Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

I do not want to work as a nurse for the rest of my life.  I’m not saying it is an awful job or anything, but I want to work for myself on my own land at some point in the future.  I have been looking at some possibilities of what I could do instead for some time now.  I know it will be a few years before I can officially quit my job, I am particularly excited about one potential job idea.  Coppice agroforestry with livestock.

The idea is that you plant your land with various trees and coppice them in a five or so year rotation.  Coppicing is to cut the tree without killing it, allowing it to grow back even stronger in the future.  This means that you don’t need to replant yearly in order to maintain your lumber supply.  You can incorporate animals into this system easily, making it even stronger.  The animals provide manure and pest control and can graze more naturally.  There are many considerations to make in this system, but it can all be figured out with some research.  This type of a system would help to provide me with income through selling meat, eggs, wool, fruits, vegetables, lumber, and fibers.  I’m sure there are more things I could incorporate, but this is fairly new research for me.  Here is what I am finding so far:

Coppicing: Coppicing is the practice of cutting trees for the timber and leaving the stump to regrow for future cuttings.  By leaving the stump and root system intact, it provides a faster and stronger growth for the new lumber.  The new growth is called poles.  Pollarding is the term used for coppicing above the level where animals may be able to eat the new growth.  This allows for the incorporation of animals in you coppice agroforestry.

There are many different types of trees you can grow for the purpose of coppice.  A common variety is willow, which tends to be know for it’s rapid growth rates, especially with enough water and nutrients.  (The nutrients could come from manure.)  You could use apple trees.  When done in the right rotation, you would have apples and apple wood for many years.  And so would your children and grandchildren.  It’s the same idea with nut trees.  You get the wood and the nuts and you extend the life of the trees.  Keep in mind that you will have new growth from the trees, but I’m not sure how many years before they would begin to produce fruit or nuts.  More research required on my part.  You could also include nitrogen fixing trees in the system to increase the nutrients in your soil.  Don’t forget about including trees for animal fodder.  The animals will love the variety of food supply and there will be less food that you need to supply for them.

Your living fence can easily be incorporated into this system as well.  Willows are great for living fences and are great for coppicing as I mentioned before.  You could make more willow baskets than you could possibly imagine.  I know brambles are great for living fences too, but I’m not sure yet what you could do with coppiced thorny vines.  I’ll work on that thought.  Some research will have to be done on which plants won’t be good for corralling livestock.  All the different berries that can be used in living fences will provide an excess of fruit.

Adding animals into this system makes the system even stronger.  The animals fertilize the plants.  They eat the pest bugs that could destroy your trees.  They eat the low branches off the trees that would otherwise need to be pruned.  Animals can eat the weeds among the trees or keep the grass between the trees mowed.  I wouldn’t plant grass myself, put you could plant nitrogen fixing clover or some other tasty treat for the animals.

Depending on the animal you choose to keep, there are different benefits that can be offered.  Ducks and chickens provide eggs meat in addition to pest control.  Grazing animals like goats, sheep, and turkeys are wonderful at eating worm infested fruits as they fall dead off of the trees.  This interrupts the life cycle of the worms and maggots and helps to resolve this pest problem.  Removing rotten fruit from around the trees can also help from spreading disease by destroying the spores.  The rotten fruit is a good food source for these animals too.

This can be an excellent system to feed your family and provide a source for timber.  However, it can also easily over provide and allow for a source of income in your life.  This could be an excellent solution to the problem I have been having in deciding what to do for a new “career.”  My biggest issue in deciding what to do with myself was that I needed variety.  I can’t imagine that I would ever run out of variety with a system like this.  I can’t say that I have come up with any potential ideas that offer anywhere near as many different things that can all be incorporated into one idea.  Any thoughts, ideas, or insight?

The link to my list of information sources.



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There are plenty of critters out there that like to dig through your garden and eat all the plants by the roots.  Especially your carrots and other root vegetables.  I have never had any problems with these guys in my own garden, but have heard from others how hard they are to get rid of.  Traps and chemicals are not what I want to be doing to get rid of them, and I’m starting out in an area where I’m not sure how much of a problem they will be.  So I’ll just go ahead and plant the stuff I need to keep them out anyways.  Daffodils and garlic.

I am familiar with using garlic and onions to keep pests out of the garden, but daffodils came as a surprise to me.  Apparently, they are quite offensive to deer and chipmunks too.  I have seen a ton of chipmunks around, so I need to be proactive against them for sure.  Both types of bulbs are offensive to these critters that want into your garden.  By planting the bulbs around your garden beds, it should function as a barrier for them.  They apparently won’t go through the offensive plant barrier, unlike the fences that they laugh at.  I doubt I bought enough bulbs for the whole garden, but I won’t know until my plants are eaten or not.  I did end up getting regular bulbs at a local garden store.  I would have preferred heirlooms, but I just can’t afford to do that right now.


Here they are!  All ready for a fall planting.  The garlic will provide quite a few plants after I splint the bulbs up into cloves.  I noticed that some of the daffodils also had separate cloves to their bulbs.


I’m not sure if it works the same as garlic, but I pulled the bulbs apart like I dod the garlic.  They weren’t expensive or anything, so if I kill them all, I will only lose $10 or so.


According to the packages, I bought 10 bulbs.  I ended up with 16 or so.  Hopefully, I haven’t killed the daffodils and they will keep the critters out of my beds.  I’m just wondering how, if I plant my bulbs in the fall, I will be able to get to the beds to plant the veggies in the spring.  I guess we will have to wait and see.





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DSC_0410We made these ornaments to decorate our tree, outside still growing in our yard.  This was the first time we had done this sort of thing, so we are still working on the outdoor decorations.  I am tired of wasting $50 every year to buy a tree that will be pretty for a few weeks and then just die.  This falls right into the consumerism that we are trying so hard to get away from.  I much more enjoy going outside and feeding the birds while decorating our tree.  We are going to have to find some more ornament ideas for next year though.

I really liked these ornaments because they are pretty and mini bird feeders.  My little girl (2) was able to help me make these decorations without any trouble.  We also made salt dough ornaments, but these were more fun to share.


All you need is molds (I used my silicone soap molds), straws, string, birdseed, and shortening.  First you melt the shortening and mix in the birdseed.  I don’t know how much I used of each, but next time I will use more shortening.  The ornaments weren’t sturdy as I would

have liked them to be so we ended up just freezing them right before we hung them.  Pour the mixture into the molds and put a straw through where you want the string.  Put them in the freezer overnight.  DSC_0186Once they are frozen, pop them out of the molds, pull the straws out, thread the strings and you’re done.  Beautiful and tasty treats for the birds!

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Ducks or Chickens

DSC_0433I have been debating over chickens or ducks for eggs for a little while now.  It seems that there are many reasons for ducks over chickens, but I was scared about the taste.  I tend to be a little on the picky side with my foods.  Duck eggs aren’t the easiest thing to find, but the co-op we shop at just started carrying them.  They are delicious!  So now that it’s settled, here are all the reasons I found why I’m choosing ducks:

The eggs are much better in many ways.  They are more nutritious than chicken eggs.  Check out this nutrition comparison chart I found.  The eggs are bigger and tastier. The shells are thicker which allows them to store longer and be less fragile.  Ducks also lay more eggs than chickens.  I found a couple sites that said they can lay almost twice as much and through the winter.

Ducks are easier to keep for a few reasons.  They are heartier in heat and cold than chickens.  They have an extra layer of fat to keep warm, waterproofing on their feathers to keep dry, and they just go swimming to keep cool.  Swimming also helps to keep them healthier because it keeps mites off of them.  In addition to this mite proofing, ducks have a heartier immune system than chickens.  Heartier immune system means healthier, happier ducks and less visits.  Ducks are also said to be less aggressive towards other ducks.  They are more welcoming to new companions.

The reason I first became interested in ducks was for pest control.  Ducks are excellent for running around your garden eating slugs and other bugs that are lurking in the shadows just waiting for the moment to emerge and eat your beautiful veggies.   Ducks like to hunt and will go after mice and snakes too.  This also means that they can better forage for themselves and need to be handed less food.  Chickens will eat bugs, but are picky about it.  They are also much harder on your lawn and garden while they are eating the bugs.  Ducks will do some trampling and eating  of your plants, but chickens will peck and scratch until nothing remains.

The problem that I have found with ducks seems to be that they need a pond.  Not just a bucket of water, but a decent sized pond.  Luckily, I want a pond anyway, so this won’t be a problem for me.  I would like to raise some sort of fish in the pond, so I will have to do more research in this area.  I don’t see why ducks and fish couldn’t share a pond like they would naturally, but I’ll have to investigate anyway.  Either way, I will be getting myself some ducks as soon as I can!

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Since permaculture is also organic we don’t use any chemicals on anything.  This means we need another way to control bugs that bother our garden plants.  Birds eat lots of bugs so we should do our best to make friends with some birds.  I put birdhouses all over my yard.

This is my very first visitor.  I should point out too that if you put the houses or a post out in your garden, then when the birds poop, they are adding nitrogen to your garden.  I have seen one garden where the post can be moved around depending on where you need the nitrogen.  Permaculture is all about many uses for everything.

My whole family helped in the birdhouse making.  We made a day of it.  We all sat down together and painted and then I fed everyone dinner.  It was a nice family gathering and I got quite a few nice painted birdhouses out of it.  I think we will do it again next year.

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