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Southern Colorado Permaculture - Ongoing discussion, projects, pictures, links and meetups  RSS feed

 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Hi Everyone

There seems to be a good amount of discussion surrounding the Southern Colorado bio region recently. So much so that an email group has sprung up
We were discussing the best way for everyone to keep in touch - seems permies is the easiest, with email being better for setting up meeting/addresses etc.
The group so far is pretty diverse, so I'm excited to get peoples feedback.

I just wanted to start this thread to discuss anything permaculture related in Southern Colorado.
Feel free to start new threads about specifics if you want more exposure, but drop a link in here in case other Coloradans miss it. There is little permaculture written/documented in the cool-cold drylands any little bit will help. My hope is people will find this thread and be able to read through the pages and link, and till help give them a starting point.

Links, pictures, Videos all welcome. There were some introductions going around via email, those would be good here.
Here are a couple links to other recent CO threads:
http://www.permies.com/t/40130/rockies/Southern-Colorado-permaculture
http://www.permies.com/t/40692/rockies/Pueblo-County-Colorado-permies
http://www.permies.com/t/37660/rockies/Calling-permies-ready-action-south

The WY & CO thread: http://www.permies.com/t/6774/rockies/Wyoming-Colorado-Checking

Here are a couple of my threads for your replying pleasure:
http://www.permies.com/t/38516/plants/Bassia-scoparia-kochia-fireweed
http://www.permies.com/t/24538/earthworks/Earthworks-flood-irrigation


A small blurb about me before I head out:
We are on a small (under 10 acres) irrigated property in Fremont County.
We operate a seasonal raw milk herd share program, sell beyond organic eggs and no spray alfalfa hay mainly - we also raise meat (chickens/turkeys) seasonally. Mostly sold through a co-op we are part of; but we are looking to expand a bit next year. we just started planting fruit trees - I think ~42 of 50 survived last years planting - I still have a day job so at times it’s hard to keep up with everything. Hope to have no spray fruit in a few years. We also ordered honey bees for 2015, alone with the mason bees we have from last year. We have been trying different things on our property for 2-3 years now. We have the orchard watered via [irrigated] swales and plan to do a large swale in the middle of the pasture this spring.

I am interested in how to setup an irrigated property in a way that is water retentive/efficiently using water rights. I would like to set up a grazing plan - I would like to slowly move from selling hay to having animals to all the harvesting. I’m interested in broad acre permaculture (Keyline/Savory’s work/Salatin) as well. Farm planning and what can and can’t be done with regards to earthworks in CO.
I will try to add a few pictures once I am on my home pc.


 
charlie ryan
Posts: 13
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I look forward to seeing some pics of yours Kelly, sounds like you have some good stuff in the works.

How is the Co-op working out for you? I have often wondered how beneficial being involved with one would be, once we are producing food and/or animals.

Being a newbie land owner and an absentee one at that, I have little to offer as far as advice, but I look forward to learning
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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charlie ryan wrote:I look forward to seeing some pics of yours Kelly, sounds like you have some good stuff in the works.

How is the Co-op working out for you? I have often wondered how beneficial being involved with one would be, once we are producing food and/or animals.

Being a newbie land owner and an absentee one at that, I have little to offer as far as advice, but I look forward to learning


we like the co-op. its a bit unorganized, but i cant complaint to loud as i dont have time to help fix it.
they do a few group buys and people sell/barter intra-coop all the time. seems to be a core group of about 40 people that are the most active.

all of our milk shares were sold through the co-op or friends of co-op members. there is a tool/video/book lending library as well.


also - reminder, if you are wanting forest service trees, you better hurry. we ordered 50 pea shrub, 25 current, 25 honey locust. we finally got an order in on time and got all the trees we wanted
we were watching the inventory and could see it moving hourly - some trees were already sold out!
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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i will also post Tate Smith's original email - edited a bit - hope others will show up here soon.

Hi Everybody,

What a great opportunity we have before us. After reading through the topics and responses on Permies, it became apparent that folks in the Wet Mountain area need a way to get in touch with each other and collaborate on their agricultural endeavors. So far in the list of people who are interested in participating in a cooperative group, we have people who range from absentee owners to people who have been working their chunk of ground for over a decade and everything in between. The type of land owned by group members also differs. Everything from dry prairie grasslands, foothill meadows, and irrigated ground. Acreages vary as well across all of those places too. What a wonderful and diverse knowledge base!

The intent of this group, from my perspective, would be to foster relationships in the community to further the development of ecologically focused agriculture productivity. These relationships could range from sharing equipment, sharing labor, and sharing ideas. The group could host education events for group members as well as for the general public. And going forward into the future, could collaborate to cooperatively market to market sectors unattainable by any one producer working alone. Fostering these types of activities is beneficial not only to a member of the cooperative, but to the regional community and to the positive ecological impact to the land that we are so blessed to steward.

So, the folks who have signed on board are listed below with their email [removed] and general location. I will leave getting phone numbers and addresses up to you as some folks may prefer to communicate by email alone.

-Charlie Ryan, Huerfano County,
-Kelly Smith, Fremont County,
-Greg Schwab, Pueblo County,
-Rodney Smith, Pueblo County,
-Bob Becker, Pueblo County,
-Ryan Sanders, Pueblo County,
-Tate Smith, Johnson County, WY/Pueblo County,
And I know there may be others that are interested who have not gotten to me yet, so if any of you know of somebody who would be interested, sure let me know and I'll get them on the list.

It would be great if everybody could introduce themselves and their operation. What type of land you are working, what you intend to produce, what are your goals from an ecological stand point. Also, where you are at as far as needs (i.e. digging earthworks, planting trees, etc. that could use some help from other people). That way we can get the ball rolling on getting folks together on the ground.

It would also be great to put together a farm tour or a get together of some sort in the foreseeable future. So if anybody has ideas as to how to facilitate that, whether it be meeting at your farm, putting on a introductory class at a community hall or otherwise give us your ideas! And any other ideas of how a group like this can benefit you and the rest of the members!

We are following in the foot steps of some great mentors. Most of whom you've read their books, watched their YouTube videos, or even been to one of their classes. The Lawtons, Dohertys, Mollisons, Salatins and Savorys of the world have laid down a great guideline for us to follow. However our ecoregion, including the foothills and prairies of the Wet Mountain region, is very unique and does always fit the mold of what others have done. It is through cooperation like this that innovations and system designs can arise to benefit ALL of the agricultural producers in our area. By developing systems that work on a multifaceted scale we can not only increase the productivity of agriculture, but ensure the longevity of it's life. And by doing both of those things, we ensure that our lfamiles and our community will be fed and be happy.

So thanks for be willing to participate. Let us know your thoughts and ambitions (and any ideas you have for a good name for this group). It looks like a very positive future for regenerative agriculture practices to take hold in the region.

Thanks! And talk to you soon.
-Tate
 
Bob Becker
Posts: 11
Location: Beulah, CO
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Hi all!

Bob from Beulah, CO here. I haven't posted here in a few months, but we've been really busy. I've been working on getting our ground prepared for this season, as well as finishing up geoff lawton's PDC course. I've also purchased a brand new Yeoman's keyline plow with seeding attachments. So if anyone is looking to do some keyline work or wants to see some in action, PM me. I should have the plow in the ground in the next few weeks.

I'll try to post some pictures up here as I go as well.

Thanks all!!
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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i replied to your email, Bob.
look forward to giving this a try sometime - just have to work out the timing and some details.
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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i just wanted to bump this thread back up to the top.
hope everyone has had a good year.

we have been super busy and havent had much time to post online.
we cut and baled ~1100 bales this year. started the year with 3 cows, ended up having to sell some cows and got some hair sheep instead. our 50 meat birds are frozen solid in the freezer and the new layers are starting to really produce.
our bee hive was/is a mess - we hope to split it next year. top bar hives are for beginners imo

we are still planning to add some tress mid pasture to help control our irrigation water and to provide some shade/fodder/wildlife food.

anyone ordering any trees in bulk for next year?
i was thinking about trying some hazelnuts - plus i think we are getting ~100 forest service trees.

also - we have a new local member: http://www.permies.com/t/51196/desert/southern-Colorado-foothills-shrublands



 
Cam Mitchell
Posts: 108
Location: W. CO, 6A
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Kelly Smith wrote:anyone ordering any trees in bulk for next year?
i was thinking about trying some hazelnuts - plus i think we are getting ~100 forest service trees.

According to CSU Extension,
CSU Extension Office wrote:
American or European filbert, also known as hazelnut. These might be your best bet. Filberts need well-drained soils and water during dry spells in winter. They may not fare well in soils that are very alkaline (pH 7.8 +). These small trees or large shrubs will likely sucker extensively.

Since my soil is so alkaline, I won't plant them. But the bur and burgambel oaks I got will do just fine.
Good luck!

FYI, the best thing I did is rent a wheeled one-man auger. It made digging the ~200 tree holes WAY faster. Totally worth it.

Plant resources:
State Nursery Program link http://csfs.colostate.edu/buying-seedling-trees/
I have also bought from Idaho's state program http://seedlings.uidaho.com/Store/DrawCategories.aspx?PageID=56

This fall my trees to go in are mulberry, honeylocust, black locust, serviceberry, and seaberry.
I have a challenging climate, so many trees are just out for me. Hot, cold, high, dry, and windy. And shallow, alkaline soil.
Next year trees to try are pears, jujube, Carmine Jewel cherry, russian or improved autumn olive variety, staghorn sumac, and an alkaline-tolerant elderberry variety.
 
Tate Smith
Posts: 53
Location: Cheyenne, WY
8
forest garden greening the desert hugelkultur trees
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Hey folks, been a while since I've been in touch. We've made a move to Cheyenne, WY for a new job and things have been a little crazy!! I wanted to poke in and let everyone on the thread know that if you are needing any laser level work done, I have one, and would love to come barter in exchange for some laser work. Things at our ranch have been swell this year. Our projects that we installed (rock dams, biomass waddles, swales) did fantastic with all the moisture this year and we grew A LOT of grass. It was absolutely excellent. Hope everybody is having a wet winter! Any plans for a get together in the spring or summer next year? Somebody got any awesome developments that they'd like to show off??
 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Cam Mitchell wrote:
Kelly Smith wrote:anyone ordering any trees in bulk for next year?
i was thinking about trying some hazelnuts - plus i think we are getting ~100 forest service trees.

According to CSU Extension,
CSU Extension Office wrote:
American or European filbert, also known as hazelnut. These might be your best bet. Filberts need well-drained soils and water during dry spells in winter. They may not fare well in soils that are very alkaline (pH 7.8 +). These small trees or large shrubs will likely sucker extensively.

Since my soil is so alkaline, I won't plant them. But the bur and burgambel oaks I got will do just fine.
Good luck!

FYI, the best thing I did is rent a wheeled one-man auger. It made digging the ~200 tree holes WAY faster. Totally worth it.

Plant resources:
State Nursery Program link http://csfs.colostate.edu/buying-seedling-trees/
I have also bought from Idaho's state program http://seedlings.uidaho.com/Store/DrawCategories.aspx?PageID=56

This fall my trees to go in are mulberry, honeylocust, black locust, serviceberry, and seaberry.
I have a challenging climate, so many trees are just out for me. Hot, cold, high, dry, and windy. And shallow, alkaline soil.
Next year trees to try are pears, jujube, Carmine Jewel cherry, russian or improved autumn olive variety, staghorn sumac, and an alkaline-tolerant elderberry variety.


thanks for the feedback -
our soil has a PH of 8 ish, so it looks like i wont be planting any of those either!

thanks for the heads up (im generally clueless when it comes to picking which trees will/should go on my site)
 
Cam Mitchell
Posts: 108
Location: W. CO, 6A
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Kelly Smith wrote:
thanks for the feedback -
our soil has a PH of 8 ish, so it looks like i wont be planting any of those either!

thanks for the heads up (im generally clueless when it comes to picking which trees will/should go on my site)

You're welcome.

For me, I've found that the limiting factor for trees that do well here is the alkalinity.
Trees that normally would tolerate the heat and cold and even drought, can't tolerate (or grow poorly) in my pH 8+ soil.
In addition to the trees I listed, you could try apricot, just make sure to get a late-blooming variety. They're known to bloom too early and freeze the blossoms.

Also, if you're wanting to do grapes, consider using grapes on S04, Teleki 5C, 1103P rootstocks. They're harder to find, but much more alkaline tolerant.
For more info, see https://winegrapes.tamu.edu/grow/rootstocks.html and https://www.doubleavineyards.com/news.aspx?showarticle=46
 
AmberLynn Gairden
Posts: 10
Location: San Luis Valley, CO zone 4, alpine desert, elevation 7500, average precip. 7.5"
greening the desert hugelkultur trees
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Hello all,

This is an older thread...I'm hoping that everyone is having a productive growing season. Our family has purchased 74 acres in the San Luis Valley, CO. I'm excited and frankly a bit overwhelmed by the scope of work that needs to be done. But one bite at a time eh? This season I've been gardening (not permie style), getting a handle on the whole water rights thing and observing how our piece of land reacts to different influences.  Our land is in the middle of prime potato land but has never been farmed. You can tell because of all the lovely rocks packed all over the entire property. We had to put in our garden with a pic axe because there are just so many rocks! I am seeing lots of nice rock lined paddocks in our future! In between all of the rocks is some nice sandy loan soil. We haven't got so far as to test the soil ph, I'm guessing around 7 or so. We are hoping to begin planting trees this coming spring. We are probably going to buy some water boxx to assist as we only have 5 shares of ditch and a low water table. Tree livability in our area seems to be extremely low. We've received lots of comments from people in the know that tell us we are a bit loony to try and grow things like fruits and nuts. But it makes us more determined to succeed. Imagine the impact that perennial crops could have on our little valley!

Also we've acquired 2 Nubian does, another alpine buckling to come in August, 3 Red Wattle pigs (2 gilts and 1 barrow) to be fetched in August. The laying hens are coming in September. Hopefully the Karakul sheep and meat rabbits will be introduced next spring. Our goal with our little menagerie is to be self sufficient in the meat department in 1 1/2 years and possibly offer heritage pastured pork soon after.

I would love to hear more from some local permies on your projects, successes and learn from your difficulties!

 
Kelly Smith
Posts: 715
Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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Hi AmberLynn,
where abouts are you in the valley? we looked at land up near Saguache, but never actually bought anything.

if people are telling you that you are crazy, i suspect you are onto something! what kind of trees do you plan to plant?

sounds like you will have a little bit of every type of meat - i would love to try some rabbit once you are up and running. i would like to move away from meat chickens and move towards rabbits soon
 
AmberLynn Gairden
Posts: 10
Location: San Luis Valley, CO zone 4, alpine desert, elevation 7500, average precip. 7.5"
greening the desert hugelkultur trees
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Hi Kelly! We are close to Center, not quite in Sagauche county. We are close enough to the edge of the valley to get a few more of the summer rains, which is nice. And I can't say enough about the view! I don't understand the doubters...if you find an old homestead you will find an apple tree there. Why we can't do it now is beyond my understanding. I'm thinking of starting off with honey locust, seabuckthorn, buffalo berry. I'd like to try a few goumi as they are marginally hardy, just to see what they do here. After that I'd like to do standard apples, pears, beaked hazels if our ph isn't over 7. I'd love to do prunus, but there is a ban on them. I've run into a couple of references that say yellowhorn nuts are hardy to zone 4/5 and like the kind of conditions we have in the valley. I'd love to have a large greenhouse to protect some hardy kiwi, just for the "cool" factor. I'm still wrapping my head around how much our land can support with the amount of water we get. I have very vague ideas, mostly of savanna type silvopasture type systems with lots of edge around paddocks with hedgerows...not a lot of specifics though. I'd be happy to hook you up with some rabbit when we get going! The reproductive ability of rabbits are appealing and from what I've read much more in line labor/resource wise for a small homestead.

edited - I have it in my head that hybrid oaks, walnuts and chestnuts with 4-6 year to fruit would be a good addition also. I also think that to get pasture established we're going to have to utilize the moisture from mob grazing to get anything established.
 
Nancy Hedberg
Posts: 18
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Hi all, Tate Smith, I knew I had heard your name before.  Saw your website sometime when I was researching my own project.  "Biomass Waddles" sounds so much more intellectual than my "Berm thingies" does.
 
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