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Jeff Mathias

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since Feb 19, 2009
Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Recent posts by Jeff Mathias

We only need to know what a seed needs to germinate and what the resulting plant needs to grow, and only the very basics of this are really necessary. But we only need to know these things because we desire success and are trying to manipulate things towards that success. The seed will germinate and the plant will grow when the environmental conditions are correct. Neither the seed nor the plant knows, cares, or needs us to know anything about the processes. They will do what they are supposed to do when the time is right. Sometimes they feed the wildlife and insects, sometimes they shrivel up and decompose returning their nutrients for others use, and sometimes they fulfill our desires.

Jeff

Happy 2016 Growing Season from Hunters Playground

Huntersplayground.com

Hi Tommy,

Check out the link below:
http://www.ecoresults.org/success_tiptons.html

The Tiptons of Mina,NV did exactly what you are talking about. Basically they spread seeds, covered in hay, mob grazed with a huge amount of cattle and then moved the cattle away and let nature finish the job. Also they did it on a gold mine site that others had already tried to remediate and failed. I would use a diverse mix of seeds and include vegetables, especially root crops.

Sounds Like a Beautiful Place!

Good Luck,

Jeff
3 years ago
Hi,

Look up Permaculture HA-HA fences. Basically a 2-3 meter wide ditch with very steep sides, elephants stay on one side and your farm or garden goes on the other.
Also do not over look the use of electric fencing, it has been effective in reducing human-elephant conflicts. The single largest problem you will have is the incredible sense of smell that an elephant has. Simply hiding desirable food items from view is not enough, you must also work to confuse their sense of smell and obscure the scent of the more desirable foods as well. Finally since they are already visiting you could also try to plant some of their favorites in other locations away from your farm (perhaps in the forest they come from) to help divert them away from your crops. I would imagine the Sepp Holzer "bone sauce" might be quite effective.

For best results I would HA-HA or electric fence my farm or garden area, both if possible. I would then plant lots of smelly plants out at the edges as well as interspersed throughout the garden. Beyond this I would work on creating the bone sauce and bone sauce everything I found reasonable at the borderline. I would then also work to plant some desirable food items for the elephants in a different location away from the farm or garden in a place of my choosing.

Good Luck,

Jeff
3 years ago
Hi,

If they are a volunteer fire department most likely they need the money, so a thank you card and any donation would be greatly appreciated, if their business meeting are open to the public that is a great place to present a card or certificate etc.
You might also consider joining, there is a lot more work to be done than just fire and rescue response at a VFD if being an EMT or firefighter is not for you, and in a rural area it is a great way to see and meet many of the neighbors you may not otherwise come into contact with.
There are some VFD's that are flush with money from donations and sometimes even property taxes but in general a VFD needs any help it can get. If money isn't possible see if there is any form of help they can use, maybe volunteer to help out at a local fund raiser, etc., there is always more work than people at such things. As a member of our local VFD we end up doing a lot more than just training and preparing for a response and any help from the public for things like building/equipment maintenance or staffing events is huge!

Thanks,

Jeff


3 years ago
Hi Jerry,

The electro-netting is really meant to protect the chickens inside from things getting to them from the outside; so the smaller spacing is actually to stop smaller predators like foxes which would not bother larger livestock like sheep. As you have found out electro-nets don't really deter birds much at all unless it is raining or they try biting on the netting. Unless you have a real need to keep the chickens out of an area I would not worry about it. They will get big enough to be contained by the fence eventually and if you have serious predators the chickens will learn that the fence is safe and stay within it.

On your charger: If I recall correctly for poultry netting you want .5 joules of charger per 165' of fence. So two sections would need a 1 joule charger at the minimum. Low impedance chargers are what you are looking for they are much more forgiving of shorts etc. The best way to check for shorts and know exactly what kind of charge you are getting anywhere on the fence is to get a fence tester. Remember none of this is really going to keep in the chickens though; as you have surmised the feathers are exceptionally insulating.

Jeff



4 years ago
Beth,

5 a weekend is an excellent idea. For that many birds you will appreciate a killing cone. Also if you are going to pluck them some form of powered plucker is really desirable. I searched around before we did our 25 last year and this product came pretty highly recommended for a small number of birds; http://stores.powerplucker.com/power-plucker/ . It is messy as hell so be prepared for that in advance. Otherwise you can skin a chicken without plucking which seriously reduces the work involved.

Good Luck,

Jeff
4 years ago
That is the problem with fowl, everything thinks they are tasty. I am currently raising geese, turkeys and chickens.

I think you need electric net fencing: something like this: http://www.kencove.com/fence/Electric+Net+Fencing_detail_NPCG.php
It is not cheap but exceptionally effective. Get a better charger than you need. When you first turn it on run it hot and fast 24/7 for at least a week. After that you can probably get away with more risky behavior. I have a solar/battery setup and basically never turn it off unless I am working in or near the fence. We get a lost of pass through predators so I take no chances. If your predators are more territorial once bitten by the fence they often will not go near it again.

I live fairly rural; right up next to the forest and we have black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks and the only time anything has ever gotten any of our animals is when they are outside of the netting. I raised 25 roos last year away from the house in electric netting so poorly erected I could high step over it to get in and never lost a single bird.

Honestly I cannot explain why the bobcats and the mountain lions don't go right over. I assume it is because there is easier prey around. I have seen the bobcat charge the fence trying to spook the girls into jumping over it but he will not go in.

We do build secure coops as extra security in case something ever did happen but I do not like locking them up at night as they get up and forage long before sunrise.

Good Luck,

Jeff
4 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:Continuing discussion from another thread:

What do I think is the best egg laying breed?

Well, I have this idea to get a bunch of "best" layer breeds, have them mix it up for a couple of years, and then try to come up with my own optimal breed for feed-to-egg ratio given a forage situation. 

So I would start with:

pearl leghorns:  they lay white eggs, but they are just egg laying machines!

red star and black star:  the standard layer for brown eggs

australorp:  the record holder for most eggs in one year

Braggs mountain buff:  this guy raised his own breed where he did a simple and amazing thing.  As he collected eggs, he would put the largest eggs in the incubator.  He did this for years and years.  And now he has a breed that lays lots of freaky big eggs!

Rhode island red:  a heavier breed well known to be moderately productive.





So I liked what Paul had to say about the Braggs Mountain Buff. I did some research for myself... and last year bought 50 unsexed birds. We ended up with a perfect split 50/50 boys/girls. All but one roo went to freezer camp and have been excellent for both stock and enchiladas, in retrospect I think we could have gotten more weight gain out of the roos before freezer camp, they averaged around 4 pounds processed weight with some real heavyweights at the end.

The predators around are a rough bunch and we are down to 16 girls, most did not start laying until around 26 weeks or later. Only the first one or two eggs could ever really be called pullet eggs based on size alone. The majority of these girls forage well beyond the 100 foot rule. Currently we are up to 9 -12 egg a day and have not yet had our first molt. Even when presented with cracked corn they will eat for a minute and go back to foraging.

The two biggest reasons I went with the Braggs was the foraging ability and egg size. As a previous consumer of farm fresh/free range eggs I was pretty disappointed with the two cute pretty eggs that barely made one regular egg in use and still cost me the same or more. I decided long before switching to farming that I could not in good conscience do that to my customers. It costs no more to feed these girls in fact even less. After having been introduced to forage and real seeds these birds will not eat anything in pellet or crumble form. They get up earlier and go to bed later than any bird I have ever had experience with.

The kicker from a business perspective for me is I am asking and selling at the same price everyone else is getting if they are local but I have less in feed costs right off the top. I think I could seriously ask for more as everyone is amazed at the size of the eggs and the color of the yolks. I keep telling people when they express amazement at the size that these girls haven't even molted yet, after they do the eggs will get bigger. People didn't believe me at first I think they thought I was selling them...but the eggs keep getting bigger and they still haven't molted for the first time yet. I already have an order in this year as we are planning on hugely expand our flock as demand is just increasing.

Jeff

4 years ago
I would be very interested to see any examples of this as well; as this is exactly what I am about to begin designing in a Sepp Holzer based permaculture design. I have recently purchased a 20 acre property composed of roughly 4-7 acres of cleared floodplain/alder the rest being mixed redwood forest with a seasonal creek (actually just run off from the surrounding properties but it all flows on to and through my property and there is a lot of potential here for water retention basins and potentially a year round creek in time.)

The following are the things I am currently looking at:

1. Berries in general; Wild blackberries - looks like about 1/2 acre of mature berry bushes - berries generally sell but if necessary can be processed into jams etc. Other berries are being considered for family use and as a short term sales item before fruit trees become more established.
2. Trees - fruits, nuts, wood. Trees take awhile to get going so the sooner the better. Multiple income sources here as well as further reducing food expenditures.
3. Mushrooms - I have a lot of alder that can be brought down to better use some of this land so getting mushrooms inoculated works with my interests and available resources. Fresh mushrooms sales in potentially 6-12 months. Mushrooms can always be dried if not sold and then used/sold as whole or powdered or used in teas etc.
4. Chickens - Bug control, land clearing and eggs and meat to boot for the family. Extras can be sold or processed into other food items for sale.
5. Ducks - Being near the coast I can have 60 -80 inches of rain a year, the climate is just better situated to ducks with the moisture levels. I admit a love to help rare breeds as well and so will stretch the possibilities to make sure they pay for themselves. Also part of my design will be to include deeper areas in the flood zones to create a system of ponds in the wet season for the ducks. This should help slow flood waters but also collect runoff nutrients for use growing crops in the drier part of the year. Eggs, meat, chicks and breeders.
6. Pigs - I will be new to pigs so am starting out small, but do intend to follow through with them so will spend the effort to get a good set of breeder genetics (possibly rare breed again) to work up to full scale production including potentially breeders, feeders and market pigs. Starting small we will use them mostly to learn and help clear and work our land. Eventually harvesting excess for our own use and moving further in the direction that appears to be marketable.
7. Herbs and grains - Intend to grow most of our own herbs in large enough quantities to have extras to sell potted,fresh, dried or by further processing to make essential oils or extractions. Also interested in home brewing so will be experimenting with hops and grain production. With success could be producing excess for sales.
8. Plant and tree nursery - at first for our own use on the land but done to excess with a plan for eventual sales.
9. Goats - Need helpers on the land as much of the forest is too steep or not situated well for machinery use. A good breeding pair for selling breeders and extras for meat.
10. Rice - Ducks, floodplains, ponds etc. - being in California it seems like I should at least give wild rice a shot as feed for the ducks; excess or success could be sold in local markets.
11. Cows - this is much farther in the future but a cow calf pair for milk part of the year is certainly a possibility with the option to expand just a bit bigger eventually.

There are a lot of other possibilities of course but right now these all fall in my interest level as well as what look like potential sales in my area.

Longer term I see adding rabbits as a specialty meat for higher end markets. As well as developing markets for processed items from the above categories. We also have some other craft/art ideas but these would be more hobbies that might one day produce some extra income instead of actual living wage jobs.

Jeff
5 years ago
Tim,

It should work, certainly over time it will work. For you the key will be be mowing but not removing any of the cuttings; keep building up the organic material. You might even consider buying hay if necessary and reseeding as you did for a few more years. I have done similar with good results so you are not nuts anyway. If you can get a few wood piles or hugelkultur beds or even compost piles going to give the earthworms and other decomposers a place to build up their numbers faster so they can get to work faster for you it would happen quicker.

Otherwise mob grazing if you can. I have read of amazing results in a Bioneers publication on reclaiming old stripmines using mob grazing. Basically feed hay was spread and seeded so thick the cows could not eat it all, the cows spread manure and stomp and mix everything together. The next spring the growth was amazing.

Post back the results over time as you go no matter what happens. If it seems to not be working post up for other ideas or help if necessary. It is exactly these sorts of experiments that we need to be better documenting here. It is not necessary to get rigidly scientific but any/all details you can provide of course the better.

Best,

Jeff


5 years ago