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Luke Eising

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since Nov 30, 2013
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Recent posts by Luke Eising

Oops, saw this thread after posting on pigs and salt. Maybe mod can put them together. Otherwise checkout pigs and salt thread for dissenting opinion.
4 years ago
I have been warned that pigs will OD on salt and kill themselves.

I'm here to say: not so!

I imagine its possible that if you mixed salt and yummies (feed, molasses) etc, a pig could OD on that. But I've been using Salt Blocks (plain white, mineral mix, and selenium, free chocie [michigan soils are sel. deficient]) for quite awhile. Adequate mineralization of the pigs is one of the factors that depresses rooting, and pigs salt intake hikes considerably as their diet switches from grains (low potassium) to vegetation (high potassium). Potassium must be in a 3-way balance with sodium and chloride (why cows need so much salt)

They chew and slobber on those things.
I tried mineralizing pigs with kelp, but free-choice they kelp you into bankruptcy. I give them a bit now and then.
4 years ago
I graze pigs through wetland areas. After 4 years, the wetlands look fine

The pigs root around the edges of of swamps. The swamp rooting is a good thing - muck tends to anaerobic=acidic=on its way to peat. Aeration liberates nutrients to grow things
Marsh areas (grassy wetlands) don't attract a ton of eating interest from my pigs. My pigs don't root through it, though they make use of wallow spots.

Most scientific literature is dubious about pigs doing anything good, because they don't know how to raise pigs with low rooting behavior. I have finally been able to follow in Jeffries footsteps in grazing pigs without excessive rooting.
I have read scientific articles about grazing cattle in wetlands that fingered lack of disturbance as the cause of excessive invasive perennial species in wetlands. Wetlands in the wild do get disturbed.
4 years ago
Thanks for the pics...Wish I could see a map of your water management features laid over topo.

I'm going to try draining the swamp with a monk controlled dam and a few drainage ditches (might have to do some hand digging) to bring water to the dam.
Then let it flood over the winters and drain it after spring rains.

4 years ago
Addressing this to Travis particularly, but figured it was general interest

Dealing with wetlands (at the scale of an acre to several acres).
First I want to bypass questions about use - I do want to get agricultural benefit from my wetlands, and where I am in Michigan we have lots of precipitation, low evap and lots of wetlands.

Primary goal is probably grazing - I currently graze mixed herds including cattle, sheep and pigs (no purchased grain)

Are you describing a serpentine swale that basically leaves the entire marshland in ridges and swales, and maximizes surface area; with forage growing on the berms?
I also have an option to somewhat control a flood/drain cycle (at least to drain the rain buildup in the spring and let it grow)
Also open to other options.
4 years ago
We use housewrap for a lot of things. Plants will grow under it. Its moisture permeable, and not as transparent as plastic. I'd try it over a small area and see if you like it.
4 years ago
I'd vote for ladino clover. It grows in a variety of conditions, some varieties can put on a lot of biomass and height (6ft) in one season
I've been growing sudex for forage, as long as its warm, it sure grows. It does not put energy into seeds, put into foliage (seed energy would be the straight sorghum)
4 years ago
We use a chamber packer to process 1000+ chickens a year.

Expensive, but durable - the bags cost less than half as much (and that doesn't even include the rate of failed bags on a countertop packer)
4 years ago
Michigan, zone 5 cool/temperate
Full time farmer (pastured pork, beef, poultry &etc), excited to add fish.

I'm finally getting a pond dug this fall. I've read Desert or Paradise, Earthen ponds and a few others, saw geoff's video and a bit by ben falk. I'm just trying to get a list of ideas here that I and others can draw from (tools); then we can each figure out how to put it all together on our own property

-Deep corner- somewhere in your pond should be a deep corner for fish to hide when its warm. A lot of people say 15' or more. Do you think its an advantage to put it on the South side where it will get less sunlight?
-Shallow- a portion of your pond (up to a 1/3) should be shallow enough for cattails to filter the water. One smart farmer had the pond collecting tile runnoff and the tile dropped into a finger of cattails so it was filtered before it hit the pond
-Fingers - shoreline should be as long as possible, fingers can let you do that. Perhaps each finger could be a different biome (depths, rocks/logs, width, flow) - I need some ideas for different finger biomes
-Limestone - some people recommend dropping limestone gravel or boulders into the water to buffer ph.
-Rocks - Sepp wants rocks in his ponds; prefer shallows or north bank? Also submerged trees?
- Bubbler- windmill bubblers oxegynate
- Pump - or you can pump the water up and through a bio filter and rockbed or flowform  or waterfall to aerate
- Island - habitat for ducks etc
- Floating island - shade and biofilter
-Nutrient catch - we often want to minimize animal manures into ponds due to algae overgrowth, but something has to feed the nutrient cycle if you want larger surplus harvests
-Waterfowl and fish - Polyculture!
-Grass Carp - sterile grass carp can keep weed pressure down
-Stacked ponds - ponds that flow into eachother might give more options
-Wind - design your treescape to funnel prevailing wind the long direction across the pond for free aeration
-Shade- in dry climates you want trees, in humid climates, it depends (do you want warmer or cool water) you will need some sun to keep the cycle going

You don't have to agree with all these ideas, but add more and flesh them out where you can
5 years ago
We had a lot of yarrow a couple years ago. Less now.

My grazing animals (sheep and cattle) will eat some. While its young and tender.

I believe it indicates a weak soil (general low nitrogen and organic matter, but moderate moisture)

You can continue to pasture till the nitrogen from manure allows the grass to outcompete - but that takes a long time.

Disturbance is a tool
after a disturbance, with some active un-assimilated organic matter, it doesn't stand a chance.

my disturbance preferences:
(a) find the worst spots (preferably higher point because nutrients will flow downhill some), winter the cattle there or winter feed them there. Smother it with 3 inches of uneaten hay and manure. You'll never see it there again. Tall dark grass will poke through, and in a few years it'll be gone.
(b) chicken tractor or paddock the worst sites.
(c) till it with pigs. Overseed with some clovers if you want, but don't worry: a pig tilled pasture will quickly regrow to surviving grass (unless they stay on there for a very long time)

Disturbance can be good. It can restart the cycle and allow you to lay nutrients in the soil with grazing/root slough and manure. Don't feel bad about disturbance in the right place.

These things have worked for me.

Same problem, same solution for knapweed, except knapweed favors drier, acidic, low fertility spots
5 years ago