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Su Ba

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since Apr 18, 2013
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Retired from veterinary medicine. My second career is creating a homestead, aiming to be self reliant.
Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Recent posts by Su Ba


This December should be lambing time here on the farm. All the mature ewes appear to be pregnant. I didn't breed the youngest ewes since I felt that they needed to grow in size a bit more. Two of the ewes look to be carrying twins, or more. The rest look to be pregnant with singlets. Frankly, I'm hoping for singlets. They do better than twins and don't drag down the ewes as badly. I'm very happy with solo lambs for each mom.

I figure most of the ewes should lamb the first week of December, but it looks like a couple won't wait that long. One of the ewes is already starting to bag up, though she has a way to go yet.
9 hours ago
Ok, I'll take a stab at this. Just keep in mind that without examine the bird, this is going to be a wild guess.

The lack of neck feathers and the red pigmented skin appears to be normal since the birds have Turkin DNA. My own Turkins looked that this. The neck skin is thicker on the Turkins that other feathered breeds.

Your description of the blood under skin seems consistent with what is called a subdural hematoma. This is essentially a pool of "clotted" blood under the skin, often accompanied with edema (excess fluid in the tissues). The most common cause would be an injury. I can't begin to guess what that injury would be. Perhaps a fight. Perhaps a fall. Perhaps the hen slammed into something while trying to escape an attacker. Perhaps overly amorous attention from a rooster (roosters have been known to kill hen's, though not out of hatred).

Subdural hematomas usually don't cause problems, but I have seen some that became septic, thus killing the animal. Possibly this may be the case with this hen. Hard to tell.
3 days ago
The photos I'm posting today are from my blog. So if you're a blog follower, you'll instantly recognize them. I thought I'd like to share them with the permies.

Early on we had a small barn, a mini barn, built down by the street. Its the one building on this farm that we didn't put our own labor into. It's used for equipment storage. Initially it was painted a neutral green with white normal, how mundane. It blended right into the landscape. Suburban-ites would have loved it. But I'm at a point in my life where I'm not interested in mundane. I want my world to be alive! So hubby came up with a different color scheme. We carried it over to a small shed too. I really like the results. And I haven't heard anything negative from the neighbors. In fact, it inspired one neighbor who operates a restaurant in town to paint her restaurant bright and wild colors too. How cool!!

This barn exemplifies our farm. It's basically traditional but also definitely not, all at the same time. Yes, we're a farm producing farm stuff, but we are different from usual farms in some pretty wild ways.

4 days ago
I see no problem with burying dead animals under trees. I've done it plenty of times in the past.

From a permaculture point of view, you may not wish to bury chemically euthanized animals near food trees. Sodium pentobarbital is the primary drug used fur euthanasia, but others including various tranquilizers, ketamine, and others are frequently used. I'm not sure about the others, but sodium pentobarbital is rather persistent in the environment. In the past, I used to bury euthanize animals under pine trees. The trees grew absolutely great.
4 days ago
I was under the impression that sweet peas were mildly toxic. Some varieties are far more toxic than others. The neurological damage can be cumulative, with damage being noted months later. I think I would need to research sweet peas before I'd be planning on eating them.
1 week ago
The photos below show a little section along my driveway. Originally it was a pile of rubble left by the bulldozer that cut in the driveway. The pile was mostly fractured lava chunks with a bit of dirt mixed in. This area is exposed full sun, plus is dry. It's tough to get much of anything to grow in this spot.

I'm in the process of transforming this spot into some sort of production that will benefit my homestead. I haven't devoted a lot of time on it, but I've put a few hours into it about 3 times a year. Initially I moved the rocks around to create some sort of terracing. Then I spread a bit of compost and covered it with mulch. Eventually I planted some excess stuff I had on hand ...... Society garlic, garlic chives, sweet potato cuttings, and cactus cuttings. Each time I worked this project, I'd weed out the few volunteer ferns and grasses, try to scratch in some compost, add a few more plants to replace the ones that died, then mulch it area. As I mentioned, this has been done several times now over the past few years.

Presently I noted that I'm making progress. The society garlic and chives are actually thriving. The cactus took root and are slowly growing. The sweet potato vines are barely making it, but their roots are helping create soil. Bromeliads and pineapples now call this place home, and since they both can handle dry poor soil, they are surviving.

I could get this spot into production quicker, but I don't have the time. So I am content to let things be as they are. The soil is gradually being created. The plants are capturing and holding wind blown tree Ieaves now, helping even more with soil creation. And the spot is looking nicer than just a pile of bare rubble. Since moisture will be a problem in this spot, my plan is to grow plants that can tolerate the dryness. The sweet potato vines should help shade the soil from the tropical sun.

1 week ago
First of all, I don't have cattle. My main cattle experience with adult cows is helping with pregnancy testing events where a herd of 500-600 head are being tested. These cattle are not comfortable being handled, since they are essentially range cattle. So they aren't the easiest animals to handle, nor are they gentle on the equipment. The squeeze chute used is a Silencer Chute, a hydraulic well built piece that can really take a beating and keep working. But it's one very expensive piece of machinery, not the type of thing a small herd keeper would be using. The doors on the head gate pivot rather than slide. Sliding doors for these cattle wouldn't work because those girls are rough, tough, strong, and quick. They'd blow right through sliding gates.

I guess what I'm trying to say, keep your cattle used to being handled and either style should work. I've seen dairy cows follow a handful of grain into a head restraint with no fuss at all. But then, those milking cows are handled at least twice a day. They have been well gentled since birth.

1 week ago

Grass clippings are my number one go-to mulching material. I'm a big user of mulch. I try to never leave soil bare. The tropical sun and tradewibds can dry it out to bone-dry in one day. And besides, decomposing mulch provides nutrients to the soil and plants.

I can grow a good portion of my own grass clippings. But I also have permission to mow two other nearby properties. Plus I mow the grass along the road in front of my place. It technically belongs to the county, but no one cares if I keep it mowed. Most neighbors keep the grass mowed along the street in front of their place.

I use both a self propelled bagging mower, and a riding mower with a bagger attachment. I only use the riding mower if the land is level and rock free. Thus the push mower gets lots of use. Yes, I live in the land of rocks!

1 week ago
Most domestic grazing animals eat plants other than just grasses. I can't think of one that eats only grass exclusively. My sheep will eat a wide variety of forbs in addition to a fairly wide variety of grasses. But they don't eat everything. There are even grasses that they won't touch, or only eat when everything else has been consumed.

Will they eat garden plants? Short answer = yup. They won't eat pumpkin or squash leaves, but they will eat the pumpkins and squashes themselves even before they are ripe. Most veggies they will sample, though some will be fully consumed. I keep my main garden fenced so that it won't get destroyed if the sheep happen to bust out of the current pasture.

They also eat many tree leaves and young twigs. Citrus is a favorite. They'll even eat the fallen fruits. Passionfruit is another preferred food....every leaf and fruit they can reach. But unlike goats, I've never had my sheep debark a tree.
1 week ago
Teresa,  most people around here don't bother to grow their own coffee, but I do happen to know of many who do. Some folks process the beans for themselves, while others just let a local coffee grower come over and pick the trees in exchange for a bag or more of roasted coffee at the end of the season, depending upon the number of trees. Some landowners just pick the cherry and sell it to the local coffee mill. I do know of 3 properties where the coffee isn't harvested and is left to waste, but that's not the usual case around here. People are are more apt to let their oranges or bananas go to waste than their coffee. I guess that's because Kona coffee is just a big deal and always being promoted.

Processing coffee from start to finish isn't all that difficult. It can be done at home with a little work and time. Plus it helps that we have a full service coffee mill in the area. So if a person has too much coffee to process at home, it can always be taken to the mill for finishing, though that costs money of course.
2 weeks ago