Chad Wolcott

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since May 05, 2017
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forest garden hunting woodworking
Florida raised and currently located in the north central part of the state. Outdoor lover with a dream of living a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle.
North Central FL - Zone 8b/9a
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Recent posts by Chad Wolcott

Hi all,

I am looking to get started with chickens on our 5-acre north Florida homestead. Mainly for eggs and garden help at the moment. I would prefer to establish a system that is as hands-free as possible (may have to leave them alone for a couple days from time to time due to job requirements) and my ultimate goal would be to free-range with 100% of diet coming from foraging but, I understand that this may be a stretch with the predator pressure in my area (hawks, raccoons, opossum, snakes, rodents, cats, etc...).

Does anyone have any recommendations for raising chickens in this area/climate? Which housing set-up has worked best for you (ie. tractor, coop/run)? What breeds performed the best? Should I consider a different type of fowl over chickens? Best strategies to supplement diet? etc.

Please share any failures or successes that you think I can glean from. I am new to this and am grateful for any advice or resources that will help me avoid "newbie" mistakes.

Thanks!
Chad

9 months ago
Hi Miranda, curious about an update on this thread. Recently bought several acres in N. FL and am curious about perennial peanut as ground cover. Did you find a source? How is it working for you?
1 year ago
Hey Nick, I know this thread is old but was wondering if you went with the perennial peanut or the sunshine mimosa - or something else? What has your experience been? I'm moving to a place just north of you and goal is to establish a food forest but I've been going back and forth on a ground covers. Currently,  where the property has ground cover, it is mostly bahia grass. The rest is predominantly oak leaves and sand at the moment... Would prefer to establish some sort of n-fixing perennial. Appreciate any advice or direction you can offer. Thanks!
1 year ago
Thanks Effie.. Coincidentally, I just came across Permaculture Jax yesterday after watching a few of Alex Ojeda's videos on YouTube. Great resource! Thanks for your insight and best of luck to you as well. Cheers!
1 year ago
Thanks Annie, that is certainly helpful and very encouraging! I appreciate it.
1 year ago
Thanks for your input Michael. I especially like the idea of compost tea, hadn't given it much thought previously. Soil seems to be the biggest challenge in our area and I want to avoid throwing a bunch of money at it as much as possible. Will definitely let you know things go and hope you feeling better/back on your feet soon. If your ever over this way let me know, we can grab coffee or something. Best!
1 year ago
Hi Michael, how are things coming along in Palatka? Recently I moved my family to Alachua County and am in the process of buying a 5 acre homestead just outside of the city, same hardiness zone as Palatka though - 9a. Just getting started with permaculture and would love to hear whats been working for you (and others in the thread) and whats not. Be glad to reciprocate anyway I can.
Best!
Chad
1 year ago
Appreciate your advice Bryant. The canopy has been one of my main quandaries. I am hoping to not have to remove too much as it provides a lot of cool shade which is great here in the summer, however, I'm not opposed if it proves beneficial. I will definitely spend some time observing and interacting with the property right off the bat, the rainy season is coming up so it should be a great time to do so.
1 year ago
Thanks Casie, David's site has actually been a great help thus far and I have a created a document full of saved articles from it (and others). I will certainly check into the book you recommended - the title sounds spot on! I very much appreciate your time.
1 year ago
My wife and I recently moved our family to North Central Florida to pursue our dream of homesteading and a movement toward a more sustainable lifestyle. We've found a great 5 acre piece of property in north Gainesville and are set to close at the end of this month. I felt like it would be a good idea to start planning out how we will utilize the land but have been hit with a bit of information overload and could certainly use some informed direction on our first steps.

To provide a little background, we have both lived most of our lives in Florida but come from further south and a more tropical climate. Our knowledge on gardening and agriculture is limited to (HOA friendly) raised bed and container gardening which was productive but also very costly. I am very attracted to the principles of permaculture and agroforestry and prefer to work with the land rather than against it - but really don't know where to begin.

Currently our property is predominantly dominated by oak trees (and a few pine, etc). There are 2 or 3 small 'open' areas that get full sun and the the rest is partial or full shade (about 2 acres in the rear of the property is a completely untouched, conservation type area). The soil is basically sand but because of all the oaks there are a TON of leaves and branches that could be utilized for compost or mulch, etc. I have done a lot of reading over the past few weeks and have come across some great information/ideas but feel overwhelmed with the amount of, often conflicting, guidance on the internet.

Our basic goal is to start to move the landscape from its current state into something resembling a high producing food forest that we can get food from year round. We'd prefer to utilize natural or re-purposed resources as much as possible so as not to incur unnecessary costs. If possible, we'd rather do the work one time and enjoy the rewards rather than constantly having to manage. We would like to start small (fruit/nut trees, perennials, ?) and grow with time as more skills and knowledge are developed.

The questions on the top of my mind so far are:

- I intend to start in a slightly lower lying part to the west of the house (left on the photo), it has good access to water (due to a previous structure), the area is in full sun but probably not considered 'zone 1' on the property, would this be a good choice? The other full sun area is directly over the septic leach field so I would prefer to avoid edibles but will likely use this area to plant vegetation that attracts pollinators.
- Being that I will be starting in the middle of Summer what should I do first? For instance; should I sheet mulch, double dig, or some other method (hugelkultur, chop & drop) to prepare the soil? Should I plant trees, perennials, or nitrogen fixing ground cover first? Suggestions?
- What is the best way to utilize the current oak trees in the landscape, is there such a thing as an oak guild? Can oaks be used to plant more tropical plants that might not otherwise do well in this zone?
- What edible perennials best suit this climate and provide the most caloric value for my family?
- When is a good time to start annuals?
Bonus: We would like to get chickens eventually and already have a structure in place from the previous owner, would getting them sooner rather than later be more beneficial to the homestead?

I have to say I am a big fan of this community and have found it to be one of the most helpful educational resources thus far. We are very excited to get started and realize that this process is built around experimentation but at the same time I don't want to waste a bunch of time making mistakes if I don't have to. I certainly appreciate any help, direction, resources or suggestions you can provide and please let me know if there is any further information that I can offer.

Thanks!
Chad









1 year ago