I am not so sure BuckWheat will deter any weeds, including thistle.
However, I do know that rye will stop weed seeds from germinating so it is often the first thing old time farmers put down.
The 2 types of rye are Annual, which dies if you have a hard freeze, so you need to cut it prior to it seeding, and, Perenial rye, which also has 2 sub species- Endophyte free and Endophyte ... Not free.
having any of these types of rye will reduce the weeds from germinating, so, if you get the Perenial rye, most weeds will disappear over time as most are annual and many are perennial for several years.
if you let the rye go to seed, then you will see the rye take over.
I look for endophyte free since the endophytes can be toxic to runament animals. It's more expensive, but since I raise foraging sheep, worth it.
I have been looking at Sand Filtration for our grey water-
Then, once clean, it be used for nearly everything except for drinking. If you heated the water it could do dishes, laundry or, flushing toilets, though most people don't make enough grey water to use for the water wasting toilets so maybe get a SeaLand toilet with a compost toilet system?
We have a big SunMar, a Natures Head and a home made system.
The SunMar has fruit fly issues.
The Natures Head is constant work.
The home made system is easiest....but it also tends to have fruit flies.
Give her a shot of collidoil silver once a week. More if she has reoccurring UTIs.
If this is the first time she has used the silver, go light on the dose. Most people have so many bad germs built up in their system that they experience some flu-like symptoms the first week on taking it. If someone is real sick, their liver gets overloaded with cleaning out dead decaying germ bodies.
I had a diabetic in the family and it kept her UTI away.
R. Morgan wrote:I have a hard white clay subsoil with a small amount of dusty brown soil on top. Grass struggles and is slow growing. Soil is acidic.
I am thinking of adding lots of horse manure to improve soil structure , moisture holding capacity and fertility. This is a smallish area
of irrigated pasture (in South Australia) which I need to establish. I need to find out what deep rooted plants to put in the mix, where to get the seeds for
it in small enough quantities and really.......... everything
All ideas appreciated.
Hi again, The hard sub-soil can be broken up by planting deep rooted plants. Alfalfa, crown vetch, clover (get a tall kind and the roots will correspond to do the breaking up the sub soil).
If you can't get grasses to grow there now, you will shortly after those nitrogen fixing plants have established themselves and the grasses and other plants will be ideal for pasture for your animals. They will also help the grass get deep roots.
I prefer using crown vetch because of how deep the root system is. I stay away from alfalfa because I have to keep replanting it. The other benefit to the crown vetch, IF it is legal to grow in your area, -it doesn't cause bloating in runimant animals. IF you are in a restricted area who does not allow crown vetch, hairy vetch might be an option.
If you have a problem getting the nitrogen fixer started, then you may have to dig in some plants of them first. As the plants establish, you won't need to add manure to the area again.
Just a suggestion-reduce the lentils as most nitrogen fixing seeds become an "anti-nutrient" as they first sprout. Alfalfa, beans, peas, lentils and the like. Small animals like growing chickens and baby goats, sheep, calves are more sensitive to the anti-nutrients and can get nerve damage from too much of them.
I have a couple books on Advanced Sprouting Fodder. It talks about the nutrient values of the sprouted grains and most grass grains have a high protein value during the first 10 days of sprouting. It also talks about some unique designs to save time and space for sprouting.
I mainly use oats as the base grain cause the cost is unavoidable. The protein values of oats is close to barley.
One other thing I do to make sure the animals get all the nutrients they need is to add a light dusting of Rock Dust Minerals over the sprouts before they eat it. it doesn't take much, just a pinch, but it makes them extra healthy and the manure is nutrient dense for the gardens.
Blue grasses are high maintenance, if that's what you want. Besides, it might not like the heat of your Sone unless you plan on adding a sprinkler and wasting your water on it.
I think looking for a no mowing low growing grass would give you the lawn you want unless you like adding to your workload.
Start any lawn renovation by getting rid of weeds, then choose your grass and follow the directions.
According to Carbon Sequestration in Plants, -by any cutting of the top green portion, the root system dies back to a proportional depth to be supported, which leaves carbon in the ground. It also leaves old root systems for moisture to wick downward, and later upward when the air is drier.
Plants like alfalfa "Nitrogen Sequestering" AKA, "fix nitrogen" by the same process-cut the top or harvest the top and you capture nitrogen in the soil. As with all plants, including the prairies, as tops were eaten or trampled, the roots died back proportionally because that's how plants operate. The root dies off in proportion to what was taken off the top.
The system used by Back To Eden (see the online moie free) does a simple and easy way using a layer of composted manure and then a lyer of wood chips. This actually improves the soil - even the gravel.
As for the grass problem- check out http://NoMowGrass.com for a low maintenance lawn for you and your neighbors. There are other low maintenance lawn grasses on the market, but I highly suspect a couple of them are GMOs.
The best chicken pasture I have seen is clover and barley (plantd yearly). You don't want tall grasses if you have chickens in tractors cause its too hard to move them over it.
And if you are running them over and over the same area-look for a plant that comes back quickly. My favorite is to plant crownvetch, but check to see if its invasive in your area. I like it because it doesn't cause bloat if it spreads to the hay field and gets fed over winter, and, it has deep roots to pull nutrients from deep as well as misture when its dry.
Just a heads up-
There's a new grass on the market and it sounds fishy:- they claim this grass has a 2” top with a 48” root? Sounds fishy to me cause nothing in nature like that can exist – the top growth is ALWAYS in proportion to the green top by 1 to 2 times the most. Is this a GMO??? And its going on lawns?
They want this weird grass in lawns where pets and children play? NOT!
The trouble is-it took years to get labels for GMO foods and a product like this isn’t food so who knows what it really is. And FYI- GMOs carry a wildcard gene that is not secured to a DNA molecule so it can jump from one organism to another. I have no intention of putting this in my lawn and am asking my neighbors to be aware of it.
With gas prices on the rise, it might sound like the ideal thing but there have been products out like no mowing grasses for years. Find one of those and the labels all say What They Are (hybrids-not GMOs).
Soon to be single, but not looking for much more than a good time out once in a while cause I'm too busy on the farm to get real serious.
Settled in, but i plan to take the first year as a single to clean up the mess the ole alcoholic left. If there are people around here- I just need to get out so guys or girls just wanting to hang out, phone/text sustainable talk, feel free to get a hold of me.
Andrew Parker wrote:
Another problem with compressed gas is that you lose available energy as you drain pressure from the tank. You need some type of constant pressure device to get better performance, but that adds complexity, weight and space.
That is a spot on assessment. A large compression tank loses after the first psi are astronomical. In theory, if the motor runs at 4500psi, the tank would have to contain 9000psi to be effective, or higher. That in itself makes large systems problematic, unless constantly topped off with a compressor.
And to finish the power production, we are installing one of our old fish trolling motors. Note, if you decide to try hydro electric using a trolling motor- the old ones work better as the new ones are so full on electrical components they won't work.
I really like the cone shape in this design so it's back to the workshop . . .
I did a quick study of this a while back and I believe it has some applications perfectly suited -including bike, motorcycle and the smaller power needs.
However, when it comes to moving something larger and heavier-the psi required increases exponentially -so forget moving a semi truck of goods. That said, if a hybrid was designed as a gas powered and compressed air unit, it could eliminate the cost and complexity of a battery system, have a fuel efficiency for city driving and long range needed. IMHO
To average out a 25 mile per gallon car with a 117 mile compression use, the average mpg could be a respectable 71mpg.... That would be one up from the 45mpg of what's on the market today. In city use might only need compressed air while distance driving uses both.
And it's my view that they are presently using gas prices to continue shrinking the economy to slow the decline as when they raise prices, the economy shrinks and that's going to get more and more extreme as the decline begins. Will I see $25/gal in my lifetime? It's looking very likely.
We love the idea of storing heat from one season to use in the next. For our use, warmer attic air warms a mass in the basement and it works ok spring and fall, but not enough heat is in the attic over the coldest part of winter.
The cost was less and one day, a solar panel can push the air. The thermostat wasn't an issue to set it in the attic to cool so it draws air, the other thing the fan could do is blow out hot air over sunny summer days.
And, to save costs, as some thermal storage systems can be expensive, we are adding a wood mass heating system into the basement mass to finish off the design.
I can see spending $30k for a system that will heat for 100 years, but we didn't have the upfront cash.
I want to know more on the rapid topsoil production!
I am on the board of directors for a sustainable farm association and the biggest topic of the past few years has been transitioning gMO fields to productive topsoil based management. Note that 95% of newbies to natural farm systems do not have animals. Can this be overcome? And you list stuff that goes into the key line plowing, but is there a more specific recipe?
The general thinking it can take 5-7 years to transition fields, but any info you have to do it in 2-3 is seriously appreciated!!
The loss of topsoil has been one of our biggest challenges and though we have a speaker booked at our 2013 annual meeting, but I'll email you to get details on your costs to speak in MN.
The farm house we bought was vacant for a period of a few years and the former owners just threw bait all over the place. Feral cats lived and hunted...and thrived inside.
After much cleaning, we got the house sealed but still had to deal with an occasional one until last year when the population exploded. For years, I had tried every bait out there, every contraption and stickies. I liked the stickies cause I KNEW I got them, but alas they seemed to continue to multiply...until...
I got some Just One Bite and put it in room corners under furniture, and basically, places the pets couldn't get to but the rodents could. I put Just One Bite in the crawl spaces and hidden places. Then I moved the program to the barn- in the chicken coop, I cut a small hole, big enough for mice to get in and chickens not, then put the bait down and pail over it with a weight. Mice get in, eat and die.
I did the same thing with the upside down pails in the garden with heavy rocks so the wind wouldn't knock them over and it has kept them from eating my ripe veggies that grow in their reach.
Now with the warning- this stuff is toxic. The mice eat one bite and bleed internally. Along with buying it, buy Vitamin K for just-in-case as Vit K helps blood clot and you want any animal who gets into the poison on Vit K as soon as you know or even suspect any ingestion.
note, that if a cat or dog eats a mouse that died in their path, chances are that rodent doesn't have enough poison to kill them, but it can't hurt to have a Vit K program ready.
I hate rodents for so many reasons. This old farmhouse has had electrical fires before, most likely because of chewers, we replaced all the wiring and they were lucky there wasn't more fires. They chew through walls, they wreak and contaminate everything. And, if you have pets and or children- get rid of the UN-invited guests fast and safely.
Mold is a serious issue but you can all but eliminate it if you soak grains/seeds in a water-bleach mix (10 parts water to 1part bleach). Soil naturally inhibits mold, but since it's not present, you have to adjust.
Drainage is very important too and the drained water is FULL of nutrients -so don't toss it! Feed it to weaker animals or babie. It's full of electrolytes, dense nutrients and easy to digest carbs, so it's valuable.
We built several designs to assess the best system for costs and found the shelving system too time n labor intensive unless you do small batches. The draining system is important but the shelving system is awkward that way. Buckets n pails are even more time n labor intensive than shelves so our vote is in doing barrel systems.
Note, the thing that surprised us about sprouting is the amount of heat they give off so they can be ran without a heated room. We will be balding more systems until we get one near 90% automated and less time involved. . . It will be like growing a bale of hay for a fraction of the cost for chicks, hens, goats, sheep and one day, a nice cow.
We have a small mob of 12 Icelandics and 2 FinnSheep. The Icelandics are as hardy as an animal anywhere and we have yet to have any issue with them not thriving. The FinnSheep are another matter. They came from a herd with own parasites and though they put on a lot of size since they got here, they are nowhere the size of the adult ewe and ram they came from.
After reading the Lavendarfleece link (THANKS), I am going to give that a try. The other part of the FinnSheep I have a problem with is how dry the wool is and this might help that.
The Icelandics on the other hand are weighted down by lanolin in the wool. Their wool also felts too easy and I will be looking to see if the cider vinegar makes a difference on that too.
The only things we have really done with our sheep pasture is to add rock dust to the pasture and we add it to the grain as a health booster. I also add kelp occasionally but I think the rock dust has some anti-parasite qualities like diatanacious earth, though I can't be sure.
And, because our soil is magnesium deficit, as with most soils, I spread Epson Salts over large areas as an added preventative.
Thanks for sharing this cider vinegar article! Hoping for a great year lambing!
Our Saanen goats distroy nearly every maple and willow they come in contact with. They seem to like to show off as to how high they can go on the bark and we use them to clear areas to plant for sheep pasture.
That said, if you want a low cost alternative, which can be food for the goats and chickens, try some sprouting grains. We have a book on it and Advanced sprouting, but for your needs, a 5 gallon pail should be enough. We add minerals like rock dust or kelp to the sprouts for added super health. And, I think the rock dust works like diatanacious earth in reducing or eliminating parasites. You can find the sprout book on MyBackAchers.com or email me for a free copy.
The cost of sprouting grains should be a fraction of the price of grass hay (for now) and it can help keep your small holding from turning into a desert from them eating and trampling down everything.
Watch the horns as you can tell if the animals are healthy by the solid shape of the horns as they grow for years. And like they said above, add baking soda when changing foods.
Also, make sure you have no fescue in your lawn as we found it to be our biggest issue with loosing goats. Endophytes can kill goats and fescues all carry endophytes. We switched our lawn to NoMowGrass in part for that reason.
As for building a cave or rocky play area....I'm thinking the goats will have those trees dead sooner or later so just cut them down and let them climb away.
Hmmm... Not to throw a monkey wrench in the conversation, but milk, straight from the udder has some antimicrobial properties to it. Nature has ensured that kids, lambs or calves do not get contamination from the unwashed udder.
That said, caution is still recommended.
If you do not have refrigeration, and want to keep milk for drinking, try some collidoil silver or gold . . In the ole days they would put a silver coin in to keep it from souring, but find real silver these days is a headache.
On the Steppe, milk is immediately fermented into kefir and yogurt is possible too. To ensure no bad contamination, find a good source of bacteria. Pasturising immediately and sealing in jars to cool is also an option as is taking right to the cheese making process.
All that said, contamination will most likely come from the equipment you use or your own hands so cleanliness is essential. We use soapy water and do a final wipe down with a peroxide wet cloth.
Yes, I planted 15 apple seeds from the most delicious apple I ever had.
The results were not all bad. I have one tree produce apples after 10 years that were to-die-for. All the other trees were sour apples, but I managed to graphs a few branches on them from the good tree. Note that wildlife love sour apples as much as good ones!
I think planting a living fence is one of the coolest ideas in farming. Just start with what you have. For is, we have basket willows AKA cane willows and have acres of them. They grow fast and would grow a fast fence.
With some livestock, like hogs, I would add variety like you said, Mulberry, Elderberry and maybe even raspberry or black berry canes to keep them from walking through the bottom canopy, especially the little ones. And after those were all established, that would be the time to bury the tree fruit or nut seeds.
Mix half water and half listerine or some other minty flavoring. Put in a spray bottle and spray bedding, pets and lawn, pasture and livestock if you think of it. I spray hen house to chase off mites.
The other way to rid areas is plant mint. After getting the flea controlled with the above mix, I planted mint where we walk and around the pasture on spots I knew it would walked on (mint is invasive so trampling it is a double good thing).
I was just watching soil restoration by Gary Zimmer, author of The Biological Farmer. He practices the Albreit method of soil restoration.
According to his theory, green manures are one of the fastest way to get soil humus. The most common used is rye, but peas, beans and alfalfa add nitro for what-grows next. Adding horse manure can't hurt, but Adding balances of minerals and microbes will build fertility. This is something that isn't done once, it's practiced yearly to constantly replenish the soil. Once the soil gets primo, keeping it that way with minerals, microbes and green manure becomes natural.
Some deep rooted plants can include alfalfa, clovers, vetch and tall grasses.
There are also farmers who intensively graze areas just to add to the manure factor.
Finally, look in permies forums on soil. There's a lot of great info there.
I guess the general rule is to: Cut the Weed before it goes to Seed.
Not sure what kind of grasses you have, but No Mow Grass can crowd down many weeds and can grow so thick that weed seeds can reach the ground to germinate.
Another trick to improve the soil is plant clover in with the grasses. Though most clovers grow taller than the No Mow Grass , if the area gets any traffic, it kinda dwarfs it. Having chickens, goats or small livestock ranging the clover also helps keep it down.
We got No Mow Grass and though we mowed it the first year twice, after the second year, we don't usually mow it more than once.
They said that it should not be mowed ever during the summer or it also needs watering, which makes sense as grasses slow down in the heat, and the grass blades shade the soil to help hold in moisture.
We love this stuff and it only grows 3-5" high....so not much reason to mow it. So, if you have to have lawn grasses, then why use anything else?
In all the reports I've read on the supposition that sprouted grain does not increase in nutrient value, they fail to mention the added chlorophyll and other activity, like the fact that sprouts let off a lot of heat, which shows a chemical process is happening.
Our personal reason to do sprouting grains vs conventional grains or even fermented foods is COST with added health benefits for the livestock.
It looks like this:
For 100 birds on pasture, they get $6.50 a week worth of grains scratch/feed along with the free ranging they do.
As sprouted grains, the cost becomes $1.65. . . .or about 1/4th the costs...plus healthier livestock.
Now, $6.50 isn't a budget breaker, but we do summer production of 500 birds and it adds up fast. Not to mention, the health of the pastured birds and weight gain without the health problems of leg breaks and too fast growth.
I just finished a book on Advanced Sprouting Fodder since I believe the cost and improved health are key to quality livestock. Sprouting Fodder also has a benefit of bringing the price of organic in line with conventional livestock producers which has been a huge obstacle for organic growers.
For those feeding hogs or larger numbers of cows, the time involved starts to add up on the shelving systems so we made a few designed systems other than the time consuming shelving system. Typically, $3.25 worth (a 5-gallon bucket) of grains can produce as much sprouts as a bale of hay and weight up to 80lbs in a barrel. Right now, with even hay prices being $3.25 to $5 for good alfalfa mix, it is nearly the same price with added health benefits.
That all said, if a person grows their own higher end seeds like sunflowers, field peas, barley, corn and wheat, then mix them with cheaper seeds like oats and rye, then costs are reduced even more, or, a farmer can scale up responsibly. Overall, the practice of sprouting is one nearly all farmers can practice and the book we wrote on Advanced Sprouting Fodder discusses some time saving designs farmers can make with locally available materials.
There are other electric tractor nuts out there? Yeah!!!
My hubby n I are proud owners of a GE electric tractor. We got it in 2006 from a guy in WI for just $800 and it came with a snow blower, front mower and tiller.
It's the biggest model they made of the electric tractors and we put 8 15watt solar panels on a top rack, which worked ok for a single summer but won't do anything over winter.
Hubby cannibalized the snow blower motor and we plan on using it as a semi-portable wind generator to charge it over nights. We got a plow for the front instead of using the snow blower, but again, it won't take the sub-zero temps here.
And, we don't plan on using the mower as we have No Mow Grass and if we do need the lawn cut, well, once a summer we can let the sheep n goats out and call it good.
Things we have been looking for is of course, a chain saw system to go with it. We might go with a rechargeable saw as the e-trak can recharge anything no problem. It has no problem hauling a modified truck bed trailer full of wood but we have to be careful how we load the wood in the trailer since it can tip the tractor if it's loaded front heavy.
We also want to remove the solar panels to drive it into the barn to clean up bedding, pull in a small grain bin and other chores around the farm. and, of we ever get around to it, outfitting the hay cutter and baler with its own power system would mean the elect-Trak could even do the hay. One day!
I've seen some very elaborate attachments for these, including a small backhoe or a front load bucket and always have my eyes out for them but it doesn't take much to make these the only tractor a small farm needs.
Just like farmers who depend on chemicals to grow crops, any use of chemicals on your lawn has killed the life in your soil.
I agree adding chicken compost as an option, but you have to keep this practice up for years until your soil has come back to some life. Conventional farmers are finding this "transitioning" soil to take 5-7 years.
There are some short cuts to bring back life to the soil, I think I saw one here which we did for years- mix mushroom spores with liquid, somewhere here they recommended a light oil, and that will bring in some life so the rest of the microbes can take hold.
Other ways people add microbes- fish emulsion, manure, compost, with no one being better than the other, but doing all of them certainly can't hurt.
We use NoMowGrass as our lawn and it uses no chemicals to thrive, it also only needs a seasonal mowing and it is a soft, cool grass. It makes The transition easier.
I did some raising the Red Claw Crayfish. They are a tropical Austrailan crayfish that grows up to a pound in a year, kinda like a small lobster. They are mainly shrimp size.
The redclaws have a lot of advantages-
-they can be stocked denser than American crayfish which turn cannibalistic,
-they grow fast
-females can hatch broods 3 times a year with each hatch of 500 fry each.....one problem was keeping enough tanks going
-they taste awesome!
Nice to hear others want to reduce freezer/refrig energy. It has been one of the biggest obstacles in our sustainable home n farm design.
I agree that popping a hutch or old refrig/freezer unit through a north wall would cut electrical on it at least a good part of the year.
Then, add to the system-
Get some broken freezers. 2 should do it for an average home needs up north and more if you are more southern. Maybe add some extra insulation for good measure. Then fill the freezer with old milk jugs full of water and then freezer those over winter by leaving the top open on the coldest nights and close up day time to keep it as cold as possible.
Then, as needed, use a milk jug or 3 in the hutch outfitted refrig/freezer. I don't think it would ever get cold enough to freeze anything, but maybe one of the frozen recycled freezers would hold some ice cream, but I wouldn't tax the stored ice until you know it's capabilities.