T Sousley

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since Jun 21, 2013
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Recent posts by T Sousley

How do you edit a thread or delete a thread you started ? Thanks
Thanks for your reply.

We have terraces , so our idea is to plant trees on those and graze in between, and then eventually graze under the trees when they are big enough.  In a permaculture orchard/silvo pasture type set up, but not limited to fruit trees, also include shrubs, nuts , vines , n fixers etc.. As far as timber for fire wood, animal fodder, wildlife, and of course lumber I'm thinking in the back pasture where there are already a fair amount of trees, I would thin , and use the wood in the best possible way for each tree, but I would thin to encourage grass, but then also plant not trees , for wood. I figure improving the current stand will give benefits this year and next , especially in improving grazing , then fruit trees will be about a 3-5 year investment before the return, and timber will be much further in the future ( other than harvesting what's already there).

So really it's more about what to cut to improve the woods currently. If that means taking out large trees so little one can grow, or cutting out little ones to big ones can grow I don't know. If it means cutting out sick trees, or if it means trimming them up. If it means cutting 10% 20% etc. Idk . So really I'm just lost on what to cut to improve a stand .

I don't want to cut and then realize I made a huge mistake by removing a 100 year old tree , or some rare native tree or what not . Or turned a nice lumber tree into firewood etc. Cleaning up woods just scares me , because I see the destruction it often is tied to conventionally, and don't want to get advice from someone who isn't sustainably focused so I figured the people on  permies forum could help me make these decisions in a way that's best for environment, wildlife, livestock, and me.


3 years ago
Hi, my farm is in mid Missouri, the property is mostly pasture, but there are trees along the fence row, in the back 40 there is a dry(ish) creek that has some woods and brush on the edges.  I have cattle I would like to graze in a system similar to Greg Judy. I want to keep trees on the property, and even plant more ( orchard , and lumber ) I would first like to start by improving the woods I have.

What trees do I cut , what do I keep? Obviously this will be hard to answer, but what are some general things to look for and theories on sustainable woodland management . Do I cut big trees, small trees , dead trees , should I prune and clean up other trees? Leave standing dead ? What percentage should I cut?

3 years ago
Wow so many great replies . I wish I knew how to quote the posts so I could reply to each , and thank you all.

Looks like first step will be to get some testing done (by an independent lab) soil samples , creek water samples, and we'll samples. Maybe also a radiation test to see if the nuke sites are giving the entire town cancer. ( I can't tell you how many people in Versailles have cancer , it's crazy)

There are a few other areas on the property, one where a neighbors lagoon overflows into a field , another around our lagoon, old burn sites. Property lines where neighbors spray herbicide etc. These are areas where I'd probably put in plant barriers , maybe clumping bamboo, willows , reeds, bio accumulators like you suggested. Also I've been a huge fan of Paul Stamets since highschool so if I get my mushroom farm going I could throw spent cakes and wood chips in these areas for myco filtration and remediation. Possibly use Korean Natural Farming or other bacteria, maybe probiotics or the kind made for septic tanks ..

As for the main dump I think I'll have to go and assess more. I hate going into this area , it feels so toxic and is heartbreaking for me to look at, but it's best to do it before mosquito season starts , they are really bad in this area. I'll pick through for metal and take what I can to scrap . Recycle bottles when I can ( I like old stuff so I may find some treasures as I get deeper.  Once I've hauled off all the stuff that can be done by hand ( if any of it can be) I will look into renting a backhoe or something. Dig out the area . Then plant reeds and other filter plants in the creek where it goes down stream , maybe another up stream . On the banks I will plant some bamboo or other plants to soak up water and keep the soil in tact so it doesn't spread down stream. Fill in the pit with woody debris , and maybe oyster mushrooms on straw bails , and if I grow other mushrooms the spent logs or substrate could be added. I guess build a giant bio filter. I'll also out some fencing around the area to keep livestock out.

 I'll also try and dig out old burn sites possibly. Maybe put in a concrete base and make a WOOD outdoor fireplace and not burn trash , or even a boggy pond with filter plants.. I just don't want water sitting and being contaminated, but I guess water could also be a medium for plants to remediate the area.

I just hate thinking of the entire farm probably having some level of plastic pollution , like little strings off feed bags or tarps , tiny bits of styrofoam, aluminum cans , rusty metal , cigarette butts. General trash being in the field of under them .  Even worse of course would be to find out the water and soil have radioactive or chemical pollution that makes the whole farm unliveable. In that case I'd have to consider selling the farm my father was raised on. That would be devastating . If I didn't sell I'd have to give up all my hopes and dreams of turning it into a sustainable/regenerative working farm with livestock and food production and turn it into massive bioremediation project, possibly timber or nursery production I guess , or maybe just an ornamental landscape garden for human enjoyment and wildlife habitat .

Idk when we'll get the test done but hopefully sooner than later. I guess I'll start cleaning it up before then.

The worst part is my uncle who owns half the farm (and my dad owning the other half) ((btw this is a 50%share if the entire farm not like one owns field a and the other owns field b)) is still stuck in his own ways . Maybe even more stubborn now that he's in his final months or year of life. Just the other day he wanted me to go burn some fence row overgrowth, and he had trimmed some trees on a fence row and then used styrofoam and other trash to try and burn the brush pile. Watching the styrofoam melt into the field was infuriating. The other problem is he has 4 kids none of which want to farm so idk how this will be dealt with when he's no longer with us. He and my dad got into it over him wanting to brushing and cut trees in a field and my dad (who I've mostly converted to holistic grazing) said we didn't need to do that , and let the trees grow and mob graze the field. I thought there was going to be a fist fight. Cancer has a way of really messing with people and their families, everyone is on edge and depressed and scared and all these emotions. My uncle is also 8years younger than my dad , but he stayed in Versailles and my dad moved to KC . We always had a house in Versailles also , until my grandpa passed in 2008 . Since then we moved my grandma back into the house and we stay there. I studied sustainable ag two years in college and then dropped out . Since then off and on I've done a thing here or there but since the farm is owned by both my dad and uncle trying to get the farm going again has been almost impossible. My dad recently retired and I've managed to get him 80-90% there on sustainable regenerative farming. The two of us have been there since January working on the house for my grandma who had some falls and can't use the stairs anymore. It's a huge family mess. I know I'm not the only one who's had similar struggles. Not to mention in 2017 we moved in with my great uncle on my mom's side. He's 86 and never married, and has Parkinson's.(my mom's parents both died young so he's like my grandfather. ) So we moved in with him so he wouldn't have to go to a nursing home. He lives in KC 2.5 hours away from our farm . Trying to care for two elderly relatives , two houses , one with a farm , with a 2 and a half hour drive between them , plus the added stress of cancer , my dad being retired my mom still working (both are 60 years old) .. it's been so stressful.

And of course in addition to all this family stress , the stress of upkeep on two homes and all the renovations for each home , plus the floods we've had , and other minor disasters , and every other stress you could imagine.... We have a giant junk yard to deal with.

So in someways it doesn't seem important. But it still is important to me.

Wow , I apologise for going of script and dumping all this on you poor strangers of permies. This feels more like a diary entry than a forum post. I guess I needed to get some things off my chest. Thanks for listening.

Please feel free to ignore all that stuff and only reply to the threads topic of handling a junk like or other debris and toxic spots on a farm.

Also happy to discuss the stress of dealing with family on this issue and others. Or perhaps I should find a different place to make a thread for that.

One last thought .. balancing zero waste and toxicity and general junkyness.    I've always been a scavenger who would find great things on the major trash days in the suburbs, ping-pong tables chairs etc. I love the Craigslist free section. But when you collect or save all these materials that may be useful someday , bottles , old scrap wood or metal , etc etc. When does the storage of these items become an eyesore , a toxic leeching rusting mess, a mosquito breeding ground , a junk pile. For example my dad got some old salvaged windows, he stripped the paint and sanded outside . I was very concerned that the paint was lead based, and it was sending it all over the farm . Am I too concerned with toxicity? I'm so afraid if lead , asbestos, even nano particles of plastic and heavy metals. Maybe I've become to afraid.

Sorry for the rant . I think that's it for now. Looking forward to all your thoughtful replies.

4 years ago
I agree , I've loved watching different "primitive tech" YouTube channels.

There was a cistern with a water filter with sand and charcoal , the concrete for the cistern was all made primitive method. I thought wow this would be great to water cattle.

I'll look for the video later. I think these videos are informative for homesteads and the permies people. You can take an idea an update it or use modern tools to make labor easier.

I also think they are good projects for kids to do on the homestead for fun. It's like extreme camping . Out in zone 4 or 5 or on the edge between them (as to not disturb zone five ) to go out and make a shelter over a few weeks or months. I've seen some amazing buildings and pools and kilns built , they would make the ultimate fort for a kid. If these videos and YouTube was around when I was a kid I know I would have tried to replicate some of the things I've seen.

Good thread .
4 years ago
All great responses . I should clarify that by garden I really mean yard , or landscape.  Here is part of the property , majority will be used for livestock . In the field at the bottom of the picture I'm thinking hoop houses for a market garden. But the yard also has a smaller vegetable garden we use currently.  

The ideas of borders making things more formal , and using patterns . I was even thinking that perhaps some patterns in nature could be used in a formal way . Measuring I think adds formality.

Another question is the use of ornamentals or other non productive plants. What are good yeilds or niches that ornamentals can provide.

Pruning and management are some big problems with the formal garden , but if I can find yeild or uses for these clippings then maybe it becomes more worth the labor. Prune and take cuttings at the same time. Etc.

The other concern is money formal gardens can be expensive, any good methods to reduce cost of materials ? Especially things for hard scape like stone and concrete  gravel brick .. all expensive. Maybe sustainable ways to source these items . Maybe they can provide multiple functions in the system . Self propagation, using plants ripped out from construction and landscape projects. Any ideas on this?

Going to have to look into that book . I think my dad and the rest of the family have an idea of what presentable looks like . Some of the more let it grow where ever attitude permaculture stuff keeps them from wanting to try it . Like giant hugel beds covered in edible weeds and other random plants .  They want it to look neat and orderly like someone is taking care of it . So using patterns and finding functions for formal elements is a good way to mix the two.

Thanks for all the info . I'll try and ad some photos maybe of ideas or inspiration from formal gardens and how they might be adapted to a more holistic approach.


   The family farm I'd like to make regenerative/ sustainable permaculture farm has a dump pile. Junk for years was dumped there even recently my uncle who is the opposite of permaculture , dumped more junk and burned it. This is in a ditch or "dry" creek that does infact run further down stream especially during rain events.

I need the cheapest easiest fastest and best solutions to this horrible mess. Unfortunately I seem to be the only one here who cares and thinks it absolutely horrible. Also for years there are smaller burn piles that had household trash and all sorts of things burned in them. This is a common rural practice and it's not good. We have well water here and my grandfather died from stomach cancer and my uncle has pancreatic cancer now. So I'm very concerned about the water. ( Located in Missouri where radon is a problem (haven't tested yet) and there are several former nuclear warhead sites in the are also) hope we don't have an Erin Brockovitch situation.

Weather or not the water is causing cancer, I hate the idea of this burned up kick sitting in a river bed.

We've been doing some renovations on the house for my grandma and I've convinced them to at least take the metal , like cast iron sinks and tub to a scrap metal place. May try and get some metal junk from the dump to take also.

I'd like to be zero waste , but it's a struggle, and toxicity is also a big worry for me . As a family we do find good deals and I've always been a scavenger, saving items before they got sent to the landfill by neighbors ( when I lived in the suburbs) but the more waste you save the harder it is to keep it in good shape and it degrades and pollutes etc.

Anyway back to the main purpose of this post, what to do about the junk yard. All suggestions are helpful. Thanks

4 years ago

    I've recently watched Monty Don's French Garden show and Italian Garden show on Netflix as well as some of his other garden shows . These shows are mostly of large formal gardens made by royalty or wealthy powerful people 100s of years ago.

These are beautiful gardens but they are different from permaculture gardens . Of course things were organic , and done by animal or human power mostly (of course servants usually did this work).  Some beautiful gardens were also created at the beginning of the industrial revolution including glass houses and green houses filled with rare plants or to extend the season .

Gravity fed water fountains and displays, amazing hedges, this was a time where people really truly enjoyed the outdoors and spent a lot of time in the gardens. Of course this was a very wealthy life stlye lived by kings like King Louis at Versailles. Our farm is actually in Versailles MO, and I went with my dad and my brother a few summers ago to Versailles France which may have sparked my love for these European gardens.

My family which is only slowly warming up to the idea of permaculture I think might be more interested if the design was more formal .

I'm trying to figure out if there are ways to make a beautiful gardens with some formal European elements mixed in with permaculture elements.

Any ideas of formal Renaissance garden elements that could be given a permaculture twist.

I figure permaculture can't really have a bad plant, if you know the functions it serves.

Hedges and living fences are both beautiful and can create habitat for insects and birds etc. Block the road and noise .. create outdoor rooms for people and microclimates for plants and critters

Patterns found in nature can be replicated in a more formal mathematical style.

Flowers attract insects, can be cut as a business, also look beautiful and attract people

Green houses can preserve rare plants and animals for permaculture observation and study and genetic /species preservation.( I also have a interest in bonsai , terrariums , aquariums etc. )

All hedge clipping and pruning can use that bio mass for compost , mulch , fodder , wood for fires bio char etc.

Those are some ideas I had , I also had an idea to use different styles as inspiration for particular sections of the yard, placed in microclimates that fit their natural location. Japanese style in a shady spot under and oak , mederterainian style on the sunny side of the house . Water garden in the wet spot. Etc.

Anyone have other ideas on a formal , ornamental style garden done with permaculture design? Pictures are always nice.


Would either of you be able to identify this ? I thought it must be silver berry but really I know nothing about plants , just trying to learn
4 years ago