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E Cochran
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Well, here's our contribution to the real world permaculture sites - our little woodlands farm in central Oklahoma.

Our story - we both grew up in the woods and around the farms of extended family members, so it was always our passion to have a place of our own. For 20+ years we dreamed and practiced what we could on our tiny itty bitty 1/4 acre yard. The idea of permaculture wasn't defined for us when we started. We didn't have a name for it. We just knew we didn't want to tear up the land or use lots of chemicals on our food or destroy the environment so we could have a green plush lawn like the neighbors. We grew as much as we could of our own food and raised rabbits, chickens, ducks, and goats. Bees weren't allowed (although we could have kept an elephant). We built a cob bread oven to practice working with the materials. We heated our greenhouse with a rocket mass heater. We composted everything (one neighbor whined, the others gladly gave us their leaves). We learned to forage, knit, carve, whittle, build, collect water, use everything at least twice or three times, and make stuff happy living together.

And then, about 3 years ago one of us stumbled upon this thing called permaculture and we realized that most of what we were doing and were trying to do was defined by it.

Finding a piece of land, we knew, was going to be a challenge. But we tramped through as many plots as we could and kept coming back to this 5 1/2 acre plot of woods on which no one has lived in 20 years. So we finally bought it last July. A creek divides the property diagonally into a 2 acre section on the north and a 3 1/2 acre section on the south. The north side had/has a house and barn along the north property line. It was partly cleared around the house area kind of enough for a garden at one point and to park the cars. Previous owners had planted things that we are still discovering as the seasons change. Someone had practiced coppicing on several different elm and maple trees.

The south side has never been lived on, at least it's never had a structure on it since record keeping began for it in 1907. It's like walking through jungle.

But for the most part this place was raw creek bottom woodlands ... and we have begun the process of making it our home.

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The driveway
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The house
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a sunset view
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building a bridge over the creek
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creeping cucumber
 
E Cochran
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I have sooo many pics I can share of our property but I thought I'd break it down a bit by category.

Right now we're in the middle of spring and one of our two wet seasons. It's our first spring on the place and finding lots of wild things to eat and avoid.

Wood violets - everywhere and in profusion ... can't wait til next year so I can harvest some
Wild Grape - which we found last year but it had no fruits, this year they are loaded with blooms and we hope we get some fruit from them ... stay tuned
Nettles - I've been told we have them and they seem to be everywhere in the woods, but I have no experience with them so I have a friend coming later in May to show me what to do with them
Wild garlic
currants - not sure if these were bird planted or planted by a previous owner but we had them on our last place so we are quite happy
cleavers - just learned you can eat these suckers and make tea from them
wild blackberry - we'd found a few of these last year as well, but this year we've found even more and they are in full bloom now
wild rose - a massive 12 foot long 8 foot high bush covered in blooms is tucked into the south side of the woods
dandelions - only in the open areas
Creeping cucumber
maypops - also known as passion fruit ... we were able to indulge in exactly 2 of these last year after the opossums got in them
honey locust - although the thorns are insane we will be leaving one tree because of their edible seed pods
maple, birch, and sycamore trees - we hope to collect sap next year to make syrup
dock - which I'm not sure what to do with yet
thistle - that I'm drooling over waiting for it to be big enough to eat the stems
peach trees - we assume one of them was planted by a previous owner because it's wild looking and huge but volunteers have sprung up in random places as well
wild plum
sunflower
jerusalem artichokes
mulberries
sassafras
oak
black walnut
pecans
hickory
willow
redbud
mullein
chickweed

And a whole multitude of stuff we don't know what is but would dearly love to find out about.


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A maypop flower
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The single peach we found last year
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One of many mushrooms
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A handful of creeping cucumber
 
E Cochran
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Argh ... I forgot the wild grape vine ... This is part of a massive vine that is growing over a pile of downed branched. The whole thing is about 20 feet long and 6 or 7 feet high and covered just like this.

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E Cochran
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Last post for the night - animals

We have goats, chickens, and guineas right now ... and two great pyrenees puppies and a cat named Effie that came with the place. And rabbits that escaped their enclosure and have taken up residence in many burrows.

Effie, the cat, has her own story. We know nothing about her really. She was there when we bought the place, was friendly with us, greets us at the gate, keeps the chickens in line (and now the dogs too), etc ... but it took us several months to name her. When we finally settled on Effie, the name just seemed right. Weird name for us. Came out of the blue. Or so we thought. Oklahoma is one of the few states left that keeps a running history of land documents - a detailed abstract that includes more than just legal papers. So after our title paperwork was finished we asked to see our abstract (which is held at the title company). They gave it to us in a cardboard box. It's 10 inches thick in two separate books but I was determined to read the damn thing. And lo' and behold the first owner of the property was a woman who was widowed and left to raise 4 kids on her own. Her name was Effie. We decided that Effie is now a permaculture cat who picked her own name.

We also have a multitude of wild animals who browse our place - opossums, raccoons, muskrats, coyotes, bobcat, otter, owls, hawks, tons of birds, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, fox, and, at some point, a beaver.

Here's a few pics of the animals

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Two very muddy and very happy dogs
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One of our mamas with the three newest additions to the herd
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Effie (and my husband)
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chickens and guineas
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One of the many wild creatures - an opossum
 
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