George Hayduke

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since May 21, 2012
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Recent posts by George Hayduke

My grandparents lived in a small town in North Florida, and although I was a suburban kid I was always strongly drawn to the land.  When I graduated from college I went looking for land in North Florida, and one day I drove down a dirt road and saw a hand-lettered sign offering 15 acres for sale.  I called the phone number, negotiated with the seller, and bought the land owner-financed.  Over the years I paid it off, and when new land around me would come on the market I would buy it.  Now, twenty years later, I have about 50 acres.  I recently made an offer on an additional 23 acres.  We shall see....

When I bought it the land consisted of pasture that had given way to volunteer pines for a half century.  I cut down a few acres of pines and converted them to pasture.  Over time I built a house, outbuildings, and added a solar well and a windmill.  Raised bed gardens and livestock pens were built.  We dammed a creek and built a pond.  Not incidentally, I also got married under a giant oak on our farm, and we raised four children.  

Moving to the farm was one of the best decisions we ever made.  There have been hardships, but there is immense beauty every day.  

2 years ago
I wouldn't count on group hugs to solve your problem.  I get along well with several of my neighbors, but there are people who through no fault of your own you will never be able to get along with, mostly because they're deranged.

I live in a rural area next to five run-down mobile homes, some of which may or may not be involved in artisanal meth production.  And yet, I never have a problem with the neighbors.  Why?

I fenced my property with a 4' tall field fence with a strand of barbwire on the top.

I have three dogs, one of which is a certifiable 140 lb. bad ass.  (Google fila brasileiro and check out the videos on Youtube.)

I post No Trespassing signs.

I put a few game cameras around the property that text me a photo whenever they detect a moving object.

On some weekends I engage in noisy target practice with guns.

I'm not saying you have to do all of these things, but you can certainly pick and choose from the list.  I'm now 20 years into my little rural adventure and never, ever have a problem with the neighbors.  



2 years ago
Big dog + small gun.
3 years ago
I've experimented with a number of breeds, and I'd definitely go with the Bresse. They are the best meat chicken in the world and have 500 years of free-range genetics to help them survive.
3 years ago
You mentioned in your book that a food forest is five times more productive than conventional agriculture. Do you grow enough food in your food forest to feed yourself?
3 years ago
Time for some tough love.

You're basically complaining that society fails to provide you compensation for something you value. Your solution isn't to hope society comes around to your way of thinking. Your solution is to sell something people want.

It's surprising to me that among the many things you list as your offerings, none of them include food that you've actually grown using permaculture principles. If you can't offer a value proposition that is superior to the dominant paradigm --and demonstrate that it works through your own experience-- no people of modest means are going to want what you're selling. Frankly, caring about the secondary impacts of shortsighted agricultural practices is a luxury that only wealthy people can afford. If you're poor, pressed for time, and hungry, generally all you care about is filling your gut with the maximum number of calories, now. That's why for every permaculture calorie consumed, a million industrial agriculture calories are consumed in America.

In my view, permaculture should not be a system with the primary aim of effecting social justice. It should be a low-impact system for reliable food production. First, actually feed yourself using permaculture principles. Then, we can debate the many causes of income inequality.

I have serious doubts that permaculture, as often portrayed in some overgeneralized loopy Youtube video, will actually work in the real world. Permaculture enthusiasts often gloss over the many pitfalls of the system, including: 1) how long it takes to grow a productive food forest (answer: sometimes decades), 2) how many crop failures you will encounter from weather, pests, and a lack of adequate soil nutrients, 3) how much less effective nitrogen fixers are than a bag of fertilizer, 4) how difficult it is to manage pests using no chemicals, 5) how much hand labor it takes to eliminate weeds, and 6) how unaccustomed we are to dealing with the seasonality of food and how most people lack the experience or energy to store food when it becomes ready for harvest.

The reality is that growing food on a meaningful scale using permaculture is only suitable to a very few: those who have arable land, a benign climate, and the ability to live in one place for a lengthy period of time. But, the field is replete with people who will tell you about the many benefits of permaculture but who consume almost 100% of their food calories from sources more closely aligned with conventional agriculture. I think permaculture is very much an experiment that remains to be validated, and I often wonder whether a hundred years from now people will see today's permaculture movement as the beginnings of a transformational paradigm or a curious historical footnote that could never deliver on the outsized claims associated with it.



3 years ago
Good article but the single biggest omission is not mentioned auto-sexing chicken breeds. If you have auto-sexers (Cream Legbars, Bielefelders, etc.) you can determine the gender of your chicks on Day 1 and cull the roosters. This saves the homesteader a tremendous amount of wasted effort and feed. These breeds were only recently introduced in the US but should be at the top of the list when considering which breed to select.
3 years ago
My peach trees tend to drop leaves from a fungus in the mid to late summer. I just let them do it and don't treat for the fungus. In the spring the leaves come out healthy and stay healthy long enough to produce a crop of peaches.
3 years ago
The yields are similar to conventional methods.
I grow grapes on my fences and use them as an adaptive wall on one of my sheds. In the summer the grapes shade the interior where I grow tilapia, and in the winter the leaves fall off and allow the sun to shine inside the structure. And, of course, my wall also produces food.