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Animals in Permaculture  RSS feed

 
jase. grimm
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I've long been a staunch vegetarian, not because of any moral or religious concerns, but for the supposed health benefits and the smaller ecological footprint that vegetable foods leave behind compared to animal based foods... All of that is about to change. I recently joined up with some like minded folks on a 15 acre piece of land in the Pacific Northwest and we are hell bent on turning our homestead into a permaculture farm; the more and more I read, research and talk about permaculture with my friends and mentors, the more I understand that animals do have an important role to play in the whole system. We played a game the other day designed to help permaculture designers think about different elements of the farm (chickens, ponds, herb gardens, fruit trees) in different combinations and see how each component could provide outputs for or use inputs from one another. For example, we all wrote 2 elements of a farm on 2 pieces of paper and a preposition (on, in, around, beneath, next to) on another and randomly drew them out of the hat. We were getting combinations like chicken coop above Herb Garden, which makes perfect sense because the chickens could forage for insects (pest control) amongst the herbs as well as turn over and aerate the soil. Other more far out combinations were presented, but no matter what, we could find ways that animals and plants could be integrated together to make a well oiled permaculture machine. I guess it just takes a new viewpoint on the whole meat eating equation, along with some knowledge and good practices, and even the hardiest vegetarians can be converted.
 
Leah Sattler
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good for you! we are omnivores after all. I have never bought into the vegetarian is healthy thing. The ability to hunt and master fire to cook meat is theorized to be a major kick in the pants to human development. Concentrated calories and easy to be had complete protein could have enabled our brains to become bigger and/or free up some time that would be spent foraging for development of new inovations, bringing us from banging rocks together to basic engineering. Much progress is noted about the time animals became domesticated, it likely enabled the development of farming techniques because it allowed people to move out of a nomadic lifestyle foraging and hunting ranging herds. Now the impact of human innovations is debatably a positive thing I suppose, but I am not in the "I wish humans would become extinct" camp either.  despite the negative things I am in awe of what humans have accomplished.
 
Leah Sattler
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Sorry I'm going to bombard you with pics. Those critters sure are handy. I got these guys in sept of 2006



put them in here......


They went to freezer camp in february. This is how we got them to the butcher. I still laugh thinking about it. I used powdered sugar donuts and marshmallows to load and unload them. The butcher ( an old freind) came out with his helper with their electric prods ready to chase them into the pens. They laughed but I think were secretly thinking how much better it was that they followed me in with the goodies. I left some and he promised me he would give them some yummies right before he did the deed. They went out doing what they loved best!


This is what the area looked like after we loaded them up.


Afew weeks later we were overrun with pork products!!! holy moly that was alot of meat. our deep freeze was packed too.



and in april of 2007 had this! you can see peas, spinach, cabbage and lettuce already off to a good start.


my little girl inspecting the cabbage.




 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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You don't have to eat them to make use of animals.  I have four hens who give me eggs, clean up a lot of bugs, each fallen fruit, an pick over dug-up ground for me.

But if you want to use them in the garden, their BIG FEET can do a lot of damage by scratching.  They'll scratch all the mulch away from around plants, expose plant roots, and they'll scratch up seedlings quicker than you would think possible.

Chickens mainly have their place in the garden, but it's mainly before planting and after harvesting, cleanup both times. You can let them in for a short time while supervised, but you'll regret it if you leave them in there alone.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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They will eat some of your vegies too. But you have to do something with those old spent hens. some will lay for years but others lifespans long outlast their laying. ( returning them to the earth is an option too). The pigs are a one time thing to remove the dense sod for a future garden. One of the things I would have done different is butcher them as soon as they finished their "job" Its not as if we didn't end up with plenty of meat and they finished destroying the bermuda two months before they reached "butcher weight".  I'm kicking myself now for not asking to keep the lard since I'm making so much soap. Every time I buy lard I smack myself on the forehead.
 
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