Anna Morong

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since Nov 22, 2017
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Recent posts by Anna Morong

Back in January I ordered about 25 trees plus berry bushes, kiwis, grapes, etc. They should be arriving in mid-April. I'm on track to get holes ready for planting and an 8' electric fence installed (deer pressure is insane here). My problem is that I intended to order a dump truck load of compost to put in the bottom of the holes. Now I doubt that will be considered "essential" and my state is under a shelter in place order. I just moved here and the only fertilizer I have on hand is fresh cow manure. I'm in the middle of an oak, beech, and cherry forest with about a foot of basically terra prata (just the best black soil I've ever seen) over beach sand. The trees here produce well, judging by the insane number of acorn hulls still on the ground. I'm wondering what's going to happen if I just scrape up that nice topsoil for the tree holes to plant in and plant them. I've sunk a ton of savings into these trees and I don't want to lose them. I don't know if soil test labs will be open, or if I'd be able to get a result in time in any case. I'd love some advice on what to do.
2 weeks ago
My sow (meishanx kune kune) just gave birth to 14 piglets. Last time she had 10, and she got way too skinny despite getting lots of feed (piglets probably stole some of her food, too). I felt terrible and don’t want this to happen again. At what age can I responsibly start selling off piglets to get them off of her? I know some commercial operations wean at 3-4 weeks, but the rationale seems 100% economic and I’m not sure this is in the best interest of the piglets. I want a couple of piglets for myself, and I have a few of them pre sold, but I really want to make sure my girl doesn’t get overwhelmed this time. She gets as much quality clover hay as she can eat, fresh pasture, and I’m planning on buying a couple of fifty pound bags of feed every week for her (at least 16% protein, either hog feed of a dairy mix she loves). I just know she can’t keep up with 14 for long. I wasn’t expecting so many and I’m panicking a bit! I assume her diet is good since she did gain back the weight once I ate the piglets and has had a good pregnancy and 14 healthy piglets, but suggestions are welcome!
11 months ago
If this is a gluten issue, I’m curious if the concern is truly diet or a contamination issue. As a celiac myself, I’ve often wondered how much gluten is in meat. By USDA definition, meat is gluten free and doesn’t have to be tested to be labeled gluten free. However, what percentage of animals butchered have a butchering mistake which spills crop or gut contents onto some part of the meat? Commercial slaughterhouses handle this by washing with a bleach solution, but bleach (while effective against microbes) does nothing for gluten. In general, washing off a contaminated food does not make it safe for celiac consumption. Then if they dump those birds into a common cooling tank, do tiny particles of gluten get suspended in the water and contaminate other birds? I don’t know, but I wonder if the celiacs who are following a strict gluten free diet and still having problems might not be dealing with cross contamination from meat. I wonder if there might be a market for gluten free birds (and potentially other livestock) that are guaranteed to not be contaminated by gut contents, leftover feed on their skin/feathers/feet etc.
11 months ago
My goat fencing solution is four foot of electric with a strand every foot. I use t posts and insulators, but I’ve also used bamboo garden stakes with the insulators meant for the fiberglass poles (at $2.50 for six poles, it’s the cheapest way to put up fencing). As far as I’m concerned, goats have 24/7 to figure out how to get out- if it doesn’t hurt to experiment, they will find a way out. However, some goats are just fence breakers, and the only cure is to never pay more for a goat than they are worth in your freezer. I’ve got a goat who can absolutely jump some of my fences, but she is good and I just never let her in that paddock unless I can vaguely supervise, and she never jumps out unless I’m feeding another goat on the other side. She’s worth keeping. I’ve had other goats which would run straight through electric because they wanted out and I either sold them quick or are them. The biggest thing is to never, ever buy a goat that is hard to catch or wary. Loose goats suck, but having to tackle half-wild loose goats is the worst. I’ve never tried to keep a buck away from the does with electric- they’ll break through my barn, I doubt a shock would phase them in the slightest.
I would be VERY careful mob grazing horses. There are a lot of plants which can hurt horses, and they don’t seem to have the common sense that most livestock has about what to avoid. Add some actual hunger and be prepared for trouble.
1 year ago
The main barrier to production is protein, followed by energy. Most commercial goat feeds are only about 14-16% protein. Which is less protein than many forage plants. True grain (not soybean enriched feed), only runs about 10% protein. Something is very weird when goats eating 14% alfalfa hay and 15% dairy ration and eating a relatively mineral-poor (compared to the variety of nutrient dense plants forage has to offer) diet give more milk than goats eating high-protein, high-nutrition forage. I’m trying to figure out what could cause this phenomenon and I have a few theories.

1) Foraging does spend too much time moving around burning calories. I’ve noticed my does on the sacrifice lot with alfalfa spend a lot more time sitting around than in the summer when they are always out at the edges of the field eating non-stop.
2) Modern goats have been bred to having less rumen room, and therefore need concentrated and dried food and can’t intake adequate calories for high milk production from “wet food” and/ or, growing up on grain, they stop eating when they feel full, even if they are just full of water and haven’t eaten enough dry matter.
3) (related to 2) Protein is less of a limiting factor for quantity than we’ve come to believe. I’ve heard lots of homesteaders foraging their goats who get decent production simply feeding oats (8% protein, wheat 12%, or barley 9%). Perhaps goats get plenty of protein from forage and simply need some calories in a concentrated form to really kick start production. Perhaps protein plays more of a role in quality than quantity, and that is why foraged goats produce better milk and why the breeds moth high butterfat milk like Nubians seem to tolerate foraging better.
4) Calcium is a limiting factor, and that’s why goats produce well on alfalfa.

This whole thing has me wanting to experiment and see what role protein really plays in feed for a forage goat, and whether one could forage a dairy goat for their “hay” requirement on high-protein forages, then supplement with easy to grow and store things like winter squash and fodder beets for calories. Because it just doesn’t add up for me that confined goats eating a much narrower selection of lower-nutrient plants can produce better than goats browsing their natural foods.
My goats get the loose Purina Goat Mineral, and occasionally sample the ducks oyster shell. They have over an acre of rough pasture with tons of weeds and berries. They just got a copper Bolus about a month ago. My other goats I’ve been trying to slim down a bit (they were morbidly obese when I bought them), but this goat won’t gain. What sort of nutritional deficiencies should I look for, and is it worth getting a blood test when I send her blood for the Johnnes test? I am in the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve heard the soil here can be mineral low. I’m starting to wonder if maybe she was doing great when her diet was mostly blackberries, but now that they’ve  eaten them down and are getting alfalfa until new spring growth that maybe the hay doesn’t have enough of something. Because they all hate it. It’s top-notch third cutting alfalfa and they’d rather eat grass (which my goats never do).
I’m working on this. I would start by saying it is absolutely possible- I have an Ober doe who last year produced a gallon a day on blackberries with some alfalfa pellets to keep her occupied on the stand. I’m working on a plot to get all my goats onto homegrown food. I’m planting trees and shrubs for them to eat, I want bamboo but my land lord doesn’t (sigh), and I have invasive blackberries. There are tons of “weeds” with a protein content equal to or greater than alfalfa. Until my shrubs and trees are established, my planting my land with sweet clover, chicory (where they can’t access it all the time so they can’t flavor the milk), comfrey, and biserrula. In the fall I’m planting on planting a deer plot brassica mix (Im is the Pacific Northwest so winter forage is an option). I’m filling my garden with BOSS and carrots and radishes and winter squash to provide winter calories. My summer species are all selected for deep taproots to survive the summer drought (the blackberries have deep enough roots to thrive all summer, but all the grass dies back). It works out well for me, because tall plants tend to have deeper roots, and goats will refuse to eat short plants. Which I encourage because it is a sensible evolutionary strategy for an animal that suffers from the barber pole worm. In short, I think a forage dairy goat scheme is not only possible, but probably healthier for the goats than trying to make them eat hay when they aren’t grass-eaters by nature. However, it will take input and work. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a young forest you don’t mind them destroying. I looked into deer mixes for seed ideas, then just deleting all the low growing species and added a few weird ones I want to try
I have a great dairy doe. But she is skinny and doesn’t like to eat. She is not a bone-bag, just skinnier than she should be (yes, I know dairy goats run bony, but she’s a bit too bony). She produces wonderfully, giving 3/4 gallon a day on just about any food. She has free access at all times to a nice alfalfa hay, although my goats prefer the blackberries, trees, and weeds. She gets as much grain at each milking as she will eat, but she generally eats while I milk her and follows me if I walk away. If I leave her in the stand while I take care of the other goats, she just bleats and won’t eat. I recently started sprouted fodder, and she seems even less into that than pre-packaged goat food. Even BOSS isn’t enough to really motivate her to eat. I’m having her tested for Johnnes and just wormed her. But given the amount of food she eats vs her production, I think the problem is a lack of appetite rather than disease. She eats so little I don’t know how she could be producing with a high parasite load or health problems. She had lice, which I treated, but since getting rid of them she seems less hungry, instead of gaining weight. She is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with lots of energy. I just don’t know what to do. Last year she produced great on blackberries and alfalfa pellets, and this year her production is great for what she eats, I just want her to have some fat reserves in case of stress, etc. Does anyone have ideas on coaxing a picky goat to eat more?
Update: due to difficulties with landlord, we won’t be able to take anyone on right now (sorry). Hopefully we’ll be able to bug our own place soon
2 years ago