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permaculture without livestock?  RSS feed

 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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I'm curious to hear from other people who have developed permaculture systems that they've designed without livestock.
Not "I'll bring in guinea pigs when...", but with no intention, ever.
I'm not really thinking about apartments, which are a rather different situation,
but places where there could be some form of livestock if it was really wanted.
I have a very small suburban place, all turned into garden/fruit trees/wild areas etc.
I decided years ago not to have animals, aside from my soil organisms and as many birds as I can encourage
I'm well aware that leaving animals out means even less of a closed loop than a system with animals in it,
but I'm happy with my system and am definitely not looking for ways to squeeze chickens in!
I try to grow plenty of carbon crops, and a local charity delivers sacks of sheep shit as part of their fundraising...
 
Judith Browning
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hello, Leila ...After living for ten years with goats, horses, rabbits, chickens, a pig and ducks we have spent the last thirty years without livestock until the last six months when we got guinea fowl for tick control not poop so I dont know if we count.......there are only two left we didn't want poultry...we were just desperate. We grow a lot of cover crops and find that most perennials do well with very little input. We fertilize with green manures, the pee bucket, ashes, leaves and crop residues.
 
Leila Rich
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Judith Browning wrote: we got guinea fowl for tick control
Ticks are yet another thing I'm happy not to have in NZ-especially if the cure is guinea fowl,
who in my limited experience are totally bonkers and yell all the time.
I've never thought about people having animals because they need them, while not really wanting them.
Mind you, I can imagine guineas being in this category...
I guess we ideally combine needs with wants, and come out feeling like we're in charge, rather than doing stuff because we have to!
 
Jen Shrock
pollinator
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Location: NW Pennsylvania Zone 5B bordering on Zone 6
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I am with you on the not wanting critters. I have my pet dogs and that makes me happy. I did end up inheriting three chickens, but I have realized that I really don't want them. I will care for them and they will live a good life until it is over, but I won't be getting more when they are gone. I think we have it drilled into us that, for a system to be permaculture, you HAVE to have critters in it. I say why? Isn't permaculture about making a system that works for you? It doesn't have a truely hard and fast set of rules.
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b)
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Leila Rich wrote:
I try to grow plenty of carbon crops, and a local charity delivers sacks of sheep shit as part of their fundraising...


You are not truly practising without animals then, are you? Just because they are in an unseen part of the system. Not meant as a criticism or "ha, caught you"!
 
Jen Shrock
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Didn't you mean crittercism? haha
 
Leila Rich
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Jennifer Thorp wrote:
Leila Rich wrote:
I try to grow plenty of carbon crops, and a local charity delivers sacks of sheep shit as part of their fundraising...


You are not truly practising without animals then, are you? Just because they are in an unseen part of the system. Not meant as a criticism or "ha, caught you"!

Leila Rich wrote:designed without livestock....aside from my soil organisms and as many birds as I can encourage

Maybe I should have been more specific: designed without domestic livestock on the site.
 
Leila Rich
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Jen Shrock wrote:Didn't you mean crittercism? haha

A critercism wittercism
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Livestock is a lot of work. It seems to me to stretch the bounds of "obtain a yield" sometimes. Poop is a yield, but not sure if it's enough.

The winter is really the thing that makes obtaining a substantial yield tricky. There has been a lot of snow and freezing weather this year (winter!) All I have now is chickens; I find myself being grateful for that. Lugging water, buying more food, worrying about cold and hungry cold predators...

We do have so much wildlife here. I can't help but think eating the wild animals would be healthier, cheaper and less labor intensive than eating our own animals.
 
Zach Muller
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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In this video David Holmgren mentions systems without domestic animals which he calls a type of "vegan" permaculture. He is referring to Fukuoka and people in the east who may be living vegan lifestyles and farming. Sounds peaceful to me.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PjlNEbo8wE8&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DPjlNEbo8wE8[/youtube]]david h video




Sometimes I personally find having chickens chaotic or a point of stress, but other times their activity and presence is useful for preparing garden beds, or eating eggs for breakfast. The more control I have to exert over them the less I enjoy having them, so building tractors, putting them in, moving the tractor is not inspirational. I look forward to the time they can be set loose in the different paddocks and be more hands off. If I never get there with the system, then I may not always keep animals.

On the other hand if I bought some acres of weedy forest, I would want goats to help like geoff lawton does in his goat reforestation video.

---------
Off topic, recently is either forgot how to get youtube links to show up, or something has changed slightly. In my old posts the video would display, but now only text. Any clues on the problem with that yt link?



 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Part of my non livestock design includes keeping habitat for wild animals, like toad abodes, stakes driven into the ground for bird perches, and rock piles for snakes.

Also, I mow my meadow in a the year rotation only mowing a third of it every year. This is on the advice of a wildlife biologist friend who says this is the best way to keep a meadow from succession into brushy forest and also to preserve insect and other beneficial populations. Many folks mow the whole thing after nesting season, which only preserves bird populations.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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I beat it into submission for you. It was a tricky one - I nearly reached the cup of tea stage...

 
Zach Muller
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Thank you burra!
 
Paul Cereghino
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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I think this comes down to where you define the edge of your system. I think of the idea of permaculture design as designing you life nested within a network of systems. We focus on the land on which we live because it is so immediate, and offers a low energy way to meet many needs. However, all the ways that you meet your wants and needs are your system. The sheep import mechanisms are part of your system. If you eat meat or eggs, your meat and egg sources are part of your system. Your property line, while enforceable by violence, is pretty imaginary from an ecological perspective, and so is a pretty minor component of system definition. I have a nettle patch along a community trail that is definitely part of my system, and I am glad it is not currently part of someone else's.

More pragmatically, you likely do have a large domestic animal on your property (AKA you.) You can just perform all the functions that might require an animal... like creating a disturbance, or concentrating nutrients into poop, or singing a song or two. Once you get tens of acres however, domestic animals are very useful for predictably gathering and concentrating energy, or creating bigger disturbances. So if your personal part of your system doesn't require those kinds of activities. I suspect if you can get away with one big animal (or a small family of animals) to fill all animal needed functions, than that is just fine.

I think trying to live in a system without domestic animals is kind of a worthwhile experiment. Permaculture doesn't require that everyone homestead. Its just that we have so few examples of systems that provide for our needs while meeting the ethics and principles, that it is a big focus of work.
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Great thoughts people; and Paul- thank you for so elegantly unpacking and illustrating my fuzzily described thoughts
 
Scott Strough
Posts: 299
Location: Oklahoma
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Leila Rich wrote:I'm curious to hear from other people who have developed permaculture systems that they've designed without livestock.
Not "I'll bring in guinea pigs when...", but with no intention, ever.
I'm not really thinking about apartments, which are a rather different situation,
but places where there could be some form of livestock if it was really wanted.
I have a very small suburban place, all turned into garden/fruit trees/wild areas etc.
I decided years ago not to have animals, aside from my soil organisms and as many birds as I can encourage
I'm well aware that leaving animals out means even less of a closed loop than a system with animals in it,
but I'm happy with my system and am definitely not looking for ways to squeeze chickens in!
I try to grow plenty of carbon crops, and a local charity delivers sacks of sheep shit as part of their fundraising...


I think to manage permaculture without animals you need to focus on the biological function herbivorous animals provide, and mimic that function manually. As a general rule, the herbivore's role is pruning, and nutrient recycling. We can do that with chop and drop, pruning fruit trees and bushes, and mowing grasses and forbs. Then to recycle that biomass we can compost the material, or build hugelkultur beds, or if conditions are adequately humid and wet, just let it decompose right on the soil surface. But when we do these things, it is important to always consider the natural system that we are modeling our pruning, mowing and composting after. This is the whole key to biomimicry. Easier with properly managed animals. Certainly more labor and energy saving, since animals do it willingly as they go about their lives. Certainly integrating livestock (instead of a gasoline powered mower) produces more food per acre and uses less fossil fuels. But either way it is possible, and either way far more productive and ecologically friendly than conventional industrial models.

I for one have designed a system of crop production that can use mowing but also can use animals to do the mowing for you. Take your pick. The key is to understand the biological model you are attempting to replicate. You don't till. You mow instead. But how and when you mow and the types of grasses and forbs in that field need to be modeled on the most advanced grazing systems used for livestock, not on a 2.5 inch manicured lawn. This principle can be applied to all permaculture systems including food forests. You just have to do the work that the animals did in as close a way as possible to the way they did it.

Do that and you should be golden.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I've thought a lot about this. Livestock in a place where winters freeze for extended periods of time can be a time, energy and resource suck. The permaculture principle "obtain a yield" feels strained in February blizzards.

I liked having a rabbit tractor for a while but on the whole, one of the biggest yields was just that I liked the rabbits, and we have plenty of wild rabbits to provide rabbit enjoyment. I've designed rabbits out of my system.

 
220 hours of permaculture video, freaky cheap! http://kck.st/2q6Ycay.
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