How do you balance your desire to include permaculture and organic living with some of the realities that work against it in your life?
A major obstacle for me is land availablilty. I raise some livestock but on a small parcel of land it is a struggle to keep them from damaging it. If I could own 100 acres I wouldn't have to compromise so much. what do you have to compromise?
I'm not quite sure what you are fishing for here, but my first thought is to get the bigger land, complete with a community you can live with. Expenses are then shared, and if you have to leave for a few days, there are others to take care of everything.
not fishing! hearing of other peoples struggles and compromises and solutions can aid my own. Hypothetical Solutions are usually easy to come by. Telling someone to pick pests off their plants for instance so they don't have to use pesticides is a great notion but not feasable if you have 2 acres of corn that you are depending on to feed your family, so they might have to compromise. Or someones desire to go green with their home might be hindered by some covenants that are in place where they live and they might have to compomise. And for instance in my situation of course it would be lovely to move to more land in a like minded community but "get the bigger land" is alot more complicated than its sounds! so despite prefferring to be able to stock my goats so low that they would never need wormed with chemical wormers, I do the best I can and instead of doing blanket worming of the whole herd I worm only those individuals that need it per the results of a fecal examination. Its a compromise.
We have about 30 acres but the majority is a wooded mountain side, wilderness. Only about 2 acres of bottom land next to the creek.
We have expanded our garden every year and with that our diversity has also grown. We have a large blueberry grove and this fall we will be planting apples. We are not vegetarians but vegetables and fruits make up a large part of our diet. This year proves to be our most bountiful so far.
This year we also added chickens, as far as livestock that will probably be it. We have talked about goats, but there is too much for goats to get into here without fences and we don't like fences. The wilderness area we desire to leave as wilderness, although I do tread lightly there to retrieve firewood primarily from down trees.
It has been our goal since we moved here 5 years ago to live as sustainably as we possibly can. We are striving to eat only what we grow or forage from the wilderness.
Raising beef is not an option because of limited grazing space, red meat now will come from deer that I hunt or there will be no more red meat. I do fish and there will be meat from the chickens.
Our garden has been strictly organic/natural since we started. We do not use sprays for pests or anything else. Our garden is small enough that we collect bugs by hand and feed them to the chickens, before we got chickens we fed them to the fish in the creek.
If we see a plant that is sick or dieing we remove it and replant something else. We really have very little problems with pests or disease, I attribute this to all natural practices.
We are very fortunate to have an abundance of natural pest controls such a lady bugs and praying mantises, this year I counted nearly a dozen praying mantis eggs in the blueberry bushes alone.
It is all about give and take isn't it. For example we have stopped buying eggs, our chickens will be laying soon and we can wait till then. In fact our buying habits are constantly changing to coincide with our natural lifestyle.
I find it's all about learning and developing, thats why I like this forum, everyone has something to teach/share.
Sorry about the long ramblings, you just had me thinking, and my family will tell you thats not a good thing. Not really sure I even hit on what you wanted to talk about... If not let me know and I'll do some more thinking.
Give and take. Thats it. We all do it whether people admit it or not. I guess a main purpose of the question is to reveal that few of us can or will choose to live a life completly harmonious with nature and that shouldn't discourage people from trying to do what they can within their own reality and prioritys. I think many people are turned off from organic practices and permactulture ideas and homesteading because of some of the extremism that can be found in the community. I think it is important to include the people who are still only midway through their journey into more green or simple living and who have come to rest somewhere along the way between intense practices and modern more conventional ways. Every little bit counts and I don'twant to see anyone turned off by the forum because they just want a less chemically treated yard and don't want to forage in the forest for thier dinner.
I think as a rule, even good intentional people, are resistant to change, any change. We are creatures of habit and become comfortable in our daily routines.
We had talked for years about moving to the country to seek a simpler life, it took years to see it come to be. In part we thought we were comfortable with our lives, and I think fear of change/failure held us back too.
It's been 5 years now since we made the change and although the simple life ain't really simple, it is better. we have less stress and worry and our lives are no longer controlled by the whims of the corporate world or even by the local business community.
Were there sacrifices? I think that depends on how you define sacrifice. We made changes and there were things we learned to live without, like TV and fast foods, which by the way are, in our opinion, are some of the worst poisons there are. Fast food poisons the body and TV poisons the mind.
I think one of the most valuable lessons we learned is we are spoiled by modern convinces and that many of the things we think we need, we really do not. We have learned, and continue to learn to make do with what we have.
I think it is important to respect that not everybody is going to be able to do permaculture factor 1000 on the first day.
And, I think it is important to respect that there is such a thing as permaculture factor 1000.
As the guy that owns this site, I know that the reason that I write the articles, do the research and share is that I want to live in a less toxic world. And I know that I cannot tell anybody how to live. All I can do is paint a picture of a less toxic world and some folks will go along with it.
At the same time, there are some people that command me to tell them what they want to know so they can use just the bits of information they want and continue to live a life that is toxic to themselves and to everybody around them. I have mixed feelings about this. If a person respects my opinion so much that they demand answers to their questions, I think they should show a little respect. And I wish to insert some stuff with that message that is the "why". A small price, I think. A reasonable price.
If somebody insists that I'm a fool and that using pesticides is THE best ... well, then, I can choose to not help them.
.... As for stuff about land, land use, community, how much permaculture, etc. .... I could probably fill about six books on the topic. So I need to confine my answers to pretty direct questions.
paul wheaton wrote: So I need to confine my answers to pretty direct questions.
That's a good point, I tend to become overzealous, some might even say self righteous when it comes to my lifestyle. Of course I never mean to come across as self righteous, I am just so passionate that I sometimes can't stop talking about it.
The one piece of advice I do give the most often to anyone who desires change, is small steps, one step at a time. I find that those who try to do too much become overwhelmed and give up. One small step at a time is better than no steps at all.
I've got the land but I'm seventy three and my wife of almost fifty years .. ICU Nurse for nine years .. ER for 24 .. retired and "lost it." Many can not go from that level of stress to sitting around home .. and we didn't change gears quick enough or understand what was happening.
I have lost over twenty pounds taking care of her .. thyroid that gave her dementia .. and her medicine gave her heart attacks. I have taken her through six at home and the first two I took her to E. R. I don't do that any more .. she would be dead if I had. I took her off four medicines and winged it with herbs.
I read the book and you should also .. "Left for Dead." Since then I have taken her through V Tack and Arrhythmia at home and last month the kicker .. complete right and left blockage of her lungs .. she is on Capsicum .. she walked into E.R. and for eight hours they couldn't find out what was wrong with her .. her blood oxygen levels stayed at 92 to 97 and when they did discover the clots .. I told them it was the capsicum and they said no way.
My grand daughter two years ago ran out of our house and said over her shoulder .. I've just found the best stud for my cutting mare .. and he's just five miles down the road.
She came back ashen .. he was getting out of bed two times per month .. needed a quad .. had a ranch in NV that he had not been to in thirteen months .. had fifteen mares booked to his stud and all were coming in .. in the next two weeks and his son didn't know how to breed them.
She told him I'll do it for you. He told her what does a little bitty girl like you know about breeding mares? She told him, "I was holding mares when I was ten and my grand dad taught me how to manage a stud with a chain under his chin and I was holding studs when I was twelve" .. love on a string scares the drizzles out of most men .. I put it on her plate and she could handle it. She bred all fifteen and he gave her a free breeding on her mare .. I gave him Left for Dead and one and a half months later he was up every day and had been to the ranch in NV four times .. drove over and gave me the book back and thanked me.
On the way over his wife had called him and said your heart doctor just called and said you blood work was back. It is all normal and he wants to know what the heck you are doing.
Jay has skipped his Quad .. sold his ranch in NV for 2.5 and bought a ranch in another Western State with 40,000 acres.
Some times we think we are running to the grocery store or to "look at a stud." But actually, God has timed our life to save another.
As I have said before .. herbs repel doctors, congressmen and a host of other thangs.
My son will take over our place when we go. That makes us very happy.
If you get too far from the stone age .. things go haywire.
Leah, well I don't know a lot about raising animals, as my husband has forbid farm animals, at least for the time being other than 2 cats, so our animals on our property are all wild animals (deer, bear, smaller animals, turkey, birds etc)..so I can't imagine even having to have 2 acres of corn to "feed my family". For one thing we might eat a little sweet corn in the fall from the garden, but I can't imagine having to plant 2 acres of corn and maintain it.
so I gues if you are going to have to have animals (and those that require worming, etc.) you are going to end up with some give and take..as some of those requirements that your are giving yourself by raising all the animals is limiting your ability to diversify your acerage by requiring you to plant the 2 acres of corn..I guess..if the corn is for the animals (I sure can't imagine a family of 4 eating 2 acres of corn).
My garden produces more than enough food for our family but i do end up having to go to the amish farmers for eggs and either buy or hunt meat.
We have talked a lot about adding some farm animals, but my husband pushes back against me on every turn, I believe some day I will have my own small flock of chickens for eggs, as we eat a lot of eggs and it would be nice to have aniimals for meat, but I would rather have a deer and some wild turkey in our freezer than beef or chicken anyway.
by having only wild aniamls we have a lot less land that requires mantaining..as we dont'' require pasture land, mostly wooded with some open...so it is difficult to imagine for me, havinmg to plant acres of hay or corn or to be concerned about worming, etc...i can see where it could cause a delimna for those that are in that position.
wish i could be ov more help, but i would just say, weight the pros and cons of what you are having to do against the rewards and determine if it is the best use of your time and land, and if it is, then don't worry about how it is perceived by anyone..just do your best to keep it as chemical free as you can, and don't feel the need to worry about the chemicals that you will end up having to use, to maintain the lifestyle that you have chosen
Bloom where you are planted.
We keep a few sheep in order to get lower property taxes under agricultural tax status. We're trying to get Wildlife Management status but it is difficult to qualify for. Unfortunately the sheep tend to overgraze some areas where they like to hang out (near the house) so we have to put in more fencing, which we didn't necessarily want to do. The sheep also eat baby trees. We're going to keep applying for Wildlife Management status and hope we will get it by the time the sheep die of old age (we won't sell or butcher them because they are pets). We don't want to keep the sheep penned in their small paddock because that isn't nice for them, so we're trying to put in some small fenced areas where baby trees can grow.
If there's any way to reduce your stocking rate or do some kind of managed rotational grazing, you might be able to keep both livestock and permaculture, but it's definitely a balancing act especially if you're just starting out and haven't restored the land much yet.
But I can definitely identify with the problems of trying to balance having livestock and transitioning to permaculture.
I'm trying to work the system from the inside out making small changes where I can I have my acre of land that I'm going to be slowly working up, but I'm keeping a "real job" I think there is an opportunity in the growing field of environmental consulting right now a lot of companies and cities are putting in green zones and artificial wetlands and the like and how much better will I make the world if I get in a place where I can plant food in some of these spots?
To live in the geographic local in British Columbia that I do, which is a small suburban acreage of four acres , I have it far beyond its own capacity at present raising showjumping horses. So I am downscaling in horses and transitioning to a small poultry flock a tiny bit at a time. The smaller and/or less fertile the land , perhaps the smaller number and size the livestock should be in order to live more sustainably in a permaculture type environment. I am also looking at seasonal populations being slaughtered for food come fall . I have been adjusting my diet away from beef, pork and dairy as well. And developing corridors of permaculture plantings thoughout my little farm with some hit and miss results mostly due to damage done by the horses here at present. I am slowly planting mixed hedgerows on the perimeter. I am experimenting a bit with portable frencing in order to be able to manage grazing better, leaning towards the ideas of Joel Salatin on a very small scale where it comes to livestock rotation and really learning a lot here from the Sepp Holzer examples. You really need to keep it in scale with what you can manage, for example my garden will expand by a few square feet each year even with the permaculture idea even pruning vines and trees takes time and utilizing and processing the food produced too. I am not planning to move to a bigger parcel of land because this is a compromise of commuting distance, ammenties and I really can manage this size.