Vinson Corbo

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since Mar 29, 2020
Seeking to contribute and receive beneficial information to permies forum. I host the Journey into Permaculture podcast. Let's grow together!
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Recent posts by Vinson Corbo

This thread, and other posts on social media with this similar question inspired my most recent podcast episode. "Where Do I Start?". Alternatively, take a listen on JourneyIntoPermaculture.com also.
First episode posted!

My Journey into Permaculture starts with a kitchen garden, usually put in Zone 0 or Zone 1 in a permaculture design. Most of the episode is about 4x8 foot beds that can be made from materials at a local home improvement store. These beds can be expensive upfront, but if you price out the beds over the years of using the beds, the price is much cheaper. Plus every year you harvest homegrown produce. Raised beds are the easiest way to add depth of organic soil within the first season of growing. Raised beds are best for difficult soils to work with a broad fork such as; rocky soil, compacted hardpan of clay, and contaminated soil. Raised beds can be quick to setup, and can keep animals out easier than a garden row. Fences will need to be kept in mind for larger herbivores and animals, such as deer.

Materials for a 4x8 foot raised bed include: 2x6 boards, hardware cloth or landscape fabric, 4x4 posts or metal plates for bracing the boards, and 3 1/2 inch deck screws. Get a bed extender for hauling extra long boards.

Alternate raised beds include using a garden barrel design, an up cycling method. Perfect for the urban garden patio, given it can handle the weight. There is a company that makes these in a perfected design called The Garden Project. Their product is more expensive than DIY, however.

A stacked rock garden is great for herb spirals. They are a perfect Zone 0 kitchen herbs garden, mine are pungent smelling, which means deer stay away. A keyhole garden is traditionally made with stacked rock also, and has built in compost section for an extra fertile garden bed.

The Big-Bag-Bed is a big textile air pot that is great for a first-time raised bed garden that is easily taken with you in a temporary living situation. You can accompany this raised bed with the Compost Sak, made by the same company. They both need to be in a level ground area, and best not on a deck with neighbors below you. An even better mobile composter is the Geobin.

Stay in touch and join our email list. Thanks for tuning into my Journey into Permaculture, see you next time!

#Permaculture #growwithme #sustainability #agriculture #selfsufficiency
3 months ago
Because I invested in the DeWalt brand of tools, and a handful of batteries, I bought the 20v chainsaw made by the brand. I don't regret it, its tool-less and gets the job done without issue. It will cut up a downed tree no problem, but I wouldn't expect to outcompete a gas saw. Unless you invest in the large 60v batteries for the 20v tools That might have this saw last a long time. Might need two 20v batteries if its about 12 inches or more diameter. Won't cut much larger than that without an upgraded chain and bar, up to 16 inches. Its great to for forestry and orchard work by pruning and cutting up things less than 12 in diameter. It will go quite a while on things less than 10 inches or less, will likely need to fill up on oil before changing battery. There are probably better brands, but can't go wrong if you have the batteries and invested in the brand already.
3 months ago
The tractor that I keep my sows in is based off this attached youtube video tutorial on building a rabbit hutch. I built it with chickens in mind, as well as other animals when the chickens had a better space, as there is no roost. When I had to get rid of them on HOA orders, I got guinea pigs for the tractor. Thinking it would be the best animal to keep in an HOA community at the time, and less diet requirements than rabbits. I was also recently with a PDC and we discussed the idea of guinea pigs for meat, and I wanted to give it a try.

My tractor is slightly modified from this tutorial, but very close. The tractor I made for the boars is even more modified, however based on this design as well.


The boar tractor is smaller in height, and uses less wood. The smaller height was supposed to save space and weight for the guinea pig smaller size. On a plus, the smaller tractor is easier to move. The smaller coop size backfired as I can't practice deep bedding easily, and as I open the tops the GPs can easily fall out when there is a lot of bedding. GPs falling out happens sometimes in the winter when the bedding is piled up and deep, and too high on the walls. The original I made can get really heavy. When there's 6+ inches of soiled hay/grass in the coop the tractor becomes nearly immobile with the little wheels. The tractor will dig into the ground. The wheels in the back require a good lift off the ground for both tractors to get moving. The original hits the shins really good. The use of hardware cloth for bottom and sides might give a good rusty scratch while moving too. If I were to make a better tractor for guinea pigs, I would try to make light weight as possible, and get big wheels to handle deep bedding. Not lawn mower wheels. The design doesn't allow for much space to grab onto and move around either. I would consider a run separated from the coop design as well, however, the run and coop in one does allow for little required attention other than feed and water routines. Certain GPs know who I am and know I bring snacks, so they will let me pet them, most are skittish. Maybe they remember their friend never came back and went to the frying pan. I would still consider having my tractor or run the height of a lawn mower to keep from over grazing.

I'll never forget the first season of having guinea pigs outside in the tractors. The first winter was very active, and brought several snow storms. We expected one snowstorm to bring more snow than the height of the tractors, and snow had indeed piled to the expectations of about 4ft. For the tractor preparation, I moved the tractors away from the house to ensure I had access, which I didn't expect a screen porch to be the justified reason they were moved in the center of the yard. A screened porch attached to the house I lived in at the time caved-in from the snow load. One preparation was I had to make pvc snorkels so I didn't have to stay up and dig out the tractors overnight. They were attached into the coop and stuck out another foot high from the tractors. By the next morning, all I could see were the snorkels I made, with a few inches to spare, and the tractors completely buried in snow. By the time I got to the tractors, the animals were perfectly fine with no snow in the run or coop areas and eating the extra grass and food I had for them. They likely ate the snow for water, but the main reason I had to dig out the tractors was to replace the water bottles, which froze overnight. If anything the snow acted as a insulator keeping the animals warm. I wish I was photo journaling this, but I regrettably didn't.
3 months ago
I've been keeping guinea pigs in a mobile tractor outside going on 5 seasons, and I wanted to share experiences to interested permies and how I'm keeping these little critters outside all year in zone 7a. This herd started when living in an HOA community, as the organization made me get rid of my chickens that I kept in the tractor. I made a second tractor for the boars after getting my first batch of guinea pigs. They couldn't make me get rid of my 'pet' guinea pigs. My herd has several guinea pigs from the first litter, and the last one from my first batch has passed recently. I've had some ups and downs on how to care, as much of the inter-webs have information on how to keep guinea pigs as a pet, and certainly not outside all year. This thread should should help someone else start up a similar mobile guinea pig tractor with less of the learning curve I've had.

At first I thought my primary use for the critters were for meat, but that became a secondary use after seeing low little meat comes off of one, definitely need to source a Peruvian variety if this is your primary purpose, they are bred twice the size of guinea pigs commonly found around the US. You can find them, however, you need to search. My primary use for these critters are for creating garden compost, kitchen vegetable/fruit scraps, for cutting the lawn, and manuring the lawn. The tractor is just high enough for a typical lawn mowing, and in the summer, that is particularly all they eat aside from a vitamin c source, which was usually scrap item(s) from the kitchen like oranges, lemons, pineapple, peppers. They can go a week without an issue, but more than two weeks without a vitamin c might allow sickness, potentially a guinea pig scurvy. Two weeks has been my maximum, and don't try to wait that long. The grass has enough water content that they don't drink much water directly, as long as the tractor doesn't have much direct sunlight. Guinea pigs will eat just about any vegetation, and I'll supplement with what I have available. The only things I haven't seen them eat are certain vining species. I want to experiment with poison ivy - but haven't had the chance yet.

The picture I uploaded is of my herd free-ranging, and I did that often in my initial 1-2 seasons. In the first season the tractor was directly on the ground, this made free-ranging easy. But they would eat the grass bare where the tractor sat, and overgraze similar to other pasture raised scenarios. I raised the tractor to stop overgrazing. This made it great as a lawn mower. Because my tractor is slightly above the ground, they will hide underneath, and getting them out from underneath is a big hassle. I stopped free ranging for now. They are just fine in the tractors together. When there's plenty of grass, I can't move the tractors often enough it seems. About 4 times a day or every 2-3 hours is about the maximum they could be moved before seeing some patches of grass untouched. They are like little cows for the urban/suburban lawns, when my guinea pigs birthed early from summer heat, so did cows on the farm I was working at. There is slight resemblance in the grazing nature of the animals.

Once my raised beds are up, they will free range in the aisles for lawn mowing so I don't have to source wood chips. Also in the collage are pups, my sows eating kitchen snacks, and finally one cooked up on a dinner plate with a common sun-fish cooked next to it. I'd say the pigs give enough meat comparable to about 3 chicken wings. I stopped feeding pellets like the pellet feeder after season 2, and went to timothy bales that people usually buy for horses. This bale will last me about a month depending on the season. That's the only input for feed. It also serves as bedding if the guinea pigs don't eat all of it. When I take the bedding out to put into compost pile I will put a little bit of hay to get the bedding started and keep them from being in their manure, they will hang in their coop no matter how much manure there is, and will soil the coop readily.

I will share additional updates on specific care and lessons learned through-out the years. If you have questions and how to start an operation of your own, I will be happy to share my experience.
3 months ago
If you have some stakes and mesh fencing, set it up right outside the coop and let them out there for a few days. At least waist high as long as nothing is up against it. This might get them outside the coop and prevent them going too far. If the pond is far enough and cannot be seen in a straight line, the ducks may not notice. I have a running creek right in the back of my fence, the ducks could potentially squeeze through the semi-large holes of the fence but stay inside my backyard pasture. When the flock had ducklings - that was a different story - the ducklings went through without issue and the duck hens squeezed through to be with their young. Then they followed up the creek to a point where I thought I lost the whole flock once I noticed they were gone. They all came honking and barreling back after a predator likely attacked and took a few ducklings, since some were missing. They remembered where safety was. A pond nearby does seem to pose a possibility that they would head over there free ranging. If they feel more comfortable there than their home, it might be a challenge to herd back, especially if its a big pond and no boat! They may not pay much attention to the chickens roaming around and going in at night, however, since they've been kept together they may have some feeling of affiliation.
3 months ago

Kristen Thompson wrote:Hello Mike,

Thank you for the visual! Unfortunately, I don't see that option in the menu. I'll attach a screenshot of what I'm seeing



I can't see bumper stickers option in my profile either - looks just like Kristen's screenshot. Using a computer also
Here's a picture of my friend's progress with a broad fork and 50 ft beds, taking about 90 minutes per bed to broad fork like this.

My ducks don't like anyone near them, and will take a little flight if I approach quickly. Most domesticated ducks fly as well as chickens, which is just a glide and fall, with style. Mine climb on top of their pen to look out for predators for the rest of the flock, only a few prefer the 'scout' role. They happily free range in the backyard pasture (permanent fence). They are easily herded, and will typically go where you want if you extend your arms out and look really wide. Use your arms while extended and close toward your body like youre clapping and they move forward from me.  

My ducks come running when they see their food being filled up, or my red cup even when empty. Though they usually see it full of whole corn to snack on. If I stay still, the ducks don't mind getting really close, regardless of food. They will eventually get used to you.

The first farm I cared for had 40 ducks, where they were kept in an open pen with a few places that had a roof. The ground predators were kept away by guard dogs on the farm, and there were occasional flying predators at night, owls in particular. They had so many ducks and too many eggs to eat so the losses were recouped when laying for ducklings. Anyway, the ducks were completely free range and had no issues going back home. They would go down to the creek several hundred feet away on nice days, and other days they would follow up the hill to eat grass and bugs. They were a happy flock, and generally stick in groups of 1 or 3. So they liked to stick together. The ducks weren't particular to allowing anyone close to them, so the flock would move away when a human approached.

Another farm that I helped build started with ducks and put their pen right next to a pond. They also started with about 30-40 and bred to about 60 before starting to cull. To get them out of the pond and back in the pen, they would fill the feeders at night only in the pen before locking up their pen and every duck would start running into it. Their muscovy duck breed wouldn't be easily as fooled, and would stay in the pond, sometimes overnight with the chance of predators. They lost a few muscovy duck that way.

Your flock should know where home is, if they've been in there for a few weeks, they especially know where the feed is. If you fill it up at night they will know what's going on and go back in to eat the easy scratch. Chickens will naturally go back in their pen before dark with or without feed. My ducks will do the same. Although the first flock liked to lay down right at the opening of the pen, my second flock go right in before nightfall like chickens.

If you have a pond, you might want to consider making a duck house that floats in the water with a duck-only water entrance. No predator will be able to dive under water to enter but a duck.
3 months ago
I have some other ideas on how to get started without using too much muscle - a broad fork or digging fork will take a lot of energy and time. Especially as grass with roots will be in the first 2-4 inches at least. My friend is making 50ft rows with his broad fork and I'm sure he could say that he's taking a beating making his beds. He's got the help from his sons too. No doubt it will be worth it in the end! After broad forking put some soil on top to begin the process of turning the space into an abundant garden. The grass will grow back if not turned upside down, removed, or covered until it dies and or compost. You may want to put a clear or black plastic on the grass patch for a few weeks before you start your broadforking/digging fork. This will help make the forking more manageable than live grass with good live roots.

This other idea will take less digging in the ground but you'll need cardboard, mulch, and compost or top soil. Plus lug the stuff onto your new to be garden patch. If you can source cardboard, layer the stuff thick on the grass, and make sure they overlap. The grass will search for a way through the cardboard and start growing through. If this happens, at least you'll have less grass to deal with than before. After the carboard layer, put a layer of mulch on top. This mulch can be spread wide, where you plan to have walking paths in the garden. This should still be a thick layer, and eventually will compost into the garden soil. Then put your planting soil on top of the mulch. Start planting into the soil. Much less digging, but will still take some muscle.

Instead of you making the garden - make chickens or pigs work for you. If you have experience and are planning on having animals or can procure animals from a nearby farm or friend for a little while, make them start the garden for you.

Justin Rhodes will put his chickens in an enclosed pasture with removable stakes and an electric fence. Leave the chickens there until the ground is down to the soil. Move them, and prepare the space for planting! Bonus if you throw food that has seeds and can easily germinate like; tomatoes, pumpkin, squashes (gourds with viable seeds inside of all types). This garden can look wild if you just let those grow, but instead you can harness what the chickens did and start your garden thereafter.

You can do the same with pigs. They will root up the ground for grubs and roots, and the ground will eventually be perfect for a garden. One pig can make a good size garden plot within 2 weeks. You'll need a good amount of chickens to do that, at least 20 within the same space. Pigs eat everything of course, and both pig and chicken manure will be great for your garden as long as you're feeding whole foods and non-processed. The chickens and or pig can help start the rest of your land as you move the animals to new spaces, turning the grass into abundance of food in the process, with less human muscle doing so.

Matter of fact, looks like Justin released a video that uses both chickens and pigs making his garden in two weeks. The animals can work together like in the video or in succession.