John Athayde

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since Apr 14, 2015
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goat forest garden books
Charlottesville, Virginia (Zone 7a)
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Recent posts by John Athayde

We have a massive one of these at the entrance to our property. The fruit get broken up by the squirrels and they go for the seeds. I sent some of these—entire fruit—to a friend two years ago. This past year we had almost no fruit on either of our female trees. Cleaning the seeds from the fruit is a PAIN. A lot of people let the fruit rot in a bucket and then pour that slurry into a shallow trench. I tried to rot the fruit in a kiddie pool over winter and didn't have much luck here in Zone 7A Virginia.

Seed wise, Sheffield Seed Company sells seed and that's what we've got cold stratifying in the fridge right now.
3 years ago
Like Angela, I took the 2014 PDC but I decided to give this one a whirl as well. I've been working on my own property now for 3 years and I've learned a lot. I will agree with her assessment and concerns about the marketing of PDCs. I have a M. Architecture and even with that extensive design background I still don't feel confident enough to design someone else's property.

I'd kicked around the idea of a post PDC continuing studio design process but never got very far with it. Doing a design, getting feedback from professionals, and repeating that process taught me more than anything else during Architecture school. Maybe I'll spend some more time seeing if I can recruit/hire a group of practitioners and be my own guniea pig.
3 years ago
We had two pair of Mallards earlier this year but a predator picked them off one by one. I am interested in doing Anconas, but I need to build some additional infrastructure to handle them appropriately.

Since our coop is away from the house and barn, I'll try a small battery with a DC camp LED bulb and see how it goes. Thanks!
3 years ago
Thanks for the feedback and experience!

Travis - Our A frame has open ends (well, chicken wire to keep out predators) but that keeps the temperature pretty constant relative to outside. I'll try some additional light as well. so you just leave the light on all night?

Regan - We rarely get into the single digits °F here and most of the time we're in the 30s in the winter. Our daylight, however, is only about 9.5 hours right now (I think today is 9hr 45m from sunrise to sunset). The birds are let out daily.
3 years ago
So we have 25 chickens rolling in an Ussery-style A frame tractor around our paddocks. Until Christmas we were getting about 15 eggs a day, even with the short days. After the holiday, we're down to maybe 7 eggs per day

There are fake eggs in each nest box (3 boxes in the tractor)
Each bird is getting about 0.3 - 0.4lb of feed a day in addition to scraps (probably every other day). They have free choice grit and oyster shell.
Three Americaunas aren't laying at all and haven't for a couple months.

Breed breakdown:
3 Americauna
2 Buff Orpington
9 Rhode Island Reds
11 New Hampshire Reds

We had a cold snap into the single digits, but the egg laying had dropped between Christmas and New Years (2 weeks before the single digits).
22911 Zip code for historic weather.

Any suggestions? We had consistent laying through last winter with our older RIRs (~4 yrs old all of whom were taken by predators this summer).

How do you all handle egg subscribers through the winter with a precipitous laying drop?
3 years ago
Interesting article and full PDF of the paper as well. Are we actually harming a forest ecosystem by not allowing fires on certain intervals?

COLUMBIA, Mo. – For nearly a century, forest fires have been viewed by scientists and the public as dangerous and environmentally damaging disasters. However, recent research has shown that forest fires are vital to maintaining healthy forests. While people in the western portions of the U.S. experience forest fires often and know of their value, many people on the eastern side of the U.S. do not know of their importance. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers have studied tree rings throughout Oklahoma and Tennessee to determine the history of fires in those areas. Michael Stambaugh, assistant research professor in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, says understanding this history is important for managing and improving the ecology of forests in the future.

“Many forest ecosystems are fire-dependent, meaning that in order to maintain their health and vibrancy, they must be subjected to fire on a regular basis,” said Stambaugh, who is a member of the Missouri Tree-Ring Laboratory at MU. “By understanding how fire has maintained forest ecosystems in the past, we can determine the best ways to use fire to maintain those forests in the future.”

To study the history of fire in Oklahoma and Tennessee, Stambaugh examined tree rings from 332 trees in eight different sites throughout both states. Stambaugh found 843 different fire scars embedded within the tree rings and was able to determine when and how often each site experienced forest fires over the last 300 years. He found that despite having a wetter, cooler climate, forests in Tennessee experienced higher fire frequency than Oklahoma. He also found that fires existed in those areas long before Euro-American settlement, showing that fire has been important to those forests for centuries.

“The history of fire in America also is the history of humans on this continent,” Stambaugh said. “Humans have been here for more than 12,000 years and everywhere we see humans move, we see fires follow or be altered. This has been a constant for so long that forest ecology has become dependent on these fires, if they already weren’t before humans arrived. However, many parts of the U.S., especially in the eastern half of the continent, have not experienced forest fires in more than 150 years because humans have worked hard to prevent those fires. Many of those forests are now suffering because of the lack of fire to help renew the ecology.”

In order to understand the effects of fire around the U.S., Stambaugh and his fellow MU researchers are cataloging the history of fire by studying tree rings from trees throughout the entire country.

The study, “Scale Dependence of Oak Woodland Historical Fire Intervals: Contrasting the Barrens of Tennessee and Cross Timbers of Oklahoma, USA,” was published in Fire Ecology. The study was coauthored by MU Associate Professor Richard Guyette along with Joseph Marschall and Daniel Dey of the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station located at MU.

PDF of full paper here:
4 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:

Bethany Dutch wrote: I got a serious side-eye from a fellow permaculturist the other day for suggesting something similar.

Are they suggesting that all permaculturists be independently wealthy?  Or are they saying that all permaculturists should be destitute?

When people say things like "permaculturists shouldn't charge for their work" I really have to wonder how the heck they live - are they allowed to charge for their services?

Doesn't make a lick of sense to me.

There is definitely an undercurrent that profit is evil and anyone doing Permaculture and making a profit is thereby also evil. I believe it comes from the same place that changed "return of surplus" to "fair share". Fair share is already handled under "Care of people". Anyone who is trying to take care of people is going to think in that mentality. "Fair Share" otherwise to me seems to be "I want what you created but I don't want to work for it". Some animals are more equal than others, etc. (That's going to piss off about half the board, I'm sure)

I've known many people in my life that fall into this group, and I think most of this comes from not having run a business of any kind in their lives. This is the same group that says "I can't make a living farming" while they've expended all their focus and capital on social justice. There's a place for those things, but if you can't keep the lights on, you need to evaluate your business model.
I'm still involved in the software world (from a design/UX/front-end/product management perspective) and this is spot on. I see a lot of this stuff related to abilities in the following areas:

* Ability to see the problem for what it is
* Ability to apply an appropriate solution with an eye to the future
* Ability to separate feedback about your work product from feedback about you as a person
* Ability to manage people (not just as a "I'm your boss" but in so far as managing expectations, leading from the front, clearing roadblocks)
* Willingness to jump in and work towards solution to the problem
* Ability to recognize others over yourself

I still work, full time (and then some), remotely from our homestead. I'm somewhere between 6 and 7 depending on how you do the math. I push fixes to the code base at midnight because they're needed and that's when I can get to them. I make time for family as well and that stays work-free 99% of the time.

The first two points above come with experience. I can often solve relatively complex UX problems in a short time because I have decades of experience (been doing web professionally since 97). Same with high-end software engineers that I know. They have perfected a process to get to a solution quickly while at the same time not creating technical debt.

To apply it to a homestead or permaculture project, it's the difference between someone one year out of a PDC vs Geoff Lawton. I conjecture that Geoff speaks the pattern language of permaculture. It's as native to him as English. He doesn't have to think, he just sees. And like a language, he's still learning and coming up with new ways to express himself. You (not Paul), or I, relatively new in our walk, have to think about things more. We'll go through numerous sketches and hopefully avoid type 1 errors.

The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander is instructive here. It preceeds A Pattern Language, abused by software developers and architects alike. From Chapter 27:

To make a building egoless, the builder must let go of all his willful images, and start with a void. You are able to do this only when you no longer fear that nothing will happen, and you can therefore afford to let go of your images.  At this stage, the building’s life will come directly from your language.

Yet , at the very moment when you first relax, and let the language generate the buildings in your mind, you will begin to see how limited your language is. One place can have good patterns in it and be dead. Another place can be without the patterns which apply to it, and yet still be alive.

The pattern ALCOVE–which first functioned as an intellectual crutch–is no longer necessary to you. You see reality directly, like an animal. You make the alcove as an animal might make an alcove–not because of the concept–but directly, simply because it is appropriate.

That ability described there is why someone at Level 7 can charge $300 an hour, and should.
One of the things that we do is put down boards in the garden areas. Slugs congregate under them, especially during the day. Pick up the board, scrape them into a bucket. Lather. Rise. Repeat.

Doesn't solve your problem, but might aid in collection during daytime hours while you're already doing other tasks there.
4 years ago

Theresa Whited wrote:Brad,

I will have a gun safe, I will take a conceal and carry class, I will learn my gun inside and out and shoot regularly to stay familiar and everything else we have spoken of. Just so we all know that there's not another "idiot with a gun".

I do believe the surveillance is the best protection. Unfortunately most of them are for computer users and that is sometimes hard for people in remote areas. The thing about is as long as you replace the batteries you can always delete old images and then if something did happen you would have it on the camera.

You're definitely on the right path here. Training and competency with the weapon will reduce many issues. Following the basic safety rules ( at all times keep it pretty difficult to have a negligent discharge. There are no accidental discharges that I've seen. Most can be traced to negligence on someone's part. Make time and budget to train at least monthly.

Surveillance is a great deterrent and there are some basic systems from big box stores (e.g. Sam's Club) or more complex options from places like SuperCircuits. They're not cheap, but 8 cameras will give you a lot of coverage and a lot of deterrence. I would respectfully disagree that it is protection. A camera is but a silent observer. It's proof in either a theft or a shooting, but it's not actually protecting you in the sense of "fear of your life."

The rule of thumb for use of lethal force is "fear of your life". That is what will have to be proven in court. And if you shoot someone in regular times, you're going to end up in court. Even if you win a criminal complaint (if the state decides to prosecute), you may lose a civil one. And whenever someone goes to court, only the lawyers win. Massad Ayoub (of Backwoods Home Magazine renown) has a good article about post-shooting behavior.

As for type of firearm, long guns are easier to control than handguns in most cases. They're accurate to longer distances and have many other uses. If you're dealing with livestock and have concerns about coyotes or other predators, you don't want to go after it with a handgun. You mentioned concealed carry, so a handgun is your best bet there. If you're going to be hunting for food, then it depends on your location as to the best rifle type.

These are all tools. They have their uses. You can achieve similar ends with different tools, but it may not be as effective as the right kind of firearm.

It may be worth your time to do a threat analysis of your area. You are concerned about something to have started down this path in the first place. What are your threats? How likely are they? How can you respond to them? What can you do to deter them? You don't need to answer them here, it's more of a worksheet/mental exercize to help you focus your efforts in the right directions.

Security, at the end of the day, is a series of layers. These layers slow down or deter someone until you can bring resources to respond to the threat. That may be calling the Sheriff. That may be setting yourself up in a defensive position. If someone crosses a fence or a gate, they can't say "I didn't realize it was someone's property". Post signs everywhere. Have less than lethal options on your person and in various places around your house. Know how to use them.

Good luck and remember the safety rules!
4 years ago