Mark Kissinger

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since Oct 07, 2016
Golden Valley, AZ 86413
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Recent posts by Mark Kissinger

Thanks for the tips. The land is unfenced. I kind of like this fact since there is nothing man made as far as the eye can see in any direction. But as I mentioned in the original post I believe the cattle range on so much land that over grazing is not an issue.

Overgrazing is actually the main issue on your property. Do not be deceived about the few numbers of cows and "all that acreage". Open-range livestock management does not manage the GRASS resource, it manages the weight of the cows. Over time patches of grass lands become overgrazed, and then never recover, leading to the general degradation of the entire open range.

If you want to improve the soil/water, ecology, you will need to fence off at least portions of your property until it recovers. Perhaps some type of portable fencing (electric?) could work. Fence off meadows as you work on them. They will make good paddocks for later grass management using livestock as the mowers. You don't have to fence off your entire 40 acres--just the parts you want to keep livestock free.

Chad Zavala wrote:Hello everyone,

... Overall just a fun place to be away from civilization.

...permaculture and water retention.
This parcel has many natural hills and valleys as well as washes from rain.

Start at the top slope of each identifiable wash.Using rocks, tree stumps or other gabbons, pick a contour line that can be 'enhanced' with hand dug/raked swales to spread the water in the wash out to SLOW, SPREAD, AND SINK. Use the existing terrain (and your dug-up vegetation) to your advantage.

You can store a lot of rainwater in a 1' or 2' foot wide swale that follows an existing contour line. Use an"A-Frame" plumb bob level-finder to map out a level contour across a slope.  Can also be used to check the level of the tops of your dirt mounds. Combining the level swales with the intersection with the "leaky-weir" designed to back-up the water into a conveniently located 'meadow' of native grassland plants.

Even Nevada has had grasslands, especially if you can get trees started as well. It's difficult to explain without diagrams.

Chad Zavala wrote:
Nearly the entire surrounding area for hundreds of thousands of acres is owned/grazed by the largest cattle ranch in North America. This means cattle have free range of this parcel but I think there is so much land they access that I believe overgrazing is not a problem but I'm not sure. For the dozen or so times I've been out there I have never seen a cow anywhere.

Depending on the species of grasses and the time of the year, the desert grasslands can look pretty bedraggled and overgrazed. In many cases, using regenerative grassland management and "mobs" of livestock, these open-range grasslands could be much better managed for water conservation (underground in plant roots), erosion control weirs, and ultimately the return of a soil-based ecology of plants animals and insects. The biggest difference is how carefully regenerative agriculture managers would be plotting the size and movement of "the herd" over the available managed grasslands, as opposed to the current prevailing practice of allowing the cattle to graze in single to 5 cow groups but never bunched up. Wooden pallets can be used to keep livestock away from seedling trees.

Chad Zavala wrote: Any tips on what organics I can grow once the water is managed a little better? Grasses, nitrogen fixers, bushes etc.? Keeping in mind that any building of good soil would be incredibly labor and cost prohibited due to the remoteness of the land.

Thank you in advance!

Plant your swales with as varied a mix of as many different kinds of seed as you think you can get to grow. 1st, develop the water-harvesting swales, then plant the swales with seed (using the pallets to keep the unwanted grazers away. Try to plant ahead of expected water events.
2 days ago

Elizabeth Fournier wrote:Mark,

It's certainly refreshing to hear about the zoning differences in the state of Arizona. I'm going to look into that as I would love to learn more. I'm very curious if this is adaptable to all counties, lot size, etc. How fascinating!

In Mohave County, the process costs $540, and takes two approval hearings. The County Health Department also has a say. As far as I can tell, there are differences in the requirements if you are considering a 'public' cemetery (as a business?), or if you are setting up a family sanctuary.

1 week ago
I am in Arizona. Here, you can get permission from your county to create a 'designated cemetery on your own real estate.  It is good to start these discussions, since the subject is so close, so so unfamiliar to talk about, and the government regulations (by states) are so variable.
1 week ago

Cory Collins wrote:A previous article posted in this forum talks about a recent bill passed in Washington state legalizing human composting—also known as “liquid cremation.” According to e article the process turns human remains into soil. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but I'd love to hear more about the actual process of human composting if Elizabeth knows about it.

Welcome, Elizabeth Fournier, to the forums. Glad to have someone as knowledgeable as you around!

I'm interested in how the "liquid burial" concept will work in a desert rangeland setting.

Also, how does human composting affect the surrounding plant-life (It's probably in the book, which I haven't yet read).
1 week ago

paul wheaton wrote:Mark,

I think you are in the wrong place.  

Kickstarter = I wanna do a thing and need money

reverse kickstarter = I want a thing done and will put up money

Plus, this thread (and this forum) is for stuff at wheaton labs.  Those pics are clearly from someplace else.


How do I move this to the appropriate forum/topic? If you can, please feel free to do so for me. Thanks.
1 month ago

Miles Flansburg wrote:I have used a canvas lodge or TiPi while camping and it is a wonderful structure.
I have some land in the mountains of Wyoming where I am planning to build a Hogan someday. I think a hogan built from 8 to 10 ft logs would be fairly easy to build and could be expanded by building hogans next to each other to form any number of interesting geometric patterns.
Here is a demonstration hogan that was built at a university in Colorado. I believe that it has since been destroyed to make way for student housing. Too bad, I would have loved to tour it.

There is bar-restaurant on N. Nevada Avenue, just south of Fillmore street in Colorado Springs, CO, which consists of two connected hogans. It is called the Navajo Hogan. Great acoustics for the live bands that play there.

Here's a link to their website:
1 month ago
Has anone here ever tried to re-create a kiva-styled structure using modern-day materials?

It is round, so it should be possible to completely bury it. The ancient Pueblo(?) Native Americans built them, and their walls are still standing (Unless I am looking at reconstructed kiva's).

I'm thinking that those cinder-blocks with the angled ends could be used to create the round shape. A few pieces of rebar and some concrete to fill the spaces where the rebar is placed, and the structure should be able to be back-filled with no problem. Placed on a well-leveled concrete footer, and the entire thing could go up rather quickly. The walls could be filled with vermiculite for insulation. The final finish on the interior walls could be cob or stucco, or left as is. I would use exposed water and sewer pipes and electrical conduits, but I'm not a stickler for hiding my utilities. The Pueblo natives used wood beams and a woven-lathe system to support an earthen roof. the roof was supported with interior posts. The photo shows that the roof didn't require interior posts!

I remember actually visiting this one. It was an awesome experience!

1 month ago
Has anyone tryied to build a Kiva-style home? Or a Hogan-style home. The kiva is essentially a hogan-like many-sided or round stone structure build underground, with a hole in the roof to enter. Hogans are octagonal (or maybe more sides) log structure, and the roof is constructed by reducing the diameter with each successive layer of logs., until the hole in the center can be bridged with logs. it uses a LOT of large logs! I'm wondering if a Hogan structure would be strong enough to be buried?
1 month ago
Is this where I post pictures? I am embarking (finally) on the great project of moving onto my undeveloped open range land. I am going off-grid, and am putting in the county-proscribed septic system, just to get them off my back, as far as their zoning and permit garbage goes, and to make the transition as fast as possible. My project will be to start creating mini-swales between the existing desert vegetation in order to start harvesting the rain water that falls on my property. I have about a 20' total difference in elevation over the whole property. The entire property slopes generally towards the east.

The pictures I am posting are my "before" pictures to give you a general idea of what I'm working with. They  show where my homesite will be. I will be posting more pictures that show other parts of the property.

Once I'm situated, I intend on using hugelkulture and a composting toilet-on-a-skid to prepare place where I will plant native trees, such as mesquite and ironwood. In the swales, I intend to plant native grasses and set up a camera station at each test site as I set them up to document my progress. Hopefully I will end up with a lime-lapse video of a year at each site. I have a word-press blog where I can post my notes and the pictures as I go.

My question is, Is this a boot project or a kick-start project? My "product" will eventually be desert-adapted seeds, which I hope to market to other desert dwelling people. I also hope to be able to show visible proof that rain-water harvesting can vastly improve the quality of the range land in this area. I'm hoping that by documenting my project, I can show th neighboring ranchers that they are missing out on higher profits than what they are getting now by letting their cows wander over the open-range (a practice that is actually ruining the productivity of the land).

I am open to ideas and advice, and input on if this is a project worthy of your support.
1 month ago