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Regan Dixon

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since Jun 11, 2015
Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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Recent posts by Regan Dixon

I went to Support (drop down menu under user name, top right corner of your dashboard) and typed Subscribe To Blog in the search bar.  There are 23 responses, some of which look more useful than others...I'd try the last page first, where it talks about people becoming members of your site; page 2 answers include starting a newsletter sign-up form...not sure if any of these suit you, but worth a look?
9 months ago
Good observations from Libbie Hawker.  
And, if you think they may have an overload of parasites, it is best to have a fecal exam done first. in order to find out what sorts of parasites may be present, in order to use an appropriate dewormer.
Hello Hans, thank you for describing, in a detailed way, how voles fit into your system.  There are garter snakes here, too.  Of course, they lie low over winter, but in warmer weather I often see them basking in the sun, on the rock walls in which they live.  I wonder if there will be a flush of them this summer, with lots of voles to eat?  Another argument for terracing with stone on the contour lines, to encourage more snakes in more places.  I don't see much evidence of voles in the pine woods with little undergrowth, which is not what they seem to like to eat.  I should observe more closely the aspen groves which tend to have a shrubby, grassy understory and more varied flora and fauna.  Certainly deer like browsing there.  Coyotes like to walk through the aspen-and-shrub territory.  I'd always assumed it was because it was easy walking with a good view of the property, the coop, and the goat sheds, yet camouflage so they couldn't be seen easily from the house.  But it might be because there are voles (and other small prey) there, too.  
As for compaction, I don't believe there's any more compaction here than before.  I have foot path access that I keep to, and I don't drive over the yard.  (That's what the driveway and parking spot are for--pet peeve.)  After reading more about voles, I've come to think that this winter has been a combination of exponential breeding (one pair of voles can breed ten times a year with a litter of ten young each time--that's a HUNDRED new voles each year) and a long, snowy winter that impeded predators' access to the voles for more time than usual.  More voles had more time to do more damage.  I imagine that there should next be a sort of collapse in the vole population, now that they've eaten so much, the ground's bare and thawed, and predators can make up for lost time--so the cycle can start over again.  
2 years ago
Hi Donna, not much trouble from bears regarding plantings, though they do like apples...haven't had any mature yet.  Bears like take-out chicken, but 13000V hotwire protecting the coop has been effective so far, touch wood.  Please note, there's not much that will give a bear a tummy ache, so I doubt that hot pepper would deter them.  In a way, it takes less material to keep out bigger creatures, than to keep out smaller creatures.  Just bought a whole 50 foot roll of 1/4 inch hardware cloth.  They looked at me funny in the store, where it's usually sold by the foot.
2 years ago
A word of warning on moths.  If moth eggs are already in your woollen goods, no amount of boxing them will protect them after the fact.  Two sessions deep freezing would be necessary to kill any larvae, and their offspring in turn.
2 years ago
Now that is an interesting observation about the pungent currants and resinous pines.  If those tastes and smells are indeed vole deterrents, I would bet that a tree of heaven (Ailanthos) would put them off as well.  At least, I find the male Ailanthus horribly stinky.  I wonder how ginkgo would fare...some are smelly?  Being one of the oldest kinds of tree, it must be doing something right.  So there might be virtue in creating a "stink" guild, with an outer ring of stinky guardians protecting the desired plants.  I wonder if walnut, which is allelopathic to so many plants, might deter critters as well?
2 years ago
Levente, about your wire baskets.  Do these not restrict the roots' growth?  Or do the roots break through as the tree grows?  Do you find that some species are more prone to attack than others?  Here, Rosaceae are tasty to voles, whether orchard trees or wild roses.  Other, wild trees seem not to be bothered.
2 years ago
Now, maybe I'm a dirt magnet, but I'm always washing grease, soot, chicken poop, etc. off my hands, and don't know how I would not transfer whatever was on my hands, to whatever I might touch next, that might not benefit from applications of same.  Just rinsing doesn't get everything off, as I remember my mother was always on my case about getting the towels dirty, after not washing my hands thoroughly enough.  I'm fine to shower without soap unless I've been manhandling the bucks, for example, but am I the only person who would leave greasy, grimy fingerprints all over everything if I didn't use soap?
2 years ago
Also, a little applied psychology:  I know all too well how it feels to be saying "I have to do C, but first B has to be done, but before B can be started, there's A...".  That is backtracking phrasing designed to stress a person out!  You can be kinder to yourself by choosing the A-B-C phrasing of natural progression.    

When you put your trailer on the land, you'll have a waterproof, windproof, cleanable and presumably heatable tent to camp from, that's off the ground so it won't be damp and rocky.  Could even be homey.  The weather will be getting warmer as the season progresses, and you can watch your land getting greener and leafier and more beautiful, with no effort from you; and you can expand your living space outside, perhaps with pleasant al fresco dining and grilling.  Water is nearby, an odourless compost toilet serves you, and at worst a hillbilly sink drain bucket for selective watering.  Voila, the essentials, and maybe even an abundance of the necessities, and some rustic luxury, if you look at it that way.
You guys have over a month to clear a path for the power, and for the building spot.  At the same time that you're doing that, you are by default also cutting fence poles, and firewood for future winters, giving yourself a head start on those tasks that you'll thank yourselves for.  A lot can be done in a month; and living onsite, there won't be any commute to eat up time.  Evenings can be spent elaborating on and delighting in your house plans--not as a "have to" activity, but as a "want to".
Come the end of May, when the frost is out of the ground and the load limits are lifted, you'll be ready to buckle down on the house, full of enthusiasm, with your plans reviewed and refined.

All will be well.  Just don't expect a fully functional permaculture homestead by the end of 2017.    (And if somehow you pull that off, I DON'T want to hear about it!  :greenface: )
2 years ago
Hello Michael, that sucks.  I agree, I think having stuff stolen would bother me worse than whatever nature would throw at me.  Nature is the ruler whose rules we must learn, and submit to, in order to live well.  Human predation, however....  Living in a small community, with a small core of year-round people and a much larger number of seasonal cottagers, my experience has been this:  do establish yourself in the community.  Community breeds community, building bonds and loyalties.  I would not assume that your year-round neighbours had anything to do with the theft; out here, it seems that part-timers' second cousins twice removed, visiting their cousins' cottage, are more likely to cause trouble, for they are not invested in the community, but view it as a place outside their laws, or a virtual playground where their actions have no consequences.  And, it is not that permanent residents here are hard-hearted, but there are so many part-timers who come, dabble, and disappear for years, that until they "invest" in the community, it is a bit much to babysit the properties of all of them.  My sense of things.  Maybe there is a similar dynamic where you are.
2 years ago