Dan Ellis

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since Aug 20, 2013
Howard County, Maryland
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Recent posts by Dan Ellis

Permies,

I've got more of an academic question for you.

When doing permaculture on a property, having observed the property and developed a design, earthworks are a good candidate for step 1 in the transformation. Permies know that water is the key to life and that spreading, slowing, and sinking water where we want it is a good thing. We talk about how this is a win-win for the land we steward and downstream lakes and bays, who now get less of our topsoil, not to mention less nitrogen runoff from downstream neighbors who fertilize their beautiful lawns. We take water that might quickly move downhill on the surface and slow it to put it in the soil.

My question is thinking about this from the macro perspective. Is it good for everybody to do this on the land they steward? Are there any negative impacts if this particular activity (digging swales to maximize water in the soil) when done on large scale? What are the effects when thinking about this phenomenon on areas of scale, say, a watershed? Is it possible that there is too much of a good thing in this matter? What would that look like? How would we recognize it?

2 years ago

wendy wollstonecraft wrote:Hello, Dan, did you ever find the dog you were looking for, or anything close? I would like an Anatolian shepherd but they're not hypoallergenic.



Nope. I found several useful livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) and several hypoallergenic dogs. Unfortunately, the intersection of the two groups is nada.

So, I'm considering livestock guardian llamas as an alternative.
2 years ago
Folks,

I'm a bit ahead of the rest of my family in vision. (My wife and I have 5 awesome children, ages 4 - 16.) It would be really helpful to my wife and children to see and experience what some of the outcomes can be. It'll be easier for us to work together if we share a common vision. We've seen a handful of beautiful farms and homesteads. We'd like to see more of everything across the permies landscape.

There are many ways to learn about permaculture, natural building, animal husbandry, herbalism, etc. Is anybody aware of or provide a service for those tourism-types of permaculture experiences? This might be getaways for a weekend, a week, or longer -- for individuals, couples, or families -- structured instruction, hands-on experiences, casual tours, or unstructured time to wander, observe, and process feedback -- rooms for rent, or place to set up a tent.

This might be a good thread at the intersection of the education and regional categories.

If you know of somebody willing to entertain such an idea, publicly advertised or not, feel free to contact me offline. My particular interests are within a day's drive of the mid-Atlantic.

Cheers,
Dan
dr.dan.ellis@gmail.com
3 years ago
There have been times when the language used in the videos has competed with the project objective of broad dissemination. I'd encourage you to raise the bar on the language content and explicitly set expectations as to the language content of the film. What some might see as the "full glory of the English language" (I think that's how Paul's described it) -- others might view as vulgar and offensive. For example, when I give some of my friends the video I provide a disclaimer "by the way, there are f-bombs." Several of my friends are very sensitive to such language and have handed back the video and politely declined to watch. How many backers of previous videos have felt similarly? If that language is edited out, being explicit about that might be more inviting to past backers. It will almost certainly increase the audience base and help achieve the objective of broadening dissemination.

It's hard for me to formulate a reason not to edit out language that competes with the objectives of the project. I just can't imagine that there are many people who will watch the video and think, "$#@!. I was so hoping for more f-bombs. I won't act on this. I won't share this with my friends."
Anybody know of a reasonable livestock guardian dog that is hypoallergenic?

Thanks,
Dan
4 years ago
I've got a LOT of pine on the property. The previous owner planted 500+ white pines as a wind break and privacy barrier. I'd like to replace those with something that serves those functions and still other functions. In the end, I've got a lot of pine to bring down. I've started using downed pines in hugelkultur swales along which I'll plant a food forest. I'm torn between using a resource that I have (pine) and using something that might be a better fungal medium (hardwood mulch provided commercially). How much does using pine set me back in terms of developing the soil that will be beneficial for a food forest?

Thanks,
Dan
4 years ago
Hi Chris,

Do you handle problems with radon the same way in natural homes as you do in conventional homes?

Thanks,
Dan
4 years ago
Paul,

I like the objective you have in mind: evaluating pine's utility as a base for hugelkulture. I've got 500 white pines around my property. I'm very interested in the answer!

But, besides having fun with a Vitamix, I don't see the point of the experiment. It won't give you data that's useful for evaluating the question above. What you want is not the pH of a component, but the effect of the component on the pH of the system over time.

A better experiment to run would be to make a few hugelkulture mounds using similar soil: one from pine, one from a common hardwood, one with nothing but soil. Measure the pH of those soils over time. That's what you care about. Yeah, that will take longer.

From a practical perspective, why not just use the pine and measure the pH along the way. Add potash from burning surplus pine to lower the pH, if necessary.

Or am I missing the key link between the pH of water with blended pine needles in it and world domination?

Cheers,
Dan
4 years ago

There are lots of hawks in our neck of the woods. We have five acres without any substantial barrier to the rural community around us. We're about to start raising chicks. I would like to free range the chickens within and around our property. I've seen several hawks and a few foxes on our property. We don't have a livestock guardian dog or fencing yet. I plan on getting a coop and securing the ladies every night. Am I naive to think that they'll be fine on their own during the day? Or is free ranging them just putting up a buffet for local predators? Will I need to give up on free ranging and keep them in a chicken tractor or portable fence system constantly? Portable fences also don't seem like they will help manage the threat from hawks. I'm sure this problem has been addressed millions of times. Anybody got any effective, low-cost solutions?

Thanks in advance,
Dan
4 years ago

Grant Schultz wrote:

Dan Ellis wrote:

As a crop, they're not good for much. I haven't found anybody who'd be willing to harvest them just to take them away for free.



What? That is HUGE timber value. Why would you even consider giving that resource away for free? Call your local State Forester. They could provide an estimate of value, references for a logger, or even a portable sawmill operator who could come on-site and mill your trees for timbers for a new barn!



That's what I expected, too. I had a visit with a state forester a couple of months ago to develop a forest management plan. He came and looked the property and trees over. He told me that nobody in the area is interested in pine. He told me that if it were oak, maple, or something -- anything -- else, I could probably make some money on the deal.

I would LOVE to be proven wrong on this. If anybody knows anybody willing to harvest pine in central MD -- please let me know.
5 years ago