Near-term work plan February '10


Recap of Discussions on Next Steps for Work on the

Belize Open Source - Sustainable Development (BOSSD) Property

 

The following identifies tasks for the near term work plan and recaps the discussions between Pat Coyle, David Dyck and Natalio Soliz on February 3, 2010 about next steps for work on the Belize Open Source - Sustainable Development (BOSSD) property. We met on the property by the barn/shed.

 

David and Natalio will share responsibilities, keep each other in the loop on decisions and share the oversight. We agreed to split the responsibilities. Natalio can take care of the plants and watering. David can build the corrals, fence, pump and underground piping, run electrical to the pump and shed, do clearing, ponds and other tasks requiring his machinery. This also offers the potential for Natalio to engage more of the August Pine Ridge community. Natalio will have his daughters take pictures and email them to Pat with progress reports on a monthly basis, unless something warrants sending an update sooner.

 

Summary tasks

 

The following summary tasks are based on our discussion. They are the next steps of the near-term work plan we agreed to move forward with.


  • Find the owner of the existing fence with three wires at the back of the property and get his permission to add two more wires.

 

  • Get water system in place to reliably water livestock and selected plants in nursery and out in the planted areas. Add gutters and run pipes from the shed roof to route rainwater to the pond. Fence around the pond to keep it clean year-round. Don’t let animal waste make it dirty.

 

  • Use ditch witch to trench for pipes and wiring. Run wires to pump, put in the outlet by the shed, do the fencing and run the white PVC pipe.

 

  • Install a pressurized system with an electric pump to pump from the pond and pipe the water to the plants and livestock. For backup, interconnect the village water supply with valves. Add a check valve so we don’t pump into the village line. It involves: white PVC pipe to distribute, water troughs for livestock, water lines to irrigate existing trees and new ones and nursery area, change to black tubing, with drip irrigation.

 

  • Extend electrical to run a feed grinder and have power in the barn/shed.

 

  • Add a bigger tank for the caretaker house, so it has rainwater all the time.

 

  • Prepare the areas on either side of the road to the barn/shed for the forage/protein banks. Amend the soil with BSI filter cake press or black dirt and protect the areas with electric fencing. Level the areas off a little and make sure it slopes away from the pond. Run irrigation lines to water rows of plantings. Plant the materials from the nursery.

 

  • Purchase and set up feed grinder.

 

  • Set up a Rotoplast tank at the barn/shed for molasses and keep it filled. Use molasses to attract the animals and mix with the feed. Give them some every day or twice a week so they will come in to the corral by themselves.

 

  • Complete larger corral layout by the barn/shed down to the corner and back to the gate opening, bring fence back close by pond up to the barn/shed. Add a gate. Enclose part of the barn/shed. Make a trap. Close off part of area under barn/shed roof. Put troughs to water and feed livestock. Don’t need all the area under roof for animals. Keep part of area under roof for feed storage.

 

  • Put in livestock water troughs across the fence to the back, in the corral and trap in under shed/barn, all pumped from the pond.

 

  • Fill in a little at the entry to the barn/shed where cattle will walk in. Put a few loads of crushed stone there.

 

  • Fix the container foundation and redo it where it broke.

 

  • Put first cattle in and feed them every day (feeder steers and cows with calves; start with small number and add more as we gain experience). Feed them molasses so they become used to it and will come in by themselves. Get them in the habit so they go out in the day and run free in the back pasture and come into the corral in the evening. Have the watchman close them in so they are safe at night. Add a light at the barn/shed for use at night. Later, consider upgrades to the fence to be ready for sheep (Either add two more wires or use sheep fence in selected areas).

 

  • Install electric fence to protect forage bank and the orchard areas. Extend electrical to power the fences.

 

  • Build two more ponds. Use laser level to pick the best places. Do a big one just across the fence, so it is close, in the corner, with the upper slope open, shaped like an L. Build another even bigger pond further to the back at the low spot on the north side.

 

  • Clear in the back of the property on best land first, then expand to the front. Leave the brushy part with big old cashews and oaks in the center uncleared. Clear a border (guardaria) all around the center part for a cleared fire barrier. In the future, when we have grass established, the grazing animals will keep it low so we protect the center uncleared part. (Later, we clarified that the clearing on the north side needs to be wider (like three times the width of the existing strip, to provide a good fire barrier). On the south side, the neighbor has cleared his land so the fire danger is not as high. However, let’s clear to widen the buffer strip so we can drive the whole way.)

 

  • Protect fence on north side from fire, given we have a lot of humidicola growing outside the fence. David suggested bushhogging and hand clearing right at the fence. This might also be a place to try to use sheep or goats to graze it down if we can control them with temporary fencing.

 

  • Plant humidicola on the new cleared areas in the back (If seed is unavailable, I have read it can be planted using sprigs like star grass, so we can keep that as a backup plan.)

 

  • Decide if we keep the new plants in the nursery or plant them out in their intended locations. (It is not an option to plant them out until we have the pumped water system done.)

 

  • Plant ground cover under the cashews and other orchard trees. Plant the Arachis pintoi and Lablab legumes from the nursery when it starts to rain (or perhaps as soon as can drip irrigate each tree).

 

  • Figure out how long the caretaker will need to pump to irrigate the plantings.

 

  • Start seeds for Arachis pintoi, Lablab, jatropha, Andropogon grass, Leucaena and Moringa, in the nursery in bags or planting trays.

 

  • Plant the forage bank plants from the nursery in the prepared forage banks.

 

  • Plant the Andropogon grass and Leucaena from the nursery in the prepared forage banks.

 

  • Plant the jatropha in rows of seedlings in a 7-foot grid, space the rows 30 feet apart like we did the rest of the orchard.

 

  • Plant the seedlings from Central Farm from the nursery either in the orchard or other areas we will identify.

 

  • For the areas in the front, given they are not the best land, plant humidicola or humidicola and Arachis pintoi. We know humidicola does fairly well even on the poorest of the sandy soil.

 

  • Buy a few chickens (20 or so) as a project for the watchman. Build a moveable “chicken tractor” to move them around in the front areas.

 

 

Discussion

 

Pat said he wanted to discuss the next steps in order to make a work plan to move forward with.

 

Pat said, at the back of the property, the humidicola grass along the property line on the south side looked lush, very thick, real good. It also looked very good on the north side, even where it had been bushogged.

 

David said we need to find the owner of the existing fence with three wires at the back of the property and get his permission to add two more wires.

 

Pat said he wants to get water system in place to reliably water livestock and selected plants in nursery and out in the planted areas.

 

Pat said we need to decide if we keep the new plants in the nursery or plant them out in their intended locations. (It is not an option to plant them out until we have the pumped water system done.)

 

David doesn’t see irrigating trees locally as an issue, but larger areas would be a problem.

 

David said the pond has lots of water. When they tried drilling the well, they pumped for three days with a 2” pump and it only went down a little bit.

 

Pat said he priced tanks at Landy’s and they were over $1,900Bz for 5,000 liters, over $800Bz for 2,500 liters. It made him consider investing in ponds rather than tanks. Pat suggested perhaps we could run the shed roof water to the pond instead of to tanks. David said it would be a lot cheaper to go with pipes from the roof to the pond rather than use tanks.

 

David said we need to fence around the pond to keep it clean year-round. Don’t let animal waste make it dirty.

 

David would add a bigger tank for the caretaker house, so it has rainwater all the time.

 

Natalio asked for irrigating plants, would we put up a tank to water plants?

 

David said we could use a little pressurized system with an electric pump to pump from the pond and pipe the water to the plants and livestock.

 

Pat said if lose power, we could use the village water supply for backup. Both Natalio and David said the power is never off for too long. We could interconnect the village water supply with valves. David said we should add a check valve so we don’t ever pump into the village line. Otherwise we could fill their tank.

 

Pat agreed let’s do it. We went over some of the things it involves: gutters, pipe to pond, pump, power, fence around the pond; white PVC pipe to distribute, water troughs for livestock, drip irrigation to the trees and nurseries. Run lines to irrigate existing trees and new ones and nursery area. Change to black tubing, with drip irrigation. We’ll have to figure out how long the caretaker will need to pump to irrigate the plantings.

 

We need to prepare the areas we identified the areas on either side of the road to the barn/shed for the forage/protein banks. Amend the soil with BSI filter cake press or black dirt and protect the areas with electric fencing. These areas need to be close to the barn/shed to be able to cut and carry the materials there to feed the animals. David noted the caretaker could use a wheelbarrow to bring the cut feed to the barn/shed to grind and mix with molasses. David said he would level the areas off a little and make sure it slopes away from the pond.

 

David suggested a corral layout by the barn/shed down to the corner and back to the gate opening, bring fence back close by pond up to the barn/shed. Make that be the larger corral. Add a gate. Enclose part of the barn/shed. Make a trap. Close off part of area under barn/shed roof. Put troughs to water and feed livestock. Don’t need all the area under roof for animals. Part for feed storage. Agreed to do it.

 

David suggested he and Natalio split the responsibilities. Natalio can take care of the plants and watering. David can build the corrals, fence, pump and underground piping, run electrical to the pump and shed. This also offers the potential for Natalio to engage more of the August Pine Ridge community.

 

David said he hauls molasses for his cattle all the time, so can keep a Rotoplast tank at the barn/shed filled. Use molasses to attract the animals and mix with the feed. Give them some every day or twice a week and they will come in to the corral by themselves. Natalio spoke of seeing one man taking care of 21 milking cows with one acre of alfalfa with silage in drums – enough to keep rotating them, cut fresh stuff, grind it, add silage, add some pre-mix. The cows stay right there. They don’t even go out to the pasture.

 

David suggested put 20-25 head of cattle in here and feed them every day. Pat joked that would almost cover the watchman as David had told him when he asked if Pat was trying to make money or if this was just a hobby.

 

Pat stressed he wants to put dollars on the highest priority things to get things running on the property. Pat said then he needs to get the non-profit program running with things happening on the property that will interest people to come, donate, see something good going on here that is beneficial to the surrounding community.

 

Pat said we need power for the pump, so let’s extend electrical to be able to run a feed grinder and have power in the barn/shed.

 

We discussed whether we should start with sheep or cattle? Pat said he was open to ideas. Pat said he had thought sheep because they turn faster, but he is open to cattle. Pat wants to get something going, then we can always adapt. David and Natalio noted the fence was not ready for sheep. It would need two more wires for sheep. Even with that, David was concerned about dogs from the village and panthers. Natalio suggested we start with a small number, like 2-5 cattle, see how watchman does, be sure he can handle it. If working well, then can add sheep or more cattle. David said can also have a few sheep and see how it goes. Pat said it sounds like we have more confidence in starting with cattle. Why not just start with cattle?

 

What kind? Feeder steers, cows with calves? David suggested we start with feeder steers, sell them when ready and keep repeating the process. That way, we don’t have to deal with baby calves. David asked Natalio what he thought. Natalio suggested for local people, this approach is more on the business side with enough finance to pump it in to start it. Then it is finance, turning it around, with no herd being grown. He suggested add two or three cows to start with. The cows can also be the leaders when bring in new steers. David agreed that’s a good idea, cows always lead. Then we’d also have the calves building the herd. Pat agreed. It shows an example that a local person could see how to do. They could see how to make a forage bank, feed livestock and see a way to improve and build up a herd. Agreed to do it.

 

David has a ditch witch he can use to trench for pipes and wiring. He can run wires to pump, put in the outlet by the shed, do the fencing and run the white PVC pipe. It is better for Natalio to handle the planting which needs to be looked at more often.

 

Pat asked if we need to run pipes to the back to allow livestock to use the pasture feed. No. Natalio said it will become a habit for them to go out in the day, come in the evening so the watchman can close them in, so they will be safe at night. Can have a small light bulb on at the barn/shed at night. David agreed, with a little molasses, they become used to it so quick that in a couple of weeks they will come in by themselves. In the day, they could run free in the back pasture, and then come in before night. Natalio said it would be a perfect small-scale example for local person who wanted to invest a couple thousand dollars. It would be the best way to do it.

 

We discussed making forage banks on the pieces of land on either side of the road to the barn/shed. Preparing the areas with black dirt, then planting the materials from the nursery. David suggested we use electric fence to protect them and the orchard areas. It works well for small areas.

 

Other questions:

 

Another pond to the back? If we do it soon or wait? David thought was like three days of dozer time for this one. Depending on the terrain, we can find spot so can leave one side open to collect water. He has a laser level can use to pick the best place. Pat said the first pond is over 100’ across and we could do a bigger one. David suggested the place just across the fence, so it is close. We can do one in the corner, with the upper slope open, shaped like an L. David said we can’t run the 120 or 220V too far, we’re near the limit. Pat said he thinks it’s a good idea and we can also add another big one further to the back. Pat agreed, let’s do it.

 

To water the livestock, in the day chase them out of the pen by the shed/barn, put a water trough across the fence to the back, pumped from the pond. At night, open the gate, bring them in and close them in for the night. In the trap, have a water trough inside.

 

Clearing in the back? David said it is better soil back there isn’t it. Natalio agreed it definitively is. David said if want to clear, he would clear in the back on best land first, then expand to the front later if I want to. Pat said he got feedback from Mary Ann Studer and others that they like the way the brushy part with big old cashews and oaks looks. So maybe we save that area in the center part and leave it uncleared. Natalio noted if have grass all around the central part then can graze it and it would be a barrier for fire that is definitely coming this and every summer. So, when clearing, if make a border (guardaria) all around, then this first season will have a cleared barrier and in the future, when we have grass established, the grazing animals will definitely keep it low so you are protecting that center part which is ready for anybody who likes to study that untouched piece.

 

Ground cover under the cashews and other orchard trees? What’s best approach to the land up front as we come into the wet season? The Trees For The Future (TFTF) guys recommended Arachis pintoi or other legume under the cashews. Pat said he has some to start in bags in the nursery and we could put it out around each tree when starts to rain (or perhaps as soon as can drip irrigate each tree. Pat said he didn’t get enough to seed the whole area. Given it is not the best land, what’s best approach? Humidicola or humidicola and Arachis pintoi? David said he has doubts about legumes on this kind of soil. I said we do know humidicola does fairly well even on the poorest of the sandy soil. Natalio noted have a similar variety. David noted even on his good soil, the other grass we tried here didn’t work. Discussed that getting seed from humidicola does not give very good results from those who tried it locally. Natalio noted if can wait till humidicola is seeding before we graze it, then the cattle carry it and drop it and spread it. He’s done it on his land. David, spoke of another example on his land.

 

What else? Are we forgetting anything else?

 

David and Natalio will share responsibilities, keep each other in the loop on decisions. Share the oversight.

 

Natalio likes the way David’s work has positioned the property. It’s done very well.

 

For getting Pat pictures and reports, Natalio will have his daughters come take pictures of and write progress reports.

 

David said he needs to fill in a little at the entry to the barn/shed where cattle will walk in. He’ll put a few loads of crushed stone there.

 

Chickens, as TFTF suggested? Natalio said make it a smaller project for the watchman. David said I could buy the watchman twenty or so. They could stay under container. (Pat still wants to use the moveable “chicken tractor” idea later as well.)

 

We all felt it was good we had the chance to talk together, so we all have the same view of the future work plans.

 

David said he will send guys to fix the container foundation and redo it where it broke.

 

-end-


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