Al Senner

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since Oct 19, 2013
southeast SD (zone 4b/5a)
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Recent posts by Al Senner

Multiple ponds are probably inevitble! The kids' swimming pool will serve as a starter duckweed pond since they need an upgrade anyway. I think crawdads and trapdoor snails will share the tank. Both are edible and the young snails will provide crawdad food. I also have a seasonal waterway that runs through the property that I will dig out in 3 spots eventually. These flatlands ponds near the house will serve as training.The greenhouse pond has become 10x20' now. The excavator I can borrow has a 4' reach so the shallow end will be about 3 feet and the deepest part will probably not get any deeper than 8'. Shelves will be around the edges about 2' deep to accomodate plants and just to provide some warm shallow water.

William Bronson, I agree this is very low intensity aquaculture  but aquaculture nontheless. My grandpa has been telling me for years that a farm is not complete without a source of water(not only for food but for irrigation, livestock, fire fighting, drinking in emergencies, and even creating microclimates) . Ive always agreed with him but just needed to find a way to justify adding ponds and taking away land from my small acreage.

I stumbled across some info on softshell turtles as livestock. While I dont think Ill ever have enough to raise them for a good food crop, the pet market is interested in them. Whatever doesnt sell as an ornamental would probably be eaten by the family. They are very carnivorous but could be fed cull koi, trash fish(invasive carp from nearby waters), crawdads and even intestines from slaughter waste that the dogs wont eat. Since they are so high in the food chain, I think they are appropriate for only large and established ventures, unless you want to bring in a lot of feed for them(I dont).
1 year ago
So Ive figured one thing out so far. Im going to dig a pond in my 30 x 72' high tunnel. Roughly 10 x 16'. The advantages are many, including thermal mass, diversity, and an emergency water source. Before I dig though, I must design and I havent figured out what I want to raise in it. I have had some success with water lilies which I think could be a profitable (although not edible) crop. I have also been kicking around the idea of catching small local fish and raising them to eating size(carp,bullhead,catfish, and bluegill are the likely choices). Koi could be raised as ornamentals and edibles(sell the best, eat the rest! Does anyone know about the efficiency of koi versus wild carp?) Edible snails, crawdads and minnows(as bait, and possibly for feeding fish in another pond) are other daydreams. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Although not mentioned, multi species plans are definitely preferred but please dont suggest tilapia(Ive looked into them and are just not feasible for me). By the way, Im in South Dakota, USA right on the edge of zones 4 and 5.
1 year ago
I have an old shed I want to insulate and use as a workshop. It is about 14x20 ft. and 2x4 construction with 2 ft. centers. My natural instinct is to fill the voids in the wall with fiberglass batts and put sheetrock drywall over that but I hate fiberglass and would like some more sustainable materials. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thank you!
1 year ago
I found a great source with organic minerals and supplements. Nature's Best out of Inwood Iowa
NOrmally I dont feed minerals when my herd is on pasture but I am going through a transition between farms. They have been confined and eating mostly hay for 2 months and have 1 month to go before being back on pasture.
Thanks for the link. Ive seen it before but it was good to see it again. This is cattle country in a big way! I will be grazing goats and maybe sheep in daily rotation to help build OM but I also need to plant trees in a savannah habitat. Of course, the neighbors say it cant be done. The current owners imported sand and manure to make some very nice garden beds but that is obviously limited by scale. With keyline planning and subsoiling between tree rows, I can improve water retention. Mulching, composting and legume/nurse crops will be a big part of the job as well. Im fairly optimistic of the potential of this land but it 5 hours away from where we are now and vastly different. I guess Im just looking for some sucess stories on clay to make me feel better!
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3 years ago
Its easy to find info on revitalizing deserts with sandy soil. Im looking at a property in northwest South Dakota with very heavy clay "gumbo" soil. Average rainfall is 18" but it is very dry and windy.The tree groves in the area are sparse and consist of ash, siberian elm, caragana, and lilac. Can anyone point me in the right direction of regenerating dry clay soils. I know Mark Shepard started on heavy red clay but he doesnt talk much about it besides the subsoiling and he gets much more rain than me.
3 years ago
I currently have a 150 gal. tank with about 4 lbs. of koi, water hyacinth and duckweed. Plants are harvested for farm income and fodder, respectively. This is a prototype system that I hope can be scaled up when my high tunnel goes up and I gain more knowledge and experience. 2-3 times a week, about 10% of the water is used to irrigate nursery plants and replaced with a cool, oxygenating blast of tap water.
The tank has been up for 3 months. Is this water usage sustainable or am I risking an imbalance in the ammonia/nitrate ratio?

Do the aquatic plants significantly affect the fertilizer value of the water? Could the water be used in a recirculating system with good results?

Thank you!
3 years ago
I saw Cody Holmes give a presentation last winter and he doesnt castrate any of his animals. Goats, sheep, hogs, and cattle. They grow faster and he claims he has no issues with boar taint or any other bad tastes. He says its because they are strictly pasture fed.
Thanks for the advice all, but the boy is set in his ways. At least I learned something though! Thanks for the heads up on Gabe Brown!
3 years ago