Isaac Bickford

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since Dec 31, 2013
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Recent posts by Isaac Bickford

I wanted to bump this to the top of the recent posts lists, in case some folks missed it and are willing to give their thoughts.
Wayne, thanks for your thoughts. There is certainly a lot of overlap between NRCS and permaculture work. I would say many of the tools in the toolbox of each are similar. My impressions are that permaculture tends to be more willing to adopt practices with a slow pay off, whereas NRCS likes to see results within a few years. Permaculture also has a much higher focus on energy and labor efficiency. NRCS officially lists "Human" and "Energy" as resource concerns that we should plan for, but in practice they tend to play second fiddle to the issues of soil erosion, water quality, etc. I haven't heard of "out on the land" - thanks for mentioning it.

Barbara, thanks for posting. Perhaps you can help put me in touch with some of the local folks who are already offering permaculture design resources, as Larry mentioned.

Larry, very good thoughts. One of the ways that NRCS currently provides financial assistance is to pay for "Conservation Activity Plans." The way this works is that we provide money to the landowner, who hires a private sector consultant. I've worked with these for forest management plans and energy audits, but there are many other options available as well. The main challenge with this right now is the limited number of consultants who have been vetted through our process.

Great suggestions and thoughts! Much appreciated.
I work for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). For those who are unfamiliar with the agency, it is part of the United States Department of Agriculture and offers financial and technical assistance for farming, ranching, and forestry; monitors snow pack and provides water supply forecasting in the western US; and operates research farms for agroforestry and conservation plant materials.

NRCS has recently been increasing its work with small farms, growers of niche crops, and organic farms. I am considering writing a white paper to recommend that NRCS encourage some of our planners to obtain permaculture design certificates and provide free permaculture designs.

I am looking for feedback from US-based permies about this idea. Here's some specific questions:
1. Would you be willing to work with a federal agency for a free permaculture design?
2. Would you be able to implement/install a permaculture design with your own financial resources?
3. If you are not able to implement a permaculture design with your own resources, for which type of practices would you be interested in receiving financial assistance?
4. Do you have any other thoughts on this idea?

Please post in your reply whether you would be willing to have your words quoted anonymously in my write up to NRCS, and whether you are willing for me to contact you via PM for further questions.
It would be helpful to list the state and county where your land is located. I suspect if this goes anywhere, NRCS would want to pilot it in a small area. If I can mention specific counties that have expressed great interest, it would help identify potential pilot areas.
Get in touch with the folks from Natural Resources Conservation Service at your closest USDA service center. They'll be able to give you a good starting point of forage produced in good or bad years for your soil type. If you're good with computers, you can find that information yourself on the Web Soil Survey.
8 years ago
Farm Service Agency often has loans for ag business, specifically for cases when a commercial loan is not available or not affordable.
8 years ago

Joe Bourguignon wrote:

Izzy Bickford wrote:I've been using a homemade toothpowder (the Wellness Mama recipe was my starting point)

Izzy, mind sharing the recipe that you've settled on? It sounds like you've made some refinements... John S, thanks for the DVD review, sounds good!


HolgateHomestead, PDX, OR

Sorry for the slow reply. I've been moving the last week.

I didn't write down the exact mix I used last time, but it was something like:

3 Tb calcium bentonite clay
1 Tb calcium powder
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 Tb finely ground mineral salt

I use the OraWellness blend for the essential oils, so I don't mix them into the tooth powder. I found it cheaper and more convenient to buy the wellness blend rather than individual essential oils.
8 years ago
I've been using a homemade toothpowder (the Wellness Mama recipe was my starting point) in the morning, and OraWellness Healthy mouth blend in the evening. Floss once a day. Very pleased with the results. My teeth are whiter and feel stronger. My gums have never looked so pink, firm and stippled. I can eat cookies throughout the day without getting tooth sweaters. When I don't eat cookies all day, I feel like my teeth just don't get dirty, even after eating lunch.

I found straight baking soda and salt to be too harsh on my gums to use regularly. The tooth powder with calcium powder and calcium-bentonite clay cuts down the abrasivity and the chemical harshness of the salt/baking powder to the point where it is comfortable to use regularly.
8 years ago
We have been moving our feeders each day in a wire bottomed cage, allowing cheatgrass and leafy weeds to poke through. we also cut a bit of fresh alfalfa, kochia, and blackberry leavesto throw in to them. All uneaten greens are tossed out each day when we move them. The plan is for roughly fifty percent of the nutrition to come from forage and the rest from pellets and sunflower seeds. One issue has been that they will dig through the pellets, knocking it out of the feeder and wasting it to get to the sunflower seeds that are mixed throughout.

Those who feed mixed grains - do you have similar issues of wasted feed due to them picking through for what the want and dumping the rest?
8 years ago
Get however many chickens you can afford, fence them in a small piece, and see how it goes. Generally, I like to stock animals heavier and move them more often (at least once a week), but you may need to leave them a little longer and put in lots of manure, straw, vegetable scraps, etc. to build up a good layer to smother the weeds.
8 years ago
I have very little experience with land conversion or farm equipment directly, but I am getting somewhat familiar with things from working with large-scale wheat farmers. I would suggest not worrying too much about a strict on-contour plowing. It's a great idea to implement as much as possible, but not worth messing with picking up the plow to turn it around - I would recommend just turning around with it in the ground. The edges of fields are usually different from the interior anyway.

The harrow in your picture looks like it would be pretty aggressive to me. If you're doing one-time soil prep for the use conversion, I think it would work, but that level of disturbance often probably isn't great.

As an alternative, have you thought about running large numbers of chickens, and lay down straw, manure, etc. for them to pick through and till under? You could do a portion of the field at a time, and after letting it rest for a few weeks to let the weeds sprout, run the chickens back in again. It might take a year or two to get the field cleaned up enough to do what you want with it, but you'd be a long way towards getting your soil conditioned and fertilized.

Those with more experience than I, feel free to contradict anything I've said.
8 years ago