I have a farmette in South Africa - all of 4 hectares, and I am a budding permie who needs some advice. I have been growing organic veggies for a while now and I have read Linda Woodrow's book on the Permaculture Home Garden and am getting ready to build my first chook dome. Other than that I am a complete novice.
The farmling is in the mountains of Magoebaskloof in the Limpopo Province. It is a summer rainfall region and gets very very wet. The wind can be quite brisk and good for a wind turbine. The winter can be very cold at night - goes down to -8 degrees centigrade.
My main question is about livestock and grazing per hectare. I believe 4 hectares is about 10 acres. How many AU per hectare? That is my main question. I found an Animal Units Calculator so I can work it out when I know how many per hectare or acre. I would like to have a couple of dexter cows, 2 sheep ( a ram and a ewe), 12 chickens and a rooster and perhaps some geese for security, and a horse. We plan to build a small dam for fish as well. How many fish to how many litres ? of water?
At the moment there is very little on the land but natural grasses and black wattle which we are slowly using up and we will keep a small controlled wood lot for the "donkey" to heat our water. We are going to use quite a lot of wood to build cordwood walls for the garage and workshop shed.
There were 4 horses on the farm for about 6 years and now that they are gone (about 2 years now) and the grasses are tall and all the pathways are covered. The land has not been ploughed for at least 6 to 10 years. There are small red ticks and fat grey ones as well. Where do I go to read what to do with this land before I start grazing livestock, what to grow for fodder, how to use paddocks for grazing and what to send in first etc.
Any recommendations on books and websites will be most welcome.
Thank you kindly.
Joined: Nov 18, 2010
I have no advice, just wanted to say welcome to permies. I hope you keep coming back & eventually we'll have enough southern african permies to swap ideas.
BTW I like the term farmette. That describes my 5 acres! I haven't started yet. Still researching but itching to go. I'm still in North America; will be moving back around August.
Do you have a basic gardening book you recommend? I've built quite a small library but all of them are written for the northern hemisphere.
I'd also suggest posting your question under critter care. I don't imagine a lot of folks pass by the Africa forum. Some of the info from other regions may be equally applicable. I've spent some time in the other forums and have gleaned A LOT of wisdom. It's worth a try.
Don't be a stranger now
Joined: May 25, 2011
Howzit up there on the kloof... One of the best places in SA.....especially when it fogs in and you see the tea pickers in the mist....Fantastic. ! Not much luck with replies I see.... All it takes is hard, methodical, continuous work to get your spot operating. You will find your niche, and pace. Great words from Shawn Phillips, muso - ".....even small steps makes a distance." We just bought a place on the coast near Knysna. 3.5 hectares. Lots of Black wood and Black Wattle. 5 year cleaning plan. My advice is to start removing the wattle.....then farm/manage it for sustainable fire wood. A large tree sucks up 150L + of water a day....... Cut down what you can. Nothing like a donkey hey? Just every night to stoke it for a bath gets to me. But it is fun. How you doing so far on your land since your last post? As you can see - i'm new at this too...so I can't offer any advice on the live stock at all. Chicken tractors are wonderful. I'll be having around 5 or so on my land.....with about 6 chickens + chicks in each, will be slaughtering every 5 weeks. Lekker werk.
Enjoy your dream, if I was not in paradise myself I would be jealous.....
Linda Woodrow is great, but seriously complicated guilds and all.
Get Uncle Bills "Intro to Permaculture" and if you get more serious the "Permaculture Designers Manual"
Rosemary Morrows "Earth User Guide to Permaculture" is very good.
Bert Lancaster "Water Harvesting Volume 2" is excellent.
PA Yoemans "Water for every farm" essential reading if you plan on dams
Look out for a BBC documentary called "A farm for the Future" it has many ideas that will apply for you there.
Ticks are a pain, I have to be very careful with my cows as we have RED WATER here, it can kill then quick quick, so be vigilant and know what to treat them with.... I try to use Homeopathic, but not gona let my cows die so I use what I can even drugs and antibiotics when needed.
Attending a permaculture design course PDC is the best way, Berg en Dal offers the best in the country, but closer to use is Ewald Viljeon, who is a master teacher, make the effort to learn your craft well, a book can only show you a sliver of what a PDC does.......
Expand as you need to, there is no rush......
Start at the kitchen door with you intensive garden, then your food forest and small animal systems, once you have those running try larger animals. Use good fences and electric for pigs, cow and horses (not a big love of mine, but get a draught horse if you get anything please)....
Forestry and fungi will be your friends, many medicinal plants grow well there.... Trees: Curtisia dentata, Ocotea bullata, Warbirgia salutaris, Cassine transvalensis Bulbs: Siphonochillus aethiopicus, Modia whetiea
Vervet monkies and or baboons many just drive you to tears, if they are there you may have to fence your garden in and concentrate on long term forestry and nut production. Trees: Sweet Chestnut 90kg yield, Pecan 40kg yield, Macadamia?
I dont have a lot of time to check up on this site as farming keeps one really busy, but ask away if you want and I will try answer....
Enjoy the challenge and keep the momentum..........
Marloe, It sounds so great when I hear about the water we have too little. Gaia's Garden is an excellent starting book. You can view much of it online at google books before you buy. Will Guinea Fowl be ok in your area? , How about Ducks? you can keep them together with pastured Chickens in paddocks to help with the tick eradication. (but the Guineas can fly) Once you understand the seasons/prevailing winds etc you will know what will suit your needs and design accordingly. Right now is best time for getting some trees in the ground.
Joined: Oct 19, 2011
Hi Marloe, Woodrow’s book can do your head in when you start out but you don’t have to understand all the guilds before you begin. Her system boils down to a portable-ish chicken coop in the vegetable garden. All the rest -- guilds, having the dome next to trees when they are fruiting -- is stuff you can get your head around later. Plan where you want the beds to be -- or at least the first one. Make a dome. Electrical conduit lasts about four years in North West province where I am -- the sun is really harsh. I used welded rebar for the two second domes and they have lasted six tears so far. Get hens and, Woodrow is right, get a rooster to warn you if anything is messing with them. The hens like mulch, and with the rain you get in summer, you will need lots of mulch or it gets really stinkey. After a week or two move the dome to the next spot and begin planting. It took me a few rotations to get the soil right. I still add compost and bone meal when I plant.
Get the first few plants from the nursery for this summer. Tomato, eggplant and green pepper can be planted now. One of the nurseries nearby will be able to advise you on what grows your area.
For the first year or two, get a sense of how to grow vegetables and look after chickens - then go back to the book and move on to the next level -- it’s an ongoing process of refinement.
subject: Beginner on 4 hectares in South Africa...