Chickens, Life Skills, Minimalism, Nature, Permaculture, pest control

Love things BIG!

It’s no surprise that people love things BIG! Homes, automobiles, and even food portions. Some people just have a drive to focus on consumption. What makes people act this way? That’s the question I’ve often pondered. The only thing I can come up with is status. We all long to belong and be accepted. If someone tells you all about their trip to the beach you will either tell them about your trip or how you wish you could go. The new model car and expensive suburban home are what we think we want without being honest with ourselves.  My guess is we would much rather do something even more unique and exciting like foraging for wild edibles or creating a permaculture food forest. That will depend on what works for you.

Foraging for wild edibles does in fact get a rise out of a small portion of the population. It is my thought that a much larger percentage of the population would embrace the activity if they had full disclosure of how it’s not always about survival. It’s a way of connecting with the earth. In learning to value the earth we find value in the small things such as chickens. These creatures are stacked with functions waiting to be applied. They add fertility to the soil and help control unwanted insects such as squash bugs. To often we look to government, the media, and celebrities to determine what we should value or accept socially. Finding who you are should be about the things that make you truly happy. In most cases it’s not things, it’s people.

Keeping up with the rat race of mindless consumption is to often our goal. What I’ve learned is the less you have the more time you have to enjoy it. It took finding the idea of minimalism to get here. Being intentional with your time and money doesn’t mean you have nothing. It means the things you do have truly add value to your life. I’ve blended this way of thinking with permacultures holistic solutions based thinking. It has given me a clear picture of what I want so I am accepted vs. what I need to be happy. So next time you find yourself in love with the newest thing stop and ask yourself ‘does it truly add value?’ 

‘We like things little but we love things BIG’or do we think we will be loved for what we have… 

fodder, food forest, Life Skills, Permaculture, Regenrative Agriculture, thankful for the rain, water harvesting

Thankful For The Rain 

After the drought we experienced in the summer of 2016 you will not hear me complain about rain. The storms that have provided the recent precipitation have sadly caused alot of damage in some areas. High winds and tornados are not something I can be thankful for. The rain however is something I am thankful for.  

Along with some of the normal unseasonably warm days I’ve began to see life emerging from the soil. It was a few weeks ago I broadcasted rapeseed as fodder and root knot nematode control on my farmstead. After all those recent nights and days of straight downpours they have begun to grow. New wild strains of fungi have been spotted on my farmstead. Mushroom fruits such as wild oyster have emerged from hickory stumps felled 2 years ago. 

It’s been constant testing and retesting of my water harvesting systems by the rain events. Places that had previously washed out are now soaking up every drop I get of the vital resource. This has given me a feeling that what I am doing is working. I am not talking about major earthworks either. What I have done is very small scale moving of dirt along with laying logs on contour in keyline areas. Creating natural dams in gullys up hill has also proven effective in recent rain storms.
Keeping in mind where I’ve been and where I want to go, I’ve decide to be thankful for the rain no matter what…

‘Cause who knows how long I’ll have to wait ‘Til you come blowing back my way I’m learning to be thankful for the rain’

food forest, Life Skills, Permaculture

When I have failed, I stopped trying…

Over six years ago I decided I was going to do some landscaping at my new home. I had never heard of permaculture design nor did I know just how awful my soil was at the time. It turns out a sandy hill void of topsoil comes with challenges. Adding to those challenges was the high acidity from all the surrounding pine trees that are a staple in southern monoculture forestry land. So without much observation I dug six holes and filled them using four encore azaleas and two peach trees. 

The peach trees I planted almost immediately died regardless of the care I gave. By the next year all but two of the azaleas followed suit and decided not to live. With such a low return on investment I stopped planting. I stopped trying to grow. It did not make sense to buy more plants just to watch them die. Looking back I can see how this was a true failure. My dream of a nice yard was done. It would take to much time, energy, and money to keep going without guarantee of success. Going fishing and having a good time became the path. Counting the cost made me quit something that I truly felt connected to. 

As time went on my health went with it. High blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and lack of energy had taken hold. It was at that point I knew things had to change. I began to diet and exercise regularly with a focus on organic fruits and vegetables.  This helped tremendously but I was not satisfied. The more I researched the more I realized that the whole system was rigid. So with this new revelation I began to garden. Working on that garden made gave me the sense of accomplishment I had been longing for. Growing my food became my passion.

As I went deeper into growing the best food I kept coming across one word. There had to be something to this for so many to want to share it. I had found the word permaculture. The idea of making the problem the solution just made sense to me and captured my focus. Applying this new way of thinking to my life and plantings began to close the loop of my well being. Now I spend a lot of time, energy, and money creating great soil. I no longer see it as a liability but rather as a priceless asset. 

food forest, leaf mulch, Permaculture, Sheet Mulching, Upcycle

Moving Mountains!!!

While riding home the other day I noticed something unusual off to the side of the road. It was a huge pile, no more like a mountain of leaves!  They had been bagged and appeared to be headed for the landfill. I pulled in and knocked on the door of the property owner. The door cracked barely open and a small lady with a soft voice said hello. After exchanging greetings I pointed to the mountain in her yard and asked about it. She informed me that I was welcome to take as many of the bags I wished. I thanked her and began to work. I was going to move that mountain!

Equipped nothing but leather gloves, a truck & trailer, and will power I went after my goal. Loading the wet bags on a frozen day was a challenge. As I unloaded the bags of biomass, I staged them in locations that would make it easy to spread. Three large piles sit waiting to be applied. Over 50 bags total is a fair estimate. I plan to use some of them as brown material in compost, sheet mulching, and biotowers. The soil I started with here is sandy and will benefit greatly from the added biomass. Worms, fungi, and bacteria will move in and break them down into beautiful soil very quickly. That beautiful soil will be the foundation of my permaculture food forest. That food forest is going to be a reality!

Life Skills, Permaculture, Upcycle, vermicompost, Vermiculture

Use what you have to get what you want!

What did I want?  A worm bin! 

My path to permaculture has lead me to appreciate what these little creatures can do. Worms help with fertility, proper moisture levels, soil aeration, bacterial and fungal inoculation just to name a few of their benefits.

I took a survey of scraps from previous projects. My rabbit and chicken tractor projects did not leave me with alot of extra materials I knew. Alot of materials thankfully weren’t required for my worm bin. Some old boards, a piece of tin, and some sewing together of 1/2 in hardware clothe scraps made enough materials to make my first worm bin for FREE!)

  1. First, we built a simple box frame from some old weathered lumber.
  2. Next, we covered one side with 1/2″ hardware clothes to prevent predation from underneath. 
  3. Then, we layered in our eggshells, chicken manure, cardboard, shredded paper, and compost.
  4. Finally, we covered it with a piece of tin and a weight.

I had some great help that day that was interested in learning basic carpentry which was great to share. It’s unclear if I’m happier about having accomplished a goal or that it is was upcycled from what most would consider useless!

food forest, Life Skills, mushroom cultivation, Permaculture, prepping, self reliance, Uncategorized

Forest To Farm To Fruition! 

It was around this time last year that we decided to host a workshop on inoculating logs for mushroom cultivation. The we I refer to here is our amazing local permaculture group. Path To Permaculture began planning the event for the following February. Some of us would need to order the spawn and wax. Others located items such as crockpots, drills, table, cords, and things such as brushes. Everyone came together to harvest the trees we would need. We teamed up with www.eatsouth.com to host the event in downtown Montgomery, Al. This allowed us to bring in more people from the local community who were also interested. Jayme Oates of www.farmscapesolutions.com did a wonderful job of introducing us to the whole process as our presenter. I will admit it was work inoculating a trailer load of green logs. Everyone got involved and everyone got to bring home a log! I was impressed at the teamwork of all those individuals coming together to do the hard work regardless of their differences, that may separate them any other day. Now it was going to be a waiting game for us newbie mushroom cultivators. I admit it crossed my mind a few times that the logs might not make it due to the awful drought we experienced this year. Making use of the logs instead for firewood never was an option for me. I had seen people work so hard to make this a reality. I keep my share of logs well shaded and in more humid areas of my property the entire time. It was a recent post by a friend in north Alabama that triggered me to take a closer look at my logs. She had hosted a similar workshop around the same time as ours. The logs they had made were beginning to fruit. Instead of my casually glancing at the logs as I walked by I took a closer look at what I had today. What I had was home grown shiitake! Seeing our idea come to fruition one year after taking action kicks ass!

Can’t wait to cook a flush of my shiitake up for dinner one night soon.

food forest, Life Skills, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Applying Permaculture Principle #2 to Life

Recently I lost my grandfather. He was a man loved by those who had the pleasure of knowing him. Losing loved ones has kind of been a staple of life since an early age. Still I was in no way prepar…

Source: Applying Permaculture Principle #2 to Life