Trish Doherty

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since Feb 15, 2021
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forest garden chicken greening the desert
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Southwestern NM
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Recent posts by Trish Doherty

Thank you!  That was very enlightening!
1 month ago
Hey all!  Just read this awesome article about MIT figuring out you can make superconductors from concrete, water, and carbon black.  It sounds really doable and I think it'll be a game changer in energy storage.  It's just concrete with 10% carbon black.  For example, the foundation of your house could store an entire day's solar energy.  Definitely a must-read.
1 month ago
Update for anyone who cares, lol:

Yes, my hair will hold a curl now. For days and days. I don't have to use any products on it at all.  Previously, I could spend hours curling my hair and it would be gone in less time than I spent curling it. When I got my hair curled at a salon along with a bunch of other bridesmaids, the stylist who got me put so much hairspray on me that my hair made crunching noises (and still lost the curl).

Now, my pooless super-hair takes 5 minutes to curl and out the door. Just hair + heat. I always wondered how other women managed to get up 3 hours early to curl their hair every day. Turns out it's so much simpler than that!  Curls last until I wash my hair again. Yay.

8 months ago
Imagining if moose were my main garden pest. Yikes!

I love the idea that our chicks should eat local foods,  too!
10 months ago
Mine strangely love Bermuda grass, which is supposed to be high in calcium and other nutrients.  When they have access to the yard with the Bermuda grass I notice that their eggshells are thicker.  During the height of summer when there is a lot to choose from, it's not their first choice,  but they're especially happy to have it when other greens are waning.

They love a good pumpkin,  so I try to get extra leftover ones after Halloween. I also grow some for them.

Kitchen scraps are great.  My neighbors send over theirs as well.

My girls just look at me funny if I give them amaranth.  They won't touch it.  Maybe they're just weirdos.

Think long- term, trees and perennial as well.

Siberian pea shrub is supposed to be excellent chicken feed. I think I killed mine though,  haha.  Need to get some established.  Bonus is that it fixes nitrogen.

Mulberry leaves are also supposed to be good.  I planted a black mulberry near my coop last year but it will be a while before it's big enough to provide food.

I also planted some grapes for them which aren't particularly nutritious but make nice treats.

I got Hopi purple corn from Baker Creek. It's supposed to be high in protein. I got it for me,  but if I can get it to grow well I could give some to the girls.  I only got a couple of small ears last year, but we have challenging growing conditions. This one also looks like it might be good for chickens:

My girls "free range" in most of an average small town back yard (fenced to keep my little Hobbits from going adventuring with Gandalf).  There are lots of good hiding places,  including oak scrub and a giant prickly pear that they have now decided to lay under,  lol. Does not make getting eggs easy.  The compost pile is in their yard and they like to pick through it when I bring out a new bucket.  I let weeds and wildflowers grow,  and encourage choice weeds.  When monsoon comes the girls have a nice big summer buffet and require a lot less food from me. I put chicken wire around new plants I try to establish within their area. I started letting them out there a few months after planting a nanking cherry that has never been protected from them. They like snacking on its lower leaves but have surprisingly not killed it and it's doing great.  They haven't messed with an unprotected pecan sapling, either.  The mulberry and persimmons definitely needed to  be protected, though.  They occasionally snack on my rosemary but have done it no harm; it was well established already.

Do some research before feeding acorns.  I've read they can be toxic, but there are people on both sides of that camp.  I've decided to err on the side of caution and not feed them directly, but it's not like I go pick up every acorn either!
10 months ago

Thought I'd share this interesting article.  The gist is that ancient farmers created polycultures of grains to increase crops and ensure good harvests.  Planting things together also increased yields overall.
10 months ago
Lol. I imagine the trees would prefer not to catch on fire. I'll watch out especially for the flammable trees.  Juniper are all over the place here, especially,  so it will have to be looked at closely.

I'd like to have at least a handful of easy-harvest trees so that kids could just reach up and pick fresh fruit without having to climb ladders.
11 months ago
What great input. You're all awesome!

Sealing the house/work space + hepa filters, yes!  Absolutely. I have a small air cleaner I use now and retreat to one closed room when it's bad. That means I can't get a lot done during fire season, which seems to be getting longer every year. For us it's spring and early summer that are the worst, which, unfortunately is when there's a ton of work to do outside. It gets hot,  too, so working with a mask can be difficult.  

Discing: thanks for the info!  Does it work in rocky soil?  We have A LOT of rocks here.

The mote idea was based on a flooding system I read about in Bill Mollison's manual.  It might be that we don't have enough water at the time we would need it.

Buildings: I'm not planning on living on the site.  We'd stay in our current home,  which could definitely use some sealing up. In the long term we might build a cabin or some other structures, and it would make the most sense to use cob or adobe in our area.

I'm not sure if the fire department here offers such a thing,  but I know some volunteer firefighters and ex-fire fighters who may be a good resource if not.  It's a brilliant idea to get that kind of expertise.

You all had so many good ideas and I was trying to remember everything I wanted to reply to, but I'm sure I forgot something.  Thanks so much for all the input!
11 months ago
Great ideas, guys! I really wonder if the smoke situation is going to be a deal-breaker for me in the long term because I'm very sensitive to it. But then, with wildfires getting worse and carrying smoke long distances, who knows where there will be good air? It seems there's little to do, short of building a biodome. I had hoped maybe there could be some trick to it... like enough forestation might catch some of the particles, or selecting a site with particular topography might mean that prevailing winds carry up and over. That kind of thing.  I love this place enough to stick it out until it's impossible, but I should probably work on a backup plan.

Dan, the specifics you gave about branches and understory were very helpful. I think I get it now.  Thanks!  It would probably mean that trees will be too high for easy harvesting, but I guess you can't have it all!

Cristo, I'll have to learn more about discing. I don't know much about it.  Any good resources you would recommend?
11 months ago
Hi all! Was just reading an article on climate change and was thinking the wildfires and smoke are only going to get worse here in the SW. I'm looking to buy a decent sized chunk of land within the next few years and start designing a permaculture demonstration site. I LOVE the SW and want to stay in my community, but the smoke really messes with me in the summers already. I would specifically like ideas for designing a smoke-defensive site, if that might be possible (preferably low-tech).  Anyone out there nerding out on airflow patterns, etc? Also, I'd love ideas for designing in a highly wildfire prone area. How can I make a site that can resist a fire entirely?

For fireproofing, I'm thinking of using a wide band around the perimeter of local succulents like agave and prickly pear. Maybe a mote that could be flooded from an upper pond? Making the most of mulch and greywater, which is obvious,  anyway. I've heard that keeping limbs below 4 foot trimmed and less understory material is necessary but it's hard to imagine that in a permaculture system.  What about the lower layers of plants?

What are your ideas?  Thanks!
11 months ago