Leigh Tate

author & gardener
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since Oct 16, 2019
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goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
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My dream has always been to live close to the land. My goal is simpler, sustainable, more self-reliant living. In 2009 my husband and I bought a neglected 1920s-built bungalow on 5 acres, which we've gradually built into our homestead.
Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Recent posts by Leigh Tate

Jason, I would highly recommend Keeping Bees with A Smile by Fedor Lazutin and Leo Sharashkin. It's probably the best book on natural beekeeping that there is. Dr. Leo was a guest here on Permies several months back. You can read the summary of the book and see book reviews at this Permies thread.
22 hours ago
No, but we have four cats. :)
1 day ago
I've been harvesting rose hips over the last several weeks and am finally ready to apply for this BB.

Rose bushes in a thicket loaded with hips.

1st picking, 8 ounces.

2nd picking a couple of weeks later, 9 ounces

Total = 1 pound 1 ounce fresh.
After dehydrating the yield was one quart.
1 day ago
Like John, I'm skeptical of this method as well. It's very much a commercialized production approach, rather than a permaculture approach. You won't find it in any natural ecosystem. You've already spotted the pitfalls, which create a lot of work to avoid.

I have goats, which are free to graze (rotationally), but are in their shelters at night with free choice hay. I use the deep litter method in the barn and find it works very well. My bedding is wasted hay, mostly. I rarely buy straw. Several times a year I clean out the barn and top dress the pastures with it. I especially search out bare spots, where I toss down a forage seed mix and cover it with the barn litter. For me, this is the simplest and easiest workflow. My goats are healthy and happy, and my pastures are improving.

I do gather branches and weeds for the goats, but it's more of a treat. I agree it would be a lot of work to gather enough to keep them in good condition. Remember too, that goats, sheep, and cows are ruminants. They require long-stemmed grasses and hay to stay in top health because that's how their digestive systems are designed to work.
Excellent question. For a vegetable farm, I'd be considering livestock with two things in mind:
  • manure production for compost and fertility
  • a way to deal with surplus and "waste" produce

  • The other question is, do you want eggs, milk, and/or meat?

    Others have pointed out that keeping livestock properly separated from your vegetable production areas is a must, so good fencing is a must. How much work that is depends on how you view it. I find that once I develop a routine, it seems less like "work" and more like business as usual.

    We've kept chickens, goats, and pigs (small breed - American Guinea Hogs) and fed them well from garden and kitchen waste. Pigs are also excellent disposers of slaughter and butchering waste. For chickens and pigs, especially, you can pretty much feed them 100% from what you grow. Goats still need hay, minerals, and supplemental feed if the pasture isn't excellent. We've also had Muscovy ducks which we loved, but they're flyers and it was hard to keep them out of places we didn't want them. Never tried rabbits, but they would be worth considering.

    Animals can add a whole lot to any kind of farm or homestead!

    1 day ago
    I just found this post. Thanks for the link Jon!
    1 day ago
    N.Y., if you haven't found it already, this Permies thread, Solar Food Dryers may be helpful. The discussion has been ongoing for about a decade, but a lot of good plans and information is discussed. It might answer some of your questions.
    2 days ago

    Gary Numan wrote:Hello everyone.  

    1.  Lets say I have two comfrey plants in my yard -- one Bocking 4, the other Bocking 14.  How can I tell which is which, or are they visually identical?

    Here's another Permies thread that discussed the same question and may help you -> https://permies.com/t/136239/Comfrey-Bocking-Bocking-differentiate

    2.  How late in the year can Bocking cuttings be planted?  I dug up and divided a 3-year old Bocking 14 (I think!) on 25 September.  16 crown cuttings, 30-something root cuttings.  All were planted 26 September.  Today, almost a month later, 15 of the 16 crown cuttings took hold, all 15 with multiple 3" to 6" leaves, happy plants.  Conversely, exactly *zero* root cuttings show any evidence of life, not a single leaf yet.  I'm in Zone 7, no frost yet, I'm expecting first frost in about two weeks.

    I have mostly Bocking hybrids, and do my transplanting in the autumn before they go dormant (so I can tell where they are!) Like you, I've had better luck transplanting crowns, but would say don't give up on the roots. They take longer to establish and may not sprout leaves until next spring. Just make sure they get plenty of water.
    2 days ago
    The big question is, how much sun do you get? Solar anything needs sun, so if you have a lot of short sunlight or cloudy days, a solar dehydrator may not perform as hoped for. Humidity plays a factor as well, so with many humid, sunless days, there's the risk of food items molding rather than drying. Your raw banana bread sounds like a very moist product, so I suspect that unless you have a lot of sunny, dry days, you'd be better of reinvesting in another electric dehydrator. The alternative might be to use an inverter and run it off a solar-charged battery.
    2 days ago