Sunny Baba

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since Mar 08, 2014
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chicken forest garden goat greening the desert homestead hugelkultur
SW New Mexico, 5300'elevation, 18" precip
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Recent posts by Sunny Baba

It must depend on the climate. I have mostly gardened in the arid SW, but even when I lived in Colorado, our black medic did not get much over 6 inches tall.
2 days ago
We've been experimenting with Black medic as a living mulch and so far we like it better than the white clover. The Medic stays low, fixes nitrogen and does not seem as aggressive.
I got the idea from seeing it in nature but could not find any seed for sale online. So transplanted some plants from the wild and it has taken off.
Easy to cut it back a little if it wanders too far and feed it to the goats.
Other medics are taller. Black is the wild version and seems better suited for a living cover.
And it's tiny yellow flowers are simply delightful!
3 days ago
Thank you for the information Jim. It seems that we received some inaccurate info from friends. So we'll be doing some more research and , as you suggested, test patches to see if the aliz sticks to the lime wash!
3 weeks ago
Hello Bob and Jim,
Your book looks fabulous! The "Details" are so important in strawbale building.
We built our 500 sqft strawbale house a couple of years ago. The interior and exterior walls have an inch and a half of earthen plaster on them and later we added three coats of lime wash made with well-aged lime putty to protect the walls while we decided on what to do for the the final coat.
Even though it's dry here in SW NM, we do get seasonal torrential monsoons with wind-driven rain.

We are now about to start in on the final coat of Aliz which will have clay, fine mica, kaolin, natural pigment and wheat paste. We've heard that wheat paste will make the final coat more water impermeable and more resistant to erosion, supposedly.
My question is , if the wheat paste creates greater water impermeability, will it also inhibit breathability of the walls? We definitely want our walls to breathe to prevent molds and other nasties growing in there. Plus, living in a breathing home feels soooo good.

An answer to this question will help us to breathe more easily as we go into the finishing of our walls!

Thank you for what you do and for sharing your experience with us.
3 weeks ago
We've got a small herd of Nubian milk goats and are working to minimize outside inputs. We do feed alfalfa and sprouted barley but are able to cut down on those feeds with things we grow here.
In summer they get a huge variety of weeds! They grow in the garden beds and we chop them down and let them come up again several times. Sowthistle, Prickly lettuce, amaranth, lambsquarters, mallow, primrose, chicory, prostate knotweed, dandelion, dock and lots of other goodies. They are high in minerals and nutrition. They also get lots of kale( they need iodine supplement if you feed too much brassicas), chard and other cultivated greens. When there is an excess and the weather is dry, I harvest weeds and kale and nettles and spread them out on a sheet to dry, then bag them  for winter. They love their super greens in winter time! Just a handful in their grain dish at milking time.
I've also dried gallons of zucchini and it is their favourite winter treat. Cookies! They like them fresh in summer too. They get all of the winter squash that did not mature and I grow lots of extra for them that I store and cut up for winter feed.

We grow mangel beets, carrots and  rutabagas for them. At our last farm, we stored them in the root cellar because we had gophers gorging on them if we left them in the ground. But here we can leave them in the ground, mulched, for less work. Before we moved we were growing and storing an extra 1000 pounds of root crops for our herd of about 7-10 goats. We're working to get more happening here at our new place.

We grow lots of sunflowers in summer and feed the heads- broken up a bit- green to the animals. Jerusalem artichokes and yacon leaves are good. I am experimenting with forage chicory and they love it. It has been shown to be antiparasitical. We are creating a pasture with all of their favourite weeds and forage chicory will play a big part in this. I am pleased to see that the chicory from last year is already 6 inches tall and it has been a cold winter here, still getting down into the single digits.  
Comfrey is a great protein crop for goats. They say you can grow something like 9 tons per acre!

I als let them browse in the wild and bring home for them, mtn mahogany, willow, live oak, ceanothus red root, pinon....
The more selection, the better IMO.

I'm sure there's more but that's all I can remember for now.
These are two kale varieties that have grown tall for me. They have overwintered in New Mexico and grown 6 foot tall at least. Thousand headed gets a lot of side shoots and I have a few plants that have gone through their second winter, unprotected outside with the lowest temp down to 5 degrees.

Thousandhead Kale
Ancient variety from the UK was mentioned in Vilmorin’s The Vegetable Garden in 1885 as a productive, multi-branching type that also goes by the name “branching borecole”. Vilmorin also mentions that the variety originally hailed from western France. Peter Miller of Kings Seed mentioned that Thousandhead kale was long appreciated in the UK as a fodder crop, but it has been re-discovered as a tasty culinary variety. Leaves are smooth with lightly curled edges for easier pest management. Those who have struggled with cabbage worms understand how caterpillars love to hide in the folds of curly kale leaves. This variety is just lightly curled at the edges, making caterpillars easier to spot and treat! This seed was sourced from Kings Seed of England; the King family has been in the seed business for centuries. John Kemp King began selling seeds in 1793; his grandson Ernest William began Kings Seeds, and it has been in business for 130 years! Kings Seed is the last remaining horticultural wholesale seed house left in England and still a family affair. Miller has worked for the company 55 years, and his grandfather also worked for Kings since 1913( from Baker Creek Heirlooms)

Groniger Kale

Brassica napas Open Pollinated  Heirloom 50 days. Grows 6" to 6'
Dutch heirloom grown and eaten for centuries in central Holland. Young leaves are flat with tender, juicy red stems. These may be harvested in spring when about 6" and continue harvesting through the spring and on into winter. Grow as you would other kales.
Use in salads, stir-frys, soups etc. and enjoy the fine taste of this winter hardy variety that bears a resemblance to Red Russian but more tender and juicier  leaves. When we grow this plant it is a sampling of medieval food. Thank you to Carol Deppe for introducing it to us. ( from Nichols Nursery)
4 months ago
I had a crown fall off years ago and did not want to get it replaced. I have read that 90% or so of crowned teeth eventually die.
I did a lot of research and found a guy( can't remember his name) who talked about how teeth are meant to remineralize given the proper oral environment. Saliva has minerals in it. However, most toothpaste has glycerin as an ingredient and glycerin coats the teeth and keeps the remineralization from occurring in cavities. So they just get bigger and bigger.
I thought to myself, wouldn't it be ironic if the very thing all dentists recommend us to use every day was keeping the natural process of remineralization from happening as it is supposed to? So I made up my own tooth powder and swore off toothpaste there and then.

Over time, the exposed raw tooth stub, started to "grow' a tough leathery coating. And no decay ever happened, even though it had no enamel on it from being ground down to place the crown years before. I had it checked out by a dentist who confirmed that it was protected by the remineralization. This stub did not "grow" back the tooth structure, but it does not seem to need another crown.

My teeth have been way healthier with no new cavities since quitting toothpaste 10 years ago! I used baking soda and salt for awhile but now I use a mineral powder that is not so salty. You can find a clay based toothpaste- glycerin -free- in the health food stores these days.
5 months ago
Thank you Kate. That makes sense. Do you find that the goats exude a Sulphur smell? And does it effect the taste of the milk at all?

Someone recommended feeding it for external parasites like fleas and ticks. I have started giving it to our LGD for fleas. So far the goats don't seem to have any fleas. But I did wonder if it would taint the milk if I did feed them some Sulphur. I've heard it is also great for hooves and skin.
Interesting about Sulphur helping with Selenium absorption. Good to know.
Hi Kate!
How wonderful to spread your love for goats far and wide with your book! I'm excited for you and wish you much success with your venture.

We've been raising dairy goats for 12 years now and are in love with the lifestyle as well as with the wonderful dairy products they produce. Fresh Squeezed raw goat milk and scrumptious cheeses and creamy yogurt> Mmmmmm!

I have a question for you: What is the purpose for supplementing with sulphur? Do you use yellow sulphur powder?
If you are in the Las Tusas that is near Sapello, NM( Mora County) then the Soil and Water Conservation office in Mora rents farm equipment for a good cost. They even have a person come and run the equipment for you depending on what it is. We have rented fence post augers, tractor 3pt hitch tillers, seeders, chippers, etc. It is a great resource!

We had some really lovely flood irrigated grass/alfalfa pastures in Cleveland, just past Mora. Saw lots of improvement rotating a small herd of dairy goats, free range chickens and adding minerals and more diversity of forbes. The pastures had been over grazed by horses before we moved there but they came back nicely in just a couple of years. It is very good pasture country if you can deal with the  pocket gophers. We grew some beautiful alfalfa, but the gophers love to eat on the roots.

There is a guy down the Sapello river from you who is an expert in beavers. He has permission to relocate them from ranches where people are trying to get rid of them. He has an experimental place where he re introduced beaver, planted willows and cottonwood for them and then tests water quality. water was much cleaner after bringing in beavers and his riparian area is improving dramatically from when the previous owners were over grazing cattle that eroded the stream banks.
8 months ago