I started keeping goldfish in my water trough about four years ago. I currently have the same four fish who started out as quite small 9¢ in my 100-gallon stock tank, and another two goldfish in my 35-gallon sheep stock tank. The fish overwinter well in the troughs, especially because they have the added comfort of a submerged trough heater in the winter time. The fish require no supplemental feed; they eat the mosquito larvae on the top of the water, and also eat the bits of hay and forage that fall from the horses' mouths when they drink.
Because my Clydesales are so large and require 35 gallons of water each per day, and I also have five sheep to one 35-gallon tank, I'm refilling water troughs constantly. The continuous refilling generates clean water full of bubbles--and the animals only add more as they play with their water before they drink. The fish get the aeration they need, the food they require, and a large tank for swimming all while keeping our mosquito population down.
Do the horses ever eat the fish? No--they swim to the bottom when the horses approach. Do any other animals or birds of prey hunt the fish? Nope--not once here on our farm. How do I know they're healthy and thriving? My vet friend says as long as they're eating, creating manure, growing, and swimming they're doing great.
Our Rotational Grazing Routine
I rotationally graze my animals here at the homestead. Sheep ingest many parasites when they graze that affect horses, and the parasites are killed because they’re not ingested by the desired host. The horses do the same for the sheep. All the while, different nutrients are added to the soil through manure.
Most often, the sheep follow the horses. You can see my rotation plan I put together when I was in school in the second slide. In these shots, however, the horses and sheep are lumped together, tandem grazing the backyard. My recent travels affected my pasture schedule so we’re using the backyard as a buffer while it all comes back in.
Animals are introduced to a space when forage grasses reach 8-10” high, and forage legumes reach 10-12”. All animals are pulled from a space and it’s allowed to rest at 4”. Anything under that is considered over-grazed, and grows back much more slowly.
Angela and Elaine invite you to join them in their kitchens for a zoom ‘Bakealong’. Join them as they make the stuffed sourdough pizza rolls from Elaine’s new book, Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread Baking. Perfect for children to join in too!
Date: Saturday, 1st July
Time: 10am US/3pm UK
Prior to the event you will receive:
Make, bake and learn from Angela and Elaine. They look forward to welcoming you into their kitchens!
Timing: 60-90 mins.
*The recipe is for a sourdough based dough; if you are not yet a sourdough baker and would like to join in, please feel free to make a yeasted dough in readiness.
Angela Ferraro-Fanning is a permaculture homesteader in central New Jersey. She believes in regenerative homesteading practices that mimic patterns in nature. The six-acre historic farm is home to Clydesdale horses, honeybees, sheep, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, a small orchard, hobby vineyard, and food forest gardens. Angela is the author of several books including The Little Homesteader series, The Harvest Table Cookbook, and The Sustainable Homestead. She also co-hosts a podcast called HOMESTEADucation.
IG, TikTok: @AxeAndRootHomestead
YouTube: Axe And Root Homestead
Elaine from Foodbod Sourdough, is a sourdough baker, cookbook writer and teacher, but mostly a sourdough ‘simplifier’. Dverything Elaine does and shares is to show how truly simply sourdough can be. Elaine removes the complication and unnecessary steps, and often the fear, that can come with making sourdough, and shows bakers all over the world how they can easily make their own healthy, tasty bread, week in, week out, in their home kitchens, to suit their lifestyle and timings. Elaine also hosts a podcast all about food, The Foodbod Pod.
A new experimental side project called Diary of a Homesteader. Authentic conversations about daily life on the farm. True stories that reflect the good, bad, and in between. In this first episode, I'm sharing the trust issues I'm currently having after an incident at the farm.
Permaculture Fruit Tree Guilds
Let’s revisit permaculture fruit tree guilds, for an apple tree specifically. What is a guild? A guild is a neighborhood of plants that work together to support the main fruiting tree. We strive to include nutrient accumulators, mulchers, a nitrogen fixer, weed suppressors, beneficial insect attractors and bad insect repellers. Often this style of gardening is called companion or polyculture planting.
Want to know what to plant around your fruiting tree? Check out page 160 of my book The Sustainable Homestead for guild “recipes” for loads of different fruit tree varieties.
The Sustainable Homestead is Out NOW!
Friends! I have been sharing about my new book, The Sustainable Homestead, for almost a year and a half. The day has finally come! The Sustainable Homestead is now out at most book retailers.
This book is the missing resource I wish I had when I first started "holistic homesteading." At that time I had no idea what the term permaculture was or that it was essentially the back-to-nature mindset of farming that I was trying to implement. I've broken the book down into 8 chapters with soooo many graphs, charts, and illustrations in an effort to communicate my points clearly and easily. Chapters include:
- Site Assessment
- Incorporating Animals
- Pasture Setup/Rotation
- The Role of the Homesteader
I hope you'll have a look! And if you've already purchased, it would mean so much if you would take the time to leave a review on Amazon or GoodReads.
Many thanks for the continued support!
Overwhelmed with where to start on your permaculture homestead? Unsure of where everything should go? Don't waste your energy, time, and dollars by guessing. There are four simple steps that apply to ANY site in order to steer yourself in the right direction. Gather information, create realistic goals, brainstorm how to achieve these goals, and implement them. Problems and challenges such as flooding can actually steer you into solutions, just like they did for my own farm. Watch this video to learn how to navigate starting a permaculture farm.
Phenology and Crocuses
“When crocuses bloom, plant out chard, kale, lettuce, peas, and spinach.”
Phenology is the study of patterns and cues in nature with regards to plants, animals and insects. These cycles were what marked planting times before seed packets and weather forecasts. You can get truly local, microclimate-specific planting guides by watching what’s blooming in your own yard and learning what to plant. As the season progresses, I’ll share phenology timelines I follow. I’m thinking this will be my next book. 😉
What's a Cover Crop? How to Feed Animals and Soil at the Same Time with Forageable Cover Crops.
What if your pasture seed could feed your animals AND improve your soil? Seeding pastures with something like Kentucky Blue grass is great for horses, but really not so great for the soil. All it really does is hold soil in place.
I started using forageable cover crops a few seasons ago and I won’t go back. Rather than sow plain grass seed, I mix a few cover crops that meet the nutritional requirements of my animals while performing different functions like decompacting soil, improving tilth, fixing nitrogen, attract beneficial insects, suppressing weeds, etc. If the soil is healthy, the forage my animals eat will be too.
My favorite free resource is The Rodale Institute’s free Forageable Cover Crop chart. You can look up different cover crops suited to your climate. Be sure to cross reference that with what is appropriate grazing for your animal species. Note, what works for me will not work for you. Take into consideration your climate, sun, moisture, landscape, animals’ needs, etc. It might be a bit of research up front but I promise it’s worth the work. I’ll have lots more info on this and dividing pastures up for rotational grazing in my book, The Sustainable Homestead, out in just two weeks!
Rodale Institute Chart Here
The Sustainable Homestead
As goslings mature into geese their wings become very heavy. Some drooping is normal as the bird develops the proper muscles to carry the weight of the wing. Other times, “slipped wing” or “angel wing” is to blame. This condition is caused by genetics, feeding too high of a protein content for too long or, in the case, the fact that my Large Dewlap Toulouse goose mated with my Sebastapol gander and produced a small bodied bird with large wings.
The condition is purely aesthetic but no doubt looks uncomfortable. Place the wings where they should rest and gently secure in place with vet wrap or a shirt. This does not hurt the bird… think of it like a wing bra for support. 🤣 Vet wrap, I find, is easiest. But an old t-shirt works in a pinch. You can secure a t-shirt with a hair tie until more vet wrap can be acquired.
The bones of waterfowl grow at an astonishing rate. So this condition, if properly wrapped, can take just 4-5 days to correct. Change out the dressing as needed. Note this post is not a replacement for professional veterinary help. If you suspect a deformity or nutritional abnormalities in your bird, contact a veterinary professional for guidance and care.
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
The Sustainable Homestead, is out for pre-order NOW!