Andrea Locke

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since Aug 25, 2019
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Recent posts by Andrea Locke

Make sure to remove all tape from cardboard. Previous owners here mulched with cardboard but didn’t remove tape and more than a decade later I am still pulling tape out of the ground.
1 week ago
I think the form that is generally fed to livestock is uninoculated (so, not yet technically biochar) when it goes into the feed and comes out the other end of the animal as biochar inoculated with gut flora. Normally the inoculation process if not intended for feed would be to mix the char with compost, or soil, or soak it in a compost tea, etc, and I can’t see that being palatable to all livestock. My goats would turn their noses up at it, I am pretty sure. I do think chickens would enjoy scratching it into the compost or soil, though, and then eating the somewhat inoculated char and completing the inoculation as it passes through them.
The beauty of feeding it directly to livestock is they can do the inoculating and also spread the biochar through the field for you. I also read that it may be effective against some parasites. Tapeworms and coccidiosis in particular. I wonder if that is part of the explanation of why animals fed biochar may grow faster and be healthier. Hard to untangle that from the inactivating and removal of toxins a by char, and some experiments are unclear because they mixed char and molasses to make it more palatable but there are enough without molasses to show an effect.
1 week ago
Sorry! Try this:

Also, I realized after I posted that this was not news to everyone, there were already a few relevant threads. You know, how permies lists other relevant threads at the bottom? They hadn’t come up when I searched using ‘biochar’ and ‘livestock’ keywords because I think the word livestock was not mentioned but relate to chickens etc. and people’s own experience - well worth reading. I think the paper I linked is new, though.  
1 week ago
I discovered today that feeding biochar to livestock is apparently a widespread practice!!
Not just as a treatment for an acute poisoning event, but as a regular supplement either mixed in with their feed or available free-choice.

Here is a link to a scientific study

To me this is a real game-changer and seems like such a permie thing to do. I make biochar from clean and nontoxic branches found around the property, in a cookie tin in the woodstove so now it may have all these functions:

1. Reduces the fire fuel on our land,
2. Heats the house,
3. Feeds the livestock, reduces ammonia emissions,
4. Adds carbon to the soil, pre-mixed and inoculated with gut flora in manure and distributed around the pastures by the livestock.

1 week ago

Philip Heinemeyer wrote:Malus sieversii is thought certainly to be able to grow older than malus domestica and trees exceeding 30m height were found. But that doesnt mean they will all necessarily get very tall. Often it depends on the soil and location. Somewhere in England there are Oak trees over 50 meters tall while they usually dont grow taller than 30 meters. They just happen to grow in an ideal location with ideal soil.
Maybe the taller malus sieversii trees are found in one area of their repartition? I am no expert on malus sieversii. The test plantation is in geneva, new York i think even though i seem to remember something about Colorado. Maybe there is several. Going there would enable one to see whether there are differences in vigour and tree height.
I do think that they generally get taller than malus domestica.

The test site is the New York State Agriculture Experiment Station

I see you can buy them at rareexoticseeds although they are out of stock when I looked just now.

I couldn’t find any sources in Canada, but have ordered other things from rareexoticseeds in the past. I think they are in Germany.

1 month ago
Just to add: a week after winter solstice, day length here is a bit less than 8.5 hr.

Do ducks care about day length?
1 month ago
Living just north of the Canada-US border, our chickens here stop laying for a good part of the winter without supplemental light. To some extent this is manageable by having pullets just come into lay and I am also trying to select for shorter-daylight layers by incubating chicks from the earliest spring eggs. But ducks seem another good solution to the winter egg shortage.

Do all duck breeds lay well in winter? I have seen Khaki Campbell, Welsh harlequin and I think Indian runner mentioned as winter layers. What about Muscovies or is it only the mallard types?
1 month ago

Constancia Wiweru wrote:

Thekla McDaniels wrote:
One important thing I want to mention is how important it is to not take just any free manure!

Commercial and conventional operations for the most part, believe in pharmaceutical type wormers.  It’s an insidious form of toxic gick.  The compounds that try to kill parasites (“worms”) are still active after a pass through a host animal, they kill organisms in the soil.

Thank you so much for this! I got some manure from a local and didn't think to ask about wormers. Do you know what their half-life would be in the soil? Can you point me (and others) to resources for learning more?

The YouTube channel Roots and Refuge Farm got some soil contaminated with chemicals, possibly wormers. They suggest before spreading soil or manure to do a test and see if it will grow bean plants in a pot.  Beans were suggested as being fast and normally very easy to grow, but would not in the stuff they got.
1 month ago

Ben Zumeta wrote:Might something like an apple masher/scratter work for softer veggies? Soaking harder root veggies and squash might make them workable in a masher too.

Possibly. The general idea seems similar. I had to look up apple scratter and found this
Which shows the inside of the hopper of their homemade wooden scratter. I imagine with some playing around with spacing and sizes of the screws in the roller this might be able to shred a harder vegetable vs turning apples into mash. Actually, an apple masher would be useful for us too. Apart from the quantity of apples we produce being a lot for a countertop juicer, the goats aren’t very keen on chomping into whole apples and we don’t want them to choke. So we end up cutting those for them too.
1 month ago
Matt, I have to admit I am wooed by the appeal of growing the big radishes and beets that were the traditional storage crops for winter livestock feed. We’re working to reduce our dependence on purchased grain (and hay - will be storing more tree hay next year). From a storage standpoint there may be benefits to those big veggies - I suspect those preindustrial farmers didn't develop them just for fun but had good reason. I haven't grown or stored them yet so I can’t speak to that from experience.

That said, the same purpose to a large extent could most likely be met by growing normal sized garden veggies and the climate here most of the year is conducive to storing them in the ground for harvest in winter. So larger varieties that I suspect might store best in a root cellar may not be absolutely required, as we may be able to make do with in ground storage except for the month or two of real winter we might get.

But even with the normal sized veggies we supplement as feed now, we find chopping them greatly reduces waste. So the chopper would be helpful regardless. We’re feeding goats, chickens and geese. Other critters might be more inclined or able to put in the work.

Another reason for us to consider growing giant root vegetables is soil improvement. Our soil is rocky, nutrient poor, sandy uphill, clayish downhill, and eroded. It needs loosening and organic matter, which is something these big tillage radishes are known for. Ideally for tillage you leave the biomass in the soil to rot. But even if we pull some of them to feed, some will remain to improve the soil, and the holes left from the ones we pull and their root exudates will be doing good for the soil. Stacked functions. :)

I wonder too if these big root veg are pulling nutrients from much deeper in the soil. If you’ve seen the tillage radishes on Gabe Brown YouTubes, the root systems are spectacular. If that’s the case it would be great for the soil and also maybe reduce the need for buying in mineral supplements for the goats.
1 month ago