Tom Pivac

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since May 29, 2020
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Recent posts by Tom Pivac

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Why do you ask?  

Built my first charcoal retort over the weekend and just wondering what sort of quantities I should be aiming for.
1 month ago
Anyone ever added so much bio char to their garden that it has a negative result?
1 month ago
We’d been worried for some time now about weight loss in one of our female alpacas that we got given about 3 months ago.

Went out to the paddock yesterday to be greeted with a tiny little alpaca cria. Bit of a shock.
Good point

So maybe if some kind of anaerobic bacteria was encouraged to grow in it.
4 months ago
Has anyone experimented with or have any ideas of plants that would grow in the extremely nutrient rich medium that is the domestic grease trap?

Just trying to think of a way of avoiding cleaning it out.
4 months ago

Mike Autumn wrote:....since they break down organic matter and absorb excess nutrients from grey water. ...

...does that involve just pruning or uprooting the plants or does it mean taking everything out, cleaning it and/or replacing the substrate?!

Not quite. There is another step. The reefs have a hollow stem. This allows the plant to pull air down and release it from the roots which oxygenates the grew water. Aerobic bacteria can now begin the process of breaking down the nutrients which are then absorbed by the reed for growth. Thus the nutrients are pulled from the water and converted into plant matter.

Once the reed has reached full maturity and stopped growing its intake of nutrients slows down. At this point you want to Harvest the plant to produce mulch or compost and allow the pruned plant to continue growing.

Hope this helps
5 months ago
Hello. I’ve put this topic in the chicken section but it could be relevant to any animal.

I was chatting to the boss at work the other day and was shocked to learn that he doesn’t care about inbreeding in his flock of sheep. He has 10 acres (not permaculture) and only replaces his ram every 3 or 4 years. He doesn’t care about inbreeding between ram replacements.

I was thinking about this and realised that we raised chickens when I was young and I have no recollection of ever replacing the rooster despite many years of breeding. It’s going back a fair few years now so my memory could be wrong but it appears that we were inbreeding our chickens as well. (Or my parents were getting rid of the hens without me noticing).

So, Two questions: Do you care about inbreeding in your farm animals (or you do for some types but not for others) and what steps do you take to prevent inbreeding if you do?

5 months ago
Thanks guys

Refining my search I found this paper ( that says “ ...early castration may cause a prolonged period of long bone growth and result in a “post-legged” conformation (joint hyperextension) which may predispose the llama to early onset osteoarthritis or patellar luxation. Thus, some authors advocate delay of castration until the male is 18 to 24 months old.”

I guess the next question is if banding an animal after it’s that old is acceptable? I have found lots of articles says it’s painful and causes heath concerns but no studies to back that claim up.

I’ve read that banding male alpaca as a method of castration is ineffective. I was wondering if anyone knows why?

The problem with large paddocks, as I understand it, is you end up with an under grazing condition and loose the desired forage.

The animals go into the paddock and eat their favourite grasses and ignore the “weeds”. As this forage begins to regrow they eat it down again before it can mature, all the while ignoring the “weeds”. This favours the weeds and disfavours the desired forage and you result in a paddock full of weeds.

The trick is to densely pack your paddocks so everything gets eaten/trampled and then you allow sufficient time for that area to regrow.

The problem is that with so few animals, achieving the ideal density results in very small paddocks. Which are a lot of work to maintain and I don’t feel right not giving the animals plenty of area to run about.

7 months ago