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New to permaculture ~ beginner question  RSS feed

 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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I actually just started reading about permaculture yesterday, while on a quest to learn about raising pigs and cows... (sorry, I am a meat eater too). I hope being a meat eater doesn't exclude me from the world of permaculture; if it does, I might as well stop before I get started. I do find the whole concept to be VERY interesting, and really want to learn more.

I'm really not sure "where" I should post this, hopefully this is the best forum (or should I go to the critters section?? As one of my many questions involves using the concept with a couple animals as listed above. So many questions, not sure where to start, but I will continue to read/learn as I love the ideas presented.

Just a little background information: I have just in recent months began a quest to reinvent myself. I grew up on a homestead kind of farm, it's just the way we did things back then, that some people today call prepping. However, that was 40ish years ago, and I've forgotten much of what I might have learned as a child. So, I am learning about "many" things, all at once. We just planted our first small garden ever this season, and raised our first chickens from babies. I was so excited when we collected our first eggs!

I would like to get a couple pigs, and perhaps one calf, maybe a goat or two. As we are not knowledgeable enough "yet" to raise them for breeding, these will mostly be for meat, milk etc. and everyone has to start somewhere, right?. We have just cleared roughly 8-9 acres(not sure how much exactly) of land and I would like to learn how to apply the permaculture concept in with the raising of the animals and gardening.

Questions:

We have completely newly, cleared acres on one part of our property with the exception of a few live oak trees. No fence, and nothing but soil some roots at this point. We seem to have good soil here (we live in SE Georgia) it is hot, humid and frequently VERY DRY.

#1 Is it possible to use some type of plant etc as a fence that would be sufficient as a barrier for said animals where there is absolutely "no fence" up yet? Is this even a reasonable option at this point if I would like to get pigs in the next few months, or perhaps next spring?

#2 Should we plant something now rye, wheat, oats something just to begin working on repairing some of the damage to the soil?

#3 Is there a specific place I can go to read/learn more about using the permaculture concept with homesteading animals "together"?? There is probably not a guild in this area, as there are mostly old time farmers here, if they still do farming at all.

Any information, links, help is greatly appreciated as I have much to learn, not only about permaculture, but homesteading in general. TY again!
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Animals are part of an ecological deisgn, just like they are part of ecosystems. Just to start conversation with some general ideas...
1. In my experience when you know waht you are doing you need 5 years to develop an animal proof fence, and goats are escape artists. Using electricity seems like a common approach.
2. If soils are damaged then tap rooted crops (mustard, root crops) and legumes (clover etc) are good. Consider manure trees that also produce forage, as many animals and particularly goats are browsers as much as grazers.
3. Mollison's deign manual is the best single source of PC concepts, and he gets into mixing animals into different systems.
Water management can strongly affect how you layout infrastructure, and since your droughts seem to be potentially intense, I'd consider water first. In general permaculture designs seem to lean toward paddock management to maximize control over grazing pressure, if you are using swales to capture water, this might affect stock routes, fencing, and the production of cut and drop forage crops and hedgerows.
Pigs following root forage crops seem like a common approach to preping land for a next stage of development.
 
John Polk
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Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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As Paul says, it will take time to grow hedges, and pigs 'n goats will destroy them before they get a chance to grow.
Portable electric netting is available which will work long enough to let your hedge grow.
As an example: http://www.premier1supplies.com/fencing.php?mode=detail&fence_id=1
(Nobody seems to make a pig version, but several hog raisers I know use the sheep fence.)

Do not feel 'out of place' here. The majority of permaculturists consider animals as an important part of the design. Besides meat, eggs and milk, their manure is an important nutrient that helps feed your soil. They can also contribute greatly to brush clearing and weed control.

Planting a winter wheat or winter rye (they'll be ready for harvest next summer) is common in colder climates (don't know about the south). Even if you don't grow them for your kitchen, the chickens will love them. You don't even have to thresh them, as the chickens will do it themselves in their spare time.

I would certainly plant something now/soon. Even if it winter kills, it will give you good green manure for your pastures next spring. Their roots will improve your soil texture now, and as they rot after harvest.

Good luck, and welcome to permies.com...search around, as this site has a wealth of knowledge about plants, animals, and homesteading plus a lot more.

 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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Thank you for the welcome, and both for replying. I will continue to do more research here, and check out the recommended book. Is Mollison's deign manual good for a total beginner like myself?

Since we have the land cleared, I am thinking as suggested we will just plant "something" to begin repairing the soil. Even if all we currently have are the chickens, every bit helps, and I assume that whatever is not eaten will turn into good compost material. Just what to plant is the problem. I really didn't want to clear the land, but all we had was pine trees, straw and palmetto bushes with a few bushes/trees I didn't know what they were. I just didn't see being able to have pasture of any kind there that would grow. We still have quite a few acres with the pines and palmettos on the other side of our property, which we left untouched. Not sure what to do with that either, as I don't think there is enough forage to put any animals in the area, and it too is not fenced.

I want to spend time learning about the PC concept so I can do it properly, and not approach it backwards. Having the cleared acres should make it easier to apply, if I can just get the basic concept of it down, and grow as I learn.

Thank you again!
 
LaLena MaeRee
Posts: 148
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Welcome to permies! Personally I think you already did better than I did when I found permaculture, this forum here is one of the best resources for information. One of my next favorite resources is a youtube page, they also have a website. Peak Moment is the name, you can browse through the 30 minute episodes to find ones that apply to or interest you. They have visited homesteads of all kinds, and they present the episodes in a way that is easy to watch. They do visit other types of people and have episodes about anything from peak oil to raising chickens. My best advice is don't forget to take breaks, I have blown brain cells trying to overcram.

Edit: I just bought a book I think would be great for a beginner, and it is a how-to, not a what-is. It is "The Ultimate guide to Permaculture" by Nicole Faires. She has a website too, and twitter and all that.
 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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Thank you for the recommendations LaLena. I will check those out now. I certainly am not ready for a "design" book just yet, and I trust you that the book will help me understand the how to. I think for the moment, I will do as you and others have suggested and just continue learning via the internet as I find more information here than my brain can process after hours and hours of reading anyway! lol Brain overload for sure! Perhaps later I will get more into the "design", but as I said, I just do not want to approach the concept backwards.

Yesterday I went from ground covers, to pigs, then to composting and I'll be darned if I can figure out HOW I found myself reading about solar ovens! I just have so many things I want to learn about that are on my list of things to do, that I am easily lead astray.

Going to run check out the link you gave. Thanks again!
 
LaLena MaeRee
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omg damn those solar ovens, that same topic swindled two hours from me one day! They do look handy though, don't they?
 
Marianne West
Posts: 131
Location: Lemon Grove, CA
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I can relate to blowing braincells while cramming and to running around trying to get everything I read implemented at once. I think one of the best advice I have gotten is to slow down, observe, make a plan......... Being somewhat impatient, this is hard for me, but I see the value. it takes much more time to redo things than to do them right in the first place. that said, throwing down a cover crop seems like a good idea. From what I have been reading and hearing, it is best to seed with a mixture of things. whatever grows in your area now. And don't forget plants many consider a weed - things like dandelion, purse lane and so forth. Also, I found that sometimes seeds are way more expensive than buying the same item in your organic co-op or market. I.e. Fava beans. Great to fix nitrogen in the soil, green manure, chickens love to eat then - the greens and fresh beans, heck, I like to eat them. here they grow in the wintertime. I paid $ 1.99 at my local organic nursery for a shot glass (not very many beans ) and maybe $ 4.00 for a couple of pounds at the market - they all grew just fine.......
 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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Marianne West wrote:I think one of the best advice I have gotten is to slow down, observe, make a plan......... Being somewhat impatient, this is hard for me, but I see the value. it takes much more time to redo things than to do them right in the first place.


Thank you so much for posting Marianne! Sounds like we have similar problems with being impatient. We do not have a gazillion $$ to just "hire someone", and have it all done right the first time; that would take most of the "joy" out of it for me anyway. I want to "learn while I grow", because if I do not, then I can not "share" what I have learned.


Marianne West wrote:that said, throwing down a cover crop seems like a good idea


I believe that is what we will do for now and hopefully that will allow more time for me to learn more about "how to do it right the first time".. I believe figuring out what to do about the "water" situation will be the most difficult as we have for the last 8-10 not had a lot of rain in our area; this year being an exception.

I do wish we had things in our area like the organic co-ops, heck co-ops of any kind would be nice! I would even travel for a ways to find "organic" seed, organic farming knowledge, non-hybrid etc. but I just do not think there is anything in my area within 100 miles. Did I say I live in a lil' "old" one red light town?? lol


 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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A good place for southerners to get seeds is http://www.southernexposure.com/

They are based in VA, and specialize in varieties that do well in the South.
Good people to deal with. (They are one of the few places left where you can buy 'tater onions.)



 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Me Wagner wrote: Is Mollison's deign manual good for a total beginner like myself?



I can't think of a better place to start!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1422
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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Me Wagner, I noticed you are a 'neighbor' here in the SouthEast U.S.

I suggest planting some mustard seeds (different varieties if you can find them). And any other greens that you can find.

That will give you some nice greens to look at over the winter. Young leaves are good raw in salads, larger ones sauteed quickly in bacon fat and eaten by themselves or mixed in with rice or scrambled eggs.

The greens are so easy to grow, the mustard especially will turn into sprays of beautiful yellow flowers in the spring, the bees will love you for it, and then into seed that you can turn around again and plant in the fall. Doesn't really matter where you plant it.

Then when the hot weather is here again just cut the plant off at the base and let the roots decay in the soil.

That is a 'quicky' way to get started with something in the ground while you plan your bigger adventures in permaculture.
 
Ivon Carter
Posts: 11
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Hello guys, we are looking for a land at this moment. So, do you already have land? I am interested, what should I look for when I am buying a land. I know that I have to see is there a water supply and good approach to the land, but for other factors like pollution, noise, is that just luck??
 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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Jeanine Gurley wrote:Me Wagner, I noticed you are a 'neighbor' here in the SouthEast U.S.

I suggest planting some mustard seeds (different varieties if you can find them). And any other greens that you can find.

That will give you some nice greens to look at over the winter. Young leaves are good raw in salads, larger ones sauteed quickly in bacon fat and eaten by themselves or mixed in with rice or scrambled eggs.

The greens are so easy to grow, the mustard especially will turn into sprays of beautiful yellow flowers in the spring, the bees will love you for it, and then into seed that you can turn around again and plant in the fall. Doesn't really matter where you plant it.

Then when the hot weather is here again just cut the plant off at the base and let the roots decay in the soil.

That is a 'quicky' way to get started with something in the ground while you plan your bigger adventures in permaculture.


TY, for the suggestion of mustard! I love mustard! They are my favorite green. I love them boiled, wilted, fried, in salad, pretty much any way I can get them! I believe I will give them a try, as well as some turnips, then plant rye grass in some areas further away. I read "some where" that rye grass has roots that grow REALLY, REALLY deep, and I figure this will help start amending the damaged soil. I'm not even going to amend the soil at this point with compost etc. I just want to see what will grow if I just throw it out, and let it do its own thing. If it works, good, and if not then I will know. Only thing is, I think some dirt was "brought in" to level the land, so it really isn't "my soil" which was much better I think. PS I will have to talk with you some time about how/when to collect the seeds for mustard Have you tried kale or spinach? I love both of those as well!

We do not have a tractor (although we are considering buying my Dads old one) but we have a friend with a kubota (sp?) that has harrows, but that is about it. We will be doing all of this by hand, hand tools and a tiller and for 6 or so acres (the cleared area), that is a lot of hand work for 2 old people. My biggest concern is that the rain will stop, and nothing will grow. During the summer when we had our garden, it was like a dust bowl, and we had to water, water, water every single day. I say "we" very lightly because I am the one interested in most of this, and am trying to get hubby on board and "excited" about doing any of it. Now that I've started trying to learn about PC and how to apply the concepts, he keeps saying we don't have a tractor, and that is a lot of stuff to do by hand!

@ John ty for the link, I will check them out in a bit.
@ Ivon, we have had our land for 15 years, its just that we had SOME land cleared because we had no where to plant or begin with our "homestead" ideas. It has only been in the last week that I have found out about and started reading about the PC concept so I am no help on "what to look for", but I am sure some of the other poster here can help. Good luck with your search!
 
Me Wagner
Posts: 24
Location: SE Georgia Zone 8B
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I wanted to add this so that anyone who might read can give suggestions.

All (18 acres) of the land we have (including the above mentioned cleared land) has not been farmed, or had any kind of human amendments/intervention/deposits/or whatever the word is I am searching for, in more than 40 years. Well, one small plot we planted a garden in this past season, and the small area our house/yard is on (maybe 3/4 acre). Otherwise, it has seen no chemicals, no fertilizers, no compost, etc. added by humans. I would like to try to keep it as "clean" from pesticides, fertilizers, etc. as possible.

If I seem rather anxious with questions etc. it is because I am trying to learn how to do these things (even the planting of grass, mustard, etc) w/out doing more than I have to do to the soil as I want it to be suitable pasture for my chickens, and hopefully a couple pigs, and a cow.

TY ALL for suggestions, help and information along my journey.
 
Marianne Cicala
gardener
Posts: 681
Location: south central VA 7B
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bee books forest garden fungi solar trees
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Hey Me -
I'm in the wonderful S.E. as well. I'm not very "long in the tooth" in this world of permie, but through trial & error and a lot of reading I'm climbing up the info ladder. One thing you have to keep in mind, with pigs especially, in this part of the country is they need a lot of shade. They will get badly sunburned here otherwise. Fast growing trees like crepes & willows (if there's a boggy spot) work very well. For an understory of shade with taller trees, we use a lot of knockout roses as they tolerate our dry/hot summers and grow 3' per year. I wack mine down to about 2' each spring so they top out around 5' and have foliage aka shade all the way to the ground.
good luck in your adventure - hope you have as much fun as we do!
Marianne
 
Ed Colmar
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Hey Me Wagner.

Welcome to the community.

If you don't have anyone doing permaculture nearby, books are going to be crucial.

Mollison's Manual is a must own for sure, though for a total newbie there might be a few other options before digging into the deep theory.

I found "edible forest gardens" to be much more accessible with more real world examples, and real world resources. You can start here. Get both volumes as they need to go together.

Edible Forest Gardens on Amazon

Also you should really consider taking a small trip to attend a permaculture design certification course.
 
Ivon Carter
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I heard also that Bill Molison's book "Introduction to permaculture" is great! And I am also thinking about a course. Can someone recommend me where can I take one and what is the average price for permaculture courses
 
Marianne Cicala
gardener
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Location: south central VA 7B
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Ivon Carter wrote:Hello guys, we are looking for a land at this moment. So, do you already have land? I am interested, what should I look for when I am buying a land. I know that I have to see is there a water supply and good approach to the land, but for other factors like pollution, noise, is that just luck??


Morning Ivon,
Best advice I can give is be patient and take your time. We literally took a few years of active search before finding our land. My husband is an artist/blacksmith and had been involved with Penland School of Craft in the NC mountains for years - that was our initial thought. Then the realization of snowy, cold winters on a mt. top in old age make us rethink that, so we decided on rolling hills. We then made a long list of wants and narrowed that down to priorities. aka not farmed in decades, river or creek, springs, forest. We wanted privacy so we decided on a minimum number of acres. I don't remember how many parcels of land we walked - many dozens. When we bushwacked our way around this property, we knew it immediately. We're 1.7 miles off the blacktop road, started with a bulldozer plow-through with a turn around. It's been a fast 15 years, but when you get the opportunity to create your environment, there's nothing better! Don't settle, be patient.
M
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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welcome and read read read...I believe the best books to read are gaia's garden by Toby Hemenway, The country encyclopedia, all of Molllisons books, Sepp Holtzers book, etc..read read read..there are some good free sources online too..you can search here to find book lists but start with the ones mentioned here on this forum.

 
Ivon Carter
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Thanks Marianne I have to be more patient, and go in a longer search for a land. And when I find it, I'll guess I will know that that's the one like with everything else
 
Brian Cantley
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Location: Sprague River, Oregon
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I'm in a similar situation of starting out and reading up on this huge subject. I've watched a bunch of videos and especially was impressed by the stable idea: Start with water. sepp holzer seems to use that approach and it just seems right. So check out vids on swales and ponds. There are quite a few around. I'm working on ponds and swales on my 6+ acres here in Michigan, and I'll be working on hedges for property and paddock next spring.
 
David Wright
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At the risk of stating the obvious, have you watched YouTube videos of Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm? He does a great job of explaining how animals fit in and play an important role in permaculture.
 
Linda Brewer
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I'm also new and do not have acres of land but I grow vertically as well as on the ground in a very small area. This coming season I want to try Hugelkultur. Seems reasonable to me. I have been reading and moving along the web reading as much as I can and belong to NOFA so I can support organic farmers. I also belong to CSA's within my state.

Hello Everyone!
 
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