I never called what I did permaculture. I just grew up calling myself a natural farm and ranch girl, but as this term has reached popularity, I find that what I love to do would very likely be generally labeled as such.
I know that over the years as I have been online, I have landed more times than I can count on the permies.com site, and that pretty much says it all. At one point I began a forum that... well, looked remarkably like this one. LOL But I never had time to do anything with it and this one is already well-populated with very fine people and knowledge. You've been around here for nearly 10 years, I think?
I finally decided to join - mostly because I hope to actually begin to build some earthen structures this year and it will be great to have a forum to hit real quick for nearly instant feedback.
I actually lurked for a long time as well. I think it was about a year before I signed up. Even after that it was probably another year before I posted something.
I am still a book permaculturist. I have read A LOT. I have taken an online course. So this spring I am going to leap into action and get my hands in some soil. It is very exciting. I'm a pretty big fan of the site and the community as a whole.
Where abouts are you located? And it sounds like you have already done some stuff. What sorts of things have you already planted / built etc?
Most people don't realize that most of CA was always rural - and I did grow up on farms and ranches both there and, since moving out here, as far out into the country as I can get.
I could be very happy on a million acres in the middle of nowhere, but I would fill my home with guests as often as I could. LOL
My goal was always self-sufficiency, as far back as I can remember.
A good work ethic is also my heritage.
Working smarter and more efficiently with thoughtful beginnings and low maintenance is my rule of common sense.
I also always knew that leaving things better than you got them was part of being an honorable person.
All of these things lead to natural living and permaculture fairly easily.
Growing up we raised almost all our own food; meat, dairy, eggs, produce, also raising as much feed for the animals as possible.
I've spent many a time moving irrigation pipe on my shoulders across the alfalfa fields, and listening to the amazing sounds at night of the crickets and the distant "chink-a-chink, chink-a-chink" of the irrigation sprinklers in the acreage down by the river. And we bought up old equipment, spent hours prepping and painting, then had gleaming colors of rakes and balers as we cut, raked, and baled our own hay for the year.
My parents paid cash for everything, so we lived frugally, but when you invest in your land, it will always pay you back.
I am grateful to have come into a time when I am the beneficiary of renewed knowledge; the power of the natural healing plants God gave us; research explaining why older ways of feeding ourselves worked, such as kefir, komboucha, and other fermented foods upon which our modern society had turned it's collective nose for a long time; learning that just because it is modern, doesn't mean it's better. My first child was born in a typical manner, by the time I got to my fourth, I had a home birth.
So my goal has remained self-sufficiency in material needs and I was blessed, for a time, with several acres with which to pursue this. Gardening in the west transferred to learning how to garden all over again out here in TN. LOL Lot's different. Organic in the west is soooooo easy compared to here.
I'm always trying to think of better and more efficient ways to get things done.
I've helped my dad build houses and barns and greenhouses and such throughout childhood. We dismantled army barracks in the blistering CA sun for reclaiming the materials and used them all over the ranch, from everything fencing to a greenhouse made of army windows. I've roofed, dug ditches, operated a caterpillar and a backhoe, cleared the ranch of rattlesnakes every Saturday morning, and rode my best horse bareback til the sun went down, or sang on a tire swing under an oak tree eating the strawberries I picked from the hillside as the tire went back and forth. All kids ought to grow up in the country!
As an adult I bought an old trailer and renovated it down through the joists and studs, including plumbing and some electrical. I built a studio for my arts projects. Decks for my home and pool. And sheds from scrap - if it's cheap, it's good.
Been wanting to learn alternative building for a long time. Being put in a position of having to start over makes you resourceful and I began looking for frugal ways to have a home, but ended up getting started with that small mobile home fixer-upper. Now I have had to start over again and I love cob, cordwood, straw bale, rammed earth, etc. techniques. I am in the middle of moving this month and I can't wait to get started learning how to make earthen projects. I'm especially looking forward to trying some plasters, such as tadelakt. I have some great ideas I want to try.
Kind of a jumbled response, sorry. I keep thinking of something else I've done. I should have just made it a simple list, rather than a series of paragraphs that developed.
On my little farm, I hosted small fruit seminars with the acre of small fruits I put in. My fruit trees were not large enough yet to do large fruit seminars. I had all sorts of plans, but my goals were interrupted. I would rather have a cow, any day of the week, but my little farm did not have enough room unless I crammed it all in and made it messy, not enough pasture. So I went with goats. Not a fan of goat milk, but I loved the cheeses I made every day, as well as the money it brought in.
I am an avid learner. I ask lots of questions of people. I think some of them think I am either stupid or just trying to make conversation, but I believe I can learn from anything and I am always looking to learn and be able to do more things - and then share with others what I know.
I will try stuff that no one else tries, and I will always ask WHY something works. If no one can answer me thoroughly, I try to figure it out by experimentation. So I had 112 grapevines in my vinyard, with 33 varieties to try to succeed. I learned a LOT! I learned more than I wanted to. LOL A beautiful kiwi arbor, bush cherries, berries of all sorts, figs - how I love figs and miss them. I like to plant wide varieties of edibles, have huge herb beds, and am interested in every form of gardening that reduces labor and increases production. Forest farming to French Intensive and everything in between.
sigh.... sorry. I love this stuff. I could talk all night.