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What's your story?

 
pioneer
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Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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What's your story? Tell us about your journey so far as a homesteader, permaculturist, farmer, gardener, etc. A very big part of homesteading is being active in your community so I thought I would inject some of that into the channel with this topical video.

I've heard so many amazing stories from people about their challenges and how they overcame them but not everyone that is as obsessive with creating videos as I am. πŸ€ͺ So for you social media minimalist, here's your opportunity to share your amazing stories with others. No topic is too big or too small, let's discuss it all! πŸ˜‰

 
pollinator
Posts: 1559
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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My story spans 1 1/2 decades, so I can't simply post all the things that happened along the way, my decisions, my options, etc. Anyone who is interested can visit my blog.
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com

I'm always open to answer questions. Sometime next year I plan to open the homestead farm for casual personal tours.
 
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Monticello Florida
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I've been growing stuff for close to ten years. When I was 7ish, my family planted a garden and I was hooked on it. I was an avid gardener for years following the conventional method of rows of monocrops, all weeds evil, and tilling. Thankfully, being a young child, I had no access to toxic gick to spray on my plants.😁

Then one day, my aunt gave me Brett Markham's book on intensive farming in raised beds. This had a profound effect on the way I gardened and converted me into an organic grower.
Two years later, I was looking for books and came across one on food foresting. I got a real kick out of that and started hugelculture. Looking for more hugel info, I found the Duke's video on it. That's when I found permies.
Permaculture/permies.com sort of simmered in the back burner for a few months when I started a  job and got bitten by The blacksmith bug.
The next spring, I started reading Joel Salatin's books and saw the light of regenerative farming. Since then, I've been a permaculture gardener.
The other half the story is raising animals and how I really got into permies.com.
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
Posts: 116
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Hey guys,

OK, so I wanted to wait a few days before replying to give folks a chance to share their stories but it looks like that's all we're going to get for now. Thank you both so much for sharing! :) I will comment on each in a separate post.

Over the past year or so I've had the great pleasure of hearing a lot of stories, on and off the forums, from permies all around the world. I'm continually drawn in and inspired by all of them. You guys remind me why I'm doing what I do and that it's for the best of reasons. Sometimes we get lost in the short game and we forget that this permaculture stuff is a long game goal, at least I do. It's important to step back occasionally and admire the amazing results we've achieved in as little as a short year or two. It really doesn't take much to get started and I think that's the message a lot of us are trying to get across. There's a better world out there in our backyards and we know it! ;)

My own permaculture and homesteading adventure has taught me a great many lessons so far. e.g. Not to fight nature but to work with it instead. Build regenerative systems. Stack functions. Look for opportunities to do things for myself instead of relying on other people or other businesses. Take part in a community that shares my views on gardening and trading goods. And so on, just to name a few.

Hopefully more people share their own stories here because I love reading them! And I figured, we all have so much to learn from each other that it never hurts to have another place to do so.

Here's a shot of my 2 year old hugel mounds. They're currently growing onions, garlic, corn, beans, squash, cucumbers, some woolly thyme and marigolds, plus all the fruit/nut trees and berry bushes. I'm also working on a raised bed next to the path/swale that runs along the tree line. Busy times! But I love working on this area more than anywhere else on my property. It's my sanctuary. My food forest in its infancy:

 
Matt Leger
pioneer
Posts: 116
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Su Ba wrote:www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com



I will most definitely check it out, Su! Thanks for sharing your story with us. :)

Huxley Harter wrote:I've been growing stuff for close to ten years...



Awesome story, Huxley! I love how one thing led to another to get you to where you are today. Isn't that the way it goes? Chain reactions and networking webs. They get you where you need to go!
How is your hugelkultur going this year? I saw a couple videos on growing cucumbers in them and how they do so well. I'm determined to grow a massive patch this year. ;)
 
Huxley Harter
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Monticello Florida
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Matt Leger wrote:

Huxley Harter wrote:I've been growing stuff for close to ten years...


How is your hugelkultur going this year? I saw a couple videos on growing cucumbers in them and how they do so well. I'm determined to grow a massive patch this year.



I just cleared the hugel of wild efficient ecological defense cover crops (W.E.E.D.s) 😊 today and built another one that's half in, half out of the ground. It has Comfrey crowns sprouting nicely out of it. About the cucumbers, last year I planted seminole pumpkins in the mound, an immature lasagna bed, and plain soil. The only plants that did well at all were on the hugel. And they thrived. No soil amendments. Not much fruit because we had a good bit of shade, but we cleared out some trees and now have 4-7 hours of sun.
 
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I've always been a bit into gardening, definitely more country girl than city girl. Always gone a different direction than others seemed to want to go. LOL The best I have now is mostly experimenting with what I am learning in a very small area as I neither own, nor rent, any land. But I am having fun, that is when I remember that I am experimenting, learning, when there are fails.

I did like when my tomatoes survive the winter due to their location. We had peas all winter, again due to their location.

Anyway, just a wannabe here, one who tries to re-Eden her own little space.
Teresa
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
Posts: 116
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Huxley Harter wrote:I just cleared the hugel of wild efficient ecological defense cover crops (W.E.E.D.s)



Love that initialism! I'm totally stealing that. Great additional info about the mounds producing into the frost. Goes to show how effective they are, not just for providing nutrients, but some warmth too which delays the ground freezing. I've had good results with wood chips offering the same protection too, although not on the same scale. But I'm hoping by combining the two that I'll get the best of both worlds.

Thanks, Huxley! Have a fantastic day!
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
Posts: 116
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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teresa quintero wrote:definitely more country girl than city girl



Thank you for sharing, Teresa! I'd consider myself a newbie as well, even after a couple years of doing this. There's so much to learn! Congrats on making the first step though and acknowledging that you're country folk. There's no better life! :)

You guys have inspired me to try my best to extend my own growing window. I'm in zone 5b so I'm limited by what I can do considering our harsh winters but honestly, if I could get even an extra week or two, I'd be happy.

What kind of stuff are you growing this year? What's your climate like? Peas all year round is amazing! You're so lucky!

Well, I'm off to build the second wall of my greenhouse while I have a helper over. Wish me luck!

Have a great day! :)

 
gardener
Posts: 6273
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Great topic,

I was farming during summer vacations by age 5 with guidance from my grandfather. Since I was a military brat, I traveled all over the world, learning from folks in each country and part of the US that would teach me.
College was where I learned the correct methods to perform experiments and most of mine were involving plants or the soil.
Since we bought Buzzard's Roost I have gotten to install quite a lot of what I have learned from all those years of experimenting and growing gardens, now I just do it on a much larger scale and it amazes me how much time it takes to get one little thing completed.
The long term to completion is because there are so many little "emergencies" that pop up every time I get outside to work on the farm.
If I start to put up a building, I can be certain that it will take me 8 times as long as it should because of all the things I will be called away from the job to do right now!
If I start to clear more space for another garden or enlarge a pasture or plant some fruit trees, other things will suddenly pop up that have to be done first.
So, now I have figured out that having some hearing loss is a good thing since I can pretend to not hear Wolf hollering at me to help her now.  
Unfortunately she now wants a pair of walkie talkies so there goes my "I couldn't hear you", right out the window, unless Walmart happens to be out of walkie talkies.
 
Huxley Harter
pollinator
Posts: 147
Location: Monticello Florida
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Matt Leger wrote: Great additional info about the mounds producing into the frost. Goes to show how effective they are, not just for providing nutrients, but some warmth too which delays the ground freezing.



Sorry, I think you misunderstood me. The mound didn't noticeably affect the temperature. The frost killed the plants. I was saying that the hugel thrived *until* the frost and the others died young. I'll edit that.
 
teresa quintero
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Matt Leger wrote:

You guys have inspired me to try my best to extend my own growing window. I'm in zone 5b so I'm limited by what I can do considering our harsh winters but honestly, if I could get even an extra week or two, I'd be happy.

What kind of stuff are you growing this year? What's your climate like? Peas all year round is amazing! You're so lucky!



I don't know how I would do in real winters. We have them here where I am between San Francisco and Sacramento, but no snow, etc. Sometimes frost. Gratefully we have had rain the last few years, except where there had been fires. I mean I would have preferred the rain wasn't so bad where it could have flooded making bad situations even worse.

I just lucked out with the peas. The front of the house faces east with the garage extending to make something like an "L" shape which I believe made a microclimate, keeping the temp higher than it would have been. I was surprised at having peas most of the winter. That was a trip!! But then came spring and the peas died from some caterpiller which I hadn't caught in time. Oh well. They hadn't done that well in the summer anyway. So as long as I am here I will plant peas come late fall. The green beans had done well last summer, I'm having a hard time getting them going this year. The tomatoes wintered and are doing fine, except for the one in the back yard. The back is the coldest I think. On top of that our weather hadn't decided what it was going to be for a while. May not have decided yet.

But I am having fun with I have and what I can do.

 
Posts: 15
Location: Menomonie, WI zone 4
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When I was eleven or twelve, I started becoming aware of some of the sources of my parents' discontent, such as financial difficulties, a lack of a societal safety net, and high levels of work-related stress.  I didn't want to follow in their footsteps, so instead of falling into an existential crisis (like many children when they first become aware of adulthood) I hopped online and tried to find a different way of life.  I think my first search term was something like "how to build a cheap house."  I didn't know it then, but I was about to open the doors to a rich world of innovation, community, and sustainability.  

Fast forward a few years and past lots of research and experimentation to now.  I'm fresh out of college at the age of twenty with a good job and more free time than I've had in years.  I have a small but thriving food and herb garden, and I'm beginning to build my first hydroponic system for lettuces (which, of course, is pretty sketchy and bound to leak all over my rented condo at least twice, but whatever).  I have succeeded at growing edible fungi indoors and will probably expand to lion's mane, enokis, various other types of oysters, and maybe a few more (I'm definitely a mycology nerd).  I have plans to buy a plot of land within two years and start work on a combined strawbale/earthbag house (haven't decided on design yet, as I don't know the topology and climate of my future dwelling site), a greenhouse, and a shop.  Hopefully I'll be able to find land with a field I can make into an airstrip - I'm post-solo and will have my pilot's license within the year - but we'll see.  

If anyone possesses unpublished knowledge about building alternative houses in the Wisconsin climate, let me know.  Also, if anyone knows how to stop Trichoderma viride from contaminating my oyster spawn jars (and yes, I have tried sterilizing everything more than twenty times), let me know.  

I'm looking forward to a long life filled with permaculture and innovation.  I'm very green and don't have an ancestral farming background, so you might see (or have seen) newbie posts from me on here, but I look forward to learning.  

Thanks for the question!  
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
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Huxley Harter wrote:Sorry, I think you misunderstood me. The mound didn't noticeably affect the temperature.



Ahhh, ok, my bad! I must have read that wrong and thought you were saying your mounds gave you some more growing time or protection against frost, like wood chips. But even if they did, it would probably be minimal. Can't stop old father winter eh? Only slow him down a little.
 
Huxley Harter
pollinator
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Sorry 'bout that. Down here we have mischievous little brother winter. He comes in with just enough frost to kill non hardy crops😊
 
Matt Leger
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:I was farming during summer vacations by age 5...



Hi Bryant! Aka Mr. RedHawk :) Thanks for sharing and adding to the thread! I've been following you on the forums since I joined so I knew a little bit about your story but it was great to get to know you a little more! I'm so glad you included your experimentation process in your post. That aspect of permaculture/homesteading is often overlooked and underrated. It's important to push boundaries and avoid self-imposed limitations based on hearsay or anecdotal evidence. Nothing beats first hand experience! And you've clearly go that in spades.

Regarding the "emergencies", tell me about it! I'm sure a lot of us out here can relate with that part. That's where good time and project management skills come in to play. I can't say I'm there yet myself but I'm working on it. To give you an idea, I've got 2 out of 4 walls of my greenhouse built, sitting in my driveway right now, that took the better part of 3 weeks to build. Not because it's difficult or necessarily time-consuming, but because other priorities continuously get in the way. I probably could have built the whole greenhouse in a couple days if I had the opportunity to dedicate all my time to it, but that's not realistic. All I can do is build it slowly, one piece at a time, whenever I can afford to put in the time. If I did anything else, the time would have to come out of those other higher priority projects or time with my family which I can't justify. So, I can totally empathize with what you're saying.

Good luck with the walky talky thing, haha! My kids had a pair that suddenly "disappeared" one day when I needed quiet and had a splitting headache. I wonder where they could have gone? Hmmm, maybe Oscar the Grouch would know... Hehe :D
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
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teresa quintero wrote:I would have preferred the rain wasn't so bad where it could have flooded making bad situations even worse.



You guys may not have harsh winters but you have your own serious weather issues to deal with. I guess that's the trade-off huh? I work with a lot of Americans, most of them in the South, in Texas or on the west coast, and if they're not dealing with hurricanes, tornadoes or flooding, it's wild fires! I'll take 4 feet of snow over that any day. I guess it comes down to what you're used to and how you learn to deal with it that matters. But I'm thankful that *most* of our weather conditions are not life-threatening and more of an inconvenience. Not everyone is so lucky.

Speaking of luck, nice discovery for the micro-climate with your peas and lessons learned with the caterpillars. I've got some this year too. They came out of nowhere and they are hungry as hell! All I'm doing is flicking them off when I see them but there's probably a better way. Might be time for another round of neem oil and lemon eucalyptus. It's not easy to always be on the front side of it, especially when you consider that some nibbling is bound to happen. It can be difficult to know where to draw the line and a lot of that is based on preference or your level of comfort with spraying various things.

teresa quintero wrote:But I am having fun with I have and what I can do.

And isn't that what really matters in the end? I keep telling myself the same thing. I may not be producing on a large scale yet but these formative years are giving me the experience to get better at it. Some day, I'll be able to produce larger quantities, with better consistency and be able to predict more things so I can be more proactive about my approach, etc. None of that would happen without making a few mistakes, losing a few crops to bugs and learning to take notes and bounce back.
 
Matt Leger
pioneer
Posts: 116
Location: St. Andrews West, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5b)
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Heather Petersen wrote:When I was eleven or twelve, I started becoming aware of some of the sources of my parents' discontent...



Wow, Heather! That was amazing! Thank you sooo much for sharing your story with all of us! Truly inspirational work. You're doing what you can where you can. That's so important! So many people around me make excuses for why they can't grow or homestead or provide more for themselves and their families. Very little of that reasoning is valid. They're simply stuck in their ways. Just look at what you have been able to do in your condo! Great example. There's no space too small to have an impact in some way, shape or form. That's what people don't get. It could even be as simple as setting up some window boxes. You gotta start somewhere, right?

I may hit you up for some mycology advice at some point. I'm thinking of starting a batch this year, maybe in the fall and could use some guidance. Do you have any experience growing them outdoors? Even if not, I'm sure a lot of indoor growing is applicable to outdoor too.

Keep your dream alive, my friend! It's a beautiful one and I'm certain you'll get there one day. You obviously have a good work ethic, you're passionate about it and you don't give up. Those are such vital pieces of the puzzle. Best of luck to you and I look forward to reading more updates!
 
Heather Petersen
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Location: Menomonie, WI zone 4
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Thanks so much Matt Leger!!!  What a nice sentiment

Matt Leger wrote:I may hit you up for some mycology advice at some point. I'm thinking of starting a batch this year, maybe in the fall and could use some guidance. Do you have any experience growing them outdoors? Even if not, I'm sure a lot of indoor growing is applicable to outdoor too.



I have no experience (intentionally) growing mushrooms outside, but I plan to start a companion bed with saprobic mushrooms growing in a hardwood mulch with some plants in the future.  I think it would be a great way to save space and grow food.  However, I can offer indoor growing advice!  I've had some pretty good yields in the past.
 
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