A few more

Yesterday’s spring-like weather (much welcomed) melted away the last of the snow.  Here a few more shots I took the morning it arrived.

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It’s March and I’m ready to start planting.  When that will happen is up to nature and she’s notoriously unpredictable in March.

Stocking Rate

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I recently came across a note I wrote about 10 years ago.  It was a list of our pastures and their acreages. Next to the total number of acres in pasture (29) I had written, “175 to 290 goats.”

I had researched stocking rates and concluded that our pastures could support 6-10 goats per acre, so my plan was to grow our herd size to as many as 290 animals.

That seems crazy to me now. At our peak we had about 70 adult goats and I felt they were putting too much stress on the pasture.  We’re down to 26 now (plus 19 kids), which seems about right to me.

With goats it’s not just a question of the available forage.  Ideal pasture for goats will include a lot of brush, not just grass. Goats prefer to browse rather than graze and if they are eating close to the ground their chances of picking up intestinal parasites increases greatly.

A managed intensive grazing plan would be better for the pastures and would enable us to increase our herd size, but it just isn’t practical for us now. We devote one paddock to pigs 8 months out of the year and I try to use that paddock to stockpile winter forage.  Ideally I’d like to only feed hay on snow days, but the last few years that hasn’t been possible.

We’re still trying to figure out what our ideal stocking rate is, but 6-10 is definitely too high for us. Because the question is so dependent upon the particular pastures and how they’re managed, it seems to me the only way to really know the perfect stocking rate is by experimenting.  If any goatherds out there have any wisdom to share on stocking rates, I’d love to have it.

For now we’re going to try to keep our herd size in the 25-30 range.  It’s too bad my original plan didn’t work out. The thought of having over 300 kids in the pastures does make me smile.

I Don’t Know

Back in my lawyer days I often found it hard to convince witnesses that it was OK to say, “I don’t know.”

But “I don’t know” is a perfectly fine answer.  In fact, in many situations it is the only appropriate answer, because it is the only truthful answer.

We all have a tendency, I think, to resist admitting we don’t know something, especially if asked a question to which we think we should know the answer. Of course it’s also true that in normal conversation we don’t expect absolute certainty.  We’re usually comfortable answering a question as long as we’re reasonably confident of our answer, even if not absolutely certain of it.

It seems to me that there are probably few things of which we can be absolutely confident.  In fact, we ought to be suspicious of any claim of absolute certainty.

So I think we’d probably do well to say “I don’t know” more often.

But I’m not certain of that.

The Ocean

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.
John F. Kennedy

Over half of the population of the U.S. lives within 50 miles of the coast, as does about 44 percent of the world’s population.

Is that because our Paleozoic amphibian ancestors crawled out of the swamp onto dry land and we have tended to stay close to shore ever since?  That explanation would probably be too simple.

Maybe it’s because humans have tended to settle along trade routes.  That would make sense.

We also know that ecosystems are most robust at “edges.”  There is a lot of life where rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, and oceans meet dry land. So maybe we tend to be near the water because that’s just a natural place for living organisms to be.

But maybe we tend to settle near shorelines just because we like being on the coast.  That seems as good a reason as any to me.

Of course not all civilizations and societies have a love for the sea. The ancient Hebrews, for example, who were hill-dwellers and they feared the sea–perhaps because their traditional enemies were sea-faring coast dwellers.  In Biblical imagery the sea is a foreboding and dangerous place.  On the “new earth” imagined in Revelation, there is no sea.  No beaches in heaven?  That might not sound heavenly to the beach-lovers among us.

It used to be a regular part of my life, but it’s been a long time now since I’ve been to the beach.  Maybe I need to change that.

Just dreaming of a warm sunny beach on a cold winter morning…

Another Snow Day

So it turns out that last week’s snow was not destined to be our only snow of the year. Yesterday we woke up to this.

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In a few days we’ll have temperatures in the high 50’s again, so this won’t be here long.

And now the question becomes, what kind of March does nature have in store for us this year?

Rethinking Your Lenten Fast

On Sunday Seedbed published a blog post by me on the subject of Lenten fasting.  Go check it out HERE  if that sounds interesting.

Here’s the conclusion:

Rather than merely taking a temporary respite from some minor personal pleasure, perhaps we should see this Lenten season as an opportunity to commence a “perpetual fast” from “inferior appetites,” such as food that we know to be destructive of our health. At a minimum, might we not be able to identify one or two things that we know to be harmful to our health, and in the spirit of the solemnity of Lent begin the process of removing them from our lives altogether?

Snow Day

It started snowing last Monday afternoon and continued through the night. On Tuesday, we woke up to this.

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For many of you this snow would be unremarkable. For us, 3-4 inches is a big deal.

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Ginny’s ancestors are from Labrador. She’s enjoying our record cold temperatures.

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Looks like the wind carried away a shutter.  It didn't notice that until posting this.

Looks like the wind carried away a shutter. It didn’t notice that until posting this.

The Fatties don't seem to mind the snow.

The Fatties don’t seem to mind the snow.

It made for a beautiful day, but these kinds of things don’t last long around here.  A few days later we had 58 degree weather and it was all gone. I don’t miss it.  Still, it was pretty while it lasted.

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