Thinking "per hour wage" simply doesn't work for my current lifestyle. I'm a homestead farmer focusing upon self reliance and sustainability. If getting "proper value for my labor" was my focus, I'd have a 9-5 job in the city. In fact, when I was working a job I was earning 5 times more than I am now, but financially was a lot worse off.
Trading and barter help me survive and move my products. By business standards, I do it all wrong. I don't assign a per hour value to the things I produce. Instead, trades are settled upon where it benefits both parties in some fashion.
I've used pallet fences on my farm and they were fine for a quick, ultra cheap, temporary barrier. They lasted exactly 3 years in my climate before the bottoms rotted and the fence started to collapse upon itself. But in a drier area located 10 miles from me, a friend has the same pallet fence and it has lasted five years so far with only dry rot crumbling some of the slats. Different climates, different results. But we both discovered that zigzag configuration doesn't work with strong winds. Our tradewinds eventually skewed or blew down sections of fence. So we both went with the -|-|-|- style (one pallet one direction, the next perpendicular to it). This was stable even in our heaviest wind.
My pallet fence was to protect the garden area from my sheep. So I replaced the pallets with a Premeir brand electric net fence. A local goat rancher has been using their Premeir fence for 10 years now, taking it down and moving it to a new location daily. Yes, daily. And they told me the netting was still in good shape. 10 + years is really impressive in my corrosive environment. I've just started using the Premier fencing, so I can't say much about it year.
In general I'd say "yes", soil can have too much compost. BUT, I'd have to add that it depends upon the situation.
On my main farm I add a couple of inches of compost between crops and flip it in. But I have to be careful. During wet years this can make my soil retain too much moisture. But on drought years I find myself wishing I had added more, and indeed I do add extra between crops when it's a dry year. That excess compost is the only thing that saves me when there's little rain.
5 miles away I have my seed farm. It's very warm, dry, and windy there. Lots of sun. As a result the soil.....what exists......dries out quickly. The compost degrades quickly. Rains tend to be infrequent but heavy, resulting in leaching. Thus I'm more aggressive on adding compost. In fact, I use pallet grow boxes there that contain 100% young compost and I grow 2 crops of seed (bean, pea, etc) before emptying the box and starting over. The old compost goes to help improve the ground soil on that little farm. I really don't think there is such a thing as using too much compost at that location.
10 miles away is a community built on fractured lava. No soil except the degraded organic dust between the lava chunks. I know of successful gardeners who haul in county compost by the truckload, often adding 1-4 pickup truckloads a month. I recently was visiting one place where the compost layer is now 20" deep after about 10 years of hauling. I'd guess they have about 1/4 acre covered in mulch. They grow in that compost all sorts of veggies and fruit trees. The area is in a dry zone with sporadic rain. I noticed that the compost layer was retaining moisture while the rest of their land was bone dry. In this situation, the excessive compost works for them.
None of the suggestions I heard helped control my cramps. Diet. Heat. Posture. Changing to tampons. Changing back to pads. Birth control pills. Exercise. Sleep habits. Homeopathic medicines. Nothing. Except.......... Aleve. It was the only thing that made my cramps bearable.
I was unfortunate to be one of those women who had pain that radiated well past the abdomen, into my back and inner thighs. The pain interfered with my ability to function and think. When I discovered that Aleve worked for me, my life returned to normal. Back in those days it was a prescription medication, but thankfully it's over the counter now. As like Burra, menopause solved the problem.
I can't find any entertainment in doom & gloom movies. Don't like violent movies either. Real life is horrifying enough without watching it in movies too. So I'm not voting since I haven't seen any of them. But I like the idea of surveys. What other ones can we come up with?
Perchance there could be a forum for polls? Like....
.....which vegetables do you grow?
.....which are your favorite permit projects?
....which livestock are your favorites ?
.....etc. there's lots of possibilities.
Wren has hit upon one of the aspects of how my farm provides almost all our food. I say almost because we eat a few meals out with friends every month, eating foods we didn't produce ourselves. But if we had to, we could provide 100%....and still have variety.
My location can grow some things really well, but zero when it comes to others. But I don't see that as a problem. No need to eat the same boring things over and over again. No need to deprive ourselves of variety from off the farm. I take some of our excess eggs, veggies, fruits, and meat and trade them for beef, fish, mouflon, milk, cheese, mangos, lychee, and other things that I can't or don't produce. I also trade for homemade prepared foods, such as soups, pies, jams, sauces, cheese.
I also sell not only my excess, but I've expanded to the point that I can grow a little to sell locally. I sell direct to individual homes, at the local farmers market, and to a local restaurant.
I consider the items that I gain via trade, plus those that I buy with the money gained from selling to be part of my farm production for ourselves. For example, at the farmers market I will sell my green beans and potatoes then turn around and buy fish and breadfruit from other vendors with that money.
Luckily I don't have to do a lot of preservation. Most of what we eat can be grown or acquired year around. Somethings I need to store, such as turmeric, lilikoi, coffee, and other seasonal crops.
Two more things ......One - although the farm is now capable of providing for us 100%, it took years to get to that point. I started out slowly, making many mistakes, adjustments, and improvements along the way. So many people think that they can plant a garden and bingo, they're food independent immediately. It surely didn't work that way for me. Not only did the garden improve slowly, I gained the farming knowledge slowly, and it took years to get a trading system really functional. Two - we changed our diet to adjust to what was locally available.
I'm with you, Travis. I grew up on all those cheap meats and actually love them to this day.
...chicken necks & gravy over rice
...chicken gizzards & hearts
...chicken back stew
...fish head chowder
...pig (or beef or lamb) head soup (the head was cut up in chunks)
...fried pork skin
...ox tail soup
...beef and lamb shanks
Mom would often take all the trimmings, skin, and leftover meats and cook them into a thick, extremely tasty gravy sort of concoction that we ate over bread. Extremely yummy comfort food. The only two cheap foods I never learned to like were kidney and liver, though I loved chicken livers. A steak, chops, or roast was reserved for a special holiday, like Christmas. We were allowed to make suggestions for our birthday supper as kids. I always chose chicken gizzards, obviously my number favorite.
Nowadays I raise my own meat so we use everything. Nothing gets wasted, ever!
Every turn in the chimney is like adding feet to the length. After a few turns the chimney is in danger of not drawing. Thus the stove develops an airlock and the fire goes out (or smokes into the room). I don't know the formula for determining the maximum amount of chimney the stove could support, but in my early years of heating my home with a wood stove I made the mistake of putting too many bends in the stove pipe.
I don't collar my 14 cats ( yup, I'm up 2 more since that last time I posted to this thread). it's too dangerous around here for that....too much dense undergrowth. But to indicate that they are owned so that the neighboring macnut farmer doesn't kill them if they happen to get caught in one of his traps, they are all ear tipped. (Ear tipping indicates that they are neutered, but most folks in my neighborhood assume that they're also owned by one of the neighbors if they are ear tipped.) Happily my cats show very little interest in birds, being well fed and having a constant source of dry food available. But they are fixated on rodents. I encourage this by tossing them every rat I trap myself and letting them play with the carcass.
Permaculture necessitates rodent control. As people have pointed out, agriculture attracts rodents and provides them shelter and food, thus increasing their population. I don't see using poisoned baits as being sustainable permaculture. So I use cats and dogs, plus an assortment of traps. Most of my rats are roof rats, making dogs ineffective. But the cats are experts at patrolling the roof.
By the way, I'm a strong believer in neutering all cats around my place. No need for more kittens. Plus it's the kittens that pose the danger for toxo. Stop the production of kittens and one dramatically lowers the danger from toxo.
Joseph is right! Follow your passion, otherwise you won't last.
I'm passionate about being self reliant/sufficient. Thus I produce most of our own food..,..or importantly, use my surplus to trade or buy the rest of my foods that I don't do for myself. I don't need to bake or can because I trade my surplus for those items. I trade for milk and cheese, fish and game meats. So some of my growing focuses on tradable products, like eggs, lamb, herbs. Around my area, those 3 are in demand and easy to trade/sell.
I started out 15 years ago hoping to just grow my fresh table fruits and veggies, then my goal changed to growing most of my own food. Then I naturally shifted to growing/trading/selling to meet all of our food needs. Now I'm on the next step -- growing extra for just enough income for basic living. Once I mastered one step, the next one seemed to naturally follow. I surely hadn't started out with the idea of a profitable farm, but it seems to be happening.
How long? Numerous generations along with active selection/culling. I want hair sheep. I was given a few hair/wooly cross ewes. They and their daughters and granddaughters have been bred to hair rams. I still get wool sometimes mixed in with the hair coat, which means that they are more susceptible to flystrike and tend to retain a mat on their back after shedding....which I have to shear off. Gradually I'm eliminating them from the flock. The mixes aren't worth dealing with, as far as I'm concerned. But at least they convert grass into meat, and one by one they go for slaughter.
In my area of Hawaii, good sweet corn sells for $1.25 per ear. But it's dang difficult to grow!
A cantaloupe can sell for $7 to $9 each.....again difficult to grow here.
A good pumpkin sells for anywhere from $4 to $10 each depending upon size. Finally! I can actually got them on my farm!
Tomatoes are $2.50 per pound....moderately difficult to grow good ones here.
Snow peas and snap peas can go for $7 a pound. Wow, I can grow them! But I don't ask that high a price because most of my customers are dirt poor.
Turmeric sells for $7 a pound, and I grow lots and lots of it.
New potatoes and new sweet potatoes can sell for up to $2 a pound, but I sell them at $1 a pound. Again my buyers are dirt poor. Plus I have to see them during the week around town, so I can't bring myself to gouge them.
Interesting responses so far. So as with everything about permaculture, the answer is "It depends." What condition is the soil you are starting out with? What do you plan to grow and how much? Are we talking about annual veggie crops, hugel beds, or orchards? What do you use for mulch and how often is it applied? And what are your climate conditions?
on my own homestead, my soil fertility is poor. The soil volume is low. In most years I get excess rain that results in leaching. I'm downwind from an active volcano, thus my rain and air is constantly acidic. The temperature is steadily in the 60° to 80° F zone. I grow crops year around, thus removing food from the land for us to eat and sell. My livestock eat the grass and young stock is slaughtered or sold. Eggs are sold or eaten. Thus these are pressures on my homestead that I need to take into consideration. Plus the niggling time factor..... I'm old, so I can't afford to wait for years and years.
It also depends upon what one calls "fertilizer'. Commercial? Manure? Home blended? Compost-- home made or commercial? By the way, I don't use commercial fertilizer in my growing areas except for nursery stock for resale.
It depends upon what means as "mulch". Grass clippings? Autumn fallen leaves? Wood chips? In my own situation, my mulch consists of shredded bio material, anything and everything. My mulches also sometimes include shredded manure and homemade composts. I do not limit myself to a predominance of one or two types of materials.
As needed, I adjust the soil pH, but have to watch it carefully because I use so much organic material. I also use soil amendments as necessary to help with mineralization and trace elements. Working with young lava soil has proven to be quite an education.
I would think that in different climates, with different soil types, growing different "crops" I would need to use different methods,
One other factor........how much do you plan to harvest? Does getting a potful of beans and a few beets each month fit your needs? Or do you need to grow enough to supply your annual food needs plus extra for income? One of my friends is satisfied with getting a handful of veggies on his dinner plate each day. But I need about 10 times more production out of the same garden space in order to feed ourselves, our livestock, and give us income. Fertile soil is a must for me, but my friend doesn't need that.
My soil is scarce and poor. Since I'm building fertility & soil volume while still taking crops off the land, I need to add fertilizer along with my mulch. Eventually, though not in my lifetime, my soil will not need the constant additions of manure that it now does. And I need to adjust the pH regularly, even though lava soil itself contains plenty of calcium. In my lifetime, that calcium won't be available to the plants. And yes, I'm a big believer in soil health and microbes, but again there is a time factor to be considered. If I want to produce my own food within my lifetime, then I need to add soil amendments. Plain and true.
The added soil amendments, which include (if and when available) coral sand and bits, lava sand (our equivalent of rock dust), inoculated biochar, burnt crushed bone, slaughter waste, coffee grounds (I get it by the five gallon bucket), compost, manure, a tad of ocean water, plus any bio-waste ground up for mulch. These all not only help to support the soil microbes, but also improve my soil structure and volume, a major consideration for me.
So things depend a lot upon the soil one is working with. In my case, yes, I need to pay attention to N-P-K and pH even though I maintain a 1' to 3" mulch layer with most crops. I test my soil and make adjustments between each crop.
Of course it isn't permaculture. Ownership has nothing to do with permaculture.
I own a farm. I decide and say who can come onto the farm for a tour. I also dictate what they can do and how they need to behave while on my farm. I have full right to remove them from my farm and ban them from returning. As the owner, I have control of who enters the farm and what behavior I demand from them. Visitors to my farm have little or no influence upon my operation of my farm, nor the permaculture aspects of it.
Paul owns this forum. He has complete control. It is his right. Personally I see him as a benevolent dictator promoting permaculture. I have no problem with it.
My only experience with dairying was 6 alpine milk goats 3 decades ago. My first year was terrible milk production. I failed to keep a set time schedule, varied the feed too often, was hit n miss on grain/pellets while they were milked, was often in a rush, plus not in the greatest mood myself. By the second year I had learned to dramatically change my ways. Production went from a miserable less than a quart a day to almost a gallon daily after freshening (per goat). Milking time became a time of gentle peace, soft movements, methodical schedule and procedures. Plus I learned to hum. So was it my humming or was it the more serene atmosphere? Both?
I make my own sugar, but I'm in the tropics and can grow sugar cane year around. That makes a difference.
I don't bother to boil it down to crystals. I simply use a cane press to squeeze out the juice and use that, I don't bake, but I do make custard-like sweets and drinks with it. By the way, I find raw cane juice to be far tastier than cooked. The local officials require it to be cooked if I want to sell it, so I tried doing it once. The flavor is changed with heating.
Im growing sweet sorghum for the first time this year. I'm curious what the syrup will taste like compared to sugar cane.
My first thought.....what sort of roots are we looking at? Are they too big for a tractor pulled plow to handle? If I were in your situation, I'd look around to see if there was a farmer close enough who could come plow an acre for me. I did that when I started a garden when I lived in New Jersey. The farmer brought in a small tractor and plowed that acre in no time flat. And threw a chain around an old tree stump and pulled it out. If you bring a farmer in to look, he could tell you if a plow could handle the job or else tell you what else to do.
While some here might object to the idea of initially plowing the land, I don't see it to be much different than the initial land contouring that permaculturists do with bulldozers and excavators. Once you land is plowed and put into a condition you can start with, then you could develop a permie method to eliminate the need for future plowing.
If you want to do it low tech, a heavy duty rototiller can handle roots up to 1/2". Busting sod or pasture grass will take several passes and is best done when the soil is moist but not muddy. Decades ago I used a Troybilt Horse to till a field of grass. I had mowed the grass short before tilling. I recall it took four or more times over that field to get the tiller down 4-5 inches. It was work and time consuming, and I learned that I should have brought in a plow! But for a small plot, a plow isn't feasible.
For an even smaller garden bed, one could use a mattock. Hard hand labor, but it will cut through the roots and open to soil. I've done that too, and it's work. I still use a mattock to this day. It's handy for the right sort of job. But I wouldn't want to do 1/4 acre at a time. I'll grab the mattock if I need to open a new bed that's 3' by 20'.
I have a few low raised beds (3" to 5" sides) built atop pahoehoe lava. I used homegrown young tree trunks for the sides. So they cost me my labor, time, a chainsaw, and an ATV to haul them out of the woods. If I had had to buy lumber to make the beds, it surely wouldn't have made economic sense. The raised beds are a pain in the neck compared to the field beds. They dry out fast, and the sides constantly trip me. I've been working to gradually built up the soil in that area so that I can remove the logs completely some day. Raised beds may be nice for small gardens or in special locations, but I don't like them in my production gardens.
Ps- don't forget that it takes A LOT of soil to fill even a low raised bed.
Here's what goes on here in my area of Hawaii.....
Pigs. Will chew in the canes. Will eat the young shoots, thus eventually killing the plant. But cane is not their preferred food here. They will go for it when they run out of preferred forage. My penned pigs seem to enjoy chewing on chunks of cane, sort of like us chewing on chewing gum when our mouths want to keep busy. Not a serious diet, but rather, something to do. The feral pigs visit the cane in my area but don't do lots of damage. They will dig up around some of the roots, looking for worms and beetles. They'll eat some shoots, but then they move on. There's plenty of other better foods in the area for them.
Goats. My own goats love cane leaves, the younger the better. And they will chew the stalks from the top down until they get to the tough thick parts. Thus they top the canes. They also will eat the young shoots, thus eventually killing the plant over time. Cane isn't a primary diet food for them. They will browse the pasture and then go visit the cane for a bit of a nibble, then back to the main pasture again.
Horses. Donkey. Cow. Avid cane eaters. Will destroy the plants over time. In my experience, cows are the hardest on sugar cane. But my horse was a major destroyer of cane. She loved the stuff.
It's been over 40 years since chemistry class, but I recall that pH and concentration measurements are different. Litmus paper is a simple way to test for pH. But one needs to do a titration to determine the % of concentration. So if I make homemade vinegar, I think I'd have to do titration in order to determine if I'm really getting 5% or better concentration of vinegar.
I've never had the problem you're looking at because I can stagger my harvests, plus grow most things year around. But if confronted with a massive harvest, I would try to diversify how I preserved the crop. Can some. Dry some. Make pickles. Make sauces, syrups, chutneys, etc. Freeze some. I'd pick some things in the early stage, such as thin tiny beans or green tomatoes. And leave some to mature, such as letting beans and peas go to green shell or dry stage. That would help relieve the pressure of preserving the harvest all in the same week.
I would seek to trade or sell some of the excess so that it wouldn't turn into a loss. I often do that now, giving small excesses to neighbors with the understanding that they will give me something in return in the future. A variation of this, I have given my excess bananas to a person who makes various bananas products. They give a nice selection of their goods back to me as payment for the bananas. Thus I get dried banana chips, banana leather, banana butter, banana syrup, and banana bread that I didn't have to put my own time and effort into. Another variation -- I sometimes give excess to the local restaurant who, in return, gives me credit for future meals.
Another aspect to consider is diet variety and sustainability.
Sounds like your location has fish, but how many months of the year? And if you eat one a day, is the population great enough to support that harvest? Other meat sources could be.....if they exist in your area.....deer, beer, coyote, raccoon, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, snake, rat, mice, birds. Again, you'd have to monitor the population to see what would be sustainable. Then there's things like insects, slugs, worms, etc to fall back on.
Fruit and nut trees are a good option, but you'll need to match the varieties to your location and figure out how many you'd need for your annual needs. Berries are another good option. But there are plenty of other perennials that you could add, depending if they'd do well. Besides the usual ones that people often plant, you could think outside the box and add asters, hosta, day lily, that sort of thing. But again, sustainability is a key factor. How much would you need to initially plant to support yourself year around?. In my own experience, the plants that I forage from are not nearly as productive as those that I tend in my garden plots. And besides, if it's the roots that you're harvesting, it will require that you replant.
Now consider variety. How much variety do you need in your diet to be content? Would eating acorn flour/venison stew for three months straight drive you insane? My own hubby needs variety to stay in a good mood. Thus I grow a good variety of things on this farm.
While I forage, I don't hunt. But I trade with hunters, thus bringing meat to my farm by trading my excess vegetables.
15 years ago I started out with really poor soil, if one would call it that. Every couple of weeks for the first year I tilled in a 3" layer of shredded organic material, anything and everything. I'd grind up grass, light twigs, leaves, small brush, whatever with the old lawnmower. Some was lush green grass clippings, high in moisture and nitrogen. The rest was dry, stemmy, or woody. I'd also tilled in fresh horse manure which I hand gathered from neighbors' pastures. Yes, it was work. I didn't try growing crops the first year, but I did hand scatter oats as a cover crop so that the ground would be covered in the areas I couldn't till frequently. The sprouted oats got tilled in before they grew much taller than 8"-10". I didn't have compost back then. I just gathered and ground up every bit of organic material I could get my hands on and rototiller it in.
To this day I can see the difference between the area that got this treatment and the areas that didn't. The area where I spent a year tilling in ground up organic material still out produces my untreated garden areas, and the soil maintains moisture much better.
Conclusion........for me, spending that year repetitively tilling improved my soil far better than any other method I've tried. Just my own observation on my own homestead farm. Now would this work for clay? I don't know.
I'm well aware that there is an anti-tilling sentiment among permies. They remind me of it on my blog from time to time. But I tend to do what works best for me in my situation. Thus I lightly till between each crop, incorporating more organic material and other soil amendments before planting the next crop. That means that every two to four months most of my garden area gets tilled.
Digging kitchen scraps right into the soil will work as long as one keeps a few things in mind.
... As r ranson pointed out, any seeds in the scraps may germinate. Personally I don't find this to be objectionable.
... If only dealing with a small amount, say a quart or so, at a time, then simply dig a two quart sized hole. Dump in the scraps. Full in the hole with some of the soil, and mix the soil and scraps together (stir or chop). Them complete topping off the hole with the rest of the soil. By mixing soil in with the scraps you won't end up with a gooy smelling wad of rot.
... For larger amounts, r ranson's method of trenching works. When I do it, I'll dump a bucket of scraps making the layer about 2"-3" deep. Then I'll top it with a shovel or two of soil, mixing the soil in a tad by chopping. Then fill in the trench with soil.
Smelly goo indicates that your soil does not have an active population of soil microbes, which in turn indicates that the soil is low in organic material. So it will take some time and effort to get your soil healthy enough to handle globs of kitchen scraps without it rotting.
A few things to keep in mind....
... Temperature has a bearing on how well the kitchen scraps will break down. Cold soil can slow or almost stop the process.
... Soil moisture has a bearing too. Too dry, and material will not decompose well. Too wet and decomposition is prevented.
Cold, dark, dry. You hit the nail on the head, Joseph. Except for certain tropical seeds, I have found cold, dark, and dry to be the best method. I've never put any of my seeds into the freezer, mainly because I have a difficult time getting things truly dry where I am. My air has naturally extremely high humidity, so seeds begin to absorb water the moment they are out of a drying desiccant jar. Besides, my freezer space is very limited, while on the other hand I have adequate refrigerator room.
I have a chest style frig. The bottom maintains a steady temp just above freezing. So that's where I store seeds. And since I normally only open the frig morning and evening, the seeds aren't subject to fluctuating temperatures.
I'm using Mylar bags at the moment because of two reasons. First, the glass jars take up too much space in the frig. Second, I was seeing moisture reabsorption when I was using simple plastic baggies. Some day I hope to have a frig dedicated just to seed storage. When that happens, I'll probably go back to using glass mason jars. There's just something nice about being able to see my seeds.
Roundworms (including ascarids) can cause significant harm to humans, especially children. It is something that a parent should take seriously. While most childrrn may only experience poorly noticed symptoms (intestinal discomfort, growth stunting, general poor health), others may have more profound problems with organ damage, nerve damage, blindness. Once damage occurs, it can last a lifetime.
I strongly suggest that you research roundworm damage in children on the Internet. Then consult with your pediatrician to fine tune your questions. Also speak with your doctor ASAP, considering that you are pregnant.
It sounds like your environment is contaminated. It would be wise to take steps to prevent your child from being infected with internal parasites.
I normally don't clean my seeds with any solutions, but I take care not to save seed that has insects or mold. I dry them well in an airy location for at least a week, then finish the drying in a sealed jar that has either powdered milk or silica gel in permeable pouch (I use the toe portion of an old women's stocking). A week in the drying jar is sufficient for most seeds, though larger seeds like beans may need longer. The seed should be dry enough to feel quite hard.
Once dry, I store them in sealed Mylar pouches in the refrigerator. I used to use glass jars with a rubber gasket, but the pouches take up a lot less space. The idea is to prevent the seeds from absorbing moisture plus keeping them at a fairly constant cool temperature.
I use a variety of Japanese hand tools on my homestead, practically on a daily basis. This includes the sickle featured here. Great tool. Comments...
...keep it sharpe. When dull, it tends to deflect off the stems, to the great harm of any human flesh within distance.
...because it's really sharp, it is handy for slicing chunks out of arms and hands, and almost taking off fingers. I cut the index finger on my left hand numerous times before I wised up. I now ALWAYS wear a protective glove on my left hand. I try never to let my left arm or knee within striking distance, but when I get tired, I sometimes get sloppy.
...if you're not used to the action, your right arm will fatigue quickly. So try not to plan large jobs at first. Two Advil taken with a large glass of milk will cut the muscle pain in your arm so that you can fall asleep at night.
...always own two. One will be sharp and ready for use, while you're trying to find the time to resharpen the second one. Using a dull one is not a good solution.
...personally, I wouldn't let a child use one.
Over the years I've come to own and use a number of Japanese hand tools. They're great for the right jobs.
I came upon this small blog that I think some others may find interesting and informative. Not a total permaculture farm, but it uses some important permaculture ideas. It's about a small family, independent, cattle dairy farm.
I don't have a learned answer, but my best educated guess is that the microbes are in suspended mode, such as spores. I started my initial compost piles by seeding them with soil taken from areas where the vegetation was growing robustly in rich looking soil. Since then, I charge each new pile with some of the composted material from previous piles. It seems obvious that the microbes have sporated in the cooled off previous piles.
Nature's compost piles (some are hot and some are not) that I can quickly think of...,
...malleefowl's nest. (Bird)
...vegetative build up in the bends of creeks and rivers, especially during floods
...landslide debris pile
...brush/leaf piles often found in the woods, especially in depressions
After fighting with two modern wash machines in the past few years (they each cost me over $600 in repair work before I threw them away when they broke yet again, and of course they were out of warranty when they started breaking down), I finally looked for something better. I ended up buying a mechanical style Speed Queen. It's been working just fine. Yes, it cost quite a bit up front to buy, but in the long run I will save hundreds in not having constant repairs. Besides, I live two hours from the nearest repair shop so home visits cost money and trucking it to the shop myself is a hassle. Love my Speed Queen.
A gave a farm tour to a friend of a friend, who proclaimed that I was the first permaculture farm she had ever seen. Huh? I hadn't ever heard the word permaculture before that. Had to go google it. During my snuffling around on Google, I stumbled upon permies.com. Been here ever since.
By the way, I learned that I wasn't a permaculture farm back then, and I'm still not totally one today. But I do practice many aspects of permaculture on this farm and in my daily life. I like to think of my lifestyle as low input/low impact, permie-ish, conservation, homestead farming. How's that bunch of adjectives!