Guy Mastre

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since Mar 02, 2012
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Recent posts by Guy Mastre

This was a longer chapter. I would just like to thank everyone who is participating. I have been following along and really enjoy reading other peoples post. This is my second time reading the manual and the first time was almost overwhelming. I am a very quick reader but this book is so content rich that I have to slow down to take it all in.

This chapter on soils was really interesting. I believe soils are so important to an agricultural system, it is as important to build soil as much as a yield. Soil is so interesting and I believe that even without an education one can identify good soil. A handful of sand or clay compared to a handful of forest soil, it is so easy to see how incredible forest soils are.

Where I live soils have a high clay content. (mountain foothills, Zone 3-4, Alberta, Canada) It amazes me how heavy these soils can be. I am constantly looking for beautiful organic filed soils, and am trying to build them where ever I work. It amazes me how the soil will change by simply covering clay soils with organic mulches. Months after applying a mulch I pull it back and see black soils often full of earth worms. Forests here always have such great soils though, dark, crumbly, full of organic content and bugs and worms.

Like many places we see lots of compacted soils. I liked seeing Million talk about yeoman techniques. I am very interested in how it ads gases to the soils. Aeration helps lawns so observation shows how this can help on smaller scales.

What excites me most is how you can see many techniques used in permaculture that heal and build soils. With all of the loss of great old soils, these techniques need to be promoted. Techniques like, composting, mulching, land works like swales and other contours, chisel ploughing (Yeoman), cell grazing, and cover cropping. There are just so many amazing opportunities to make soils better. I find it so exciting and this chapter really shines the light on this important part of agriculture and life.

I hope this helps the discussion.
A couple of the low areas hold water after spring melt and after heavy rains. I was thinking of using Swales to collect and distribute water to the ponds when constructed. I have also thought of pumping water up hill if necessary. I have lots of ideas and hoped that someone with more experience would be able to point me in the best direction. Thanks for the help and I hope to hear many more ideas.
7 years ago
I am so excited by the land works and water features in Sepp's designs. As wonderful as hugelkultur is and how it transforms land I am most excited by water/ponds. Water is the soul of the land and keeping it seems so very important. I have some land that has two good wells but they are at one of the lower points where the existing house and farm yard is and there is no water high up on the land. I want to build ponds on the land but I am a little unsure on how to best go about this. I am also unsure if we get enough water to fill ponds. The land is in Canada, in the central Alberta foothills at about 3500 ft. The growing zone is zone 2/3 and gets about 20 inches of rainfall in an average year but the climate is very dry. We also get some snow cover. The interesting thing about the land is that it is located near the top of a hill and I believe gets little water from above, it also is generally shaped like one half of an upside down bowl. The soil has a very high clay content. It was an old Dairy farm so most of the open land is pasture, some area more abused than others. I am hoping that my land can one day be as productive and full of life as is Sepp's. Any suggestions on how to best accomplish this or if I am too ambitious would be appreciated I am also looking at integrating many other techniques to hold water in the soil but the ponds are the area I am most unsure of. I am trying to attach a picture and marked general water flow with blue areas, some depressions on orange and the high point with Red Star. The land falls at least 100ft from high to low over the 155 Acres, the land has slope everywhere. Thanks
7 years ago
I have been learning a lot about permaculture during the last couple years, and lurking here taking in all the information I can. I have really started to realize the value of having animals in the system. Here is my problem. I am trying to figure out how to automate having animals as I am not living on site. We live in the city but have a jointly owned property a couple hours away that we spend our weekends at. We just got this property last fall.

Background on property:
If is about 160 acres with about 60 acres of forest (Mainly Poplar, and spruce with some pine, birch and lots of bushes in certain areas.) The other 90 acres are old hay fields and pasture for cattle. Currently we have someone renting some land to run cattle on it. The soil has a high clay content, especially in the pasture areas. These are the areas I would most like to help heal. I really don't have the resources for large scale escavation but I do have a 50 hp compact tractor with loader. (can also get access to tiller if needed) I hope to create some swales and would love to try to collect water for a pond but currently havce not as most of my time so far has just been cleaning up the junk on the land. We are in zone 2b in Central Alberta in Canada. I think the annual rainfall is around 20 inches but we get a lot of snow in the winter. The local farmers do not need irrigation because of the annual fall.

I guess my question for anyone is: How do you have animals (ie. chickens) when your not on site for about 5 of every 7 days. I see animal like chickens to be very important in help transforming land and balancing the eco-system. We have a lot of wild animals such as deer, Moose, coyote, etc. Would you recommend something like pigs as I think they can better fend for themselves with predators. I have been thinking that I could use a deer feeder for timed spray of feed to supplement the natural diet. My concern is mainly the safety of the animals. Also anyone with good examples of permaculture systems in a climate like this I would love to see links.

The examples of systems created by Sepp Holtzer and Geoff Lawton really inspire me to want to try and create something great. It would be great to have a system that mostly takes care of itself. With my current situation and all the land I have to work with excites me to so many possibilities. I hope that after a few years of helping to build a system on our land I can help others. Forums like this really bring like minds together and I hope to soon be more of giver and less take share my successes and failures.

** I did get an opportunity to tour the project that Paul, Sepp and so many others worked on in Dayton, MT. It was great, a very young system and it was great to talk to the people there about what they have already had to learn and adjust in the first few months. It is a very young system and I could already see how it was not only going to mature but change over time. That system is currently only 5-7 acres so it scared me a bit with how much work I have ahead of me. I guess I need to start small and expand, but I do think animals would help speed up the healing and changing on the land.
7 years ago