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danny dineen

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since Apr 27, 2013
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Recent posts by danny dineen

I have a well, and due to my location out in the off-grid boonies, I am fortunate enough to be free from too much agribusiness. However my land is pretty arid, and we only get about 20 inches a year. I am developing my water catchment system currently -- should I be planning to drink my well water, or should I be collecting rainwater, then supplementing it with minerals? Without a spring, which is the better option? It seems the well...right now.
7 years ago
And just to add my own +1 to the mulberry discussion...we live in Thermalands, CA, which is outside of Lincoln, CA and very dry and arid. The mulberries love it here! We also have Nubian milk goats, and the mulberry branches are there absolute favorite fodder. As I understand it, the mulberries are nitrogen-fixing, deep rooted, drought resistant, make excellent forage, grow incredibly fast, and make wonderful shade trees. Permaculture at its finest. Go mulberry!
7 years ago
I really love this thread and would like to keep it alive with my own experience. Here at Dragon Hour Farm & Ferment we have raised Mangalitsas, American Guinea Hogs, and Berkshires all raised on rotated pasture (thanks in part to the wonderful knowledge on these forums) -- each breed we fed prodigious amounts of acorns to finish in the last 3 months, along with cherries, kale, whey, and spent barley from the local brewery. The pork from the berkshires was good, but the mangalitsas and guinea hogs were the finest I've ever eaten, and have made me an obsessed pig farmer. I am consistently amazed at the differences in genetics of these breeds...especially between the lard pigs vs. the berkshires. The mangalitsas and guinea hogs were far superior in flavor, especially when we cured the meat using traditional charcuterie methods. The fat is really the difference...

I've also eaten Jamon Iberico de Belotta and love it dearly. But personally, I believe that a well-raised Mangalitsa or American Guinea Hog, raised on pasture finished on lots of fruits, nuts, whey, and greens, can be just as good if not superior to Jamon Iberico de Belotta. I'm just a beginner, and wholeheartedly think mine were better than those Ibericos I've eaten. I fully encourage you to keep on with your enthusiasm and your experiment. Greatness need not bound in by mere appellation.

Moving forward, the one thing I will do different is start cross breeding the mangalitsas and guinea hogs with eachother and other heritage breeds. In my experience, the mangalitsas do take significantly longer to get to maturity, about a year and a half, and the guinea hogs are simply less meat -- they are small! But both those breeds have such wonderful fat...and temperments. The berkshires just got to market weight so freaking fast -- 5-6 months! So many possibilities. So much pork to eat!

7 years ago
I heartily recommend american guinea hogs.

We've also raised berkshires and mangalitsas, and for our climate (wet and green in the winter, hot and arid in the summer), and our needs (we are an off the grid fledgling permaculture homestead with lots of beginner knowledge, enthusiasm and ignorance), the guinea hog has been our favorite. I think they are an excellent choice for a permaculture/homestead style farm for several reasons. Compared to berkshire (the american pink pig), their temperament is absolutely wonderful. Very friendly, and not escape artist-prone at all -- easy to shepherd from pasture to pasture with one strand of hotwire. They grow fat on pasture, and root for tubers and field mice dens with zest! Their meat is second to none, and very easy to harvest yourself because of their size. You should prepare for lots of fat to render, and you should use it for everything! If you are worried about them being smaller in stature and therefore less meat, this is true, and to that, I say, raise more of them! Best of luck. Also, +1 on W. Jeffries info on rooting behavior being related to pasture management. Even the berkshire pigs we rescued from less-than-ideal conditions turned into ferocious plowing pigs when you get them on open land and good dirt. However, I will say this, those guinea hogs pack on the lbs like nothing else. Like the mangalitsas, they are old world LARD PIGS. Better get your pate and charcuterie chops ready!

7 years ago
Congratulations, Paul! That's a lot of land. And I thought might 15 acres was a handful. Best of luck finding good folks and not stabbing eachother.
7 years ago
Cast iron in the water trough! Woah. Thats awesome! Yeah, it seems soil is answer to everything isn't it?

Where we are we have wonderfully mild winters and ferociously hot and dry summers. In the winter the soil turns luscious with worms and water and goodies, and the summer it's a clay brick. Making up for deficiencies with seasonal drought resistant fukoaka seed ball cereals combined with salatin rotational style seems to be the key to good pastures for pigs here.
7 years ago
We just rescued 8 guinea hen eggs from a nest that our four hens and rooster abandoned. Put them in the incubator, and presto! 8 guineakeets!

We love our guinea hens here at the farmstead. They keep the ticks down, you don't really have to give them much in the way of shelter, and they just parade around, serenading us at dawn and dusk. You get used to their sounds pretty quick. Tough birds, those guineas. Heartily recommended.

http://mulchutopia.tumblr.com/post/49179496141
http://mulchutopia.tumblr.com/post/49178978132

7 years ago
You know that is a really good point. The boar was a bit of a rescue: he came over with a sow and barrow, basically rescued from an old-timer farmer who I believe had them in a pretty small pen. Surely, they weren't pastured and happy as my pigs are. They'd never even seen an apple before! And yes, the mangalitsas are absolutely wonderful. We got our two barrows from Shane Peterson in Fairfield, CA. The meat is absolutely bonkers.

I'll be curious to see if the taint lessens the more he is able to roam our pasture. Good soil cures all, seems like. Perhaps I should let our little pig men keep their manhood. It would save me the trouble of cutting off a beasts testicles, that's for sure. Now I'm just nervous about keeping brothers with sisters...but if they are going to be butchered before sexual maturity....then....it shouldn't be a problem. The only other challenge I can see is that the mangalitsas take a year and a half to get to optimal slaughter weight, which I'm guessing is past their initial sexual maturity...hmmm.

A side note: This has become a real conundrum I've found here on the farmstead. We are trying to do the right thing, get heritage breed animals and give them the best life, and yet we keep having folks offer us these "rescue" pigs, which are nice because they are "free" -- but we've already had to deal with one coming with a bunch of lice...and the diamataceous earth and just good soil seems to help with that...you hate to introduce the products of the bad farming practice to your farm, sigh.
7 years ago
I would also like to know the answer to this question. What do Sepp Holzer And Walter Jefferies do?
7 years ago
That being said, I really like what SUgar Mountain Farm has to say about the myths of boar taint. I'll be doing my own experiment when we eat this boar that has it. I'm particularly sensitive to the smell, myself. But honestly, if ever there is a chance I can do less work, and less animal surgery, I'll jump at it.
7 years ago