Faye Streiff

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since Oct 08, 2015
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Organic/biodynamic farmer, Naturopath, herbalist, writer. 
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Recent posts by Faye Streiff

We bought a pair of Champagne D‘Argent and lady bred to a Flemish Giant buck and a Flemish/New Zealand cross because that was all she had.  They look more like Silver Fox, as both have black heads, or did.  Turning now, as they are still young.  Babies growing fast,  D’Argent or the Silver Fox, which came from probably D’Argent anyway, have excellent meat to bone ratio ,unlike the Flemish Giants, which grow a lot of bone and take longer to grow out, although they grow fast.   At any rate, they kindled in very cold, near freezing weather in all wire cages under a roof but open on three sides.  All survived and they are excellent mothers.  
We are pleased.  Just growing to have a few to eat.   They also have wonderful, thick pelts of grey fur.  

5 days ago
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone,  and special thanks to Paul for making Permies so accessible, welcoming and enlightening to everyone.  Really makes homesteading fun when we don’t all have to reinvent the wheel constantly.  Good to learn from other’s mistakes and successes.  
I think your best choice would be to start very small, keep lots of records and grow into it.  Maybe plan for your first litter when weather is warm and there are lots of wild foraged edibles available to help with feed, keep several bales of hay on hand, and grain if you are feeding that.  See how they do, change up according to the season and what is available (slowly so you don’t upset their digestive system), and what foods they prefer.  Food preferences change constantly according to how much they need certain minerals in those foods.  Remember variety is key.  Not too much of any one thing, except hay free choice.  If they waste hay, change the type feeder you put it in and do lots of research.  Also you can try putting out a half portion at a time and adding more as they eat it.  We use bowls for water as they cannot always get enough out of the bottles and those tend to go awry a lot anyway.  This year a baby got its feet wet in the water bowl and froze to death during the night due to being too cold.   So now I take the water out at night or in really cold weather and if freezing, bring slightly warm water to them twice a day, then remove the bowl.   I also put less water in when there are babies so they don’t have so many accidents or fall into water and drown.  You can use a shallow bowl and put a rock in the center so they can’t climb into water, much like people do with baby chicks absent a commercial type watering device.  

Most rabbit pellets have soy as the primary protein source, which I prefer to avoid as it is always GMO and has too much estrogen.  They also have alfalfa, corn, grain byproducts, a little molasses, and some vitamins/minerals added.  I use dried kudzu, honey locust when I can get it, clover, trefoil, as a protein source, and they get sunflower seed for both protein and vitamin E and minerals.  The winter squash seeds are high protein and high in zinc and other things good for them.  So pick a system that will work in your area and with your available feedstuffs and jump in.   Nothing is carved in stone, be flexible enough to change it up when they are not thriving or growing as fast as you’d like them to.  

Good luck with your endeavors!
2 weeks ago
I had the same problem, no one had it this time of year in November.  I wanted to water glass eggs to have some for when the chickens stop laying for winter.  Used hydrated lime instead, which is calcium hydroxide, same ingredient but may not be food grade.  
1 month ago

Fescue has endophyte fungus in the leaf, although some currently bred varieties of it are lower, it still has some.  Trays of wheatgrass grown Indoors can sometimes have mold growing.  Look carefully.  

One of the best grasses for juicing is oatgrass, very sweet.  No wonder the livestock like grazing it!  However, will winter kill in areas where wheat will not.   Humans cannot digest the cellulose in grasses, but can digest the juice.  It is not a complete food but has lots of minerals and vitamins plus chlorophyll.  

1 month ago
Pictures this time.  The leaves that are missing are from goats getting in, when someone left the door ajar.  Can’t let that happen again!
1 month ago
Does anyone do something with those nice, plastic feed bags, like the ones sunflower seeds or some cat food comes in?  

We were insulating our barn which my husband turned part of into a sunroom.  I immediately filled it with plants.  Freezing weather so had to do a quick insulation job due to all those spaces between the wall boards and cold wind coming in.  We have a small wood stove in there but not enough with all the drafts.  I noticed that the feed bags looked exactly like the material the expensive house wrap was.  So today we gathered up all those bags I saved and ripped them open and he is tacking it up on the walls.  Stops the drafts, and then we’ll do another layer of insulation inside that when we have time.   He already went to town twice to buy insulated foil backed styrofoam boards and they were “out of stock”.  We’re seeing that with a lot of things, so making do with what we’ve got, which we should have been doing all along.   It drops to 7 below zero some years here, but not for long.  What else would work on those walls as another layer of insulation?  I suggested more boards, as he has a sawmill, but that is still a lot of hard work to cut them.  

I also thought about using these as grow bags, maybe cutting off halfway, sewing the half with two open ends, so only one end is open, so two grow bags from each feed bag.  Punch a few holes in the bottom.  It has to work better than those cloth bags which dehydrate instantly.  Tried those, didn’t like them and also expensive, although the ones I had were given to me from a friend who no longer gardens.  I’m going to take the largest of those and cut out for quilted boots, and that will be the outside layer, then a rubber sole.   Never did that before, and it is on my list but not the urgent list.  

Let me hear from everyone.  Ideas?  
1 month ago
I don’t really plant much of anything.  These plants are all wild foraged on our property.  A larger breed, of course, eats more, and a nursing mom eats a lot more than a non pregnant adult rabbit.  Generally they need a chunk of hay about the size of their body, about a cup of grain (in my case sprouted grain), and as much other wild plants, grass, leaves, clover, etc., as I can find per day.  You can also grow collards, or other leafy greens for them.  They love sweet pea vines or leaves from green beans.  Avoid too much of the high oxalic stuff like spinach or chard.  They eat a lot.  If growing grain, it depends on the soil fertility,amount of rainfall and too many other factors to consider or compute into the equation.  We know how to grow the grain, but usually just buy it.  We are getting old (late 70’s and 80 ish), so don’t work quite as hard as we used to.  I’ve had deer and groundhogs raid the sunflowers this year and get into the corn, oat or wheat patch and eat everything.  
1 month ago
I did a lot of research on forages for livestock and made up a chart I use in the classes I teach here at Heartsong Farm.  
Poplar leaves have 15 to 16 percent protein, sunchoke or sunflower leaves 14 to 28 percent, depending on whether young leaves or older leaves.  Dandelion is 12 to 20 percent, with loads of other nutrients, and high in calcium.  Lamb’s quarters are 24 to 28 percent, smartweed 22 to 26 percent.  Multiflora rose is 14.5 to 18 percent and has a 59 to 1 calcium to phosphorous ratio, making it ideal for nursing moms.  Brambles similar to rose.  Young pigweed (wild amaranth) is 21 to 26.  Young Ragweed comes in at 25 and the seeds are even higher.  Plantain is 11 to 18 and kills bacterial infections in the gut.  Black locust is 24.   Chicory is 18 to 22 and sweet potato leaves 17.  Elm leaves are 7 to 8 and honeysuckle 13 to 16,  Lespedeza sericea is is 12 to 16.  Birds foot trefoil is 15 to 28.  Kudzu is one of the best forages, but toxic if hit by frost.  It has 24.5 percent protein, and very high in minerals, especially calcium, good for growing, pregnant or lactating stock but might be too rich for adult males if they get a lot of it.  Compare these percentages to alfalfa which is generally 17 percent.  This is by no means a complete list and I hope this encourages you to research those plants which grow in your area.  Always feed a wide variety so they don’t get too much of any one thing.  
1 month ago
Put a little bit of cal/phos in water and water your plants.  They are merely deficient causing that bitterness.  Phosphorous makes them sweet, makes them fruit more.  Calcium governs uptake of all other nutrients so it is needed too.
1 month ago