Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wild ideas

An assortment and sampling of the ideas that run through my head:

  • Cashmere goats. They are so much less work than dairy goats. I can't drink the milk anyway. Also, Cashmeres have no breed registry in the U.S., as they are not technically a breed, so the field is A. wide open and B. probably freer of the petty snobbery which is so rife in the dairy goat world and C. a good opportunity for developing my own breed standards and priorities , as opposed to doggedly following those which are laid out in the ADGA handbook.  I think the thing to do would be to buy a few does from imported (NZ) bloodlines and then use (also imported) semen to A.I. them. Why imported? Because, I've done some homework into this subject and am so far unimpressed by the quality of American stock. Most American stock is strongly influenced by Spanish, Boer, or Pygmy strains, because people want dual purpose (meat and fiber) animals as opposed to just high qaulity fiber, which is what I want. 
  • Or, how about this: Cashmere dairy goats. In other words, fiber goats that also produce milk. Why not have one fiber and one dairy goat? Well, for one thing, non dairy breeds typically have much higher butterfat and protein percentages than dairy goats. Also, most people don't need gallons and gallons of milk per day, unless they're raising calves or pigs or are making cheese. They just want a little high quality milk, thus the popularity of the Nigerian Dwarf, a breed that makes my back ache when I think of working with them (they are tiny...and though I am short, I don't want animals I have to bend over to work with).  So...with this plan, get  a few nice very high quality dairy goats and A.I. them with imported Cashmere semen, and cross the lines, breed the F1s to more Cashmere semen, evaluate and cull, until a goat with nice fiber and decent milk production (1-2 quarts a day would be fine) is obtained. 
  • Spotted knapweed. Why in the hell doesn't Monsanto genetically engineer a strain of spotted knapweed which has the Terminator technology? Areas with knapweed problems could then sow (yes, plant) this improved knapweed and it would cross with the existing (non-native invasive noxious weed) strains and when the two pollinated, the seed would all be sterile. Thus, over a series of years, no viable seed would be left, voila, no more knapweed. I think it must be because Monsanta would rather posion the country with 2,4D, round-up, and other poisons. Temporary and not-entirely effective solutions are a better money maker. 
  • Pinus edulis and Pinus monophylla are two extremely slow growing trees which both produce delicious and edible seeds. I ordered some from this site and they are delicious. I decided I'd like to grow some of these wonderful trees. Well, guess what. It can take 60 years for them to reach 6 feet in height! In other words, mature productive trees are ancient and venerable. Now get this: aside from pine nuts, the other major uses for these two species are Christmas tree, timber (including rialroad ties) and pulp! Yeah, like paper pulp, something which could easily be produced with hemp (not the THC kind), or even better, recycled paper. But noooo....they have to cut down a beautiful pinon pine that took 300 years to grow so that people can have soft cushy toilet paper, even though that tree can make *food* year after year. Idiotic. Worse, the Xmas trees! The trees take a hundred years to attain the right height for Xmas trees, so yeah, whack'em down so that some spoiled family can have a nice tree for what, all of a month? Grrrrr...... I probably sound draconian, but this ought to be illegal. 
  • Therefore, I have yet another idea. There are many species of trees, including a pine, which can be coppiced. Coppicing means that when you ct down a tree, it regrows from the sump, usually several shoots, and they grow a lot faster than the first growth, because they've got a mature and extensive root system feeding them. You can then cut down one of the second growths, and the other tops will be bigger, and you can continue to harvest them this way for centuries without ever killing the tree. I think this should be the only (or at least the primary) source of timber and cellulose. 

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