Mike Hart

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since Sep 17, 2013
Zone 7b, Georgia.
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Recent posts by Mike Hart

George - I like your approach, but one word of caution: people will put out antifreeze if they decide your dogs are bothering them. Seen it happen several times unfortunately.*

What kind of cameras are you using that text you? That would be quite helpful to me.

In general I really like the idea of the purple paint law. Having someone move in next door and then put up no trespassing signs everywhere right off the bat is rude to my mind. Paint accomplishes the same task without the rudeness. Of course if there is a problem by all means put up signs, they won't stop the problem, but they are a step down the legal road.

In general if you are new to an area it pays to learn what people expect of their neighbors (think keeping the grass 2" short in a subdivision). Here are some of the things that matter around here (in more or less order of importance): keeping your dogs on your property, keeping your fencelines clean, planting orange daylillies along the roadside. You don't have to do these things (apart from controlling your animals), but they are just good practice anyway.

*This should be punishable by immediate death.
2 years ago
Looks like you are in a very beautiful area. I wish I had all that cedar for building and whatnot - here we have Chinese Privet which just isn't as useful. We also have apple trees and I don't want more rust problems than I already have so no cedar for me.

Thanks to those idiots "industrious" folks at the Corps of Engineers in the 1960s I have some channeled and dredged waterways with similar flood problems. I started making brush dams to protect the banks, slow the water down and also collect sediment and they seem to work OK. I then found a really excellent book (possibly from reading these forums) called "Let the Water do the Work" by Bill Zeedyk and Van Clothier. They describe how to use induced meandering to restore health to a waterway. I have no idea if it would work in your situation as there are a number of factors which come into play, but it is well worth checking out. Much to my disappointment they recommend against brush dams and other common techniques (check dams, etc) because on a long enough time span they will not last. I still think it was well worth reading the book especially if you like messing about with waterways
3 years ago

S Bengi wrote:
Akebia is another vine


It will take over everything. It is growing next door to me and it is easily out competing escaped wisteria, well established Chinese privet and Japanese honeysuckle.

3 years ago
I strongly recommend "Rainwater Harvesting for Dryland and Beyond" Vol. 2 by Brad Lancaster. http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/books/volume2/

He covers swales (berm and basin), terraces and the like including the best situations for each. I was able to get a copy from inter-library loan, but found it worth buying. He goes into slope assessment and all that as well.

Also a big +1 on pigs rubbing on things. I recommend planning to fence them off of the swale tops if you can.
4 years ago
My advice is just to start doing it and go from there. The amount my pigs eat varies by time of year, pasture condition, etc. Also, if you don't give them what they consider enough to eat then they might go looking on their own with disastrous connotations for your vegetable garden.

Walter do you pen those chickens at night or are they one their own? You might consider selling them as survivor chickens - I know if I were in your area that I would prefer a locally hardy breed rather than something from a catalog with fancy colors.
4 years ago
I will have to find time to check out the Cell Grazing video. I feel like I am continually fighting my pigs on this subject and the pigs are winning hands down so new approaches are welcome.

John I know exactly what you mean by WWI battlefield, in fact I managed to damage my 2 wheel tractor trying to mow one of these "battlefields" that had been fallow for close to 15 months.

In my experience with Joel Salatin's work I feel like he comes up with reasons/explanations for why he does things rather than approaching it from an idea first. I'm not sure if that explanation makes sense, and I am not attacking him - I will read what he writes as I can learn a lot from him. Maybe I am over analyzing this one picture, but it is hard for me to understand how the paddock on the left is doing anything other than losing soil and organic matter while rapidly drawing in weedy annuals (in many cases my pastures have looked like that after the pigs have gone although we don't have so many large rocks thankfully). The one on the right doesn't look like good grazing to me, I think I can see milk thistles in the foreground - http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/detail.asp?weed=122 and I am no expert, but I am guessing the brown grass is not good pig forage as mine don't seem to eat grass that isn't young and fairly short.

That said I think he's right about the idea of a sweet spot, it is just a difficult target to hit. From what I have read so far it seems to me like Mark Shepard is on the right track in trying to limit soil disturbance as much as possible with his pigs. If you haven't read "Restoration Agriculture" then I recommend it to you although it is unfortunately light on specifics.
4 years ago
Interesting idea. I will give it a shot as I love maps in general and Google Earth is quite a bit of fun. A site that I found to be indispensable when using Google Earth is this: http://www.earthpoint.us/shapes.aspx which lets you calculate the area of shapes made in Google Earth. Checking it against a known area shows it to be quite accurate.
4 years ago
I am raising a few of the Ossabaws and I am not especially enamored of them. I will check out your video when I have more time, but I have some off hand questions:

How long does it take you to finish them out? Do you use commercial feed? Do you get bacon from them? How do they handle the cold weather?

The main trouble with mine is that they are escape artists. 2 of them blew through my polywire fence repeatedly, but I have them in some poultry net and that is working well. They are also gaining at a far slower rate than either my Large Blacks or my Tamworths.

Edit after watching:
Looks nice and green out where you are, my favorite color to see. I have family in Iowa and I have always enjoyed visiting there. We have different tolerance for disturbed soil and that's fine. My thought is that you can't use pigs to replicate the Oak Savanna system because there weren't any pigs at that time. Rooting by pigs allows establishment of annuals which I am trying to avoid - for me it is too disruptive of the soil. I think we are both coming at pasturing pigs from the same place - making the land better, which is unfortunately rare.

I am jealous of your pig waterer - is that some type of specialty commercial waterer? I have tried a few things and am now using a 60 gallon stock tank which isn't so great.
4 years ago
My thoughts:
1) It is a native vine so I would be very surprised if it was killing trees. Compare it to something invasive like English Ivy or Kudzu and this should become apparent.

2) The berries are a very important food source for birds and this is one reason why it spreads so aggressively.

3) Jewelweed works very well for me. Just grab a green leaf and rub it on the exposed area. We have also had some luck boiling down the Jewelweed plants and freezing the juice into an ice cube tray. Put one of those in a bath and you are good to go. For me this was more effective than the $300+ (1990s dollars) steroid shot I have had in the past. You can also buy Jewelweed infused soap.

4) Repeated mowing kills it in areas where that is possible.

5) I had some success spot spraying it with AM Leonard's Horticultural Vinegar, but it was an expensive product so I would only use it in important areas.

6) Sweet Autumn Clematis is the devil.

7) Technu is OK. People rinse with it after exposure, but I think soap and water are just as effective.

8 ) My experience with goats leads me to believe that sending them into the woods to get rid of it will do more harm than good.
4 years ago
I am dealing with this issue currently and I can tell you that if you care to you can contact your state's pesticide division and they will possibly conduct an investigation. Basically they will send somebody out who will look for evidence of "drift" (key word here) and maybe take foliage samples which they *might* test for herbicides. They will then talk to the farmer and see what he recorded about spraying and so forth (date/time/wind/humidity). BTW these are great things for you to record when you see him spray - also pictures. If they find evidence of drift then you will get a report that says so and you can take him to court and sue for damages. He will get a slap on the wrist from the agency if he is at fault. This will all vary by state - here in GA we are a label-law state so if he fails to follow the label when applying the pesticide he will be ?more? liable.

You can see the common theme is that drift really isn't something the state (at least here) cares much about. It will likely be on you to hold the guy's feet to the legal fire and to see that your rights are respected. Anyway if the guy is spraying as part of a commercial operation he should be carrying some liability insurance for just this occasion.

If you want to get the state involved I would start with a call to your local extension agent who can tell you who to contact at the state. If you have a commercial organic (certified or not) operation than be sure to mention that.

It is also important to find out what he is spraying and then google it and find the label so you can see just what of your plants it will kill.

Good luck dealing with this, I know how draining it is to deal with people who don't respect your property.
4 years ago