greg patrick

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since Mar 17, 2012
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Husband, father and urban rancher.
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SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Recent posts by greg patrick

OK, here's my almost two years later update: All the avocados died. I talked to a professional grower and he said they wont grow well on hard Colorado river water or with animal manure top dressing. I have two left in 20" hugel-boxes watered exclusively with rain water and fertilized with leaf mulch. So far so good.

All my young apples planted in or around woody soil are dieing of fire blight too. Must have been in some of the wood I brought in.

Chopped and dropped the pine.

But its not all bad news. My plumbs, apricots, olive and berries are thriving and the existing mature trees have never looked better. We have severe drought conditions and I've still cut watering down to every two to three weeks.

The main learning points for me were to give things some time, be very selective about the wood I bring in, and to plant trees well adapted to my poor dry soil.

9 years ago
1) Food scraps and yard waste go to the chickens and they water and flip their own deep litter. Goat pen muckings and leaves and coarsely chopped wood chunks go into three 1cu meter plastic pallet bins. Muckings consist of well mixed (chickens have run of the pens) urine soaked leaves, alfalfa waste and straw and goat pellets. Perfect mix of carbon and nitrogen and microbes starts breaking down on the ground and breaks down very quickly once in the bins.
2) During the dry season we'll pour black pond sludge over the piles to keep them moist. Chlorinated water kills off the microbes and slows things down.
3) We use a three stage system. Whenever we empty the last bin, we'll turn the other two into the next bin. In a perfect world each bin would be downhill from the previous so turning is easy.

We cover our piles with plastic and/or cardboard to retain/control moisture.

We place a piece of leachfield pipe vertically in each pile to help aerate them.

I pile a foot of sticks under each pile to allow air in.

We incorporate lots of wood into our compost. It's all white and moldy and wet by the time we even get t into the first pile (animal urine breaks down cellulose very effectively), and if I need fine dirt I just screen it. I really believe using lots of wood helps keep the compost moisture correct, and since I'm doing huglekulture anyway, I may as well get the wood breaking down and working ASAP.

We sprinkle dolomite and wood ash over the piles liberally as we build them.

We innoculate all piles with a good helping of finished compost or compost tea as we build them.

The first pile has mice and grubs, the second has lots of beetles and worms and the last pile is full of centipedes and worms.

When I build my growing beds I pile in wood, top it with finished compost, plant the seeds, then cover with a nice layer of wood chips.
10 years ago
We use re-mesh too, covered with whatever smaller meshed screen we can find (snow fence is pretty cheap and works well over re-mesh). Contact local concrete contractors as they usually order in bulk and can either get it for you or tell you who has it cheap. Metal recyclers and fencing companies always have used fence they'll sell you cheap. We pay .50 a pound, or about .50 a foot.

Another thing we do is wrap trees in hardware cloth or fine chicken wire once their too high to browse. Just staple it on. Works really well and is easier and cheaper than constructing tubes from remesh.
10 years ago
Since your still a way out from goatherding, here are two must have books:

Natural Goat Care by Coleby, and
Goat Husbandry by David MacKenzie .

Both invaluable. Coleby says that in a perfect world goats would eat only brush and trees. MacKenzie gives examples of how to raise goats in every conceivable format. The bottom line is goats are pretty fool proof and adapt to just about any climate or food conditions, so make sure they have something green to eat and some dolomite and Redmond salt licks and bicarbonate and kelp meal and ACV with some copper pipe in it and some free feed DE and you really can't go horribly wrong.
10 years ago
In four years the only diseases or problems we've had was: one kid with pneumonia. Classic cause of 100+ temps with high humidity when she was less than a week old. She's 100% healthy after a round of Tylan. One other goat had a high worm load when she arrived at our place and we gave her a single dose of chemical dewormer and now she's fine. Those were the only times I've ever treated my goats for anything. They're all super healthy.

According to several authors, and also my own experience, if goats get all the minerals they need they don't get worms. Trees and tree trimmings are high in minerals so they get everything they need from the leaves and bark. Goats run best on low energy/high mineral/ high volume feed. Trees and brush provide the correct balance, supplemented with some pasture plants like perslaine, plantain, wild radish, fennel, mule fat, Ox tonge, etc.

Bringing in tree trimmings also allows me to vary their browse more than I could with pasture or any standard ration. Goats are browsers, not grazers. When goats browse in my system they go over the trees for a few days, then move on. They won't touch food that hits the ground - they are extremely picky that way. Once it's on the ground I muck it into the compost bin. I provide mangers for the trees along the perimeter fences so they're easy to load and clear out, and so the goats don't soil their own food (which they then won't eat).

Compare that to grazing. Parasites climb up the grasses, especially wet/damp grass. When goats and especially sheep eat the grass they can ingest a high level of parasites. Goats should always have a manageable load of parasites in they're system; you never want to eliminate them all. Browsing keeps the balance; grazing overloads them.

And unlike eating rich pastures, goats never colic on trees.

Once every few weeks I sprinkle a handful of DE over the supplemental flake of alfalfa I give to my animals. When they're out browsing they eat 'toxic' plants like tobacco and eucalyptus and caster in small amounts to naturally de-parasite themselves. So I guess that was a very long answer, but no, I don't really do much for parasite control as we have no parasite problems.
10 years ago
I stopped graining my goats entirely. It's much easier for me to feed tree trimmings to two goats, each giving me a half gallon of very high quality, high CLA, high omega-3 milk vs having one goat 'pushed' to give the same amount of lower quality milk. Graining ruins the CLA and omega-3 in the milk.

Keeping two goats eating free food (tree trimmings) is cheaper than keeping one and feeding her expensive grain.

That's my 2c.
10 years ago
I'm one of those bare dirt guys you aren't supposed to listen to, but hear me out. You don't always have to put the goats on pasture, sometimes it's better to bring the pasture to the goats. I use a system very similar to Dave Holmgren and a friend and I are developing an intensive urban goat system that seems to work.

Goats need trees, not pasture. If you have access to tree trimmings (and you do, trust me) have the guys dump their loads in your paddocks. They'll do this for free or you might even charge them $50. The goats will mow through the trimmings and leave you with a big pile of sticks which you can then either burn or chip or hugleculture to improve your soil.

Think of it as mob grazing, except instead of moving your goats from paddock to paddock, you just dump in a new paddock every three days. I've been doing this with dairy goats and chickens for four years and it's incredibly effective.

100 goats + a few hundred chickens/acre, very high quality meat or milk.

Option two: rather than having 400 goats, limit yourself to 50 goats on a half acre and do something else with the other three and a half acres like planting a fruit orchard and stocking sheep under it.

Option three: Stock a little higher than the carrying capacity of the land and supplement with trees. The goats NEED the trees because trees have a higher mineral load than grass. Goats won't thrive on grass, they need trees to thrive.

10 years ago
I completely agree with the advice given by Renate. Let me share what I do with my does. I never give them grain except to train them. I bring in lots of tree trimmings. Right now they're eating chipped palm. Last week it was olive. The does in milk (standards) get a small flake of alfalfa a day to bump up milk production. I give them free feed dolomite, baking soda, Redmond salt block, and kelp (Iodine is probably the most important mineral during pregnancy). I also throw a piece of copper pipe in a bucket with some ACV, let is soak a bit, then top it up with water. Minerals will keep your kids from getting pneumonia, but if they do get sniffles and go off their feed, use Tylan. I also occasionally sprinkle DE over their alfalfa to help with parasites. I do a deep litter in my pens with all the dead leaves, sticks and straw, but I get zero summer rain so it works here. I muck out when rain is forecast.

I take my does for grazing walks daily; they won't want to go out the day they freshen so that will be your cue it's show time. They always wait for me to leave before they freshen.

I don't do anything when the kids come except help them latch if they're having trouble. Actually my own kids take care of that. De horn them on day two or three. I use an X-30 and it works great. You'll need a dwarf adapter. Have it on hand BEFORE you need it. Mom will probably bleed a little for a week or two. If mom doesn't eat the placenta, feed it to the chickens.

I always throw a bale of straw in the pen when I think it's about time, but they always drop the kids in a pile of poo. I think they must do this on purpose to get 'em covered in beneficial bacteria.

Since it's summer make sure you've got the flies under control. Provide lots of cinder blocks for the kids to bounce around on.

Don't be afraid to get in and handle the kids A LOT. We handle our kids as soon as they've gotten their first milk. They love the attention and will quickly bond to you. All our kids follow us around like little puppies.

Have fun, and post lots of pictures!
10 years ago
OK, maybe I'm just special, but what am I looking at? What is crow funding? Am I supposed to click on a link or something? How does this help me?
10 years ago
What are you feeding? We have goats, so my trees ARE my pasture. Cottonwoods and sycamores create massive amounts of food for them. Cottonwoods are great in wind.
10 years ago