Becky Mundt

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since Jan 21, 2013
east coast childhood, living and raising my own kids in Hawaii and on the west coast - too many mistakes to list them all, but so many insights that it was all worth it - started writing words and music before age 8 and never stopped. Open minded is my motto - no idea is too bizarre for me to consider - refuse to marry any dogma or limiting belief. Work every day to keep my mind open and to be present and appreciate the radiant beauty of nature and life.
Cascadia Zone 8b Clay
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Recent posts by Becky Mundt

Watching the last light hit the forest above the fields behind the house as the late sun sets and the rest of the world goes quiet and soft in the grey dusk and the baby squirrels raid the seeds under the feeder one last time, hiding under their tails.
3 years ago
Deer fence. Yep.
We're in the middle of it right now.
1200 feet of fence around ~ 2.5 acres of our total 5 acres.

Essentially zones 1, 2 and a bit into 3 - so we skirt just inside the woods which are the upper portion of our 5 acres, and leave wildlife corridors on both sides. We'll have some wooded shade for our mushroom logs and shady perennial gardens (and also have the fence up there more or less invisible from below as it's in the woods about 30 feet - just below the main deer trail.

We are installing ourselves, using red brand and black vinyl coated hexmesh deer fence - the hex on the wooded eastern upper edge (it's black and harder to see) and topped with 2 plain wires - fence is to 6 feet and wires take us to just under 8 feet. Round wooden posts in concrete for corners and a few H braces - and metal T posts set in the (mostly clay)_soil for the rest - it's not cheap - we saved up for it - ~5K with supplies and some helping labor from a local permaculture school - great helpers!

We started with earthworks in late 2015 - a sloping swale to draw water off the hillside above the house/chickens and garden area and into a basin that flows to a spillway to a lower pond - this spring the entire area is full of water and the frog chorus is beyond amazing. There is a natural pond up in the woods for the wildlife, so they have their own water access.

But our plantings of the first of the food forest, currants and flowering plants for our bees were getting chomped by deer relentlessly - and I was tired of losing my battles to keep the garden deer proof.

We talked a lot about whether to just fence one garden area, but after discussions with other permaculturists who've done their whole properties or at least the larger inner zones, it made sense to us to give ourselves the freedom to really open up what we can do inside a larger protected area.  

It is a lot of work, but we're really happy with our decision.

We also have regular foxes, coyotes, cougar and the occasional bear around here, so the fencing will mean they can't just waltz right up and eat our ducks or knock down hives for honey. This winter we lost 2 of our ducks for the first time, and have nearby bee keepers who lost hives to bears.

We used electric fencing around the garden for the first 2 years here OK but by year 3 the deer were onto us - the fencing doesn't really bother them, esp. in dry summer weather - they don't ground much on dry earth - tiny hooves. So then they just walk through it - basically shoulder barrel it out of the way. They send their kids in under the lower wire and figure out really quick how to negotiate the '3D' style of off setting the lines - we've tried it all.
By last summer (year 4) they just walked through anywhere and took what they wanted.

If you rent a one man auger and only put in wood posts and cement in your main corners, a few H braces and braces around gates you can use metal T posts for the rest - and get a lot of fencing for a lot less money than doing wood/cement posts all around.

We paid $189/roll for 165 feet of 6 foot redbrand deer fence at the local farm supply store - and about $7ea/10 foot T posts (most places seem to be at about $10/ea)

Since you're going 8 feet tall (assuming you want to actually keep the deer out) you need a 10 foot post - 12 foot were too hard to find and too expensive when we did find them, but the 10s are working out just fine.

You can also use 2 4foot fences one on top of the other - we know of at least one place where they did that and like it. We were really looking to keep the visual impact as low as possible -hence the wire on top instead of solid fence to 8 feet.

It might be possible to find better pricing or get used materials for some of this - we just made our budget and planned for it and did our best to hold the line on the expenses once we had it set. If you can wait and plan and take your time, you could gather materials 2nd hand and other ways for more savings.

The best money spent by far was for the people helping us. Find your local permaculture people and hire them. Local fence contractors go for $30 to $50/hour according to our research. But you can pay half that (a decent wage for short term help) and get great hard workers who know their stuff.

PLUS you make great new friends! Best thing we ever did was take the earthworks class at Aprovecho four years ago! It got us the education we needed first, and the team to actually create our vision and get it in motion. Highly recommend finding your local permaculture center!

Earthworks, plantings and fences are just the first parts of the plan, then the real fun begins!

Good luck with your place! Don't forget to think about earthworks ideas first!

3 years ago

Clifford Reinke wrote:

My coop is an open air design I modified from a 1919 book on chicken coops.  This type of coop was used as far north as Alberta Canada with -20 degree weather.  Chickens have nice down coats, and do not mind the cold.  The large front windows are covered in 1/4 inch hardware cloth.  I have a trap door that leads to the "daylight basement/dusting area".  I lock them in every night because we have weasel problems.  I use a four paddock system with the solar powered, 160 foot,  electric poultry netting which I move once a week.  There is no artificial light in the hen house (although I may add solar powered lights later).  Food consumption does rise with colder weather, and if it freezes I change out the water more frequently so it does not ice over.

I replace the straw under the roost every week with the straw from the nesting boxes and the front of the coop.  New straw is placed in the nesting boxes and the front of the coop.  I use the pooped on straw as mulch around my fruit trees.  My compost pile is on the border between two of my paddocks.  So two weeks out of four, the chickens get to turn my compost pile for me eating bugs and worms.  The other two weeks allow the bugs and worms to recover.  The compost pile is on a slope, so we throw the new stuff on the top of the hill and shovel the good stuff from the bottom of the hill.

I have 13 Barred Rock chickens, two roosters and 11 hens.  I'm averaging 9 eggs a day, even though it is winter.  My chickens seem very happy and healthy, the coop does not smell bad, stays dry, takes five minutes to clean once a week.  I think for me, I've finally found the right combination.

I sure wish I could see the photos that were posted with this!  Love the idea of the compost pile being the area the girls get to move through each two weeks. I also love the idea of the open air south facing windows - we have a big glass window from a junk store that opens but we close it at night - I wonder if I could eventually replace it with hardware cloth to make the house lighter and easier to move around... Lots of great ideas here! thanks!!
3 years ago
Mike Turner,

If you are looking for a sunroot that is slower to spread, try White Dwarf, Dwarf Sunray, or Supercluster as they are smaller, less invasive plants than the average sunroot cultivar. You can find them at Oikos.

What is an Oikos?

4 years ago
So wish I could drop everything and go do this! SO want to learn it - and play with it aroud the farm here... esp with all the clay we have, and things I want to build. I hope you guys will post lots of pics and share your fun as you do this - I can live vicariously for now, right!? *sigh* My gardens, chickens, ducks and dogs won't let me just skedaddle outta here just now - but I surely do wish I could! *swoon* - cob! It's what I want to doooooooooooooooo!!! I envision a cob wall along the front of our place between us and the road one day... Yes. Yes. It WILL happen. Sending you great vibes for tons of folk not as constrained as I am to come and learn the great art and play, pick berries and enjoy the magic! Totally jealous of you all! Please DO post pictures!! What a generous and outstanding offer!!
5 years ago
I remember when it did mean something. We started the first paper recycling at our school the year it started.
We'd collect newpapers from the entire neighborhood and take them to school by bicycle towed trailer...
We all rode bikes everywhere and for a while my family didn't even own a car - when I got my license there was no car to drive. hah.

This year I moved the chicken pasture fence to new grass. Spread some Cascadia organic fertilizer as per Steve Solomon
on their old torn up stomping grounds and seeded it with parsley, chamomile, scarlet clover and various flowers -
including sunflowers, nasturtiums, and a whole bunch of others...

That felt like a good chore on a beautiful sunny but cool and windy day. Today it rained and watered it all in.

Didn't solve any bigger problems, but the girls are happy. I'm helping support the Benton County local ordinance, even though it's not my county - (wish it was) - and I'll abstain from any car travel until the weekend trip to town. That's a pretty good contribution for the week of earth day, I guess.
5 years ago
Welcome Feidhlim! - Perhaps you have some miracle genius ideas for this slow witted Northwestern-er...

What is the best way to reconfigure an existing septic system?
Our septic is in a totally lousy location (came that way) and could probably be 'okay' if we could,
for example, just direct the vast majority of waste water to an alternate system...
Never mind that 'gray water systems are outside of the allowable in our State code - we will just
have to deal with that as we go...

The biggest issue I see facing us is that we are super wet in winter and super dry in summer. Freezing is not a big issue,
a few cold enough days now and then - but how to store excess water in winter for use in summer is the real challenge.

Otherwise we're just adding to the constant downward flow across the property in winter - already doing earthworks planning
to at least slow and pool some of that, but adding to it with gray water seems less than intelligent.

Feels like that leaves storage tanks or... or... ehm... no brilliant ideas are popping into my head that won't require
some kind of pumping - the house is near the lower end of the slope of this property - so the majority of it is uphill.
5 years ago
Hello Feidhlim!

This is a topic close to my heart - so much water... so much waste! So want to see new options... So happy you're here! yay!

Thanks for coming by!

Looking forward to it!

5 years ago
Hello and welcome, Adam!

Man, I have always been so sure I want to support a dairy farmer and not be one...
but 'The Beautiful Way' idea made me just want to find out if maybe I'd change my mind!
I'm a big lover of raw milk and there is no cheese I am not fond of, I'm pretty certain of that!
Right now my fave is a raw goat cheddar. unreal. *swoon*

So maybe I just need to reconsider this not doing the dairy thing myself...

That's a little bit scary to me!
5 years ago

Sarah Loy wrote:The amount of variability with transplants is, of course huge. I am really interested to see how this comes out but I hope folks give a lot of detail in their method. Good tomato transplants require full sun, should have bottom heat for fast germination and to stimulate root growth. The seeding mix should be well aerated and have good moisture retention. Pot size should be matched to the length of time that the plant will be growing before transplanting out so that roots are developed enough to hold together the potting mix at time of transplant but not to the point becoming root bound. Watering should be even so that the plants are not stressed by wilt. Good temperatures for tomatoes are in the 80's F day and 60's F night. Plants should be hardened off in a coldframe for a few days to a week before transplant. Once transplanted in, with as little root disturbance as possible, they should be watered in with a nutrient tea. The reason people started using transplants was to optimize the growing environment to get an earlier start or to prevent the loss of precious seeds. If someone's situation makes it difficult to produce a good healthy transplant then it is unlikely to out perform the direct seeded one. People with long growing seasons have a lot more room for variable conditions. In our short season we need season extension on both ends most years to get a decent crop of tomatoes and a lot of people now grow them in high tunnels for the whole season. It's actually a lot less work for me to raise a transplant in my greenhouse then it would be to be protecting the direct seeded one on a 20 degree F night in May. Tomatoes are some of the easiest things to transplant, luckily since they produce adventitious roots. Cucurbits are a whole different story. They really suffer from any root disturbance so I either direct seed if they don't need a long season, like pumpkins or squash, or seed into jiffy 7's if the seed is super expensive, or needs a little longer season, like melons. Happy growing everyone. Most of our snow is gone other then the shady spots now and I can hardly wait to see some green tree buds.

I have to agree with this post - we planted out transplants from our local farmers market farm this spring - and we got a veritable jungle of heirloom and cherry tomatoes - 8 feet tall and just cascading out of the raised beds - we did not start any seeds directly in the beds to compare; but if we had they would have been at least a good 8 weeks late if not 12 weeks late compared to these starts that were begun in a greenhouse well before last frost. We had amazing crops of tomoates, peppers and eggplants this way - into south side of the house raised beds of compost mix soils and composted manure along with the Steve Solomon Cascadia organic fertilizer mix - everything was huge, prolific and abundant from basils and herbs to volunteer squash and transplanted peppers, eggplants and tomatoes - triple harvests on eggplants were astounding!
6 years ago