A Philipsen

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since Jul 10, 2011
OR - Willamette Valley
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Recent posts by A Philipsen

The Home Orchard Society and Agrarian Sharing Network both do a great job of promoting fruit diversity and the preservation of antique varieties here in Oregon. Every late winter/early spring there are propagation fairs - a handful of smaller local ones (ASN) and a big one up near Portland (HOS) - with scion, rootstock, and grafting assistance available. I don't know if this happens in other states too but if so, it's an amazing resource and well worth seeking out.
1 year ago

Although, I've got to throw this out there.

If you want an easy animal to start out with, you want geese.


Then how about this - a duck flock for eggs with a pair of geese in the mix for protection from predators (and making more geese for the freezer)?
Like so many other people have said, it's pretty subjective. In my yard, the ducks are much better foragers most of the year than the chickens. There's no comparison. They are also easier on my flower beds (except for the hostas) and do less damage if they accidentally get in the garden which almost never happens because they don't fly. My chickens don't either but only because I clip the little devils' wings. On the other hand, chickens can dig up a dormant garden like pros and leave it nearly weed and pest free for spring (and fertilize it in the process). However, if and when I have to pen them up, ducks are disgusting. I swear they can take one cupful of water and use it to turn an entire 10' x 20' run into a stinking, soggy mess. Even their poo is watery which, if they are free-ranging is great because it disappears into the grass but if they are penned, just contributes to the general sogginess. So, if you want them loose and you have a place to put a pond (and what has worked the best for me is a low, 20 gallon trough that we empty and move to a different spot around the orchard every few days), ducks are great. If you want to coop them up, maybe chickens are better, but either one has plusses and minuses so in the end, go with what appeals to you the most.
3 years ago

rabbits are not efficient at deriving nourishment from what they eat; they often eat their own poo at least one time through for that reason. I think that rabbit poo is likely, for that reason, to contain a lot of broken down but unabsorbed nutrients that are superior plant food.

No, not exactly. They make two different kinds of pellets. The one they eat after their food goes through the first time is soft and green - like a goat's cud, not like poop. Their poo pellets are just poo and they do not re-eat them. I find it to be pretty equivalent to goat poo as far as the effect it has on my plants, no better, no worse.
5 years ago

I wonder if it were possibly to legally raise a couple of wild rabbits and then breed them with a larger, domesticated rabbit? Still, that does not give one the thrill of the hunt.

Probably not, apparently most strains of wild (American) rabbit are not closely related enough to domestic (developed from European) rabbits to crossbreed. Though don't quote me on that, it's from reading on the 'net, not personal observation. Interestingly, My father insists that the wild buns in our brush are descended from some that a neighbor released that went feral.

How much work is it to raise rabbits? I have never raised them for meat so cannot speak from first hand experience. I know of people who do raise them.

Easy enough. I keep my buns in my garden, makes it easy to give them cuttings and I don't have to haul their poo. A couple does and a buck can produce all a person would care to eat in a year, plus some for the dog. You do have to get outside input for your gene pool now and again, but there are lots of bun raisers out there, it's not so hard to find someone to swap with. If you want to pasture them, there's more work involved in setting up, you either have to invest in a way to keep them in an area or keep them out of your garden (assuming you have one), but then they pretty much feed and raise themselves. Personally I wouldn't bother with wild ones at all unless you're worried about introducing an invasive species. Just get a non-white color and the domestic buns will probably adapt fine to being outside. They haven't completely had survivability bred out of them, but they grow much bigger and faster then the wild buns.
5 years ago
The trouble with using your milk cow for plowing is, even my fat little Dexter drops weight pretty dramatically if I'm milking her. She drops less if she only has to feed her calf, but still, putting her to work in the field would be asking a lot, and there can't be much power in a skinny Jersey butt. If you have that small of an acreage that you're worried about feeding something big enough to work, I'd try pigs or chickens or just mulching and not tilling first. Not saying that you couldn't make it work by factoring in planting times to your calving schedule, adapting the work load somehow for their reduced capacity, whatever, but it would be complicated. And slow.
5 years ago

I was wondering are there people trying to do their food forest with mainly native plants? or are they using adapted exotics.

Yes. Western Oregon has a very wet season and a very dry season and there aren't many plants that can handle saturated soils and standing water in the winter, then go to bone dry in the summer that aren't native to our climate. So the parts that are so far from the house that I know they won't get attention, mostly have natives. However, many of the native plants just don't taste that great and I like diversity, so I squeeze in lots of non-natives in the areas that have good drainage and are close enough to keep an eye on.
5 years ago

Blackberries make a good nursery for those regenerating plants

Well, yes and no. It works for trees, but all the little undergrowth can't compete with the berries until they get shaded out at which point, it's too dark for the others as well. I'd keep an eye on them, don't let them get a foothold. If you keep the noxious weeds from taking over, a lot of stuff should fill in on it's own. Also, if you wait and give some thought to what you do want growing, around February you can pick up a bunch of native plants and/or trees super cheap at the seedling sales. Not that I'm saying that all you should plant is natives, but they're certainly low maintenance and a good place to start.

Also, I got goats because my own property was overrun with noxious weeds. I have a small woods that, now that the berries/roses are cleared out, is springing back to life and every day I see something new in it. I'm not saying run out and get goats, I limit their access to my woods now because I don't want it empty, but used carefully, livestock can just about work miracles, it's something to consider.
5 years ago

conflicting information??

Seems like. From personal experience, I've seen my father's horses and cows take the occasional nibble (cleaned the suckers right out of their field) and they're still perfectly healthy, but they're in a large pasture with plenty to eat, so they're not likely to overindulge in anything. I feel pretty confident letting my goats eat them given that goats seem to have a higher tolerance for toxins than many other animals. I do wonder if there are other factors - soil/weather/etc conditions that contribute to toxicity. My father swears they don't make good fence posts either, that they just rot. I haven't tried that yet, my trees are babies, but maybe the toxins just aren't as concentrated in the trees here or something. I have to admit, the conflicting info all over the web and the not-knowing are one of the reasons I planted some. Curiosity gets me every time.
5 years ago
Do you have a county extension office you can call? They would know what would grow where you are and where to get it. We have seedling sales every winter here, you can get lots of trees (of course this is OR, we're all about the trees) and native plants for super cheap and the extension office knows who/when/where for the ones they aren't directly involved in.
5 years ago