I just submitted my first post on the Permies forum, so thought perhaps I should introduce myself. I have been sitting on the sidelines for a while, soaking up info and interesting opinions on a variety of topics on this excellent website. My hubbie and I own a small (3-acre) piece of land in the middle of the South Saskatchewan prairies (Canada), with a 1960's ranch-style house and several old outbuildings. Traditionally there are really only two seasons here, hot summer and cold winter... although the past couple of years the weather's been getting kinda wacky and we've actually had a spring or fall We have a small herd of registered Quarter Horses, selling a few foals and/or yearlings each year. I guess all those horses of ours (17 at the moment) was really what got our butts in gear to start doing something beyond talking about being sustainable... 17 horses can make a lot of compost in a year! After six years, we've accomplished a few projects, started a few more and have lots of plans... I'm hungry for good, practical ideas that move us further toward self-sufficiency and sustainable living... thanks for letting me join your group.
Welcome from Nova Scotia. 17 horses on 3 acres. Yes you will have lots of manure/compost. I would mix your best compost with fresh manure and spread it out about 12" deep. Build a nice hoophouse over it, ventilated at both ends. Pile 6' of small square straw bales up the coldest side. You will be amazed what that will grow from your second season onwards.
"may your experience be fruit for all those who follow"
Welcome from Western Montana!
17 horses ! you must be hay poor! And compost rich !
With such a long winter surely you guys will need a rocket mass heater soon!
Come check out the RMH forum here at Permies.
Lorne Martin, that sounds very promising, we'll give it a try this coming year, thank you!
Thomas Rubino, I've already gobbled up all the RMH info and bought the book, lol. We're planning to try our first build in the spring, in the 'shop' (which seconds as a nursery for the mares/foals when spring comes late).
I should perhaps explain to those who wonder how the hec we have 17 horses on 3 acres... we free-lease several small 'pastures' within a 5 mile radius of our property; little areas (5 to 20 acres) of grass that are too small for the local farmers to bother with, mostly because they are full of half-buried old equipment and barbwire. We made an agreement with one owner to clean up the lot and put a good fence around in return for pasturing some of our horses there. He was so pleased to not have to cut grass there anymore and since then several other farmers have approached us to do the same. It's a lot of work, but a win-win for all. Our horses now maintain about 80 acres of pasture each summer. Come winter, though, all horses come home to feed and shelter and the horse manure collection begins again
Welcome neighbor. I'm probably within a 100 miles east of you. I have one horse right now and depend on him for a nutrient load for the garden every year for sure. Enjoy the warmer temps coming in for the next week or two.
I am interesting in hearing about your self-sufficiency progress so far and other plans that you have for the future.
Water: I wonder if you have a well, pump with direct solar and possible even a hand pump?
Greywater: I wonder if you have a greenhouse/wetland/pond setup for it.
Septic: with 3acres, for some reason I feel like you have a septic system
Heating: Insulation, Thermal mass, full combustion/rocket, and full exhaust heat extraction/RMH
Food: Fish-pond, chicken run, bulk calorie nuts, fruits+solar dehydrator, veggies, herbs+mushroom
Soil: swales, biochar, sea90, compost, enhanced compost tea
Energy: Solar panel, hydro?, Woodlot/Gassifier syngas
S Benji... Holy cow! That's a lot of answers I'll do my best without writing a book...
I bought this property about 26 yrs ago, single mom, raised two kids here. When kids were grown I met Gary from BC and moved there for 10 years, renting this place out in the interim. We returned six years ago to an absolute wreck - truck loads of trash and scrap dumped on the property, weeds in the backyard higher than my head, all my lovely old Cottonwoods cut down and left to rot, I could go on... inside of the house wasn't much better. The ants loved all the rotting cottonwood and when the weeds were cleared, the whole backyard looked like it was moving, there were so many red ants. So that was our starting point...
What we've accomplished so far: We had brought 11 horses with us from BC, so we threw up temporary fencing made of old posts and 2X4s and let the horses trample the weeds and eat down the long grass. Nails were pulled from old lumber, cottonwood trunks and branches were cut up and stacked for firewood, we sorted through all the junk, keeping anything that might have potential use down the road and hauling trailer loads of trash away (half-rotted mattresses, broken beer bottles, etc). First year we tried to put in a garden, but the soil was sun-baked, hard packed and alkaline, nothing grew well and water/rain ran over the ground. Winter came, and horses did what horses do and we found ourselves with a worthy pile of horse manure the next spring. We've been using composted manure to amend the soil ever since. Now we have a large garden that grows an abundance of food, which we freeze, dry, process and store. The backyard is landscaped with areas of green lawn, gravel pathways, a large (22 ft across) sunken "firepit" area paved with old bricks from that junk pile; we've planted rhubarb, 15 varieties of berry bushes, cherry and apricot trees (still young). Corrals, paddocks and pens have been built or re-built along with shelters in each for the horses to get out of the weather. A neighbour was tearing down his barn and asked me if I was interested in the old tin siding. Yes! It took a week or so to unscrew all the sheets off the barn, but at the end I had enough to put tin siding on all of our sheds and horse shelters. The old paint had been scoured so thoroughly by the wind over the years that the tin holds new paint beautifully, so now most of the outbuildings are a matching dark blue with white trim (I'm still working on some).
Water: Currently... We have a 30 ft shallow well that pumps from an aquifer. Future plans... we are going to install a solar pump out at one of the pastures this summer, there's an old well there that we have permission to test. If safe for the horses to drink, it will save hauling water out to that paddock. If the solar pump works there, we'll replace the jetpump we currently use on our own well with a solar submersible.
Greywater: The lawn and apricots are watered with greywater from our washing machine (pipe through the wall right above a heating vent, so it doesn't ice up in winter)
Swales, etc: Every spring, run off (manure 'tea') from the corral accumulated in an a natural dip in the ground, so we enhanced this dip, lined it with river rock to keep the weeds down and planted Black Currant and Haskap there... they love it. Currently... veggie garden is watered with soaker hoses on timer. Future plans... supplement with rainwater harvesting from the eaves of our various buildings (tin roofs).
Septic: Currently... you guessed it, a septic system. Future plans... I would like to get rid of it completely and go composting toilet, but Gary is married to his flush toilet so I'm currently researching a biofilter-vermicomposting system that would be a good compromise. Very excited about what I've found out so far.
Insulation, thermal mass, etc: Our 1960's home is surprising well built for passive solar. My brother (an architect who specializes in passive solar design and natural building materials; unfortunately, he lives in Australia, lol) told me there is little we can do to improve on it except perhaps build a solar room on the south-facing front of the house. I'm a little reluctant to do this because right now the sun shines through the large windows in the winter, warming the house enough that the furnace doesn't come on until the sun goes down. Putting a sunroom/greenhouse on the front will cancel that? Summertime the 18" eave prevents the higher sun from shining in and the house stays cool. Other design assets... small north windows, temp-controlled fan in the attic, two brick half-walls divide the livingroom from the kitchen area, which I'm guessing must be for thermal mass, they have no other reason for being there.
Future plans... wow, if I told you them all I WOULD be writing a book. I hauled an old grainery onto the property years ago which I'm working at turning into guest house/tiny house. This is the location for all my experiments, seeing what is worth replicating on the main house and what is not... a solar/wind hybrid system (bought and ready to be mounted this spring), composting toilet, maybe an attached greenhouse on the south side, a 'green roof', the list goes on. RMH is planned for construction this spring in the 'shop' as I mentioned before... it's gonna be a busy spring this year
Hello neighbour. I am about an hour east of Regina so that is probably pretty close to you. I have an old family farm that I am sort of trying to do something with. At the moment there is a lot of garden, a small flock of chickens, and a nice big coulee that only gets used for hiking in.
This winter I have a job taking care of other peoples horses at a boarding facility. So besides being neighbours we have some common interests too.
Hi Leora Laforge, nice to hear from you. It's awesome to be discovering like-minded people in my general area. I was beginning to think they were all in Ontario Sounds like you have a place with tremendous potential. We're located about 7 miles from the South Saskatchewan River and some of her coulees are even closer. No better place in the world to ride
F Agricola, thank you, too, for your welcome. We sold three horses to South Mississippi last year, had a great talk with the buyer, who drove all the way up here to pick 'em up. It was truly a fascinating conversation as we discussed the differences between her hot climate and environment compared to ours.... she arrived in the middle of our first snow storm, lol.
Companion Planting Guide by World Permaculture Association