Results startup and the operation 2016-2020
Goats or sheep, cattle
I recommend goat for those who want to have livestock but don’t want to take on the larger effort with cattle. Depending on your pasture sheep may be better than goats. Goats work very well with cattle if you want to do a multispecies grazing system. Sheep also go with cattle but if your pasture is a true polyculture, goats are better because they eat a spectrum of forage cows don’t. Goats also eat grasses so there is some overlap. Goats allow less mowing and chemicals but do not completely eliminate them. I only use chemical on the fence line. I stopped spraying fields and instead spot mow. You will have to manage the polyculture pasture where cattle and goat’s efforts fall short. They key is competition management. A good polyculture has a balance albeit in transition with disturbance. Sometimes a good hard disking is good too.
Connectivity and relationships
Goats when applied to this idea of green prepping are exceptionally good low carbon capture tools. Goats are relatively inexpensive but can be very expensive if you get into the higher value registered breeding stock but generally much more affordable than cattle. Because of the small size of a goats, they are easy to work. If you work goats daily, they will become pets similar to dogs. I have goats and dogs together. I feed my dogs daily and chum my goats with a little grain every 3rd day. Cows get chum tool. This small amount of gran goes a long way in establishing a relationship with your animals. They will follow you around because of this. They will also follow you because a rotational system means new grass. Cows and goats love to migrate so an open gate is very inviting to them. This way my goats, dogs, and cows have a daily bond. Goats were one of man’s first domesticated animals. Dogs and goats evolved around man so they are well suited to human contact.
Goat’s grazing disposition
Goats eat a wide spectrum of forage from grasses to leaves. They eat acorns, grass and weed seed heads, and love grain. Contrary to popular belief goats are not as tough as cattle and sheep. They do not like being cold and hate being wet so they need shelter. Goats do not do as well in far northern climate zones. Humidity is problematic for goats with parasites. If you have goats you will have to be very careful about over grazing. I do a rotational grazing to minimize parasite problems. Dewormers are used way to frequently these days with goats and the result is parasite resistance.
If you combine a multispecies grazing system on a polyculture pasture you can greatly reduce fossil fuel use. A traditional cattle operation will focus on monoculture grassland production of a few cool season grasses. Stocking rates will be high. There will be routine mowing of all fields to mechanically control the weeds that find a competition niche. There are many species of plants the cows will not eat so they will multiply in the absence of control. If you have an additional species like goats, they will utilize this pasture spectrum. This does not mean an elimination of mowing but a reduction. There will still be certain species in a polyculture field that have to be controlled because there is always a competition creep with domination. You will find that if you go multispecies on a polyculture you will not want your goats to overgraze the weeds and brush. Normally a cattle farmer will want weeds and brush eliminated by goats but then the goats have lost an important food source. A polyculture field means lower stocking rates for cattle. There is just not enough grass for high stocking rates. A small amount of cows go a long way.
The other alternative for the traditional cattle farmer is chemicals. Chemicals will be periodically used when weeds in a pasture become problematic with mowing alone. Chemicals are very problematic for all applications because a spraying will target species that overlap with good ones. For example spraying for broadleaf plants will kill good legumes. In my multispecies system chemical are only used on the fence line and this is if electric is used. If woven wire is used the goats and cattle will eat along the fence keeping weeds and sprouts down but eventually chemics are needed even with woven wire. If fences are not maintained they deteriorate quickly.
A multispecies polyculture grazing system with low stocking rates greatly improves wildlife benefits. In fact, it enhances wildlife because a field allowed to rewild with no grazing pressure will become overgrown and choked with little room to move around for many wildlife species. When animals are rotated routinely many species are protected from targeting. Grazing animals will focus on their favorite species so rotating them lowers pressure on desired plant species. This is true of goats to. I protect brush weedy areas as important for a renewable goat forage but also for wildlife.
Equipment can vary widely with a goat farm. This also changes when you do a multispecies grazing system. If you have cattle you will need to deal with large round bales which will often mean a bigger tractor. I have a 100 HP tractor with a 15’ bat wing mower for the fields. I have a large disk I use to disk certain areas to keep disturbance in the succession process. Wildlife love bare dirt and this also serves as fire breaks for when I burn. This farm has terraces from the 1950’s. I disk the troughs so there is no erosion. I have a skidsteer with several attachments. These attachments include a bucket, forks, hay spike, and cutter. There are many attachments for skid steer to do other jobs. I have a 30 HP tractor for grass mowing around house and barns. I have a haybine, rake, and mini square baler. I have many small tools like weed eaters, chainsaws, and poles saw. I have water pumps. I have many hand tools and also tools to fix things. Without these things you will need to rent tools and equipment and use professional services. These are problematic because of cost and timing. Equipment is essential the larger you get.
I have 400 acres to maintain by myself so equipment is absolutely necessary if you want to manage acreage for rewilding, hay, and pasture management. Without equipment it will be hard to keep a farm of this size managed. I would love to have more people and animals to do this but it is not possible. This is why I do REAL Green. Equipment adds to my time and money pressure. I have to service this equipment and organize it. Yet, it allows me to get bigger with my herd. The limiting factor on size really is equipment.
The goats have a goat barn for kidding. They have multiple portable shelters. I have several types of hay feeders. Wall feeder in the barn. I have square bale feeder for outside and I have a round bale feeder for the goats. The cattle must have round bales or the effort would be too great with small square bales. The goats and cattle have mineral feeders. These are essential for cows and goat’s health. They must get minerals and salt. The goats and cattle have chum feeder where I give them small amounts of grain. There is lots of small equipment like feeder buckets, portable water tanks, and other odd things. My wife has a large collection of medical equipment and supplies for the goats. Goats get sick more often than cattle so if you catch this early you can often save them. It is often the case even with this medical effort you will lose 10%-20% of your herd a year.
The grazing system fencing itself is a kind of equipment. Goats must have good fence or they will get out. Dogs also need good fence and are actually worse than goats. Cows only need barbed wire and this is why cow fence is cheaper. Goats greatly increase fence cost. I have electric fence and also combined with barbed wire. The perimeter is barbed wire with three strands of electric. All the fence has expensive bracing that is welded well pipe. This also makes great grounding sources although you will need ground rods too. In the interior I have 5 strands of electric wire with 3 strands hot and 2 ground. I have an 18 joule fence charger with each paddock switched so I can focus power where needed. Because I have goats and dogs I have electric close to the ground. This means vegetative load will draw down the shocking power. It also means more shorts. I have switches at the charger that divide the system into north south interior and north south exterior. This allows me an easy way to find shorts. I have a handheld control that allows me to check voltage and switch the fence on and off. I have lots of gates and a main alleyway. The system has multiple waterers and supporting wells. These waters are put between paddocks to reduce their numbers. Certain fields are winter field so I have electric to keep waterers heated for the harsh winter. I have a significant amount of portable fencing to adapt padocks for different purposes.
I have working facilities that is permanent and portable. I use my portable pannels also for goat kidding. Goat kidding is critical time so I separate out the does and their kids during the first 5 days. This allows them to bond and protects the young ones from being hurt by other does. I use the portable pannels to configure the goat barn area to keep the does that are not being breed out of the breading does. This allows further targeting of effort. These portable pannels can be configured in the goat barn area to work the does in their winter quarters. Goats need hoof trimming and vaccinations. They need deworming and applications for ticks and lice. I have a headgate to immobilize them. I have a large headquarters that is a permanent to work cattle. I have adapted this to work the goats in the summer when they are out of their winter quarters. This was made out of well pipe. There is a headgate here for the cows that also works for the goats.
I have a dodge 1 ton dully with a topper for goat transport. I have a small Toyota Tacoma that uses a smaller cage. Both these trucks have dual uses for other farm activities. I can also use them as backups when my personal car is being used by my wife. I also have 3 other cages of different sizes depending on what is being transported. Goat kids are small so don’t need much. A goat buck is around 280LBS and need larger cages. It also depends on how many you are transporting. I do a lot of deliveries because of the distances between goat farms and because I raise breeding stock. If I raised goats to be sold at the sale barn, I could avoid the travel I do. I also need to buy goats at a distance. I do not like the amount of driving I do with goats but this is just part of the way I am set up and where I live.
A key issue with your multispecies grazing system is utility. You will find to raise animals and do it in an efficient way in regards to time and money you must have good facilities and equipment. The issue is how much of this and how many animals. This mix is full of trade-offs. It will depend on what type of operation you want to be. I recommend for those without much time and money to stay small. The time and money are directly related to the number of animals. You can be an operation that is minimalist or you can be more intensive. There are tradeoffs here too. I raise registered breeding stock. The prices vary between $300 to $1000 for goats so I must be more intensive in my approach. If you buy cheap goats, you can go minimalist and lose more. I try not to be too intensive because the herd must be strong genetically so to keep them tough loses will occur. You also need to keep a close watch on breeding results and health results. Goats that do not produce or get sick often need to be sold. Problem goats that are mean or get out of the paddocks need to be sold.
REAL Green goats
Goats are my REAL Green specialty but you may or may not want to or desire to do goats. Find your specialty. Low carbon capture is about permaculture localism. Permaculture is more than farming it is also the support of permaculture farming and localism. If you want to be green then you will engage in low carbon capture or the support of it. Because REAL Green is location based and relative to people and place you will have a unique specialty. You may be a doctor, lawyer, and accountant. You may be a plumber, carpenter, or machinist. The key point is always directed towards localizing the delocalization localism. It is about supporting or participating in low carbon capture locally with permaculture principals. It is also deeper with meaning which seeks to offset the coming decline in comforts and affluence with spiritual meaning. REAL Green is open source and an add on to your existing higher power. Your higher power is the meaning you identify with. You may be Christian or even atheist the point is incorporating the holistic process of decline on all levels into your higher power system. This means rejecting but also accepting the arrogance of humanism of the status quo that has forced the planet that is now forcing humans. I chose goats as my REAL Green expression find your unique gift.
WHY REAL Green
I have given you a wealth of information on green prepping through localism, permaculture, and homesteading. In a nut shell downsize with dignity by scaling properly locally. Realistically and relatively embrace conservation and low carbon capture. Find meaning in this to offset the coming great turning of decline. Humans are moving into a new multilevel paradigm shift of an epoch of decline. This is the Anthropocene. Build a homestead and a monestary of permaculture as an expression of beauty that comes with the restoration of a local of people and place. This activity is a journey of meaning of constructive growth within a period surrounded by destructive change. You will be the incubator of the new human that will be born out of the coming bottleneck. When this dark period comes is anyone’s guess but it appears to have started. Be heroic and be green soldier of change.
I originally moved to rural Ozarks of Missouri because I did not find a good fit in a small town in Missouri. I have also lived in big cities in the US and Europe. I moved to the rural Ozarks in a series of steps because of a lifestyle change regarding collapse and Peak Oil. This PO scare changed my life dramatically. The great financial crisis and peak oil scare came and went but I learned some very valuable lessons. The great financial crisis and peak oil are alive and well just hidden in the background with broad based decline. This includes the web of life and civilization together with a planet in abrupt change. The stability of the Holocene that produces so much complexity and human civilization is rapidly destabilizing. This is a frog boil and may well smolder beyond my life span. In other words, I may not experience the worst of it. Yet, my kids and grandkids probably will. I am doing what I am doing for them and for the other young who will be faced with very painful times.
Dualism of real green
I want to explain the dualism of REAL Green and goats. This is important because nowhere have I seen this discussed. Many greens and preppers will discuss the advantages of goats but rarely is green and prepping combined to discuss why you may want to do goats. Let me review dualism of REAL Green. This is the dual life system you live to adapt to a decline process that is holistic and complete. This is an acceptance of and humility for the arrogant social narrative of humanism. Humanism is not something inherently wrong when properly scaled but it is fundamentally wrong now. The social narrative of progress both green and brown focusing on development and growth in a progress of human affluence is the problem today. It is a journey that is now a hole digging exercise. Tech and knowledge are the tip of the spear and we are falling on this weapon in a collective death. This is a process so I am not crying wolf. I am just highlighting a frog boil. REAL Green calls on you to embrace this existential dualism. Philosophically this involves the ego and the recognition of the sacred of the other. REAL Green is taking this philosophical underpinning of the dualism of humanism and the sacred and adding the art of living in two worlds.
In REAL Green you need to live in both worlds to survive. The survival in the world of the status quo is obvious. This involves growth and affluence which mean success by being competitive but also cooperative. You are a node of the delocalized globalism’s narrative. Profit is paramount or you are just a welfare ward. There must be surpluses or animals die. Humans have force multiplied this with tech, energy, and networking to hyperdrive this humanism. Humans are now in a zone of diminishing returns where progress goes nonlinear and tips into regression.
Survival in REAL Green is in the humility of acceptance of this process. Anger and bargaining are of no use. The system is broke. Do not waste your human capital on changing this. Instead focus on your local of people and place to find a niche of growth potential in an overall decline process. In ecosystems niches of growth are freed up as complexity breaks down. You as a REAL Green will seek this ecological reality out but relatively and realistically in dualism. You do this by living both worlds but with a key driver of living the status quo to leave it. A REAL Green will likely be successful and use that success to go permaculture in localism. Keep in mind I respect true greens highly it is just not possible for many to go completely into a green world and decouple from the status quo. Most REAL Greens have family and property they love. TRUE Green is leaving the world of the status quo completely. This results in almost no footprint. It is poverty in a heightened spirituality.
Low carbon capture is green pepping
A REAL Green does goat because they are an ideal low carbon capture tool of green prepping. Green prepping is basically what is green is more prepped. If you are aware of a process of decline then you realize how dangerously overextended humans are in most cases. If you care about the planet under your feet then you will want to be green. This type of green is not political. It is mainly caring about the beauty of your people and place nearby and under your feet. Here you should become political and reach out politically but the key to politics is local first then global. Be communist or capitalist or both. You can do this locally but globally you are just a cog in the wheel grinding away in a mechanization without meaning. This caring should focus on green spaces within walking distance. These places you can affect with positive change. True positive change is properly scaled human intervention. This must be local because here is where proper human scale is.
Here is the key aspect of goats and REAL Green. Low carbon capture is obtaining energy for human activity in a low impact setting. Low carbon capture in a permaculture setting tries to get as circular as possible to avoid waste streams and outside energy inputs. Low carbon capture has a marginal EROI (energy return on energy invested). EROI is more an abstract look at the physics of local life. Cutting hay in a field and feeding it to animals has an energy intensity and return. If one studies the holistic process, it becomes evident just how low the return is. EROI becomes distorted with the status quo with ROI as the key tool of cost benefit. The dualism of REAL Green seeks to combine EROI and ROI because green prepping permaculture in localism is positive EROI and marginal ROI. This dualism then becomes a juggling of EROI and ROI (return on investment). In our lives in the delocalized global status quo, you will have to make a profit or fail. This profit is often not consistent with the natural reality and true physics. This is because of the humanization of the ecosystem with human business activity. The ability to delocalize an activity with outside imputes is huge. Fossil fuels, consumer goods, and the ability of modern man to travel and communicate with other over great distance disturbs scale.
The dualism of REAL Green attempts to reconcile this realistically and relatively. You are trapped in a status quo world but within this trap you can seek to scale properly. Goats are a great tool for a permaculture that seeks green prepping. Cattle may be the profitable way to go for me by getting big with high stocking rates, large equipment, and fossil fuel inputs. Feeding grain, using diesel fuel, and applying chemicals will be needed to make this mechanized animal business profitable. Without profit you will end in a business failure. My approach is to respect this but adapt this to green prepping. Keep in mind I can do this because I have investments I live on that give me room to maneuver. I am also declining into localism which give more maneuver room. Localism is basically a simpler way in a delocalized world trending in complexity with complicated systems. Yet, you cannot decouple from the status quo without putting your local of people and place at risk. What results is a pathway of adaptation that attempts to use the delocalization to leave it. It rejects the current status quo narrative of more with less that always ends up with more and a deeper hole. REAL Green is less is more in an age of decline. The key benefit is spiritual meaning and the security of being scaled properly. This offsets the decline in comforts and affluence but also the coming period of pain and suffering.