Philip Green

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since Dec 13, 2011
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Recent posts by Philip Green

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!

I second this! I've got a Lab/Malamute mix dog that is great with my goats and guards them quite well. Granted he also plays games of chase with them and will occasionally put his mouth around their neck during play. But he hasn't ever harmed a goat and he spends all nights and most days with them (have had him for about 2 years).

I think dogs are as much (if not more) about training as about breeding (I'm actually more of a fan of mutts than pure bred). If you want a LGD get a puppy and make sure it spends plenty of time around whatever animals it will be guarding. Doing that is probably more important than whatever breed you have. That is not to say that breeding is meaningless, just that it is not as all important as some make it out to be.

The main quality my lab/malamute lacks that many LGD's have is laziness. He likes to run and play at least 6 hours per day, which means he doesn't exactly sit around and watch and guard very well. He does however go on (and sometimes lead) hikes with the goats (the pasture is about 4 acres). And he does take off running to an area when ever he hears a commotion. So he is pretty effective at chasing anything away. Scares hawks away from the chickens (I am convinced he has no clue that he is defending the chickens, he just wants to play with the hawk) and scares anything away from the goats (I think he does understand he is defending the goats) - he is friends with the goats, the chickens are more of an acquaintance (but he doesn't kill them).

So basically I would look for a low-energy breed puppy and train from there. If it's a non-hunting breed all the better. But provided they spend a lot of time with the animals they are supposed to be guarding I think you can train any breed to be a LGD. I think getting a LGD breed may increase your odds (say 99% of LGD breed dogs can be trained - if gotten as a puppy - to be a good LGD and 85% of non-LGD breed dogs can be trained - if gotten as a puppy - to be good LGD's... I just made those numbers up), but you don't have to get a LGD breed.
10 years ago

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.

I'd like to see a picture if you can find it. It sounds good if it can be done. I was thinking perhaps a very low gate that the dog could squeeze through but goats or sheep wouldn't. That wouldn't stop pigs... But at least in my area pigs are probably the least needing of a LGD (there are wild pigs in the area that are - unfortunately according to most people - doing just fine).
10 years ago
This is a theoretical question at the moment, but one which seems not to have been discussed much.

Suppose you run a paddock shift system with multiple animals in separate paddocks. Is there a way to give dogs access to a paddock without the other animals escaping? This would allow a dog to freely roam a property while also being able to get into a paddock and provide protection if needed.

For Chickens, ducks, geese and other small animals you could have a heavy hanging object (or a spring door) on hinges that a dog could push through, but that the smaller animals wouldn't be able to put enough force on to open.

For larger animals like cattle or horses, a section of fence could have a large enough gap to allow a dog to fit through (that gap could be covered with something the dog had to push open so the paddock could also be used for chickens etc...)

Where I'm lost is on sheep, pigs and goats that are of a similar size/dexterity to a dog. I have goats right now and my dog (who is about the same size as the goats, maybe a few inches shorter) can get in and out of their pasture by going under the fence. The goats haven't figured this out, but I'm not sure how reliable of a solution that would be long term. I'm curious if anyone has solutions or ideas for what could be done. In an ideal world I'd like to have 5+ types of animals in separate rotating paddocks and dogs that are free to roam and can access any paddock as needed to provide protection.
10 years ago

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

Why not Kudzu? It would effectively compete and is edible. If/when it starts to take over, cut it back and eat it (and/or dig up the roots and eat them to).
10 years ago

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.


That does help, thanks. I've been thinking of giving a hoop shelter a try (mostly because they are light and thus more mobile) and this gives some ideas for design. Do you do anything special (insulate more) for winter? It seems like this could be easily setup to hold multiple types of livestock at once (chickens, goats, pigs etc...) Then perhaps have a smaller hoop shelter or two for separating the livestock into different pastures as needed.
10 years ago

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.

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.
10 years ago

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.

I understand the cost of many of these things... I've fenced 5 acres, I might be able to fence 91 for under $8,000 if I did it myself and bought cheap material and used trees instead of fence post... That's why I'm trying to come up with alternatives. I think dropping trees in a 20-25 foot swath and leaving them lie would stop most domesticated animals. In my experience fencing is as much about being a good deterrent as it is about actually keeping a animal in. I've had fencing where the animal could get out without too much effort, but as long as they are happy inside (good food, around people, at home - whatever their reason) they won't leave. It would also be more of a last line of defense (for if they escape the internal fencing). I don't think it would keep wild animals out, but I think it could serve as a last barrier of defense to keep domesticated animals in (and it might also keep dogs and humans out). I plan to have a LGD (or 3) so I'm not worried about wild animals. I also imagine that bordering a state forest will actually (in many cases) mean fewer animals not more. Nature (or humans with hunting licenses and guns in the case of deer) will have kept them in a better balance and they will have a lot more food sources.

Same with the bridge, that would cost a lot to build well (out of concrete or such). But I think laying down a few long locust poles and using posts to hold them in the ground (then laying plywood or perhaps planks across it) would hold up to cars... It might not hold up to a major flood (though I think I could build it so it would - might take a few years of experimentation to get it perfect though), but it would be cheap to replace.

I've had success on craigslist getting used vehicles. I think a used tractor would be fine. True it might not have everything that I wanted. But as a temporary measure it could work. The good thing about a tractor is that they hold their value reasonably well (unless they break down and are unfixable - or prohibatively expensive to fix). So if I bought a cheap $5000-6000 tractor I could resell it for $4000-5000 in a few years than upgrade. I think in the long run that would still be cheaper than renting one out every time I needed one. Especially since there are so many little things - hauling items or logs or carrying heavy/moving heavy objects - that it's not really worth renting a tractor for, but that would be incredibly useful.

I think if I spent $15,000 on this project and came out with nothing, I would still be happier knowing I had tried than be sitting in an office somewhere wishing I had tried (I'm also a believer that our economy is going to collapse soon anyway, so might as well spend my money while it has value). I also think that as long as I do things intelligently, the majority of possible investments (with the possible exception of a craigslist tractor - or a poorly built/placed house) would still be valuable even if my initial plan fails. Worst case scenario the land will still be there in 4/5 years and if I've planted a bunch of trees and maybe added in some hugelkultur already, than if I have to leave and get a real job, the land will just be improving itself while I am gone.

Also @Cortland... I do agree completely with your advise no to take on 91 acres all at once. At most I will be starting with 5-10 acres. And if that is a success I will take my chainsaw out a clear patches in other area and plant some seeds. But no major managing.

I do appreciate both of your advice. I might be being too optimistic about what I can do in a short time. But I think as long as I keep a fairly flexible plan than I can adjust based on my initial experiences. I'm also hopefull that my wildcrafting experience (and the nearby State forest - which it is legal to harvest most plants from) will provide at least a small initial source of income (and I know it would provide at the very least a reduced food bill - because I've done that before).

@Adam, unfortunately (or fortunately) the vast majority of my experience is in plant biology/botany and especially in plant identification. This is extremely useful for wildcrafting and was what got me into permaculture, but is not so useful for getting a job in the winter. Most of the internships/short term jobs I can get are during the growing season... It's hard to ID plants when they are all dead. I may have more success finding an unrelated local part-time (or full time) job at a nearby town. I'm a huge follower of the set it up and leave it method though (I've had quite a bit of success with that on my moms 5 acres), so it would be the extreme version of leaving it. There are also some things easier in winter (southern Ohio doesn't get extreme winters, generally 3-4 inches of snow on the ground is considered a major storm and it will melt in a week or two), fewer plants in the way and the cool weather make things like putting in fencing and chainsaw work easier a lot of the time.
10 years ago

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 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 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.

Hi Cortland, thank you for the information. Very useful things for me to think about. I am being optimistic for a reason. I essentially have 3 possible plans. One is move to the area, improve it over the fall/winter and be able to make enough of an income from it - and wildcrafting - in the spring to support myself (pretty unlikely), the second is to do the same but get a job in a nearby town/city and improve it over the next year or two (or three or four) with that income until I make enough to quit the job - probably the most likely. The third is to do the same for the first six months, than leave the land for the summer to take a 6 month internship/temporary job in plant biology (a field I have a fair amount of experience in and which I can almost certainly get a 5-6 month position and save around $7000-8000 to then invest into the land). I am being optimistic as I would prefer one of the first two options.

My list is not a detailed plan, but more of a list of things I would like to do (if I had more money) in the first 6 months. I plan to plant a lot of trees from seed and get a lot from sources (family/friends) that are basically free. I will probably spend far over $500 on plants in the first 5-10 years, but I think it is a reasonable amount to spend in the first year. Hugelkutur would not be for trees, but for beginning a annuals/perrenials garden of forbs. Trees are not a good initial source of income, so I would be starting them, but also using hugelkultur to grow veggies/perennials etc...

I understand the concept of waiting a year before really doing much to the land. But I don't intend to follow it. I think I am familiar enough with the area (I've lived in Southern Ohio for about 23 of my 26 years and have a degree in plant biology and am fairly experienced with wildcrafting) that I can skip the step for at least a portion of the land (realistically/optimistically the most I will deal with in the first year is probably only 5-10 acres anyhow - unless I get outside help) - that's not to say I know everything or even most of what there is too know about the land, but I do have a large step-up on someone who knows nothing. I have been watching craigslist and in the area around $7000 is not unrealistic for a tractor with a backhoe attachment (in fact there is currently listed a 1977 tractor with backhoe for $4000) - though craigslist does involve a bit of luck and prayer in getting a good quality item. Granted it would be an old tractor, but if it runs I think it would be a worthwhile first year investment. I'm of the opinion that the savings are worth the risk in buying a used tractor (and if it died in 3-4 years hopefully I'd be making enough money by then to replace it with something better).

You do have a good point on building a structure between the creek and the road. I'd have to wait until spring to see how bad the flooding is and see if I can find a way to mitigate it before I'd put a structure there.

10 years ago