Anna Hess

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since Sep 17, 2012
You can read far more than you want to know about me and my husband on our blog, with the highlights at http://www.waldeneffect.org/about/ .  I learned about permaculture a few years ago and have been happily exploring the intersections of ecology, gardening, and chickens ever since.  I love to garden, read, and write, and my husband's invention of a POOP-free chicken waterer (http://www.avianaquamiser.com) pays the bills so I can explore my passions.
Southwest Virginia
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Recent posts by Anna Hess

Thanks for the bump! I did get a few great entries, but I've now turned in the manuscript, so unfortunately there's no time for any more. Thanks to everyone for their help!
6 years ago
Some of you may be familiar with my book, The Weekend Homesteader, which came out a couple of years ago. I'm currently putting the finishing touches on The Naturally Bug-Free Garden, which will be published by Skyhorse in spring 2015, and I'm looking for some first-hand accounts to expand the book's reach.

First-hand accounts of your experience with controlling pest insects in the garden without chemicals, combined with print-resolution photos, are most likely to fit the bill. I'm especially keen on hearing from folks who use livestock for pest control in the garden and from folks who have to deal with pests like slugs and grasshoppers that aren't much of a problem on our farm. So far, I've accepted submissions from folks who attract salamanders and toads with hugelkultur, who bring mantises into the garden with ragweed, and who use an array of flowers to attract pollinators. You can email your submissions to anna@kitenet.net. (Please only include one photo per email if the file are large --- otherwise your email will bounce.)

What's in it for you? You can win either the prizes mentioned in this post: http://www.waldeneffect.org/blog/The_Naturally_Bug-Free_Garden_hits_prime_time/ or in this post: http://www.avianaquamiser.com/posts/Poultry_in_the_garden_contest/ (your choice). Plus, you'll get to see your name in print, and I'll include the URL of your website if you want. I wish I could offer you cold, hard cash too, but small publishers don't give big advances.

Thanks in advance for your submissions!
6 years ago
Lauren --- I recommend working on your skills and learning the region. Even though you might not want to put too much energy into long-term fertility building in a rental situation, if they let you use part of the yard, it's worth trying your hand at a small garden and even a fruit tree to start your learning curve. You might be able to keep chickens and/or honeybees in a rental situation, and can definitely work on your skills about cooking with and preserving real food in season. Good luck!
7 years ago
Alex --- Sorry, didn't see your followup question until just now....

We have a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and so far we just feed her dog food. (Well, and scraps from the deer we hunt and sometimes livers from the chickens we kill.) Definitely not all that sustainable, but she does pull her weight on the homestead.
7 years ago
Our girls sometimes split up, but we've got 10 of them. With just a few hens, I'd think they'd all stay together, especially if they don't feel entirely safe.

Usually, our hens split up for one of two reasons. Either someone needs to go back to the coop to lay an egg (which you could prevent by waiting to let them out until everyone has laid), or we have subflocks happening. Subflocks are never good, but are hard to prevent if you're trying to add new chickens to an existing flock --- they don't integrate right away. If you get all your chickens from the same place, they should be nice to each other and stick together.
7 years ago
With a good rooster, your flock might make it. I used to think our rooster was worthless until we started free ranging the hens in the winter, but now I think he's worth his weight in gold. I'm not sure even a tough cat could beat a good rooster.
7 years ago
Deb --- You might try soaking the ground and then the components as you put down kill mulches and hugelkultur. That's what folks seem to recommend in dry climates, and it can't hurt (if you have the water on hand).
7 years ago
Darrin --- I hear that question a lot about getting a spouse on board. My husband is thinking of adding a weekly relationship advice column to our blog --- maybe I'll add that in as one of the starter questions.
7 years ago
Henrica --- I actually have an ebook on amazon about incubation --- http://www.amazon.com/Permaculture-Chicken-Incubation-Handbook-ebook/dp/B007QF1UME/ --- and have another one in the works about pasturing chickens. I got sidetracked with the one I'm in the middle of about living in a trailer, but should be back to work on my pasture book by winter and maybe have it out by spring if there aren't too many farm catastrophes in between.

NJ --- I've written a lot about my insect control philosophy above. The book doesn't have in-depth information about bugs, but does help you build a diverse ecosystem so they're much less of a problem.

Patricia --- Your question might get moved to its own thread, but I'll answer it anyway. We haven't experimented with algae, but did try duckweed, which is reputed to be a great chicken feed. Unfortunately, our birds turned up their snooty beaks.... On the other hand, those same birds also ignored comfrey, but some broiler chicks this spring found tender comfrey leaves growing under the peach and scarfed them down, so it might be worth another try on the duckweed.
7 years ago
Deb --- Gooseberries and currants are perfect for northerners. I prefer the former because I'm a fresh fruit fanatic, but jelly eaters love currants. As a bonus, I've read (but haven't tried myself) that both gooseberries and currants will fruit in partial shade, which makes them a good fit for forest gardens.

You might try hugelkultur donuts around plain soil. I use that method to expand my tree mounds, which gives the wood time to rot before the plant roots reach it. I don't put soil in mine either, since I don't need immediate decomposition, just mulch it heavily and wait. I'd put down your logs first, then the wood chips and bark over top. That'll be high in carbon, but if you get enough water to it, I'd think the plant roots could start using it in one or two years.

Thanks so much for reading the ebooks!
7 years ago