Eliot Mason

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since Nov 17, 2016
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Beavercreek, OR
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Recent posts by Eliot Mason

Definitely strip grazing.  Its a tradeoff of work moving the fencing vs restoring the pasture.

The ideal is "mob grazing" but you are no where close to the mass required!  Its something like 100k lbs of cattle per acre to induce them to "mob" and basically eat everything in sight before another animal does.  So the best you can do is confine them to the smallest area you can manage and move them along.

I have tenants with a very small (~600 lbs) Jersey milking cow.  They graze her in a portable horse corral which is maybe 14' square.  They move her as much as 5 times in a day ... but she eats what's in front of her, the movement evenly spreads her compaction action and her manure.  In a few weeks they can start the cycle again (something which is harder to do in an open pasture ... the grass doesn't get a chance to fully develop).
3 weeks ago
Completing the Humus Well on the lab (Paul's take on Sepp Holzer's Spring Terrace).  This project is about half completed and will demonstrate how to collect and store water in the form of a spring.
3 months ago
Hey - I'd like to bring attention to a particular fundraiser.  Its not mine and I don't benefit, but it is the result of friends/tenants on my property and they've absorbed some elements of Permaculture into their plans.  Its a different flavor from a Wheaton Labs kickstarter, but its good people with interesting ideas and skills.

And they have actual things to send you!

7 months ago
I'll parachute in as this group's first member South of the Columbia!

Hi!  I'm a graduate of the RMH Innovator's Workshop and the just finished RMH Jamboree.  I helped build the rocket oven we have (can't even take full credit on it) and am in the same boat ... wondering why o why haven't I made the outdoor canning stove, the rmh with bench in the basement, the rocket powered retort, etc.  I've got plenty of space, more wood than I'll ever use, a small pile of brick I've collected, and I probably both know more than I realize and also know just enough to really get into trouble.

2 years ago

D. Logan wrote:Obviously the best way to learn how to deal with a cow is to get a cow.

I'd disagree with the premise ... its certainly a way, and perhaps the most thorough but I'm not sure its the best!  I'd say borrowing a cow, hanging out with someone with cows to learn how they manage (handle & feed) the beasties.  The closer they are to a) your location and b) your preferred style of management (organic? grass fed? rotating pasture? etc) the better.

I'm deeply regretting that moment 4 years ago when an assortment of people told me that you can get the cows and then "just" build the infrastructure.  That advice was not appropriate for my situation, so make sure you understand your situation, limits, etc.
2 years ago

Any reason you're not considering just extending a line from the house system out into the pasture/barn?  A branch line can be relatively easy to add, and if you're just trying to water the small number of cattle you're planning on you won't need much (especially in the winter) so a small diameter line would work (1/2" pipe would be fine).  Filling a stock tank requires neither great pressure nor volume.
2 years ago
I'm not sure about a bull fee ... but you can get a straw of semen for $20-$100, and there is probably a local AI specialist,  Not sure but I recall $30 per for that service.

As for a bull, I think the price would vary a lot based on whether the cows visit the bull or the other way around.

Sorry I can't be of more help.
3 years ago
The original seed of this idea was getting these books to high schoolers as part of the "SKIP College" idea.  Any ideas from people in the education system about who to approach in the high school or school district?
3 years ago
Its easy to obsess on this topic.  In particular, see woodworkers (ahem...) with their chisels and planes, trying to see if they can separate a curl of wood thats so thin its transparent!

To Doug's point, I think one does need to match the tool to the job.  A whetstone or diamond "stone" are great for small knives (paring), but tricky for the big 12" chef's knives. Similarly the german-style stainless knives look nice and maintain an edge fairly well - especially if you use the burnishing rod - but if they get dull they are very difficult to restore.

As with most things, those with skill and experience can use a whetstone to get great results.  The rest of us need a tool that replicates the skill and experience.  I found the simple pull-through sharpeners ineffective and, in one case, damaging to the knife.  Instead of getting fancy jigs or spending a lot of time getting good, I just take them to someone who knows what to do ... which in my case is a guy who makes genuine samurai swords and sharpens knives at markets on the weekend.  Best edges ever!

So to Kate's question - try a simple whetstone with a paring knife and see where that takes you.
3 years ago

Sounds fun!

I am still building a chute ...I consider it bad advice when I got started 4 years ago that I didn't need a chute or a squeeze.  True, they aren't as necessary as a water trough or a fence but there are times when they really help, and even if its once a year, the safety it introduces is significant.

For all things chute, Temple Grandin is the person to listen to.  She has a bunch of designs for large operations ... I have a herd of 8 so I was pleased when I found this presentation: https://www.hobbyfarms.com/corral-cattle-herd-build-temple-grandin/  I'm still building mine so I don't have any learned comments, although I am making a Y split in he curve with one path leading to a squeeze (and back to the holding alley) and one leading to a loading ramp.

As for a squeeze, new metal ones are really expensive and they all seem built to handle rodeo bulls all day long.  I went with a simple headgate instead - still steel.  My cattle are quite chill.... we'll hope that is enough.

Generally milking parlors have smooth, hard floors for cleaning and such.  But if you're outside that may be less of an issue.  I think you are still at greater risk of contaminating the milk, but you can perform your own risk assessment.  Its easy to make a little wooden headgate - you want to encourage the cow to hang out and get treats, and you're not imprisoning her.  You will need a significant excluder fence/bumper to keep the cows from cheating!
3 years ago