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Tom Scialla

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since Apr 18, 2014
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Recent posts by Tom Scialla

I was an insurance broker in New Jersey for over ten years. LOL. Good luck is all that I will tell you. Make sure that you work with an experienced agent or broker who knows what they are doing. I would go ask half a dozen farmers in your area who they use. Then I would interview them. I'm not kidding.
4 years ago
A good rifle and a shovel will solve a lot of problems.

Sometimes a fire is better than a shovel, especially when it comes to things like cows or horses that are hard to bury.
4 years ago
Having looked all over creating for over a year, I can tell you that there is plenty of land out there. Most of it is expensive and a lot of it is pretty shoddy.

I have been looking for just the right piece of giant clearcut to work into a long term farm. I almost had a deal on 96 acres, but it fell through.

I will keep on looking though.
4 years ago

Jacqueline Freeman wrote:I just went through all the posts on the Flow Hive and have to give y'all a hefty credit for thinking broadly and not jumping on the bandwagon on the first pass.

I'm not a fan for these reasons:

1) I don't like plastic in the hive. The Flow Hive is not just a plastic foundation, the cells are built out to the full depth as well.

2) All the bees have to do is fill it and cap it, but from a side observation window, it's hard to tell if they've capped the whole sheet. To tell that, you'd have to open the hive and look. Otherwise you may be removing nectar that hasn't been turned to honey yet and that won't stay honey, it will ferment (ie, that's how you make mead).

3. I strongly oppose the idea that you can just get a Flow Hive, put bees in it and turn a dial to extract their honey. Bees are SO MUCH MORE COMPLEX than that. I find it very disrespectful to approach bees by looking at what we can get from them. Reducing them to the daily source of honey for your pancakes is (dare I be so bold) abhorrent to me. This idea is what gets humans into trouble over and over. Say I keep six cows in my pasture where they eat grass... but I bet I could fit 50 cows in that same pen and feed them hay instead of having to grow grass. Or how about I boost that to 100 feedlot cows and we feed them leftover bagels and day old Entermans coffee cake (true story) instead of appropriate food? And then we birth feedlots.

That's what I see the Flow Hive as promoting -- bees as another indentured servant whose role is to serve human needs. My first question is always, "Is this something the BEES need? Does this make their lives better? (and I mean from the bee's point of view, not "bee view as humans imagine it"). If it's not good for the bees, I won't use it.

4. What we need is beekeepers who first LOVE their bees and are willing to do anything to give them lives that allow them to express their bee-ness. The primary relationship ought to be based not on taking more from them, it ought to be based on a concerned and caring relationship with them.

Okay, I'm stepping down from my soapbox now.

Jacqueline



1. What is wrong with plastic? I know that you're entitled to your opinion as to whether or not you like it. However, is there anything actually wrong with plastic? What is wrong with the cells being partially pre-formed? This seems that it would save the bees time and energy and would make it easier for them to store honey?

2. I am guessing that you would figure out a way to tell when the section was all full. It can't be that tough. How do you do it with a regular hive?

3. Just because you can turn the dial and take all the honey doesn't mean that you have to take all the honey. You can take one section, or all the sections. I would just make a schedule where I take one section worth at one time, then wait a bit, then the next, etc etc. You don't have to rob every drop every time you take honey.

4. I don't think that Flow Hive would be responsible for people not loving their bees. They build a new kind of hive. That is all.

I don't know enough about bees to make an accurate opinion. I just haven't seen what I would consider a problem for anyone who wanted to own this kind of hive. I am going to get one and try it out. If it works out well I might get a bunch. I have never raised bees before, but I want to now!
4 years ago

George Hayduke wrote:

Tom Scialla wrote:

George Hayduke wrote:Plan enough to figure out the correct location of your fruit and nut trees, and plant them now (particularly the nut trees). You can figure out the rest later. It will take a decade before some of these trees are significantly productive.

Incidentally, I'm in Zone 8b and I've done a project very similar to yours. The good news is that you have great solar exposure, because now you're in the business of converting sunlight into food and electricity.



I was VERY disappointed to see that the house was not positioned north to south. This makes it super hard to install solar. So then I figured I will just move the house. Then I ran into the whole the septic and well are right here. So, now it looks like I will be building something, oriented properly, behind the current house between the well and septic. Once this dwelling is complete I will be sending the mobile home down the road where it and its gas appliance can be someone else headache.



I was referring to the solar exposure of your property generally. It's great that you don't have adjacent trees casting long shadows on your property.

Again, if it were me, I'd be planting pecans, chestnuts, walnuts, and ginkgo in the next four weeks while they're still dormant and easy to get rooted without a lot of artificial irrigation.

Yes, ideally all roof surfaces would be facing south and at the optimum angle to capture solar energy. Angling it properly does make for an unconventional roof but one that works well. You can see a pic of one of my solar sheds below. After you ditch the mobile home you might want to think about building a home out of shipping containers. They have flat, strong roofs that can hold a large solar array.






I would really like to go with a steel building (somewhere in the 1500sf to 2400sf area) simply for time and ease of construction.

I would face the back of the dwelling due south for proper solar alignment and I would have about 800sf of steel roof to put solar on with no problems. I would spend a great deal of focus on really insulating and making things as frugal electrically as possible. I want everything on my whole place to run on electric.

I don't really care so much about how it looks. I am much more concerned with the functionality of everything. I would much rather have functionality, durability, and ease of maintenance than something that looks like it belongs in H&G magazine.

If I can manage to find some labor I will be going earthbag instead with a metal roof. The same principles would apply though in regard to insulation, and energy conservation.
4 years ago

George Hayduke wrote:Plan enough to figure out the correct location of your fruit and nut trees, and plant them now (particularly the nut trees). You can figure out the rest later. It will take a decade before some of these trees are significantly productive.

Incidentally, I'm in Zone 8b and I've done a project very similar to yours. The good news is that you have great solar exposure, because now you're in the business of converting sunlight into food and electricity.



I was VERY disappointed to see that the house was not positioned north to south. This makes it super hard to install solar. So then I figured I will just move the house. Then I ran into the whole the septic and well are right here. So, now it looks like I will be building something, oriented properly, behind the current house between the well and septic. Once this dwelling is complete I will be sending the mobile home down the road where it and its gas appliance can be someone else headache.
4 years ago
This picture shows the trees that are there now.

They are mostly little scrubby brushy garbage. I have no use for them and would much rather have true blank slate.
4 years ago

Alder Burns wrote:Judging from the photo, that place really is a "blank slate"....without being crowded with trees, outbuildings, fences and other infrastructure that a lot of people end up wishing wasn't there or in a different place and working around forever.
In particular, it points up an opportunity for the earthworks stage, which is often neglected or underutilized on small, crowded sites. So I would do some contour maps and consider ponds, swales, keyline plowing and such like, before you get anything else permanent in place.



I photoshopped out the garbage trees that are there now as they will be removed as soon as I am occupying the property full time starting next month.

I will include a picture with the trees so that you can see, but they are NOT staying.

I would much rather plant the trees that I want and not have the trees that are of no value to me.
4 years ago

Dave Burton wrote:It is a pleasure to have you here with us Tom!

I would like to inquire how much do you know about permaculture already? How much help/guidance are you looking for in the design process? Do you know how to write a design plan?

Here are the general steps in creating a permaculture design for a property: (these are the ones I used when I took my pdc)
1. Set your goals and conduct thorough research
2. Collect, Organize, and Analyze the data that has been collected
3. Create a Base Map (you already did)
4. Do a Sector and Zone Analysis of the Site
5. Write the design and play around with the information you collected and the ideas in your head and figure out how it will all happen
6. Implement the design and adapt and respond to change

The design process is going to be long and time consuming no matter which way you put it.

It may be useful to create a folder on Google Drive with all the documents, maps, and drawings in one place and crate a shareable link. Also, in specific documents, the setting can be changed to allow comments from people with the link. This way everything can updated and commented on without becoming too messy. The only trouble that may come is people posting rude or irrelevant comments, and in which case, the link can be turned off.

To begin getting things in order, I advise filling out one or two Permaculture Design Client Questionnaires. This will help you get a clearer idea of what your objectives are and see what information you will need throughout the design process. Not everything is necessary, but the more you know the better.

Here are some resources to help get you started:
Open Permaculture
Deep Green Permaculture

Paul Wheaton Keynote
Bill Mollison Lecture Series
Jack Spirko Permaculture Series
Permaculture News

United Diversity Library
Open Library
Internet Archive

Places to look for data:
National Web Soil Survey (to find soil data)
National Map Viewer (good for seeing the contours and elevations of your land)

Weather Spark (great easy to understand graphs of annual data)
Weather Underground (great daily and weekly information)
RSS Weather has good climate graphs

Sun Position Calculator is a great way to see how the sun travels across the sky in your area. It also gives the solar declination and azimuth data, too. On the left hand of their webpage they have links to various articles of theirs explaining what this information means and more.

Plants For A Future is a wonderful database for finding potential plants to grow

You can connect with local permaculturey people through the Permaculture Global Network



I'm not an expert in by the book permaculture like you guys are, but I grew up on a place smaller than this one and we didn't buy a lot of food. I am basically brand new to Georgia though. I have never grown so much as a blade of grass in this state. I would think that because it stays warmer and gets more rain than where I am from, I should be okay.

I should add that I am looking to use permaculture principals to help me accomplish some goals. I don't want a solid forest of trees. I don't know if I will be make swales and all of that stuff. I am just trying to grow food for myself and for my animals, but still have a lot of pasture area.

It would be nice if I could get some kind of green house/hydroponic/fish farm cooking too. Nothing on any large scale, but it would be cool to be able to eat fish once a week...or maybe giant crawdads? I'm trying to have a very healthy and very redundant food supply. I won't have a mortgage, I won't have a water bill, I won't have a sewer bill...and after I get the other house built with the solar array I won't have a power bill. If I cant eliminate my grocery bill, I will be almost 100% self sufficient.

I would like to be able to completely reverse my life. I want to spend 60+ hours per week outside farting around and less than 20 hours a week participating in an actual career. I am fortunate in that I work as an insurance broker. I could work VERY part time selling just one product and make at least $1200 a month pretty easily. So, I will be able to pay the little bills that I will have left and I will be able to continue to develop the property to produce as many little streams of income as possible.
4 years ago

S Bengi wrote:Here are my plans for a smaller site, but you can probably glean some ideas.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fuTe-_RqYbJzydin5nLpcRjuNRXDdT7NMoJ4EbpsJAo/edit?pli=1



You are planting A LOT more trees than I am. I'm hoping for that Savannah kind of look. I still need a lot of grass to feed livestock with. I'm not planning on selling fruit or nuts to try to make money, so I couldn't imagine over 100 trees producing edibles.

I was thinking maybe two dozen trees that produce food. I think that if I had 18 fruit trees and half a dozen nut trees, I would have plenty of fruits and nuts for me and some to bolster my animal feed.

I get much more enjoyment out of raising animals than I do raising apples anyway.

Also, I don't really need to worry about firewood. This isn't like when I lived in the North East or when I lived in Ohio. Winters are not bad at all. If I decided to put a wood burning stove in I would have no problem scavenging for wood to feed it. I could simply be on the look out for oak trees that need to be removed from places and I could have more than enough to stockpile.

I'm trying to learn a lot more about things that can be planted to create renewable sources of animal feed.
4 years ago