Did some work on the chicken coop. Framed in some openings, put in a door, and finished the rabbit hutch for the 2 pet rabbits we have. In the spring I will fence in a small area below the hutch for the rabbits to get some exercise.
Still have to finish chinking.
Last evening we chased all the chickens into the coop to get them used to sleeping in there. Hopefully tonight they will go in on their own...
The opening to the left is for the goats to go into if they get cold. So far they only go in to eat straw.
We have a small wood burning stove in the camper. I put a sheet of cement-fiber backer board on the nearest wall, spaced one inch from the wall. The floor has 2 sheets of backer board set on bricks to keep them elevated. The stove goes on the elevated backer board. The stove is about a foot from the wall/backerboard. This all keeps all nearby structures from getting too hot in such a cramped space. Double wall pipe up to the ceiling vent with a regular stovepipe ceiling adapter and 3 feet of triple wall pipe above. This is not really recommended by most people because you can burn your camper down, so that's why all the backer board and double wall pipe. This will be our second winter with this set up and last winter it did fine. I often checked the walls and floor to see if they get hot and they don't. But for the record, I don't recommend anyone put a wood stove in a camper!
The other day I finally got around to building a woodshed. The last few days I've been working on stocking it up.
We have a bunch of chickens. They have an acre to range in so they eat bugs and are supplemented a little bit with organic store-bought feed (more so now that winter is coming). Once in awhile when money is tight we get a bag of non-organic food.
We have about 30 layers, but also some meat chickens. I've slaughtered a bunch, but still have 4 left.
Here is the home-made chicken plucker that I built.
When living in a camper in the woods, the question comes up: what to do with your waste? As in, poop and pee.
I've been keeping all the valves open and we were just dumping onto the ground. We didn't poop in the camper because ya can't just mix poop with pee and dishwater and dump it on the ground. I don't think dumping sink and shower water and pee (in the amounts that two people put out) on the ground would do any harm. However it did begin to smell after awhile, so I thought I should do something.
I have Art Ludwig's Greywater Oasis book and had been studying up on greywater disposal systems. Basically you divert all your greywater (sink, shower and pee) to pits filled with wood chips. This is environmentally safe, as the wood chips react with the pee to create some biological action that breaks down the nasty stuff. I did something different for my greywater.
I've already made a separate post about my Pee Beast. I dug a 2 foot deep by 2 foot wide hole. I didn't have wood chips but I had plenty of tree bark from building the log cabin chicken coop. I ran a short PVC pipe to from the camper drain to the hole. Then I covered it up with the top part of a 55 gallon blue water drum I had lying around. I sealed all cracks with dirt and crumpled up a fir branch and stuck it in the hole on the plastic drum to act as a screened vent. Its been about a month now and there is no smell, even if I pull the branch out and take a big sniff. So I think its doing the job.
Shiva is like "WTF are you doing, dad?"
But we don't poop in there. So I'm building an outhouse with a composting toilet inside. I've already made the pooper, but the outhouse isn't finished yet.
One problem was I didn't like dragging the generator to the well every time I had to water the livestock. Plus I have this really cool watering bowl fount for the chickens that I wanted to use.
My in-laws replaced their water heater because it filled up with calcium deposits from the hard water. It took me half a day but I got most of the gunk out of the old tank. Then we built a raised platform and I somehow got that 60 gallon tank up there. Now when I fill the camper water tank, I fill the water heater at the same time and have 60 gallons of (somewhat) pressurized water for the animals.
I started painting it but got distracted haha. It looks crooked in this picture, but its not.
I haven't posted for awhile. Been busy. I'll go back more towards the beginning...
The first thing we did was put in the well pump, like I said.
Then I cleared an area and we brought the camper to the property and fenced in an area around it for the dogs. I could let them run loose (and a couple of them I do let loose) but the two Jack Russels like to kill chickens.
Yes that is me. Yes that is a beer in my hand.
Pardon the finger!
Then I cleared more woods in an area about the size of an acre and fenced it in. I didn't want treated posts because of the chemicals, so I got untreated posts and charred the bottoms.
Then I brought out the two goats and some chickens. Notice the charred fence posts. In the background is the log cabin chicken coop/goat shelter I started.
Although I haven't done a real drainage test, it seems to be working. As I said, there is no odor, indoors or out. Before I made the Pee Beast we were just dumping on the ground, both valves open, and the odor was bad, not to mention it didn't seem environmentally optimal.
Poop will be handled with a portable outhouse (on skids) with a poop bucket style setup. Its not the highest ranking idea on the wife-approval-factor scale, but we can pee in the camper toilet all day long and then when the time comes we can use the outhouse. Its the best compromise I can come up with considering our situation.
Haha the Pee Beast is not the dog, its under the blue thing. I'm living in a camper on my land until I can build a home, which looks like it won't be till spring now. Camper has a toilet, sinks and shower. We pee in the toilet; no paper or poop. The idea was to use only materials I had on hand. All greywater from sinks, toilet and shower empties into a 2 foot wide by 2 foot deep hole filled with tree bark. I capped it with the top of a blue barrel I had lying around. For a screened vent I shoved a crumpled up fir branch into one of the holes. I sealed all cracks with earth. I leave grey and black valves open all the time. There is no odor in the camper.
Its been a couple months now, and there is absolutely no odor when I remove the vent screen and sniff. The carbon in the tree bark seems to be doing the job. I have Ludwig's book and I think what I have is environmentally safe.
yes I'm real proud of Troy. His degree will be in biological chemical engineering. here he is peeling a log for the chicken coop.
winters aren't too bad here I think they were more harsh in Ohio where I grew up.
yep water is a problem it's very dry here in the summer. we get very little rain. We do have a well though. I plan on doing some hugelkulture in the future and hopefully would like to have a few little ponds and some rain catchment systems.
in the meantime, my daughter and I started a Hugelkulture bed it. It's not finished yet and it's kind of late in the year but at least it's something.
Small opening to the left of the man-door is the chicken door. Opening to the right of the man-door is for my two goats to go in the winter. Above them will be the laying boxes, so the big opening on the end will have a hinged door for egg access.
To the far left my wife is building a rabbit hutch for my daughter's pet rabbits. They will have a little fenced in area to browse.
The sides not shown each have a window opening. I picked up some windows from Home Resource in Missoula for $5 each.
I have the book and thought it was great. The idea is the five foods- squash, potatoes, corn, beans and chickens or ducks provide most of the food for us and I mean that we can actually survive on. Permaculture is a great concept but how many of us are actually using it for most of our food? I'm one of those people who loves the idea and is going to try it, but I know it will be a long road.
The book was also enjoyable to read.
I also have the Peter Bane book and while it is good, its more "technical" and a sort of like a text book.
I also have Steve Soloman's Gardening When It Counts and I like that also. It's not permaculture however.
I made a 10'x6' projector screen a few years ago for my home theater. Simple wood frame and projector screen material I bought on ebay. Pretty simple and cheap. At this time a few show up for way less than $100.
Edited to add: For a portable speaker I would think just a guitar amp from a pawn shop with plug adapter or put your own plug on the cable. As far as projectors go consider resolution. My projector does 1080p, I had it about 16' from the screen and it made a 10' wide picture that looked awesome. It was about $3000. The bulb did burn out after a couple years and the replacement was ~$100. Not saying that is what you need, just trying to give you an idea. 720p is more than adequate for presentations and such. Myself, I would definitely consider a used projector as long as they had a return guarantee.
My permaculture small farm is at the very beginning stages. You might say I am at the observing stage, haha. I go for daily walks and do a lot of observing.
We have moved completely off grid to basically the middle of the woods. What we are doing is very difficult especially for us folks who are used to a high tech, convenient lifestyle. I now think when I turn on the tap, or use electricity to watch TV. Every time I see someone taking a shower or running the sink tap on TV I think, good grief look at all that water they're pouring out, and they take their sweet time with it!
One priority was reducing debt. I cashed in a 401k and paid cash for the property. I got dinged pretty hard with early withdrawal fees and taxes. Cashing in the 401k was a difficult decision, but I determined that I can either keep the money for retirement and either take out a mortgage I will pay for until I die (I'm 48 years old), or lose the benefits of a retirement account but have my own property that I own outright, and always have a place to live that I can call my own. I feel good with my decision. I'm not debt free, but dammit I own my own land and I'm glad. Also, I think being debt free and frugal goes hand in hand with permaculture.
Cashing in the 401k was a decision my wife and I made together. We have 3 children, the oldest son is in the US Navy, the younger son is starting at Notre Dame this fall (at age 16!). We also have a 15 year old daughter. Family is important. My wife is in her 30's and has a good job as an ICU nurse. I have worked a lot of outside construction in the past and I'm fairly handy at building and fixing stuff. I was an electrician in the Navy years ago.
I am the son of Ohio Amish parents who left the Amish before I was born. I spent a lot of time as a boy with my Amish cousins playing in the woods and barns and living simply with outhouses and hand operated well pumps and riding to town in horse and buggy. When not with my cousins I still spent most of my time in the woods until I was a teenager. I met my wife in New Jersey. She was a true city girl who had never even gone on a camping trip. The first time we went camping she would not roast a hot dog on a stick without putting tin foil on the stick I cut for her, and I laughed my butt off. That was 17 years ago and since then we have traveled a good part of the US (due to my job which was construction on military bases). Our daughter was born in the great state of Texas and my sons on the east coast. My wife has changed a lot over the years I realized the other day when I watched her butcher a chicken. She is talking about hunting with me this fall.
I like to be self sufficient and not depend on the government or anybody else. In recent years my wife has started thinking the same way. Anybody who pays attention to the news can see that the direction our country is going is not good. Also in recent years we started paying attention to the food we eat, and when we realized all that was happening (processed foods, GMO foods, the Monsanto empire, big pharma) we dreamed of getting all that out of our lives. My parents had instilled in me the love of gardening, but I never got serious about it. At this point I had food stored up in case the zombies come, but I knew that to be self sufficient I would have to get gardening to work better for me. Then I heard about permaculture and it was what I was looking for. And soon I found this forum and a LOT of things started making sense.
I sold my modern vehicle and with 1/6th of that money bought a 94 3/4 ton 4WD diesel pickup. The rest I spent on fencing materials and a generator.
Property is 20 acres in a nice rectangle in western Montana, 70 miles west of Missoula. Gardening zone 5A or 5B. Very hot, dry summers and fairly cold winters. Annual precipitation is 17-20". Terrain is fairly flat, some small slope towards the north end. Elevation is ~3000 feet. There is absolutely no surface water or springs. Beautiful mountains all around and the Clark Fork River valley to the south. There is an easement road that runs near the west and south edge of the property. There is one neighbor (a great older couple) who uses the easement. There is evidence of wild game, including elk, deer, turkey, bears (grizzlies too), coyotes and wolves. It is timber country, with Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Tamerack (Larch). Understory includes, lupine, serviceberry, ninebark, bearberry, Oregon Grape and grass.
The nearest electrical connection is at least a mile away. Cell phone service is spotty so we have a cell phone repeater We use cell phone for internet because we are still on the Verizon unlimited plan. There was a 520' deep well on the property and my wife and I put in a 1HP well pump at 500'. We got a Grundfos pump with a soft start feature so we can run it with the generator. We get 5 gpm but the well needs to refill after an hour or so. But in an hour we can get 300 gallons. I buried water line to 3 different points on the property with hydrants at each point.
[Where We Are Now]
We have a 1953 30 HP tractor with a back blade and a post hole digger. Also a 1969 Case backhoe which needs a new crankshaft. In spring I moved our 24' camper to the site and I've stayed in it since. The wife came out a couple months ago. We fenced in a small area around the camper for our 5 dogs (what can I say we love dogs) and we also fenced in an area the size of a football field a little ways away. In this area we put our 40 chickens and 2 goats. I have been working on a log cabin chicken coop/goat shelter and yesterday we got the roof on. All materials are taken from the site (logs) or reclaimed (like some metal roofing I had from another building) except for some rebar. The goats free range outside the fenced area as much as they spend time in it. They stay close to home. There is so much browse for them that they don't need to be fed other food. We are feeding the chickens because some of them are meat chickens and they don't forage very well.
We use the generator to power the pump to feed water to the camper and for the livestock. Also to charge the camper batteries, surf the internet and watch our Direct TV satellite system. Hey you have to have some entertainment after all this hard work.
We have taken an old 52 gallon water heater, elevated it to about 5 feet with a timber frame and that is where we store water for the livestock. The camper has a 30 gallon tank. We fill both at the same time.
Livestock: Paddock shift all livestock including the chickens. I would like to someday fence in the 20 acres and have paddocks, but the 20 acre fence is a huge commitment. A dairy cow and meat cows, miniature breeds. A couple pigs for fall slaughter. I would like to get stock to breed with to reduce external inputs. Feed all livestock with on site resources.
Garden: Feed ourselves, and when in abundance, our neighbors. Food forest, annual garden, grain gardens. I like to make my own beer and it would be awesome if I could grow barley to make that happen. Also grain to feed our animals. Also, I just love wheat and corn, so I want it.
Housing: We currently live in a camper. We are going to build a wofati type structure this fall, and build a log cabin next year.
Water: We'll need a large holding tank to pump water to periodically throughout the day.
Electric: Solar and possible wind power. Both options are expensive and not available in the near future. For now its the generator.
Water. We have no surface water, and the well is deep and output is not optimal. Summers are dry, dry, dry.
Garden: Soil is ok but not the best. Irrigation, see above.
Fire: We are in prime forest fire country, and this is a concern of mine.
Livestock feed: Reduce inputs. Feed the livestock from the land, year round. Also keep livestock water from freezing during winter.
Electric: Need to power the well, a great distance from the home, and also the home.
Many great ideas here so I have renewed hope it can be done. I moved to the property in April and have been so busy getting infrastructure (shelters, water lines, fixing broken things, etc) done I haven't had time or money to plant anything at all (or spend time on this forum) but hopefully next spring I'll be ready to start planting. Many thanks to all of you.
Would love to get a deck or two for myself and maybe to give on away, but the $20 price is too much for me right now as I am living frugally and building a house + farm from scratch. I understand this is fund raising + get the permaculture word out, but is there any way these will be available for a better price someday?
Have you thought about a ram pump? If you can pipe the water downstream from your spring to a ram pump, you can then pump it uphill to a storage tank. How much volume depends on your differences in elevation and length of downstream pipe.
engineer775 on youtube has some very good videos on it.
You build the pump yourself out of common pipe parts and it uses no power.
100 amp or 200 amp on solar or wind is too much to expect unless you spend a LOT of cash AND have optimum conditions.
If you get propane/gas or super-efficient appliances including water heater, dryer, cooking range, fridge and freezer, there is no way you will need 100A service unless you are running some huge power tools or a welder. (My arc welder is on a 50A breaker). Also get low voltage DC LED lighting, etc.
One thing that won't work very well off grid (because it uses so much power) is those heating elements you use to keep livestock water from freezing. But you're in AL so you might be okay. Anything with a heating element (hair dryer, toaster, oven, water heater) uses a lot of watts.
But be realistic, cooking with wood is fine in the winter, but are you really wanting to do that in the summer in Alabama? I would get a propane/gas cooking range, but be careful because most of them won't run the oven without 120V connected! (there is a solenoid that shuts off the gas when power is disconnected, meaning it is using 120v power 24/7). Unfortunately, if you look on craigslist or something for a gas range, the seller won't know anything about that so he won't know if it needs power or not. (We off-gridders are a select few.)
I recommend get one of those Kil-A-Watt meters (they're like $20), measure power from all the devices you want to use (don't forget your well pump, you might have to estimate), then go to one of those solar websites with solar panel array calculators, put in your numbers and see how many KWH you need. If you don't want to get the meter, there are websites that can give you estimates but IMO its better to know the real thing.
When the wife does the wiring, she can put light switches on all the receptacles so they can be completely shut off when not in use. Basically every room will have two light switches, one for the lights, and one for receptacles. She can also run DC-only circuits: common accepted practice (don't know if its in the NEC) is to use regular 240vac receptacles for 12vdc outlets which you can then plug a phone charger or dc lamps or whatever into.
Then get a big propane generator for those times when you want to run the welder or whatever.
Josh T-Hansen wrote:that's a good book...
shout out to my t.rocket, g.nuts, and that good good lovage.
not all high cal but if that's all you looking for dough man then don't pass on the acorn and chestnut flour.
sea what i be kale'n on
Good suggestions, the acorns and chestnuts will take awhile though.
Blaine Lindsey wrote:...What about Einkorn, Emmer faro, or other ancient wheat species?...
Devon Olsen wrote:im planning to use older varieties of wheat from the kusa seed society, not einkhorn but definately older varieties with stalks growing up to 8ft tall, that should do me just fine, though some might prefer einkhorn, i just dont see a reason not to use older varieties of "modern" wheat that have bunching habits with multiple tillers per seed sprouted rather than just 2 or 3 of the really modern varieties
I'm with you guys. But does kusa have seeds to sell?
Me too. I saw that Suzy Bean video and it inspired me to do the same...
S Bengi wrote:The closest I have came is winter squash. I have not planted on in over 3 years.
They readily reseed from compost or a few unharvested ones, are easy to harvest, naturally store for 6+ months.
High in calorie, vit and mineral, so buttery and even the seed are fantastic.
Sounds good I will do that. Are all winter squash that awesome or do you have a certain variety you like best? (Your zone is probably close to mine, although you probably get more rain.) Squash wasn't in my plans until I read Carol Deppe's book. My gramma used to make it and I haven't had it since I was a kid, but I did love it.
BTW I didn't mean I want to harvest perennial veggies in the winter, I just want them to survive the winter!
Cj Verde wrote:You may want to show your location in your settings.
There are some fruits like apples that will store all winter (choose the variety wisely). I think persimmons stay on the tree for a really long time.
Thanks for the replies guys.
Hmmm, I thought my location was shown, I have it publicly visible and it shows under my name on all my posts! Must be something wrong with the software. Anyway my property is one hour west of Missoula.
Some things do grow wild in the area from what I have read. Camas, bitterroot, some other things.
Drying the fruit for winter is a good idea, Bengi. I don't know why I didn't think about that. I also have canned plenty of meat, vegetables and fruit, even butter, so that is possible as well.
I do plan to have chickens and goats (actually have them now), a couple pigs and a couple miniature cattle. So beef, pork and eggs are on the menu for the winter. I also plan to have persimmon, hazelnut, apple, cherry, plum, blueberry, raspberry, seaberry, strawberry and some other fruits and berrys - I haven't finished my list yet. I haven't had good luck with grapes in my area. I also want to grow corn and bread grains and sorghum. If I can get ahold of some perennial wheat or rye I will be ecstatic.
SO - my impression is that there is no top ten list of high calorie temperate perennial vegetables? And (in terms of permaculture) the objective is to grow perennial leafy or tubular plants which may not be high in calories but still rich in vitamins and minerals in addition to an annual vegetable garden (and of course the fruits and nuts). I was going to grow potatoes, beans, tomatoes, squash, things like that anyway, permaculture or not, haha.
Cj Verde wrote:Why limit your self to vegetables? I was thinking along the lines of nut trees for high calorie/good tasting.
What about berries?
Sunchokes fit the bill but I can't personally comment on how they taste.
Same for cattails.
Sweet Potato is technically a perennial.
Thanks for the reply CJ, I've been to your permaculture page and your garden rocks!
I will be planting fruit and nut trees and berry shrubs, but we need vegetables, too. Fruit and nuts are good, but we can't eat them year-round cause even with a bountiful harvest, fruits won't store all winter AFAIK. And I'm trying to do it the permaculture way. I understand in a truly temperate zone it may not be completely possible because I am having difficulty finding info. So I'm trying to see if anybody is doing it and what is working. Maybe nobody is?
Seems like most of the plants that will work are tubers for some reason. Or leaves.
I have Eric Toensmeier’s Perennial Vegetables. I was dissapointed to find that most plants in the book are not suitable for zone 5 where I live.
What do you good folks recommend for a top ten list of perennial vegetables that grow substantial amounts of high calorie, good tasting food, aside from the obvious like asparagus and rhubarb? But things like camas, which require 9 hours of pressure cooking, would be less than optimal!