the home as there were issues that would become huge money pits if left unattended. We work for other income as well and there is just not enough time to get every project done with the two of us; on our little property. It has taught us a lot of humility! And, if we had waited a year we would have saved so much; topography varies greatly from parcel to parcel our general area knowledge was totally inadequate and cost us dearly. And, we did start slow to avoid those losses...and, failed. We have changed what is going to be done when based on the realities of this specific property. Nature and soil vary greatly from ink and paper.
As to the living fence idea it does sound so wonderful; we were so happy that this property we bought is completely surrounded in exactly such a manner! Yeah! No need for a perimeter fence, right?! WRONG, oh so WRONG. The first week I moved in the heard of deer, who happily race through all the thorns and tangle and dense trees, were peering in our downstairs windows, wandering on the deck, etc. Then there are the bunnies, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, skunks, weasels, birds, turkeys, geese, and bears. And we live in a township area...not backed up to a national forest. I immediately ditched all plans to continue increasing our living fence and began planning ones that would actually protect our investments. Having bought goats for clearing taught us how to build a fence...if it keeps the goats out, we did good!
I agree with your encouragement on developing a plan. Good objectives and lofty goals are only achieved with a fluid yet firm plan. One that has cost factors properly accounted for. The first year of observing can be well spent drafting and fine tuning a realistic business plan.
Cortland Satsuma wrote:@Philip
You have done a great job of identifying your objectives and are off to a good start! I do see some immediate concerns. The obvious...you are woefully under capitalized to tackle 91 acres and you are very optimistic on your expenses. That being said, if you add some years to you your basic plan a lot is doable. My advise (for what its worth) is:
1. Do nothing with 95% of the land the first 12 months...observe ONLY. You will save a ton of money, time, and effort if you do so. Your hugel plan needs to be done with full knowledge of the land and the weather patterns. Keep in mind, trees are planted at hugel edges, not on top.
2. Looking at your plot plan, regardless of the percentage you do decide to tackle, I would leave the area that is basically a box alone; focus on a workable area near the stream and road. I would not waste time on the pond now...it could be totally in the wrong place! Wait until you are certain what really works with this land, then dig out a pond where it should be and do it correctly.
3. Do not waste time, money, and effort on a structure you are unsure of a safe location for. If it was me, I would find the cheapest 3 or 4 season RV/trailer/5th wheel/single wide I could find. My plan would be it would become scrap; or, if lucky, converted to a mobile market.
4. Fence in the area near the stream (water source) for safety of seedlings from nibblers and livestock. Goats could them be loose (with goat house) in the 85 plus acres working on clearing...they are amazing!
5. I am not sure how to explain your plant / seed investment. On the 12 acres I am working on, when "done" we will have bought over 6,000 trees! Even as seedlings from the forestry department, the cost would be several times your budget.
6. Buy seedlings that do not have tap roots; plant out of flood zone of stream, irrigated by stream. Use as temporary nursery until you know where you want them.
7. Consider financing the correct tractor with ALL needed attachments with a large down payment. We are struggling without a tractor; VERY high priority to get ASAP for us...I do not see you making it without it.