Raine Hogan

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since Jul 16, 2013
Salt Lake City
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Recent posts by Raine Hogan

I fouond that fruiting plants don't do so well in a hugels first year.

I did cantaloupes in a first year hugel of mixed woods (pine, alder, hawthorn, oak, etc), horse manure and dirt that was top dressed with rabbit manure and straw mulch. All of my greens and peas did great, but the cantaloupe vined out and I never got one fruit. This year I put the cantaloupe in a different 2 year old hugel and it gave me some of the sweetest melons I ever ate. The bed from the previous growing , I planted butternut squash, green beans, and radishes in. I got lots of beans, and 32 large squash, and lots of radishes. The squash was supposed to be a bush variety, but went from bush to some sort of vining- to the point of falling out of the bed.
I also planted some butternut squash and beans in a new hugel, but only got 4 squash and no beans from the same number of plants.
Now my husband's afraid he's going to have to eat squash twice a week to use all of those squash up.
The bed is framed in with 2 old restaurant doors (with windows so you can see the wood) and pallets on the ends, so its about 3 feet tall, by 8 foot, by 4 foot wide. We also had purslane and mushrooms growing until last week at it's base because of the swale filled with wood chips that serves as a path between all of the beds.
3 years ago
When we built ours, I poked in sticks to hold stalks from sunflowers and amaranth that acted almost like retaining walls for a terrace. Then I could had more manure and dirt to keep bulding the soil depth because I knew as it settled the steepness would slowly decrease. I topped it off with a layer of straw as a mulch and layered more wild sunflower stalks to keep the wind from blowing the mulch away in the high winds that we get before a storm.

That was 3 years ago, and I still add my "redneck terracing" each year to hold the chop and drop and compost that I add each year. The pre-storm winds around here can get pretty bad; to the point of blowing down chain link fences sometimes.
3 years ago
Congrats on joining us Hugel-freaks.

Most of the beds on our urban farm are Hugeled from free wood and horse manure to help with the nitrogen robbing - lots of horse manure!
The parking strip is a raised hugel bed, we dug down, buried the wood in horse manure and the removed dirt, then muched it with straw from a neighbor who had given me a couple of bales 2 years earlier. I thought the bales had mulch down a bit over time, but in the 3 years since I get 2 crops of wheat from the original 1/2 bale that I mulched with. It's all good though because all of the animals love the wheat grass that I cut for them.

We also Hugeled the raised bed to the north of our pond in the front yard (free dead hot tub) that catches rainwater overflow from the rain tank, into the pond, into the bed (Blueberries), that then flows into a swale that irrigates trees, herbs and veggies that grow around the north and east end of thee yard.

Our back yard has 2 hugels that a 3' tall (framed in with old doors, 2 vertical hugels (standing pallets with wood, compost and bunny manure inside, and 4 raised beds done in an exxagerated key hole design for blackberries and vegetables. I'm also putting in a really long hugel on the wall for a fruit tree orchard.

All of this on .15 acre city lot, with a house, garage, green house, and chikee (combined rabbit/chicken shelter for 4-20 rabbits and 10 chickens). As you can tell, we love them. Mainly due to hot, harsh summers and cold wet winters. The snow and rain that we recieve is seldom during the growing season, so this is kinda like a "rechargable battery for growing". That's how I sold my hubby on putting in the effort to help me build them - well that and the local water bill from my very prductive garden the previous summer. Needless to say, once sticker shock wore off, he was ready to embrace my crazy idea. And youtube videos of the great Sepp Holzer.

If anyone is having an issue with productivity, compost and mulch seem to be key maintaining fertility in these beds. I'm thinking the next one I do, I'm going to add a worm feeding tube to include vermicomposting to increase nutrient availability.
3 years ago
I love John's comment "control the weather"!
But in a way he's right.
The first year I planted radicchio it cam up sorta loose leaf style. It was a mix of seeds and I had never planted it before so I didn't know what to expect. I let it and some other lettuces go to seed to see how far and how true they would grow.

The following spring, right where all of that had been planted the previous summer, I had "beautiful" heads of radicchio pop up and grow. Very early spring, and only in the area that got morning sun and was shaded from about noon/1PM on. Turns out they were perennial, they grew for 2 years until I redid those bed to put in Hugel terraces.

Start looking next spring to see if they come up again in the same area and if you get heads instead of leaf. Oh, and they'll probably be sweeter as well, mine were.
Have you looked at Cornell University small farm info - webinars and articles? Most of the university extensions across the country are adding urban and small farm info all of the time. The U.S. governmet. is giving tons of grants for urban and small farm training through extension services, and I've watched some of the info that Cornell has put out. Also chech Univesity of North Carolina. and hobby farming info, not to say that you're starting a hobby, but the old thought was anything below a certain acreage size was classified as a hobby, since old farming techniques made it impossible to make a living on small acreage.

I googled "urban goat farming" and there are several good sites with info that you might like, including backyard goat info. I always find it easier to scale up than down on farm info. Have you looked at pygoras and nigoras, smaller fiber goats that allow you to have more herd in the same amount of space?
I know that 3 goats is a herd and 4 makes a happy community for them; 7 chickens or 5 ducks makes a happier flock; rabbit does can be raised to live in a community, but 2 bucks can cause lots of problems there.

To add to your fiber interests, have you thought about raising rabbits in cages off the ground in the same building as your chickens? That's what I have. Hen house is 3'x6' witha solid floor 3' off the ground (chickens like to free range during the day), 2'Dx3L'x2'H rabbit cages on north wall (each with a 2'x1.5' shelf/bed roof), and 2 6'x8' open floor spaces for bunny play time. I don't have pure angoras yet, but my french angora mixes are great woolers that were free (bad attitudes before we got them).

Good luck on your farm.
Raw milk scares and health risks came about in the 1800's and early 1900's because dairies in large cities were feeding milk cows spent grains from breweries down the street. Cheap feed and the breweries got a small revenue from a waste product. It became so bad that the milk was turning BLUE. Yes, there are documented historical reports of blue milk and that dairies were mixing in chalk and other whitening agents to make it look like milk again.
Cows and goats digestive systems aren't made for grains. Cows are grazers, so there is a bit more of health risks from their raw milk that from goats. Goats are browsers, they won't touch food that has been contaminated with urine or fecal matter, theirs or others. Keep their food up off the ground and in holders that they can't climb in or on and you're more than half way to reducing your risks and feed bills. Better yet, rent them out to cler brush from city, county, or federal lands - free clean food and revenue.

I drank raw milk for a number of years, as did many members of my family - cow and goat. As a matter of fact, my youngest brother was raised on fresh raw goats milk due to an allergy to cows milk, as well as 2 of my grandchildren (they are 13 and 8 now). My husband and I buy raw milk froma local dairy because I can't drink the fake milk in the grocery stores - suspect pasturization and all of the meds they give the cows are the cause, not lactose intolerance or i wouldn't be able to handle the raw mik. Looking forward to being able to have my own goats soon.

Just practice common sense sanitary conditions, wash your hand, the utters and all utensils that you're using for the milk, strain with clean muslin, and keep it cold. You already know this and go beyond what most people consider due diligence for safety. The natural immunities that you have already built up from your exposure to raw milk will help the baby, where pasturized and homogenized milk from cows that are routinely given growth homones and antibiotics could adversely affect you and your children. IMHO.

Congratulations on your pregnancy, and many prayers for a happy and healthy future.
Raine
I think my set up is a blending of both worlds.

I have an 8'x12' house (we call it the chikee - Mayan & Hitchiti word for woven container and house) for the rabbits and chickens. The rabbits have their cages on the north wall with one above the other with a deflector between to keep spills from falling into the lower cages; they are 2' deep x 3' long and 2' high. Each has a shelf that acts as the roof to their safe zone/house area. The botton row of cages has dividers in the walls between two cages that can be opened so that as the kits get older, two cages can become one larger cage until the kits are weaned and mom needs and wants her own space again. The door is shut, but the babies can still see mom from their shelf, to reduce seperation anxiety.
Then the genders get seperated and put into the upper cages until sold or culled.

This leaves an 8'x12' floor open for use. I have a gate to divide the area in half and we have bricks guards as a perimeter on the outside walls. This area becomes the play zone for the bunnies. They can run, play and hide (5 gallon buckets and cardboard boxes to hop onto and in). They love it. When I open the doors for my does in the lower cages they can jump down, run around, play and explore (toys and new hidey areas) until they get ready and jump back into their cages. I make sure the gate is locked and that only the does are out in their areas while the bucks are in their cages. Then, after the does are locked up, I can put a buck in each area to explore and play. I found out the hard way that one of my does can climb the plywood gate (who knew she would imitate a squirrel) and she got to my dwarf buck. No damage, but when she got tired of being mated, and couldn't get back over the gate, I found her lying on him and pinning him to the ground. So the play area is seen as neutral ground and my famales will mate there as well.

It is hilarious to watch the baby bunnies the first time they get to play in that huge space. Running, kicking, and jumping like little kids turned loose from the last day of school.
And they are so happy to go back to their cage a few hours later, after being worn out from all of the fun. I usually find them all cuddled up in a box, asleep, and just pick up the box and put them back into their cage as a whole.

I also have all of them trained to come to me when I make a smoochy sound. They know that its treat time, usually black oil sunflower seeds, but sometimes apple peel or other fav treats. This makes it easier to catch them up and put them back into their cages or when its time to handle them for health checks or grooming.

Oh, and 2 of my does were given to me last year because they were aggressive towards other rabbits and people. They were being raised in tractors on a small acreage. Since that time, both does have calmed down and have been wonderful towards me and my grandkids when we handle them. The worst one, Midnight, even let me get her out of her cage and groom her while pregnant - a time when even my sweetest does get ornery. I think its because they feel safe in their cages and have come to trust me.
3 years ago
Because I'm in an urban setting, I don't have enough acreage to grow my own hay. But I can plant things that benefit us and our wooler bunnies.
Mulberry tree; blackberries; raspberries; greenbrier; crossvine; roses; apples; pears; kale; carrots; fennel; lovage; mints and honeysuckle to name a few. Most offer edibles for us as fruit and herbal teas, some provide shade and food (especially for bunnies in the chikee), and others do all of this AND are pretty. I also sprout barley throughout the year, rabbits and chickens love it. !/4 cup turns into about 1/2 pound of food. Bunnies eat the greens, chickens eat the seeds and greens, worms eat the root mass. Its a triple win that save me money!
Also, since pretty much every state in the lower 48 considers phragmites (an 8 foot reed) to be a noxious weed, I can go out and cut the green canes throughout the late spring through early fall for fresh feeding and dry some in the shade for winter. UT DNW gave me permission to harvest as much as I want wherever I see it to save them the hassle of trying to mow it down. Yea, free food! If you live in an area that has kudzu you can use that as fodder.
I also score discarded produce from a couple of grocery stores, as well as stuff from the gardens of family and friends to give to the bunnies and chickens.

Pellets and hay are neccessary during the winter, but when I get my green house up and running, I should be able to phase out the pellets totally. In the mean time I mix barley, black oil SS, and flax with my pellets for most of the year and add a little cracked corn during the winter (increases body heat).
3 years ago
God Almighty Adam
Where were you with the eggs when I was brain tanning deer skin with pig brains, in the heat, in Florida? Talk about smell!!
But it was worth it when the bratty kid in the bunch wanted to know what kind of animal I was working on, and I told him that I had hit the neighbor's dog that wouldn't stay out of the road and I needed to get rid of the evidence before they got home from work. Oh and the meat went into the stew that was on the stove.
You should have seen his face!
All of the other kids had been there for a while for the demo and explanation so they knew it was a deer. That kids ran home, & told his mom. Ten minutes later his stepdad was in my yard to see what I was doing that had freaked his wife out. He saw the deer hide and knew it was all a joke (he was Native American from a northern rez, but wife and kids were white). He perked up when told that the hide had come with some meat as well, and that a pot of venison stew was ready if he wanted some. He ate 2 bowls and never told his family that the dog was fine, and that it had been a deer. After that William's wife drove to the other end of the road when going to town to avoid my house. She never saw that the dog was alive and well, and still getting into the middle of the road. : )

Thanks for the tip. Have several rabbits to cull and can tan the hides without chemicals (not a fan of the "Better living through chemicals" propaganda). My hens can supply the eggs for the project.
3 years ago
Great thread!

I've been working with angora mix and lionheads for about 2 years now to get experience with rabbit care and breeding. I've spent $80 and had 5 rabbits, two portable cages along with feed, hay, litter boxes and toys.
Two of my does are french angora mix, and one is englich angora mix. The 2 french, Midnight and Blackberry are big like a FA but not as wooly (more like big lionheads), are great moms and produce quite a bit of wool. The EA mix, Aurora, won't breed and has been a challenge to time her grooming to get wool - I get some, but not a lot, then she suddenly blows her fur and I find it sticking to cage wire and fan blade guards.

With all of that being said, I'm leaning towards French Angoras for our future farm acreage, since I'm more interested in the wool for hand spinning and can use our culls for meat. When we get property I can get a couple of fiber/milk goats, since rabbit wool has no memory and benefits from mixing with other fiber to help minimze stretching.

Maybe someone can come up with an American Angora that has the FA size with the EA wool properties.
3 years ago