Rob Alexander

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since Apr 13, 2009
Furano, Japan
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Recent posts by Rob Alexander

Doug Mac wrote:

Doug Mac wrote: My goats live in skid sheds (6X12, the next ones will be 8X20) that moves with them when they change paddocks. I keep hay, feed, medicines, and equipment for the animals in a skid barn (10X12 with room for a loft). Right now I have a dozen bottle baby bucklings in it. Why keep animals in one place and deal with there always being too much manure and urine?



Hiya Doug, do you think you could post a couple of photos of your skid shed/barn system?
I'm sure a lot of people, including myself, would benefit from seeing them.

My personal experience as a professional goat farmer/ cheesemaker with floor surfaces is,

Climate: Temperate, 6 month growing season, 4-6 month winters, snowbound for at least 3 months.
Cleaning: "Deep litter" year round. ie. uneaten hay from feeders is thrown onto any wees and poos. Thorough clean out and dusting with slaked lime every 7 days over growing season to remove fly larvae before hatching. Continuous deep litter over winter, big muck out in Spring renting a tiny back hoe for one day.

Dirt: It's workable if you can responsibly let fecal liquids drain into groundwater. (that's a big if, think about what might be at stake) and you can devote time and care to cleanouts, soft spots will tend to pit out further leaving an uneven, time consuming surface until you can fill depressions with gravel.

Concrete: Faster to clean. You can use machinery without instantly causing ruts and holes in your floor.

I hope this is useful to someone.

3 months ago

Bernard Welm wrote:Rob,

What is the best way to feed multiple free choice minerals. This is something I have been wanting to get into but I just have not been able to take the time to find something that would work (and that the chickens would not get into to foul up).



If you have a look at the video around 1:30 or so you'll see that these folks have attached some containers to the wall.
What I did was get some cheap, squarish (I believe they call that rectangular in the classics) tupperware containers (5 to be exact) and make a simple wooden frame to hold them all in, which I then attached to the wall slightly above goat bum level to avoid, well, you know..
The goats will tend to hop up and put their front feet into their minerals if you leave it this way, so I attached a 2x4 which is wider than the mineral feeder, horizontally to the wall below the mineral feeder as something for the goats to put their front feet on.
if you happen to have a low wall or something that the goats can put their heads through, you could attach it on the other side of the wall to avoid feet and goat berries.
If chickens are part of your equation a "roof" above the minerals might be a good idea in either case.

We're getting kind of off topic here, but I absolutely agree that Pat Coleby's book is worth its weight in gold if you're someone who is serious about goats. Great information about goat nutrition and goats in general.
(that being said, copper isn't a cure-all and warts are not caused by dietary imbalances)
2 years ago
I'm really sorry to hear about this Liorah.
I'm not a grafting expert, but I do happen to be a goat expert, so I can help on that front.
The reason why the goats felt the need to eat that bark is because they are deficient in dietary copper.
Copper is a mineral necessary for animal health (including us), and if the soil in your area is low in copper, your goats can't get enough just from their normal diet, so they try to get it by eating tree bark.
When I took over my herd they were deficient and they would eat tree bark, so I started to supplement them with copper and they've never done it since.

I just provide my goats with Copper Sulphate free choice.
I don't mix it into their feed, because I can't guess how much or little each individual goat needs.

It tastes terrible, but if they need it, they'll eat just as much as they need on the own accord.
It might seem scary providing your animals with pure minerals, especially copper sulphate because its bright blue, but it allows the animals to self medicate just like they would naturally in the wild by finding high concentrations of minerals and licking/gnawing on rocks or soil.
I found this little video of other people doing it too, so you can be sure I'm not just a lone nutbar.


Best of luck with the trees.
2 years ago
My apologies for coming off so grumpy 4health, I'm really glad you took it in your stride.
I've found this piece very useful for considering the options.
http://eap.mcgill.ca/agrobio/ab370-04e.htm

It touches on Basic-H, DE, and the various herbals; as well as important information about parasite behaviour and life cycles.
7 years ago
Gotta disagree with you boss..
"but" is a Coordinating Conjunction, and in the context that we're discussing, generally suggests a contrast that is unexpected in light of the first clause: "I am a permaculturist, but I keep a dog as a pet."
The "but" doesn't negate the first clause,  it adds additional, modifying information.

You've also got me wondering,
"our mission is to never suggest that anybody here on permies.com is anything less than perfect"
Are we all perfect? Really? Then why do we have any problems at all?
I think the reason why most of us are here at Permies is that we're not perfect, and we'd like to be better.
I know for sure that I'm a loooong way from perfect, and I appreciate people who can point out where I'm wrong, because then I can change my ideas and move forward.
Are critical thinking and disagreement not important parts of the quest for knowledge?

4health wrote:
I will note that the skin is largest eliminative organ and whatever touches skin is absorbed into body and is a form of ingestion. So if safe for skin there is some level of safety internally would be my opinion which I would like confirmed for long term use.  Interesting the lengths that we go to given that chemical wormers are essentially poisons.



I really don't like to troll, but I feel I must..
So the skin is an eliminative organ. It excretes, salty water. Teensyweensy amounts of toxins too.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspiration
"whatever touches the skin is absorbed into the body"
Please get into a lake when you're thirsty and tell me when you stop feeling thirsty.
The skin is waterproof, that's what it's there for.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integumentary_system
"whatever touches skin is absorbed into body and is a form of ingestion. So if safe for skin there is some level of safety internally would be my opinion"
You've got to be joking. If I dip my hand in orange juice, what part of it am I ingesting?
By the same token, there must be countless things that can touch the skin with little effect, but would be poisonous if swallowed, shampoo just as an easy example.

I know that this is getting off topic and I apologise, but I just couldn't let this sciency-sounding misinformation go unchallenged.
7 years ago

EmileSpecies wrote:
I am trying this too, don't forget the dolomite antidote to prevent liver toxicity.



Amen.
I've got tupperware containers in a really simple box on the outside of a fence so the goats can stick their heads through and get their, deep breath.. Salt, Seaweed meal, Dolomite, Sulfur, Dairy salt lick with selenium, and Copper Sulfate. (also some Bicarb soda in spring to help prevent bloat, and apple vinegar before kidding to help with circulation.)
Has no one else noticed that none of the information online about using basic-h as a dewormer can explain how or why it works?

"Other products used as dewormers are diatomaceous earth, charcoal, peroxide and surfactants such as Shaklee's Basic H. There is no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of these products as dewormers, but many farmers use them and swear to their validity. "

Take from that what you will.

I believe that DE is effective only when it is dry, so it is useful on exterior parasites, but would be ineffective on parasites in the gut where it would be wet.
7 years ago
I've got my girls on a ski hill, so the foresty bits are mature.
The girls will go out and eat the best things available, be it graze or browse.  In general they'll spend some time eating both. If they've grown up watching their parents graze/browse they will seek out plants that have the nutrients that they need at the time.
In a perfect world we'd only introduce goats into areas with a large variety of mature browse plants, but in real life we tend to start keeping goats, and THEN start thinking about improving browse plants...
Paul definitely has a point with worms and rotational grazing. Very very good idea (for plant preservation too).
Personally I'm singing in the Pat Coleby choir on worms, copper sulphate ad-lib.
A couple of links.
Shredded cedar roof. Simple, but heavy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22G9Y5M94R4
It will degrade into soil eventually, but it would be cheap and easy to replace.
I wonder if other rot resistant timber could be similarly used ie. Black locust.

A quick look at the pros and cons of greenroofs.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/bloom/actions/greenroof.shtml
Not so great in cold wet climates.
8 years ago