Lisa Lebeau

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since Oct 14, 2014
Relocated here to the Bitterroot Valley in 2009 from New Hampshire and have been loving it ever since!  Married almost 36 years to my sweetheart, mom to six amazing children who are now young adults and one teen.  <3 them very much!! 
Bitterroot Valley, MT
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Recent posts by Lisa Lebeau

Here are some really cool ideas for making living fences out of willow sticks. There are other trees that lend themsleves to this type of culture as well, but willows are legendary.  http://www.goodshomedesign.com/23-amazing-examples-of-living-willow-fences/
10 months ago
Hey, I'm wondering how it came out? Do you have any photos of your willow fedge 3 years later? I hope it worked!
10 months ago
I would not leave a tree with dual trunks. This will create a weakness in the tree as it grows larger. A fork puts tremendous stress on the tree as it becomes large and heavy, especially if it is a fruiting tree. Fruit adds a lot of weight to the branches and they need to be able to support it. In addition to the risk of the whole tree eventually breaking from the strain of having dual trunks, tha lateral branches that form on each will get in each other's way and form a very dense center where you would normally want it to be open to let light in. It will become an impenetrable gnarly mass of branches, making picking very difficult. If I come upon a tree with a second trunk forming, I immediately remove one. Best done when the tree is dormant early or late in the season, but if the sprout is small and still green it can be done in summer. I don't recommend pruning during the growing season for anything major, only minor trimming. The single-trunked tree will reward you with health, vigor and bounty over the years!

To determine which leader to remove, I choose the strongest and straightest one to keep. It may have fewer lateral branches than the other, but once it is not competing for growth energy with the other one, it will form nice laterals. Make a diagonal cut at the base of the second trunk. Ideally this will be done when the tree is still small, and won't cause much of a shock if done when dormant. If the trunks are more than 2" in diameter proceed with caution, supporting the trunk as the cut is almost complete to avoid any cracking or splitting of the wood as the cut is completed. Cracks and damage from the weight of removing larger limbs must be prevented or you may have a problem with disease, being so close to the soil at the base of the tree. It is a good idea to put a tree guard around the base the first season or two after cutting to prevent damage from sunlight, weather and critters nibbling on the exposed wood. Pull away any mulch or debris from around the trunk and place the tree guard base directly onto the soil, then mound the mulch or leaves (if used) outside of the guard so voles will not be able to burrow inside through the mulch. In time the trunk wound will have healed over the cut. Once this happens and when the trunk is big enough to be safe from nibbling critters you can remove the guard.
11 months ago
In our experience, older dogs can be trained to be trusted around small livestock. It takes great partience, resolve and daily consistency, but it CAN be done! Take them into the goat enclosure on their leashes each day and let them slowly become imprinted with the goats as friends and companions. As they are around them in a supervised situation, they will get to know the goat's personalities, and that there is much more to them than a good chase and kill. They will grow to recognize them as on an equal footing with themselves, although slightly lower in the pecking order. They will come to learn that the goats matter to you as they see and experience with you their daily care. As you correct any aggressive behavior they'll come to know it is NOT ok with you, the pack leader, to do that. Slowly the agression will abate. They will eventually bond with them. But it takes very consistent training and constant experiences among them seeing you as the caregiver. We had a lab that attacked two of our chickens and killed them. We worked with him until he knew they were part of "his pack", along with his family. He was fine from that point forward, and even protected them from a fox once when they were free-ranging.

When you have dogs that are special pets and share significant memories, you don't want to give them away. You will never forgive yourself and feel a pang of guilt and sadness every day when you don't see them running and playing in the field. The memories will haunt you. Don't go there. Build a stout fence, and take the dogs with you into the enclosure every day and work with them. Introduce them face to face, let them sniff each other and make eye contact. Rub the goats with your hands, then rub the scent all over your dogs. And vice-versa with the dogs. Little by little they will imprint with the goats and or chickens. My corgi, who chased and killed chickens when she first encountered them at 2 years old, became so good with them! She helps me herd them and tenderly re-directs the chicks back when they wander too far, as if she were their mother. It is learned behavior, and can overcome instinct. That's not to say every dog can be rehabilitated, but with care and determination most can, so take heart!

Oh, and a final note... Don't ever leave the dogs on the farm when you are away. Board them somewhere, unless you are absolutely sure they are fully bonded and safe together. With adequate training, they can BECOME your livestock guardians. Then and only then, can you leave them together. Not sure about the pitty, but the shepherd should bond fine. It's worth a try though with the pit! If the shepherd gets it, and they are bonded together as companions, the pit will adopt the shepher's behavior as they imprint on each other. It just may take longer, and he may have to learn it from the other dog, not from you.

Well, that's my two cents worth. I have learned through painful regret that I can't just ditch a family member who happens to have fur, sharp teeth and claws, and is causing trouble. At least not without giving it your best shot first, so you will have the peace of knowing you did absolutely everything you could. <3
11 months ago
My husbanad and I would be interested if you have some kind of Lease to Purchase arrangement. I would not build anything permanent on rented land, but would want to put in a greenhouse or hoop house and small barn/shop. We have an RV to live in while building a house. Being involved in building tiny houses as a business sounds very intriguing. We know a lot about re-purposing reclaimed parts and materials in house construction. Keep us posted.
1 year ago
This looks like a beautiful plot in a lovely area! It would be helpful to know what kind of money your needs require to reach that 20% down? Why would anyone want to build a McMansion there?? I'd want strawbale!
1 year ago
My husband and I are interested in this opportunity. We're in our early 60's- new empty-nesters looking to finally start living the life we we've dreamed of. We are both healthy and strong, but suffered a huge financial setback when my husband's software career collapsed eight years ago. Have been scrambling since, and wanting our own place to farm on. mostly debt free, will be soon. Would love to be part of a community of like-minded individuals, doing and creating the kinds of things that require a "village"... Things that can't be done by a single couple, things that require sharing our talents and resources like the pioneers of old. Building crater gardens and net-zero energy greenhouses and infrastructure for permaculture installations. Using livestock and draft animals, farming sustainably. Raising and eating wholesome delicious fresh food. Healing through low stress lifestyle, herbs and nutrition. Sharing talents and skills to build something truly amazing. Sharing our lives and having fun together- not partying and drinking, but having activities, festivals and traditions and folk dancing and acoustic music together. That is our dream. We are certified Permaculture designers through Geoff Lawton's program. We have a very varied skillset from cooking and gardening to electrical and plumbing and construction and tons of other stuff. Love the west, but are open to other areas as well. I'm a Jane of all trades, strong work ethic, detail-oriented... working whatever job I can get- currently baking. My husband works with special needs children  as his second career. He's especially skilled at helping autistic children. We own a lot of tools and gardening supplies and have an older 5th wheel RV to live in until we get a house built. Our choice of a home is to build is a strawbale/cob timberframe home. Not too big, but big enough for hobbies and occasional guests. We plan to attend a strawbale workshop this summer. I read Ianto Evans' book about cob construction and it rocked my world. We're both looking forward to learning more about this possibility.
1 year ago
Very good info here, thanks for sharing! I can only imagine that now, after five years, opportunities for residual income have exploded from what they were in 2013. The potential here is truly inspiring! I am trying to transition from wage-slave to working for myself. I know it will be a long hard climb, and I appreciate the leg up I've found here. With e-commerce, opportunities for working at home doing what you love abound! We just need to learn to tap into it. I appreciate all the information shared so abundantly right here. Thank you Permies!
1 year ago
Whoa, that is AMAZING- Felting on a grand scale! I love the way the community shares in the labor and make it into a celebration- complete with a traditional feast of mutton at the close. With many hands, work becomes more like fun than drudgery. Community is something we are sadly lacking in America unless we make a concerted effort to create it, which is rare and hard to come by. We have no roots or traditions except the few our families have retained, or those we create ourselves among friends, family, or like-minded individuals. Everything about this endeavor is communal. It is a job so big it requires many skilled hands (and hooves) cooperating to make it happen. It is a beautiful thing to see in action. Thanks for sharing!
1 year ago

Amanda Montgomery wrote:I'm having some issues with slugs as well but really my big problem (other than voles) are ANTS. My goodness, so many ants. I've sheet mulched other areas of my yard on a smaller scale and not noticed an issue but now it's a real problem.

Something else I've been trying to figure out but haven't seen is an issue of soil compaction. I started with cardboard, then a layer of straw, leaves, then compost. My plants have been yellowing and have stopped growing. I aerated and the compost layer was solid. There are lots of worms and once you dig a little deeper things look pretty nice. We've had a ton of rain here in Central VA so I'm sure that has something to do with it but it's really frustrating!

What you are dealing with is clorosis... The plant's roots are not getting enough oxygen and therefore cannot metabolize nitrogen and iron, become deficient, and turn yellow and don't thrive. Usually caused by too much rain or watering, and the resulting soil compaction. It is especially common in heavy clay soils without a lot of organic matter. In your case, the heavy cardboard takes time to break down, so it is creating a barrier that is preventing adequate evaporation, and also blocking air flow into the soil. The best treatment is, unfortunately a lot of work- aerate the soil by forking it up around the plants and making air pockets to get to the roots, without damaging them. Adding some organic matter and sand to improve drainage is good. Also, trying to slope the beds so they drain better can be helpful for the coming season. If you have a slight slope to your garden area, place the rows to run with the slope so they can drain. If you go perpendicular to the slope, the moisture will be trapped and stay. This is a good thing in arid climates or where water is limited, but in moist climates it is a liability. It is dramatic how quicky plants will perk back up and get healthy green again when this issue is resolved. It's a fair ammount of work, but so worth it! Another thing is allowing weeds with deep taproots to grow among the plants (within reason, not too many). They will suck up the excess moisture, and also draw up nutrients from deep in the soil to help the crop plants to thrive. It is synnergy!... weeds are not always "the enemy". The funny thing bout Permaculture... I'm learning that nature is the way it is for a reason! All my conventional gardening wisdom has been turned on it's head.
1 year ago