Just thought i'd update my profile, maybe use this as a progress page as i move down the path
i went ahead and enrolled in Geoffs PDC and it's really a lot of fun, nice community there so i haven't been as active on Permies
anyway, so far i've been wandering around planting and cleaning and reorganizing, have 4 nanking cherries in big pots waiting for the last frost-- they came as bare root and didn't seem to miss a beat , have leafed out already and should have plenty of soil to grow in while waiting to be set out
i also put in another blueberry and raspberry plant, and have gone around plantings from last year with a ring of compost and mulch on top, i also have a pack of micorhyzae starter sorry about spelling
and will be going around with that at some point
most of the plants from last year look fit and ready to take off
i've been doing micro terraces on my first food forest hillside, i know it's not all the thoughtful preparation we're being taught, and i do see one blueberry bush i want to move, but all in all i think it will work out pretty good, i'm getting comfrey spreading around, 5 strong plants from last year i've already transplanted out, and with some luck those five will come right back where i dug these from, and each year spread it farther and farther--i think the trick is to really get a healthy protected stand going and then it will take care of itself, past attempts were quickly destroyed by rabbits and deer
oh well, back to work--if you can call what i do work, seems like i'm having too much fun
amazing how things build on each other, came across about 10 raspberry plants stopping to talk with a neighbor-goofing off and suddenly i have another raspberry patch--they look strong and seem in a good position
running around outside the fence making rubble piles of branches to make it more difficult for the deer to get into the place, started to outline the new pond/rice paddy area by cutting saplings making a path on the perimeter, and all those saplings look like weaving material for more deer fences,,if i can buy a few years without deer damage the food forest should get big enough to hold it's own--also plan at some point to make some bone sauce and am currently fixing the electric fence to start the bait and zap sequence--deer aren't terrible right here, my presence keeps them moving, plus i've disrupted old movements when they've gotten tangled in fences and such that i've sort of established my territory.
the next vermin to deal with will be squirrels, and at this point i'm not sure what exactly i want to do--rat traps and reduce populations or just watch for a while longer-- i've held off so far and am hoping for a reasonable solution, but if they start grabbing too many peaches or tomatoes they will have to go--same with the raccoons etc--maybe the peanut butter electricity will make my garden less attractive
i planted a sort of version of Ianto's intensive greens garden, sugar snaps, beans, kale,lettuces, radishes, beets, all in an area about 5'x5' waiting to see how it all comes up, biggest problem is voles, and they will definitely have traps set out for them--no mercy--i tried flooding one of their tunnels, it was endless, impossible--they have to go--maybe i can find a nice black snake and bring him home for a meal or two
I have baby goldfish in the pond, seems the fish i thought had died just got bigger, and looks like i need to work out a permaculture style of feeding so many new fish-- the older ones have survived several years with no supplements, but it would be neat to have a surplus to sell and give away and i don't think there's enough natural food for a larger number of fish, but i found out they eat lots of different vegetables-lettuces, peas, etc, so maybe that will be a partial answer to buying too much fish food--maybe that aquaculture vegetable-the one that's so prolific, maybe feed them and me
fixing up one of the sheds so i know what is in there and so it is accessible, and then so i can store more stuff in there--a bit of a chore, but it's a little like christmas finding stuff i forgot i had
just another update, baby goldfish are changing color , i'm still fascinated watching them grow, and somewhat gratified that i was able to facilitate the whole process
the other morning i went down to feed them and was challenged by what i think was a cougar on the other side of the pond and back into the woods,, that cat type growl you hear in jungle movies, maybe not quite as dramatic, every step closer to the pond brought another muffled growl-and at one point i growled at it and it growled back louder-haven't been back in there yet, i'm of a mixed mind about the danger of a big cat hanging around vs having my own top predator to scare away the deer. i thought i had smelled a dead animal, and theorize it might have been on a kill and warning me away
anyway, took my guinea back home and locked her in (no sense walking around with bait , and then grabbed the 22 and fired off a few rounds as i walked back to the pond--haven't seen or heard anything else, but have the feeling something is watching me all the time--not really, but i do think about it
got another couple fig trees and a pomegranate tree from edible landscaping, the persimmon finally came back from the roots, but the pomegranate was really a goner, so i b bit the bullet and bought one about 4 ft tall, even on sale it was about 30 $, but i have high hopes--of course with the dry season coming on i really need to connect in the water to the food forest, i already have a black poly pipe laid out on the ground, just need to figure how i want to hook it in, probably just leave it above ground for now, especially with the idea of a ridge pond possibly being put in, all the water connections will change anyway
the new figs are small enough i just put them in bigger pots and plan to bring them inside for the winter--all the other fig trees came back after the hard winter, 2 very vigorously, but two others just alive and struggling to push up the new growth, the cuttings i took didn't do too well, between Lucky randomly tipping them over or just pulling them out, and the funky medium i was using i'd be surprised if any grew,, but i have heard many other methods of starting cuttings, so plan to try them this fall to start the plants over winter, i don't necessarily want a monoculture, but i do want to grow lots of figs in the long range
anyway, Geoffs course he finally assigned the final project, very straightforward-- i've listened to everything at least once, and have started reviewing the material again with the final project guidelines in mind--the final project is a very good way to focus in and implement all the different things that were presented during the course
I always believed this way, so many of the ideas i had already accepted, but to me this is one of the most powerful healers and speakers about natural healing. I'm interested in anyone who might read this and what they think if they take the time to watch.
Thought I would add an interesting experience as a result of the design exercise.
I didn't try and do a plant by plant design of all the areas, but i did a fairly complete description of my zone 1, and even though i have several plants in the ground, i pretended it was a blank slate, and started by whiting everything out except the house and greenhouse and the hugel bed and driveway.
Funny how i walk past all the junk, the "temporary" parking of the motor home in the way , and all the plants that were placed with constraints based on junk that really is temporary in the long run
wow, suddenly things started to look like they make sense as i placed them according to density and size and light, and even supporting structures for the kiwis-- the greenhouse roof is just begging to have something climb on it, so why did i plant the kiwis so far away? because that was the space that i could get to, the other area was overgrown and behind the rv.
They say you spend 100 hrs planning for every hr working, which really hasn't been the case.
I'm still running around doing impulse buys of fig plants and grape vines, but lots of them are going to overwinter in pots in the greenhouse and go out in early spring.-after i do some more thinking on it and where they might do the best job in the best place.
Even the hillside and two year old trees may get moved, (with the backhoe) but that requires an extra lot of careful thought- and a whole lot more careful planning
I'm really tired of walking around stuff and making do when a little thoughtful planning can avoid a whole lot of work
I received my notice that my project was accepted and my certificate is in the mail, so i officially can unvale my website , www.permaculturebob.org someone asked me what boogie woogie had to do with permaculture -i have a few links to some great dance videos- and the only similarity i could think of was that it was fun. So far i only have one link up to the rocket stoves, but don't fear, i'll be putting more up over time.
Oh, almost forgot, remember a few posts back i mentioned that growl and the only thing i could think of was a cougar, well, a couple weeks ago i heard a noise in the middle of the night, and from inside the greenhouse section was shining a flashlight around and saw a red fox making that same noise i thought was a big cat. made me feel better, and a bit silly at the same time
I really don't have much knowledge about these things, but i figured there might be some help in these pages as to technical market expertise and all the things it might take to get something like this going, specifically targeting the areas where the pipeline is proposed at first, but expanding to other areas
I know that this is a storm waiting to happen, and i really don't want to be the major force behind it, but it would be good if enough concerned people saw this and offered some sort of advice, encouragement, or even a willingness to invest if the time ever came
The proposal is to find an alternative investment opportunity for the capitalists who are looking to make a fast buck from fracking and the like
at a meeting tonight it was pointed out that yogaville and buckingham is in a unique position to possibly turn this fracking tide in wva, and while i have no idea if this is possible, i would sure like to see it happen If we can hold the line here it will limit the access to ports for export of natural gas (which they're not supposed to be doing, but everybody knows is coming)
Well, to be perfectly correct about honesty in advertising, i'm no longer 66, i have been around on this planet 67 years, sometimes it seems like yesterday when i was much younger, even a child, and it puts in mind an old eeg study comparing brain waves at different stages of growth, and how things do change up to the late teens, maybe 25, but then after hormones settle into rhythyms and people start to go about a daily life the eeg stays about the same till death or senility, and it's kind of funny to me that periodically i'm suddenly feeling exactly the same as i did back when...
some sort of body/ brain chemistry that has duplicated itself from an earlier time and brought back memories and feelings not usually in the front of my mind
and the story goes that the police bust this nasty drunk who gives them all sorts of trouble, swearing at them , struggling, but the next morning has absolutely no recollection of it, then a couple weeks go by and the police bust the same drunk, only this time he's in a more likeable state and he's joking with the policemen about how much trouble he was giving them the last time- seems he needed alcohol in his bloodstream to remember that
Don't know why i'm talking about all this brain physiology theory except to say that i really don't feel any older
didn't do anything out of the ordinary except celebrate with chinese food--tofu,broccoli in an extra spicy garlic sauce, and today i think i'll use a few carbon atoms and go to a dance and home depot for fire brick for the next iteration of my rocket stove, the old one worked fine, but the cast clay sides didn't hold up well to the wood coming and going.
Oh, and i'm rebuilding raised beds, doubling the depth and making space in the center of the garden for a hoop house, and am totally surprized at the soil transformation in the aisles-- i started with hard clay and rock and sifted soil into the beds, dumping more rock into the aisles, and as i move the beds around i'm finding the aisles have deep soil now, and i'm resifting , but also rethinking the use of rocks on the path, maybe wood chips would be the better bet in the aisles, and use the rocks somewhere else.
Hello Bob: I am just finishing up an Herbalist Course mainly based on the book by Rosemary Gladstar. So far I have found it very interesting. And I have started to collect my "stock". But I worry that here in Montana our growing season is so short I may have issues with growing my own. Take for instance, aloe, seems to be a desert type plant, how will I be able to grow that here? I have also been tinkering with the idea of relocation. I have been talking with a new start up in Fayetteville WV. But now it has become a bit more than just me, I may be getting custody of my grandchildren, 3 of them. Thought I had a path chosen and then someone goes and moves the path a different direction. Oh, I enjoyed the video.
Well, had the first hot shower from the new RMH-- "improved--i think.
new features yet to be installed, waiting for a few firings to go back in and remove outer metal forms from the heat riser-- they are wired around the riser, but i would expect at some point they will need to be removed, so before i add extra copper (and weight) i need to find someone to help me lift the barrel off, inspect the riser, remove the forms, and then set the barrel back in place, reconnect the water coils, add the extra 60 feet,, fire it up and see if the added heat from an 8" riser along with the extra coils produce instant hot water.
If it does i may just forget trying to relocate the water tank for the thermo siphon, but if not, then that may still be on the agenda for later.
Being able to start a fire, turn on the pump and basically start heating the floor immediately would be a great thing, i'm hoping for no more than three hrs of burning to supply hot water and radiant floor heating
right now the worst part of the system is i never really gathered in my firewood and got it under cover, i have some, but in the next week i will need to put on a push to get a lot more under cover to begin drying out, and keep moving piles into the greenhouse for final drying before going into the stove
anyway, this and that, And Karyn, i sent you a PM, did you get it?
Perhaps you've solved your vole problem by now. If not, and IF you have access to a well-used cat box, that has done the trick for me. Voles were killing my pumpkin vines last year. I carefully probed with a bamboo pole to find their tunnel (hard to know just where it lies when they push up so much dirt on top of the ground). Then cat poop was placed in the runway and a small amount of dirt covered the little hole made by the bamboo pole. Until the cat poop degraded into compost, voles avoided the area entirely. In theory, one can always get more cat poop (grin).
p.s. I just read your post about getting your firewood into the greenhouse to dry it out. Around here (76" of rain annually, give or take an inch), we get a lot of wet firewood because we sort of live "where they make the storms" (on the Southern Oregon coast). If you try to tarp firewood, the wind rips the tarps off, or at least manages to get them billowing and the wood gets wet. Or it sweats under the tarp.
My neighbor informs me that this is a "redneck solution" to the problem but it works for both of us. We placed bricks on top of the woodstove, and while one load of wood is burning, another on top is getting dried out.
This does occasionally make for a bit of excitement when some bark falls off and starts to burn on top of the woodstove (giggle). It isn't a technique that you'd want to have to do all the time, but does tend to save one's bacon when needed.
the voles actually are still around, although i anticipate lots of blacksnakes this year. And i have started to wonder if they are really a problem, soil here is not very soft, except the raised beds, and the voles seem to be having a positive impact on depth and quality of soil
also, the reason my wood is wet is poor planning,
our winter burning is about done, but i've already cut bunches of saplings and plan to go around cutting them to length and getting them under cover, next year should find me with an abundance of stick wood for the rocket stove and a lot less trying to split wood or gather it in from standing deadwood just before the snows hit.
and as time goes on and my solar matures past black coils on the roof, i expect to substitute a fair amount of solar heat and hot water for what i'm doing with wood now
The hope is to start heating the mass in the floor sometime around the end of august, so by the time i need the heat in nov / dec, there is a fair amount of thermal mass in the ground well warmed.
I'd like to go into the winter with my floors staying in the 80s most of the time, then maybe kick in the wood around january.
I've got a question: Does it typically go below freezing sometimes in the winter in your area? If so, how in the heck did the fish survive? Perhaps a deep pond (how deep is "deep"?) and a lowered metabolism due to the cold?
If you get mosquitoes where you are (and who doesn't!), the fish ought to adore the larvae in the water in--what--maybe late spring. Yummy (slurp, belch!).
Bob, please continue to keep the rest of us updated on the ups and downs as you forge ahead. Your posts are fascinating and Iv'e gotta hand it to you---you're actually LIVING permaculture!! It's a shaky plank between dreams and reality--one which many may never cross. You're bouncing along on that plank--or is it dancing along (giggle)? Either way, kudos and thanks for giving some of us who are not that educated in permaculture (yet) or that far along in our hopes, dreams and plans, a picture window into its world.
Heart of the Great Dunes Country
Thanks for the flattery, but at this point it's just my life, and i'm not sure how much is really a design.
There's still way too much work.
any irrigation (which i don't do enough of) is either a pump or hand carried, granted the pump is mostly solar, and with a little luck i'll get a little more direct run off into the cistern as i get a real roof in place, but the ground water storage, swales, high ponds, gravity fed irrigation,--or better yet no irrigation needed, is yet to come.
if you want to see a little more
Not a whole lot to talk about right now, but in a couple weeks i may have some actual developments. Fish seem to have come through winter ok, the 6 big ones and one bigger, seem to have made it, although i haven't counted them all in one place at one time yet,, still about 100 of last years crop that are now 2+inches and quite a number smaller dark ones that will change color later.
Also the lotus pond has started to raise babies, the two/ three with the baby i saw last year has turned into about a dozen. Lot's of frogs in that pond, and as small as it is, i suspect they are doing a survival of the fittest there, oh, and the lotus has put up a few leaves.
the lotus pond is small, perhaps 7 feet more or less diameter, 3-4 feet deep, it iced over here and there, but something about it's location, a semi barrier to the north west and it seemed to stay pretty ice free when the deeper pond was still frozen over.
Most of the fish are in the deeper pond, 5-6feet and maybe 20 x 40 more or less
a neighbor said she was transferring fish from somewhere to somewhere else in a five gallon bucket, it froze solid and the fish survived--that is a bit extreme and no one recommends it, but sometimes you get lucky
3- 4 feet is pretty good, they go dormant- sort of, although i saw some of the smaller fish swimming around as soon as the ice started to melt back on the lotus pond.
It's always sort of an experiment, get the best information you have time to find, read as much as you have time to read, and believe what seems right--over time you get a feeling for what should be ok - or not
Treat it all like a game with do overs, don't invest too much in unknowns until they prove themselves (or not) and have fun.
More and more i get that the first part, studying , planning, avoiding mistakes other people have already made, can ultimately speed the process
I'd like to try growing soy and nettles, among other crops. Soy for the obvious food value, and nettles for food and fiber. I think the nettles will do just fine here as they are all over in the woods beyond town, but not sure whether the soy will have sufficient hot weather for the beans to fully mature, unless there is a shorter germination-to-harvest type of soy.
Do you have any plans to try growing soy there? We have a pretty short growing season though. June is has overcast skies and possible drizzles until after the 4th of July. But many years we have the benefit of an "Indian Summer through the first half of October.
i've certainly thought about growing soy in the long term, but for now my main frame and food forest are occupying most of my thoughts- trees and bushes etc, and clearing paths for dams and swales is more than enough to do.
sometimes i think the thing to do is just go through with the backhoe setting levels as i go, piling up all the saplings that i dig up with the backhoe right at the foot of the swale, sort of make a jumble of trees and roots and such on the outside edge of the plantings to sort of minimize deer traffic for a while.
the other thought is to cut saplings and weave them through living saplings at the bottom of the swales to achieve the same end, but that is a lot more labor intensive.
I've just about got one pond area cleared, but it has taken a long time, and sheer necessity of laziness may force me into the other modality of letting the backhoe do all the work, including removing the trees.
all possibilities are open, but i really want to do something before the real rainy season hits hard
A positive regarding the woven fencing vs. piling brush with a backhoe is that deer seem to be pretty good high jumpers, but they are really lousy broad jumpers. A series of three fences which they cannot jump one at a time is said to deter them.
Living within city limits, where others actually feed the deer (old bread--ugh!) has produced begging deer with no desire to eat what wild deer eat. They rampage through gardens, secure in the knowledge that no one and nothing can molest them, short of an occasional large dog taking umbrage to their willful invasion.
They don't seem to care to have to tread on hog panel fencing, however using that is sort of problematic: the cost for one thing, and weeds tend to grow up through it sooner or later and engulf it, and what's the use of having a permaculture garden if all your hugel beds are surrounded by hog panels lying on the ground around them.
Last year the darned deer ate the Liberty apple tree to bits. I wasn't sure it would survive and the predation occurred in just one night. TLC and numerous Dixie cups hung on its branches, each bearing a slice of Irish Spring soap seems to have kept them at bay after that. It was a stop-gap measure at best, at the time, as what is really needed is to convince them that they do not want to come into the yard in the first place.
As they are apt to enter the yard from any corner of the compass, planting a prickly living hedge with some sort of edibles on the outside would not save my bacon (or more aptly, my apples).
The deer tribe just keep multiplying, fueled by old bread (grrrrr!). One of the "feeders" is a friend of mine. She is stone deaf to the notion that she is not really helping the deer at all. They look at her with those big, liquid brown eyes and she runs for the bread bucket. Okay, I'm climbing off my soapbox now :>)
This year I'm trying a different experiment to deter deer: a big dog. A friend down the street owns an enormous half-St. Bernard, half Hound of the Baskervilles, at least from the sounds that come out of that dog. I've extended the invitation for the owner to bring his dog over and allow it to relieve itself all over the yard. So far, he's been concentrating on the back, but if this works, I'll need Kota's "contributions" for the side and front also.
The local deer thumb their noses at coyote piddle and blood meal. Perhaps they are too domesticated to have formed any prejudices against the stuff. They do, however, periodically encounter a large, irate dog who escorts them off the property in record time. Perhaps they have an association between large male dog urine and "the bum's rush."
I hope so!
I have yet to muck with swales, ponds and so on. Being a real "green bean" to permaculture notions, the first water channeling venture will probably be installing a plastic fitting for a garden hose on the underside of the ducks' wading pool and situating the pool uphill on the levee to make use of gravity to provide water pressure in the hose. Those ducks poop EVERYWHERE, including in their wading pool. Might as well make use of the good "liquid fertilizer."
After I asked you about planting soy, it seemed that the question was not so bright. Upon reflection, the thought occurred that soy needs to be fermented to get rid of that chemical on the outside of the bean. Sounds laborious to me. I was considering soy in the quest to shift the dogs to vegetarian meals. Since I'm allergic to soy, I probably won't struggle to grow it here. Too little land and the dogs can probably do as well on a mix of rice, beans, greens, squash, etc.
Your guinea hen is very beautiful. I didn't realize they came in the color purple! Neat video!!
an electric fence may be the answer to your deer problem over the long haul, a good strong shocker, and a wide ribbon type "wire", and periodically fold a few small squares of tin foil in strategic places with peanut butter,
they lick the peanut butter, get shocked and decide that's not a good way to go.
Of course with their stupidity and or determination, it will probably need multiple reps to start, and then periodic ones after that.
I know deer are supposed to be color blind, but they can see a wide tape better than a wire, and the thought of jumping the fence seems to leave their minds once they experience the shock on their tongue / nose
I have multiple tapes up to about 8 feet high, and an inner wire fence around my garden, and at this point they seem to be staying out, but i expect to rework all that once i start to put in ponds and such.
There is also a "bone tar" that both Bill mollison and sepp holtzer use, it requires calcine bones and a lengthy cooking/burning procedure --the result is a nasty smelling thick liquid you can paint on the trees and it is said to protect them for ten years. something i may resort to in my wider plantings
So far the deer are leaving my trees and shrubs alone in my food forest, although they did nip my raspberries a little, but only after eating down a large comfrey plant, so planting lots of comfrey around might serve as a distractant/ alternate food source.
If they are eating bark etc, it is a sign they are trying to get minerals and nutrients not present in their bread, so having some mineral accumulators generously scattered throughout could be what you need to deter them.
I noticed that when they ate the comfrey they left some nice manure deposits, so while my comfrey is not scattered enough to continuously provide for them, and even the comfrey will need protection when it is young, i have hopes that in my mature system it may be a way for me to have animals enrich the system, without the inconvenience of having to care for the animals. chop and drop can take care of what the deer don't eat, and choosing plants that don't compete with surface feeder roots of the trees is a better way to go than grass anyway.
But, for the time being, trying to reroute them far away from my garden and food forest and proposed swales, is going to take a combination strategy, but ultimately i expect to produce sufficiently to feed everybody, including the hunters who take the occasional deer and keep our populations down.
I have some wild ducks down in the creek, saw a pair yesterday driving out, and am hoping once my ponds are well established they will come to the uphill locations as well, although i may decide to bring in some tame ones once the predator problems are a bit more managed.
i decided i didn't want to be slave to a dog, although the temptation to find one of those breeds that protects livestock and harvests it's own food from the wild is very tempting
I thought I'd give you a shout. I've been reading Darrel Frey's book, "Bioshelter Market Garden A Permaculture Farm" in which he mentions another deer deterent system---if you have a fence that the darned things are leaping over, install a SECOND fence about six feet away from the primary fence, and make the "no man's land" a chicken run.
A nieghbor of ours has a very large dog which appears to be half St. Bernard and half Hound of the Baskerville's. I asked the neighbor if he'd bring the dog over and let it leave it's calling card hither and yon around the property in the hope that the deer would be put off from entering the yard any more, once they got the scent of the humongous dog.
Unfortunately, the dog is terrified of the yard. He's really a huge 'panty-waist' -- he just SOUNDS scary. Well, so much for THAT idea!
Some places in the yard have a dense cover of blackberries that are too dense for the deer to push through. Fair enough--those areas don't require a chicken run. This solution might also solve the ongoing dilemma of the neighbor's backyard, which is full of razor grass, blackberries, morning glory and that useless variety of dock. All that stuff has been invading my yard as well. However chickens would probably nibble any invading weeds right down to a nubbins!
In a few other fenceline areas, I can make long piles of firewood Heaven knows, I go through enough of it here where we get 76" of rain a year. The deer most likely won't want to try any broadjump necessary to get over the wood piles. So that leaves some open areas in which to try the chicken run experiment...AFTER, that is, I can get the two compost bins made.
Would like to try a composting "toidy." It seems a scandalous waste of perfectly good carbon, nitrogen and clean water to flush everything down the loo. Still working on finding sources for clean sawdust. The first fellow I found may well be a partial source, but he's also a complete 'squirrel.' Not sure how long I'll be able to endure dealing with him. So am fishing right now on Craig's List for another source as well.
Although I've read that bringing the compost temperature up to 122 degrees for 24 hours will effectively kill the pathogens in human waste products, one would desire the aforementioned waste products and toilet paper to at least degrade into a sawdust-like appearance and not be hot enough to burn plants before using on the garden. I'm in dire need of rich soil or fertilizer...do you have an opinion or technique on how to fairly quickly convert the contents of the bucket under the toilet seat into something usable?
I tend not to talk about it much publicly, cause prevailing wisdom likes the two year policy, at least in official circles which are generally decades behind "new" technologies
Currently i'm using the 18 day method, but because i'm just one person i usually end up saving for about a year to get sufficient volume.
I have a saw mill near by , swdust is not a problem and a very good way to go, but it should be "raw" sawdust. Saw dust from a carpentry shop will be kiln dried mostly and not have the same enzymes etc to aid in the breakdown.
shredded leaves , grass clippings, any sort of fine material will work, sawdust is just real easy and effective.
If you do use these richer sorts of cover, beware of fruit flies and other insects that may travel with the cover. I found that a bucket of reasonably shredded leaves needs to be cycled out about every week or so to prevent buildup of critters, so storing several buckets of cover material waiting to be used may become problematic, but if you harvest it dry enough maybe you can forestall that.
so if you're cutting grass every week that's not a problem and could become part of stacking functions.
anyway, the compost method involves assembling 1 cubic meter of material. A free fall pile will come up to shoulder level, be four or five feet across at the bottom the volume is the biggest part of a successful pile.
, if your nitrogen carbon balance is about right, it will need to be turned every 2 days or so, will heat to max (140-150) in about 10 days and be finished in 18, and you will not be able to see toilet paper or anything else. The overall pile needs both poop and pee to get the right carbon balance. 25-1 poop is about 25-1 already, pee is high nitrogen, sawdust is about all carbon, 120-1, so in the past i have always added some guinea manure as a hot shot when i get ready to start turning the pile. Geoff Lawton doesn't talk about exact temps, but elaine ingham does, and wants the pile to stay under about 140 to keep healthy aerobic bacteria at work, too hot and you go anaerobic not sure which of these mp3s is geoff's discussion about it, but here's a link to their series http://www.networkearth.org/perma/culture.html--It's worth reading and listening to all the stuff in there anyway if you aren't familiar with it
for deer ,6 ft may be a bit too far and a friend told me deer just jumped the first fence, then jumped the second, the fence can be pretty simple, a few strands of electric wire, and occasionally some penut butter on tin foil
deer also will not tread in to a rubble pile of branches, which is something i plan to do, so the 6' space piled up a bit could be an effective barrier also.
again though, when deer are desperate all bets are off, inedibles are eaten, barriers become less effective and it's time to harvest the deer to take the pressure off.
I heard one lady say she had shot a deer and it's carcass was still laying there on the ground and other deer were walking right past it to get to her corn.
I sighed when I read your comments about the deer...sighed because I'm sure that you are 100% right on all you shared. When the deer are hungry enough, they will take big risks /huge leapsfor the huge rewards of a heavily laden apple tree, or delicious veggies.
I may still have a 40 year old fence charger around here somewhere. So, will rusted electrical fence wire still carry a charge? I KNOW I still have a roll of that stuff (again, from 40 years ago). Drat! I'd hoped the 6' chicken run would stop them, but your comments on that one make a lot of sense
And yes, what is needful is for humans to be able to dispatch the deer when they walk into town. Unfortunately, our government, like many others, is wonky and out of whack, and the deer are protected. Never mind that we have miles and miles of territory all around town for them to occupy.
It is probably a good thing though that we are not allowed to discharge a firearm within city limits. I shoot pretty straight, but have neighbors who like to get drunk on weekend nights, and their common sense, even when they are sober, is questionable at best. It's amazing how far even a 22 will go (when unimpeded, apparently close to a mile). A neighbor actually did have shells falling in his front yard, when some fellows were target practicing outside of town! Obviously, they weren't very good shots (grin), since they missed the barrier of dirt entirely.
Thanks for pointing me in some good directions regarding the composting humanure issue. What I want and NEED is compost which is usable in 18 days! A special "thank you!" for the tip on kiln dried sawdust. Okay, it's back to Craig's List to search for someone locally with a small sawmill who is milling their own logs.
Healthy lawn clippings I can do. Have three good sized lawn's worth and none treated with chemicals.
Thanks for the link--I'll watch it and make notes! All good stuff here from you. Thanks!
..."Or you can just grab it and see if it's alive..." (sly bit of humor there, eh?!). Thanks, I'd rather not. The charger used to channel a fairly hefty load of electricity, back in the day. Will need to acquire insulators, then will throw a charger on it and see what it can do. As usual, excellent advice/reminder (to remove the rust at connections). Thanks! Sometimes the pile of "to do" things is so high, and the money needed for spare parts sufficient that I sigh and wonder how or when I'll ever accomplish it all, however putting one foot in front of the other--never giving up--and always pressing forward gets it done.
First, some photos and better descriptions at www.permaculturebob.com
Sorry about dropping the ball on responses, I had at least wanted to keep a record of progress, thoughts, ideas sort of as a meager contribution to the effort.
Things are going well, and i was preoccupied doing some preliminary clearing for dam sites in the main gulley, just enough to hold back most of the runoff and get ready for final earthworks later.
One thing and another, suddenly fall turned to winter and here I AM with a little extra time, and planning next years gardens/work schedule
A friend stayed over last summer and motivated me to start going up in the air with the second story, and taking the tarp off revealed lots of trapped moisture in the roof /ceiling.
He offered help at first and got me started, but then ended up at yogaville more than here helping, so things got very rushed. but in the end i have about 2/3 of the top under a temporary roof structure, some new lumber curing for the real structure this summer, some solutions to making the building code legal--if they ever bother to check, and most of all, seeing the second story started is an inspiration to go ahead and get the permanent roof in place. The water harvest even at this preliminary stage is great, assuming a wind doesn't tear it off, and snow doesn't break it down, i should be well set to go forward this summer.
I had problems other summers with mold and humidity, but with the addition and a trap door in the ceiling to open a cross circulation, it was much drier and cooler than before
The deer and I are in a detente of some sort, I came on a newborn fawn in the middle of my food forest, and they had been visiting leaving droppings and eating comfrey, which was fine.
I really need to keep them away, and as i clear for swales am establishing a rubble barrier that will maybe keep them out of both the garden an food forest. Now the next question is the bears, i had the center leader of a 10 year old peach tree broken down last summer, and the thickness of the broken piece is most likely a bear--this was a year that looked like it might be a good peach harvest too, but I only saw the immature hard ones, by the time i went looking for ripe ones they were stripped clean--whatever critter ate them may have planted a whole bunch of new peach trees. Anyway, that peach was a volunteer, and is really out of sight of my dwelling, and part of the property that has more wildlife traffic in general. The moral of that story, plant valuable trees where you will be around them all the time. I find that just being around is the biggest deterrent to wildlife out here.
rocket stove fuel is much easier to manage this year, more smaller diameter wood that can be cut with hand pruners. And a promise of many coppiced/pollarded trees in place to provide a sustainable firewood harvest for a long time to come. Much easier than trying to use up the cord wood left over from the wood stove.
Fires get hotter faster, less axe work trying to split down the big chunks.
The ponds are still in good shape, found what looked like a small lobster--8inches- in one of the very small lined ponds--how it got there i don't know, was skimming for duckweed to feed the goldfish in another pond and there it was in the net.
transplanted out a bunch of lotuses into other ponds
after about three years of establishment, the berry bushes and such look like they may bear a noticeable crop this year.
second year of feeding suet in winter and more birds hanging around.
Lucky, the guinea is still following me everywhere i let her, regularly rides in the car to visit my mom--i never meant to keep a pet, but...
Looking seriously at establishing some pasture area for possible renting out, also extending invitations to some individuals who may want to come and stay and learn--thinking about holding a permaculture course in the spring.
Probably do some cob work soon if i find enough interest.
Water supply is so much easier with a direct feed from the roof into the cistern, so automatic, no pumping or setting up siphons.
Looking for material to put in an earth tube for cooling in summer and prewarming air in winter,
Also have an idea for using the radiant floor as a source of cool water in summer, passed through a radiator coil with air moving across it to both charge the ground with heat for winter, and cool and dry the air in the house in summer-- The earth tube is more material, harder to set up, but less machinery/ongoing maintenance, but it doesn't warm the floor...
So many different interconnections between heating and cooling and minimal use of machinery--if i find the material for the earth tube i will probably install it, just to have it as a backup.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline now wants to put a high pressure 42" natural gas pipeline from one side of my property to the other, and totally cut me off from my road frontage. yes it will be underground, but even so i'm not crazy about driving over it going an coming--what if i want to start a teaching center, how will it affect that, and of course the most obvious is the existence of the pipeline- whether across my property or not, encourages fracking and burning fossil fuel.
Oh, once again time has further invalidated the title of my post, I'm now 68
I'm a single female (66) doing a permaculture farm in South Western North Carolina. For the deer I finally figured out that Mt. Laurel works. It is very poisonous to them so I hang it anywhere I don't want the to hang out. It repels them nicely, just have to frequently replace it when those big storms blow it away to who knows where. As for voles, my dog digs them up all the time and chows down. His favorite food. He prefers it over anything I can give him. They do soften the soil but they eat roots of plants. They run the mole tunnels usually, as moles come in where the grubs are and clean them out, then the voles, being opportunistic and apparently lazy, use their tunnels rather than dig their own. Reminds me of some people I know (ha!).
Would love to correspond with you on private e-mail.
With appropriate microbes, minerals and organic matter, there is no need for pesticides or herbicides.
Voles can be a massive problem if you let them multiply unhindered( and that they certainly will!). We've got 2/3 acre or more in annual veggies( for us and the goats) and grow about 3000 pounds of food in that area. The voles eat about 500 or more pounds per season. Well, voles and the pocket gophers both.
We do have a cat and she eats her fill but it's not enough to keep them back. And even if the voles just eat some nibbles of a carrot or beet here and there, it makes the roots so that they don't store well in the root cellar. They mould where they've been chewed on.
We finally found a trap that works for voles. If you search for Elliot Coleman and voles online , you'll find his nifty DIY trap. It's a little box with two welcoming vole-sized entry holes on either side. The box has a removable lid to remove the carcasses. And inside you place a couple of mousetraps. "The Better Mousetrap" seems to be more effective. You don't use bait as Elliot Coleman said that voles are smart enough to associate bait with their dead cousins and thereafter will avoid the traps. The voles will enter the hole in the box and nose into the trap in its explorations and whammo. It's really the only way I have found to catch them. We had a huge infestation this past fall. They did a huge amount of damage on trees and shrubs( lots of $$, argh). We are hoping that these traps will help decimate the population.
If there are big mounds, as you described, on the surface of the soil where the holes are, then it's likely to be gophers instead of voles. I don't find that voles make much of a mound as they dig their tunnels. And as someone said already, they tend to inhabit already dug mole or gopher tunnels if they can.
Nice to hear about your permie beginnings! Keep up the good work!
Oh, and if you try the bone paste, I would love to hear about your experience with it, as I'm sure would others. I've been meaning to try it out but haven't been able to find the right cast iron vessels in the flea markets yet.
R.Cloud....that's really cool to hear of your solution with the Mtn Laurel! It doesn't grow here but maybe there's something else that might?
your food production sounds awesome. i make an alcohol tincture (use ethyl for food applications) of black walnut hulls--this is a very effective anti fungal --I think there's probably a way to use actively aerated compost tea if you find the right organisms to combat the molds --but i'm not that advanced in my study yet
my actual vole problem (for whatever reason) seems to be subsiding for whatever reason. One possibility is a very healthy population of black snakes.
and i put that off to keeping no domestic carnivores (cats and dogs).
other possibilities might be that i have stopped most of my tilling which makes root masses in the soil more robust and probably more difficult to navigate--also, maybe there is just more to eat?
I think the reason the tunnels were so pronounced is simply that there is not much subsoil to tunnel through, so with lots of clay and rock they tend to stay closer to the surface most places, although i have also noticed some fairly deep tunnels when i've gone exploring them in my deeper beds. Sometimes i shoot some water down just to see how long the hose will run before a tunnel floods-- when it stops running i'll let you know how long it takes
Location: SW New Mexico, 5300'elevation, 18" precip
Your anti-fungal solution sounds interesting....though I wonder if I would want all my root veggies tasting like black walnut? Wonder if the compost tea as an anti fungal would accelerate the deterioration of root veggies in their sand bins over the winter?
Wow, wish I could say the same about our vole situation subsiding. We have had them proliferate over our three years here. Maybe we're feeding them too well? Maybe you are not feeding your well enough! I have seen garter snakes eating them whole and we do have a lot of garter snakes. But , gosh, we'd have to have one snake for every three voles, the way the voles procreate, and we don't have nearly that many snakes!
We don't till either, so I don't know that that's the problem here. But we do have 17' of sandy clay loam and no rock. Seems to be an ideal consistency for tunneling( if you ask the gophers and voles).
I've tried running water down the holes too over the years....for hours.... only once have I had a gopher stick it's head out it's exit hole gasping for breath. I think they have some genius engineering skills, with escape routes in case of flooding.
I would just treat the bitten edges, and think it would e quite effective.
The compost tea ideais really just thinking outloud, i have no reason to believe it would work except perhaps if there was some competitive fungus or bacteria that might provide a protective shield around the veges.
I'm really an amateur, but wholeheartedly would like to be able to extend the permaculture principles right down into the microbial world, finding ways to get the microscopic critters to work for us--maye there's some enzyme or something in vole saliva that would be exactly what some microbe loved to eat, and while eating it formed a membrane protecting the sweet potato or whatever from further harm
heck, maye there's a group of microbes that might repel the voles in the first place--wouldn't that be a hoot
I have been cultivating a fair amount of comfrey, maye the remaining voles are more focused on that now, and i don't notice since there's so much of it
seems like castor bean plants are also a pretty effective plant against them, maybe cultivating the micro organisms associated with that plant and applied in the tea to the garden might make them think twice
The health of the soil starts with the microbes. Earthworms have an enzyme in their gut which kills E.Coli, staph and strep and cleans up pathogens in the soil as they move through it, by eating and digesting it and also the enzyme which exudes from their bodies. Perhaps there is something with voles too. All things in balance. I think Permies has an article on voles and the healthy balance if we use the search engine.
With appropriate microbes, minerals and organic matter, there is no need for pesticides or herbicides.
Location: SW New Mexico, 5300'elevation, 18" precip
I've done a search Faye, and not found any other threads talking about voles, which is surprising to me. Is there something I am missing when I do my search?
Fascinating about the earthworms transforming pathogens! Not surprising though. Left to her own devices, Nature is quite capable of self regulating.
There's another method that Rudolph Steiner suggested to repel voles: trap and kill a pregnant vole; skin it and then burn the skin to ashes; mix the ashes with water, potentize( ie stir vigorously for awhile) and then dilute some more and then spray on area that you want to repel the voles. It's very homeopathic. All this, of course, needs to be done while Venus is in Scorpio....which is why I haven't tried it yet....I keep missing the window which only happens once a year or so. Next time is September of this year.
One thing with searches, I usually go down to the "Search Forums" list and select the top one, "All Available." I often can't find old posts that I know are up here, because I want to cross-reference them from a different forum and the search function automatically keeps me in the original topic until I re-set it.
Although deer, voles, etc. are definitely in plentiful supply, in general, wildlife are a lot scarcer on the ground since we came along and domesticated so much of the planet.
(Google "xkcd.com land mammals by weight" for a scary graphic illustration.)
I try to exclude critters from specific areas only, leaving plenty of wildlife corridor and access to our pond - or just plant lots of extra to share. But I'm hardly growing my own food supply up here, and the farms where I get my vegetables, fruits, beef, and pork certainly have their fences, dogs, and protective systems to a greater degree than I do.
There's a milky-sapped plant that they said voles didn't like in Portland, not that great for people either, but if you'd rather have a weed than vole damage it's something to look up.
Ah, I didn't know about the reset, Erika. Thanks for shedding some light on that for me!
Now I am finding lots of pest posts!
I will have to look into the repellant plant that you spoke of. I know castor oil can be a good repellant, but gosh, that's a lot of work spraying when we are dealing with almost an acre. And I really want to find a less labour intensive, more self- regulating kind of solution, like ...eeeek.....hundreds of snakes. ( Where did you find a source to buy garter snakes Paul?)
I like the suggestion to put dog or cat turds in their holes. I was taking that thought a bit further and thinking fox poop might work as well, being a natural predator and one that we have a lot of around here....just not in the garden where the problem is. What if I got some fox scat and made a dilution with water and treated the holes? I know they suggest fox urine for repelling voles....it's a bit harder to come by though.
We do have a lot of wild area around the garden for the voles. For some reason they prefer mangel beets and carrots to burdock root ??
Well, I turned 69 last month, guess I'm another one of those grumpy old men, single farmers with no real heirs.
Anyway, this update finds me actually with a start date to the month long backhoe rental and working like crazy to get pond sites and swale lines cleared of the scrub trees and all so the backhoe can work.
I have put out some tentative feelers about having a pdc with some local green orgs, but maybe I'm too remote or just not specific enough with start dates.
I believe that really to start classes I need to wait for spring when the main frame water design starts to perform and the place is lush again. This is the right time to work with a backhoe, winter rains haven't really started, weeds aren't growing/spreading to disturbed soil making cover crops and all a bit more leisurely. The work I did this past spring was very successful, I had lots of extra water for irrigation--albeit with a pump. I was able to get the working parts of a small waterfall into the fishpond established. It is set up so water can be recirculated from the pond through the waterfall and gravel to be aerated and filtered. Things are coming along very well. Gardens are being enlatged, permanent plantings are starting to bear fruit. Fish survived snapping turtles and herons to make it another year.
Gee, another year gone by, and lots of changes. This time last year I was debating on when to bring in the backhoe, watching weather forecasts and gearing up for a month of hard work. What a miserable time.
I started out with about three days or so of good weather, enough to get the first dam well up when the rains hit. I had decided to build without a drain but intermittent rain and difficulty getting the water out of the hole made me finally install a drain. It took twice or three times as long as I expected, and building the larger high gully dam also was plagued with equipment failure and bad weather, so I didn't get everything done that I would have wanted to.
Still, there have been major changes in the gully flows, with much less water running directly to the creek.
The first dam actually overflowed when I was away and I moved about a yard and a half of clay from a contour dam nearby, tediously sorting wood, clay, rocks to repair the hole--it could have been much worse.
The upper dam filled and then slowly emptied over the summer- drought conditions still hanging on now and the stocked catfish may not have made it through, but I'm hoping some are dug into the mud waiting for the water levels to increase and or temps to rise in spring.
I spent a lot of time doing hand work around all the dams, and there's still lots to do. But I'm just going to hire a local backhoe operator for four hours to dig a shelf and build up the first dam so it is out of danger. Hopefully that will happen before the rains start in earnest.
I did get the framework in place for a better roof over the top part of my main structure. It is still covered with a mix of metal, fiberglass panels and tarps, and parts of the structure need beefing up, but overall it was a major feat getting it all uncovered and recovered without too much rain damage--seemed like it waited to rain just about every second or third day. Not enough to keep ponds full, but enough to force me to do the roof piecemeal, uncovering small sections, trying to get the old roof structure out of the way, then building the new roof --difficult to explain, tedious to do, but with some luck it is the beginning of a permanent roof. I like things that are permanent and get better with age.
This year was the first ram pump build (what was I waiting for?)
first real amount of grape harvest, also first amount of shade from the vines.
first year to get several blueberries off one bush
first year to have some figs ripen from outdoor plants
started a new batch burner redesign of the trust RMH--so far very mixed reviews, still under development
Things really are moving forward, sometimes it's just a little difficult to see.
Anyway, it's still just another day in paradise, and I wouldn't trade it--
Well, just thought I'd update my situation a bit since,things have gotten really strange. With a sudden inflow of cash things have gotten quite a bit easier, albeit the extra money seems more like an added responsibility. I would hate to wake up a year from now and find out that I wasted the money. I'm speaking of signing a deal for the pipeline easement which has compromised both Permaculture development and selling the land as a housing development--assuming the pipeline continues to force it's way through the maze of regulations.
Anyway, the complication is that my mother is now invalid. Her status needing help once a week with housework and meal preparation has turned into 24/7 care, the bulk of which is falling on me. So while I'm camped out at her place, my place is mostly going to pot. (and not the good kind) I've already had the beginning of a dam washout--not terrible right now, but a definite warning and beginning example how cutting corners on dam construction can dramatically shorten dam longevity.
I had always planned to come back soon with a backhoe rental to reinforce everything, make ponds bigger, dams taller and wider, well developed swale systems to handle overflows, not to mention plantings to enhance production. And with just a little luck those things will still happen, the small required repairs at this stage are trivial but a clear demonstration of how a sudden 4 inch rainfall can overwhelm even an empty pond.
This whole experience of prolonged dying and( I anticipate) the clean up afterward is a new experience to me. But in my own mind, even watching my mother (92) going steadily down, I still don't see my own death, perhaps a greatly delayed sense of youthful immortality. I attribute this psychology to my own good health, and except for occasional accident, freedom from trouble in my body. My only advice to others would be to stay away from doctors, they will make you sicker, cultivate a vegan/ plant based life style asap (it only gets more difficult as you get older), and take a good course in herbal/natural healing. You really need to be prepared to handle your own medical emergencies--even if it is just the occasional saw dropped on your toe, or bout with lyme disease.
Of course the caveat here is, even the most skilled healer can't save someone that doesn't want to be saved. So maybe the optimism and purpose created in a Permaculture lifestyle is another good way to stay young and healthy.
One thing that does happen with age is an ability to slow down and make better choices (if you've been paying attention at all). In Permaculture this is reflected in the principle of observation.
Maybe being confined during my mother's death is the universe's way to keep my expenditures down while I consider how best to spend my newfound opportunistic resource. Maybe Tesla stock if there's any left overs after machine rentals and plantings.
another update, with a new/used backhoe, i'm working the backhoe at least as much as I'm working on the backhoe -repairing it has turned into a new occupation, but the enormous things a backhoe can do when it is running make all the repairs worthwhile. I bought it cheap-relatively- so I expected some serious maintenance, and so far I installed seals on a boom cylinder --successfully- and now am waiting for delivery of a new steering cylinder since the repair was dramatically unsuccessful--I lost my patience and hit a soft aluminum piston with a little too much force.
Also juggling in periodic trips to my Mom's house, moving stuff out, and later this fall will be up there full time working on selling it.
Gardens and such still around even though they were low priority, always adding a few new trees and vines etc.
new little ponds, tarot growing like mad--allocacia anyway, I'm not sure if it's a food crop, but it certainly is a good experiment. new garden areas , and extra topsoil from clearing extra areas for the ponds.
I can certainly see how designs may seem very slow for a long time, but then it's like I hit a critical mass and things start developing independently of my plans.
spending a bit too much time weeding wire grass in the strawberries,, seems like a battle I may have to retreat from and see about some alternative method. Hand weeding sucks.
But the rest of it is loads of fun.
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Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop