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Mountain Steep Permaculture - Permacultura em Declive de Montanha
Mountain Steep Permaculture - Permacultura em Declive de Montanha
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Chão Sobral, Aldeia das Dez - OHP - Coimbra, PT
Climate zone:
Warm Temperate

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Goats + their Photo Album

Project: Mountain Steep Permaculture - Permacultura em Declive de Montanha

Posted by João Gonçalves over 11 years ago

Our culture would cease to exist if we would stop caring for goats. They are friendly companions in our Cosmic trip, even though they are stubborn and selfish, they are pretty and loved!


Pic. 1 - Long haired goats at home, compost starters.

Humans work with goats to sustain themselves and our shared (goat)culture in the mountain, of which they are a intrinsic member.

Because we don't have other way of taking care of them outside (our terraces mosaic patches are not properly fenced), most of the time they are kept in their warm home, as if in a rock cliff cave...

They trample fresh biomass (this biomass is fresh cut plants-food that they don't eat completely) that is added every day, they pee and poo on it. A compost pile builds up in the proccess, reaching more than 1 meter inside the shed. It does not smell, but it keeps a gentle warmth. This is because high carbon content coppiced shrubs are added / Erica and Genista spp mostly, and sometimes Cystus and Cytisus-Broom.

As we live in a rather "brittle" environment (uneven distribution of humidity throughtout the year - dry summer and wet winter - see Holistic Management) goats function as "humidifiers", bio-digestors, so that the annually grown biomass needed for fertilization and building of soil on soil depleted steep rocky slopes, to be used on mountain terraces, thus proccessed in the gut and enriched biologically under their feet, nutrient and mineral cycle can occur, and along carbon will undergo its final cycling in the growing of annual crops.

Where in non-brittle environments (failry even distribution of humidity throughout the year) one might follow "CHOP AND DROP" / droping prunings on the soil to feed fungae and build humus in "food forest", here the tradition is pretty much "CHOP AND GOAT".

As mentioned in previous post, ( http://permacultureglobal.org/posts/2706 ) the complete decomposition of this trampled and manured biomass happens to occur under the tilled soil (manual tillage or with small tractors) . Creating a sponge that holds Spring time rain water and summer "once a week" flood irrigation.

Goats also eat everyday some hay or dry corn stalks. All food is obtained/stored/collected locally by the keepers. No food is bought. They eat kitchen scraps, vegetables and peels, dry bean pods, early fallen fruit, prunings-tree branches (Arbutus unedo, chestnut, olive, silver birch, budleia, etc).

Through Autumn and Winter, when is not raining they graze outside for a few hours on meadows or on rye patches sown just after first Autumn rains. They do this everytime in a different spot, so that rye has always time grow back. Such that over Autumn and Winter rye patches are grazed many times never becoming overgrazed. 

They are milked every day. Milk is used mostly to make cheese for home comsumption and some for special local traditional produce markets (3 or 4 markets per year), or via direct relational marketing/sale.

Some people take them to the mountain everyday to browse on more than those same species that are cut and brought to them everyday.

Older goats and younger ones are butchered every year, and the meat is eaten during feast days when relatives and family come together during holy-days, specially for Easter and the Village Patron Saint Summer Feast.

Pic. 2 - Three goats in the old shed, whose 2 walls are built with dry stone only, and is partly embeded in the rocky slope. The goat at the back stands on this mother rock nearly vertical slope. Mimics the goat cave on the cracks of rocky cliffs, reminds me of Mallorca mountains (Spain) "wild goats" hiding on this type of natural shelters.

Beautiful goats pictures below by Irene do Couto and João, graphic work by Irene.

More pictures of Chao Sobral by Irene



Comments (2)

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Ute Bohnsack
Ute Bohnsack : Lovely post. "Friendly companions on our Cosmic trip", that's a really nice way of putting it. It is interesting how some patterns are the same in different regions/countries. We live near the Burren region, a Karst region in the West of Ireland where until the mid 20th century many people kept goats in addition to cattle. The goats with their browsing habits kept scrub from encroaching on the cows pasture. There is also a feral goat population of several thousand animals in the hills. Goat kids were traditionally butchered for an Easter feast but this tradition has pretty much died out, as has the keeping of goats. Goats in this area helped people survive during the famine of the 1840s. There are now only a few "hobby" goat keepers and two or three organic milk/cheese producers.
Posted over 11 years ago

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Ute Bohnsack
Ute Bohnsack : Great photos too!
Posted over 11 years ago

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