Jerry Ward wrote:My goal is to be able to raise one head of beef cattle at a time to supply my family. I'm in S.E. Michigan, can anyone tell me how many acres of pasture I would need to do this? I was thinking about one of the smaller breeds like a Dexter. My hope is to spend 2013 building up the needed pasture and get the animal in the spring of 2014.
I'm a fellow dreamer/planner. This is a good site for determining how much land you would need to support your herd/family cow. I'm calculating needing 1.92-2.88 acres of land just for 1 Dexter to have winter pasture, and an additional 0.688-1.032 acres for summer foraging. If you want a cow and her calf, you'll need to make adjustments. http://www.caf.wvu.edu/~forage/paddocks.htm
I love it. I wonder how it works for other animals. Thinking of the critters that fit best into suburbia, this might work better for rabbits (harbivores) than for poultry (omnivores who also need worms and bugs).
BTW, if I knew how to edit my earlier post I would, but I don't so I won't. I do know that those aren't the world's oldest olives. That would be ludicrous. They're the world's oldest Mission olives. It's an idiotic detail, but I hate to leave it hanging out there.
paul wheaton wrote:Nature is going to try and take out a monocrop. It is nature's design. Orchards are monocrops.
You're right. Orchards are monocrops.
paul wheaton wrote:But if you take out 90% of the trees yourself, and fill the spaces with a variety of other species, then the remaining trees can have long vibrant lives with no care. In alignment with nature.
You're right about that one too.
paul wheaton wrote:Granted - taking out a very old and productive tree is a painful thing. Probably the most painful thing to give advice about when a permaculture designer encounters an orchard. And most orchard owners will not do it. At the same time, at least if we project the message, then when there is a new field and somebody says "orchard!" hopefully somebody else will now say "how about a food forest instead?"
At my home, we have a tradition that when you realize that you were wrong you do an interpretive dance called the I-was-wrong-and-you-were-right dance. I'll spare you the moves, but I will be grown up enough to realize that this probably means I still have some growing up to do. I have no problem cutting down a tree that doesn't provide food for man or beast, but I still find it very painful to cut down productive food trees.
I probably should have listened better when you said this to begin with:
paul wheaton wrote:When I visit a lot of places, it's kinda painful because they have a long ways to go to get to what i think is good. But these guys were most of the way there.
Because of the way that they are predator friendly, because they see the value of water, because they take a long-term approach to the land, because they use animals to do work instead of relying on petroleum products, because they don't pick fruit until it's ready, because they plant in such a way that each fruit ripens in succession, I found their way of doing things comfortable and was willing to stop at most of the way there instead of going through the last few painful steps.
This got me thinking. I wonder what it would look like if they took the same variety of trees that they already had and replanted them in a mixed orchard. As it stands they have about 20+ varieties of fruit, but each is segregated in its own orchard. It would take the same amount of space to plant the same varieties in a mixed orchard. However, the insect predation on the orchard and the disease in the orchard will go down. It would not be the food forest you're looking for yet, since it misses out on the other six layers of the forest and on trees that provide resources other than food, but it is a step in the right direction that we know is do-able since they're already producing that in the same amount of space.
paul wheaton wrote:When I visit a lot of places, it's kinda painful because they have a long ways to go to get to what i think is good. But these guys were most of the way there. The two suggestions I made were: more texture in the landscape (the land is too flat); move away from "orchard" and toward "food forest" (convert from 100 olive trees to 10 olive trees, plus 20 other species)
I respectfully disagree. I think it would be a terrible loss to cut down the world's oldest olive trees just because they're set up in a monoculture orchard. One of the tenets of permaculture is that we want to set up agriculture that we pass down to our children and grandchildren. They've done that not only with 100+ year-old olives, but also with 50+ year-old stone fruits. When I plant my own food forest I'll put more of a variety in a smaller space, but I can only hope that 5 generations from now my legacy will still appreciate what I've grown for them.
How many mounds do I need to plant per person who is eating? Corn dries well, so if I wanted a year's supply for one adult (perhaps only eating corn once per week) how many would I want to plant? I know that results may vary, so let's just say that my average production will be the same as your average production.
I use strawberries not as an alternative to grass, but as an addition to bedding plants. I know that strawberries have shallow roots and don't get very tall, so they fit well under and around larger flowering plants.
Since it's a perennial, I'd like to pair it with perennial, edible flowers and vegetables.
I was thinking anise hyssop, bee balm (sometimes a tad invasive), salad burnet or burnet, calendula (although I hear it's more annual than perennial), dianthus/carnation, chamomile, chicory, garlic chives, garden chives, English daisy, hollyhock (*very* tall), or marjoram.
Most of my permaculture knowledge comes from book-learning, I have thick skin, and a strong desire to learn; so please feel free to educate me.
You're absolutely right, John. My ladies like to take their dust baths en masse, so I would venture to say that you would need enough space to bury each of the gals with several inches left over on each side.
I've also been intrigued by the concept of a chicken moat, but it does not suit the lay of my particular land. If I were you I would not build a separate pen to move inside the moat, but would instead build the equivalent of two child safety gates that could move around the moat with the moat providing the two long walls of a pen and the safety gates providing the two short walls. Still, that's a lot of work for meat birds which wouldn't be kept year-round.
I read an excellent article today about grazing frames. I wonder if anybody here has made grazing frames before that could fill me in on how well they work. The author used them in lieu of rotating through paddocks. Pros and cons? How would this affect the microbial life in the chicken yard, if at all?
I'd like to second Mrs. Jacobs' comment. The GMO nature changes the proteins in the seed. Once the protein is altered, it can't be changed back. Monsanto insists that they're GMO seeds only be used for one season, partially to ensure that nothing unpredictable happens in the 2nd generation. (And I would hypothesize that they also partially do that for their profit margin.)
To figure out what to grow, figure out what local foods you like to eat, and go from there. I can only guess. Some foods that we might have in common: corn, asparagus (eventually), potato, avocado, tomato... The Andes foods that I know nothing about: masua, maca, oca, olluco, yacon, yuca,... Whatever it is that you like, google it to find out it's strengths and weaknesses. Then pair up a second or third plant that can strengthen it's weaknesses.
Our area only sprays a few times a year. The city we live nearby does what they call "regular spraying" (although outside the city limits we don't see them often) and has provided habitat for bats and purple martins. Occasionally they stock mosquito-eating fish, but it sounds like a rare occurrence. Whenever I see the mosquito trucks I've only been concerned about the air we breathe, but it's pretty obvious now that they're also aiming at the water.
I hate to spoil the fun, but cleaning with borax is actually the standard treatment for dealing with mold. The first step is to wash with a mild detergent. This cleans up the actual mold. (Actually the first step is to seal off the room so that spores don't leave during the clean-up.) The optional second step is to use bleach. This doesn't clean mold, but only cleans the mold stain. The final step is to put on borax without rinsing. Some recommend vacuuming with a commercial-grade hepa filter vacuum, as well.
There are lots of sources for the info. Here's one from Washington State.
Living in peace with your husband is worth its weight in gold. Whatever you do, do it in harmony.
There is a place for grass. Yes, it's a monoculture, but it's a monoculture that people often delight in. Besides, it doesn't hurt to do projects one at a time. I prefer having a 5 or 10 year plan over trying to plant 1 whole acre all at once. (In actual practice, I tend to overdue by trying too many projects all at once, but theoretically I prefer to do things one at a time.) In the front yard I like to have grass and flowers with productive things mixed in. (My mother has a rose bed with strawberries. So far, none of the neighbors have noticed the strawberries.)
Living in peace with the neighbors and the authorities would also be important to me. I would quietly keep the bamboo in check, enjoying its benefits without letting it gain ground. I would also not mess too much with the stream, because there are too many legal ramifications. If I made a pond, the water from the pond would be entirely separate from the creek.
On an acre, you can be almost self-sufficient. You can raise chickens and rabbit for meat and eggs. (You do not have to get a dog, but you will need to realize that without a dog the predation will continue.) You can raise almost all of the vegetables that you need (you will have the space, but not necessarily the climate for everything). You can raise almost all of the fruit that you want (once again, you will have the space, but not necessarily the climate), but you will need to look upon fruit as a long-term goal and not a short-term goal. You will have enough room for a portion of your grains (assuming that you have enough set aside for growing. If most of your land is tied up in house or front lawn, then you won't have enough room for grains).
You will not be self-sufficient for many years, so you'll want to make a list of priorities. Perhaps you'll want to plant one guild at a time. Perhaps you'll want to work one area at a time. Perhaps you'll want to plant what you like best, and then move from there.
Whatever you decide, you sound as if you're well on your way.
The problem with coffee grounds is that they are very acidic. OTOH, the great thing about coffee grounds is that they are very acidic. If you have blueberries, or other acid-loving plants, then feel free to mulch away.
Here I am resurrecting the old stuff again. When I get bored, I read old stuff, and then I find myself commenting.
My hard and fast rules are, as follows:
1) I don't eat anything that cannot be cooked in a kitchen. If it requires a laboratory, I'm out.
2) I don't eat soy. I'm not a post-menopausal woman, and neither is my dh. If I were to eat soy, it would be fermented and it would be an exception and not the rule. (Heck! You even have to avoid laboratory vitamin C.)
3) I don't eat anything genetically modified. That means that I don't eat non-organic sugar, corn, high fructose corn syrup, canola oil, or (as previously mentioned) soy.
4) I avoid eating animals/animal products that have eating products that can't be cooked in a kitchen, that contain soy, or that are genetically modified. Sometimes I have to compromise though. My backyard flock doesn't produce enough eggs to support my flock of children, and we're the only family I know around here that ship in GM-free feed.
I used to avoid salt, but my body fought back. I suddenly realized that by making my own breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and condiments I had precluded all salt from my diet. After reintroducing an unprocessed salt into my diet, I'm good to go now.
BTW, I may look like a 90 pound weakling, but I still eat like a pig.
The GAPS diet is extremely similar. You're getting lots of nutrient rich broth and few (or, in your case, no) grains. If you added fermented cod liver oil, butter from grass-fed animals, and marrow then you have Rami Nagel's diet.
Part of the reason that MSG is so bad is because it's a neurotoxin. Part of the reason is because it replaces real food. Since it enhances the taste of food, it means that less real ingredients are necessary.
There is an emotional aspect to health that could never be properly studied with a control group. The placebo effect is real.
The opposite is also real. A large number of people (unsupported factoid that you can feel free to disregard) find their health rapidly declines, sometimes to the point of death, just after being diagnosed with a major illness. It is my unsubstantiated belief that a large part of this comes from a loss of hope. People sometimes die rapidly of a cancer that was steadily eating away at them for years just because they've been diagnosed.
Another unsubstantiated belief of mine is that gardening in any form is healing. Part of this comes from physically connecting with nature. The unseen microbial flora and fauna gives us health. But there is also a peace that comes through connecting with and honoring our food.
After this highly scientific post, my two cents are hardly worth counting, but I thought I would add my different voice to the chorus anyhow.
I totally agree, John. It will only teach you what it looks like to grow roots in an artificial environment. Even if there was some way to show how it reacted in soil, it would only show how roots react on one given day in one given type of soil. Since no two roots are alike nor are two soils alike (let alone ever having the micro-organism herd alike), it only gives a partial picture.
Leaving crushed shells for poultry sounds like a good idea. If you have more shells than that, I would think you could use them for mulch anywhere you use rock. As the rain passes over rock it breaks down the minerals and adds it back into the soil. Theoretically, it would do the same thing to the shells.