Jennifer Paulson

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since Nov 13, 2016
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I love getting my hands dirty, breaking a sweat and "earning" my next meal. I am transitioning from an urban/apartment environment to slightly less urban acreage. My new home will be my forever home and I have many years ahead to work the land. As I've been preparing for this giant life change, I have been skill building to better equip myself for the life I want to live. Recently I've spent a summer propagating for an organic farm, helped to build two strawbale homes, started plant guilds along the lines of baby food forests, apprenticed for a couple years learning local plant medicine, have been canning and doing other methods of preserving, vermiculture, sewing, seed saving, huglekultur, helping other raise chickens & basically whatever random thing I can manage to get involved in.
Paul's Kickstarter for the 2017 PDC was my gateway into the Permies community. I've been quietly getting to know my way around and will hopefully feel confident to make worthy posts soon.
I'm looking forward to meeting more of you.
Pacific Northwest, West of the Cascades. United States
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Recent posts by Jennifer Paulson

Hi Zurcian, the Pacific Northwest is a great place to land for the winter, I hope you enjoy your time here. I really enjoy dandelion dandelion root; it's abundant, easy to identify and it's the perfect time to harvest as it's higher in inulin. I like to chop, and dry or roast it. Roasted, I drink it by itself but unroasted I tend to add other ingredients.

2 weeks ago

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
If I were going to try to use a reel mower, I would definitely ask them to mow before they leave. In my experience, reel mowers have a romantically cool ambiance about them, but they are useless as an actual tool in real-life.

Thanks Joseph, that's another good point. They are pretty useless on wildly over grown grass. I've pushed though it before at a hilly rental I lived at.  The three room mates and I all had to take turns (clearly there was too much lawn). The lawn I plan to use the reel mower on are flat and can be tamed first with a scythe if needed. We'll see if my plan works in actuality!
1 month ago

Kc Simmons wrote:First, big congrats on the new home/property!
A lot will depend on the type of grass and the climate.
Personally, I would probably have it mowed... Just because it's not going to do a ton of damage to the grass/soil lifesince it's already been mowed consistently by the previous owner (so damage has already been done).
Having it short will allow you to observe the actual ground so you can more easily see the high/low points of the land and plan around that, for future projects, as you observe. You'll also be able to explore without worrying about suddenly stepping in a lower spot and falling or spraining an ankle.
You will be getting a source of organic matter to start a compost with, use as mulch, etc. It will come in handy to already have it when you are running around doing other things and don't have time to go out and find stuff on the property.
It won't take long for the grass to grow back so, even if you regret having it mowed, it's not permanent.

These are just some things I thought of. Looking forward to hearing more about your new adventure!

Thank you KC, we're so excited. I really don't know my northern lawn grasses so I guess I'll just need to wait and see, which I have a feeling will be a pretty big theme for the next 12 months! The hay (wild grasses and things) field is hilly and uneven but I haven't had too much trouble traversing it. My mother, who is in her late 60s, has had a much more difficult time, so you raised a good point there. It was hayed this past summer but not cut since. It's a bit rough. The Seller let us go out there at the end of August to harvest fruit and berries and then had us over once again for a personalized tour. The actually lawn areas were all even/flat as far as I noticed.

All the short lawn clippings from the summer are in piles around the shop area. Likely ash at the center of the piles from getting too hot.  I figured while it was still dry, I could sprinkle it around to feed the soil but I don't know much about mulching or composting with it. I remember it being too hot, clumping and going anaerobic. I'd love to know how you use it. I would have much preferred the grass clippings remain on the lawn rather than being bagged up but I've been reserved in not showing my true permaculture colors in fear that they'd change their mind and not want to sell to us! We've been on the property search for too long to screw it all up in the final days hahah.
1 month ago

Skandi Rogers wrote:Here we have to mow the grass as late as possible because it will grow slowly all winter if we have a warm one. It will also start growing in the spring long before the weather dries out enough to mow it, not mowing it in Autumn will leave us with foot long grass that the mower cannot handle in May.
If one doesn't mow for a year say the dead grass becomes a tough mat and not much can grow through it, it basically smothers itself.

Remember the above points are only true to my climate and my grasses, yours may be different. We get winters where the average temperature from December through til March is just below freezing but with little to no snow and lots of rain and wind.

Hi Skandi, It sounds like our winters are similar, although ours may tend to be a few degrees warmer on average with occasional snow fall. It's supposed to be an extra wet winter this year. My fingers are crossed it will fill the pond a bit.

You made some good points and I appreciate your quick response.  We've been in a hurry up and wait cycle and now it's RUSH RUSH RUSH! Since they offered, and after reading your comment, I went ahead and accepted a mow this week. In our climate, the last possible time to mow would probably be the end of October. We likely won't be able to do that this year, however. I bet the scythe will come in handy for an early season mow of tall grass and if that fails, maybe we can get it hayed with the rest of the property!

I see an opportunity perhaps in the future of using year old neglected grass to smother out places I no longer want grass (in combination with adding even more cut hay as mulch), like the former garden spot (and circular lawn in the front). I might be able to leave that area alone for the next year and plan to plant in it again in two years.  The property got away from the older gentleman who is selling it. His family tried, but not living there the garden got over grown. They tilled it and again let it go, so now it's just a hay patch with a water spigot. I can relate. For the past few years I've been driving 35-40 minutes each way to my garden spot twice a week. It's just not enough time to keep up with everything. I can't wait to walk out the door and be in my own yard/garden!

1 month ago
I am just about to close on my first (and last) home. I am so excited to have acreage and put to use all the information I've been observing while lurking in The Forums! The Seller just loves to mow,so we've been told. It's like a hobby. They love a tidy property. Enter Me (bawahahah). The property is 6 acres, much of which is hay field with some more maintained grass for lawn in the immediate front and backyards as well as over the drain field. The nephew has been keeping things mowed over the last couple months as we have worked to close on the property and have offered to mow one last time for us this week before taking their riding lawn mower with them and leaving us to our own devices. Probably needless to say, but here it is anyway, we have a drastically different vision for the property than it's previous use and owners. While it's been nice that they kept things mowed through the end of summer (we thought we'd move-in in September and be possibly overwhelmed with grass), it seems strange to me to cut it so short going into winter here in Coastal Washington State.
Can you help me learn what the pros/cons of this practice would be from a permaculture/soil health standpoint? I really don't mind if it topples over and looks sad. Wouldn't it die and become mulch for the spring regrowth?  I have never owned a home before. I'm coming from an apartment and am well aware I will be over my head in just a few short days. That said, I have a reel mower that mows high as well as a haying scythe that I thought I would use for the lawn areas until I get a plan in place, and use the scythe to harvest mulch and cut pathways to where ever we want to access - perhaps having the field professionally hayed as well.

Would it be wise to have them mow it, since they offered, and have one less thing on our plate? It will definitely take some time to figure out what we want to do. I'm looking forward to all the observation and dreaming I get to do this winter!

Pictured shows the manicured lawns around the house outlined in pink. I thought the front circular lawn would be fun to do with the scythe, the other two with the reel mower.  Outlined in blue is the drain field. I thought I might be able to scythe that too but that might take some extra practice (which I should have plenty of by the the beginning of next summer hahaha)

*Edited to fix typos because I do my best proof reading after I hit submit.
1 month ago
I have a jar of milled horse chestnut SEED soaking in hot water at the moment to test as a laundry soap. I want to point out that Paul was talking about chestnut leaves and everyone else seems to be talking about the seed. There seems to be a bit of disconnect and I'm not sure that detail was noticed. I had not considered the leaf and hope to learn more about that soon. The Forums are always a giant rabbit hole, I leave with inspiration and new information and rarely remember what I was originally looking for : )
1 month ago
I often find that a helpful way to work through my own problems is to find someone with the same one and give them advice. Hah! (it's true though, it works!)

I currently have multiple Permie tabs open on topics like: Humanure, mowable meadows, what can grow on a drain field, sealing ponds with ducks, and hedgerows. I've been reading up on Permie topics for years, and doing my best to incorporate tiny aspects into borrowed garden space. Later this month I close on a house with 6 acres and my mind is reeling with ideas and I'm a bit overwhelmed at all the possibilities. I'm almost grateful to not be starting with a complete blank slate (we originally wanted raw land and to build a house). With a several features in place already (drive way, house, barn etc) it helps to narrow some of the design possibilities and feels a touch more manageable. I'm equally grateful we're entering the dormant season and I have time to make a plan for all that hay!

There is great advice in the above responses, I even took some notes to keep myself on track going forward. One thing that came to mind while reading your post was advice I received when planning my husband and my wedding. I scrolled Pinterest for weeks. I got so caught up in the mess that it would have taken me years to DIY and pull off. Someone told me, "at some point you just need to turn off the Wedding Porn and make a decision." It was really awkward advice to receive, but they were spot on. I got so wrapped up in other people's visions I lost myself. I never opened Pinterest again and I pulled off a beautiful "perfect for us" wedding that took little planning and cost only a few hundred dollars. It was great advice. I get possibility paralysis often when overwhelmed with options.  I'm finding the same thing is happening with permaculture ideas. At some point, you've just got to take the information you've absorbed and try/do it. There is no replacement for experience. Keep the forums here at Permies a tool rather than a hindrance. Decide what your end goal looks like and break it down into more manageable sized projects (3 or 4 for example) and then choose one of those and break it down again into 3 or 4 smaller steps. Repeat until you're facing a stupidly easy task it's no problem to accomplish. I did this recently with my upcoming move from an apartment in town to 6 acres on the edge of a nearby smaller town. I haven't moved in over 10 years, I've never owned a home or land of my own for that matter. The task is a bit daunting. My manageable bites I'm taking are to shred old papers that I'd be disappointed if I found stashed in a box a couple years down the road, and every time I do the dishes, grab an outdated canned good or rancid jar of medicinal oil/salve back stock and empty it.

Ideas I've been having of where to start on my own property (can I call it that yet?) are to
- create makeshift pallet compost pile and source sawdust for humanure system
- re-read the glass bowl technique of dealing with Yellowjackets. Decide if it's late enough in the season to just let them be (they are at the entrance to the green house and I'm allergic). Brush up on identification of stinging things because I've apparently forgotten what I knew.

- read about pros and cons of leaving dropped fruit to rot in place, I won't have the opportunity to preserve much of the grapes and apples this year. Connect with my local Buy Nothing group to begin forming community and find neighbors with animals to feed, invite to glean

- transplant apartment plants:
 * create back door herb garden among already planted/landscaped areas with rosemary, chives, oregano, violets, purnella, hosta
 * plant coltsfoot near dried up pond
 * plant oak, walnut, and hazelnut sapplings the neighborhood squirrels brought me
 * plant comfrey near existing fruit tree
 * plant daffodil (thanks squirrels!) and crocosmia lucifer near front door for some welcome home future cheer

- walk the property a few times a week in observation
- create a site base map
- survey land and create a topo map
- read about grape pruning and tame Mt. Grape (reclaim apple tree it has devoured)
- watch/study Paul's PDC/ATC

Good luck to you. You've helped me and I hope I've helped you too!

2 months ago
This thread has been really helpful. I'm curious what your ponds look like now, William and Aleksandar. Later this month I close on my first home. It comes with 6 acres and I'm excited to revamp a dried out pond using ducks. While I am working my way through the pig gleying threads in other open tabs, I really enjoyed the photo story here and would love to hear from more people who have sealed a pond with ducks, too!

I get to walk the property with the owner in a few days and will learn much more about what's going on there, but from what I can tell so far, the pond dried up 8-10 years ago. There are cattail and bull rush currently growing in it, with some salmonberry bushes and wild grasses along the edges. The over story are cedar, fir, and cherry trees. There are alder and willow in another former wetland area that I can propagate from. I have a good feeling that I'll be able to slow and retain water run off and will have a thriving eco system in just a few years!

We're going into our wet season soon (fall/winter) which will help me to not make any radical changes right away. I plan to tackle interior projects and walk the property regularly in observation while I scheme and work out my Grand Plan
2 months ago
I am reading the Humanure Handbook right now. I, too, would love to see pictures of member's finished humanure compost!
3 months ago

Matthew McCorkle wrote:Hi Tony! Thanks for the info!
Did they mention anything or do you remember filing out a Product Development Permit (PDP) when you applied for your initial permit?
I'm just outside of Bellingham, WA, working with the county to permit a few composting toilets on our property and they have asked us to fill out one of these.

Hi Matthew, I'm on the house and/or land hunt in Bellingham and would love to hear more about your composting toilet journey with the county if you have the energy.
3 months ago