Dawna Clephas

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since Jul 27, 2017
Currently raising Thoroughbreds and dairy goats on 170 acres, 35 open (sandy loam, pH around 4.5), 10 in scrub, and 125 in mixed Appalachian hardwoods and softwoods.  Open land is generally flat, woodlands include rocks gullies, medium slopes.  LOTS of wildlife..there's National Forest all around.  Large year-round creek goes through property (insufficient drop for most hydro turbines).

1)  Cut timber before warming winters lead to tree loss, then replant in mast - producing species from further south
2)  Raise and manage poultry to keep down ticks and provide personal and market food
3)  Get a mule or work horse that will do something more practical than race!  Teach it to drive to help with chores
4)  Try small patches of crops in little clearings in the forest (already therr), to take advantage of nutrients, cooler conditions.

Lots more ideas.  Want to make this place productive and cost-effective.
Craig County, VA
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Recent posts by Dawna Clephas

Does anyone have thoughts about which seeds need to be scarified or otherwise pretreated to produce the best germination rates?

I recall this was an issue with ginseng seeds.
1 year ago

stephen lowe wrote: I was pacing the field trying to think of what weeds we could call greens or tea'!

I hear you-- I'm 16 miles from town, so if I'm cooking and don't have everything in the recipe, I start scavenging outside.
I'm not a huge fan of raw radishes but am intrigued enough to try the seed pods now.  I love the tops in cream soups.  And last year I started roasting the roots, which mellowed them.  Delicious, like pale pink, very juicy turnips.  Could make customers out of a whole new base!
1 year ago
Nice to meet you--wish you were closer and we'd surely be able to share time on some good projects. What's your interest in the horses?  I breed to race...love my Thoroughbreds
Joseph, some of my squash continued producing one year well beyond the point where I'd finished harvesting.   I don't recall the types I'd planted that time--some summer, some winter. Anyway, some matured and spilled ripe seed into the soil. The next year I was excited about these volunteers, but what the produced was hard and inedible --almost like gourds.  

I find that volunteer tomatoes seem to revert to tiny, intensely flavorful fruits I really treasure. Corn that field - crosses results in tough kernels with little sugar.  And saved lettuce seeds vary widely--the mescluns seem to reproduce truest to the parents.

The safest method is to keep different members of the same families far enough apart to eliminate wind and most bee cross-pollination...no easy task.
1 year ago
If you have deer in the area, they'll find your apple trees, wait for each apple to fall, and then paw through (and demolish) whatever you've planted til they locate each apple.

I suggest a pack of beagles for ground cover.
1 year ago
Nina, would love to hear more about your plans.  I live in Craig, but on the western side about 1 hour from downtown Roanoke. I commute to a day job there  4 days/week so I understand the desire to limit that drive.

However, I've got 170 acres of mixed pasture and forest with a 30-ft wide creek, limited neighbors and regulations, and a decent sandy loam that can support a lot of crops if managed well.  It's really hard to find all this closer to the city.

There's always a trade-off!  

Best wishes,
Lots of ideas, lots of possibilities on this old farm.  Woods, water, open fields of sandy loam.  Want to becone more sekf-sufficient, keep the land and creek clean, and provide a model to others.  Have dairy goats niw, and used to have some ducks and chickens.. want to get poultry going here again.

Hope to share time with a like-minded fellow, especially if there's one who's into horses and good music on the side   An open-minded, measure-twice-cut-once kind of thinker!
Want to add one more thing, about your horse staying warm.  

Horses warm themselves by digesting roughage.  If it's super cold out and your horse has plenty of hay and fresh water, he will convert fiber to heat in his stomach, like a boiler, and will do fine.  (Keep in mind that his legs aren't as susceptible to cold as ours are.)

If it's sleeting, or blowing hard, he needs a roof or wall or both available. You don't have to close him in-- he'll go to cover if he needs to.  Since he'll be alone, he can't resort to the "nose-to-tail" protective posture common to horses in herds.

In Virginia I rarely deal with extended deep cold spells, but it can get below zero for a few days and has iced something awful. I put decent round bales out all winter to ensure there's always roughage available, and feed good squares at mealtime for nutritional needs (and grain, because Thoroughbreds generally have higher energy needs).  That works because my 8 horses will consume a round bale before it gets nasty.  With one horse, a round bale is likely not practical.

You'll need to pay particular attention to making dry, clean hay available every cold night.  And realize that if it's icy out, your horse might not walk a slippery path to get from his shed to the food/water location-- you'll need to blaze a trail (e.g.with sawdust) or take his hay and water to him.

Blankets can be tricky.  If your horse has been clipped for show or hunting, he may well need one.  Or if he has been in a warm stall a lot and you're turning him out on a cold day.  But his own natural coat is generally his best protection against the elements**, and he won't get it hung on anything  

(**may not apply to very young or sick horses.)
I once saw a post from a fellow decrying his "worthless goat".

My position:  If you're not a vegetarian, a goat is NEVER worthless!!  (Think coconut curry...)

Note-- I play mom to 15 dairy goats.  My horse fencing is a trivial challenge to the capricious capricorns, so I've resigned myself to doing without hostas, daylilies, azaleas, lilacs, tulips.....they're less important than my critters.  
Think I've read that blue eyes are usually associated with pygmies.  Ears look right for one of the Swiss types.

Personally I'm fond of Lamanchas for their attitudes, production, and parasite resistance.  They make a nice cross with pygmies, but you'll get weird ears