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Our Organic Method

Organic pigs sheep grass free graze

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#1 arcadianhaven

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 08:25 AM

Good morning all!
I wanted to share our plan for how we wish to maintain our soils at the ranch for our gardening purposes, and see if you had any feedcback. We are new to this, and have read much, but nothing beats real world experience.
We are going to be doing 15 1 acre pastures that we will be raising sheep, and pigs on. They will free graze and be grass fed (with legumes) solely. We will be using guinea fowl and chickens for pest control.
My thought was this, we have 2 acres for our gardening. Our soil is 4 feet of sandy loam, covered by large trees. I had thought that after we rotate the animals to each new pasture, to gather some of the manure etc, and compost it. We then "till" it into the garden areas in between each crop to help rpelenish the soil. My wife is planning on rotating what we grow so we don't "vamp" the soils to much.
What do you all think, seriously any feed back would be welcome. our intent is to be 100% organic and healthy to our aniumals and our land.
Good morning all!
I wanted to share our plan for how we wish to maintain our soils at the ranch for our gardening purposes, and see if you had any feedcback. We are new to this, and have read much, but nothing beats real world experience.
We are going to be doing 15 1 acre pastures that we will be raising sheep, and pigs on. They will free graze and be grass fed (with legumes) solely. We will be using guinea fowl and chickens for pest control.
My thought was this, we have 2 acres for our gardening. Our soil is 4 feet of sandy loam, covered by large trees. I had thought that after we rotate the animals to each new pasture, to gather some of the manure etc, and compost it. We then "till" it into the garden areas in between each crop to help rpelenish the soil. My wife is planning on rotating what we grow so we don't "vamp" the soils to much.
What do you all think, seriously any feed back would be welcome. our intent is to be 100% organic and healthy to our aniumals and our land.


Evan McGee
Chief Ranch Hand / Owner
http://www.arcadianhaven.com
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#2 Vol

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 09:34 AM

Evan, as always, the first step in improving the condition of ones soil is understanding the needs and requirements of YOUR soil and this is done by soil sampling and testing. Best place to start is with your county extension agent who can give you the local information that you will need. I see your from Elgin, TX...we have a host of TX members who can give you much advice and wisdom as far as your needs THERE.

Regards, Mike
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#3 arcadianhaven

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 10:23 AM

Thanks,
Yes someone told me to get with ATTRA and have them come test the soils so we are doing that in August. Thanks again for the tip!

#4 Tim/South

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Posted 18 July 2012 - 12:02 PM

I know a couple of people who are trying to go organic in both small livestock and produce. The market seems to be a tough one to break into.
It is hard to say how a plan will work until you try it. You begin with what looks good on paper and tweak it as you go.
Most areas of agriculture have a slow return on your money. It can be depressing to someone new.

#5 Mike120

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 07:26 AM

You can test your soil yourself: http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/

My personal opinion is that your plans involve too much diversity. You will likely spend a large amount of labor dealing with it and risk doing none of it well. You may also want to shift your focus to the sales and marketing aspects of your endevour. Sustainability also involves getting paid for your efforts and receiving enough income to continue it....otherwise it's just a hobby. Good luck!

#6 Tim/South

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Posted 19 July 2012 - 10:55 AM

One observation I want to offer when it comes to collecting manure to be used as fertilizer.
Feed in one area and hope the poo is deposited in that small area. Walking around a pasture trying to gather what they drop is a futile endeavor.

Also, there are two manures that have a stench with which no other can compete.
They are chicken and hog. (I am guessing Guinea is close enough to a chicken to qualify)
If the defecation of any of those two critters gets on shoes or clothes, that smell will remain until the item is burned.
Been there, done that.

#7 vhaby

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 08:07 PM

Yes, collecting animal manure for the two acre garden is going to be labor intensive. For my two cents worth, a 4-ft deep sandy loam covered by large trees likely has not been adequately fertilized for a number of years. Once you have your soil test results, locate the nearest region where broilers are being produced- Gonzales or Franklin vicinity- and find a producer who will sell to you some broiler litter when he does a production house cleanout. Base the amount of litter that you will need on the phosphorus level in your garden area soil. Apply and work the broiler litter into the garden soil in fall so that it is more ready to benefit your garden plants in late winter/spring. Your pasture soils would be improved by leaving all the grazing animal defication in those pastures, and you would save yourself a whole lot of work.

Sorry I'm a month late posting to this thread.

#8 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 03:35 PM

rotate the animals to each new pasture Stop right there. Allow the waste to fertilize your pastures.

That is a great idea, Still you will be limited to one animal unit to 5 acres. That is three cows or 15 sheep. Keep it down to one hog.
We will be using guinea fowl and chickens for pest control I assume you mean for the garden pest control. If you grain your pig & or sheep then they can forage the pastures and glean grain from the animal waste.

we have 2 acres for our gardening, now it all depends on just where around Elgin you are. If you have lots of lime stone you may have problems with getting phosphate for you garden and or pasture(s). If not then Rock Phosphate should work.
Two acres is a lot of garden, a whole lot of garden. You will have to depart from ultimate organic and use a tractor and steel implements. Laugh not, 100 years ago the purest agriculturists used only animal and man power on the land, and very limited amount of steel. (Steel will Poison the Ground you should Know (then))
Now to be certified organic you will be attempting to break into a Closed Shop Mentality. That is ok it can be done. you realize the organic rules were established by Rodale in Pennsylvania and what works there does not transfer real well. Then we have the later Authorities (with good intentions) extended and amplified the early PA methods.
So really you can use Murate of potash and K-Mag in you garden and fields and not violate the original intent.
If you do locate a source of animal waste for your fertilizer needs, you will still need additional nitrogen. For this ground covers of legumes should take care of much of the nitrogen needs. Say one acre of winter peas, and one acre of a summer clover. That depends on the amount of animal waste and you expected yields. The more of ether will increase your need for outside nitrogen. A few sacks of Urea will fill in, besides the word Urea sounds organic. Just do not mention it in polite company.
If you find you need hay, ( because you are running more animals than your soil, and climate with you management will support, come up TX 95.) I am my land in the river bottom West of the Bridge over the Little River river at Little River/Academy. I will never claim to be Organic, but I will say I use prudent management.
Pay heed to vhaby he has a lifetime of knowledge and he shares.

We are going to be doing 15 1 acre pastures that we will be raising sheep, and pigs on.

What do you all think, seriously any feed back would be welcome. our intent is to be 100% organic and healthy to our animals and our land.

I hope you realize that Organic does not equal healthy.
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#9 somedevildawg

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:56 AM

Good luck is all I have for ya feller.....quite an endevor ya got there, while I admire your thoughts, the action required to put this plan in motion will be significant. Again good luck....

#10 swmnhay

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 11:37 AM

So you are going to have grass fed hogs?

#11 Mike120

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:14 AM

Well they would be interesting to watch if they would put more in their blog. Their last entry was exclaiming joy at having acquired six rescue donkeys....3 males and 3 females. I assume they got them as "fertilizer producers" for their garden, 'cause I'm not sure there's much of a market for organic donkeys.

#12 NDVA HAYMAN

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 02:57 PM

:D :D :D :rolleyes:

#13 Vol

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Posted 13 December 2012 - 05:00 PM

Well they would be interesting to watch if they would put more in their blog. Their last entry was exclaiming joy at having acquired six rescue donkeys....3 males and 3 females. I assume they got them as "fertilizer producers" for their garden, 'cause I'm not sure there's much of a market for organic donkeys.


Never had organic donkey....reckon it would be tough? ;)

Regards, Mike

#14 Mike120

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 09:47 AM

Anything about a donkey is tough....being a fertilizer producer is the only useful purpose I can think of for them. They do that well.

#15 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 14 December 2012 - 07:45 PM

Nothing much more useless than a Jack (Male Donkey) The females can be good guard animals but only if they do not have a colt to watch. Castrate the males and when they soften up one up for meat, one at a time. The Indians, Native Americans all, liked donkey and mule meat.

We had a pair of Nurses one at Scott and White Hospital, the other at the VA hospital. They believed in Monogomy and had an equal number of bulls and cows.

One donkey with a small number of hair sheep would be good. The sheep eat both browse and grass and are better than cattle or goats for forage utilization.

IF they opt for cattle then buy up to three long horn steers, for decoration. Keep the stocking rate at 5 acres to an animal unit, for well managed pasture. For all Natural Native Forage, figure one animal unit to 17 acres, At Elgin.

In much of New Mexico they use 5 animals to a section, ie one animal to 100 acres.





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