Just a quick reflection on this post and the progress made since I first put it here 5 years ago.
A recent article on the NOAA report released last black friday a week ago says we can no longer predict future weather from recent past weather patterns. Sounds like chaos theory to me.
For me this has meant a summer and fall with lots of rain, the direct opposite of last year. My friends kid me that when I have a backhoe (whether rental or now owned) the skys will open up and make it too wet to effectively use it.
My highest pond in the landscape is also the biggest one, and while I really didn't expect substantial rain to fill it until winter/spring, It filled up several weeks ago, and really has stayed near full right on through. For the dam construction (still 5-6 feet short of it's intended height, this means waiting for soil to dry out, and also having to go back and perhaps dry, and recompact clay that is really too wet to build on.
These experiences will come in handy before starting the next project, but inability to manage the project with respect to the chaos of weather has severely compromised my progress and time table here.
The bright side is that I may have a helper to cut trees for swales and other clearings, and in general the water control is performing pretty well even if it is still incomplete.
The middle dam is built up to it's water level, but I can't let it fill with water until I add some more freeboard and manicure the connecting swale to feed another pond that will likely become either a rice or taro pond once it has a better water flow.
So all things considered, the water flow has become very stable, even during multiple rain events that used to carve deep channels on the way to the creek. I really didn't expect results so profound so quickly, but these immature earthworks and water management seems to be one of the most profound things I have ever done. Even just stumbling through the process as a beginner, is better than being so nervous I never start.
On other fronts taking time for the alocasia plants earlier (technically elephant ear not taro) paid off. They happened to find a good spot to grow, and with a little extra care I will be able to grow taro as a starch crop.
Anyway, still hanging in there with too many projects to mention here, but most of it doesn't feel much like work, more just fun and games. Thus ends my update on progress. Still thinking about when it might be time to give two weeks to teach a Permaculture course
Location: Central Virginia USA
posted 1 year ago
It's amazing to come back to this post periodically and see how it started. I'm 71 now, still basically the same, healthwise anyway, mentally , maybe a little more mature, but looking around at projects and the like things are really different.
I continue on my path. My mom's house is almost just a memory, although I do have a few more trips to make there, and my little bit of paradise here was mostly neglected , except for some periods where I did get a fair amount of backhoe work done. The high dam is at or above the proposed water level, and I continue to try and economize finding a laser level receiver, and in the process learning a bit more about how they work and where I've gone wrong in the past.
I have a lot of leveling to do, and while most of my original level was set with an A frame, lasers are getting cheaper and if you have bigger projects they are the way to go.
So I await the latest purchase, and plan to start some fine tuning and moving into swale establishment.
I'm ready to plant a forest of pussy willows on the back of a couple dams, although they will be interspersed with other willows and kept coppiced for firewood and possible nursery starts, since cuttings are easy to root, or maybe the better way to say it is are difficult not to root.
My gardens are starting to take on some actual design, with a few more perennials on the edges and likely a return to deer proof fencing for the main food producer.
But gardens are also springing up on the edges of the ponds. I started a few squash plants at the high dam and even got a couple squash- and except for a quick wire cage I threw over the plants, basically all I had to do was water a few times.
I also started my first grape vine on the edge of the high pond, and after a bit of trimming from the deer, it still seems viable.
The biggest problem with working these areas lately has been the lack of rain. I ran the backhoe till the clay turned into a fine powder an inch or so deep, and with limited water in the pond (I drained out most of the water early in the season so I could work in the hole.) trying to keep the dam clay moist enough to compact has been a challenge, and I finally moved the backhoe on to other areas once I knew the high dam was secure.
I'm working now on the driveways and the middle dam, especially the area next to the pond which will hopefully become a primary garden area.. That excavation was started to add to the bulk of the dam there, and continues now extending to the contour pond connected to it by a swale. That pond should feed into an extended swale, but the walls need to be built up to get back to level with the middle gully pond so the water continues on around the ridge.
Anyway, next steps will involve fine tuning levels, moving my banana circle down to the contour pond (it's crowding out grapes and such beside the house.), finding a nice site for a bigger koi pond, and of course planting lots and losts of productive trees as swales become finalized. Actually, there are too many next steps to really talk about, geopolymer experiments on yet another new RMH, new ponds not yet visualized, more aquaculture, , on and on . So many toys to play with.
Location: Central Virginia USA
posted 9 months ago
The journey continues, likely even will pick up speed. 2018 started with intense care for my mom, ended with the start of more intense cleaning and preparing her house for sale after she died. I still found time to continue my projects, but anticipate a more relaxed and intensive progression. It's so nice to not be constantly planning for the next 6 hr trip and then putting things back together on my return a week or more later.
With the house sold it also frees up some money for ongoing projects, and most recently I invested in two sets of 20 evacuated tubes and manifold for a hot watersolar system. I had used black poly pipe in the past, 2-300' of 3/4 inch pipe in an unwieldy coil with two heavy double paned patio doors on top of a 8X8 frame to help keep the heat in. It worked, but took up way too much time just getting it moved and reassembled and the last time I tried I actually gave up, I figured there has to be a better way than wrestling with such a long length of pipe that totally had other ideas of what it wanted to do.
So my next big toy will likely come sometime near Christmas, and after that lots of fiddling to see how I might start pumping all that sunlight heat through my radiant floor.
Speaking of which, I'm actually practicing pretty daily, and while I doubt I'll ever play in a symphony, I do occasionally get together with a few guitars and misc other instruments, sometimes I get to solo, and sometimes it actually sounds good. I'm at the awkward stage where people are always a little nervous when they tell me to "take it", because it's mostly a crap shoot whether it'll be worth listening to.
Other than that, my new DSR is performing nicely, I've been cutting back trees and have a fair amount of somewhat seasoned wood, and a hot shower whenever I need one, and I'm even cleaning out corners I haven't looked at for years, even throwing some stuff out, although I'm not sure if I'm keeping up with the stuff I'm bringing in ;-).
I went up and started the clean out of the octagon, my first dwelling, a tiny house with a wood stove that could create a sauna in the middle of January. That will be replaced with some sort of RMH, and the little greenhouse where I kept potted figs is slowly emptying and the little appalachian water heater there will turn into a rocket stove also.
So many toys to play with, maybe I should set up some of these projects and share the fun of developing with others who want to learn.
Oh by the way, I turned 72 on my birthday since the last post