Leigh Tate

author & gardener
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since Oct 16, 2019
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goat cat forest garden foraging chicken food preservation medical herbs writing solar wood heat homestead
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My dream has always been to live close to the land. My goal is simpler, sustainable, more self-reliant living. In 2009 my husband and I bought a neglected 1920s-built bungalow on 5 acres, which we've gradually built into our homestead.
Southeastern U.S. - Zone 7b
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Recent posts by Leigh Tate

Bernetta, congratulations! I'm not familiar with that area, but hopefully someone will be. Exciting times ahead! Do keep us posted.
1 day ago
C.K., this is a really good photo record of what you've been doing. I appreciate that you've updated your progress as time goes by. Very helpful for others.
2 days ago
I wonder if this would work with other kinds of winter squashes. I'm thinking cushaw (because that's what I have!)
2 days ago

Mike Barkley wrote:The point being ... no one is an island. A little cooperation with friends & neighbors make the task easier for everyone involved.

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I would only add the small observation that Earth herself, this ball of rock with a skin of seething life, is not a closed system either. We depend on our co-planet moon as a pendulum that regulates our rotation, and a fickle ball of thermonuclear gas that keeps us warm and may fry our clever inventions when, you know, the star(s) align. So, to my mind, any subsystem of this big system is fated to be un-closed by definition.

I think these are really, really important points! Twelve years ago, my husband and I started out all starry eyed, thinking that it was simply a matter of replacing all aspects of our modern lifestyle with more natural ways and means. Self-sufficiency (then) meant we were going to do it all ourselves. It didn't take long to realize that there simply isn't enough time and energy to do it all ourselves. Now, I would say that any measure of success requires learning how to simplify our lifestyle and be content with whatever basics we can manage. That being said, we humans are social beings. Folk who prefer isolation is the exception rather than the norm. My idea now is that we are better off being co-dependent on a small community, rather than dependent on a large industrialized system.

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:But that doesn't stop us from trying. :-)

I agree with this too. By being a goal, we have something to work toward, and I say some progress is better than none.

One thing I realized early on, was that the only things we took to the landfill were from items we had purchased: plastic packaging, disposable use, damaged, broken, etc. Some things can definitely be re-used, glass peanut butter jars, for example. But most of it has to be discarded. But! Everything we produce on the homestead, stays on the homestead because it has a use. So, for us, working toward closing our systems means buying less and making do more.
3 days ago
Working toward closing the food system for my husband and me has been a long-time goal. But it's taken a lot of experimentation and the addition of livestock and appropriate tools. Our goats and chickens supply the manure, and the addition of a heavy-duty PTO-powered chipper to chip branches from our woodlot supplies the woodchips. Our compost piles are in the chicken yard, and all kitchen and garden scraps go into them along with woodchips. This is the compost I use on the garden. Woodchips and leaves are my mulch. Dirty barn straw goes onto the polyculture pasture, where we grow things that we can eat too, like brassicas. I won't call these completely closed systems, however, because we still have to buy gasoline to operate the chipper. And even though our goats are primarily pasture and garden fed and we grow some of our own hay, I still by a small amount of grain for feed and also minerals.

I save my own seed, which I consider part of our closed system, but I still enjoy purchasing garden seed for experimenting, plus various forage plant seeds because we are still building diversity in our pasture. We're also incorporating more perennials in our food growing. Most of what I buy from the grocery store isn't what I consider a necessity, except perhaps salt. Our other "necessities" could actually be done without, such as coffee and sweeteners (still working on keeping honeybees). I buy coconut and olive oil, but we can make our own butter and lard. Vinegar, I could make for myself, but I don't at this time.

I don't think I could put a percentage on how much of our diet is homegrown. Breakfast is usually 95-98% homegrown, other meals less so. If we needed to, we could feed ourselves just on what we grow, but I'll add that food adjustments take time to get used to. In the meantime, I don't mind the additional variety in our diet.

EDIT to add that "low input" is somewhat relevant! If we aren't purchasing inputs, then we're putting a lot of our own time and energy into acquiring and preparing them!
4 days ago
Maddy, welcome to Permies! Sounds like you have a good possibility on your horizon. And it sounds like you have a good plan. All very exciting! It's really great that you can help your mom and start learning useful skills. Who knows, when she sees permaculture in action, your mom may come to appreciate it! Do keep us posted on your progress. And if you have questions, someone here will likely have help and encouragement.
5 days ago
Hi Gregg, I'm so glad you took the time to introduce yourself. Your plans are great! It sounds like you have a lot to contribute to a like-minded community.
5 days ago
I've used solar electric fence chargers for the past several years and have decided it's time to switch to a DC set-up. My issues with solar chargers is that they have too small a solar panel and too small a built-in battery, so charger unit longevity hasn't been that great. Add to that the number of cloudy days I get, and well, it's just time to try something better for my rotational grazing needs.

I have a portable solar charging station with which I'll recharge the battery for my new set-up. My question is regarding the kind of battery. I always see car batteries being used, but wouldn't deep cycle batteries be better considering the number of discharges and recharges the battery will go through? Or are car batteries preferred because the cranking amps supply the kick needed to make the fence effective?
1 week ago
It never occurred to me to be interested in weaving baskets. But here I am, and I have to admit it was fun.

My locally sourced material was kudzu from our woods.

I pulled the vines off the trees and the girls trimmed the leaves for me.

My pile of kudzu vines, ready to weave.

Ribs of the basket tied and secure.

Getting a weaving rhythm going.

Finished basket, side view.

Finished basket, top measurement.

It's a little wonky, but it's serviceable, and I learned a lot!

1 week ago