Kate Downham

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since Oct 14, 2018
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goat homestead wood heat
I'm a quiet goatherd establishing a permaculture homestead on old logging land at the edge of the wilderness.
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Recent posts by Kate Downham

Linda Woodrow's 'The Permaculture Home Garden' might fit this idea. Her ideal system uses chickens and lots of mulch, but there are also ideas for people growing no-dig intensive gardens without chickens by processing grocery shop waste with a worm farm, and hot composting.

She ran a market garden with this system on 1/4 acre.

I use a modified version of her chook dome mandala garden system for some of my garden.

I think manure of some sort helps to balance out all the carbon that the mulch brings, and chickens are great for many other reasons too, but there are ways around this.
2 days ago


I've had trouble getting chickens to prepare my heavy soil on their own without lots of mulch, but maybe pigs combined with chickens are a good option for preparing larger bits of land.

Has anyone here tried this with pigs and chickens at the same time?
2 weeks ago
I think I'm in zone 8b or 9a, temperate climate. Inland Tasmania.

Growing wild around the place I have seen:
European plums
Some pears

There are a lot of old hawthorn hedges around. I remember reading something a while ago about grafting certain fruit trees onto hawthorn, so that might be a way to use the root system of something already thriving, while producing tastier fruit.

Blueberries are often commercially grown here without chemicals.

This map might be a good one to use to find trees in the wild and observe what is growing well: https://fallingfruit.org/
2 weeks ago
If all goes smoothly, then it will be available for sale next month (hopefully earlier rather than later). I will post links here and on Kickstarter when that happens.
Today the book files were sent the printer, and if that goes smoothly then it won't be long until the books are printed!

I've attached pictures of the back cover (with pie) and the acknowledgements page.

It's really exciting to have the book at this stage, and to be able to thank everyone that has helped.
You can usually get away with once per day milking at any time of the day, so your goats won't mind whether you're milking them in the morning or in the evening, just as long as it's at around the same time each day.

When I kept two dairy goats close to the house, milking would take me 20 minutes from start to finish (including all the milk straining, cleaning up, and so on), so it doesn't take very long.
I'm sorry to hear this happened.

It's hard to say for certain what the problem was.

It could have been that she was overwhelmed with the amount of kids and just couldn't lick them all dry - the most I have seen born at once have been twins and even then it is a bit if a race against time for the doe to lick them clean. To prevent this happening again you can just watch for all the signs of birth drawing near and check up on her often. Some people use baby monitors at night in the goat barn so they can hear if there is a birth happening.

She may not have allowed the two cleaned up kids to drink from her udder in time. Some does just don't really understand that they need to stay still for the kids, or the kids have trouble finding the udder. This is where I am most likely to intervene in a goat birth, as things can go downhill really quickly if the kids don't get colostrum soon after birth.

It could have been that there was something wrong with the kids, and the doe rejected them. To avoid this you can feed your does the right minerals and supplements before and during pregnancy so that the kids won't have defects due to bad nutrition.

It could just be that she isn't a very good mother. Do you know how old she is? I have seen does that were kidded when too young ignore their kids after birth.

It could also be that she was distracted by the other goats.

I agree with everything Annie said above. One thing I can add about signs of birth is just to observe each goat's normal behaviour, often they will act differently to normal when the birth is getting very close. Other signs like udder swelling, loosening of ligaments, mucus and so on can show that the birth is within the next few days, but a change in behaviour will often show that it's going to be within a few hours.

I have never heard anything before about avoiding alfalfa for does. My dairy goats have always done really well on it, we just make sure to feed kelp as well, so that they get the iodine they need.
Another one of mine, although it takes a while to chop everything up is 'farmhouse vegetable soup':

Soak a handful or two of pearl barley overnight. Add this to a big pot of bone broth, along with some chopped bacon and lots of leeks or onions, and other vegetables, then just cook it for around an hour, or until everything is done.

I like to make big batches of this and other stews, soups and curries, and that way even if it takes a while to make the first batch, there is food ready to reheat for the next couple of days.
1 month ago
The house we bought was pretty much a metal shell with a hardwood floor, so we were able to use some natural building ideas early on:

Floor coating was 2 coats of 50% pure tung oil and 50% pure orange solvent mixed together. This made our house smell like tasty oranges for quite a while. We probably didn't cure it for long enough, or do enough coats of it in some areas, but it worked really well in the bedrooms. Other areas that got wet early on it hasn't been so good for, but I think now it's cured for longer it can handle water a bit better. I'd like to do more coats of this some day.

For the plasterboard walls we used a natural clay paint from a German company called Volvox. This looks and feels really nice and doesn't stink. I think it has some toxin/EMF absorbing properties too.

Natural tiles in the bathroom and laundry. The laundry doubles as a food storage room, and the tiles act as thermal mass to keep everything a bit colder than the rest of the house.

Natural unfinished timber in the kitchen.

Clothesline outside. I got a hill's hoist-style one and put it on the slope of a hill, so that my little helpers can reach the clothesline on one side, and then spin it around and hang things out on all sides of it.

Wood cooking stove, composting toilet, greywater system.
1 month ago
One quick meal that I like a lot is a dish inspired by the Thai ‘pad see ew’ (not sure if I got the spelling right or not). I stir fry some broccoli and garlic, make thick carrot ’noodles’ by peeling strips of carrot with a normal vegetable peeler, throw those in and stir fry for a short time, and when all the vegetables are ready I move them to one side of the pan, add some whisked eggs and cook those as a scramble, and then mix it through the vegetables. I put lots of coconut aminos over the top at the end as I don’t eat soy, but tamari or another fermented soy thing would be fine for that instead.
1 month ago