Andrea Gorham

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since Jun 01, 2012
B.S. Animal Science, ambition veterinarian. Working a veterinarian office, living in an apartment, wanting to grow food and not live in a city. Starting an urban farm wanting to grow food and not live in a city. Moving from Texas to North Carolina to start a farm with a nice small community wanting to do all I want to do.
Louisburg, NC 7
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Recent posts by Andrea Gorham

So far digging isn't a problem, the holes don't get very big before we shift their paddock. I've yet to bother with back filling any of their holes, and like that they are digging and not lying down all the time.
I like the paddock shift as it takes the responsibly off me and allows the rabbits to spread manure, self-harvest, and mow.
If I had less other farm responsibilities (new chicks, putting in garden beds/planting, ect.)
I'd provide them with a better hutch, stationary and compartmentalized with a buck "dorm" and doe "dorm" and space for expecting mothers/new families. The rabbits would be locked in here when the dog or Matt and I are not out keeping predators away. Moving the fence around for different grazing, it's right next to the orchard and will have a lot of good grass around to eat.
Currently With 4 rabbits going to bed in the mobile tractor and grazing the shifting electric net it's pretty easy now that we've learned some tricks (stomping to let them know to get home), and 4 less poop treys to clean every day and a lot less feed to provide.
6 years ago
Starting to think rabbits with electric fences are not optimum.

When introducing new does, the habituating does are not welcoming. One rabbit has escaped the electric fencing and was caught after 4 days of freedom. Two rabbits escaped and were caught the same day of escape. An incidence where a larger rabbit tried to escape through the fence went wrong when she got stuck and the fence post came out of the ground allowing the fence to tangle around the rabbit shocking her every second.

The new plan is to develop a permanent home with a pasture into the orchard where we can alternate does/bucks/growouts to pasture. The housing will have deep bedding and allow them a place to build permanent burrows which is a more natural habitat for rabbits.
6 years ago
Twenty-five days ago, my husband and I took over a hobby farm and are busting our butts to convert it into a permaculture farm venture. They(We) have a meat rabbit operation in a small cabin that hasn't been cleaned out in far too long, with hanging wire cages, and feeding store bought rabbit pellets. I don't feel good about raising animals this way. Not only is it not sustainable, but I want them to be able to graze, excrete where they aren't sleeping, play, run and have a place where they feel safe.

To make their habitat better, we deep cleaned the house the water bottles and all the cages. We scoop poop pebbles and piss syrup out of the cage catch trays daily and put it in the compost pile, near fig trees or blueberry trees.
I'd rather the rabbits spread their manure themselves, and accomplish the other goals I have for their lifestyle.

So we are transitioning the 11 rabbits (1 doe owners daughters pet/ 2 breeder does/ 4 meat does/ 2 meat bucks/ 1 breeder buck/ we ate one) to a new life. The rabbit we ate was much fatter than I would expect for a rabbit. Tuesday we had 3 new young rabbits from the owner, 1 buck and 2 doe chinchillas, they are feisty and shy.

We rebuilt a mobile chicken pen to a rabbit tractor, I have the 4 meat does in it and they have been sleeping there and it has kept them safe, even with the hungry dogs and opossums that the game camera has caught sniffing them out. It has a large wire bottomed box inside the pen with straw, their feed, and water, that I close them in at night. During the day I let them out into the rest of the pen to go in the sun and be on the ground and loose some weight, they are FAT. They are learning to eat grass but have yet to learn to burrow (probably too fat). I have been putting the two breeding does with the meat does outside during the day and back in their cage at night, for safety since I am not watching them at night and they are larger and would take up more space in the sheltered box. Maybe it is just because I am handling them more, but they seem to be less docile. My rabbits do NOT like to be handled, I swear I am sweet to them. Today my largest doe, who is super chill, loving to lay in the sun, bit me through two shirts to break the skin when moving her back into her cage. She would of taken a chunk out of me had I no protection. She tries to bite me anytime I hold her. I've watched videos on how to handle rabbits, but Shelia a large overweight heavy breathing, in furry and rage, want's to kill me.

Today we set up our electric fence to test it out. The first rabbit I put in (a young chinchilla doe) got shocked, backed off... then jumped through the fence. Thankfully she went into the garden shed where I could easily trap her. Since she is feisty and shy I figured I'd give it a shot with the four meat, cage raised rabbits, that we had been tractoring the past two weeks. The first doe shocked herself 8 times, but eventually got it. I put in an old doe that I am culling, it took her too many. The third got a hard bite from the wire, nearly fell over and was stunned for several minutes (it only took her one shock). The last one didn't try the fence as there were friends to play with. In the long run I don't know if electric fence will be feasible for rabbits especially when they get healthy. For tonight everyone is back in their normal sleeping arrangements. 4 in the mobile pen and everyone else in their cage in the cabin.

What I've learned from this experiment is that I want to minimally handle the rabbits. I can ween off daily poop tray cleanings.
I think I will only keep one or two breeding buck(s) in a small mobile pen, have a grow out mobile pen for offspring, and have a breeding doe pen. I still have 11 nice cages, for isolation or grow out bucks (I don't want to butcher pregnant rabbits). I would like to hear what you think. I know it is common to raise meat rabbits in cages, but it's kind of mean and then again, rabbits are kind of mean... but I can do better. They seem happier running and hopping over each other (fighting or playing) I really enjoy watching them outside and I can't say that about watching them in their cage.
Moving the pens daily is less time consuming and more pleasing then cleaning poop trays.

I will note how the body composition changes in the 4 meat does. 1 Rabbit is older. We had 5 does (2 bucks) born 10/2. We harvested one before making the outdoor pen. It was very fatty. I wish I had a picture. We'll soon harvest the other 3 and be able to compare carcasses.

I'll update. Share your ideas.
6 years ago
What a cool opportunity Alisa,

You have a great website! Mine is dentonsbackyard.com and it is under construction right now as we are deciding what it is we are going to do next, but you can find some good information about what we've done.

My family includes my fiance, Matt, who is great at creating efficient operations; my dog, Paul, who is an excellent look out and garden protector; and myself a companion planter and natural food encourager. We live in a medium sized city and started market gardening in our backyard and in a vacant lot. We have partnered with a similar farmer in town and helped create abundance for a 80 member CSA, out of three in-town lots we've been growing on. We have taken a keen interest in mushrooms and are currently growing oyster and shiitakes in a humid greenhouse, that we sell at farmers markets (2), a local restaurant, and through a CSA.

Although, we are not fans of the city, we want to homestead in the country. We want to build our own cob homes and start a food forest and grow all the food for the animals we keep. Be sustainable by creating real wealth (abundance). In the city, you can't do anything without jumping through legal hoops and paying hundreds of dollars for each one.

Our lease is up in June and we've been throwing around a lot of ideas on what to do that will get us closer to our aspirations. From what I've read, you have a lot of skills I'd like to learn and we have a lot of market gardening and mushroom cultivation experience to offer. We are DIY types and do the best that we can with the resources available. We love unschooling philosophy, and non-violence principles.

If you're interested in having us in the summer, PM of your actual address to get a satellite view of your farm.
Please contact me if you think we'd be an asset to your farm.

In love,
Andrea
6 years ago

Thank you for your concerns and input.
With how the field is and in the time frame I need it, I still think tillage is going to be beneficial. Right now it's a Bermuda monoculture. After we break it up and shape the bed so that water flow is conserved (can't do this with without tilling and very important) We are going to mulch with straw and wine cap mushroom inoculate. The mushroom forms a smothering mat as well as produces tasty edibles and encourages soil life. With compost placed where I put my transplants, underneath the mulch the soil life is going to thrive. If tilling is done with the perfect amount of moisture compaction is not an issue, and even if it is I plan on being no till after breaking it up this first time, and from then on it will be covered and be productive for a poly culture of vegetables.
For my first garden I defeated the Bermuda within two years while producing veggies with this method.
I've also gardened an area that had been sheet mulched with cardboard, the bermuda runners found the cardboard to be a habitat, it probably should have been re smothered but I really didn't like the cardboard. When it was laid the tape a stickers were still on it so I felt like I was growing in trash so I cleaned it out so I could mound and raise beds. This was in a heavy clay that needed this lift keep the plants from being flooded. This area had nut grass, oh what a pain that stuff is!
When you sheet mulch do you leave to cardboard for good and just keep adding more? How do you get to the soil? How do you shape garden beds?
6 years ago
Bermuda grass dies back in the winter so how effective would it be to smother it? The plants are dry and not using sunlight at this point anyway. I think it would be better to pull as much of it out of the garden before it wakes up in the spring. I know this won't get all of it but it would be a huge head start for the helping me be able to manipulate the surface to better hold water throughout the summer.

With a moldboard plow, flip it to let it rot and breakdown on itself, and if I took it off at this point I would be taking away the top soil.
So next disc it to break it up to rake much of the Bermuda out.
We would shape the beds to slow down water flow.
Our summers are very dry so it would be set up to have drip irrigation.
6 years ago
It has a slight South East slope.
Coastal Bermuda growing throughout. This has been a leaf dump site for 20 years.
I want to have a garden producing by the first month of April.
To knock back the grass I we are going to rent a moldboard plow and flip it to expose the roots, then rake it really good! Wait two weeks and do it again. Build slightly mounded mulched beds 5' beds with 4' path with drip lines running from west to east. Irrigation will need to be put in under the road. Then start popping transplants into.
What are other methods for slowing this bermuda?
6 years ago
How frustrating the only restaurant supply store in my area doesn't carry anything I need! They referred me to Dart Janitorial & Paper Products and they are currently out of wax paper bags until Monday. I am not a Sams Club Member and the nearest one is 20 miles away anyway.

Why don't paper sacks work? Is it that they are going to get soggy? The lettuce will still wilt?
I did an experiment with bundling some leaves in twine last evening and they wilted within hours.
Wax paper is at any typical grocery store I think. Maybe I can roll the lettuce in wax paper and bundle it with twine? Maybe this would increase the shelf life. Has anyone tried this?

Ken I have a customer that uses mesh bags that fit inside themselves to be the size of a tennis ball. They are in the shapes of different vegetables, she carries them in an unfolded bag. It takes her a long time to get her bags ready and I think they are made of polyester, which I don't think is a very good material but for short term food transport they work well. Another has bags that she has knitted herself that she has slung over her shoulder. They are very liquid in that they form to whatever is put in it.
8 years ago
Thanks again for the link Mark, so if they fail me again I'll have a few other options to investigate. I am growing in soil and hope to get my hands on some wax paper bags tomorrow in time for the market this Saturday. This will work great for my micro greens too.
8 years ago
Thanks Mark I didn't even think of wax paper, what a great idea. I really do need to give my local Restaurant Supply store another shot, last time I called looking for a hanging scale, they didn't have one and I ended up buying a little table scale from Bed, Bath, and Beyond that is difficult to read. I've learned to work with it.

LaLena, glass containers? I wonder how kale and other lettuces would hold up in a wax bag.
8 years ago