George Yacus

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since Sep 27, 2018
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I'm a Navy Veteran and beginning farmer who is passionate about developing truly sustainable systems.
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Recent posts by George Yacus

Andrew wrote:George, did you just create that drawing or did you find it somewhere? I really like it.

Original concept + drawing.  If it works, I hereby dub it, the Leap-Sheep-Steep-Shelters.

Created it myself using Inkscape, which is free and open source vector graphics software.

It just occurred to me that adding one additional tripod (total of four) plus an extra canvas or tarp might allow for doubling the shelter space.  
Four tripods could also be used with a rectangular tarp instead.  During windy conditions, the windward corner of the tarp could be lowered to provide shelter, if appropriately anchored and goats are not a problem.

If the system does work, there might be further function stacking possibilities to explore. For instance, if buckets are being used to carry feed, they could be suspended from the tripods so they don't get knocked over.  If the tarp is modified to include a grommet hole at the low point, perhaps it could also capture drinking water into a small stock tank.

If anyone tries it, do let me know!
2 days ago
I'm not a sheep farmer (yet).  I don't know if this would work, but it may trigger some ideas for prototyping

Concept only, not a proven technique:
Suspend a large triangular canvas or tarp among three tripods made of bamboo or other wooden spar material.  Each tripod has a short leg.  The shorter leg of each tripod will go uphill, or in such a way as to provide good tension for the tarp or tent canvas.  

Design criteria:
The size of the tarp is dependent on the number of animals being shaded.  
The tripods must be tall enough to prevent goats from hoping on top of the tarp.  
The ends of the triangular tarp will each have a line with a small carabiner to toss over the tripods, and they will then be hooked to a bucket to add good tension to the tarp.  
If the weighted bucket does not provide adequate tension to prevent a tripod from falling over (it probably wouldn't), then the carabiners may also fix tension to the ground by attaching to a screw such as the following for dog tethers.

If the distance between tripods roughly corresponds to the expected distance leap-frogged every day: in this case, 80 feet, then only one tripod would have to be moved (along with the ground screw anchor) depending on land shape.  Otherwise, three tripods and a tarp with line would need to be moved each day.
2 days ago
The Scuttlebutt.

1) You scuttled all those old crummy butt splices from the previous owner.  
2) Catfish don't need much space, and could easily live in an old scuttlebutt (fountain barrel)
3) You're sharing scuttlebutt here on right now, Chief when instead you should be out fishing on her!
2 days ago
If it's a matter of time to plant (not space, or knowing where to plant), and if you are planting mass quantities of say, 1 year old black locust with roots only a foot long or so, and you are attempting to do so very quickly, check your tools and technique.  The dibble bar method works well.  Here is one example from an Alabama Extension:


If you don't have a dibble bar, a nice straight spade works just fine.  

Even if you don't use this exact method (there are others, and I've used even fewer and sloppier spade motions for planting black locust), just try to get good root contact and avoid air pockets, then heel in the weird divots, and the black locust will probably do just fine being a pioneer plant if it has adequate water.  

To give you an idea of how fast it can take to plant a bare root black locust tree, in the time it takes to have read this post, a couple trees could have been planted in average soil.  
2 days ago

Jeff wrote:Any suggestions on how we can ask Mr. Lawton to compete? Im just a permie nobody.

Point of order: You aren't a "permie nobody."  You have the sum of your experience, ideas, skills, knowledge, plans, friends, dreams, hopes, spirit, and potential that is completely and totally unique to you. Nobody else in the world has exactly what you have, where and when you have it.  Don't sell yourself short.  As long as there is breath in your lungs, the possibilities remain endless.

The website wrote:
To win the grand prize, teams must demonstrate a working solution at a scale of at least 1000 tonnes removed per year; model their costs at a scale of 1 million tonnes per year; and show a pathway to achieving a scale of gigatonnes per year in future.

Any carbon negative solution is eligible: nature-based, direct air capture, oceans, mineralization, or anything else that achieves net negative emissions, sequesters CO2 durably, and show a sustainable path to achieving low cost at gigatonne scale"

But hypothetically, say Geoff was put in charge of an X-Team, what do you think he would do first?  

In other words, if you called him up right now, and he said "sure, mate, where do we start on this problem?" How would you reply?
3 days ago

The reason is the requirement here to have fire breaks and the tenacity of the things that grow.

1) Seek to understand their position better.  (To you, what appears to be hard labor killing weeds with machines and chemical concoctions may actually be enjoyable to the neighbor, believe it or not.)  Communicate your position gently, and in writing.  Make offers in writing so they aren't "on the spot" and reflexively defensive.

2) Rather than growies, consider some kind of thick landscape fabric, with attractive gravel on top to both prevent weeds and serve as a fire break.  

3) Try flipping the question back to the neighbor:

   "What living plant, structure, or other linear boundary element would we have to install, or...
       what service could we routinely provide...
       in order to prevent you from using herbicide?"

Have a palette of example perennial groundcovers printed out that they could choose from.  Maybe offer to install an underground rhizome barrier parallel to the fence to keep things extra tidy.
Have a list of services in mind, too: mowing, offering other landscape labor, offering fruits of your harvest.  

4) If they reject, go for a smaller sacrifice on their end instead of all or nothing demands:

   "What would it take to prevent herbicide use within just 30cm?"

   "What about 1 meter?"

5) Consider financial exchange, with a memorandum of understanding.  In other words, how much damage is this problem causing you, if you had to put a dollar sign on it? How much is it saving them, if they had a dollar sign on it?  Is it worth paying them a one time gift of €20?  What about €50?

The US DOE website has some information on planning renewable energy systems, too:

US Department of Energy website wrote:To see if a microhydropower system would work for you, you will want to determine the amount of power that you can obtain from the flowing water on your site. This involves determining these two things:

Head -- the vertical distance the water falls
Flow -- the quantity of water falling.
Once you've calculated the head and flow, then you can use a simple equation to estimate the power output for a system with 53% efficiency, which is representative of most microhydropower systems.

Simply multiply net head (the vertical distance available after subtracting losses from pipe friction) by flow (use U.S. gallons per minute) divided by 10. That will give you the system's output in watts (W). The equation looks this:

[net head (feet) × flow (gpm)] ÷ 10 = W

As you see, they based it off 53% efficiency.  A homemade waterwheel might be much less.  The website also describes methods for estimating and calculating flow rate.
1 week ago
What are your long term goals for said ducks:

A) Pets,
B) Wild creatures, or
C) Dinner?
1 week ago

Also, I want to say that I know a lot of you will think becoming debt free first is most important, but I honestly dont see how that’s possible.

In order to see that it is possible, you must choose to believe it is actually possible.  Everything that is built in this world is built twice: first in the mind, then in reality.  You can do it.  But it's going to take time, and planning on paper, and sacrifice, and others can't make it happen for you, especially if you don't think it is possible.  

Here’s my very blunt advice: Take some time offline and come up with a solid plan to get out of debt while simultaneously making your family's life better.  Continue to permaculturalize your surroundings, beginning at your doorstep.  Here's an example plan:

____1. Don’t sell your home.

     -Shelter is a basic need.
     -Once it is paid off some day – yes, that day will come - then consider renting it out and moving if you don’t like the area.  

____2. Keep your current job for another year.

     ___A) Write out 10 things you really like about your job.  Also write out the deeper purpose for why you are working there.  Carry that on an index card and keep it available for reference.  Take a look at it when you are feeling down about your job.  Remind yourself out loud:

            “No one is forcing me to work here.  It may be hard, but I choose to work here.”

     ___B) On the flip side of that card, write out 5 things you don’t like about your job.  But... flip the narrative for each one, and do your best to change it to its opposite.

          e.g. “My job doesn’t add value to the world.”  
                 → transforms to:
                “My job DOES add value to the world, otherwise they wouldn’t be paying me.  My family and community rely on my services.”

          e.g. "I am hurting the environment by doing my job."
                → transforms to:
                "Even if I personally didn't do this job, someone else would still be doing it.  Better me than others.  I will use the value I gain from this job to change the system for the better when possible."

    ___C) Learn about the inverted U-shaped performance vs stress curve.  Stress is a GOOD thing.  Too much or too little stress is bad.  Figure out where you are on the curve.  With your current responsibilities, ask yourself, are you:

               Adequately tasked, or…

            If you drastically change your life or quit your job, will it result in more or less performance and stress?

    ___D) Brainstorm +50 ways to make your current job more satisfying.  Here’s a start:

         1) Music
         2) Environmental modifications, color, art
         3) Have a plant at the desk, or a small plant in the truck.
         4) Guerrilla garden at your job site
         5) More productive or fun breaks
         6) Healthy snacks
         7) Engaging more/less with other coworkers
         8) Focus on making others happy
         9) Brainstorming business plans when there is down time
         10) Call the wife from work more often
         11) Yoga / stretching

___3. Schedule a date-night plus 30 minute strategic conversation with your family.

     ____ A) ”What does OUR ideal life look like? What does it sound, smell, feel, and taste like?”  Focus on developing a common vision that is jointly held.  You’ve already conceptualized your vision of Eden, but keep brainstorming until there is a JOINT vision established, and write that one down.  That vision is yours, your wife’s, and any other stakeholders involved.  

     ____B) Ask yourselves whether you are willing to sacrifice your individual short term happiness, goals, and passions for your family’s long term happiness, joint goals, purpose, and common passions.  Sacrificing takes courage.  If you aren’t willing to sacrifice, delay having children.  Even if you wait past your biological clocks, adoption is still possible.  No rush.  You’re young, you still have time. Focus on the marriage. Kids change everything, supposedly.

     ____C) Continuously brainstorm ways you can dovetail your current reality and joint context closer to your Eden vision.  Avoid thinking escapist permie-pie-in-the-sky thoughts.  Instead think hard, achievable, boring but possibly beautiful realities.  Write them down.  

___4. Audit your time for a normal week.

      -Carry a notebook or another index card along with a watch, and figure out where all your time goes in a week.

     168 hours in a week.  
     -  40 hour work week,
     -  56 hours sleeping
   =  72 hours of expected free time.

      -Discover all time sinks.  Everything, good or bad.  Write it down.
      -Analyze and eliminate or swap various time sinks in order to get you closer to your vision.

          e.g. "Oh, apparently I spent 1 hour on each week reading about other people's permaculture gardens;
          Instead, I will spend that time collecting 30 lbs of organic matter from the neighborhood as fertilizer for my market garden.

___5. Audit your money.  If you have never made a formal budget, do it.

     -Use a notebook or index cards, and figure out where all your money goes in a month.
     -Put it all in a spreadsheet.  Money in. Money available.  Money out.  It’s a flow system.  Use systems thinking: plug the leaks and increase the flow coming in.
     -Ruthlessly eliminate or reduce as many recurring out flows as possible.  When paying down your debt, just think of it as enabling future, permaculture-related projects.  Challenge your true needs vs wants.  There is no shame in eating inexpensive.  Even billionaire Elon Musk once ate cheaply at less than $30(CAD) for a month to prove he could.

         e.g. I paid $20 in dog food for a month.  → If I sell the dog, that saves $240 a year in puppy chow.  "I saved enough to buy 500 bare root apple trees each year".
         e.g. I paid $5 in beer each week → Switching to water.  Saves $60 a year.  "I just saved myself 4 hours of working for the man at a minimum wage job in the future."

___6. Dig deeper into your community, explore, and leverage what you have.    
Lets pretend you live in Iron County, MI.  Perhaps there are part time jobs in work fields that better align with what you want to do.  Perhaps you can work an additional job on the weekends for a landscaper, or a local farm, and expand their offerings for sale.  Perhaps parks or churches would let you plant trees or place mushroom logs under downspouts.  Perhaps there are non-profits or volunteering opportunities that would enable you to achieve your goals of teaching youth.  

___ 7. Pay it off and pay it forward, slowly.
You have everything you need around you to start achieving your dream.  It may take a while.  It may will be unpleasant. You can do it.  Do it evenly-yoked alongside your wife.  Please don't reply to this post, because your time is too valuable!  Just go, and turn that passion into a slow, steady, productive force to be reckoned with.
2 weeks ago
You're not an idiot at all!  I believe what the author is trying to convey is that the wind is flowing from either right to left, or from left to right.  The triangle is acting kind of like a ski-ramp or jump would.  The wind hits either side of the "jump" and then lands ~20 times the height of the tree, (according to that website).  If a nice garden or home is placed leeward inside of that distance, it is less susceptible to being hit or "landed on" by the wind.  Closer to the windbreak is usually more protected.    
2 weeks ago