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anyone here know anything about permaculture?

Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
    
    5
Hi Paul,

We've got a pasture that we want to put our horses on. The problem is that it's get a couple of big stands of hemlock!

Does anyone (Paul?), know of a good, I hope non-pesticide, way to get the hemlock gone? For good?

Thanks!

Bert

p.s. Folks not named Paul can also answer this question


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Paul Yule
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 12, 2008
Posts: 229
I'm sorry I don't.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11417
    
  16

Can folks not named Paul not answer the qeustion?


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Steve Fahlbusch
Bartender

Joined: Sep 18, 2000
Posts: 570
    
    7

Bert,

From a discusion a long time ago - friend dug up plant and roots (or whatever they had) then added some herbiside - i think fenced off for a season and seeded next.

I will see if i can get in touch to find out what exactally he used.

-steve
Joe Ess
Bartender

Joined: Oct 29, 2001
Posts: 8927
    
    9



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paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20637
    ∞

So much to say.

First, I take it you are talking about poison hemlock, a redish sort of plant, and not a hemlock tree.

Second, is the land barren of everything except hemlock?

Third, will you be using rotational grazing?

Fourth, keep in mind that how an animal eats is radicaly different from how we eat. Nearly all other animals are driven by instinct and smell. It is wise to have a massive collection of plants available to your animals, including poison hemlock. As long as there is plenty of food and the animal is healthy, it won't eat any of the poison hemlock. If the animal is forced to live on an area that is too small and has eaten all other food and is starving to death, it might then eat such a large quantity of poison hemlock that it will die.

The best care of the animal is to have it in an area that contains a plethora of good food and some toxic foods. And then, if the animal feels a bit off, it might eat a little something "medicinal" based on what it's instincts correctly tell it to eat.


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Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
    
    5
Thanks Paul,

Yes, I'm talking about a weed/plant (not a tree), that might grow to 8 or 10 feet - it's got a white delicate flower top.

The pasture is not barren, although in this California climate it all goes brown by this time of year. There is a standard (nice), collection of plant life in the pasture, wild oats I believe, some rye, some clumpy sort of native California grass. There is a fair amount of coyote brush which isn't really harmful but isn't very "pasture'y" either.

As far as "rotational grazing" goes, I can say something about our intentions. The usable portion of the pasture is roughly six acres. We expect that it will have maybe 6 horses on it part-time. The intention of the pasture is NOT to provide much nourishment, but to be a place for them to run around and nibble for several hours a day. We hope to be able to water it a bit, and even with some irrigation the main management issue I foresee is keeping it from becoming a dry lot. In other words, if we're not careful all the plant life will be eaten or trampled and all we'll be left with is dust. The pasture is in a natural valley / swale so it gets a little more than the normal amount of water.

I understand the idea that it's good to have a little bit if stuff like hemlock around - it's also scary because while a happy, well nourished horse "shouldn't" eat too much hemlock, it might

I think what we really want to do is knock the amount of hemlock back about 95%. We have horse owning friends and neighbors who also deal with hemlock and they've allowed as how they can't ever get rid of all of it, but they can keep it pretty minimal - that would be a good result for us.

So, what I guess I'm really trying to get at is a way to reduce the hemlock drastically without resorting to a bunch o' chemicals. Also, burning is right out during California summers. (The geek part of me though about getting ahold of some liquid nitrogen )

We though about hiring goats, but our horse vet said that, contrary to popular belief, even goats can't eat hemlock and stay healthy.



paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20637
    ∞

So much to say and it just won't all fit here .... so here are a few bits ...

The right thing to do is to work in a paddock shift system. Something where you have at least four paddocks. preferably more like eight. Each paddock will get at least 30 days of rest in between use. And when the horses are in a paddock they should not eat more than 30% of the forage. This technique will increase the growth of vegetation by a factor of about five.

I offer this next bit of information so that you don't do anything drastic. Vinegar doubles as a general purpose herbicide. But! Using vinegar or any herbicide is like using a switch statement in OO - if you find yourself thinking about it you know you are going about it all wrong.

Having stuff outcompete undesired plants is a far better solution. A shovel followed by a thick mulch is another excellent solution.

The best solution is .... nothing. Do nothing. Nurturing an abundance of life nearly always brings the best solution.


Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
    
    5
This is awesome Paul!


The right thing to do is to work in a paddock shift system. Something where you have at least four paddocks. preferably more like eight. Each paddock will get at least 30 days of rest in between use. And when the horses are in a paddock they should not eat more than 30% of the forage. This technique will increase the growth of vegetation by a factor of about five.


There's a tension here between vegetation and exercise / fitness. More cross-fencing (i.e. "paddocks"), means less running around. We will definitely do some cross fencing to give areas 30 days of rest. I also like the "30% of the forage" rule. That said, I wonder if you can recommend an approach to drought management. A couple hundred years of human tampering has made the native grasses very sparse - so we're largely left with non-native grasses that don't hold up so well to drought conditions.

One positive data point is that we don't particularly want / need terribly nutritious grasses - our Icelandic horses are bred to get fat on virtually nothing so if the pasture is too nutritious we can't leave them on it for long. Ideally we'd love most of the pasture to be nibbled fairly short (equine lawn mowers), so that mostly the horses are moving around, engaging in horse play, and snacking. This would be the best for their fitness and their mental state.

With all that said we're more than willing to seed and do what irrigation is possible given a strong, but domestic well.


I offer this next bit of information so that you don't do anything drastic. Vinegar doubles as a general purpose herbicide. But! Using vinegar or any herbicide is like using a switch statement in OO - if you find yourself thinking about it you know you are going about it all wrong.

Having stuff outcompete undesired plants is a far better solution. A shovel followed by a thick mulch is another excellent solution.


As far as the hemlock goes, the good news is that it's mostly in a few dense patches - maybe only 5-10% of the total pasture area. We could definitely fence those areas off and approach them differently than the rest of the pasture. What might we do to get more desirable plants to "outcompete" the hemlock?


The best solution is .... nothing. Do nothing. Nurturing an abundance of life nearly always brings the best solution.


Given the above details (horse pressure and marginal water) how might we go about nurturing an abundance of life? Can you recommend permaculture-esque books / resources that are somewhat tailored to the special requirements of horse pastures?


Thanks!
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20637
    ∞

Drought management: permaculture was born in the desert. Swales, ponds, hugelkultur, and ... most importantly .... trees .... can you upload some pics of your land and tell me more about your annual rainfall?

As for cross fencing vs. running around: make your paddocks looooong. And, most folks these days do only temporary paddocks with electric fence. Every five days or so, take half an hour and set up a new paddock with step in posts and electric twine/tape.

Natives: This discussion is worth a whole different thread. Let me ask you a few questions: do you eat only "native" food that came from your land? When you say "native", are you referring to the stuff that was growing on your land in 1805? Or maybe in 1605? Or maybe a thousand years ago? I think there is a lot fascinating info with native stuff. And a lot of fanatical lunacy from nutjobs that wanna screw everything up. I think every native nutjob that wants to impose laws on my land, should first spend a year with 100% of their diet coming from their own land growing exclusively natives. Toby Hemenway, author of Gaia's Garden - the best permaculture book out today, has, IMO, done an excellent job of dispelling a lot of the goofiness around native stuff.

My knowledge of your particular breed of horse is pretty scant. But the idea of nibbling the grass to be pretty short is almost always a pretty bad idea. Better to have the grass grazed from seven inches down to four inches.

Irrigation: this is almost always not the permaculture way. There can be some irrigation to get things started, but long term irrigation is a sign of doing it all wrong.

Outcompeting hemlock: again, there are things you can plant that would do this, but the better approach is to be thinking about what is it that you want to grow and then plant that and encourage that. Thus forgetting about the hemlock. Diversity is best. I think you need trees and shrubs. Focus on a mixture that will bring up water and nutrients from down deep (tap rooted trees, like nut trees) and trees that will feed the soil (legumes, like black locust).

You should plant lots of stuff that will be food for people, food for chickens, food for pigs, food for horses, food for wildlife, food, food, food, food .... lots of variety, lots of diversity. So much variety and diversity that if you were to plant six apple trees, no two apple trees would be within a hundred feet of each other.





Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8829
    
    5
Hey Paul,

Thanks for all the info - this is all great stuff, and I haven't forgotten about it - but we're still moving to our new spot - be back to this soon!

Bert
paul wheaton
Trailboss

Joined: Dec 14, 1998
Posts: 20637
    ∞

Here is a perspective on native plants that is radically different from any other position I have ever heard. I think this sums up my position rather perfectly:



 
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